Thursday, 30 June 2016

Daily Devotional Readings: Year One - July

1st July: Exodus 20:21-21:32
So many instructions - Don't get bogged down in details. Remember this: We do not live by an ethic of legalism. This is an ethic of redemption (20:1-2). Forget the God of redemption, and you have nothing but a lot of rules and regulations. Become obsessed with rules and regulations, and there will be no room for the Redeemer and His redemption. 'Earmarked' for Jesus, we are to 'serve Him for life' (6). No turning back! We are bound to Him by love - not law! What love He has for us! Verse 30 speaks of 'ransom' and 'redemption': What great words of the Gospel (Mark 10:45; 1 Peter 1:18-19)! 'Eye for eye...' (24) - This limits vengeance. Remember: Love is the answer - not vengeance (Leviticus 19:18)! Let Christ's love give you strength - to keep on serving Him (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:6).
2nd July: Exodus 21:33-22:31
We travel from grace to glory - from 'Egypt' to 'the promised land'. In the wilderness there are many pitfalls. We can become careless in our obedience to Christ. Do not 'leave a pit open' - you may cause a brother to stumble (33; Romans