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 the promised land. This was God's future. For God's future there is God's command - 'Be strong' - and God's promise - 'the Lord your God is with you'. We wonder what the future holds. We wonder how it will all work out. God says, 'Don't be frightened. I will be with you wherever you go' (9). How can we face the future with confidence? How can we 'be strong in the Lord' (Ephesians 6:10)? How can we be sure that the Lord will never let us down (2 Corinthians 3:5)? How can we step out into a future full of His blessing? 'Meditate on His Word day and night'. Read your Bible - 'This Book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this Book': Which will it be? (8; Psalm 1:1-3).
2nd January: Joshua 2:1-24
The story of Rahab is summarized in Hebrews 11:31 - 'By faith...she gave a friendly welcome to the spies'. A friendly welcome - What an important thing this is! She spoke the word of encouragement - 'I know the Lord has given you this land' (9). This message of faith was taken back to Joshua (24). It was exactly what he needed! Few of us are 'big name' spiritual leaders like Joshua. All of us have an important part to play in the Lord's work. For every 'Joshua' we need plenty of 'Rahabs', giving the friendly welcome, speaking the word of encouragement. Let there be no more unhelpful, negative criticism - 'We cannot do this. We dare not do that. We must not do the other'. Let there be the friendly welcome, the word of encouragement. It will make such a difference - for the better!
3rd January: Joshua 3:1-17
'Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you' (5). 'Sanctify them in the truth; Thy Word is truth' (John 17:17). Together with the command, there is the prayer. We are called to set ourselves apart for God. We can only do this when we look to the Lord for His strength. We receive His strength through His Word. We give ourselves to the Lord. He gives His promise to us: 'the Lord will do wonders among you'. His promise of blessing is no guarantee of an easy time. In the promised land, there would be problems - and God: 'as I was with Moses, so I will be with you' (7). There would be conflict - and victory: 'the living God is among you...He will without fail drive out from before you...' (10). We look beyond Joshua to Jesus - 'God with us' (Matthew 1:23). In Him, we have the victory (1 Corinthians 15:57).
4th January: Joshua 4:1-24
'These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel for ever' (7). When, in the future, the question was asked, 'What do these stones mean?'(6), Israel would remember what the Lord had done for them (23). Knowing that 'the hand of the Lord is mighty', they would be strengthened to face their difficulties with confidence in God. Rejoicing in what the Lord has done - 'This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes' - , they would learn to 'fear the Lord their God for ever' (24; Psalm 118:23). Israel remembered. We must remember. When you're going through a hard time, don't forget - to remember! God has been good to you. He has blessed you. When God seems so far away, remember - and pray that, once again, 'times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord' (Acts 3:19).
5th January: Joshua 5:1-15
As you read about circumcision (2-7) and the Passover (10), think also of Paul's words in Romans 2:29 and 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 - 'real circumcision is a matter of the heart', 'Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival...with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth'. 'The Commander of the Lord's army' came to Joshua (13-15). Christ comes to us. He calls us to worship. He equips us for battle. 'Christ, the Royal Master, leads against the foe...At the sign of triumph, Satan's legions flee...Hell's foundations quiver at the shout of praise...Like a mighty army moves the Church of God... Gates of hell can never 'gainst that Church prevail; We have Christ's own promise, and that cannot fail...On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory' (Church Hymnary, 480).
6th January: Joshua 6:1-27
'The walls came tumbling down' - What a mighty work of God this was! It was 'the Lord' who gave Jericho into the hands of His people (16). His victory was received by faith: 'By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days' (Hebrews 11:30). Notice that the declaration of victory comes before the obedience of faith (2,16). We start out from victory. We do not achieve the victory by our own faith. The victory is given to us by the Lord. Faith simply receives the blessing already promised to us by the Lord. Faith expresses itself in obedience. Believing God's promise, they obeyed His command - and the blessing followed. They walked 'by faith, not by sight' (2 Corinthians 5:7) - 'It shall be done', not 'It can't be done'. Let us be 'devoted to the Lord' (17-19).
7th January: Joshua 7:1-26
This chapter begins with the word, 'But' - This is ominous! What comes next? - Sin: 'the people of Israel broke faith with regard to the devoted things'. The sin was Achan's, yet it affected the whole people of Israel: 'the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel' (1). Sin is like infection - it spreads! What kind of effect do your actions have on other people? Cain asked, 'Am I my brother's keeper (Genesis 4:9). His question was an expression of callous indifference. There is no place for this attitude among God's people: 'Decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother' (Romans 14:13). Read the story of Achan, and remember this: 'Be sure your sin will find you out' (Numbers 32:23). Let no one have good cause to ask, 'Why did you bring trouble on us' (25).
8th January: Joshua 8:1-35
The victory was given by the Lord: 'I have given into your hand...' (1). The people still had to claim the victory. Israel's triumph was a spiritual victory from which we can learn much. We learn, first, that 'the battle is the Lord's' (7; 1 Samuel 17:47; 2 Chronicles 20:15). Believing the Lord's promise - 'the Lord your God will give it into your hand' (7) - we act upon His command: 'Do what the Lord has commanded' (8). God's work is to be done in God's way - Believing the promise, Obeying the command (18) - with God's Word at the centre. We need the whole Word of God - 'all that is written...'. In this, we learn from Joshua - 'He did not leave out one word from everything Moses had commanded'. We need 'the blessing and the curse' - the strong warnings as well as the precious promises (34-35).
9th January: Joshua 9:1-10:15
Some chose 'to make war against Joshua and Israel' (9:1-2). The Gibeonites came, looking for peace. They achieved their objective - 'Joshua made peace with them' (9:15). In this story we see the work of Satan, and we may catch a glimpse of the work of God. The 'peace' was based on deception. The Gibeonites 'acted with cunning' (9:4). The Israelites were easily deceived. They 'did not ask direction from the Lord' (9:14). The Gibeonites brought trouble to Israel (10:3-5). There were 'weeds among the wheat' - An enemy has done this' (Matthew 13:25,28). Through the grace of God, the Gibeonites' 'curse' could become a 'blessing'. Working at 'the place' of worship, they could come to know and love the Person who is worshipped (23,27; Psalm 84:4). Let Christ bring you from 'no peace' to real peace (Jeremiah 6:14; Romans 5:1).
10th January: Acts 1:1-26
We read, in John 7:39, that 'the Spirit' would not be 'given' until Jesus was 'glorified'. Now, as Jesus was about to be 'taken up...into heaven', He tells His apostles, 'the Holy Spirit' will 'come upon you' (11,8). He gives them His Word of promise: 'I send the promise of my Father upon you'. He gives them His Word of command: 'stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high' (Luke 24:49). They wait upon the coming of the Holy Spirit. They cannot fill themselves with the Spirit. They can only 'be filled with the Spirit' (Ephesians 5:18). Waiting for the Spirit, the apostles 'devote themselves to prayer' (14). They do not earn the Holy Spirit as a reward for spending much time in prayer. Waiting on God, their strength is renewed as they receive God's gift (Isaiah 40:31; Luke 11:13).
11th January: Acts 2:1-47
'No one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit' (1 Corinthians 12:3). 'In Jerusalem', on 'the day of Pentecost' there are 'Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven' (1,5). They are 'amazed' at what they hear - 'we hear them telling in our own tongue the mighty works of God' (7-11). The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus Christ (John 16:14). 'To God be the glory! Great things He hath done!' (Church Hymnary, 374). Speaking 'as the Spirit gave them utterance', the apostles pave the way for Peter's bold proclamation: 'God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified' (36). Empowered 'by the Holy Spirit', this message - 'Jesus is Lord' - is still God's way of bringing people to Himself. Preach Christ. Pray for the Spirit's power. Look to God for His blessing (41-47).
12th January: Joshua 10:16-11:15
God gives the promise. Believing His promise, we obey His command, pressing on to victory (25,6). This is God's way of victory: 'go in to take possession of the land which the Lord your God gives you to possess' (1:11). As we read of Joshua's military exploits, we must not lose sight of the spiritual dimension: 'the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel' (42). This is what we must learn. The victory does not come from ourselves. It comes from the Lord who fights for us. Through 'the obedience of faith' (Romans 1:5), - believing God's promise, we obey His command - , the Lord's victory becomes a living reality in our lives. Joshua built on the foundation laid for him by Moses (12,15). Learning from 'the apostles and prophets', we build on God's Foundation, 'Jesus Christ' (Ephesians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 3:11).
13th January: Joshua 11:16-12:24
What is the spiritual value of this list of victories? Don't be sidetracked by the military aspect. This is not about Israel blowing its own trumpet. It is about giving glory to God. In Genesis 12:1-3, we have God's promise to bring blessing to all nations. Before Christ came as 'the Saviour of the world' (John 4:42), Israel was to become 'a great nation' - 'a holy nation', 'a light to the nations' (Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 49:6). This involved the 'curse' on the rebellious peoples who presented a sinful obstacle to God's saving purpose. The Lord is King! The united people of God won a decisive victory in 'the whole land' (11:23). There was, however, still 'very much land to be possessed' by the individual tribes (13:1). God's Word is preached publicly. It must also be applied personally - by you!
14th January: Acts 3:1-26
'Laid daily at the gate of the temple', the 'man lame from birth' had seen plenty of 'ordinary' days (2). This was no 'ordinary' day. This was a day for 'walking, and leaping, and praising God' (9). Jesus Christ can do for us what 'silver and gold' cannot do (6). He is 'the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith' (Romans 1:16). From the healing of the lame man came a great opportunity for Peter to preach the Gospel to 'the people' (10-12). Peter gave all the glory to God. Peter and John had not performed this miracle by their 'own power or piety' (12). This was the work of God, 'the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob', the God who raised Jesus from the dead (13-16). This is the God who calls us to return to Him. 'Turn' to Him. He will forgive your sins. He will send 'times of refreshing' (19).
15th January: Acts 4:1-5:11
Peter preached Christ with great boldness: 'There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved' (12). This boldness came from the Holy Spirit. Peter was 'filled with the Holy Spirit' (4:8). Don't say, 'I'm no Peter'. Peter failed his Lord and had to be restored (Matthew 26:69-75; John 21:15-17). Peter drew great strength from 'the company of those who believed'. They 'gathered together' for prayer. They 'were of one heart and soul'...' (31-33). Why did God deal so severely with Ananias and Sapphira (5:1-11)? This was the start of something great. God refused to let His work be spoiled! There is a warning for us: Don't pretend to be more holy than you really are. God sees what you're really like. 'Search me, O God...' (Psalm 139:23-24).
16th January : Proverbs 7:1-27
The way of obedience is the way of life: 'keep My commandments and live' (2). This is not a shallow legalism. It is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is 'walking in the Spirit'. It is living as 'a new creation'. We do not glory in our own obedience. We 'glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Galatians 5:16; 6:16,14). Obedience is a mark of spiritual maturity. The 'mature' are 'those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil' (Hebrews 5:14). In His Word, God shows us how we are to live and how we are not to live. We must 'listen' to God. We must 'be attentive' to His Word, thinking on and doing 'these things' which will glorify Him (24; Philippians 4:8-9). 'Sin so easily entangles...let us fix our eyes on Jesus' (25-27; Hebrews 12:1-2).
17th January: Joshua 13:1-14:15
God has given the land to Israel. Still, there was the challenge: 'there is still very much land to be possessed' (13:1). 'God...has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing'. Now, we must 'lead a life worthy of His calling' (Ephesians 1:3; 4:1). 'Joshua was old and advanced in years'. Caleb was 'eighty five years old' (13:1; 14:10).These were men of faith. Forty five years earlier, they had called on the people to trust and obey: 'The Lord...will bring us into this land...Only, do not rebel against the Lord' (14:7-10; Numbers 14:6-9). They had persevered: 'I press on...'. They had been preserved: 'Kept by the power of God' (Philippians 3:14; 1 Peter 1:5). 'I am still as strong to this day as I was', 'We will serve the Lord' (14:11; 24:15). This is faith -for yesterday, today and tomorrow!
18th January: Acts 5:12-6:7
There was great blessing: 'More than ever believers were added to the Lord' (14). There was persecution (17-18). This did not hinder the advance of the Gospel (42). Satan was not going to give up easily. He came right back at the apostles (1). Satan was defeated. Through the Spirit of God and the Word of God, the victory was won. The apostles 'devoted themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word'. They were supported by 'seven men...known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom' (3-4). Armed with 'the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God', let us be 'be strong in the Lord' - 'filled with the Spirit' - as we 'let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly' (Ephesians 6:17,10; 5:18; Colossians 3:16). Filled with His Spirit and obedient to His Word, let us look to God for His blessing (7).
19th January: Joshua 15:1-63
'The land of Negeb' had little water. The request was made - 'Give me also springs of water'. The request was granted. Trusting in the Lord's promise - 'the heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him', we receive His blessing - 'rivers of living water' (19; Luke 11:13; John 7:38-39). 'The people of Judah could not drive out' the Jebusites. We may contrast Judah's failure with Caleb's faith - 'the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out as the Lord said'. Learning from Judah's failure - 'Do not be conformed to this world' - , we must build on Caleb's faith - 'Be transformed by the renewal of your mind'. Let us commit ourselves to doing 'God's will - His good, pleasing and perfect will' (63; 14:12; Romans 12:2). Do His will. Let His 'rivers of living water' flow freely.
20th January: Acts 6:8-8:3
In life and death, Stephen was Christlike. In life and death, he made a great impact. In life, we see him, 'full of grace and power', doing 'great wonders and signs among the people'. People noticed that 'his face was like the face of an angel'. Even his enemies took notice of him. Unable to 'withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke', they decided that he needed to be silenced. (6:8,15,10-11). In death, we hear him praying, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit...Lord, do not hold this sin against them' (7:59-60). In Stephen's words, we hear an echo of Christ's words from the Cross (Luke 23:34,46). Stephen was dying. Stephen was praying. Saul was watching. Saul was listening (8). God was working. The seeds were being sown. Saul would be born again as the Apostle Paul (9:4-6)!
21st January: Joshua 16:1-17:18
Compromise is a poor substitute for obedience. Fail to obey God, and you may have to live with the consequences of your disobedience: 'they did not drive out the Canaanites...so the Canaanites have dwelt in the midst of Ephraim to this day (16:10). Settling for anything less than God's very best will surely lead us far from Him and His blessing: 'He gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them' (Psalm 106:15). If we are to make real spiritual progress, we must not rest on our laurels' - 'We are a numerous people'. We must do the work of God: 'you shall drive out the Canaanites'. Our obedience must be more than 'empty words'. We must not live as 'the sons of disobedience'. We must 'live as the children of light' - 'God's own people' (14,18; Ephesians 5:6-10; 1 Peter 2:9).
22nd January: Acts 8:4-40
Make sure that it's real! Simon the magician was impressed by the 'signs and great miracles', but his 'heart' was 'not right before God' (13,19). The Ethiopian's conversion was real. Searching the Scriptures, he found the Saviour (30-35). From the Ethiopian's conversion, we learn of Jesus' promise: 'Seek and you will find'. From Simon's tragedy, we hear Jesus' warning: 'Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord", shall enter the kingdom of heaven...' (Matthew 7:7,21-23). What is God saying to us from these two very different stories? - 'Be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure' (2 Peter 1:10). 'Search me, O God, and know my heart today; Try me, O Lord, and know my thoughts I pray; See if there be some wicked way in me, Cleanse me from every sin and set me free' (Mission Praise. 587).
23rd January: Joshua 18:1-19:51
'How long will you be slack to go in and take possession of the land, which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?' (18:3). God has given us so much: 'His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness'. How much are we giving ourselves to Him? - 'Make every effort to add to your faith...If you do this you will never fail; so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ' (2 Peter 1:3-11). In Joshua, we see a fine example of the Christlike spirit - 'not to be served but to serve' (Mark 10:45). After 'they had finished distributing the... land', Joshua received his 'inheritance'. He led with the attitude of a servant. He wasn't 'in it only for what he could get out of it' - the city he chose had to be 'rebuilt' (49-50)!
24th January: Acts 9:1-43
Saul the persecutor become Paul the Apostle (13:9). What a great turning-point this was in the life of the early Church! When we read of Paul's missionary journeys (13:1-28:31). we may be tempted to think, 'What a great man Paul must have been'. In his letters, Paul insists that we must not think like this. He tells us that 'nothing good dwells within' him. Paul never forgot his 'past': 'I cursed Him, persecuted Him, and acted arrogantly toward Him'. Paul describes himself as 'the worst of sinners'. Paul gives his testimony: 'The grace of God was poured on me abundantly' (Romans 7:18; 1 Timothy 1:13-15). God's true servants direct our attention to Christ. Ananias said, 'The Lord Jesus...has sent me...'(17). Saul 'preached boldly in the Name of Jesus' (27). Peter said, 'Jesus Christ heals you...' (34).
25th January: Joshua 20:1-21:45
We read of manslaughter, 'the cities of refuge' and the death of the high priest (20:1-6). What does all this have to do with us? We are sinners. Jesus Christ has died for us. He is our Refuge. He is our Great High Priest. In Him, there is 'no condemnation'. In Him, we become 'a new creation' (Matthew 5:21-22; Romans 5:8; 8:1; Hebrews 2:17; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Israel's story is a human story. It is also the Lord's Story (43-45). We fail God. He never fails us (2 Timothy 2:13). Sin threatens to overwhelm us. The Lord comes to us with His promise of deliverance and victory (Romans 7:21-25; 1 Corinthians 15:56-57). Our spiritual progress is so slow - 'little by little'(Exodus 23:29-30; Deuteronomy 7:22-24). God does not lose patience with us (Psalm 103:8-13). He never stops loving us!
26th January:Acts 10:1-11:18
'When the Holy Spirit comes on you...you will be my witnesses...to the ends of the earth' (1:8). This great advance of the Gospel - Salvation reaches 'the Gentiles' (10:45; 11:1,18) - is a movement of 'the Spirit' (11:12). The Spirit speaks through the Word (10:44; 11:15). In God's Word, we read of (a) God's love for the whole world (John 3:16); (b) God's Son who died for 'the sins of the whole world' (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2); (c) God's command that 'the Good News' should be preached to 'everyone' (Mark 16:15); (d) God's purpose that there should be disciples of Christ in every nation (Matthew 28:19). 'Every person in every nation, in each succeeding generation, has the right to hear the News that Christ can save...Here am I, send me' (Youth Praise, 128). 'Go forth and tell!' (Mission Praise, 178).
27th January: Joshua 22:1-34
Joshua had heard God's Word (1:8). Now, he speaks God's Word to the people (5). To those who 'have obeyed' Him, God says, 'Keep on obeying Me'. This is the way of blessing (1-6). Together with God's promise of blessing, we need His warning against rebellion: 'Do not rebel against the Lord' (19). Why does God warn us against the dangers of 'rebellion against the Lord' (16)? It is because He wants us to say with heart and voice: 'Far be it from us that we should rebel against the Lord and turn away this day from following the Lord' (29). Our 'resolution' seems so weak - 'I feel like giving up'. The temptation to 'rebel against the Lord' seems so strong - 'I feel like I can't go on'. Let us pray for a stronger faith in God - 'The Lord is God' - and a richer experience of His presence - 'We know that the Lord is in the midst of us' (34,31).
28th January: Joshua 23:1-16
God has done, is doing and will do great things for us (3-5, 8-10). He calls us to 'obey' Him, to 'hold fast' to Him, to 'love' Him (6,8,11). The pattern of Joshua's teaching - 'This is what the Lord has done' (3-5) 'Therefore' 'This is what you must do' (6-8) - is similar to Paul's approach in Romans and Ephesians. In Romans 1-11 and Ephesians 1-3, Paul grounds his readers in the truth of the Gospel. In Romans 12:1 and Ephesians 4:1, he says, 'Therefore'. Here are the practical implications. In the light of all that the Lord has done for you, this is how you must live for Him. Be strong in the Lord. In Him, we have the victory (10; Psalm 3:6). Maintain your love for God. Don't presume on God's blessing. There is no guarantee of blessing for those who 'turn back' from following the Lord (11-13,15-16). He has not failed us (14). We must not fail Him!
29th January: Joshua 24:1-33
Close to the end of his life, Joshua commits himself and his family to the Lord (15,29). Moved by his example, the people commit themselves to the Lord (16-18,21, 24). For Israel, this was a momentous decision - a definite, public commitment to the Lord (24-27). Note the pattern of Joshua's preaching. What God has done for Israel (2-13) is followed by 'Therefore...' (14). When we are called to make a real commitment, we must ask the searching question, 'Do I really mean it' (19-20). We must commit ourselves to the Lord: 'Fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness' (14). Make your own commitment to the Lord. Give your testimony - 'as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord'. Pray that others will also say 'We will serve the Lord our God and obey Him (15,24). Let us 'serve the Lord all the days' of our life (31).
30th January: Acts 11:19-12:25
Barnabas 'was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord' (11:24). Let's be like Barnabas, giving ourselves to the Lord and asking Him to make us more useful in His service. Great things can happen when 'earnest prayer' is 'made to God by the church' - God 'is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think' (5-7; Ephesians 3:20). Give all the glory to the Lord. Herod 'did not give God the glory'. He accepted the praise of the people - 'This is the voice of a god, not of a man'. Herod's sudden death - 'an angel of the Lord struck him down' - is a warning (12:22-23; Proverbs 29:1). 'Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows that he will also reap'. 'Walk humbly with your God' (Galatians 6:7; Micah 6:8).
31st January: Psalm 18:25-50
'This God' is 'our God'. He is 'the Rock'. He is 'my Rock'. No one can compare with the Lord our God. He is the living God, the God of our salvation (30-31,46). In the Lord, we have salvation: 'You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty'. In our God, we have victory: 'You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet' (27,39). Do you want to enjoy God's blessing - His salvation and His victory? God says, 'Clothe yourselves with humility'. Together with His command, we have God's warning - 'God opposes the proud' - and God's promise - He 'gives grace to the humble' (1 Peter 5:5). There is a question which each of us must answer: 'Who is on the Lord's side? There is an answer which of us must give: 'We are on the Lord's side' (Church Hymnary, 479).
1st February: Judges 1:1-2:5
'You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? (Galatians 5:7). Everything seems to be going well - 'From victory to victory His army He shall lead till every foe is vanquished and Christ is Lord indeed' (1-18; Church Hymnary, 481). Things went badly wrong. God commanded His people to 'drive out' His enemies. Again and again, they failed (19,21,27-33). This failure brought a stern rebuke from 'the angel of the Lord'. God had blessed His people. Now, He has to rebuke them - 'you have not obeyed my command'. Read of Israel's weeping, and pray for this: Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation' (2:1-5; 2 Corinthians 7:10). 'Strong in the Lord...' let us 'tread all the powers of darkness down...and stand complete at last' (Church Hymnary, 441).
2nd February: Judges 2 6-3:31
What sadness there is in the words of 2:10 - 'there arose another generation...who did not know the Lord...'! As the generations pass, we must pass on the Gospel of Christ, praying that those who follow after us will 'know the Lord'. In Isaiah 30:21, God says, 'This is the way, walk in it'. Here, in the sin and shame of Israel, He warns us, 'This is not the way, do not walk in it' (2:11-15). Don't be conformed to this world, 'entangled' in its ways (3:5-7; Romans 12:2; 2 Timothy 2:4). God is angry with His rebellious people, but He does not cease to love them - 'the Lord raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel (3:8-9). Read of the deliverers - Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar - and rejoice in our greater Deliverer: 'Jesus...He will save His people from their sins' (3:9,15,31; Matthew 1:21).
3rd February: Judges 4:1-5:11
Barak is an example of 'faith' (Hebrews 11:32-34). Faith involves believing God's promise - 'I will give...' and obeying His command - 'Go' (4:6-7). God still says, 'Go...I am with you always...' (Matthew 28:19-20). Barak needed Deborah's help (4:8-10). Both needed God's help - 'Our sufficiency comes from God' (2 Corinthians 3:5-6). In Deborah's song, we learn of the importance of giving all the glory to God: 'Bless the Lord...To the Lord I will sing, I will make melody to the Lord...Bless the Lord' (5:2-3,9). We are to repeat the triumphs of the Lord'. This is our high calling as 'the people of the Lord' (5:11). 'Awake, awake, Deborah'...Arise, Barak...' (5:12) - God is still calling His people to wake up, to rise up: 'Rise up O Church of God, awake!' (Church Hymnary, 477; Mission Praise, 178).
4th February: Judges 5:12-6:10
'The people of the Lord marched down for Him against the mighty (13) - God is still calling His people to march for Him: 'March on, my soul, with strength, with strength, but not thine own; The conquest thou shalt gain, through Christ the Lord alone' (Church Hymnary, 614). This is not 'marching' for ourselves, for our own cause, trying to get our own way. This is about keeping our eyes on Jesus, living in His strength, living for His glory. Where self reigns, there is sin - 'The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord' - and shame - 'Israel was brought very low' (1,6). Where Christ reigns, there is prayer to the Lord and blessing from the Lord. With God's blessing comes our responsibility - Worship God, listening carefully to His Word and living in obedience to Him (6-10).
5th February: Acts 13:1-43
'Set apart' by 'the Holy Spirit', 'sent out by the Holy Spirit', 'filled by the Holy Spirit' (2,4,9): In the ministry of Paul and Barnabus, we see the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In their teaching, we have 'the teaching of the Lord' (12). This is what Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 - 'When you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers'. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. What is God saying to us as we listen to His Word? - 'Continue in the grace of God' (43). How are we to continue in the grace of God? - Keep looking away from the human servant to the divine Saviour: 'After me One is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am unworthy to untie' (25).
6th February: Acts 13:44-14:28
When God is working powerfully through His servants, there is always the tendency to attach too much importance to the servants. We must resist this temptation. The glory belongs to God alone. We must never forget: 'We too are only men, human like you'. God has called us to 'bring Good News' to sinners, the Good News of salvation. As we proclaim this Good News - 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners' - , we must never forget this: We are 'unworthy servants', 'the worst of sinners' (14:28; 1 Timothy 1:15-16; Luke 17:10). Look beyond the preacher, the evangelist, the teacher of God's Word. Look to the Saviour. Give all the glory to Him. He is the Gospel. He is our salvation. He is the living Word. The Gospel is preached. There is blessing. We say, 'God has done this!' (52,8,27).
7th February: Judges 6:11-7:14
'We are weak but He is strong' (Church Hymnary, 418). In himself, Gideon was weak (15). In the Lord, he was 'a mighty warrior'. Gideon was full of questions. God said to him, 'Go...I will be with you' (6:12-16). Our true strength does not come from ourselves. It comes from the Lord - 'Our help is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth' (Psalm 124:8). Gideon's true strength came from 'the Spirit of the Lord' (34). We must always remember Jesus' words, 'Without Me you can do nothing' (John 15:5). Consider Gideon's weakness. Consider your own weakness. Rejoice in God's power. Never say, 'My own hand delivered me'. Our testimony must always be this: '...God has given...'(7:2,14). 'It is the gift of God...lest any man should boast' (Ephesians 2:8-9).
8th February: Judges 7:15-8:35
'For the Lord and for Gideon' (7:18). Notice who comes first. It is not Gideon. It is the Lord! 'The men of Israel' attached too much importance to Gideon - 'Rule over us...you have delivered us'. Gideon gave all the glory to God - 'I will not rule over you...the Lord will rule over you' (8:22-23). What happens when people make too much of the man and not enough of the Lord? - As soon as the man is taken away from them, they forget the Lord (33-34). It seems like they were just waiting to turn away from the Lord. The moment Gideon was no longer there to keep an eye on them, they were back to their old ways again (33)! We must never let the servant of the Lord become more important than the Lord. When God's servant has become a distant memory, we must keep on 'remembering the Lord our God' (34).
9th February: Judges 9:1-49
Things were going from bad to worse! The people of Israel had forgotten 'the Lord their God' (8:34). 'The enemy' was ready to 'come in like a flood' (Isaiah 59:19). Abimelech - Gideon's son by 'his concubine who was in Shechem' (8:31) - was very unlike his father. Gideon had pointed away from himself to the Lord (8:23). Abimelech was eager to draw attention to himself. He murdered his seventy brothers, paving the way for himself to become king (1-6). Abimelech spelt trouble! Things were only going to get worse with Abimelech. There was 'an evil spirit' at work among God's people (23). Where was God in all this? - 'Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct' (Romans 1:28). What kind of person are you becoming? Each of us must choose!
10th February: Judges 9:50-11:11
With verses 56-57, read Romans 1:18 - 'The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth'. Doing 'what was evil in the sight of the Lord', 'the people of Israel' brought themselves under God's judgment (10:6-9). When Israel began to return to the Lord, He said to them, 'Mean what you say' (10:10-14). When they persisted with their confession of sin, He answered their prayer - 'In all their affliction He was afflicted...In His love and in His pity He redeemed them' (15-16; Isaiah 63:9). God's answer came in the shape of Jephthah, 'a mighty warrior', a man who 'spoke all his words before the Lord' (11:1,11). Thrust out by men (11:1-2), he was loved by the God of grace - His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9)!
11th February: Judges 11:12-12:15
Israel was not looking for trouble - 'Let us pass...through your land to our country'. The Amorites insisted on fighting with them. They had to be faced and defeated (19-21). The Christian life is like an 'obstacle race'. We do not go out looking for problems. Sometimes, we cannot avoid them. Obstacles can become opportunities - for spiritual growth (James 1:2-4). Watch what you say (29-40; Ecclesiastes 5:2-6). Watch how you say it (1-6). The accent is not the important thing. It is the attitude. Is the accent on Christ? Let the attitude be less of self and more of Christ. Proclaiming the same Christ is more important than pronouncing the words in exactly the same way! Be slow to say, 'He is not one of us'. Be quick to say, 'Christ is proclaimed; and in that I rejoice' (Philippians 1:18).
12th February: Acts 15:1-35
The Gospel is for all nations. In the Old Testament, we catch a glimpse of this (Genesis 12:1-3; Psalms 96:1-3;100:1; Isaiah 45:22). Here, we have the Gospel made clear. Peter says, 'We shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus' (11). Paul says, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved' (16:31). This is the Gospel: 'By grace you have been saved through faith' (Ephesians 2:8). Together with the Good News concerning salvation, there is also an 'exhortation' to go on with the Saviour (31). In this call to submit to the Lord, we hear the word, 'abstain' (20,29). Does this sound negative? It is a positive call to be set apart for God - 'saved...for good works...' (Ephesians 2:8-10). Christ is our Saviour. He is also our Lord. In salvation and surrender, we find our true joy (31).
13th February: Proverbs 8:1-36
Hoping for 'good luck', some people expect good things to happen to them - all the time! God says, 'Seek wisdom. Be ready for the hard times'. Wisdom comes from God. He speaks to us with words of wisdom (2:6; 6-8). Wisdom is not only for 'kings and rulers, princes and nobles'. It is for everyone who loves the Lord (15-17). Wisdom calls us to choose good rather than evil, life rather than death (13,35-36; Hebrews 5:14; Deuteronomy 30:19). The way of wisdom is the way of happiness (32-34). Our path may not be paved with gold. Wisdom is better than 'silver, gold and jewels' (10-11). Christ is our Wisdom. Receiving Him, we receive wisdom. Growing in Him, we grow in wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2:6). As you rejoice in Christ, remember: 'He who wins…' (11:30). Don't keep Wisdom to yourself. Share Christ with others.
14th February: Judges 13: 1-14:9
Samson's birth was announced by an angel. Jesus' birth was announced by angels (13:3; Luke 1:30-33; 2:8-14). Samson's death was a great triumph over the Philistines. Jesus' death brought the greatest triumph of all - victory over Satan (16:30; Hebrews 2:14-15). The story of Samson points us to the greater Story of Jesus. There is, however, a great difference between Samson and Jesus. Often, Samson was concerned only with what pleased him (14:3,7). Always, Jesus did the will of God (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38). 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me' (Luke 4:18) - We expect these words from Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God. When, however, we read that 'the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon' Samson (14:6), we rejoice in the grace of God - 'while we were yet sinners...the Holy Spirit has been given to us' (Romans 5:8,5).
15th February: Judges 14:10-16:3
'This man receives sinners' (Luke 15:2). These are the words of legalistic Pharisees. They were intended as an insult. They are also words of divine grace: 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners' (1 Timothy 1:15). Samson was a sinner. There is no question about that. Is he any different from the rest of us? - 'All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God' (Romans 3:23). Samson was a sinner yet, 'the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him' (14:19). We are sinners. Christ died for us. God has given us His Spirit (Galatians 3:13-14). This is divine grace. Samson often wandered. Still, the Lord was at work in him. Prompted by the Spirit, Samson 'called on the Lord'. Samson was 'very thirsty'. He prayed. He was 'revived' (15:18-19). 'Wilt Thou not revive us again...? (Psalm 85:6). Pray for revival!
16th February: Judges 16:4-31
The story of Samson is a story of tragedy and triumph. We see Samson's tragedy - '"I will go out at other times, and shake myself free". But he did not know that the Lord had left him' (20). There is a warning for us here. Yesterday's triumphs do not guarantee today's victory. Today's challenge needs today's grace. We need to keep close to the Lord - 'His mercies...are new every morning' (Lamentations 3:22-23). We see Samson's triumph - In his death, he triumphed over the Philistines (30). What encouragement there is for us here! How often we feel like Samson - 'seized...gouged...brought down...bound...in the prison' - going through 'the mill' (21)! Satan seems to have the upper hand. We feel so helpless. Satan will not have the last word. Take this for your encouragement: Satan will be 'thrown into the lake of fire' (Revelation 20:10).
17th February: Acts 15:36-16:40
Notice the importance of prayer in the advance of the Gospel. They were looking for a prayer meeting when Lydia was saved (13-14). They were going to a prayer meeting when the girl was saved (16-18). They were having a prayer meeting when the jailer was saved (25-34). They had gone to Philippi 'to preach the Gospel to them' (10). Even when they were 'in chains', the Gospel proved itself to be 'the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith' (Ephesians 6:20; Romans 1:16). 'The Word of God is not bound'. It is 'living and active'. 'Sharper than any two-edged sword', it is 'the sword of the Spirit' (2 Timothy 2:9; Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17). Do you want people to ask the Salvation question and heed the Gospel answer (30-31)? 'Pray at all times in the Spirit...with all perseverance' (Ephesians 6:18).
18th February: Judges 17:1-18:13
Things are not going well - 'every man did that which was right in his own eyes' (17:6). People were doing what suited themselves. Micah was trying to 'get the best of both worlds'. He was worshipping idols (17:4-5). He was trying to keep on the right side of the Lord - 'Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, because I have a Levite priest' (13). Micah's priest was a 'Yes' man. He told Micah what he wanted to hear. Many people 'refuse to listen to the truth'. They prefer to listen to those who 'tell them what they want to hear' (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Many are 'lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God' (2 Timothy 3:4). We must not fall into the trap of 'trying to please all the people all the time'. Seek to be like Jesus - 'I seek not My own will but the will of Him who sent Me' (John 5:30).
19th February: Acts 17:1-34
Notice the importance of the Scriptures for both public ministry - 'reasoning with them from the Scriptures' and private devotion - 'examining the Scriptures every day' (2,11). We need the Word of the Lord on the Lord's Day. We need the Word of the Lord every day. God is not the 'unknown God'. He has made himself known to us. For many, He seems to be the 'unknown God'. We must seek to lead them beyond a vague awareness of 'the God who made the world' to a real knowledge of Jesus Christ who died and rose again for our salvation (24,3). When our faith is grounded in the Scriptures, we will not think of God as the 'unknown God' about whom we can know very little. We will make it our ambition 'to know Christ and the power of His resurrection' (Philippians 3:10). 'Let us press on to know the Lord' (Hosea 6:3).
20th February: Acts 18:1-21
It was not an easy situation at Corinth. There were some who 'opposed Paul and became abusive' (6). There was great pressure on Paul. He could have given up very easily. It was God's Word which kept Paul going (10). Paul did not collapse under thee pressure - 'he stayed a year and six months, teaching the Word of God among them' (11). At Ephesus, there were people who asked Paul 'to stay for a longer period'. He 'declined'. Paul was moving on. He refused to be shackled by the expectations of other people. The important thing was 'God's will'. For us, there can be no standing still. We must move on with God. We must not get 'stuck in a rut'. Some say, 'Everything must remain the same. Nothing must change'. Paul had to 'set sail from Ephesus'. We must 'launch out into the deep' - at Jesus' Word (20-21; Luke 5:4-5).
21st February: Judges 18:14-19:30
'Keep quiet' - There is a guilty silence which comes from disobedience (18:18-20). When God's people remain silent, things go from bad to worse - 'Where there is no prophecy the people cast off restraint'. We must not be 'disobedient to the heavenly vision' (18:30; Proverbs 29:18; Acts 26:19). Chapter 19 warns us: Sin brings judgment. God cannot stand sin. He punishes sin (Habakkuk 1:13; Numbers 32:23). Sin must be taken seriously. God takes it seriously (Hebrews 10:29-31). It is not easy to see the hand of God in the sinful and shameful events of chapter 19. We must keep on believing that He is present, even when He is 'most invisible' (Church Hymnary, 670). Sometimes, He is present as our Judge. Judgment is not always immediate. There may be 'peace' before the storm. 'Consider' - and learn (19:20, 30)!
22nd February: Acts 18:22-19:22
Apollos 'taught accurately the things concerning Jesus'. He needed to have 'the way of God expounded to him more accurately' (24-26). There is always more to learn. We should never adopt a 'know-it-all' attitude. In 'two years' of ministry, 'God did' great things through Paul (10-11). Paul was moving on. His road led to 'Rome'. It was a road, full of blessing - 'The Word of the Lord grew and prevailed mightily' (20-21). Paul was on the move. God was on the move. Wherever Paul went, there were opportunities to make Christ known.. Wherever he went, people were trusting Christ. Paul was moving from place to place, bringing Christ to so many different people. People were moving 'from death to life' (John 5:24). This is what drove Paul on - Bringing more and more sinners to his Saviour!
23rd February: Acts 19:23-20:16
Read verse 28: 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians'. Remember Exodus 20:3 - 'You shall have no other gods before Me'. Remove all pretenders from God's throne. Rededicate yourself to the Lord - 'King of my life, I crown Thee now, Thine shall the glory be' (Redemption Hymnal, 165). People could not get enough of God's Word. Be hungry and thirsty for God, for His righteousness, for His Word, for His blessing (7; Matthew 5:6). Paul wanted to be 'at Jerusalem...on the day of Pentecost' (16). This had been a place and time of blessing (2:1-4,41). Paul was eager for the blessing of God in his own life. He was eager to bring God's blessing to others. How much does the blessing of God mean to you? Do you want His blessing? Do you want to be a blessing? 'Lord bless me and make me a blessing'.
24th February : Judges 20:1-28
God uses a sinful and shameful situation - 'Such a thing has never happened or been seen from the day that the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt until this day' (19:30) - to call His people back to Himself - 'all the people of Israel...assembled as one man to the Lord' (1). God's call was clear - 'Put away evil from Israel'. 'The Benjaminites would not listen' to this call for holiness among God's people (13). This was a serious situation. It was not to be taken lightly. This was no mere difference of opinion, something that would soon be forgotten. 'The Benjaminites came together...to go out to war against the people of Israel' (14). Three times, God called His people to 'go up' against the Benjaminites (18,23,28). Victory comes from the Lord: 'I will give them into your hand' (28).
25th February: Acts 20:17-21:14
From Paul's farewell to the Ephesian elders, there are some lessons for all of us. (a) 'Repentance to God' and 'faith in our Lord Jesus Christ' (21) - This is not only a call for conversion. It is for every believer - all the time. (b) 'Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock of God...Care for the Church of God' (28). Taking our own spiritual growth seriously will always involve caring for others. (c) 'It is more blessed to give than to receive' (35). Jesus Others Yourself - This is JOY. Let it be Thanksgiving ('I want to') rather than Duty Giving ('I ought to') or Grudge Giving ('I have to'). For Jesus and Paul, Jerusalem meant suffering. For both, the important thing was doing 'the Lord's will' (10-14; Matthew 16:21-23). 'Let us go forth to Him...and bear the abuse He endured' (Hebrews 13:13).
26th February: Acts 21:15-22:16
Here, we focus on two brief phrases - 'the things that God had done' (19) and you will be a witness for Him' (22:15). In the work of God we must learn to hold these two things together - divine power and human witness. Without the power of God, no one will come to faith in Christ: 'It is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness", who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ'. How does God work? - He works through human witnesses: 'we preach...Jesus Christ as Lord'. How are divine power and human witness related to each other? - 'We have this treasure in earthen vessels to show that the transcendent, superior, all-surpassing power belongs to God and not to us' (Corinthians 4:5-7). Let God speak - through you!
27th February: Judges 20:29-21:25
Judges ends on such a sad note: 'every man did what was right in his own eyes' (21:25). This situation is not merely political - 'no king'. It is moral and spiritual. The people had no regard for the authority of God and His Word. In Romans 5:20, we have Good News: 'where sin increased, grace abounded all the more'. Here, we have bad news: 'where grace increased, sin abounded all the more'. Reading Judges, we become acutely awareof the need for revival in our own day. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 we see the way to revival: 'If my people who are called by My Name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land'. Read of human 'compassion' (6,15). Rejoice: God 'will again have compassion upon us' (Micah 7:19).
28th February: Psalm 19:1-14
God reveals Himself in creation and Scripture. He speaks through His created world. He speaks through His written Word. God is always speaking. He is never silent. Through His created world, God is speaking to us - every day, every night. He is showing us His glory (1-2). He makes us aware of His presence. He whets our appetite for His written Word. The Scriptures lead us to Christ. Through faith in Him, we receive salvation (2 Timothy 3:15). Christ is the high-point of God's revelation. He is the living Word (John 1:1,14). The testimony of the Psalmist - 'The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul' (7) - becomes real for us through faith in Christ - 'I came to Jesus...My soul revived and now I live in Him' (Church Hymnary, 212). Make it real. Come to Christ. Come alive in Him!
29th February: Matthew 17:1-8'When they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only' (8). reading through God's Word, we read about many different people. Moses and Joshua, Saul and David, Peter and Paul - These are just some of the people we learn about in God's Word. There is, however, One who stands head and shoulders above them all - our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. None can compare with Him. 'His Name is higher than any other. His Name is Jesus. His Name is Lord'. When we read God's Word, let our prayer always be 'Open our eyes, Lord. We want to see Jesus'. Let it be 'Jesus only' in our lives - 'Jesus shall take the highest honour. Jesus shall take the highest praise' (Mission Praise, 233,545,378). we 'lift up our eyes'. We see 'the hills' (Psalm 121:1). Let us look beyond the hills - and see Jesus!
1st March: Ruth 1:1-2:23
Ruth meets Boaz. It seemed like a 'chance' meeting - 'she happened to come...'(2:3). It was more than that. God was at work. Ruth had committed herself to the Lord (1:16-17). She was being guided by the Lord (Psalm 37:3-5; Proverbs 3:5-6). Ruth was unassuming and grateful, hard working and responsible (2:10,13,7,18). She is a fine example of the 'good wife' described in Proverbs 31:10-31. In Boaz, she found a good man - godly, generous and sensitive (2:12,14,16). We read about Ruth. We learn about Jesus Christ. When you come to Him, He says, 'Do not go to glean in another field...' - 'There is salvation in no one else' (2:8; Acts 4:12). In Him, there is amazing grace. He loves us. He looks upon us favourably. He takes notice of us. He died for us (2:10; Romans 5:8). Let us follow Him (1:16-17; John 6:67-69).
2nd March: Ruth 3:1-4:22
Ruth was covered by the 'garment' of Boaz, her 'kinsman - redeemer' (3:9). Jesus is our Kinsman - Redeemer. He has become one of us. He shares our 'flesh and blood', our 'humanity'. Through His 'suffering' and 'death', we are brought to 'glory' (Hebrews 2:10-11,14-15). In Him, we 'rejoice': 'He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness' (Isaiah 61:10). 'Our righteous acts are like filthy rags'. Bring your 'robes' to Christ and let them be 'washed', 'made white in the blood of the Lamb'(Isaiah 64:6; Revelation 7:14). A 'Moabitess', Ruth was brought into the house of Israel (4:10-11). In Christ, Jew and Gentile become one (Ephesians 2:11-18). Ruth played her part in leading us to Christ (4:13-17; Matthew 1:1,5-6). May God help us to lead people to Christ.
3rd March: Acts 22:17-23:35
A Jew, 'praying in the temple' at 'Jerusalem', Paul was obedient to God's call - 'I will send you far away to the Gentiles' (22:17,21). The racists would not hear of this - 'Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he ought not to live' (22:22). This was not simply dislike for Paul. This was hatred directed against the God who, in Jesus Christ, offers salvation to all nations. Paul was a 'Roman citizen' (22:25-29). God was protecting Paul for his future ministry - 'you must bear witness also at Rome' (23:11). Paul was giving his own testimony when he wrote the words, 'All things work together for good to those who love God' (Romans 8:28). Serving the Lord is never easy. Sometimes, it can be very difficult. When we face violent opposition, we draw our strength from God's Word - 'Take courage' (23:10-11).
4th March: Acts 24:1-27
Paul did not abandon the teaching of the Old Testament Scriptures - 'I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the law or written in the prophets (14). He read the Old Testament. It led him to Christ. Paul's great theme was 'faith in Christ Jesus' (24). Paul speaks. Jesus is speaking through him. Jesus did 'not come to abolish the law and the prophets'. He came 'to fulfil them'. 'Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, Jesus interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself' (Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:27). God has spoken 'through the prophets'. God has spoken through His Son' (Hebrews 1:1-2). We read the Old Testament. We learn from 'Moses' and 'Elijah'. They step back. We see 'Jesus, only'. He is God's 'beloved Son'. We 'listen to Him' (Matthew 17:3,8,5).
5th March: Acts 25:1-27
Paul stood before Festus as an accused man. Festus listened. Recognizing his own shortcomings and respecting the accused wishes, he gave Paul a fair hearing (20-21,25). Festus made no decision - 'I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him' (26). Jesus was 'dead'. Now, He is 'alive' (19). This is not just 'something to think about'. We must make our decision. There can be no 'sitting on the fence'. Some are indecisive - 'I have nothing definite to say about Jesus'. It's 'make up your mind' time - 'How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? (Hebrews 2:3). Festus had to make a decision about Paul. There is a more important question: 'What do you think of the Christ?'. Each of us must answer the question: 'What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?' (Matthew 22:42; 27:22).
6th March: Acts 26:1-32
Paul answers three questions concerning himself. He puts a most important question to his hearers. (a) What was I before my conversion? Here, he speaks of his religion - 'According to the strictest party of my religion I have lived as a Pharisee' (5). This brought him 'to the ground' (14). (b) How did my conversion come about? Here, he speaks of his Saviour - 'I am Jesus...Stand up!' (15). (c) What happened after my conversion? Here, he describes how he became a 'servant' and a 'witness' (16). (d) The final question concerns our response - What about you? Will you become a Christian? (27-29). Do you have a story to tell? - Tell your story: the 'before', the 'after', the fact that it was Jesus who made the difference. Don't forget the challenge: To 'all who are listening to me today' - Come to Christ (29).
7th March: Acts 27:1-44
There is, in this story, a great picture of God's way of salvation. (a) Our human situation is hopeless: 'All our hope of being saved was at last abandoned' (20). We are sinners. We cannot save ourselves. (b) There is hope: 'God has granted you all thosee who sail with you' (25). God has provided a way of salvation: 'God so loved the world that He gave His only Son' (John 3:16). (c) Faith believes the Word of God: 'I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told' (25) - 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved' (16:31). (d) Safety: 'all escaped to land' (44). God has 'prepared' for us 'a better country', a 'heavenly one', 'a city', 'the city which is to come'. Do you want to 'escape', to be saved? Make sure that you don't 'neglect such a great salvation' (Hebrews 11:16; 13:14; 2:3).
8th March: Acts 28:1-31
Read of Paul's protection from the 'snake'. 'Rejoice' - Christ has won for us a great victory over 'that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan'. When God gives us His victory, we must not think too highly of ourselves - 'he was a god'. We must give all the glory to God: 'Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of God and the authority of His Christ have come' (3-6; Genesis 3:14-15; Revelation 12:9-12). 'So we came to Rome' (14) - These are words of triumph. God had fulfilled His promise: 'you must bear witness also at Rome' (23:11). Rejoicing that 'this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles', Paul was 'preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered' (29,31). Don't miss God's opportunities to share Christ's Good News!
9th March: 1 Samuel 1:1-28
Hannah 'wept'. Hannah 'was no longer sad' (7,18). What made the difference? No child had been born. She had not even conceived. These things did not happen until later (21). Why was there such a change in Hannah? She believed. God's Word had been spoken (17). Hannah believed His Word. She rejoiced in Him. Jesus ephasized the importance of praying with faith (Mark 11:24). We are to 'ask in faith', to pray 'the prayer of faith' (James 1:6; 5:15). We are also to pray 'according to His will' (1 John 5:14-15). God's ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). God does not always answer our prayers in the way that we want. Sometimes, rather than changing our circumstances, He simply speaks His Word to us: 'My grace is sufficient for you' (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Always, He 'gives grace to the humble' (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).
10th March: 1 Samuel 2:1-36
What a contrast between the son of Hannah and the sons of Eli - 'the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord...in the favour of the Lord', 'the sons of Eli were worthless men; they had no regard for the Lord (21,26,12). This is the difference between 'the children of God' and 'the children of the devil' (1 John 3:10). God's Word speaks to us with a promise and a warning: 'those who honour Me I will honour and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed' (30). Let your attitude to the Lord be summed up in the words of Hannah: 'There is none holy like the Lord, there is none like Thee; there is no rock like our God' (2). Let us find our joy and our strength in the Lord: 'My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exulted in the Lord' (1). May the Lord help us to be 'His faithful ones' who walk with Him (9).
11th March: 1 Samuel 3:1-4:22
The call of Samuel is a vivid example of what God can do in the lives of children. Samuel's early response to God set in motion a whole process of events leading Samuel to become 'a prophet of the Lord' through whom 'the Word of the Lord...came to all Israel' (3:10,19-4:1). Let us ground our children in Christ, encouraging them to have great expectations of what God can do in and with their lives as they grow up, loving Him. The people of Israel were 'defeated' by the Philistines. The greatest tragedy of this defeat was the 'capture' of 'the ark of God': 'The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured' (4:10-11,22). We may lose 'goods, honour, children, wife' (Church Hymnary, 406). The glory of God among His people - We must not lose this!
12th March: 1 Samuel 5:1-6:16
In 5:3-4, we read of God's superiority over Dagon - 'The Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King' (Jeremiah 10:10). 'The hand of the Lord was heavy' on those who set themselves against Him (5:6-7,9,11). Let 'the Lord alone be exalted'. He is our only 'Saviour' (Isaiah 2:17-18; 43:10-11). Through His victory over Dagon, the Lord calls us to be completely devoted to Him: 'Down went Dagon, smashed in pieces when the ark of God came in. So shall God destroy those idols that defile our hearts within. Come, Lord, and destroy them'. The return of the ark brought joy (6:13). When the Lord is restored to His rightful place among His people, there is joy. 'Heaven came down and glory filled my soul'. When the Lord comes to us, we 'rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory' (1 Peter 1:8).
13th March: 1 Samuel 6:17-7:17
God is 'holy' (20). He calls His people to be holy. With His call to holiness, there is His promise of blessing (3). Committed to serving the Lord only and calling on the Lord for His help, Israel wins a great victory over the Philistines (4-11). God's people give thanks to Him - 'Until now the Lord has helped us' (12). The victory over the Philistines was spectacular. There were, however, many 'ordinary' days. Here, we may learn from Samuel. He served the Lord 'all the days of his life' (15). The spectacular triumphs were few and far between. The 'ordinary' days were many - 'he went on a circuit year by year...'(16). In all his journeys, he did not forget to 'come home' (7:17). Other places and other people seem to be so interesting. Don't forget - There is much work to be done at 'home'.
14th March: Romans 1:1-32
'I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith' (16). Do you think it was easy for Paul to maintain such commitment to Christ, such confidence in Christ? What kind of world did he live in? - A world of 'ungodliness and wickedness' (18-31). Many times, Paul could have given up in despair - 'There is too much ungodliness and wickedness all around me. How can I go on?'. When you feel like giving up, when everything seems to be so difficult, remember Paul. Remember his longing to 'impart some spiritual gift', his desire to 'reap some harvest' his eagerness to 'preach the gospel' (12-15). Let us say, with Paul, 'God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Galatians 6:14). Let us be 'set apart for the gospel of God' (1).
15th March: Romans 2:1-29
None of us can 'escape the judgment of God'. None of us can 'presume upon the riches of His kindness'(3-4). We dare not come to God like the Pharisee, 'God, I thank Thee that I am not like other men...'. We can only come to Him with the prayer of the tax collector, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' (Luke 18:11-13). We must not pretend that we are 'righteous'. We must confess that we are 'sinners' (Luke 5:32). Sinners, lost, dead - We must hear this 'bad news if we are to come to a true appreciation of the Good News: 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), 'The Son of man came to seek and save the lost' (Luke 19:10), 'God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved' (Ephesians 2:4-5).
16th March: Romans 3:1-31
We are sinners - every single one of us. There are no exceptions - 'all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God'. When we see ourselves as we really are - sinners - , we come to see that there is no way for us to earn God's love. We will never deserve to be loved by God. His love is always 'a gift' - 'the redemption which is in Christ Jesus' (23-24). Through 'faith' we look away from ourselves to Christ. We rejoice that 'His blood' was shed for us. We receive from Him the forgiveness of our sins. This is the love of God. This is His gift. He gave His Son to be our Saviour. He gives salvation to all who trust the Saviour. 'By grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God' (Ephesians 2:8). No 'boasting' (27) - Rejoice in your Saviour!
17th March: Romans 4:1-25
Salvation is not a 'reward' to be 'earned'. It is God's 'gift' (4-5). Salvation comes from the Lord. 'God so loved the world that He gave His only Son' (John 3:16): Without the love of God, the gift of God, the Son of God, there can be no salvation. The way of salvation does not begin with the word 'I'. Jesus Christ is the Way. He is the Saviour. Salvation is in Him (John 14:6; Matthew 1:21; Acts 4:12). Looking to 'Jesus our Lord', crucified and raised for our salvation, we are saved and we give 'glory to God' (20-25). We rejoice in 'God our Saviour' - 'He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy...'(Titus 3:4-7). Looking away from ourselves to Christ, we learn the truth of God's Word: 'it is on the basis of faith that it may rest on grace' (16). This is Good News!
18th March: Proverbs 9:1-18
There is, in verse 5, a Gospel invitation: 'Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed'. We eat bread. We drink wine. We remember our Saviour (Matthew 26: 26-29). 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom' (10). 'This sounds so old-fashioned' - so the world tells us. 'The fear of the Lord' - This is something we must not forget. If we do not fear the Lord, we will forget Him. If we forget Him, we are fools. What is foolishness? Is it a lack of education? No! - It is a lack of obedience. When we do not 'honour' God, we are 'without sense'. 'Claiming to be wise', we show that we are 'fools'. If we are wise, we will keep 'going straight on the way', looking always to Jesus Christ who is the true and living Way. He leads us from 'the depths of hell' to the heights of heaven (13-18; Romans 1:21-22; John 14:2,6).
19th March: 1 Samuel 8:1-9:10
Israel's demand for a king did not arise from love for God. It was motivated by human pride (8:5,20). Having 'rejected' the Lord as King, the people made their choice. They did not choose for God! They 'chose for themselves' (8:7,18). God allowed them to have their king but He did not approve of their choice (22,18). Humanly speaking, Saul was well qualified (9:2). There was, however, something tragic about Saul's reign. From the very outset, it was rushing headlong to its inevitable outcome: 'I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly' (26:21). 'He gave them what they asked, but He sent a wasting disease among them' (Psalm 106:15). Saul did more harm than good. There was not much blessing during Saul's reign. God had greater things in store for Israel - but not until Saul's reign was over!
20th March: 1 Samuel 9:11-10:16
The Lord is King: We must never forget this. A human king is no substitute for the divine King (8:7). God was not pleased with His people. They wanted to be 'like all the nations' (8:5). God refused to abandon His people. They wanted a king. He gave them their king (15-17). He would wait patiently for His people to make a whole-hearted return to Him. The Lord would wait patiently until 'a man after His own heart' would rule over 'His people' (13:14). A human king must never forget the divine King. He must not become 'too big for his boots'. He must not impose his own will. He must submit to God's will. This is what it means to be 'a man after God's own heart' - 'Not my will but Thine be done', 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven' (Luke 22:44; Matthew 6:10).
21st March: 1 Samuel 10:17-11:15
Everyone was so happy - 'Long live the king! (24). Everything seemed to be so promising - 'The Spirit of God came mightily upon Saul' (6). God's people were victorious (11). God's people 'rejoiced greatly' (15). This is not, however, the whole story. Things were to get worse, much worse - 'You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from Him who calls you' (Galatians 5:7-8). Remember the parable of the sower: 'Satan immediately comes and takes away the Word...When tribulation or persecution arises on account of the Word, immediately they fall away... The cares of the world and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the Word, and it proves unfruitful' (Mark 4:15,17,19). Pray - 'Deliver us from evil' (Matthew 6:13).
22nd March: Romans 5:1-21
God has great things in store for His people! (a) 'Much more' (9-10): 'Justified by Christ's blood', 'reconciled to God', 'We shall be saved by Christ from the wrath of God', 'saved by His life'. (b) 'Much more' (15,17): 'The grace of God' has 'abounded for many'. In Christ, we have 'received the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness'. Through Him, we shall 'reign in life'. (c) 'More than that' (3): Our pathway to eternal glory will not be easy. There will be 'suffering'. God has given us a glimpse of our eternal destiny: 'grace reigning through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord' (21). 'We rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God' (2). Having caught sight of the heavenly and eternal glory, we see our 'suffering' in a new light, the light of 'God's love' (3-5).
23rd March: 1 Samuel 12:1-13:15a
To the king as well as the people, God speaks in promise and warning: 'If both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well... If you will not hearken to the voice of the Lord...then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king' (12:14-15). Samuel was not afraid to speak very directly to the king - 'You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God...Your kingdom shall not continue' (13:13-14). Saul's reign was about to end. God's love continued: 'The Lord will not cast away His people, for His great Name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for Himself' (12:22). Saul had become too full of himself and his own importance. He needed to be replaced by 'a man after God's own heart' (13:14). To the divine King be all the glory!
24th March: Romans 6:1-23
(a) 'We know that our old self was crucified' (6) - What a great thing God has done! He has made you 'a new creation in Christ' (2 Corinthians 5:17). (b) 'Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus' (11) - Believe it . This is what the Lord has done: 'you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit...the Spirit of God dwells in you...Christ is in you...the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you...His Spirit dwells in you' (8:9-11). (c) 'Yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life' (13) - Act upon it'. 'Walk in newness of life' (4). Live as those whom God has made new. We are 'not under law but under grace' (14). Keep your eyes fixed on the Saviour and your obedience will be Gospel obedience and not merely legal obedience.
25th March: 1 Samuel 13:15b- 14:23
Humanly speaking, Israel seemed to be 'no hopers' (13:22). There was, however, something else. The Lord was with His people and He would give them the victory (14:6,19,12,23). There is a very important lesson for us here: 'The weapons of our warfare are not worldly'. We are to 'put on the whole armour of God' (2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Ephesians 6:11-13). The victory does not come from our own strength. It comes from the Lord (Psalms 21:16; 21:7). In all our difficulties, we say, with faith, 'If God is for us, who can be against us?...In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us' (Romans 8:31,37). Do you want to have this strong faith which rejoices in the Lord, even when life is very difficult? - 'Wait on the Lord and renew your strength' (Isaiah 40:31).
26th March: 1 Samuel 14:24-52
Making mistakes - it's part of life for all of us: 'We all make mistakes. If any one makes no mistakes ...he is a perfect man' (James 3:2). What are we to make of the 'mistakes' made by Saul and Jonathan? Saul's 'mistake' was an error of judgment which 'troubled the land' (24,29). Jonathan's 'mistake' was unfortunate. In the wrong place at the wrong time, he 'had not heard' what had been going on before he arrived on the scene (27). It was almost his last 'mistake' (43-44)! How are we to react to our mistakes? We can be like Saul or we can learn from our mistakes. Digging in his heels, Saul blundered on from one 'mistake' to another. He acted like he was the 'perfect man' who never makes 'mistakes'. He had got it wrong, and he was the last to see it (44-45)! May God help us to learn from our mistakes!
27th March: Romans 7:1-25
God's purpose is not easily fulfilled in us. Our battle with sin is extremely intense. There is a great conflict going on within us. 'The Spirit' and 'the flesh' are at war with each other (Galatians 5:17). God has given us His Spirit - 'we serve...in the new life of the Spirit' (6). We are still sinners - 'I am carnal, a slave to sin' (14). These are two sides of the one coin. The Spirit is within us yet we remain sinners. Honestly confessing our sin, we say, 'Wretched man that I am!'. Gladly rejoicing in our Saviour, we say, 'Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!' (24-25). Despite our many defeats, we say, 'Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord' (8:39). Wait for 'the final result': 'God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ' (1 Corinthians 15:57).
28th March: 1 Samuel 15:1-35
Saul chose convenience rather than obedience. He did what he wanted - not what God commanded (3,9). Saul was disobedient. God was not pleased with him (10). Saul made big claims for himself: 'I have performed the commandment of the Lord' (13). This was nonsense. Samuel saw through it immediately - 'What then is this bleating...?'(14). Saul had done what suited himself. God said one thing. Saul did another. Saul tried to 'pass the buck'. He blamed 'the people' (21). Saul appears to confess his sin. Still, there is this element of 'passing the buck'. He blames 'the people' - 'They put me up to it. It was their idea' (24). This was 'the last straw'. For Saul, this was 'the end' - 'the show was over'. He would be replaced (26-28). Love God 'with all your heart...' - not just a part (Deuteronomy 6:5)!
29th March: 1 Samuel 16:1-23
'Samuel did what the Lord commanded' (4). Real obedience comes from 'the heart'. It is more than just 'keeping up appearances'(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 verses 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 (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' (13-14). Don't settle for second best when you can have God's very best!
30th March: Romans 8:1-39
Each of us must choose. We can 'live according to the flesh' or we can 'live according to the Spirit'. We can 'set the mind on the flesh' or we can 'set the mind on the Spirit' (5-6). The new life in the Spirit is just the beginning. God is preparing us for the greater 'glory that will be revealed in us' (18). We have 'the first fruits of the Spirit'. The Holy Spirit is 'the guarantee of our inheritance'. He is the starter which whets our appetite for the main course! With Him in our hearts, we long for more - 'an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you', 'the redemption of our bodies', 'the glorious liberty of the children of God' (21-23; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Peter 1:3-5). Led by the Spirit, strong in the Spirit, we press on to glory (14,26,17).
31st March: Psalms 20:1-21:13
'We boast of the Name of the Lord our God...Through the steadfast love of the Most High' we 'shall not be moved' (20:7;21:7). We do not trust in things that 'collapse and fall'. We build on 'the Rock' (20:8; Matthew 7:24-27; Psalms 18:1-3; 62:5-7). We 'rejoice' in our God. He has made us 'most blessed for ever'(21:1,6; Ephesians 1:3). Think of Jesus Christ your Saviour. He is absolutely trustworthy. He is completely dependable. His love is an 'unfailing love' (21:7). In Him, there is salvation. In Him, there is joy. With His strong and powerful love, He has saved us. He has given us 'a new song' to sing, 'a song of praise to our God' (Psalm 40:1-3). Let us lift our hearts and voices to Him in praise and worship: 'Be exalted, O Lord, in Thy strength,! We will sing and praise Thy power' (13).
1st April: 1 Samuel 17:1-58
David defeats Goliath. This is not only a story about David and Goliath. It is about the Israelites and the Philistines. It is about 'God' and the 'gods' (43,46). Victory comes from the Lord. It is given by grace. It is received by faith (47). Notice the contrast between the attitude of Saul - unbelief -and the attitude of David - faith (33,37). Unbelief is all around us. Don't be pulled into it. Don't forget God. Remember what He has done for you and thank Him that He will not fail you now (37). Put off the armour provided by men. 'Put on the whole armour of God' (38-40; Ephesians 6:11). We will not win the victory if we fight in our own strength. We must draw our strength from the Lord. He helps us. We are 'strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man' (Psalm 121:2; 124:8; Ephesians 3:16).
2nd April 1 Samuel 18:1-30
'Loved' by 'all Israel and Judah' (16,28), David was hated by only one man, the most powerful man in the land - Saul (29). Saul was full of envy (7-8), suspicion (9) and violence (10-11). Saul had been proved wrong (17:33,50), and he didn't like it! David had more success with the women (7), and Saul wasn't happy about this! The women shouldn't have been idolizing David. Saul shouldn't have been seeking glory for himself. The glory belongs to the Lord - not to David, not to Saul, not to anyone else! 'Saul was David's enemy continually' (29). His real argument was with God. 'The Lord was with David' (14,28). This didn't please Saul - 'Why am I not getting all this blessing? I'm the king!'. If anyone says, I love God', and hates his brother, he is a liar... he who loves God should love his brother also' (1 John 4:20-21).
3rd April: 1 Samuel 19:1-24
Saul was planning to kill David (1). Jonathan warns David and tries to talk some sense into Saul (2,4-5). Saul took Jonathan's advice - but not for long (6,10)! Thank God that the 'like father, like son' rule didn't apply here! How much more difficult life would have been for David if he had both Saul and Jonathan for enemies! Sin can be a family tradition, passed on from generation to generation. The 'father' chooses a self-centred life. The 'son' follows in his footsteps. 'He's just his father's son'! You can be your Father's son: 'All who receive Christ become children of God' (John 1:12). Saul was seeking his own glory. Jonathan gave the glory to God (4-5). Let us not seek glory for ourselves (John 5:41,44). Give all the glory to God (Revelation 14: 7:12; Romans 11:36).
4th April: Romans 9:1-33
We read about 'Jews' and 'Gentiles'. We learn about salvation. The Jews are not saved because of their nationality. It is 'not because of works'. The Gentiles are not excluded because of their nationality. It is 'because of His call'. Salvation comes from God's grace, not from our good works. It is received 'by faith', not 'by works' (24,11,30-32). There is for us here a word of warning and a word of promise. Here's the warning - You can be religious without being saved: 'not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel...it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God' (6-8). Here's the promise - You can be saved through faith in Jesus Christ: Through faith in Him, those who were 'not God's people' became 'sons of the living God' (26). Trust in Christ, not in yourself!
5th April: Romans 10:1-21
To 'Jew and Gentile', God says, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved' (12-13). The Jews had praised the Lord Jesus: 'Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!'. Before long, they were shouting, 'Crucify Him, crucify Him!' (John 12:12-13; 19:6). We rejoice that the Gospel has now come to the Gentiles. We remember also that God still 'holds out His hands to Israel'(19-21). Still, Christ says, 'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem...How often would I have gathered your children together...' (Luke 13:34). 'Pray for the peace of Jerusalem', for the advance of the Gospel among the Jews (Psalm 122:6). Pray also for the 'voice' of the Gospel, 'going out into all the earth' (18). Pray that 'faith will come as the Word of Christ is heard' (17).
6th April: Romans 11:1-36
'You stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe' (20). In 9:32, Paul contrasted 'faith' and 'works'. Here, he contrasts 'grace' and 'works' (6). Grace and faith belong together. 'Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy Cross I cling' (Church Hymnary, 83) - This is faith, looking away from itself to divine grace. We do not come to God with our religion in one hand and our morality in the other. We hear the Gospel invitation - 'O come to the Father through Jesus the Son'. Trusting in Christ, we say, 'To God be the glory! Great things He has done' (Church Hymnary, 374). It is only when we bow at the foot of the Cross that we are able to say, with Paul, 'To Him be the glory for ever!' (36; Galatians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
7th April: 1 Samuel 20:1-42
'Jonathan loved David as he loved his own soul' (17). He was ready to die for David (30-33). This is real love and true spiritual fellowship: 'Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends', 'If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another...' (John 15:13; 1 John 1:7). Where there is real love for the Lord, there will be depth of fellowship among His people. If our love for the Lord is shallow, our interest in other people will be superficial. Don't be like Saul - 'backstabbing', 'ready to put the knife in': 'Any one who hates his brother is a murderer...' (1 John 3:15). 'Let there be love shared among us...brotherly love that is real' (Mission Praise, 411). God will answer this prayer - if we really mean it and don't just 'mouth' it!
8th April: 1 Samuel 21:1-22:23
'Religion' is no substitute for compassion (21:3-6; Matthew 12:1-4,7). These were difficult times for David. His life was in great danger. He maintained his trust in the Lord. Looking ahead to the future, he speaks of 'what God will do for me' (22:3). Saul did not have the upper hand. God was in control. We wonder about the future - 'What will it bring?'. With our faith in the Lord, we say, 'I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future'. We look to the Lord and we say, 'My times are in Thy hand: My God I wish them there...My times are in Thy hand, whatever they may be...Why should I doubt or fear?...I'll always trust in Thee'. When life is hard, remember the One who suffered for you: 'Jesus, the Crucified' - He is our Guard and Guide' (Church Hymnary, 680).
9th April: 1 Samuel 23:1-29
Saul imagined that God was with him in his pursuit of David - 'God has given him into my hand' (7). He was wrong - 'Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand' (14). We may like to think that God supports us in everything we decide to do. We must, however, be honest before Him and recognize that there can be a great difference between 'what I want' and 'what God wants'. We must learn to choose God's will rather than our own will (Luke 22:42). We ask, 'What is God's will?'. God says, 'This is the will of God, your sanctification' (1 Thessalonians 4:3). God wants us to be 'changed into His likeness' (2 Corinthians 3:18). He renews our minds, enabling us to live a life that is more truly and more fully in line with His perfect will (Romans 12:2). Do you want your own way - or God's will?
10th April: Psalm 22:1-18
Read of the Psalmist's sufferings. Think of the Saviour, suffering for you (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' (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).
11th April: Psalms 22:19-23:4
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' (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). Jesus Christ has passed 'through the valley of the shadow of death' for us (4). Now, we rejoice in Him, our Shepherd of love - (a) the Good Shepherd who died for us (John 10:11); (b) the Great Shepherd who was raised for us (Hebrews 13:20-21); (c) The Chief Shepherd who is coming again for us (1 Peter 5:4). He restores us. He keeps us from 'straying like sheep'. He leads us 'in paths of righteousness' (3; 1 Peter 2:25).
12th April: Psalms 23:5-24:10
For God's people, there is a glorious eternal destiny: 'I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever' (23:6). We 'receive this blessing from the Lord,...the God of our salvation' (24:5). There is only one answer to the question, 'Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?: Jesus Christ 'shall stand in His holy place'. No one else has 'clean hands and a pure heart' - no one else but Jesus. He is the One who receives 'blessing' from the Lord - and He gives it to us (3-5)! How do we receive His blessing? - We must open our hearts 'that the King of glory may come in' (7,9). How can 'the Lord, strong and mighty' live in me? How can I receive His resurrection power? Jesus says, 'I stand at the door and knock, if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in' (8; Ephesians 1:19-20; Revelation 3:20).
13th April: Romans 12:1-13:10
Here, we have practical Christian living, living the life of love. What can our 'sacrifice' be in the light of Christ's greater Sacrifice of Himself for us? It can only be 'our reasonable service', our 'spiritual worship'. His love calls for our response, the response of love: 'Love so amazing, so divine, demands (and shall have) my soul, my life, my all' (12:1; Church Hymnary, 254). Our love for Him can never begin to compare with His love for us. 'Love is a many splendoured thing' (12:9-21). Let love direct our thinking, speaking and living - His love, love for God, love for people (13:8-10). Let your prayer be, 'More love, more power, more of You in my life. And I will worship You with all my heart,...mind,...strength' (Songs of Fellowship, 392). Worship the Lord - and be changed by His love!
14th April: Romans 13:1-14:23
'Walk in love' - We must not fall out over matters in which difference of opinion is allowed (14:5,15). There can be a lot of bitterness over 'the Sabbath'. There can be so much pride. For some, this is the 'be-all and end-all' of Christian faith. They say, 'We are the Sabbath keepers. They are not!'. Others react, 'We rejoice in our Christian liberty. They are legalists'. 'Pharisees' are preoccupied with 'the Sabbath'. We must remember that Jesus is 'the Lord of the Sabbath'. We must let His love flow (Matthew 12:2,10,8,11-12). Let faith be real - not just keeping on the right side of narrow-minded people (23; Colossians 2:16; 1 Corinthians 2:15). Let there be 'peace and joy in the Holy Spirit'. Don't think too highly of yourself. 'Count others better than yourself' (17; 12:3; Philippians 2:3).
15th April: Romans 15:1-33
With Christ's example, 'the encouragement of the Scriptures' and the enabling power of God, let us love one another,'with one heart and one voice' (1-6). This is the way of glorifying God. Trusting in Christ, 'the root of Jesse', we are blessed by 'the God of hope', filled with 'the power of the Holy Spirit' - so that we may 'abound in hope'. This hope comes to us through 'the Scriptures' (12-13,4). God's saving purpose was not only for the 'dyed in the wool' Jew. He saved both Jews and Gentiles (9-12). Thank God that Paul was not as narrow-minded as many people are today! God's blessing is not only for our type of people! Let us learn from Paul. 'A minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles', he was always reaching out to more and more people 'in the fulness of the blessing of Christ' (16,29).
16th April: Romans 16:1-27
Paul was writing to a Church with big problems (17-18). Deeply influenced by the wrong kind of people, the Church gets bogged down in 'dissensions and difficulties'. Critical, fault-finding people exert an extremely divisive influence. They look after their own interests. They only think about themselves. Nothing else matters to them. They manipulate other people - to get their own way. They go out of their way to get their own way! The problem may be great - but the power of God is greater (19-20)! Strengthened by 'the God of peace' and 'the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ', let us press on in 'obedience' to God, claiming His victory over 'Satan'. Let 'the preaching of Jesus Christ' make you strong for God (25-27).
17th April: 1 Samuel 24:1-22
Saul recognized that David was a 'righteous' man to whom 'the kingdom' would be given (17,20). There is a vital connection between godly character and fruitfulness in God's service. We dare not imagine that we will be fruitful for God if we refuse to give ourselves fully to Him. There is no short cut to God's blessing which by-passes the dedication of our hearts and lives to Him. We learn this lesson from David. A man, 'raised up to be king', he was - first of all - 'a man after God's heart', a man who would 'do all God's will' (Acts 13:22). It was great that Saul recognized David's righteous character and spiritual potential. It was sad that this made no real difference to the way in which Saul lived His own life. He continued to 'play the fool', going his own way rather than God's way (26:21).
18th April: 1 Samuel 25:1-44
Forewarned is forearmed. Know where the trouble's coming from before it hits you and knocks you off your feet. This is the message of verse 25. Nabal was well named - Fool!. He is described as 'that wicked man', 'this ill-natured fellow', 'this worthless person', 'this man of Belial'. We need to be on our guard with people like this around! In 2 Corinthians 6:15, Paul uses the word, 'Belial'. It is another name for Satan. It's hardly any wonder that Nabal was a trouble maker. He was a man of Satan! Be on your guard against Satan. He doesn't always come 'as a roaring lion'. Sometimes, he 'masquerades himself as an angel of light' (1 Peter 5:8; 2 Corinthians 11:14). It's better to be forewarned and forearmed than to have to say, with the benefit of hindsight, 'I wish I had known then what I know now'!
19th April: 1 Corinthians 1:1-2:5
Paul preached the Gospel, 'not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power' (17; 2:4). He preached 'Christ crucified' with a determination 'to know nothing except Jesus Christ crucified'(23; 2:2). This is the message of our salvation - 'Christ crucified...Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God' (23-24). All the glory belongs to God. We have no right to steal away any of the glory for ourselves: 'Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord' (26-31). Our faith is 'not based on human wisdom but on God's power' (2:5). 'Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace' (Mission Praise, 712). Christ is our full salvation. 'Let us rejoice and be glad' in Him (30; Psalm 118:24).
20th April: 1 Corinthians 2:6-3:23
We come to know God when 'the Spirit' leads us to 'Jesus Christ' (2:10-13; 3:11; John 16:14). We must not attach too much importance to the preachers - 'What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants ...'. When we make too much of the servant, we draw attention away from the Saviour. There is a very important lesson here - 'Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth' (3:5-7). We are not members of a 'mutual appreciation society' - 'You pat my back, and I'll pat yours'! We must learn to point to Jesus, saying, 'He must increase, but I must decrease' (John 3:30). Let 'Jesus take the highest honour'. Let His Name be 'the Name high over all'. ''Tis all my business...to cry Behold the Lamb!' (Mission Praise, 378,385) - Let's say it and mean it!
21st April: 1 Corinthians 4:1-21
As 'servants of Christ', we must concern ourselves with one thing - being 'found faithful'. This is not a matter of pleasing people - 'it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you...'. Pleasing God - this is the most important thing (1-4). Serving Christ is not easy. There are always those who are quick to pass judgment on the Lord's servants. What does God say about this? - 'Do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes' (9-13,5). Being 'found faithful' is not just a matter of 'saying the right words'. We must be the right people. This is what Paul means when he says, 'The kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power' (20). 'You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses' (Acts 1:8; Romans 12:11).
22nd April: 1 Corinthians 5:1-6:11
'Your boasting is not good' - May we never become so taken up with ourselves that we forget Jesus Christ and all that He has done for us: 'Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us', 'you were washed...sanctified...justified in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God' (5:6-7; 6:11). There were problems among God's people - 'sexual immorality', 'lawsuits' (5:1; 6:7). In all of this, Christ was being forgotten. There are no depths to which we cannot sink when we take our eyes off Christ. There are no heights to which we will not be raised as we look away from ourselves to Him. Christ is able to lift from the guttermost and 'save to the uttermost all those who come to God through Him' (Hebrews 7:25). Let it be more of Christ and less of self!
23rd April: 1 Samuel 26:1-25
Saul and David were very different. David was wise. He had respect for 'the Lord's anointed' (11). This was grounded in 'the fear of the Lord' which 'is the beginning of wisdom' (Psalm 111:10). Saul 'played the fool'. He 'erred exceedingly', choosing the way of self rather than the way of the Lord (21). This is not only the story of David and Saul. It's like looking into a mirror. In David and Saul, we see ourselves. We are at the cross-roads. We must choose. God promises blessing - 'The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness' (23). This promise is full of challenge. Choose 'righteousness and faithfulness'. Choose Christ. Keep on choosing Him. 'O happy day, that fixed my choice on Thee, my Saviour and my God...That vow renewed shall daily hear' (Mission Praise, 499).
24th April: 1 Samuel 27:1-28:2
What a difference there is between fear - 'I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul' - and faith - 'The Lord will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine (27:1; 17:37)! These words were spoken by the same man - David. There is a battle going on within each one of us - a battle for faith, a battle against fear. How do we overcome fear? How do we grow strong in faith? - 'Perfect love casts out fear'. It is God's love which gives us the victory - 'We love, because He first loved us'. Strengthened by His love, our faith grows strong, and we say, 'This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith...Jesus is the Son of God' (1 John 4:18-19; 5:4-5). 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine' (Isaiah 43:1). Let faith grow strong and fear be banished!
25th April: 1 Samuel 28:3-25
Saul sinned against the Lord. He brought God's judgment upon himself: 'Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord...the Lord has done this thing to you this day' (18). 'Saul disguised himself'' - he thought he could get away with his sin. He was wrong: 'Be sure your sin will find you out' (8; Numbers 32:23). There is no hiding from God - 'Before Him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do'. God's Word warns us: 'It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God'. Do not 'trample the Son of God under foot, treating His blood as an unholy thing and outraging the Spirit of grace'. Don't fight against God. You will be the loser! Don't 'shrink back' and be 'destroyed'. 'Believe' and be 'saved' (Hebrews 4:13; 10:29-31, 39; Acts 16:30-31).
26th April: Proverbs 10:1-22
What a difference there is between the 'wise' and the 'foolish'. It is the difference between 'righteousness' and 'wickedness' (1-2). Throughout life, there are choices to be made. We may choose wisely, being led by the Lord 'in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake'. We may choose foolishly, going 'astray', refusing to 'call upon the Lord' (Psalms 23:3-4; 14:2-4). We must be very careful about the choices we make. There is a 'way that leads to life' and a 'way that leads to destruction' (16-17; Matthew 7:13-14). 'Flee from the wrath to come'. Choose Christ. Choose life. 'He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him' (Matthew 3:7; John 3:36).Choose Him now. 'Now is the day of salvation' (2 Corinthians 6:2).
27th April: 1 Corinthians 6:12-7:24
The Lord has placed the highest value on us: 'you were bought with a price' (6:20; 7:23). Our love for Him must be stronger than any other love. Some are under pressure, at home, from an unbelieving husband or wife. You wonder whether your Christian witness is doing any good (7:16). You feel you are getting nowhere. You feel like giving up. You feel yourself being dragged away from the Lord. What does the Word of God say? - 'Lead the life which the Lord has assigned'; 'Remain with God' (7:17,24). A difficult situation at home is just one example of 'the world' trying to 'squeeze us into its own mould' (Romans 12:2). The world will keep chipping away at our faith - until there's nothing left. 'Do not love the world or the things in the world...He who does the will of God abides for ever' (1 John 2:17).
28th April: 1 Corinthians 7:25-8:13
We are to 'use the things of the world' without becoming 'engrossed in them' (31). Becoming more worldly in our way of living is not a purely personal thing. We harm other people 'for whom Christ died'. They look to us for a godly example and we let them down. We 'sin against them'. We 'sin against Christ'. Our choices affect other people. We choose a self-centred life. We cause them to 'fall into sin'. We live a life of 'love', and they are 'built up' in their faith (11-13,1; Matthew 18:5-7, 10). How are we to live? Are we to become preoccupied with how our actions affect those who watch our every move? That could become very confusing and distracting. We must keep our eyes on Jesus. We must live 'not ...as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart...' (Ephesians 6:6-7).
Wed. 29th April: 1 Samuel 29:1-30:15
'David was greatly distressed...But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God (30:6). Things are going badly. What do you do? Do you start feeling sorry for yourself? That won't do any good. God's Word says, 'Be strong, and let your heart take courage' (Psalm 27:14). In times of difficulty, where does your strength come from? - 'The Lord is my strength and my shield... The Lord is the strength of His people...' (Psalm 28:7-8). How are we to strengthen ourselves in the Lord our God? We must remind ourselves that God is in control: 'The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as King for ever'. This is the way in which 'the Lord gives strength to His people!'.This is the way 'the Lord blesses His people with peace!' (Psalm 29:10-11). Let us be strong in the Lord
30th April: 1 Samuel 30:16-31:13
Here, we have tragedy and triumph - the tragedy of Saul (4), the triumph of the Lord (23). What we are, in ourselves, is tragic - 'all have sinned...the wages of sin is death' (Romans 3:23; 6:23). This is not the full story of our life. There's something else: 'what the Lord has given us' - 'they are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus', 'the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord' (23; Romans 3:24; 6:23). This is the triumph of the Lord. It is not something that we achieve for ourselves. 'This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes' (Psalm 118:23). We give all the praise and glory to the Lord: 'Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph. Let us 'spread the knowledge of Him everywhere' (2 Corinthians 2: 14).
1st May: 2 Samuel 1:1-27
'How are the mighty fallen!' (19,25,27). The tragedy of Saul was there for all to see. He had made a right mess of things! What are we to think when we read of this tragic figure? He started out so well. He ended so badly. There were high hopes – but it all came to nothing. Do we not see ourselves in Saul? – This could happen to me, if I'm not careful. The danger signs are there. Satan is at hand. He is ready to sweep in. He will sweep the feet away from us, if we don't watch out. We are very weak, but the Lord is 'able to keep us from falling' (Jude 24-25). These are things we must never forget – our own weakness and the strength of the Lord. Disaster threatens. Tragedy looms. Jesus draws near. He speaks His Word – 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness' (2 Corinthians 12:9). By grace, we shall stand!
2nd May: 2 Samuel 2:1-32
It was a new beginning. There was a new king. Saul was gone. He had been replaced by David. One thing had not changed. The Lord is King. To know His blessing – His 'steadfast love and faithfulness' – is more important than anything else. We look beyond the servants of the Lord. We look to the Lord Himself (4-7). The names and the faces change – Saul, David, - but the Lord never changes'. Some liked one king – 'If only we had Saul back again'. Some preferred the other – 'Things can only get better, now that David's here'. Some people would never be happy. There was no pleasing them. What is the most important thing of all? – Keep your eyes on the Lord. God's servants are not in competition with one another. They are not trying to outdo each other. Let God be glorified!
3rd May: 2 Samuel 3:1-39
'There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David' (1) – What a sad situation! It was shameful. It was sinful – a scandalous situation, which brought no glory to the Lord. The conflict seemed to go on and on – it was 'a long war'. Perhaps, there were times when things didn't seem too bad. Still, the problem showed no sign of going away. They were at 'war' with one another. Is there any hope in a situation like this? We may wonder. Humanly speaking, things seem to go round in circles. There appears to be some progress, then there is another outbreak of violence. There is hope. Our hope is in the Lord. He continues to speak His Word – '…I will save My people…from the hand of all their enemies' (18). Whatever happens, don't forget the Word of the Lord.
4th May: 2 Samuel 4:1-5:25
'…they came into the house…and slew him…' (4:7). What are we to make of this kind of thing? – 'What's the world coming to?'. Where's it all going to end?'. It is difficult to maintain real faith in the Lord when this kind of thing is going on. What are we to do? Don't bury your head in the sand. Don't pretend that such things are not happening. Don't imagine that that they will just go away. 'Inquire of the Lord'. 'Do as the Lord commands'. Keep on believing that there will be a breakthrough – from the Lord (19,23,25,20). Can you 'hear the sound of rustling in the leaves of the trees'? – 'The Spirit of the Lord has come down on the earth'. Let us 'rise, a mighty array, at the bidding of the Lord – The Spirit won't be hindered by division in the perfect work that Jesus has begun' (24; John 3:8; Mission Praise, 274).
5th May: 2 Samuel 6:1-23
'When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart' (16). Michal was a very angry young woman. Her husband had embarrassed her and she didn't like it! What had David done to deserve this? – 'I will celebrate before the Lord' (21). This is really quite pathetic. God's children are learning to 'worship Him in Spirit and in truth' (John 4:23-24). In comes 'the stiff upper lip brigade'. They have no real heart for worship. They put a dampener on it – 'This has to stop'. This is not only pathetic. It is sinful. 'Do not quench the Spirit…Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…Be filled with Spirit, addressing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart…' (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30; 5:18-20).
6th May: 2 Samuel 7:1-29
David was king. God was looking on the next king, Solomon. Knowing the kind of man Solomon would become, God speaks of chastening: 'When he does wrong, I will chasten him'. This chastening is an expression of God's 'steadfast love': 'Those whom I love, I rebuke and chasten'. How do we respond to God's chastening? Don't be like 'Saul'. He was 'put away from' being king because of his continual disobedience. 'Be zealous and repent'. When you are being chastened, don't forget the love of God: 'The Lord disciplines him whom He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives'. Why does God chasten His children? – 'He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness'. Beyond the 'pain' of 'discipline', there is 'the peaceful fruit of righteousness' (14-15; Revelation 3:19; Hebrews 12:5-11).
7th May: 1 Corinthians 9:1-27
'If I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting' (16). Paul preached the Gospel. His whole desire was to bring men and women to the Saviour (22). Paul did not want to draw attention to himself. He didn't preach so that his hearers would say, 'What a good preacher Paul is'! He did not want to be 'an obstacle in the way of the Gospel of Christ' (12). Paul was not a 'performer', trying to increase his own popularity. Paul described his ministry like this: 'I do it all for the sake of the Gospel' (23). Keep your eyes on Jesus. This is very important. Don't get so preoccupied with 'a good preacher' that you lose sight of the great Saviour! There is no room for 'superstars': 'Humble yourselves before the Lord' – 'The Name of Jesus is the Name above every name' (James 4:10; Philippians 2:9-10).
8th May: 1 Corinthians 10:1-33
'Participation in the blood of Christ…participation in the body of Christ' (16): There is nothing more important than this. We are not to be spectators, standing on the side lines, watching what's going on without ever getting involved. We are to be participants, getting to know the Lord Jesus Christ, growing in our love for Him, strengthening our faith in Him, bringing more glory to Him. We eat bread. We drink wine. We remember Jesus Christ, 'the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us'. We do not only remember this great event from the past. We participate in Christ here and now. He has brought us out of our old life – 'I have been crucified with Christ' – and into His new life – 'It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me' (Galatians 2:20). Participate 'in Christ' – not only in 'the Church'!
9th May: 1 Corinthians 11:1-34
We celebrate the Lord's Supper (23-26). We even take note of what Paul says about the way we are to come to the Lord's Table (27-29). What's this all about? Is it about the whole thing looking good – impressive? Paul gives us something to think about in verse 22 – 'Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the Church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?'. In Paul's questions, we hear an echo of the Old Testament prophets (Isaiah 1:12-20; Amos 5:21-24). We rejoice in John 3:16 – 'God so loved the world…'. Let's not forget 1 John 3:16-18 – 'let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in trust'. Jesus says, '…first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift' (Matthew 5:23-24). Don't just think about it. Act on it (James1:22-25; 2:14-17)!
10th May: 2 Samuel 8:1-9:13
David was involved in many battles with his enemies. Their antagonism had been aroused by his strong stand for the Lord. David enjoyed many victories. Why? – 'The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went' (8:6,14). Jesus said, 'Apart from Me you can do nothing' (John 15:5). We are not left on our own. Through 'the kindness of God', we receive strength (9:3). 'The heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind'. Through His kindness, He has provided 'plentiful redemption'. When, through the kindness of God, we enjoy His victory let's not forget, 'Every virtue we possess, every victory won, every thought of holiness, are His alone' (Church Hymnary, 218,336). The 'victory' does not come from ourselves. It is 'the victory of our God': 'Sing to the Lord…He has done marvellous things' (Psalms 44:3; 98:1-3)!
11th May: 2 Samuel 10:1-11:27
'May the Lord do what seems good to Him' (10:12). This is the attitude we ought to have. This is the ideal: 'Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven'; 'Not as I will, but as You will' (Matthew 6:10; 26:39). Often, we do not live up to the ideal – 'the thing that David had done displeased the Lord' (11:27). Throughout life, there are choices between our own will and the will of the Lord. Sometimes, we make wrong choices. We choose our own way rather than the Lord's way. Throughout life, God is speaking to us. He is trying to get our attention. He wants it to be less of self and more of Him. He is leading us to say from the heart, 'As for God, His way is perfect' (22:31; Psalm 18:30). May we have this testimony: 'I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not done evil by turning from my God' (Psalm 18:21).
12th May: 2 Samuel 12:1-31
Here, we learn much about God's dealings with sinners. In verse 7, there is conviction of sin – 'You are the man'. In verse 13, we have confession of sin – 'I have sinned against the Lord' – and forgiveness of sin – 'The Lord has taken away your sin'. In verse 20, there is the restoration of the sinner - 'washed ... anointed … changed …he went into the house of the Lord, and worshipped'. These were not easy times for David – 'the child died' (18). Later on, 'a son' was born (24). Sometimes, good things are happening to us. Sometimes, bad things are happening. 'The Lord loved him' (24): 'Through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy', never forget 'His love' (Mission Praise, 702). Our circumstances change. His love never changes. When you're feeling down, let His love lift you up!
13th May: 1 Corinthians 12:1-31
Paul speaks about 'gifts of the Spirit'. They are 'given for the common good' (4-7). We're not 'to show off': 'Look at me. The Church can't do without me'. When we draw attention to ourselves rather than Christ, we are not living 'by the Spirit of God'. He moves us to say, with our whole heart, 'Jesus is Lord' (3). We live in fellowship with one another: 'the body does not consist of one member but of many' (14). 'I'm happy – as long as I'm getting my own way': We can do without this kind of attitude! What about 'the common good'? Sometimes, things don't go according to my plan. Perhaps, my plan needs revising – to take account of 'the common good'. When self raises its ugly head – 'It's my way or no way at all' – let's not forget the 'still more excellent way' (3). It is the way of love – Christ's love!
14th May: 1 Corinthians 13:1-14:12
Paul's teaching seems so unrealistic. Life isn't like this, people aren't like this, the Church isn't like this – and we're all the poorer for it! We speak about revival. We hope for it. We pray for it. What we need most of all is a revival of love. This is not a return to 'the good old days'. This is for here and now. We can make a good deal of a 'revival' which took place a good many years ago. It is in today's world that we are called to show love. Differences of opinion become deeply-held prejudices. It's all going on in the Name of Christ! Our reverence for yesterday's religious leaders will mean nothing – if there is no love. Some things should have been 'dead and buried' a long time ago. Keep the negative thinking going and we'll be speaking to ourselves. Nobody will be listening (14:4,8)!
15th May: 1 Corinthians 14:13-40
'Be eager to prophesy' (39). Preaching God's Word to the people is important. It is not everything. It is to be accompanied by prayer and praise. Many come to hear 'the preacher'. Few gather to pray that the whole service of worship will be filled with the presence of the Lord. Some come to hear a 'sermon'. They show little real enthusiasm for worshipping the Lord. They want 'the Word'. There is no real heart for worship, witness, and work. The preacher's public performance becomes more important than the prayerful praise of God's people. 'All things' are 'done decently and in order' yet the atmosphere is forbidding. The Spirit of God is not moving freely among the people of God (39-40). Let there be less talking about the preacher and more concern with giving all the praise and glory to the Lord.
16th May: Psalm 25:1-22
'Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me, for Thou art the God of my salvation' (5). We can pray this prayer with confidence. God has given His promise: 'He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way' (9). Our confidence is in the Lord. We 'put no confidence in the flesh' (Philippians 3:3). Jesus teaches us that God hides Himself from the proud and reveals Himself to the humble: '…Father…Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and revealed them to babes' (Matthew 11:25). In the life of faith, the most important thing is the right attitude – not the 'best education'! The proud may concern themselves with impressing 'the right people'. For the humble, there is something more important – pleasing God. His opinion is the one that really matters!
17th May: 2 Samuel 13:1-39
Lust is very different from love. What appeared to be 'love' turned into 'very great hatred' – 'The heart is deceitful…and desperately wicked' (14-15; Jeremiah 17:9). Things went from bad to worse. The 'one-off' event became a consistent and continuing rejection (16). Things continued to get worse. 'Absalom hated Amnon'. He refused to speak to him (22). Could things get any worse? – Yes. Absalom and Amnon were murdered (28-29). Where is God in all this? His Name does not appear in this whole chapter. Is He absent? – No. He is there. He is warning us. This is what can happen if you forget about God! He is the God of holiness: 'the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men…' (Romans 1:18). He is the God of love. He call us to confess our sins and be forgiven (1 John 1:9).
18th May: 2 Samuel 14:1-33
David loved Absalom – 'the kings heart went out to Absalom' (1). David could not bring himself to forgive Absalom: 'Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence' (24). God loves us. God forgives us. We dare not come to Him in pride – 'I'm really not that bad. I'm really quite good'. We must come to Him with a real confession of sin: 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son'. In ourselves, we are 'lost'. In Christ, we are 'found'. In ourselves, we are 'dead'. In Christ, we are 'made alive' (Luke 15:21,24; Ephesians 2:1,5). In Christ, we see God's love. Through Christ, we receive God's forgiveness. Christ does not leave us 'out on a limb'. He is preparing a place for us – in His Father's House (John 14:1-3). This love – without limits!
19th May: 2 Samuel 15:1-37
There is a great difference between human popularity and divine approval. Here, we have human popularity – 'The conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing' (12). In Acts 5:14, we have divine approval – 'More than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women'. Conspiracy involves man seeking to get his own way. Revival comes when we 'let go and let God have His wonderful way'. 'Carry the ark of God back into the city' (25). In the ark of God, we have the Word of God among the people of God. If the people of God are to enjoy the blessing of God, they must live according to the Word of God. We organize things to suit ourselves. This is conspiracy. God is not in it. Look to God. Listen for His Word. Live in the light of His Word. This is God's way to revival.
20th May: 2 Samuel 16:1-23
What is more important to you – your own reputation or the glory of God? 'Curse David' – This was the last thing David wanted to hear. It may, however, have been what he needed to hear. Here, we see David's true spiritual stature. This was not a 'feel good' message. David recognized that this might be what the Lord was saying to him (10). He speaks against us so that we might learn to stop speaking against Him. He speaks of His righteousness that we might see our own unrighteousness. He speaks of His judgment that we might see how hopeless our situation is without Christ. He speaks of our sin that we might be brought to Christ for salvation (John 16:8-11; Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-2:2). Let there be no more talk of your righteousness. Confess your sins and trust the Saviour.
21st May: 2 Samuel 17:1-29
Here, we have a tragic train of events. Ahithophel's advice was 'not good'. His advice 'was not followed'. He 'hanged' himself (7,23). Without going into detail about this particular suicide, we may make some general comments about coping with life's difficulties. Things don't go according to plan. Our hopes are dashed. Nothing seems to work out. Everything seems to go wrong. We allow things to get on top of us. Very quickly and very easily, things can get completely out of control. Everything is out of proportion. It seems like there is nothing worth living for. Suicide becomes a strangely attractive way out. What are we to do when such thoughts fill our minds? – Remember God's promise: "The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).
22nd May: 2 Samuel 18:1-33
Some die young. Others live to a ripe old age. None of us can predict what lies ahead of us. There are some things that are beyond our control. We look at what is happening and we say, 'I wish things could be different'. Absalom had been killed. David wished he could have died instead of him. It was not to be. Each of us must die our own death: 'No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him – the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough – that he should live on for ever and not see decay' (Psalm 49:7-9). There is, however, a 'Man' who has died for us - Jesus Christ, 'our Lord and our God'. He 'gave Himself as a ransom for all'. 'Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God' (John 20 28; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 Peter 3:18).
23rd May: 1 Corinthians 15:1-45
Here, we learn of Christ's resurrection: the fact – 'Christ has been raised from the dead' – and the meaning – 'the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep' (20). We look back to His resurrection. We 'remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead' (2 Timothy 2:8). We look forward to our own resurrection. We will be 'raised' – 'imperishable…in glory…in power…a spiritual body' (42-44). Looking back to His resurrection and looking forward to our own resurrection, we are to live, here and now, in 'the power of His resurrection' (Philippians 3:10). We believe the fact of the resurrection. We live in the power of the resurrection. We rejoice in the hope of the resurrection. With 'resurrection' faith in the 'resurrection' God, let us live the 'resurrection' life as a 'resurrection' people!
24th May: 1 Corinthians 15:46-16:24
In Christ, there is 'victory' – glorious, eternal, heavenly victory (54-57). Every day, we face a battle. It is a battle for faith, love and service. (a) We are called to trust the Lord: 'Stand firm in your faith' (13). We are to have faith. It is to be a growing faith, a faith which is growing stronger. (b) We are called to love the Lord. This is to be the most important thing in our life: 'love for the Lord' (21). Christ's question comes to us: 'Do you love Me?' (John 21:15-17). Is our love for Him growing stronger or getting weaker? (c) We are called to serve the Lord: 'Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord' (58). Let's get rid of the lazy, 'can't be bothered' attitude. We shall be victorious through 'the grace of the Lord Jesus' (23).
25th May: 2 Samuel 19:1-39
'My lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil' (27;14:17). Setting God's servants on a pedestal is a dangerous thing. Don't imagine that they will always get it right. They won't. They have their faults and failings as well as everyone else. They need forgiveness just as much as anyone else. They look great – from a distance. The closer you get to them, the more you see that they're not all they're cracked up to be. From a distance, they seem like spiritual giants. Close up, they're not so impressive. Build up God's servants with unrealistically high expectations, and you're setting them up for a very great fall. The closer you get to them, the smaller they become. There's one Man who's different: our Lord Jesus Christ – The closer you get to Him, the bigger He becomes!
26th May: 2 Samuel 19:40-20:26
'The words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel' (43). At the heart of all this conflict was Sheba. He was a real trouble-maker. 'A worthless fellow', he was up to no good. A complainer, he wreaked havoc among God's people. He was out to make an impression – and he succeeded. Sadly, it was all negative. He did a great deal of 'harm' (1-2,6). How sad it is when there is strife among God's people! God's Word speaks out strongly against this kind of thing: 'While there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh…?'. Strife can arise when we attach too much importance to certain individuals and pay too little attention to the Lord: … 'I belong to Paul'… 'I belong to Apollos'…'. Remember – 'Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth' (1 Corinthians 3:3-7).
27th May: 2 Samuel 21:1-22:7
There's no two ways about it. God's people were getting it rough. There seemed to be so many problems. Were they to give up hope? – Not a bit of it! Read verse 14 – 'After that God heeded supplications for the land'. What happened when God heard and answered the prayers of His people? – 'the plague was averted from Israel' (24:25). Things would have been an awful lot worse, if it was not for the Lord hearing and answering prayer! Keep on praying. Keep on believing that God hears and answers prayer. He is not a tragic victim of circumstances – 'Poor God. He can do nothing about it all'. Don't believe that. That's the lie of the devil. He is still the living God. Things are not out of His control. He is still on the throne. God can, if we will – 'If my people…' (2 Corinthians 7:14). Pray 'for the land'!
28th May: 2 Samuel 22:8-51
David's 'song' of praise is also found in Psalm 18. Some things are worth repeating! David is praising the Lord. He is giving glory to Him. We must never tire of praising God. We can never praise Him enough. He is always greater than our inadequate worship. He is 'worthy to be praised' (4). Again and again, we must lift our hearts and voices to Him in praise. Think of the Lord. Think of how great He is. Think of how much He loves you. Think of how much He has done for you. Let your song of praise rise to Him: 'The Lord lives; and blessed be my Rock, and exalted be my God, the Rock of my salvation' (47; Mission Praise, 306). Some things are worth repeating – when we're giving all the praise and glory to the Lord! Praising the Lord – We were created for this. We have been redeemed for this.
29th May: 2 Samuel 23:1-39
By birth, David was 'the son of Jesse'. By grace, he was 'the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel' (1). What we are in ourselves is nothing compared with what we can become through the grace of God! Look at David. Listen to what he says, 'The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me, His Word is upon my tongue' (2). What had David done to deserve this? What was so special about him? Nothing – This was the work of God, the work of divine grace. In ourselves, we are 'godless', good for nothing, 'like thorns that are thrown away' (6). In ourselves, we are not 'mighty men' (8-9). How can we be changed? – 'The Lord wrought a great victory' (10,12). Which of us can be described as 'a valiant man…a doer of great deeds' (20) – apart from the grace of God? 'By grace you have been saved…'(Ephesians 2:8-10).
30th May: 2 Samuel 24:1-25
Here, we see the spirit of pride. David wanted to 'know the number of the people' (2). Why? He wanted to feel important – 'the big man'. He was not giving the glory to the Lord. He was taking it for himself. Did God give up on David – 'a hopeless case, too full of himself and his own importance'? Of course not! The Lord, whose 'mercy is great', drew David back to Himself. David confessed his sin – 'I have sinned greatly…I have done very foolishly…I have sinned and I have done wickedly' (10,17). David was accepted by the Lord – 'The Lord your God accepts you'. He was brought from pride to praise (23,25). This is what God has done for us. We are 'accepted in the Beloved' – 'to the praise of His glorious grace' (Ephesians 1:6).
31st May: Proverbs 10:23-11:11
'With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbour' (9) – This kind of thing is going on all the time! There is no respect for the 'neighbour'. An easy target, he is treated with contempt. He is slandered without mercy. It is not without reason that God's Word says to us, 'The tongue is a fire…With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men…My brethren, this ought not to be so' (James 3:6-10). God knows what we are like. We 'destroy' people with 'the tongue'. It is character assassination. What drastic effects this kind of thing can have: 'a city…is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked'! Can the blessing return again? God's Word is clear – 'By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted' - , but we must learn to speak and live as 'the upright' and not as 'the wicked' (11).
1st June: 1 Kings 1:1-53
David's reign was coming to an end. He would be replaced by Solomon (30). No one goes on forever. Every day takes us one day closer to the day of stepping down and handing over to someone else. We must pray that the future will be 'greater' than the past (37,47). Some kings reign for a long time. Some reign for a short time. The important thing is not the length of time. It's the quality of the leadership. Have the people been brought closer to the Lord? This is what matters more than anything else. In all the changes of life, we must learn to say, 'Blessed be the Lord' (48). We do not trust in this man or that man. We trust in the Lord. David's time was almost gone. Solomon's time would come and go. When all God's servants have slipped into the past, one thing will remain true – 'the Lord lives' (29).
2nd June: 1 Kings 2:1-46
God's purpose does not stand still. It moves forward. This was a new beginning for God's people. Solomon was not to do his own thing. He was to do God's will: 'Keep the charge of the Lord your God' (3). He was to serve God's purpose: 'that the Lord may establish His Word' (4). There are to be no comparisons between one man and another. God's servants are not to be in competition with one another. Some may have been looking back to the past – 'How will we manage without David? God had already moved on from there. He was pressing on to the future – 'If your sons…' (4). God's blessing would not come easily. There were obstacles to be removed (13-46). If 'the Word of Christ' is to 'dwell in us richly', we must 'put to death what is earthly in us' (Colossians 3:5,16). God will not bless us if we do not obey Him.
3rd June: 1 Kings 3:1-28
Solomon was a complicated man. We wonder what was most important to him – his alliances with the world or his allegiance to the Lord, 'building his own house' or 'building the House of the Lord' (1-3)? In verses 9-13, we learn that Solomon prized wisdom more than riches. In verse 14, Solomon is reminded that he must keep on loving the Lord: 'If you will walk in My ways…'. We look at Solomon. We see ourselves. We claim to love the Lord. The world has a 'fatal attraction' for us. In each of us, there is conflict, a lifelong conflict between 'the desires of the flesh' and 'the desires of the Spirit'. We are faced with a choice. Will it be love for the Lord or love for the world? Don't 'abandon your first love' (Galatians 5:17; 1 John 2:15; Revelation 2:4). Make it simple: Jesus comes first!
4th June: 1 Kings 4:1-34
'God gave Solomon wisdom' (29). Solomon shared this wisdom with others (32-34). Christ is 'our Wisdom' (1 Corinthians 1:30). Don't keep Him to yourself. You may not know much about 'trees…beasts…birds…reptiles…fish' (33). If you know Jesus, you know all that you really need to know! You can live a happy life without knowing much about history, geography, science…. You cannot have true happiness without knowing Jesus. He came to give us abundant life (John 10:10).You can teach others about many different subjects. You will not help them to find true happiness if you are not telling them about Jesus. The most important lesson is really very simple: 'Jesus love me…' (Church Hymnary, 418). Will you share this lesson with others? You can't give them anything better than this: the love of Jesus.
5th June: 2 Corinthians 1:1-2:11
Times of trouble can turn out to be times of great blessing – 'God…comforts us in all our affliction' (1:3-4). Whether good things or bad things are happening to you, don't forget this: God loves you. His Word is 'not Yes and No' – 'Yes, I love you. No, I don't love you'. In Christ, His Word is 'always Yes' (1:19). How do we know that God loves us? – 'God showed His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us' (Romans 5:8). Whatever may happen to us, nothing can change this great fact: Christ died for us. This is the great fact of God's love. Life is not easy. There is 'Satan', always seeking 'to gain the advantage over us' (2:11). We do not stand alone in our battle against Satan. God 'has given us His Spirit in our hearts'. He is the 'guarantee' of our final victory (1:22).
6th June: 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:18
How do we react when things don't seem to be going very well? We all need the encouragement of God's Word: 'Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph' (2:14). When everything seems to be going wrong, we need to be reminded of God's Word: 'In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us' (Romans 8:37). When we feel so weak, we receive strength 'from God'. We are strengthened by 'the Spirit of the living God' (3:5,3). We must learn to look beyond our circumstances to our Saviour. In Him, we see 'the surpassing glory'. As we look upon 'the glory of the Lord', we are 'changed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory' (3:18). In life's many hard times, may God help us to see what He is doing in our lives and not only what we think is happening to us.
7th June: 1 Kings 5:1-6: 13
Do you 'rejoice greatly' when you hear the Word of the Lord (5:7)? God wants to 'establish His Word' among us (6:12). He wants to establish His presence among us. He is 'the Word made flesh'. He 'dwells among us, full of grace and truth'. He is 'Emmanuel' – 'God with us' (John 1:14; Matthew 1:23). As you read about the building of the temple, remember God's Word: 'You are God's temple…God's Spirit lives in you…God's temple is holy…you are that temple…your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you…We are the temple of the living God; as God said, 'I will live among them…'(1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16). 'A dwelling place of God in the Spirit' – That's what you are (Ephesians 2:22)!
8th June: 1 Kings 6:14-7:12
Solomon took seven years to build 'the House of the Lord' and 'thirteen years' to build 'his own house' (6:37-7:1)! What are we to make of this? Are we more concerned with pleasing ourselves or serving God? Is our life more self-centred than God-centred? These are important questions. They are questions which we cannot sweep under the carpet. Jesus invites us to think about our priorities: Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also…No one can serve two masters… You cannot serve both God and Money' (Matthew 6:19-21,24). We are not to be 'lovers of self, lovers of money…lovers of pleasure! We are to be 'lovers of God' (2 Timothy 3:1-5). What kind of person are you becoming ? Each of us must choose.
9th June: 1 Kings 7:13-8:13
We read about 'the silver' and 'the gold'. We are called to choose between the life of fruitful service – 'gold, silver, precious stones' – and the unfruitful life – 'wood, hay, straw' (51; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). We read of 'the ark of the covenant of the Lord' being 'brought to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the House, in the most holy place. We are told that the glory of the Lord filled the House of the Lord' (6,11). The glory of the Lord fills the House of the Lord whenever the Word of God is honoured by the people of God. Jesus Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1,14). The glory of the Lord fills the House of the Lord when Christ is given the place of highest honour among the people of God. Do you want to experience God's glory? Honour His Word. Love His Son – the Lord Jesus Christ.
10th June: 1 Kings 8:14-53
The person who leads us in worship, the place where we worship or the God whom we worship – Which is the most important? We know what our answer should be. No person or place is more important than the Lord. Often, we take our eyes off the Lord. Solomon directs our attention to the Lord. Leading 'all the assembly of Israel' in worship, he says, 'Blessed be the Lord' (14-15). The glory does not belong to Solomon. It belongs to the Lord. In his prayer, Solomon contrasts the place where we worship with the God whom we worship: 'Heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee; how much less this House which I have built!' (27). We must think big thoughts about God. He is 'the God of Israel' (15,17,20,23,25-26). He is more than that. He is our God. He loves all nations (Isaiah 45:22; 49:6; Acts 13:47; John 3:16).
11th June: 1 Kings 8:54-9:28
What is happening when we are gathered together for worship? Is this merely a human thing, something which we do? No! – There is something more. God is at work. He is there to 'incline our hearts to Him…'(58). Before we have gathered, God is there, waiting for us, ready to speak His Word: 'Let your heart be wholly true to the Lord your God…' (61). God wants us to be holy. He wants us to be wholly true to Him. Holiness is no 'kill joy' affair. It is a life of joy and gladness (66). There is here a very important lesson: Seek holiness and you will find happiness. Seek happiness in yourself and you will not find it: 'If you turn aside from following Me', you 'will become a heap of ruins' (6-8). What a mess we make of things when we forget about God! Let's 'walk before Him with integrity of heart' (4).
12th June: 2 Corinthians 4:1-5:10
God has called us to salvation – 'God has shone in our hearts…' (4:6). He has called us to service – 'having this ministry by the mercy of God' (4:1). We receive salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved' (Acts 16:31). We are not to keep our faith to ourselves. We 'believe'. We are to 'speak'. This is God's way of reaching 'more and more people' with His 'grace' (13-15). Our experience of salvation and our empowering for service are both grounded in one great gift from God: 'God…has given us the Spirit' (5:5). We fail our Lord often. Our faith is weak. Our witness seems so ineffective. When you feel such a failure, remember the Spirit. He will not fail you. He is our 'guarantee of heavenly and eternal glory' (4:16-5:5).
13th June: 2 Corinthians 5:11-7:1
'Reconciled' to God through Christ, we have received 'the ministry of reconciliation'. Saved by Him, we are to 'work with Him'. We are 'not to accept the grace of God in vain' by living for ourselves. We are to be 'ambassadors for Christ'. We must proclaim the urgent message of salvation – 'now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation'. We must call men and women to respond to God's message of salvation: 'Be reconciled to God' (5:18-6:2). If we are to be effective 'ambassadors for Christ', we must dedicate our lives to Him: 'Let us cleanse ourselves…and make holiness perfect in the fear of God' (7:1). Without this heartfelt commitment to godly living, we cannot really serve the Lord at all. Our wrong lives will drown out our 'right' words. We need true lives as well as 'true' words.
14th June: Psalms 26: 1-27:12
God's love for us inspires our loyalty to Him: 'Your love is ever before me, and I will walk continually in Your truth' (26:3). Loyalty to the Lord involves worshipping Him and walking with Him (26:11-12). Walking with God is not easy. There are 'enemies round about' us (26:4-5, 9-10; 27:2-3,6,11-12). What are we to do? We are to worship God: 'One thing have I asked of the Lord…that I may dwell in the House of the Lord…' (27:4). What are we doing when we gather in the Lord's House for worship? This is what we are doing – 'Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage' (27:14). Where does our strength come from? It comes from God: 'The Lord is my light and my salvation… The Lord is the stronghold of my life'. Strong in Him, we say, 'My heart will not fear… I will be confident' (27:1,3).
15th June: 1 Kings 10:1-11:13
'King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth' (23). It sounds impressive – until you look more closely at Solomon's life! What else does God's Word tell us about him? – 'His heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God…Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely…His heart had turned away from the Lord…Solomon did not keep the Lord's command' (11:4,6,9-10). When everything seems to be going well, God invites us to look beneath the surface, to look a little deeper. Great words had been spoken about Solomon (10:9). Now, everything had gone sour. Solomon had lost the place. This can happen to any of us. We can lose our way. Read the story of Solomon as a warning: Don't let this happen to you! Stay close to God.
16th June: 1 Kings 11:14-12:24
Life can be a very slippery slope. You can go downhill very quickly – if you're not careful! Solomon let things slide – and he was never the same again. He fell – and he never got back up again. After he died, there was 'rebellion' – and it lasted for a long time (12:9). It was bedlam. Chaos reigned. The people couldn't agree among themselves. Everybody was pointing the finger at somebody else. What did God have to say about all this? – 'Do not go up to fight against your brothers…' (12:24). God's Word seems so simple. We're the ones who make everything so complicated – when we're looking out for ourselves, when we're forgetting to listen for God's Word. We need to stop giving off – 'This is what I think'. We need to start listening. What are others saying? What is the Lord saying?
17th June: 1 Kings 12:25-13:34
These were dark days for God's people. They were deeply divided. There was the northern kingdom (Israel). Jeroboam was their 'big man'. There was the southern kingdom (Judah). Rehoboam was the 'voice' of the south. What a shambles it all was! Each side seemed intent on outdoing the other – ungodliness. Sin reigned in the north (13:33-34). Sin reigned in the south (14:22-24). The 'big man' was not so big in the eyes of the Lord. The 'voice' did not speak the Word of the Lord. Was there any hope? Yes! There was an unnamed 'man of God' who spoke 'the Word of the Lord' (13:1). In all the confusion of these difficult times, God was planning for a better future. His Word concerned Josiah: 'a son shall be born…(2). We look beyond Josiah to Jesus: 'to us a Child is born…a Son…' (Isaiah 9:6-7).
18th June: 1 Kings 14:1-15:8
It makes depressing reading – a lot of bad news from the north (16), a lot of bad news from the south (22). Many people wondered, 'Will there be peace in my lifetime?'. Sadly, the hostilities continued for a very long time (15:6). Were there no glimmers of hope? Was there no light at the end of the tunnel? Had God given up on the situation? There is a Word of hope: 'The Lord will raise up for Himself a king…' (14). There is good news. God is raising up 'an army of ordinary people, a kingdom where love is the key'. What part can God's 'ordinary people' play in His extraordinary purpose? – A very important part: 'The Church is here for healing of the nations' (Songs of Fellowship, 20,216). Can there be healing? Yes! – if there is love. Don't give up hope: 'May the God of hope…'(Romans 15:13)!
19th June: 2 Corinthians 7:2-8:7
We may face difficult circumstances. We may experience much suffering. In all of this there is one thing we must never forget: 'God…comforts the downcast' (7:6). He lifts us up when we are down. He enables us to 'excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness, in love, in giving' (8:7). How are we to excel in everything? We must 'give ourselves to the Lord' (8:5). Everything else flows from this. We are to 'give ourselves in devoted service to others' (12; 8:4-5). Where does this spirit of 'rich generosity' come from? It comes from God, from 'the grace that God has given' to us (8:1-2). It comes to us as we give ourselves to Him. Before we can 'excel in this grace of giving', we must receive 'from His fullness, grace upon grace' (8:7; John 1:16).
20th June: 2 Corinthians 8:8-9:15
How are we to be 'cheerful' in giving ourselves to the Lord (9:7)? How are we to be confident that 'God is able to provide us with every blessing in abundance' (9:8)? Before we ever think of giving ourselves to God, we must look at all He has given to us. We look away from ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ: 'You know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ…' (8:9). We look at Him and we say, in our hearts, 'Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!' (9:15). Can our giving to Him even begin to compare with His giving to us? We give to Him as those who have first received from Him. In his giving, we see His love. Our giving expresses our love, our response to His love: 'We love because He first loved us' (1 John 4:19). Rejoice in His love. Thank Him - for 'every blessing in abundance'!
21st June: 1 Kings 15:9-16:28
A lot of kings are mentioned here. We soon lose track of their names. With one solitary exception, they are all better forgotten than remembered. Thank God for the one glimmer of light: 'Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord…The heart of Asa was wholly true to the Lord all his days' (15:11, 14). We need more people like Asa. God is looking foe people who will stand out from the crowd, people who will dare to be different. Pleasing the Lord is more important than pleasing people. It is so easy to forget this. We want to be popular. This is all that matters to us. If we are serious about following Jesus, we must be prepared to go it alone: 'Tho' none go with me, I still will follow' (Mission Praise, 272). Let's honour God – in our attitudes and actions.
22nd June: 1 Kings 16:29-18:16
Things were getting desperate: 'Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him' (33). What did God do about this? How did He respond to this situation? God sent His prophet, a man who would stand up for God against Ahab. 'When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him' (Isaiah 59:19). Where did Elijah come from? He came from God! All we know about Elijah's early life is expressed in the words: 'Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead'. There is something else we know about him. He was a man of God. He was a man with a message, a man who spoke in the Name of the Lord the God of Israel' (17:1). Things happened when Elijah was around. This was the Spirit of God at work – in power!
23rd June: 1 Kings 18:17-19:21
Life is full of ups and downs. For Elijah, there was a very highpoint. He prayed. 'The fire of the Lord fell'. 'All the people said, 'The Lord, He is God'' (37-39). This was followed by a very low point: 'O Lord, take away my life' (4). We are so changeable. Often, we fell like we are being torn apart. Our emotions pull us in different directions. Sometimes, we are full of joy. At other times, we are at the point of despair. We find ourselves in a turmoil of confused emotions. What are we to do? Are we to 'pull ourselves together'? This seems to be the very thing we can't manage to do. Are we to 'hope for the best' – 'Some day, some way, things will get better'? We think about this, and we wonder, 'What happens if things get worse?'! Look to the Lord. His love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable.
24th June: 2 Corinthians 10:1-11:15
We are engaged in warfare. Is it 'worldly war'? Do we use 'worldly weapons'? No! It is spiritual warfare. God has given us His weapons (10:3-4). Our enemy is 'Satan' - 'the god of this world' (11:13-15; 4:4). We face him with 'the whole armour of God', with 'the Gospel of peace' (Ephesians 6:11,13,15). We are not fighting for ourselves. We are not fighting in our own strength. The battle is the Lord's. He is our Strength. Without Him, we fail. With Him, there is victory. Everything is centred upon the Lord. We are to have, 'a sincere and pure devotion to Christ' (11:13). We are to 'boast of the Lord' (10:17). We are to seek the Lord's commendation (10:18). Be devoted to the Lord. Give glory to Him. Seek His approval. These are the things that really matter, the things we must never forget.
25th June: 2 Corinthians 11:16-12:10
'My grace is sufficient for you' (9). These are tremendous words! Believe them. Apply them to yourself. Let the strength of the Lord come to you as you reflect on these great words. God is speaking His Word to you. Whatever is going on in your life, whatever difficulties you are facing, God's Word is still the same: 'My grace is sufficient for you'. Do you think God will let you down? Don't believe it – not even for a moment! It is a lie of the devil. It's 'as old as the hills'. Way back in Genesis 3:1, Satan was spreading doubt: 'Did God say?'. God says, 'My grace is sufficient for you'. Satan comes along and says 'Surely you don't believe that!'. 'When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, By the living Word of God I shall prevail' (Redemption Hymnal, 261). Did God say? – Yes! He did say!
26th June: 1 Kings 20:1-43
Sometimes we say, 'I can't', when we mean, 'I won't'! We are 'busy here and there' – too busy for God, for doing His will, for obeying His Word. Is this a case of 'I can't'? No! It is 'I won't'. We choose. We decide how we will use our time. God looks at our life. He sees what is most important to us and He says, 'You yourself have decided it'. He sees that our choices have been self-centred rather than Christ-centred. He says, 'So shall your judgment be' (40). Can we change? Yes! God says, 'Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do' (12). There is a decision to be made. We must be obedient to God's Word: 'Be strong in the Lord' (Ephesians 6:10). Our strength is not in ourselves. It is in the Lord. Wait on the Lord and renew your strength (Isaiah 40:31). 'Strengthen yourself' – in the Lord.
27th June: 1 Kings 21:1-22:14
We read of human sin and divine judgment (21:1-4,15-16,20-24). There is also something else here: the mercy of God – 'Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days…'(29). The judgment of God will come – but not yet. It is held back by the mercy of God. We live in confusing times. There is much evidence of sin. There are some signs of repentance. What are the servants of the Lord to say? Is there a single message, a Word of judgment, a Word of mercy? Here is what we must say: 'What the Lord says to me, that I will speak'(22:14). Let us not settle for a one sided message – preaching judgment without a glimmer of hope, promising mercy without issuing the Gospel warning. May God help us to be like Paul: 'I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God' (Acts 20:27).
28th June: 1 Kings 22:15-53
Ahab's repentance (21:27) didn't last long! He continued to live in sin (22:8). He died in shame (37-38). Ahab's son – Ahaziah – was just like his father – 'a chip of the old block': 'He …provoked the Lord, the God of Israel to anger in every way that his father had done' (51-53). Jehoshapat was a different type of king – 'he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord' (43). Here, we catch a glimpse of our Lord Jesus Christ – 'I do as the Father commanded Me' (John 14:31). Don't be like Ahaziah –'he walked in the ways of his father…the ways of sin' (52). Let's be like Jesus – Walking in the ways of our Heavenly Father. God says to us, 'This is the way; walk in it' (Isaiah 30:21). Let us say, 'As for God, His way is perfect' (2 Samuel 22:31). Let us pray, 'Our Father in heaven…Your will be done (Matthew 6:9-10).
29th June: 2 Corinthians 12:11-13:14
'The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all' (13:14). We have often heard these words spoken. Here, we are reading them in the Word of God. How often do we think about these words? What do they mean? These are life-changing words. Through 'the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ', we become 'rich' – blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing' (8:9, Ephesians 1:3). 'In love God has destined us to be His sons through Jesus Christ' (Ephesians 1:5). How do these blessings become ours? How doe we become God's children? We hear the Word of truth, the Gospel of our salvation. We believe in Christ. We are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). Such great blessing – 'the Spirit is poured upon us from on high (Isaiah 32:15)!
30th June: Proverbs 11:12-31
'He who wins souls is wise' (30). 'He who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward' (18). Righteousness is not purely a private matter. God's Word tells us that 'those who turn many to righteousness shall shine like stars for ever and ever' (Daniel 12:3). Winning others for Jesus Christ is not easy. To those who commit themselves to this great work, God gives His precious promise: 'He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him' (Psalm 126:6). In this work, we must remember: It is not what we do that makes the real difference. It is the Lord working through us. Never forget: 'Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain' (Psalm 127:1). Always remember: When our work is done 'in the Lord', it is never 'in vain' (1 Corinthians 15:58).
1st July: 2 Kings 1:1-2:13
'He took up the mantle of Elijah' (2:13). Elijah's ministry had ended. Elisha's ministry was about to begin. It was the beginning of a new era. This may have been a new ministry. It was not, however, a new message. Both men preached the Word of the Lord. Elisha continued Elijah's work. He took up where Elijah had left off. He brought the Word of the Lord to the people. Elisha was not exactly the same as Elijah. He was Elisha – not Elijah! There was, however, continuity. The second ministry built on the work done during the first ministry. The laying of the foundations – This is what Elijah's ministry had been all about. Now, Elisha would build on this good foundation. He would take the work of God forward. Into the future, on to the second stage – This is what Elisha's ministry was all about.
2ndJuly: 2 Kings 2:14-3:27
'Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?' (2:14). Elijah was no longer there – but God was still there! Don't imagine that God goes away when there's a change of ministry. While Elijah had been serving the Lord, Elisha was being prepared for his time. God is always one step ahead of us. We are living in the present day. He is planning for the future. With each succeeding generation, the question is asked, 'Where is the Lord?'. In every generation, God is looking for those who will serve Him – 'testifying of the Gospel of the grace of God, testifying of repentance to God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, declaring the whole counsel of God' (Acts 20:24,21,27). This is 'the mantle of Elijah' (2:14) – the mantle of prophetic ministry. Will you 'take up the mantle' for God and the next generation?
3rdJuly: 2 Kings 4:1-44
The situation seemed hopeless – 'The child was lying dead on his bed' (32). What did Elisha do? – He 'prayed to the Lord' (33). What are we to do when everything seems hopeless? Pray: 'Restore us again, O God of our salvation …Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?' (Psalm 85:4,6). When we are at our lowest ebb, God is waiting to hear from us. Our prayer may not be eloquent – but it must come from the heart! Perhaps, we can hardly put our prayer into words. God looks beyond our inadequate words. He looks into our hearts. If, in our hearts, we are saying to Him, 'Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and provide me with a spirit of willing obedience'. He will hear and He will answer (Romans 8:26-27; Psalm 51:12). You can make a new beginning with God – right now!
4thJuly: 2 Kings 5:1-27
How are we to receive God's blessing? Are we to 'do some great thing'? Are we to prove ourselves worthy of His blessing? No! The Word of God gives this simple instruction: 'Wash and be clean' (13). Salvation is not something to be paid for or earned. It's 'the free gift of God in Jesus Christ our Lord' (Romans 6: 23). We don't come to God, saying, 'Look at me. Look at how good I am. Look at my religion. Look at my morality. You've got to bless me. I deserve it'. We come to Him, believing His Word – 'the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin' – confessing our sins and trusting in His promise of forgiveness – 'If we confess our sins, He forgives them and cleanses us from everything we've done wrong' (1 John 1:7,9). Forget about 'doing some great thing'. Obey the command that really matters: 'Wash and be clean'.
5thJuly: 2 Kings 6:1-23
Elisha was 'the man of God' (6,9,15). This was the important thing about him. More than anything else, he was 'the man of God'. We find the same phrase in 1 Timothy 6:11 – 'But as for you, man of God,…aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness'. We are to be people who put first things first. There is nothing more important than this: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind'. Does this seem too heavenly-minded? Jesus also says, 'Love your neighbour as you love yourself' (Luke 10:27). We are not to be super-spiritual. We are to be spiritually natural and naturally spiritual. Let there be no conflict between loving God and loving our neighbour. Christ is our Lord. We serve others for His sake (2 Corinthians 4:5).
6thJuly: 2 Kings 6:24-7:20
We read, in 7:2, of 'windows in heaven'. Malachi 3:10 also speaks of 'the windows in heaven'. Calling us to 'bring the whole tithe (tenth)' to Him, God invites us to look to Him to 'open the windows of heaven and pour down an overflowing blessing'. In 7:9, we read of 'a day of good news'. What 'a day of good news' it will be when God 'opens the windows of heaven and pours down an overflowing blessing'. All of our days of good news come from the day of good news: 'I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day…a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord' (Luke 2:10-11). 'In Christ', there is 'every spiritual blessing'. God has given us so much. Let us give ourselves to Him: 'Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called' (Ephesians 1:3; 4:1).
7thJuly: 2 Kings 8:1-29
'Go to meet the man of God and inquire of the Lord through him' (8). God's servants, appointed by Him to serve the people in His Name, play a significant part in leading the people to a deeper knowledge of God. They bring the Word of God to the people. That is what they have been called to do. It is good to have faithful teaching from God's Word. There needs also to be faithful hearing, reading and doing of God's Word. God's servants can take us so far – and no further. You can take a horse to the water, but you can't make it drink! God's servants say, 'Here are 'the wells of salvation''. It is up to the people themselves to take the next step: 'With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation' (Isaiah 12:3). God's Word is provided for you. It is delivered to you. What are you doing with it?
8thJuly: Galatians 1:1-2:10
'A revelation of Jesus Christ' (1:12) – This is what the Gospel is all about. Christ is the Gospel. Without Him, there is no Gospel. What was Paul's testimony? What did he preach to others? – God 'was pleased to reveal His Son in order that I might preach Him…' (1:15-16). We have no other testimony. We have no other message. Christ is our Testimony. Christ is our Message. Paul's conversion, Paul's preaching – All of this comes from a very long time ago. So much has changed. Things are so different now. We listen to this kind of talk and we wonder, 'Is the Gospel still relevant?'. Should we not leave Christ in the past and 'get on with living in to-day's world?'.We listen to the world's talk and we are filled with doubts. Listen to God's Word: 'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever' (Hebrews 13:8).
9thJuly: Galatians 2:11-3:22
Who is the Christ who stands in the centre of Paul's testimony and preaching? He is the crucified Christ – 'I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me'. He is the living Christ - 'I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me'. In Christ, there is love – 'He loved me'. In Christ there is life – He 'lives in me' (2:20). The world tells us to forget about Christ – 'He's out-of-date'. The Word of God calls us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, to keep walking in the Spirit. Don't be a fool. Don't let the world's 'patter' drown out the Lord's warning: 'Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?…Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?' (1,3).
10thJuly: Galatians 3: 23-5:6
'God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts' (4:6). The Spirit is not a reward we earn by being good people. The Spirit is God's gift (Titus 3:5). Paul connects the gift of the Spirit with Christ's death for us and our faith in Christ (3:13-14). We do not come to God with our religion in one hand and our morality in the other, insisting that we deserve to be blessed by Him. We look away from ourselves to Christ – 'Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling' (Church Hymnary, 83). All pride in ourselves must be brought to Christ's Cross as we humbly pray, 'Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me, break me, melt me, mould me, fill me' (Mission Praise, 613). God has given His Spirit to us. Let's give ourselves to Him – to 'be filled with the Spirit' (Ephesians 5:18).
11thJuly: Galatians 5:7-6:18
What are we praying for when we ask God to fill us with His Spirit? We are praying 'for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control'. This is 'the fruit of the Spirit' (22-23). How are we to be filled with the Spirit? How does the fruit of the Spirit grow in our lives? We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, saying in our hearts, 'God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world' (6:14). 'Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace' (Mission Praise, 712). Looking to Him, let's concentrate on the one thing that really matters – living as 'a new creation' (6:15).
12thJuly: Psalms 28:1-29:11
'The Lord is my Strength…The Lord is the Strength of His people' (28:7-8). Our personal strengthening is closely related to the strengthening of God's people. Don't be a 'lone ranger', going it alone, keeping yourself to yourself. Share your strength with others. Draw strength from them. 'Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another' (Hebrews 10:24-25). Where does your strength come from? It comes from 'the Lord' who 'sits enthroned as King for ever' (29:10). We grow strong as we listen for 'the voice of the Lord' (29:3-9). Don't let God's voice be drowned out – 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God' (Matthew 4:4).
13thJuly: 2 Kings 9:1-37
God's judgment on Jezebel was awesome (30-37). Why does God's Word speak to us so strongly of judgment? God is warning us. He is calling us to repent, to return to Him before it is too late, before our opportunity for repentance has gone. Make sure that you don't reach the point of no return. 'Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near' (Isaiah 55:6). For you, this may be God's time. The Lord may never be so 'near' again. You are in 'the valley of decision': 'Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts' (Joel 3:14; Hebrews 4:7). There is still time – to open your heart to Christ, to trust Him as your Saviour, to become a new creation in Him. Here is a prayer you can pray: 'Restore us, O God; let Thy face shine, that we may be saved!' (Psalm 80:3,7,19).
14thJuly: 2 Kings 10:1-36
Jehu was a proud man: 'Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord' (16). He was full of his own importance, a bit special, a bit out of the ordinary, a cut above the rest. God did not share Jehu's opinion of himself – 'Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord the God of Israel with all his heart…'(31). Jehu's attitude was 'I'm all right, Jack'. He didn't bother to look too closely at himself. Let God's Word search your heart: 'The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart' (Hebrews 4:12). Let this be your prayer to the Lord: 'Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!' (Psalm 139:24). Make sure that you mean it!
15thJuly: 2 Kings 11: 1-12:21
Let us 'make a covenant' – to 'be the Lord's people', to 'do what is right in the eyes of the Lord' (11:17; 12:2). Part of this 'covenant' will involve our use of 'money'. Real covenanting with the Lord will always mean much more than how much money we give to Him. Real giving is a matter of the heart: 'the money which a man's heart prompts him to bring into the House of the Lord' (12:4). 'God loves a cheerful giver' (2 Corinthians 9:7). Our giving will only be cheerful when it comes from the heart. There are three types of giving: 'Grudge giving' – 'I have to'; 'Duty giving' – 'I ought to'; 'Thanksgiving' – 'I want to'. What kind of giver are you? This is an important question. Is it just 'the Church always looking for money'? No! There is more: God wants us to give ourselves to Him.
16thJuly: 2 Kings 13:1-14:16
We love making comparisons. 'This one's better'. 'That one's better'. Some kings were better than others. What's the difference between a bad king and a good king? It's really very simple. The good king does what is 'right in the eyes of the Lord' (14:3). The bad king does what is 'evil in the eyes of the Lord' (13:11). This is not a matter of popularity. It is a matter of obedience. It's possible to be popular among the people without being obedient to God. Obedience is more important than popularity. We must choose obedience – even when popularity doesn't come into it. There is one King who stands head and shoulders above all other kings. Jesus Christ is 'King of kings and Lord of lords' (Revelation 19:16). How does your life look 'in the eyes of the Lord'? Pleasing Him – Nothing matters more than this.
17thJuly: 2 Kings 14:17-15:22
Throughout life, we are faced with choices. Some of our choices are very important. Some are relatively unimportant. Everything can seem so complicated. Even the less important decisions appear to be very difficult. It's very confusing. You wonder what to do. You don't know which way to turn. In all of life's decisions, there is no more important choice than this: What will I do - 'evil in the eyes of the Lord' (14:24; 15:9,18) or 'right in the eyes of the Lord? (15:3). You're wondering what to do. You're looking for guidance. Here's a prayer you can pray: 'Send your light and your truth. Let them guide me' (Psalm 43:3). Jesus is 'the Light' and 'the Truth' (John 8:12; 14:6). Keep looking to Him, asking Him to be your Guide. He will give you wisdom to know God's will and strength to do God's will.
18thJuly: 2 Kings 15:23-16:20
Within every one of us, there is conflict. It is the conflict between good and evil (15:34,24,28; 16:2). Paul experienced this conflict: 'I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. I don't do the good I want to do. Instead, I do the evil that I don't want to do…When I want to do right, evil lies close at hand' (Romans 7:18-19,21). What are we to do when we feel this conflict tearing us apart? We are to confess our sin – 'Wretched man that I am!'. We are to trust in Christ – 'Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!' (Romans 7:24-25). While we are in this earthly body, the conflict rages on. We 'wait in patience for deliverance by the Lord'. When He returns, we will 'rejoice in His salvation' (Lamentations 3:26; Isaiah 25:8-9; Hebrews 9:28).
19thJuly: 2 Kings 17:1-41
'The people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt' (7). What happens when people reject the God of salvation? – They become 'empty' and 'worthless' because they have chosen to 'pursue emptiness' by 'following worthless idols' (15). If you don't have salvation, you have nothing. Jesus makes this perfectly clear when He says, 'What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Mark 8:36). You can have it all – all that the world thinks is important – and yet have nothing – nothing that really matters! The world has its 'winners'. They have won 'the praise of men'. We must be careful: 'Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God'. It's better to be 'God's friend' (James 4:4; 2:23)
20thJuly: Ephesians 1:1-2:10
'By grace you have been saved through faith…for good works' (2:8-10). God calls us to live a 'holy' life. We cannot make ourselves holy. We are spiritually 'dead'. We need to be 'made alive' – by God. Holiness does not come from ourselves. It comes from the Lord. Long before we ever thought of loving Him – He loved us. Our love for Him is so changeable. His love for us is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. It is eternal. He loved us 'before the foundation of the world'. He will love us 'in the world to come'. This is the love of God, the love which inspires us and enables us to live a 'holy' life (2:1; 1:4; 2:7). When we realize the truth concerning ourselves – 'nothing good dwells within me' (Romans 7:18) – and God – He is 'rich in mercy' (2:4) - , we will 'praise His glorious grace' (1:6).
21stJuly: Ephesians 2:11-4:6
By the grace of God we are called to salvation – 'saved through faith' - , sanctification – 'for good works' - , and service - 'according to the gift of God's grace…by the working of His power', we are enabled 'to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ' (2:8-10; 3:7-8). When we consider all this, we say in our hearts, 'To God be the glory'! (3:21). We are 'strengthened with power through His Spirit in our inner being' so that we might live as those who are saved, sanctified and serving. Even when we are deeply conscious of our own great weakness, we draw encouragement from this: God is 'able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us' (3:16,20). We grow in grace as we share in fellowship – 'eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit' (4:3).
22ndJuly: Ephesians 4:7-5:14
God wants us to 'grow up in every way into Christ' (15). We are to 'walk in love' (2), a life which is 'pleasing to the Lord' (5:10). It is so easy for us to settle for something less than God's very best. We settle down into a state of spiritual complacency. What does God have to say about this? – 'Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God' (30). He gives us His wake-up call: 'Awake, O sleeper…'(5:14). God says to us, 'Awake, awake, put on your strength…Shake yourself from the dust, arise' (Isaiah 52:1-2). Have you become 'lukewarm'? - 'Be zealous and repent'. Christ says, 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him' (Revelation 3:16,19-20). What will you say to Him? – 'Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay'.
23rdJuly: Ephesians 5:15-6:24
'Be very careful how you live' (5:16). This is for all of us – in every situation of life. How are we to live? We are to 'be filled with the Spirit'. We are to have 'reverence for Christ'. We are to live 'as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart'. We are to 'be strong in the Lord'. We are to 'pray at all times in the Spirit'. We are to 'to love our Lord Jesus Christ with love undying' (5:18,21;6:6,10,18,24). Careful living emerges from true spirituality. It is not a matter of rules and regulations. It is a matter of love for Jesus. We're not to be like the Pharisees: 'On the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy', 'These people honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me' (Matthew 23:28; Mark 7:6). Take care – because you love Jesus!
24thJuly: 2 Kings 18:1-37
Hezekiah 'held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him…' (6). We give up so easily. We start well, then we lose our way. We don't stick at it. Some people are all smiles – when things are going well. When the going gets tough, they lose their smiles – and you can't see them for dust! What's the problem? – They've taken their eyes off Jesus. They're looking around at everyone and everything – except Jesus. Notice how different Hezekiah was! He 'held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him'. This is what makes the difference – Keeping your eyes on Jesus. What is it that keeps us going? We are 'kept by the power of God' – He 'is able to keep us from falling' (1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24). 'Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus' (Hebrews 12:1-2).
25thJuly: 2 Kings 19:1-37
'Do not be afraid because of the words you have heard' (6). Who are you listening to – the world or the Lord? Sometimes, the voice of the world seems to be so loud – so loud that we can hardly hear the voice of the Lord at all. We need to listen well if we are to hear the voice of the Lord in today's world. When we are discouraged, we need His Word of encouragement: 'The zeal of the Lord will do this' (31). When you feel like saying, 'I can't', remember this: 'Our God is able' – 'able to help those who are tempted', 'able to provide you with every blessing in abundance', 'able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think' (Daniel 3:17; Hebrews 2:18; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Ephesians 3:20). Don't say 'I can't'. Say, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me' (Philippians 4:13).
26thJuly: 2 Kings 20:1-21:18
'Carried off to Babylon' (20:17) – There's a real sadness about these words. In Revelation 18:2, Babylon is described as 'a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit'. In today's world, it seems like things are going the same way. 'Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!' (Revelation 14:8; 18:2) – Everything seems to be falling round about us. We hear so much bad news. We wonder, 'What does God think about all this?'. God is looking for people who will stand when everyone else is falling, people who will stand up for Him – 'Come out of her, My people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues' (Revelation 18:4). Even 'in Babylon', there were 'the chosen' – people who belonged to the Lord (1 Peter 5:13). Let us be such people – 'in the world' but 'not of the world' (John 17:11,16).
27thJuly: 2 Kings 21:19-23:3
You never know what's going to happen next! There was repair work going on at the House of God (5-6). It seemed so mundane. What happened next was certainly not mundane. Revival broke out! A book was found. It was 'the Book of the Law' (8).The rediscovery of God's Word brought transformation. Everything changed when the Word of God took its rightful place among the people. King Josiah wanted to find out what was in 'this book that has been found' (13). He read its 'words' to 'all the people' (23:2). The words were not only read.They were acted upon: 'The king…made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep His commandments…with all his heart and all his soul…and all the people joined in the covenant' (23:3). They returned to 'the ancient paths', to 'the good way' (Jeremiah 6:16) – and so must we!
28thJuly: 2 Kings 23:4-30
In 18:5, we read about Hezekiah; 'There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him'. Here, we read something rather different – 'Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him'(25). This seems confusing: Which was the better king - Hezekiah or Josiah? We need to look more closely at these statements. Hezekiah is commended for his trust in the Lord – ''Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel' (18:5). Josiah is commended for his obedience to God. His actions were 'according to all the law of Moses' (25). Trust and obedience belong together. Hezekiah's faith led to obedience (18:6). By his obedience, Josiah showed that he had 'turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might' (25). We need both – trust and obedience.
29th July: 2 Kings 23:31-24:17
'The king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valour…all of them strong and fit for war' (24:16). A prisoner of war is taken out of the battle. We have been given 'the whole armour of God' (Ephesians 6:11,13). We must use 'the weapons of our warfare'. We must 'take every thought captive to obey Christ' (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). It is not easy to 'fight the good fight of faith' (1 Timothy 6:12). Satan wants to make us his prisoners of war. Satan is a very powerful enemy – 'the whole world is in the power of the evil one'. We must live as those who 'are of God', firmly convinced that 'He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world' (1 John 6:19; 1:4). The world seems so strong. The devil seems so powerful. It will not always be so – 'Hallelujah!' (Revelation 16:19; 18:21; 20:10; 19:1,6-7).
30thJuly: 2 Kings 24:18-25:30
'Finally, in the end, it came to the point that He cast them out of His presence' (24:20). There is a real word of warning here. God is patient – 'He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance' (2 Peter 3:9). We dare not presume upon God's patience: 'Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? God forbid!' (Romans 6:1-2). There can come a point when God says, 'This is the point of no return, the end, the final straw'. This is what God's Word says in Romans 1:21-28 – 'They did not honour God or give thanks to Him…Therefore God gave them up…They worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator…For this reason God gave them up…Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up…'. Don't wait until it's too late. Come to Christ now!
Mon. 31st July: Proverbs 12:1-14
The Word of God shows us the way we are not to go as well as the way we are to go. We are told that 'the root of the righteous stands firm' (12). We are warned: 'he who follows worthless pursuits has no sense' (11). Do you have any sense? Here's the most sensible thing you could ever do: Let 'Christ dwell in your heart through faith'. Be 'rooted and grounded in love…the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge'. Does it make any sense to live a life of emptiness – 'worthless pursuits' – when you can be filled with all the fullness of God'? What sense is there in living a life that amounts to nothing – 'worthless pursuits' – when you can have 'His power at work within you'? There are two ways: the way of giving 'glory to God' and the way of 'no sense' (Ephesians 3:17-21). Only one 'Way' makes sense – Christ (John 14:6).
1st August: 1 Chronicles 1:1-54
What are we to make of this long list of names? - A waste of space? Are we wasting our time looking for God's Word here? No! God has a very important message for us! Do you ever feel insignificant - just one among so many? Here`s God's Word for you - You are important. A lot of people are named here - God considered every single one of them important enough to be included in this list! Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? To every believer, Jesus says, 'Rejoice' - 'Your name is written in heaven' (Luke 10:20). 'Rejoice' - Your name is included in 'the Lamb`s book of life' (Revelation 21:27). Jesus calls us 'by name', He gives us His Name - 'the Name above every name', the Name of our salvation. 'Believing in His Name', we become 'sons of the living God' (John 10:3; 20:31; Philippians 2:9; Acts 4:12; Romans 9:26).
2nd August: 1 Chronicles 2:1-55
More names - lots of them! It's great to have a name! You have a name. You're not just a nameless
person of unknown identity. It's even greater to have the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, given to us for our salvation. In His Name, we have God`s promise of salvation - 'every one who calls upon the Name of the Lord will be saved' (Romans 10:13). God calls us to have faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. God does not speak to us of salvation without calling us to have faith in Christ. He does not say, 'Everyone will be saved'. That's what we might like to hear, but it's not what God has said. This is what His Word says to us, 'every one who calls upon the Name of the Lord will be saved'. Call upon the Name of the Lord. Let Him fulfil His promise: 'The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe' (Proverbs 18:10).
3rd August: 1 Chronicles 3:1-4:23
God answers prayer - 'Jabez called upon the God of Israel, "Oh that You would bless me...". And God
granted his request' (4:10). Behind the name, 'Israel', there are many other names, many faces, many people, many prayers rising up to the God of Israel, many believers calling upon the Name of the Lord, looking to Him for His blessing. The story of 'Israel' is a story of 'disobedience' and 'mercy' (Romans 11:25-32). This is the story of our life. We have been disobedient to God. He has been merciful to us. How are we to receive the blessing of God? Pray to God for His mercy: 'Have mercy on me, O God, a sinner' (Luke 18:13). Come to Him with this earnest prayer: 'Oh that You would bless me...'. How much does the blessing of God matter to you? How much do you really want to be blessed by the Lord? Make it the most important thing: 'Oh that You would bless me...'.
4th August: Psalm 30:1-12
'I will exalt You, O Lord' (1). God is not exalted because we exalt Him. We exalt Him because He is exalted: 'He is exalted, for ever exalted, and I will praise His Name' (Mission Praise, 217). How do we come to the point where we say, 'I will exalt You, O Lord'? We realize our need of Him - 'when You hid Your face, I was dismayed' (7). We look to Him for mercy - 'To You, O Lord, I called; to the Lord, I cried for mercy' (8). God hears and answers our prayer - 'You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy' (11). God calls us to worship Him - 'Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy Name' (4). 'The joy of the Lord', His 'unutterable and exalted joy', gives us 'strength' (Nehemiah 8:10; 1 Peter 1:8). We worship God: 'O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever' (12).
5th August: Proverbs 12:15-28
What harm can be done by 'reckless words' (18). We need to take care how we speak. As those who belong to Christ, we have a special responsibility. We are to 'witness' for Him. We are to give our 'testimony', declaring what He has done for us. We are to speak of the 'one thing' that is more important than anything else - what the Lord has done for us: 'I used to be blind, but now I can see' (John 9:25). This is what the Lord has done for us - 'He has called us out of darkness into His marvellous light' (1 Peter 2:9). There is a better way than the way of 'lying lips' (22). When the 'lying tongue' has no more to say for itself, there will be one confession of faith which will remain forevermore: 'Jesus Christ is Lord'. This cofession brings 'glory' to 'God the Father'. Let it be your confession of faith: 'Jesus Christ is Lord' (19; Philippians 2:11).
6th August: Psalm 31:1-24
'Into Thy hand, I commit my spirit' (5). These words were spoken by Christ as, in death, He gave Himself for our sins (Luke 23:46). For Christ, there was suffering - 'I am the scorn of all my adversaries' (11). His suffering was followed by rejoicing, the joy of the resurrection - 'I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place' (7-8). God answered the prayer of His Son - He brought Him into the 'spacious place' of the resurrection, the 'spacious place' which is, for us, 'eternal salvation' (Hebrews 5:7-9). We look to the crucified Christ and we say, 'Praise be to the Lord, for He showed His wonderful love to me' (21). In the risen Christ, we are 'strong and our hearts take courage' (24).
7th August: 1 Chronicles 4:24-5:26
God wants to lead us in the way of victory (5:22). We dare not take His victory for granted if we are not willing to walk in the pathway of discipleship. As well as the promise of victory, there is also the warning against disobedience. If we are disobedient, we will be defeated (5:25-26). God doesn't want us to be disobedient and defeated. He wants us to be obedient and victorious. With the promise of victory - 'From victory to victory His army He shall lead' - comes the call to discipleship - 'Stand up! Stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the Cross!' (Church Hymnary, 481). God is calling us to be faithful. He is warning us - 'Do not love the world...If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him'. The Lord`s way is better than the world's way - 'Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind' (1 John 2:15; Romans 12:2).
8th August: 1 Chronicles 6:1-60
The names tell a story - the story of what God is doing among His people. They speak of the faithfulness of God. He loves every one of these people. He loves every one of us. We forget the names. God doesn't. Everyone is important to Him. We rejoice in 'the great love of God'. We rejoice in Christ 'who came to this earth to redeem every one'. In the many names, forgotten by us yet remembered by God, we hear the message, 'God is love'. Among the many names, we read of those who 'ministered with song'. We read of 'the service of song in the house of the Lord'. God is calling us to worship Him: 'Sing aloud, loud, loud! Sing aloud, loud, loud! God is good! God is truth! God is beauty! Praise Him!' (31-32; Church Hymnary, 415-416).
9th August: 1 Chronicles 6:61-7:40
Is there no end of names? - The more names we read, the more we wonder at the amazing scope of God's love: 'God so loved the world...' (John 3:16). We read of 'the cities of refuge' (67-70). We take refuge in the Lord. He is 'our Refuge and Strength, a very present help in trouble' (Psalm 46:1). We have Christ as our Saviour: 'Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need' (Hebrews 4:16). When 'evil' threatens to overwhelm us (23), we must come to God with this confidence: 'the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin'. We must ask God to strengthen our faith in Christ: 'This is the victory that overcomes the world. Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?' (1 John 1:7; 4:4-5).
10th August: Psalm 32:1-11
The forgiveness of sins - what a tremendous blessing this is (1-2). We receive God's forgiveness when we confess our sins to Him. This is the Psalmist's testimony: 'I made my sins known to You, and I did not cover up my guilt. I decided to confess them to You, O Lord. Then You forgave all my sins' (5). This is the promise of God: 'If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness' (1 John 1:9). Knowing that our sins have been forgiven by God, we can face our many trying times with confidence in Him: 'You are my hiding place. You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance whenever I am afraid. I will trust in You, I will trust in You. Let the weak say, "I am strong in the strength of my God"' (7; Mission Praise, 793).
11th August: Proverbs 13:1-11
'The light of the righteous rejoices' (9). Jesus is our Light. He is 'the Light of the world'. In Him we rejoice. Through Him, 'we have now received recociliation'. We are no longer walking in darkness. We are walking in the light with Him, giving thanks to God that 'the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin' (John 8:12; Romans 5:11; 1 John 1:7). What a wonderful thing God has done for us in Christ. He has 'called us out of darkness into His marvellous light'. Let us 'declare His praises', rejoicing in His great love, His rich mercy and His saving grace (1 Peter 2:9; Ephesians 2:4-5). Keep on rejoicing! There is light at the end of the tunnel - even when you have 'to suffer grief in all kinds of trials'. Don`t lose sight of 'the goal of your faith' - 'the salvation of your souls' (1 Peter 1:6-9).
12th August: Psalm 33:1-22
'Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous' (1). We have plenty of good reasons for rejoicing in the Lord.
He opens His heart to us, making known 'the thoughts of His heart to all generations' (11). In His heart, there is love for us - 'the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord' (5). He speaks to us of His love. Listening to His voice of love, our joy increases as we learn to trust in His Word - 'the Word of the Lord is right and true' - and rest in His faithfulness - 'He is faithful in all He does' (4). We have good cause to say, 'Our heart is glad in Him' (20). Think of God's love - His heart of love, His purpose of love, His Word of love. Let His love touch your heart and change your life. May His love cause each of us to pray from the heart: 'May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord' (22).
13th August: 1 Chronicles 8:1-40
.How sad it is to find the name of Baal, the god worshipped by the Canaanites, appearing in this list of those who professed to be the people of God! The name 'Esh-Baal' (33) means 'man of Baal' or 'man of shame'. It is a 'shameful thing' that those who are called to be the people of God should lose sight of their high calling and become servants of Baal. The name 'Merib-Baal' (34) highlights the sadness of those who lose their way in life. Originally meaning 'opponent of Baal', this name came to mean 'loved by Baal' or 'my lord is Baal'. God's Word warns us against the danger of becoming a 'double-minded man' (James 1:8). Trying to live with one eye on the Lord and the other eye on the world is a sure recipe for disaster. Satan will be be quick to welcome us if we take our eyes off Jesus. 'Let us fix our eyes on Jesus' (Hebrews 12:2).
14th August: 1 Chronicles 9:1-44
In verse 13, we read of 'very able men for the work of the service of the house of God'. Some have been called by God to preach His Gospel and teach His Word. All of us have been called to serve the Lord. It may not be preaching and teaching. It will be something you can do for Him. In this chapter, we read of some who were 'chosen to be gatekeepers', some who were 'assigned to take care of the furnishings and all the other articles of the sanctuary...', some who were 'entrusted with the responsibility for baking...' and others who were 'singers' or 'musicians' (22,29,31,33). There's something for everybody: 'There`s a work for Jesus ready at your hand, `Tis a task the Master just for you has planned. Haste to do His bidding, yield Him service true; There`s a work for Jesus none but you can do' (Redemption Hymnal, 570)
15th August: Philippians 1:1-2:11
Do you feel like you can`t go on? Do you feel like giving up? Here`s God`s Word of encouragement for you: 'He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the Day of Jesus Christ' (1:6). God finishes what He starts - 'He didn`t bring us this far to leave us. He didn`t teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn`t build His home in us to move away. He didn`t lift us up to let us down'. In all the changes of life, we must remember this: God is faithful. His love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. We don`t keep going because we are strong. We are 'kept by the power of God' (1 Peter 1:5). In 'humility' let us live 'to the glory and praise of God' (2:3; 1:11). 'Jesus Christ is Lord' (2:11) - He will give you the strength to keep going when you feel like giving up.
16th August: Philippians 2:12-3:11
God's command - 'Work out your own salvation' - must never be separated from His promise - 'God is at work in you' (12-13). We do not save ourselves - We 'put no confidence in the flesh'. We are saved by the Lord - We 'glory in Christ Jesus' (3). We are to 'shine as lights in the world', directing attention away from ourselves to Him who is 'the Light of the world; - our Lord Jesus Christ (15; John 8:12). We have this testimony: "I have 'no righteousness of my own'. 'Through faith in Christ', I have received 'this rtighteousness from God'" (9). We are living in difficult times. This is 'a crooked and perverse generation' (15). We are called to 'hold fast the Word of life' (16). It will not be easy. We will face many difficulties. We must take encouragement from this: 'God is at work in you' (13).
17th August: Philippians 3:12-4:23
'Christ Jesus has made me His own' (3:12). In Paul`s words, we hear an echo of Jesus` words, 'You did not choose Me...I chose you' (John 15:16). Christ has claimed us for Himself. He has laid claim to every part of our life. We are to 'rejoice in the Lord always' (4). We are to bring 'everything' to Him in prayer (6). We are to be 'content in all circumstances' (4:11-12). We are to face every challenge with confidence in His strength - 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me' (4:13). We are to trust Him to 'supply' our 'every need' (4:19). In every situation, we can come to the Lord, trusting in His promise: 'the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus' (7). Whatever is happening, take it to the Lord in prayer and let Him give you His peace.
18th August: 1 Chronicles 10:1-11:19
Saul's life can be summed up in one word - 'unfaithfulness': 'he was unfaithful to the Lord'. This is a warning: Don`t become like Saul who 'did not keep the command of the Lord...and did not seek guidance from the Lord' (10:13-14). David was quite different from Saul. He became king 'according to the Word of the Lord'. He grew in strength because 'the Lord of hosts was with him' (11:3,9). David was helped greatly by his 'mighty men, who gave him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel' (11:10). These things were 'written for our instruction' (Romans 15:4). Praise God for what He has done in the past - 'Blessed be the Lord for ever!' (Psalm 89:52). Pray for more of His blessing in the future - 'O that some one would give me to drink from the well of Bethlehem' (11:17; Revelation 22:17; John 7:37-39).
19th August: 1 Chronicles 11:20-12:7
Here, we read of 'the mighty men of the armies' (26), 'the mighty men who helped him in war' (1). What are we to learn from this list of names? We must look on from here to 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 where we learn some vitally important lessons regarding spiritual warfare. We learn what our war is not and what our weapons are not: 'we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly'. We learn where our strength comes from and what it is to be used for: 'the weapons of our warfare...have divine power to destroy strongholds'. We learn about the goal of our warfare: 'We...take every thought captive to obey Christ' pressing on toward an 'obedience' which 'is complete'. Make this your prayer, "Lord, help me to be 'valiant..., a doer of good deeds' (22).
20th August: 1 Chronicles 12:8-13:14
'The kingdom of Saul was turned over to David according to the Word of the Lord' (23). What was God's purpose in giving the kingdom to David? 'In the days of Saul', there had been spiritual neglect. Now, God was calling His people to return to Him - 'let us bring again the ark of our God to us' (3). The people returned to the Lord (4). They rejoiced in Him (13:8). Sadly, their joy was short-lived. Failure to do God's will lead to the withdrawal of God's blessing (13:9-10). Where the Word of God remains among God's people - honoured and given its rightful place - , there will be blessing (13:14). How are we to honour God's Word? - 'Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only'. Pray that you will not be a 'hearer who forgets'. Pray that you will be 'a doer of God's Word' -obedient to God and blessed by God (James 1:22,25).
21st August: Psalm 34:1-22
Looking to the Lord, we are 'radiant' He has 'delivered' us. He has 'saved' us (4-6). Rejoicing in God's salvation, we say, 'I will bless the Lord at all times' (1). We call upon others to worship the Lord with us - 'O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!' (3). We invite them to trust in the Lord and come to know the joy of His salvation - 'O taste and see that the Lord is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!' (8). We encourage them to keep on hearing the Word of the Lord so that they may learn to walk with God - 'Come, O sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord' (11). We seek to lead people on to spiritual maturity. We say to them, 'Depart from evil, and do good', praying that they will become 'mature', 'trained by practice to know the difference between good and evil' (14; Hebrews 5:14).
Tues. 22nd August: Proverbs 13:12-25
What do you do with the Word of God? How do you respond to the Word of God? What a difference there is between those who respect God's Word and those who despise His Word. We have here a word of warning - 'He who despises the Word brings destruction on himself' - and a word of promise - 'he who respects the commandment will be rewarded' (13). Those who keep on ignoring God's Word are putting themselves in great danger - 'He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck will suddenly be broken beyond healing' (29:1). Those who take God's Word seriously will find 'great reward' - God's Word 'revives the soul', 'makes wise the simple', 'rejoices the heart' and 'enlightens the eyes'. May your heart often meditate on His Word. May your mouth often speak His Word (Psalm 19:11,7-8,14).
23rd August: Psalm 35:1-28
The Psalmist prays, 'Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!' (1). Jesus says, 'In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world' (John 16:33). Paul rejoices in the Lord`s victory - 'If God be for us, who can be against us?' (Romans 8:31). How do we know that God is for us? How do we know that the victory is ours in Christ? We read the words of John 3:16 - 'God so loved the world that He gave His only Son...' - and we say, with the Psalmist, 'Then my soul shall rejoice in the Lord, exulting in His deliverance' (9). We read the words of 1 Corinthians 15:57 - 'Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ' - and we say, with the Psalmist, 'I will thank Thee...I will praise Thee...all the day long' (18,2,8).
24th August: 1 Chronicles 14:1-15:15
David recognized that it was 'the Lord' who 'had established him king over Israel' (14:1). David sought to honour the Lord in everything. We see this in his battles with the Philistines - (a) He 'inquired of God' (10,14); (b) He 'did as God commanded him' (16,10-11); (c) He gave all the glory to God - 'God has broken through...the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations' (11,17). We must learn from David - Seek the will of God; Do the will of God; Give all the glory to God. David was not only a political leader - a king. He was also a spiritual leader, a leader of worship. He calls us to be sanctified, set apart for the Lord. We will not be blessed by the Lord unless we honour Him in our hearts. Let's be sure to hear and heed this call to live our lives 'according to the Word of the Lord' (15:11-15).
25th August: 1 Chronicles 15:16-16:6
David called God's people to worship. They were 'to raise sounds of joy', praising the Lord with 'loud music'. David did not leave it others. He gave the lead. Along with all the others, he was there, 'dancing and making merry'. He was a true spiritual leader. He 'blessed the people in the Name of the Lord'. He called upon the people to 'praise the Lord' (16,28-29,2,4). God calls us to worship Him continually' (6). May God help us to be the kind of people who take 'delight in the Word of the Lord, meditating on His Word day and night' (Psalm 1:2). Our meditation on God's Word is to be accompanied by obedience to His Word - 'be careful to do according to all that is written in it' (Joshua 1:8). This is the true 'spiritual worship' God is looking for - the dedication of our lives to Him (Romans 12:1).
26th August: 1 Chronicles 16:7-36
Here, we are called to worship - 'O give thanks to the Lord...Sing praises to Him...Glory in His holy Name...Seek His presence continually' (8-11). We are to 'remember the wonderful works that He has done'. We are to call on others to worship Him - 'Sing to the Lord , all the earth!'. We 'worship the Lord' and, filled with heavenly joy, we say to those around us - 'Let the earth rejoice... "The Lord reigns!"' (12,23,29,31). In a book of so many names, this marvellous song of praise stands out. It is a high point. Everything else seems so commonplace. Treasure God's special high points of praise and worship. Don't despise the ordinariness of everyday life. Why does God give us His high points? - He wants us to return to our everyday life with renewed strength. 'Wait on the Lord and renew your strength' (Isaiah 40:31).
27th August: Psalm 36:1-12
Read about God's 'steadfast love' and rejoice in Him: 'Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens...How precious is Your steadfast love, O God!...O continue Your steadfast love to those who know You...' (5,7,10). Rejoicing in the Lord's 'steadfast love' is quite different from taking His love for granted. We dare not say, "God loves me. I can do what I like". We must not become like the wicked - 'there is no fear of God before his eyes' (1). Where there is true rejoicing in God's 'steadfast love', there will also be 'the fear of the Lord' which 'is the beginning of wisdom' (111:10). A real appreciation of God's 'steadfast love' brings with it a real awareness of our own sinfulness. Knowing how much God loves us leads us to pray, 'Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away' (11).
28th August: 1 Chronicles 16:37-17:27
Sometimes, God's "No" means "Not now. Later". David wanted to build a Temple for the Lord. God said, "No" - 'You shall not build Me a House to dwell in' (1-4). This was not God's last Word on the matter - 'one of your own sons...shall build a House for Me' (11-12). One ministry comes to an end. Another ministry begins. We wonder, 'Has God said, "No"?'. Has He said, "There will be no blessing"?'. God's "No" may mean "Not yet". The blessing will come - but not yet. The "No" was spoken to David, yet still, there was the promise of God: 'the Lord will build you a House' (10). The true servant of the Lord does not say, "The blessing must come in my time"! God's servant rejoices in the "not yet" blessing of God - 'still the vision awaits its time...If it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay' (25-27; Habakkuk 2:3).
29th August: Proverbs 14:1-19
'A perverse man will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man with the fruit of his deeds' (14). Jesus speaks to us about 'good fruit' and 'bad fruit'. He warns us not to be deceived by those who have no real love for Him: 'You will know them by their fruits' (Matthew 7:15-20). How does good fruit grow in the 'tree' of our lives? - 'Blessed is the man...whose delight is in the law of the Lord...He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season' (Psalm 1:1-3). There is good fruit to be enjoyed when we take delight in the Word of the Lord. There is bad fruit to be thrown away. Let's throw away the bad fruit - '...strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness...' - and enjoy the good fruit - 'love, joy, peace...'. Let 'the fruit of the Spirit'grow in you - 'be filled with the Spirit' (Galatians 5:19-24; Ephesians 5:18).
30th August: 1 Chronicles 18:1-20:8
Victory belongs to God. Victory is given by God. This is the great lesson of David's victories - 'the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went' (18:6,13). There are no 'giants' able to stand in the presence of God (20:8). Every 'giant' must be brought to the ground. There are 'giants' standing in the way of our spiritual growth. The 'giants' of unbelief, disobedience, spiritual pride and self-righteousness must not be allowed to hinder our growth in grace. We must fight our spiritual battles in the strength of the Lord, confident that , through His 'divine power', 'every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God' will be brought to nothing (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Let the 'giants' come tumbling down. 'Grow in the grace and knowledge our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ'. Give all the 'glory' to Him (2 Peter 3:18).
31st August: Psalm 37:1-40
Those who 'trust in the Lord...will dwell in the land'. Those who turn from Him will 'perish' (3,20). Through faith in Christ, we look ahead to 'a heavenly country', 'better' than anything we will know on earth (Hebrews 11:16; Philippians 3:20). We have caught sight of 'a happy land, far, far away, where saints in glory stand, bright, bright as day'. We have heard the sound of their song - 'O how they sweetly sing, "Worthy is our Saviour King!"'. We lift our voices to the Lord - 'Loud let His praises ring, praise, praise for aye'. Still, some are perishing. They have not come to Christ for salvation. To them, we say, 'Come to this happy land, come, come away; Why will ye doubting stand? Why, still delay?' (Revised Church Hymnary, 587). Trust in the Lord now and look forward to being with Him in heaven.
1st September: 1 Chronicles 21:1-22:1
'Satan stood up against Israel...' (21:1). 'Satan' is 'the devil' (Revelation 12:7). He is a powerful enemy. We must not underestimate him. In the service of the Lord, we face strong opposition. It is is not merely human - 'our struggle is not against flesh and blood'. It is much more powerful - 'the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms' (Ephesians 6:12). Satan is very powerful. When he wins a victory over you, confess your sin to God and seek His forgiveness, believing that 'His mercy is very great' (8,13). Be careful not to overestimate Satan. Christ is more powerful (Colossians 2: 13-15; Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8). Christ has won the victory. In Him, we have the victory - 'they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb' (Revelation 12:10-11). Keep reminding Satan of Christ's victory. Don't let him forget it!
2nd September: 1 Chronicles 22:2-23:32
We need visionaries. We need managers. We need workers. David was a visionary. He had the original idea of building the Temple. Solomon was a manager. Under his leadership, the vision became a reality. David was important - but he was only involved in the 'preparation' for the building of the Temple (22:5). Solomon was important - 'He shall build a House for My Name' (22:9-10) - but he couldn't do everything. The people were important. They were the workers. Without the workers, the work remains undone. Each of us must play our part. We must 'do the work for the service of the House of the Lord' (23:24). In this work, there is something we must never forget - 'thanking and praising the Lord' (23:30). David, Solomon, the people - they were all important. More important is the Lord. We need Him.
3rd September: 1 Chronicles 24:1-25:31
The work of God was to be done 'as the Lord God of Israel had commanded' (24:19). The Lord is our Commander-in-Chief. No-one else can take His place. Never imagine you're 'the king of the castle'. We're only sinners who've been saved by the grace of God. We're 'the dirty wee rascals' -'all our righteous acts are like filthy rags' (Isaiah 64:6). That's what we are in ourselves - nothing more than 'dirty wee rascals'. The Lord has done something wonderful for us. He has given us new clothes - 'the clothes of salvation' (Isaiah 61:10). Let's never 'get too big for our boots'. There's only one 'King of the Castle'. Let us 'exalt Him' - 'You, O Lord are exalted for ever' (25:5; Psalm 92:8). 'The Lord reigns...'. Let's be content to be 'Castle Kids' - 'children of the living God' (Psalm 93:1; Romans 9:26).
4th September: Colossians 1:1-2:7
'In everything' Christ is 'pre-eminent' (18). In Him, there is salvation - 'redemption, the forgiveness of sins' (14) - , sanctification - 'mature in Christ' (28) - and service - making Him known (27). Everything is in Christ. In Him are 'all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge' (2:3) - all that we need for salvation, sanctification and service. We must go on with Him - 'Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him' (2:6). How are we to live in Him? - 'rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness' (2:7). Remember all that the Lord has done for you. Give thanks to Him. He has loved you so much. He has done so much for you. Let gratitude be your attitude. Filled with His strength, we will go from strength to strength.
5th September: Colossians 2:8-3:17
Be what you already are. Be what God has made you in Christ. This is what God is saying to us here. 'You have been raised with Christ...You died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God' (1,3). Paul is describing the new birth. Christ has made His home in us. New life has begun. Now that Christ lives in us - what are we to do about it? How are we to live? - 'Set your hearts and minds on things above' (1-2). This is how we are to live. We are to live out the life which God has put into our hearts. The new life begins when Christ comes to live in us. It does not end there. That is only the beginning. We are to go on, 'being renewed in knowledge after the image of our Creator' (3:10). Christ wants to reign in us. He wants to enrich our lives (3:15-16). In Him, there is so much blessing. Let's enjoy it!
6th September: Colossians 3:18-4:18
God calls us to pray - 'Devote yourselves to prayer'. We are to pray with concern - 'watchful'. We are to pray with gratitude - 'thankful' (2). We are to pray for those who preach God's Word. Thank God for the past. Trust Him for the future. Remember - the important thing is the 'message' (3). The messengers are just 'jars of clay'. The message is the 'treasure' (2 Corinthians 4:7). The messengers must not draw attention to themselves. They must direct attention away from themselves to Jesus Christ - 'We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord' (2 Corinthians 4:5). We are to pray that the message will be 'clear' (4). Pray for good preaching - preaching which does you good, giving you good cause to say in your heart, 'For me it is good to be near God' (Psalm 73:28). Pray for preaching which glorifies God.
7th September: 1 Chronicles 26:1-27:34
We are called to serve God. At the heart of our service, there is this - 'ministering in the House of the Lord' (26:12). Part of our worship involves the dedication of 'gifts for the maintenance of the House of the Lord' (26:27). There is more to serving God than worshipping Him in His House. There is more to serving God than supporting the work which takes place within His House. We are to serve Him in the world. When our service of worship ends, our service in the world begins. We must offer our whole life to God - not only the 'religious' part. For God's people, there were responsibilities outside of the House of the Lord - 'the service of the king' and 'the affairs of the king'. We are to serve God in our everyday life. This is part of our obedience to God. Be faithful in 'all the work of the Lord', 'in everything pertaining to God' (26:30,32).
8th September: 1 Chronicles 28:1-29:5
Some servants of the Lord complete their ministry without seeing their vision becoming a reality. This is what happened to David. He had the initial idea - 'I had my heart set on building the Temple...'. He had begun thinking about how the Temple could be built - 'I made preparations for building'. It was not to be - 'God said to me, "You may not build a House for My Name"'. This was not, however, God's last Word to David. There was also a Word of hope - 'It is Solomon your son who shall build My House' (28:2-3,6). Solomon was 'young and inexperienced'. He was taking on a huge task. He needed God's Word of encouragement - '...the Lord God is with you...'. He needed the support of the people - 'all the people will be wholly at your command'. Let us 'dedicate ourselves to the Lord today' (28:20-29:1,5).
9th September: 1 Chronicles 29:6-30
The Temple of the Lord did not come easily. It had to be built. This involved God's people in much sacrificial giving. This was a great challenge. The Lord's people rose to the challenge. They gave to the Lord - joyfully, generously and wholeheartedly (9). This giving was an expression of their worship. They were saying to the Lord, 'Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty' (10). Worshipping the Lord like this transforms our giving. It is no longer a legalistic burden - "Why do I have to give so much?". It becomes our joyful privilege. Our giving becomes thanksgiving. We thank the Lord for all that He has done for us. Let us give 'with great gladness' - 'Our God, we thank You...Everything comes from You. We give only what has come from Your hands' (22, 13-14).
10th September: Psalm 38:1-22
What a sorry state of affairs we have here! - 'My guilt has overwhelmed me. Like a heavy load, it is more than I can bear' (4). What are we to do when things are going from bad to worse? What are we to do when everything seems to be falling apart? We must do what the Psalmist does - 'I wait with hope for You, O Lord' (15). The Psalmist was 'completely devastated'. His 'heart was in turmoil'. He looked to his friends for help, but they were not there - 'My loved ones and friends keep their distance' (8,11). Despised and forsaken by his friends, there was only one thing for it - 'Take it to the Lord in prayer'. There is 'a Friend so faithful'. He 'knows our every weakness'. He 'will share all our sorrows'. This Friend is Jesus. He will be there for us when there's nowhere else to go (Mission Praise, 746).
11th September: Proverbs 14:20-35
'Righteousness lifts up a nation, but sin is a disgrace in any society' (34). Our nation can flourish again - by the preaching of God's Word and the praising of God's Name. Times of blessing can come again - if we will listen to God's Word and sing His praise. Times of blessing will not come if we refuse to listen to the Lord, if we will not worship Him. We are living in difficult times - 'dark powers are poised to flood our streets with hate and fear'. We must learn to see things as God sees them - 'You stand appalled to see Your laws of love so scorned and lives so broken. Pray for mercy - 'Have mercy, Lord'. Pray for revival - 'Revive Your Church again'. Pray that Christ's 'glorious Cross shall tower triumphant in this land'. Pray that 'righteousness' will flow 'like a never-failing stream' (Mission Praise, 509).
12th September: Psalm 39:1-13
Some live to a ripe old age. Some die young. How does God view our time on this earth? - This is what the Psalmist says, 'My life span is nothing compared with Yours' (5). The quality of our living is more important than the quantity of our years. "How am I living?'- This is the question of quality. It is more important than the question of quantity - "How long have I lived?". "What am I doing with my life?" - This is the question each of us must answer. Life is not only about survival - living for a long time. It is about revival - living in the light of eternity. The Psalmist asks the question - 'Lord, what am I waiting for?'. He gives his answer - 'My hope is in You' (7). Let us live as 'citizens of heaven' - 'We look forward to the Lord Jesus Christ coming from heaven as our Saviour' (Philippians 3:20).
13th September: 2 Chronicles 1:1-2:18
'Give me wisdom' (1:10). What is the greatest wisdom of all? - It is the 'wisdom' which leads to 'salvation through faith in Christ Jesus'. Where do we find this wisdom? - Read 'the Holy Scriptures'. Ask God for wisdom - 'Open my eyes that I may see the wonderful truths in Your Word'. Ask the question concerning salvation - 'What must I do to be saved?'. God will give you His answer - 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved' (2 Timothy 3:15; Psalm 119:18; Acts 16:31). Salvation cannot be earned. It can only be received as a gift. It is 'the gift of God' (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8). What is wisdom? - It is to say, with Solomon, 'Our God is greater than all other gods' (2:5). Nothing else and no-one else can even begin to compare with the Lord. Be wise. Build your life on Him (Matthew 7:24-27).
14th September: 2 Chronicles 3:1-5:1
'Work in the Temple of the Lord' (4:11; 5:1) is no ordinary work. This work is 'most holy' (3:8,10; 4:22). Real work for the Lord emerges out of true worship of the Lord. If we are to be the Lord's workers, we must first be His worshippers. Worship comes first. This is vitally important. Take away worship from the place of highest priority, and you have nothing left - nothing which can really be called the work of the Lord. You may have busy people, doing this, that and the other, but you will not have servants of the Lord doing the work of the Lord - without worship. We sometimes ask, "Where are the workers?". God asks, "Where are the worshippers?". Begin to worship the Lord. Keep on worshipping Him. Worship the Lord, and let Him show you 'what you must do' (Acts 9:3-6).
15th September: Psalm 40:1-17
We have been saved by the Lord: 'He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my feet secure' (2). He calls us to a life of worship and witness. We are to worship Him with 'a new song...a song of praise to our God' (3). We are to be His witnesses, sharing with others the Good News of His salvation: 'I have not hid Thy saving help within my heart, I have spoken of Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation...' (10). God has given out His call to worship and witness. May our response be like the Psalmist's: 'I delight to do Thy will, O my God'. Let us worship the Lord - 'Great is the Lord'. Let us be His witnesses - 'I have told the glad news of deliverance'. Let us pray for the Lord's help: 'let Thy steadfast love and Thy faithfulness ever preserve me!' (8,16,9,11).
16th September: Proverbs 15:1-33
'The path of life leads upward for the wise' (24). The wisdom which leads upward is centred on Christ. He is the Way to the 'Father's House' (John 14:2-3,6). 'Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it' (17). Jesus teaches us the way to live wisely: 'lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven' (Matthew 6:20) - 'I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold, I'd rather be His than have riches untold...' (Mission Praise, 319). 'The lips of the wise spread knowledge' (7). Christ is our Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30). We must not keep Him to ourselves. Share Him with others. Let people know that Jesus is your Saviour. Let them know that He is your Lord. Don't just 'believe in your heart'. 'Confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord' (Romans 10:9). Your words will help others to find Him.
17th September: Psalm 41:1-13
What do you do when everything seems to be going wrong? Do you forget about God? That's the worst thing you can do? That's just asking for trouble! Our problems are bad enough - with God's help. Things can only get worse - if we turn away from the Lord. When the going gets tough, we must turn to the Lord. Share your 'day of trouble' with the Lord. Let Him come to you with His blessing (1-3). Satan is busy, trying to draw you away from the Lord. It is only through the strength of the Lord that you will be able to say, with confident faith, 'my enemy has not triumphed over me' (11). Look up from your problems to your Lord. Let Him fill your heart with praise - 'Blessed be the Lord...' (13). Let this be your testimony: 'When no one but Christ could help, Love lifted me!' (Mission Praise, 450).
18th September: 2 Chronicles 5:2-6:42
Without the blessing of God, our worship is empty. We must look for God's blessing in the place of worship. What we must pray for is this: 'the glory of the Lord filled the House of God' (5:14). We must look for God's blessing in the pulpit, praying that the preachers of God's Word will be 'clothed with salvation'. We must look for God's blessing in the pews, praying that all of God's people will 'rejoice in His goodness' (6:41). Where does the blessing come from? - It comes from this: God is 'good' and 'His steadfast love endures for ever' (5:13). All of our praying for the Church can be summed up in this prayer: 'O Lord God...Remember Your steadfast love...' (6:42). More than anything else, we must pray for this: 'God's love...poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit...' (Romans 5:5).
19th September: 2 Chronicles 7:1-22
In verse 14, there is a call to prayer and promise of blessing: 'If My people who are called by My Name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their hand'. Why is there so little blessing? - 'You do not have, because you do not ask'. God will bless mightily - when His people pray earnestly. Why does the devil have so many victories among us? - 'Resist the devil, and he will flee from you'. God will lead us in His way of victory - when we stop tolerating the devil, and start resisting him. Why does God seem so far away? - 'Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you' (James 4:2,7-8). God will come near to us - if we will let Him. 'I stand at the door and knock; if any one...opens the door, I will come in...' (Revelation 3:20).
20th September: 2 Chronicles 8:1-9:31
In Solomon, we see strength and weakness. He was strong - 'the House of the Lord was completed' (8:16). He was also weak. He was infatuated with foreign women, who did not belong among the redeemed people of God. He married 'Pharaoh's daughter', a woman who had no love for 'the holy places' of worship (8:11). To the queen of Sheba, a woman who had more love for 'her own land' than for life among the people of God, 'Solomon gave all that she desired' (9:12). Solomon was a complicated man. He had a real love for the Lord, yet the world still had a strong hold on him. "O let me feel Thee near me: the world is ever near; I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear; My foes are ever near me, around me and within; but, Jesus, draw Thou nearer, and shield my soul from sin' (Church Hymnary, 434).
21st September: Psalms 42:1-43:5
Three times, the question is asked, 'Why are you downcast, O my soul'. Three times, the answer is given, 'Put your hope in God'. Three times, there is the response of faith: 'I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God (42:5,11; 43:5). Often, we are filled with questions. We must bring our questions to God. We must learn to listen for His answers. The Lord is speaking to us. Are we listening? God speaks to us through His Word. Are we taking time to read His Word? He wants us to come to Him with the prayer, 'Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening' (1 Samuel 3:8-10). Listen to the Word of the Lord. Let His Word be your Guide: 'Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me...' (43:5). 'Deep calls to deep' (42:7) - Let 'the Spirit' show you 'the deep things of God' (1 Corinthians 2:10).
22nd September: Psalm 44:1-26
Victory comes from the Lord. In ourselves, we are defeated. In Him, there is victory. We see this in the history of Israel, the people whom the Lord redeemed (3). We see it also in the experience of the Psalmist (6-7). We must remind ourselves of these things. It is so easy to forget. We take our eyes off the Lord, and we get despondent - '...You have rejected and humbled us...You have made us retreat before the enemy...You gave us up to be devoured like sheep...You have made us a reproach to our neighbours...My disgrace is before me all day long...' (9-16). What are we to do when such negative thoughts fill our minds? We must pray, 'Awake, O Lord!...Rise up and help us; redeem us because of Your unfailing love'. Pray for the faith which says, 'We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us' (23,26; Romans 8:37).
23rd September: 2 Chronicles 10:1-11:23
We read here of division among God's people: 'Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day' (10:19). What does God say about this? - 'Do not go up to fight against your brothers (11:4). Jesus tells us that 'a house...divided against itself cannot stand' (Mark 3:25). Paul speaks to us 'in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ'. There are to be 'no divisions' among us (1 Corinthians 1:10). God's Word says that we are 'all one in Christ Jesus' (Galatians 3:28). Far too often, our lives tell a very different story. Division among God's people is a big problem. We must learn to pray in the spirit of Jesus' prayer. He prayed that 'all of them may be one': 'May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me' (John 17:21,23).
24th September: 2 Chronicles 12:1-13:22
'He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord' (12:14). Read these words, and pray - 'Lord, may these words never be true of me'. These words are a warning to us. Things will only go from bad to worse if we turn back from following the Lord. 'As for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken Him' (13:10). Read these words, and pray - 'Lord, may these words always be true of me'. This is the better way - God's way: 'God is with us; He is our Leader' (13:12). We read about unbelief and disobedience. We read about faith and obedience. "Do not fight against the Lord...you will not succeed'. 'Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey' (13:12; Mission Praise, 760).
25th September: Psalm 45:1-17
Jesus Christ is 'the most excellent of men' (2). He is more than that. He is God. In verse 6, we read these words - 'Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever'. We read them again in Hebrews 1:8. They are the words which God the Father speaks to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. How does the Word of God describe Jesus Christ? - 'He is your Lord'. How are we to respond to Him? - We are to approach Him with 'reverence'. We are to 'honour' Him. We are to 'bow down' and 'worship' Him. We are to 'obey' Him (11). Think of the "Good News' of our Lord Jesus Christ - ' the Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me'. Let your heart overflow with praise to the Lord Jesus Christ - What a wonderful Saviour He is (1; Galatians 2:20)! Let us celebrate His Name in this generation. Let Him be praised 'for ever and ever' (17).
26th September: Psalms 46:1-47:9
'Be still, and know that I am God...Shout to God with loud songs of joy' (10; 47:2). In our worship, there is to be both quiet trust and loud praise. We read the great words: 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble' (46:1). God's Word brings peace - 'in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength'. We must not keep God's blessing to ourselves. We must share it with joy - 'Sing to the Lord...let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare His praise in the coastlands' (Isaiah 30:15; 42:10-12). The Lord is to be 'exalted among the nations'. He is not only 'our King'. He is 'the King of all the earth' (10; 47:6-7). ' Father (Jesus/Spirit), we love You. We worship and adore You. Glorify Your Name in all the earth' (Mission Praise, 142).
27th September: 2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14
Keep on going! Don't give up! Asa began so well - 'Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God' (14:2). He led the people to the Lord. Under his leadership, the people 'entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and all their soul' (15:12). Everything seemed to be going so well - until Asa let things slide. He acted 'foolishly'. He 'relied on the king of Syria'. He 'did not rely on the Lord his God' (16:7-9). There were difficult times ahead for Asa. He became seriously ill. Sadly, he did not return to the Lord - 'even in his disease he did not seek the Lord' (16:12). 'No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God'. 'He who endures to the end will be saved'. 'Let us go on...' (Luke 9:62; Mark 13:13; Hebrews 6:1).
28th September: 1 Thessalonians 1:1--2:20
If God is to be glorified through the preaching of His Word, there needs to be more than the 'words' of the preacher. There needs to be 'the power of the Holy Spirit' (1:5). Good preaching is not a matter of 'plausible words of wisdom'. We must look for 'a demonstration of the Spirit's power' (1 Corinthians 2:4). When the Spirit is at work, there is effective communication, leading to a life-changing encounter with God. 'When you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers' (13). Don't let God's Word 'go in one ear and out the other'. The 'message' will do you no good if you don't hear it 'with faith' - 'Today, when you hear His voice, harden not your hearts' (Hebrews 4:2; 3:15).
29th September: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-4:12
We need both 'love' and 'holiness' (3:12-13). Our love is to be holy. Our holiness is to be loving. Getting the right balance between love and holiness is like walking a tightrope. You can easily lose your balance and fall off. We can be too soft - all love and no holiness. We can be too hard - all holiness and no love. Love doesn't mean 'anything goes' - 'I don't care how you live'. That's not love. That's indifference, a 'couldn't care less' attitude. Holiness doesn't mean looking down your nose at other people - 'You've sinned and I will never let you forget it'. Don't be like 'the Pharisees'. They wanted to 'stone the woman caught in adultery'. We must not 'stone' people with our 'hot tongue and cold shoulder'! Be like Jesus. Show love - 'I don't condemn you' - and holiness - 'Do not sin again' (John 8:3-11).
30th September: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:28
Do you feel like giving up? God is not about to give up on you: 'He who calls you is utterly faithful and He will finish what He set out to do' (24). He has a great future for us: 'God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ' (9). We look forward to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ: 'The Lord Himself will descend from heaven' (4:16). We look forward to heavenly and eternal glory: 'We shall always be with the Lord' (4:17). This is the kind of encouragement we need. We are to remind one another of these things: 'Comfort one another with these words' (4:18). We are 'to encourage one another' to go on with the Lord. Let's 'build one another up', encouraging each other to build on 'the Rock' which is 'Christ' (11; 1 Corinthians 10:3; Matthew 7:24-27).
1st October: 2 Chronicles 17:1-18:34
In 17:3, we read of backsliding - in David, Asa and Jehoshaphat. 'Jehoshaphat walked in the first ways of his father David'(Authorized Version). David, Jehoshaphat's ancestor, started off so well - 'the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power'. Things fell apart for him when he set his eyes upon Bathsheba (1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Samuel 11:2-5). 'Jehoshaphat walked in the earlier ways of his father'(Revised Standard Version). Asa, Jehoshaphat's father, began well. He did not finish well (14:2; 16:12). 'In his early years Jehoshaphat walked in the (good) ways that his father David had followed' (New International Version). Sadly, he lost his way - 'he made a marriage alliance with Ahab', 'a man...who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord' (18:1; 1 Kings 21:25). It can happen to anyone! We must be careful!
2nd October: 2 Chronicles 19:1-20:37
'I have the desire to do what is good , but I cannot carry it out...When I want to do good, evil is right there with me' (Romans 7:18,21). In 19:2-3, we see the two sides of Jehoshaphat. In his heart, he wanted to do God's will, seeking and serving Him. Sadly, however, he did not always follow the promptings of God's Spirit. He allowed himself to be influenced by 'those who hate the Lord'. The godly side of Jehoshaphat - 'O Lord...our eyes are upon You' - was in conflict with his sinful side - 'Jehoshaphat...made an alliance with Ahaziah...who was guilty of wickedness' (20:5-12,35). 'The desires of the flesh...and the desires of the Spirit...are opposed to each other...'. 'Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature' (Galatians 5:16-17). May God help us to live His way.
3rd October: Psalm 48:1-14
'Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised' (1). We worship God in the place of worship - 'Within Your Temple, O God, we meditate on Your unfailing love'. Our worship must not end there. We are to play our part in seeing that the praise of the Lord 'reaches to the ends of the earth'. We are to 'be glad' in the Lord. We are to 'rejoice' in Him (9-11). We must not keep this joy to ourselves. The Lord is 'the joy of all the earth'. We must share His joy. We are to 'tell the next generation'. How will they know if we do not tell them? Many are slow to come and worship the Lord. We must not be slow to witness for Him. Let's remember God's promise - 'My Word...will not return to Me empty, but will...achieve the purpose for which I sent it' - and let's say - 'Here am I. Send me!' (Isaiah 55:11; 6:8).
4th October: 2 Chronicles 21:1-23:21
We live in difficult times. Many are choosing to do what is 'evil in the sight of the Lord' (21:6). We must make another choice, a better choice. We must choose to 'be the Lord's people' (23:16). In this time of great darkness, we have 'the lamp of the Lord': 'Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path' (21:7; Proverbs 20:27; Psalm 119:105). We must let His lamp shine brightly: 'Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven' (Matthew 5:16). The darkness will not overcome the light (John 1:5). Satan will be 'slain by the sword'. He will be 'thrown down'. All God's people, from every land, will rejoice - 'Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ' (23:21; Revelation 12:9; 5:9; 1 Corinthians 15:57).
5th October: 2 Chronicles 24:1-25:28
'He turned away from the Lord' (25:27). Things have not changed. Many are turning away from the Lord. We must search our hearts. We must pray for God's help: 'Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me, and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!' (Psalm 139:24). We read about the kings who 'turned away from the Lord'. We must learn from their mistakes. These things are 'recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord' (Psalm 102:18). If we don't learn from their mistakes, we will repeat their mistakes. Don't turn away from the Lord. Turn to Him. May God help us to live as His faithful people - 'Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong' (1 Corinthians 16:13)
6th October: 2 Chronicles 26:1-28:27
We must not take God's blessing for granted. King Uzziah began well - 'He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord...He set himself to seek God' (26:4-5). Things went wrong - 'When he was strong he grew proud' and 'he was false to the Lord his God' (26:16). We must choose to live the Lord's way - King Jotham 'did what was right in the eyes of the Lord'. Even when we do this, it does not guarantee that others will follow our example - 'the people still followed corrupt practices' (27:2). In times of trouble, we can become bitter people - 'In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord' - or better people - 'the God of all comfort ...comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble...' (28:22; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Bitter or better - Which will it be?
7th October: 2 Chronicles 29:1-36
God is calling us to be holy - 'Now sanctify yourselves, and sanctify the House of the Lord, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the holy place' (5). Before there can be true rejoicing in the Lord - 'they sang praises with gladness' - , there must be real dedication to the Lord - 'We have cleansed all the House of the Lord' (30,18). Before there can be rejoicing, there must be restoration (35-36). We may pray, 'Restore, O Lord, the honour of Your Name!'. We must also pray, 'Cleanse me from my sin, Lord'. The prayer for revival begins with the dedication of our own lives to the Lord - 'O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee; send a revival - start the work in me' (Mission Praise, 579, 82, 587). Revival can happen 'suddenly' (36). It will not happen without a true return to the Lord.
8th October: Psalm 49:1-20
How can I be saved? How does God answer our most important question, the question of salvation? He speaks to us about (a) our need of salvation; (b) His provision of salvation; (c) receiving salvation. (a) Our need of salvation: We cannot save ourselves. 'No man can ransom himself, or give to God the price of his life. The price to be paid for his soul is too costly' (7-8). (b) His provision of salvation: Jesus Christ came to earth 'to give His life as a ransom for many'. We are 'redeemed with the precious blood of Christ' (Mark 10:45; 1 Peter 1:18-19). (c) Receiving salvation: Christ died to 'save us from the power of hell' and 'take us to Himself'. We receive salvation through faith in Him: 'Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved'. 'He who believes in the Son has eternal life' (15; Acts 16:31; John 3:36).
9th October: 2 Chronicles 30:1-31:10
We are called to 'return to the Lord'. With this call comes God's promise: 'the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you, if you return to Him' (30:9). Where does the desire to return to the Lord come from? - It comes from the Lord Himself: 'the hand of the Lord was on the people to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the Word of the Lord' (12). Returning to the Lord, we hear His Word of forgiveness: 'The good Lord pardon every one who sets his heart to seek God'. We rejoice in the Gospel - 'The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives'. ' The Lord has blessed His people'. We rejoice in Him - 'Praise the Lord!...Let the people rejoice' and 'let the earth hear His voice' (18-19; 30:10; Mission Praise, 708).
10th October: 2 Chronicles 31:11-32:33
Seek God and serve God. This is what King Hezekiah did - 'he did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God,...seeking his God...with all his heart' (31:20-21). Seek God and serve God. This is what we must do. God was good to Hezekiah - 'the Lord saved Hezekiah...' (32:22). God is good to us. He saves us. To 'all the ends of the earth', He says, 'Turn to me and be saved' (Isaiah 45:22). He calls us to come to Him through Jesus Christ, 'the Saviour of the world' (John 4:42). It is so easy to forget the Lord. Hezekiah was delivered from death yet he did not thank the Lord (32:24-25). We may forget the Lord, but He does not forget us. He waits for us to return to Him and receive His forgiveness - 'the Lord is merciful and gracious...He does not deal with us according to our sins...' (32:26; Psalm 103:8-13).
11th October: 2 Chronicles 33:1-34:13
Good work can be very quickly undone - 'Manasseh...did what was evil in the sight of the Lord ...he rebuilt the high places which his father Hezekiah had broken down, and set up altars to other gods...' (33:1-3). We must be careful to follow the godly example of those who have served the Lord well. In Hebrews 11, we read about God's faithful servants. They served the Lord in their day. We are to serve Him in our day - 'surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,... let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus...' (Hebrews 12:1-2). Bad work can also be undone if, like King Josiah, we are ready to make a new beginning with God (34:1-4). He was only 'eight years old when he began to reign'. Pray that the children will start loving God now and keep loving Him as they grow older.
12th October: Psalm 50:1-23
'Our God comes, He does not keep silence' (3). God does not keep His distance. He comes near to us. He does not keep His silence. He speaks to us - 'God the Lord speaks' (1). How does God come near to us? How does He speak to us? He comes near to us in Jesus Christ. He speaks to us through Jesus Christ. In John 1:1, we have this tremendous description of Jesus Christ: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God'. Jesus Christ is the Word. God is speaking to us through Jesus Christ. How does God speak to us through Jesus Christ? He speaks to us by drawing near to us - 'the Word became flesh and dwelt among us'. Jesus Christ is God's Word. He is God, speaking to us. He is God, coming near to us. He is God,'full of grace and truth' (John 1:14).
13th October: Proverbs 16:1-17
'Wisdom is better than gold...understanding is to be chosen rather than silver' (16). What is wisdom? In 1 Corinthians 1:30, we learn that Jesus Christ is Wisdom. To find Jesus Christ is to find Wisdom. How do we find Jesus Christ? How do we find Wisdom? Jesus tells us - 'Seek and you will find' (Matthew 7:7). For so many of us, the most important thing is getting on in the world. Jesus says, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth...lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven' (Matthew 6:19-20). Which world is more important to you - this world or the world to come? Jesus puts this question to every one of us. This is the question we must answer. May God help us to give this answer - 'I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold...I'd rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today' (Mission Praise, 319).
14th October: Psalm 51:1-19
'Create in me a clean heart, O God...Cast me not away from Thy presence...Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation' (10-12). These words come to us from the ancient past. They were first spoken many centuries ago. They can be the words which change your future. You can make them your words. David made a new beginning with God. You can make a new beginning with God. You have sinned. You need to be forgiven. Come to Christ. He says, 'I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me' (John 6:37). You need to be 'born again'. Receive Christ as your Saviour and be 'born again' - 'born of God' (John 3:3,7; 1:12). You feel so weak, unable to be the person God wants you to be. Let 'the joy of the Lord be your strength' (Nehemiah 8:10). Let His love reach you. Let His power make you a new person.
15th October: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2:12
For 'all those who have believed', 'the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ' will be a great Day, the Day of celebration, the Day of our salvation, the Day of 'our being gathered to Him' (2:1; 1:10). 'When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven', it will be a Day of judgment for 'those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus' (1:7-8). The Word of God is very clear about God's purpose of salvation: 'God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him'. 'The Lord does not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance'. 'God wants all people to be saved' (John 3:17; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). You can say 'No' to Christ - and perish. Say "Yes' to Him - 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved' (2:10; John 3:18; Acts 16:31).
16th October: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:18
Paul prayed for the Thessalonians and he asked them to pray for him. He prayed that God would 'comfort their hearts and establish them in every good work and word' (2:16-17). He prayed that they would enjoy peace: 'Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in all ways' (3:16). He asked them to pray for his ministry - 'pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may speed on and triumph among you' (1). Paul was writing to the Thessalonians, 'You keep on praying for us and we'll keep on praying for you'. We must not forget each other. We must remember each other - in prayer. Far too often, we forget. It becomes a case of 'out of sight, out of mind'. We're not to live in the past. We are to keep on praying for those who belong to our past. Don't forget to remember!
17th October: 2 Chronicles 34:14-35:19
During the reign of King Josiah, there was spiritual revival (33). Where did this spiritual revival come from? It came from God. It came from the rediscovery of God's Word. Where was the Word of the Lord found? - It was found 'in the House of the Lord' (34:15). God speaks to us through His Word. Beyond the written Word, there is Jesus Christ, the living Word. The Word of God is preached to us. We listen for the Voice of Jesus Christ, the true and living Word of God. God is speaking His Word in power. This is much more than the opening of a book. It is the opening of our hearts to the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5). It is the opening of our hearts by the Spirit of God. Through the Spirit, 'rivers of living water' flow out from our hearts (John 7:37-39).
18th October: 2 Chronicles 35:20-36:23
Josiah had been a good king, but 'he did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God'. His mistake was very costly. He 'fought'. He was 'shot' and 'badly wounded'. He 'died' and was 'buried' (35:22-24). Be careful in your listening to God"s Word. Failure to obey His Word will be costly: 'How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?' (Hebrews 2:3). After Josiah's time, there was terrible spiritual decline. Beginning with Jehoahaz (1-2; 2 Kings 23:31-32), the kings 'did what was evil in the sight of the Lord' (5,9,11-12). Was there any hope for the future? - Yes! 'The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia...to build Him a House at Jerusalem'. Like Cyrus, we must say to our neighbours, 'Let us go to the House of the Lord' (36:22-23; Psalm 122:1). His time of blessing may not be far away!
19th October: Psalms 52:1-53:6
'I am like a green olive tree in the House of God' (9). This is a picture of growth and fruitfulness - in the House of God. You can grow spiritually - in the House of God. You can become spiritually fruitful - in the House of God. We must not 'go it alone'. We receive strength as we worship with the Lord's people. When the Psalmist prays for God's blessing, he is not just thinking about himself. He is praying for the whole people of God: 'O that salvation for Israel would come from Zion!'. He is praying that God will 'restore the fortunes of His people'. He is not thinking only about his own personal happiness. He is praying that all God's people 'will rejoice and be glad' (53:6). Don't just pray for yourself. Pray 'that the body of Christ may be built up until we all...become mature...' (Ephesians 4:12-13).
20th October: Psalms 54:1-55:23
The Psalmist had problems - 'Strangers are attacking me; ruthless men seek my life - men with no regard for God' (54:3). There was, however, something else troubling him. Someone else was causing him problems - 'my close friend, with whom I enjoyed sweet fellowship, as we worshipped together at the House of God' (13-14). He felt like running away from it all - 'Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest - I would flee far away and stay in the desert...I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm' (55:6-8). This is what he felt like doing. He had almost forgotten - 'God is my Helper' (54:4). With God, he faced and overcame his problems: 'I will call upon God; and the Lord will save me'. 'Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you' (16,22).
21st October: Ezra 1:1-2:35
To 'all' of us, God gives His call. We are to 'rebuild the House of the Lord'. To 'all' of us, He gives His strength: 'Then...all those whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the House of the Lord' (1:3,5). If the work of God is to be done, every one must play their part. No one must opt out. No one must say, 'There's nothing for me to do'. There's always something to do. There's something for every one. God has so much work for us to do. We must not fail Him. He is calling you to serve Him. He will give you the strength that you need. Open your heart to Him. Surrender your life to Him. 'Every person in every nation, in each succeeding generation, has the right to hear the news that Christ can save...Father, I am willing to dedicate to Thee, life and talent, time and money, Here am I, send me'.
22nd October: Ezra 2:36-3:13
At the heart of God's work, there is worship - 'praising and giving thanks to the Lord'. This is our first priority. We must not forget the Lord. We must remember that 'He is good'. We must remember that 'His steadfast love endures for ever' (3:11). Nothing can take the place of worship. This is where serving the Lord begins. It begins with worship. Without worship, we cannot serve the Lord. He must be at the centre of everything we do. This is what serving the Lord means - keeping Him at the centre of everything you do. We look for 'more love', 'more power', more of God's blessing in our lives. We must give ourselves - more fully and more truly - to Him: 'I will worship You with all of my heart...with all of my mind...with all of my strength' (Songs of Fellowship, 392). The blessing will come down as the worship goes up!
23rd October: Ezra 4:1-5:17
God's work does not always move forward smoothly. We face determined opposition. Where there is opportunity, there will be opposition (1 Corinthians 16:9). The servants of Satan rise up to oppose the servants of the Lord. This is what happens here. The Lord's enemies had some success: 'the work on the House of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill'. This was, however, only a temporary setback. God gave new strength to His servants. He sent His 'prophets, Haggai and Zechariah'. They brought His Word to the people. Strengthened by their ministry of God's Word, 'Zerubbabel...arose and began to rebuild the House of God in Jerusalem' (4:24-5:2). God's work was back on track. His people were moving forward - again. When your head goes down, let the Lord come to you. He will lift you up!
24th October: Proverbs 16:18-33
What a difference there is between a self-centred life and a God-centred life. Where does the self-centred life lead us? - 'There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death' (25). Is there a better way, a way that leads to true happiness? Yes! There is the God-centred way: 'He who gives heed to the Word will prosper, and happy is he who trusts in the Lord' (20). True happiness does not come to those who seek it in the things of this world. It comes to those who seek the Lord. 'Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey' (Mission Praise, 760). God invites us to choose between two very different ways - our own way and His way: 'the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Romans 6:23). Choose Christ!
25th October: Psalms 56:1-57:11
'Be gracious to me, O God...Be merciful to me, O God' (56:1; 57:1). In mercy, God withholds from us the judgment we deserve. In grace, He gives to us the salvation we do not deserve. How does He do this for us? He makes His grace and mercy available to us through the death of His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. How do we receive God's grace and mercy? We look to the Cross of Jesus Christ. There, we see our Saviour, bearing our sin and inviting us to receive His salvation. There, we see God's 'steadfast love and faithfulness' (57:3,10). At the Cross of Christ, we see eternal love. God loves us. His love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. How are we to respond to such love? - 'I will give thanks to You, O Lord...I will sing praises to You ...Be exalted, O God...' (57:9-11).
26th October: Ezra 6:1-7:28
God's work makes good progress when God's people receive strength from God's Word. Haggai and Zechariah were faithful in preaching God's Word to the people. Their preaching ministry was very important. It was just what the builders needed. It inspired them to keep working. God's House was rebuilt and God's people rejoiced (6:14-16). The rebuilding of God's House was followed by the ministry of God's servant, Ezra. 'The hand of the Lord was upon Ezra' (7:6,28). His ministry was blessed by the Lord. In Ezra's ministry of the Word, there are three vital elements - studying, doing and teaching (7:10). Ezra did not only study and teach God's Word. He did God's Word. Obedience lies at the heart of true ministry. This is the kind of ministry that God blesses - an obedient ministry.
27th October: Ezra 8:1-36
The return of God's people to Jerusalem was not simply a geographical return - moving from one place to another. It was a spiritual return. They were returning to the Lord. They were seeking His blessing (21). Without God's blessing, we are nothing. We may have happy memories of better days, recalling 'the good old days'. We may look back to times of blessing, remembering how the hand of the Lord was upon us. If this is all we have, we have nothing. We are no longer in the place of blessing. We need to return to the Lord. The times of blessing can come again. God gives us His promise: 'The hand of our God is for good upon all that seek Him' (22). God wants to bless us. How much do we want to be blessed by Him? If the times of blessing are to return to us, we must 'return to the Lord' (Isaiah 55:6-13).
28th October: Ezra 9:1-10:44
The return of God's blessing begins with a real confession of sin - 'our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens' (9:6). If God chooses to bless us, it is not because we deserve to be blessed by Him. It is because He loves us and wants more than anything else to pour out His blessing upon us. Despite all of our sin, God's Word encourages us to believe that the Lord may yet 'grant us a little reviving'. Pray that God will 'grant us some reviving to set up the House of our God' (9:8-9). This was Ezra's prayer. It was the prayer of 'a very great assembly of men, women and children' (10:1). If prayer for revival is real, it will be much more than pulpit prayer. There will be much prayer, arising from the hearts of many people: 'If My people pray...I will heal their land' (2 Chronicles 7:14).
29th October: Psalms 58:1-59:17
'Surely there is a God who judges the earth' (58:11). Let these words send you to the Saviour. 'Deliver me from my enemies, O my God' (59:1). Take this prayer with you to the Cross of Christ. There, at the Cross, you will meet the Saviour - 'My God in His steadfast love will meet me'. In our Saviour, we have the victory over our enemy, Satan - 'My God will let me look in triumph on my enemies' (59:10). What a Saviour we have! Think of His love. Think of His power. Let your heart be filled with praise to Him - 'I will sing of Your strength...I will sing of Your love...O my Strength, I sing praise to You; You, O God, are my Fortress, my loving God' (16-17). What a great salvation God has given to us in Christ - the forgiveness of our sins, victory over our enemies and eternal life (1 John 1:7,9; 3:8; 5:4-5,11-13).
30th October: Nehemiah 1:1-2:18
'You see the trouble we are in' - How do you react when the going gets tough? Do you collapse in despair and succeed only in making your troubles seem even bigger than they really are? There is a better way of dealing with our problems. Believing that 'the hand of his God was upon him for good', Nehemiah looks at the problem - 'Jerusalem lies in ruins' - and sets about solving it - 'Come. let us build the wall of Jerusalem' (2:17-18). Our problems may be great. Our God is greater. When your problems threaten to overwhelm you, remember this: God has 'redeemed us by His great power and His mighty hand' (1:3-6,10). There is no greater problem than our sin and God has dealt with that problem - Christ has 'put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself' (Hebrews 9:26). 'Pack up your troubles' and take them to Jesus!
31st October: Nehemiah 2:19-4:9
Serving the Lord is not easy. There are always those who 'mock and ridicule' the Lord's servants (2:19; 4:1-3). What are we to do when we encounter this type of thing? We must pray to God and we must work for Him - 'The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we His servants will arise and build' (4:4-6; 2:20). When we face determined opposition from the enemies of Christ and His Gospel, we must pray and we must be practical - 'we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night' (4:9). We need to know our God - 'the people who know their God will be strong'. We need to know our enemy - 'we are not ignorant about Satan's scheming'. When Satan comes to us, we must be ready for him and we 'must firmly resist him' - in the Name of Christ (Daniel 11:32; 2 Corinthians 2:11).
There is so much to hold us back from worshipping and serving the Lord. We could so easily become discouraged. We need the encouragement of God's Word. This is what we have here: 'With God we shall gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies' (12). At times, it may seem like our enemies have the upper hand. When we feel like this, we must remember the Lord - He is 'a strong tower against the enemy' (61:3). When things seem to be getting out of control, we must fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ - He is 'enthroned for ever' (61:7). 'Day after day', He calls us to worship Him and to live as His servants. He calls us to receive 'His mercy...new every morning', to be 'renewed day by day' (61:8; Lamentations 3:22-23; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
1st November: Psalms 60:1-61:8
There is so much to hold us back from worshipping and serving the Lord. We could so easily become discouraged. We need the encouragement of God's Word. This is what we have here: 'With God we shall gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies' (12). At times, it may seem like our enemies have the upper hand. When we feel like this, we must remember the Lord - He is 'a strong tower against the enemy' (61:3). When things seem to be getting out of control, we must fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ - He is 'enthroned for ever' (61:7). 'Day after day', He calls us to worship Him and to live as His servants. He calls us to receive 'His mercy...new every morning', to be 'renewed day by day' (61:8; Lamentations 3:22-23; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
2nd November: Psalms 62:1-63:11
The Lord is 'my Rock and my Salvation' (62:2,6). As you read the Psalmist's words, let your thoughts turn to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our 'Rock' - the 'Rock' of our salvation. Through 'the blood of Christ', we receive the greatest 'blessing' of all - salvation (1 Corinthians 10:1-4,16). No other blessing can ever compare with the joy of knowing Christ as Saviour: 'Your steadfast love is better than life'. Through our great Saviour - the Lord Jesus Christ - , we are learning to 'praise' God. We are learning to say, with the Psalmist, 'I will praise You as long as I live' (63:3-4). What a great Saviour we have. He is greater than all our songs of praise. He is 'too marvellous for words' - 'Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!' (Mission Praise, 788; 2 Corinthians 9:15).
3rd November: Proverbs 17:1-12
What kind of people are we to be? What kind of life are we to live? We are to be God's people -
people who are learning to live a life of 'love' (9). How do we learn what love is like? We learn from God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father loves us - 'God so loved the world that He gave His only Son...' (John 3:16). In the Son, we see perfect love - 'The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me' (Galatians 2:20). Through the Spirit, our lives are filled with love - 'The fruit of the Spirit is love' (Galatians 5:22). We can only be an influence for love if we are learning to be influenced by love. We are to be people 'under the Influence'. We are to live our lives under the influence of God's love. This is the Godly, Christlike, Spirit-filled life - the life of love.
4th November: 1 Timothy 1:1-2:15
'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners'. Paul has something special to say about this statement. This is what he says - 'Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance' (1:15). This is Paul's message, the message of the Gospel: 'Christ Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all' (2:5-6). Paul speaks of 'the glorious Gospel of the blessed God' (1:11). He speaks as a man with a testimony: 'I received mercy...the grace of our Lord overflowed for me' (1:13-14). God is still looking for people who will say, with Paul, 'I am not ashamed of the Gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith', 'God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord jesus Christ' (Romans 1:16; Galatians 6:14). May God help us, in our generation, to be 'eager to preach the Gospel' (Romans 1:15).
5th November: 1 Timothy 3:1-4:16
Belief and Behaviour - Both are important. We are 'nourished in the words of the faith' so that we 'may know how one ought to behave in the household of God' (4:6; 3:15). We are not only to believe the right things. We are to behave the right way. To each of us, God says, 'Watch your life and doctrine closely' (4:16). What we believe is important. How we live is also important. If our faith is real, it will lead to a change in our way of life. The whole of life is to be 'consecrated by the Word of God and prayer' (4:5). Our God is 'the living God' (3:15; 4:10). He wants to be real to us in every part of our life. 'Fill Thou our life, O Lord our God, in every part with praise...Not for the lip of praise alone nor even the praising heart, we ask, but for a life made up of praise in every part' (Church Hymnary, 457).
6th November: 1 Timothy 5:1-6:21
There is a great battle going on - between God and Satan. There have been disappointments: 'Some have already strayed after Satan'. Lives are being ruined. Many 'have wandered away from the faith'. They have not found happiness. They 'have pierced their hearts with many griefs' (5:15; 6:9-10). There is a great deal at stake in this battle. We must 'give the enemy no opportunity to slander us'. We must take care how we live - 'so that God's Name...may not be slandered' (5:14; 6:1). We are to live a life of 'godliness', a life that is based on 'the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ'. We are to 'aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness'. Let's live for 'the life to come, the life which is permanent'. This is 'life indeed, the life that is truly life' (6:3,11,19).
7th November: Nehemiah 4:10-5:13
'Our God will fight for us' (20). What a tremendous encouragement these words are! We are not alone in our battle against Satan. God is with us. He is fighting for us. We are not to sit back, and do nothing. There is work to be done. There is a battle to be fought. When the Lord gives us the victory, we must keep on doing His work (15). Our enemies are never far away. We must remain alert at all times (17-18). We must 'put on the whole armour of God' (Ephesians 6:10-18). The work is the Lord's. The battle is the Lord's. Our strength comes from Him. The victory comes from Him. This is something we must never forget -'The Lord your God will go with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory' (Deuteronomy 20:4).
8th November: Nehemiah 5:14-6:19
What are we to do when we face those who are 'scheming to harm' the Lord's servants and the Lord's work? - We are to devote ourslves to the 'work' of the Lord. We are to 'pray' for His strength (6:2; 5:16; 6:9). Critics of the Lord's work want to argue with us. Are we to 'come down' to their level, going round in circles with arguments that lead us nowhere? Nehemiah shows us a better way, God's way - 'I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?' (6:3). 'Completing the work with the help of our God' (6:15-16) - This is the best 'argument' against the critics of Christ and His Gospel. Keep working for God and pray that'many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord' (Psalm 40:3).
9th November: Nehemiah 7:1-73
What kind of people are we? Are we 'faithful and God-fearing' people' (2)? It is so easy to lose our way and become 'unclean' (64)? What are we to do when we lose our way, when we forget the Lord, when we wander away from Him? We must return to the Lord. We must begin again with Him, confessing our sin, receiving His forgiveness and learning to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. These words may help you to make a new beginning with God: 'There's a way back to God from the dark paths of sin. There's a door that is open and you may go in: at Calvary's Cross is where you begin, when you come as a sinner to Jesus'. 'Cleanse me from my sin, Lord. Put Thy power within, Lord. Take me as I am, Lord, and make me all Thine own...' (Mission Praise, 682, 82).
10th November: Nehemiah 8:1-9:5
What happens when God's people 'gather together' (8:1)? - (a) We hear the Word of the Lord (8:2-3,8). We come to the Lord's House, seeking a fresh understanding of His Word. We look to the Lord, speaking through His Word, to fill us 'with great joy' (8:12). (b) We thank God for His Son, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ (8:13-18). In 'the feast of the seventh month', 'the Lord's Feast of Tabernacles', God's people remembered how much He had done for them (Leviticus 23:34,42). In the Lord's Supper, we remember that Christ died for our sins (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). (c) We dedicate our lives to the Lord (9:2). 'Do not be conformed to this world'. 'Be transformed' by God's Word (Romans 12:2). (d) We worship the Lord (9:5). Let us 'praise the Lord our God...'.
11th November: Psalms 64:1-65:13
'Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord' (64:10). True joy in the Lord is not just a passing emotion, a feeling which doesn't last for very long. When our 'praise' to the Lord is real, it leads to a changed life: 'O God', we will 'keep our promises to You' (65:1). Jesus shows us the great difference between a passing emotion, a feeling which doesn't last, and a true conversion which leads to a changed life. He speaks of those who 'receive the Word with joy,...endure for a while' and then 'fall away'. He speaks also of those who 'hear the Word and accept it and bear fruit' (Mark 4:3-9,16-17,20). How do you worship the Lord? Are you looking for a good feeling - and nothing more than that? God is looking for more. He wants us to live as 'a new creation' (2 Corinthians 5:17).
12th November: Nehemiah 9:6-38
At the heart of Ezra's prayer, there is a tremendous description of God: 'You are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love' (17). This is 'our God'. 'Our sins' are great. The love of God is even greater. We look at 'our sins', and we feel that everything is hopeless. We look to 'our God', and everything changes. We see Him as the 'gracious and merciful God', and we are filled with hope. Our life need not be controlled by 'our sins'. It can be changed by 'our God' (31-32,37). Our God 'delights in steadfast love'. He 'will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea' (Micah 7:18-19). How do we know that God loves us? - 'Christ died for our sins'. Bring your sins to Jesus, and let 'His blood cleanse you from all sin' (1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 John 1:7).
13th November: Proverbs 17:13-28
'A friend loves at all times' (17). Jesus speaks of His love for us - 'Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends' - and our love for Him - 'You are My friends if you do what I command you' (John 15:13-14). His love comes first. Our love is a response to His love: 'We love, because He first loved us' (1 John 4:19). Jesus didn't wait until we obeyed His Word perfectly before He laid down His life for us: 'God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us' (Romans 5:8). He didn't start loving us because we started loving Him. He loved us long before we ever thought of loving Him. He loves us. He died for us.We are to love Him. We are to live for Him. His love is a perfect love. Our love is to be a growing love.
14th November: Nehemiah 10:1-39
God is calling us to commit our lives to Him. At the heart of our commitment to the Lord, there must be worship: 'We will not neglect the House of our God' (39). 'Worship God' (Revelation 19:10). This is our reason for coming to the Lord's House. We come to worship Him. Our worship is to be more than mere words. We worship God when we bring our offerings to Him. God's people brought 'the tithe' (tenth) to Him (37). We meet with the Lord when we worship in His House: 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than the House of God, and this is the gate of heaven'. Through our giving - 'Of all that You give me I will give You the tenth' - , let us express our commitment to the Lord - 'the Lord will be my God' (Genesis 28:17,21-22).
15th November: Psalms 66:1-67:7
'Come and see what God has done' (66:5). God invites us to look into His Word, to read His Story, the Story of all that He has done for us. 'Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He has done for me' (66:16). God invites us to listen to the preaching of His Word, to let His Story become our story, to let His salvation become real in our lives. We read God's Word. We hear His Word. This is our journey of discovery. We discover what the Lord has done for us. We discover how much He wants to bless us. He waits to hear our prayer - 'May God be gracious to us and bless us...'. He answers our prayer - 'God has blessed us' (67:1,6-7). He wants us to 'be glad and sing for joy'. He wants us to call 'all the ends of the earth' to 'worship Him' (67:4,7).
16th November: Nehemiah 11:1-12:30
Like the walls of Jerusalem, our lives lay in ruins until Christ puts us together again. In Christ, our lives have been rebuilt. Now, we can 'celebrate'. We can worship the Lord 'with gladness' (12:27). We are to build our lives upon Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11). This will not be easy. Our faith will be put to the test. Often, we will be tempted to take our eyes off Christ. We must keep our eyes on Him. He is the solid Rock upon which we must build (Matthew 7:24-27). Again and again, we must make our choice. We must choose Christ. We must choose to be 'holy'. This is the choice which is 'blessed' by the Lord. 'Many' choose the 'other' way, the way of self. We must choose the way of the 'few', the way of Christ, the way of holiness and blessing (11:1-2; Matthew 7:13-14).
17th November: Nehemiah 12:31-13:31
God's people sang 'songs of praise and thanksgiving to God'. Where does the song of praise come from? - It comes from the Lord: 'God had given them great joy' (46,43). Often, we seek our joy in other people and other things. We forget the Source of true joy - the Lord our God. God sees our self-centred way of life. He asks us to think about the way we're living: 'Why is the House of God forsaken?' (11). We have forgotten Him. Have we any right to expect Him to remember us? Time and time again, we have failed Him. Our many sins have given Him plenty of reasons for turning His back on us. Does He turn His back on us? No! He remembers us 'according to the greatness of His steadfast love' (22) - He sent His Son to die for us. Let His great love fill you with great joy.
18th November: Psalm 68:1-35
God is 'our salvation'. He is the 'God of salvation' (19-20). God's salvation covers our past, present and future. (a) You have been saved. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we have received the forgiveness of our sins (Romans 5:1). (b) You are being saved. God is at work in our lives, making us the kind of people He wants us to be (Romans 5:3-5). © You will be saved. We look forward to 'sharing the glory of God', being with the Lord forever (Romans 5:2,9-10). From beginning to end, salvation is the work of God - He has forgiven our sins. He is making us like Christ. He will lead us on to heaven. Our God is great. His salvation is great. Let us 'be joyful'. Let us worship the Lord 'with joy' (3). Let us give all the glory to God - 'Blessed be God!' (35).
19th November: Psalm 69:1-36
David is going through 'the deep waters' of suffering. He prays to the Lord for deliverance from 'the flood' and 'the deep' (14-15). He had sinned against the Lord. He does not try to hide this. He confesses his sin and guilt - 'the wrongs that I have done are not hidden from You, my guilt is not hidden from You' (5). He looks to the Lord, remembering that He is the God of 'steadfast love' and 'abundant mercy' (16). When you come to God in prayer, do not try to hide your sins from Him. Remember - 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners'. In Christ, there is 'mercy' - God doesn't send the judgment we deserve - and 'grace' - God sends the blessing we don't deserve. Come to Christ and receive His 'mercy' and 'grace' (1 Timothy 1:13-16; Hebrews 4:14-16).
20th November: Psalms 70:1-71:24
David is in great danger. His life is being threatened by his enemies (70:2). We might expect that he would be depressed. Far from it! Rather than being preoccupied with his own problems, he is calling on God's people to worship the Lord with joy: 'May all who seek You, rejoice and be glad in You! May those who love Your salvation continually say, "God is great!"' (70:4). How was David able to rise above his own problems and call the Lord's people to worship? - He knew that the Lord was his 'Rock of refuge', his 'strong Fortress' (71:3). Like David, we may face 'many terrible troubles'. Let us learn, like David, to praise the Lord and look to Him to lead us in the way of victory: 'You have done great things, O God...You will revive me again' (71:19-20).
21st November: Psalm 72:1-20
Read the words - 'His Name' shall 'endure for ever' (17) - and think of Christ. His Name is 'the Name above all other names'. He is 'the King of kings and Lord of lords' (Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 19:16). Read the words - 'all nations call Him blessed' (17) - , and think of Christ. 'From every tribe and language and people and nation', God's people have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (Revelation 5:9). Read the words -'May His glory fill the whole earth!' (19) - and think of Christ. In the 'new heaven and new earth', 'the holy city' will shine with 'the glory of God'. 'Its radiance', 'like a very precious jewel', will be shining from this 'lamp': Jesus Christ, 'the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world' (Revelation 21:1-2,10-11,23; John 1:29).
22nd November: Esther 1:1-2:18
This is a very human story. It is the story of a man - Ahasuerus - and two women - Vashti and Esther. It is the ending of one love and the beginning of a new love (1:19; 2:17). It is also a very important part of the Divine Story. God is at work here. This story teaches us about God's love for His people. It teaches us that 'all things work together for the good of those who love God' (Romans 8:28). It was no accident that Esther was chosen to become the Queen of Persia. God had chosen her for a very special purpose. She was sent there by the Lord. Esther was one of God's people (2:5-7). She was to serve God's purpose. She would play an important part in bringing the blessing of God to the people of God. What part will you play in bringing His blessing to others?
23rd November: Esther 2:19-4:17
'Haman sought to destroy all the Jews' (3:6). This is the work of the devil. He 'comes only to steal and kill and destroy' (John 10:10). To oppose such determined enemies of the Lord is never easy. Esther knew this. She was ready to put her life on the line: 'If I perish, I perish' (4:16). She knew that this was not a time for remaining silent. She must speak up for the Lord's people. She was to serve God's purpose - the deliverance of His people from death at the hands of His enemies (4:14). Esther was prepared to suffer death for the sake of God's people. Jesus did suffer death for us. Jesus tells us why He came to this world: 'I have come that they may have life...'. He tells us why He died: 'I lay down my life for My sheep...I give them eternal life' (John 10:10,15,27-28).
24th November: Esther 5:1-6:14
Haman wanted 'to have Mordecai hanged' (5:14). Herod wanted to have Jesus killed (Matthew 2:16-18). Neither Haman nor Herod were successful in their evil plotting (6:13; Matthew 2:19-21). Even when Jesus Christ was 'crucified at the hands of wicked men', this was not a victory for the devil. God was in control of the whole situation. Following the death of Jesus, there was the mighty triumph of His resurrection from the dead: 'God raised Him from the dead'. Christ's enemies thought that they had triumphed over Him. They were wrong! They could never succeed - 'It was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him' (Acts 2:23-24)! Mordecai was honoured by the king (6:10-11). Jesus has been honoured by God - He is 'both Lord and Christ' (Acts 2:36).
25th November: Esther 7:1-8:17
Esther spoke up for God's people - 'spare my people' (7:3). She spoke out against the enemy of God's people - 'A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!' (7:6). The tables were turned on the enemy of the Lord's people - 'they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai' (7:10). He was replaced by the Lord's servant - 'the king took off the signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai' (8:2). Instead of the gallows, Mordecai received 'royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a purple robe of fine linen' (8:15)! For God's people, this was 'a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honour' (8:16). Let's look beyond Mordecai to Christ. Rejoice! He was crucified for us. He is now exalted to the highest place (Philippians 2:8-9).
26th November: Esther 9:1-10:3
Among God's people, there was much 'feasting and joy'. They gave thanks to the Lord - 'their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration' (9:17-22). They gave thanks to God for Mordecai - 'he sought the welfare of his people, he worked for the good of his people'. They rejoiced because of 'the greatness and high honour of Mordecai, to which the king had raised him' (10:2-3). We have even more to celebrate. We gather at the Lord's Table. We celebrate the Lord's Supper. We rejoice in Jesus Christ our Saviour. He 'gave His life as a ransom for many'. His body was broken for us. His blood was shed for us. 'Redeemed with His precious blood', we rejoice in Christ - 'crucified' and 'risen' for us (Mark 10:45; 14:22-24; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
27th November: Psalm 73:1-28
It is so easy for us to lose our way - 'my feet had almost stumbled'. We look at 'the prosperity of the wicked' and we become 'envious of the arrogant' (2-3). What are we to do when the worldly attitude threatens to take control of us? We must remember the Lord, drawing near to Him in worship and standing up for Him in witness. When others are forgetting about God, we must continue to take our place in 'the sanctuary of God' (17). In an age when so many show no interest in worshipping God, we must continue to say, 'for me, it is good to be near God'. Our worship is not to end the moment we leave the place of worship. We are to tell others what the Lord 'has done' for us - 'O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!' (28; 34:3).
28th November: Psalm 74:1-23
We have been 'redeemed'. God has brought 'salvation' to us (2,12). We rejoice in the Old Testament story of salvation: 'the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt' (Deuteronomy 7:8). Through Christ, we rejoice with a much greater joy: "In Him we have redeemption through His blood'. This is 'the Gospel of our salvation'. It is 'good news of a great joy'. Through faith in Christ, we 'rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy'. Through faith in Christ, we look forward to 'a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time...the salvation of our souls' (Ephesians 1:7,13; Luke 2:10; 1 Peter 1:5,8-9). 'Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God' (Revelation 19:1).
29th November: Psalms 75:1-76:12
'We give thanks to You, O God...I will rejoice for ever, I will sing praises to the God of Jacob... Make your vows to the Lord your God, and perform them...' (75:1,9; 76:11). True rejoicing in the Lord is more than singing praises to Him. We are to live what we sing. 'Fill Thou our life, O Lord our God, in every part with praise'. 'Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee'. These are not words to be forgotten as soon as we leave the place of worship. 'We ask...for a life made up of praise in every part'. 'Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee' (Church Hymnary, 457, 462). Such words are not only for singing. They are for living. We must not only sing them. We must live them. 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me' (Philippians 4:13).
30th November: Job 1:1-2:13
Satan is very busy - 'going to and fro on the earth...walking up and down on it'. Why is Satan 'roaming through the earth'? - 'Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour' (1:7; 1 Peter 5:8). If, like Job, you 'fear God and turn away from evil', Satan will make you his target. He will do all that he can to make you stop worshipping God and start cursing Him (1:1,11). Satan is very powerful - but he can only do what God allows him to do (1:12; 2:6). There is a greater Power than the power of Satan - 'the Power of God'. When you face Satan's onslaughts, remember - God is in control. His Power is at work in us to keep us in the way of faith, the way which brings ' praise and glory and honour' to Him (1 Peter 1:3-7).
1st December: Job 3:1-4:11
'I'm reaching the end of my tether' - Do you ever feel like this? What are we to do when, like Job, we find ourselves sinking into a state of deep depression? Remember Jesus. Remember His suffering - 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?' (Matthew 27:46). He suffered for us. He suffers with us. In our suffering, we need Jesus. We need His love. Some may say, 'You've only yourself to blame'. They will tell us, 'Pull yourself together'. What good will this do - without the love of Jesus? Without His love, things will only get worse. Jesus knows how we feel. He's been there. He went to the Cross - for us. Behind His suffering, we see His love. He has 'suffered'. He has been 'tempted'. He feels our pain. He comes to us with 'mercy and grace'. He is our 'Help in time of need' (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16).
2nd December: Job 4:12-6:7
Eliphaz sounds so 'spiritual'. He speaks of 'a word' being 'brought' to him. He speaks of 'visions in the night' (4:12-13). Sadly, there is, in Eliphaz, a lot of pride and not much love. There's no suggestion, from Eliphaz, that Satan might be behind Job's suffering. 'It's all your own fault' - This is what Eliphaz is saying to Job. When we listen to this kind of talk, we become despondent - 'What have I done to deserve this?'. There are times when we cause problems for ourselves. There are other times when we must say, 'This is the work of Satan' - 'An enemy has done this' (Matthew 13:28). There are times when we must pray, 'Forgive us our sins'. There are times when we must pray, 'Deliver us from the evil one'. From the Lord, we receive forgiveness and victory. Let's give all the 'glory' to Him (Matthew 6:12-13).
3rd December: Job 6:8-7:21
Job calls on God - and there is no answer. The happy days seem to be gone forever. From the Cross, Jesus cries out in agony, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'. There is no Voice from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased' (Mark 15:34; Matthew 3:17). What are we to make of this? Job is suffering. Jesus is suffering. Where is God while all this is happening? What is He doing about it? Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus said this to His enemies: 'This is your hour, and the power of darkness' (Luke 22:53). God allows Satan to have his 'hour'. 'The power of darkness' appears to have the upper hand. This is not the end of the story. There is 'a happy ending'. Job is raised from his depression (42:10,12). Jesus is 'raised' from the dead (Acts 2:23-24).
4th December: Job 8:1-9:19
Bildad speaks as a 'know-it-all'. He sees what has happened to Job, and he thinks, 'Job must have forgotten God'. If Bildad had not been blinded by his own ideas of how things must be, he would have noticed that Job had not forgotten God and he would have realized that bad things can and do happen to people who love God as well as people who don't love Him. When things are going badly, don't forget God's long-term purpose. He is preparing us for 'eternal life' (Matthew 19:29). Sometimes, we wonder what's going on in our lives. We must remember that 'God's ways are higher than our ways' (Isaiah 55:8). We must learn to look beyond our sufferings. They are 'slight and short-lived'. We must look ahead to the 'eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine' (2 Corinthians 4:17).
5th December: Job 9:20-10:22
Job thinks that God is 'against' him. He thinks that he is condemned by God (10:2). Where do these negative thoughts come from? Do they come from God? No! God has a very positive view of Job - 'My servant Job' (1:8). Job is being attacked by Satan, 'the accuser' of God's people (Revelation 12:10). Satan puts negative thoughts into Job's mind. What are we to do when Satan attacks us in this way? Look to the Cross of Christ, rejoicing in God's love for us (Romans 5:8).Take our stand in Jesus Christ - 'There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus' (Romans 8:1). Remind Satan of Christ's victory - 'the gates of hell shall not prevail against' us. Resist Satan - 'Get behind me, Satan!' - , confident that 'we are more than conquerors through Christ' (Matthew 16:18,23; Romans 8:37).
6th December: Job 11:1-12:25
Zophar had all the answers - so he thought! It was all so simple - according to Zophar. 'He must have done something pretty awful to deserve this' - That's what Zophar thought of Job and his suffering (11:6). For Job, nothing was simple. He didn't have any answers. He was very confused. He had been 'a righteous and blameless man' (12:4). Now, he was suffering. Was he being punished by God? Job listened to Zophar. It didn't ring true! Job didn't fully understand what was going on. He did know this: Zophar didn't know what he was talking about. He was shouting his mouth off about things he knew nothing about. Job was not taken in by Zophar's pious words. He responded with this 'understanding' - 'The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one' (12:3; 1 Corinthians 2:15).
7th December: 2 Timothy 1:1-2:7
God's Word is not to be kept to ourselves. Paul was called by God to be a 'preacher' of the 'Gospel' (11). He passed God's Word on to Timothy, encouraging him to share the message with 'faithful' people who would pass it on to others' (13; 2:2). Everyone has their part to play. Things didn't come to a standstill when Paul wasn't around. Timothy was to make sure that everything didn't revolve around himself. There were others who were to carry the work of God forward. We must not make too much of certain individuals. The work of the Lord is always much more than the work done by any one person. God is always looking for more people who will take up the challenge of seeing that His work is not left undone. Serve the Lord in the 'power' of 'the Holy Spirit'. Trust Him - His work is 'safe in His hands' (1:7,14,12).
8th December: 2 Timothy 2:8-3:9
'Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead' (2:8). God's servants become part of our past. Christ remains the heart of our future. He is the risen Christ, the living Lord. When God's servants become a distant memory, we must remember Him. Keep your eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are to 'avoid godless chatter' and 'stupid, senseless controversies', we must keep Him at the very centre of our lives (16,23). If we are to be 'lovers of God' rather than 'lovers of self', we must keep on saying from the heart, 'I must decrease. Christ must increase' (3:4,2; John 3:30). We may face problems - from those who 'oppose the truth', people of 'corrupt mind and counterfeit faith'. Don't be afraid of such opposition - 'they will not get very far...their folly will be plain to all' (3:8-9). Keep your eyes on Jesus!
9th December: 2 Timothy 3:10-4:22
What is the greatest thing that the Lord's servants can pass on to the Lord's people? - 'The Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus' (3:15). They are to 'preach the Word' in the power of 'the Holy Spirit' (2; 1 Peter 1:12). When the preaching has ended, one thing remains - 'the living and abiding Word of God' (1 Peter 1:12). When all the words have been spoken, the ministry of the Spirit continues. Through the ongoing work of 'the Spirit of the living God', the Word of God is 'written' in the 'hearts' of those who have heard the Word preached (2 Corinthians 3:3). What kind of preaching do we need? Do we need 'teachers who will tell us what we want to hear' (3)? No! We need preachers who will say 'what the Spirit says to the churches' (Revelation 2:7,11,17, 29; 3:6,13,22).
10th December: Job 13:1-14:22
When you don't really know what you're talking about, it's a case of the less said the better. That's how Job feels about his 'friends' - 'Oh that would you keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!' (13:5). They are no help to him. What does he do next? He takes his problem to the Lord. Nothing seems clear to Job. He seems to be bogged down in his own suffering. There is, however, a glimmer of light. A question comes into his mind - 'If a man die, shall he live again?' (14:14). Later on, Job gives the answer of faith: 'I know that my Redeemer lives...Even after my skin has been stripped off my body, I will see God in my own flesh' (19:25). 'Christ has been raised from the dead...Death is swallowed up in victory...Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ' (1 Corinthians 15:20,54,57).
11th December: Job 15:1-16:5
After more of the same from Eliphaz, Job responds, 'How often have I heard all this before! What sorry conforters you are!' (16:1). With 'friends' like this, who needs enemies? This was not what Job needed. He needed 'words of encouragement' (16:5). Where does true comfort comes from? It comes from the Holy Spirit - 'the Comforter' (John 14:26). If we are to speak words of encouragement, we must listen to the voice of the Spirit. We must learn to speak with His voice, the voice of 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control' (Galatians 5:22-23). Pray that 'the meditation of your heart' and 'the words of your mouth' will be filled with the Spirit of love. Remember - Without love, our words mean 'nothing' (Psalm 19:14; 1 Corinthians 13:1-2). Let there be more love.
12th December: Job 16:6-17:16
'There is no violence in my hands, and my prayer is pure' (16:17). Is this no more than Job's own opinion of himself? No! It is much more than that. It is also God's view of Job: 'my witness is in heaven, and He that vouches for me is on high' (16:19). When suffering comes our way, we can become bitter - blaming God and turning away from Him - or we can become better - 'the righteous holds to his way, and he that has clean hands grows stronger and stronger' (17:9). What makes the difference? - It is 'God's love...poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit' (Romans 5:3-5). Seeing our suffering in the light of God's love, we say, with faith, 'Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Romans 8:35-39). Let His love lead you from the bitter way to the better way.
13th December: Job 18:1-19:7
Job listens to Bildad's harsh words. He answers with a question: 'How long will you torment me, and break me in pieces with words?' (19:2). Job couldn't make much sense of what was going on in his life. He was sure of one thing. His 'friends' were missing the point of it all. They had it all wrong. They were not speaking the Word of the Lord. They were only making things worse for Job. We must be careful with our words: 'The tongue is a fire...set on fire by hell...With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, this should not happen!' (James 3:6,9-10). 'Let your conversation be always full of grace' (Colossians 4:6). May our words 'bring a blessing to those who hear' them (Ephesians 4:29).
14th December: Job 19:8-29
Christ's resurrection, Christ's return, our redemption - All of this is brought to mind as we read Job's great words of faith: 'I know that my Rdeemer lives...in the end He will stand upon the earth...in my flesh I will see God' (25-26). Jesus Christ 'has risen' from the dead. He is 'the living One'. He is 'alive for evermore'(Matthew 28:6; Revelation 1:18). Jesus Christ will return 'with power and great glory'. 'He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him' (Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7). The Day of Christ's return will be the Day of 'our redemption'. 'When He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is'. 'We shall always be with the Lord' (Luke 21:27-28; 1 John 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:17). Don't forget the word of warning, spoken by Job to his 'friends' - 'There is a judgment' (29)!
15th December: Job 20:1-29
'Fools rush in where angels fear to tread'. This is what we have here. Zophar doesn't stop to think. He's 'like a bull in a china shop'. Zophar gives a detailed description of 'the wicked man's portion from God, the heritage decreed for him by God' (29). He does not stop to ask, 'Does all of this apply to Job? Is Job a wicked man? Is Job being punished by God?'. Before we rush into passing judgment on other people, here are some things to think about: 'There is one Lawgiver and Judge, He who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you that judge your neighbour?'. 'Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Why do you despise your brother? We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God'. 'Judge not that you be not judged' (James 4:12; Romans 14:10; Matthew 7:1). Think before you speak!
16th December: Job 21:1-34
Job has listened to his 'comforters', and he is not impressed: 'How then will you comfort me with empty nothings? There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood' (34). Job can't make sense of all that is happening to him. He doesn't understand what it all means. In all his confusion, there is one thing he doesn't forget: God is in control. When he asks the question, 'Will any teach God knowledge ...?' (22), what he's really saying is this: 'I don't understand what's going on, but God does!'. Later on, Job speaks these great words of faith - 'He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold' (23:10). When you're 'going through the mill', remember, 'Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles...' (Isaiah 40:31).
17th December: Job 22:1-23:7
Job's 'friends' assume that Job is being punished by God. They are unaware that someone else is behind Job's suffering - Satan! Job isn't sure what to make of it all. Is God punishing him after all? Deep down in his heart, he knows that God loves him. Job asks the question - 'Would He contend with me in the greateness of His power?'. He answers his own question - 'No; He would give heed to me' (23:6). Job knows that God is a God of great power. He knows something else about God. He is a God of great love. He is not 'all power and no love'. 'God is love' (1 John 4:8). What really lies behind Job's suffering? - 'The devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!' . The time will come when God will say to Satan, 'Enough! No more!' (Revelation 12:12; 20:10)!
18th December: Job 23:8-24:5
Satan is working overtime! He is filling Job with fear. In his state of deep depression, Job says, "God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; for I am hemmed in by darkness, and thick darkness covers my face' (23:16-17). Where do these thoughts come from? Do they come from the Lord? No! They come from Satan! This is not 'the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom' (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7). It is a very different kind of fear, a fear which comes from Satan. How are we to overcome this fear? When depression threatens to overwhelm us, what are we to do? Look to the Lord. He 'has not given us a spirit of fear'. He has given us His 'Spirit of power and love'. He gives us 'a sound mind'. Look to the Lord. Let His 'perfect love cast out your fear' (2 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 4:18).
19th December: Job 25:1-27:6
Job's 'comforters' are no friends to him. They fail to discern the presence and purpose of God in Job's life. Job responds to them with biting sarcasm - 'How you have helped him who has no power! How you have saved the arm that has no strength!' (26:2). They're hopeless - no help to him at all! Why is their advice so useless? Job challenges them, 'With whose help have you uttered words, and whose spirit has come forth from you?' (26:4). Their words do not come from the Spirit of the Lord. They come from Satan. They are his servants. He is using them. He is speaking through them. They are part of his evil plot to destroy Job. No wonder their words are so useless! There is no way the servants of Satan will ever help us to love the Lord better. We need the Word of the Lord spoken in the power of His Spirit.
20th December: Job 27:7-28:28
'The fear of the Lord -that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding' (28:28). True wisdom is centred on Christ. He is 'our wisdom'. He is 'the wisdom of God' (1 Corinthians 1:30,24). True wisdom leads us to put our faith in Christ. Through 'the Holy Scriptures', we receive the wisdom which leads us to receive 'salvation through faith in Christ Jesus' (2 Timothy 3:15). True wisdom leads us to become 'mature in Christ', living a Christlike life: 'The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peaceloving, gentle, obedient, full of mercy and good deeds, straightforward and sincere' (Colossians 1:28; James 3:17). True wisdom gives glory to Christ. Our 'faith' does 'not rest in the wisdom of men'. It rests 'in the power of God'. 'Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord' (1 Corinthians 2:5; 1:31).
21st December: Job 29:1-30:31
Don't forget to remember! In his time of darkness, Job remembers: 'when His lamp shone upon my head, and by His light I walked through darkness'. When God seems so far away, Job remembers: 'when the friendship of God was upon my tent; when the Almighty was yet with me' (29:4-5). What are we to do when 'the days of affliction come to meet' us, when our days are full of 'mourning' and 'weeping' (30:27,31)? We must remember the good times, the happy days. When you find yourself wondering, 'Why are these bad things happening to me?', think of something else - 'Why has God blessed me with so many good things?'. This will help you when everything seems so dark, when God seems so far away. Remember to thank God for His good days. It will help you to trust Him in your bad days.
22nd December: Job 31:1-40
For a summary of all that Job says here, we may go back to the very beginning of his story: 'Job...was blameless and upright, one who feared God, and turned away from evil' (1:1). He is a fine example of the kind of godly living which Paul made his ideal: 'I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man' (Acts 24:16). How many times we fall short of this ideal! Again and again, we must come to God with our confession of sin . We 'have sinned'. We 'fall short of the glory of God' (Romans 3:23). How can our sins be forgiven? How can our guilt be removed? There is only one way. It is through 'the blood of Jesus'. Through His blood, 'our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience'. Confess your sins to God. Let 'the blood of Jesus cleanse you from all sin' (Hebrews 10:19-22; 1 John 1:9,7).
23rd December: Luke 1:26-38
No ordinary child! Jesus would be special - very special! This was the message the angel brought to Mary - 'He will be great...the Son of the Most High...the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God' (32,35). We celebrate the birth of a child. How much more should we celebrate the birth of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ! 'Come on and celebrate! His gift of love we will celebrate - the Son of God who loved us and gave us life' (Mission Praise, 99). God is calling us to worship His Son, our Saviour. Let Jesus be the centre of your attention. No one else must compete with Him. 'O come let us adore Him...For He alone is worthy...We'll give Him all the glory...Christ the Lord' (Mission Praise, 490). He is more than 'a lovely baby - much more than that! He is our wonderful Saviour!
24th December: Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-7
'The old, old story - it is ever new'. With each passing year, we move further away from the time when Christ was born. Further away from the time when He was born, but not further away from Him - He is still 'Emmanuel...God with us' (1:23)! We may never visit the place where He was born. Many visit Bethlehem as tourists without becoming worshippers. They look at the place where He was born - but they do not love Him! They have 'no room' in their hearts for Him (2:7).There is a place where you can find Jesus. Love will grow, worship will become real, when you find Him - in your heart! 'O come to my heart, Lord Jesus. There is room in my heart for Thee' (Mission Praise, 697). Don't just remember His birth. Experience it - 'O Holy Child of Bethlehem...Be born in us today'(Church Hymnary, 172).
25th December: Luke 2:8-20; Matthew 2:1-12
The shepherds and the wise men seem so different from us! Everything seems so long ago and so far away! Are they really any different from us? Can we dare to forget the lessons we learn from the shepherds and the wise men? Some may say, 'It was different back then. Life was so simple. Now, there are so many distractions. There are so many other things for us to do'. Listen to this kind of talk, and you are listening to the voice of Satan! The devil will fill our lives with all kinds of things. He will keep us so busy that we forget all about worshipping Jesus! More than ever before - in our world of so many distractions - we need to learn from the wise men and the worshipping shepherds. Make time to 'worship Jesus' (2). There is nothing more important than this - 'glorifying and praising God' (20).
26th December: Job 32:1-33:18
'The Bible is the Word of God' - What do we mean when we say this? Two statements from Elihu may help us to think about this question. (a) 'Understanding' comes from 'the breath of the Almighty' (32:8). (b) 'God does speak - now one way, now another - though man may not perceive it' (33:14). 'The breath of the Almighty' - This is where the Scriptures come from: 'All Scripture is God-breathed' (2 Timothy 3:16). God has spoken. He has breathed out His Word. 'God does speak - now one way, now another' - There is great variety in the Bible. We have our favourite passages. Let's not forget the more obscure and difficult passages - He speaks through 'all Scripture': 'now one way, now another'. When the doubters fire their questions - remember: 'God does speak...though man may not perceive it'!
27th December: Job 33:19-34:20
Things are going well. We say, 'Thank You, God'. We rejoice in the Lord. We give praise to His Name. Everything seems to be going so well - but we need to take care! In the good times, our praise and thanksgiving can go stale. We take God's blessing for granted. Our rejoicing in the Lord becomes a superficial thing. Things start going badly. We blame God. We say, 'Where are You, Lord? What are You going to do about this?'. What we must remember is this: The Lord is with us - even when we're going through hard times. He hasn't stopped loving us. He hasn't gone away and left us. He is there beside us, every step of the way. He wants to bring us closer to Himself, to give us this powerful testimony: 'He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light' (33:28-30).
28th December: Job 34:21-35:16
'If you have sinned' (35:6). Let's think about Job, Jesus and ourselves. (a) 'Job feared God and shunned evil' (1:1). He was not being singled out for special punishment - because he was much more sinful than anyone else. This does not mean he had never sinned (7:21; 13:26). (b) There is only One Man 'without sin' - our Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). Did this mean that Jesus did not suffer? No! - '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). (c) There's no 'if' about it! When we sin - What are we to do? Like Job, we must trust in our 'Redeemer' - the Lord Jesus Christ (19:25). He gives 'quietness' and 'songs in the night' (34:29; 35:10). 'Be still and know that He is God. Shout for joy to Him' (Psalms 46:10; 98:4).
29th December: Job 36:1-33
'God is mighty, and does not despise any' (5). God is great - great in power, great in love. How sad it would be if the God of great love had no power to save us! How terrifying it would be if the God of great power had no love in His heart for us! What a joy it is to to know that He is both the God of great power and the God of great love! He is 'abundant in power' - and He loves us: 'He heals the brokenhearted and...lifts up the downtrodden'. What can we say about this God of great power and great love? - 'Praise the Lord!'. Let us 'sing to the Lord with thanksgiving'. Let us 'make melody to our God'. "It is good to sing praises to our God' (Psalm 147:1-7). 'How good is the God we adore! Our faithful, unchangeable Friend. His love is as great as His power and knows neither measure nor end' (Mission Praise, 244).
30th December: Job 37:1-24
'The Almighty is great in power and...He does not oppress' (23). God's power is loving power. His love is powerful love. In Jesus Christ, we see God's power - 'He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God through Him' - and God's love - 'I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me' (Hebrews 7:25; John 6:37). In our world, the love of power has become a very destructive thing. In Jesus Christ, we see something quite different - the power of love. He uses His power to show us His love. He shows us His love when - through His mighty power - He saves us. As you think of the Lord Jesus Christ - His loving power, His powerful love - , let 'His love and power control all you do and say': 'More love, more power, more of You in my life' (Church Hymnary, 432; Songs of Fellowship, 392).
31st December: Job 38:1-38
The Lord has listened long enough! He's listened to a lot of 'empty-headed words'. He has listened to a long, heated debate. There's been a lot of heat and not much light. Everything seems to be as clear as mud (1). Now, it's His time for speaking! What does God have to say? He invites Job to look at the bigger picture. Being preoccupied with our own problems doesn't really solve anything. 'Why has this happened to me? Why did it not turn out that way? Why this? Why that?' - We go round in circles, thinking about these kind of questions. We don't have all the answers. There are plenty of things we don't understand. Even when we don't understand what's happening, we can still say, 'I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth' (Psalm 121:1-2).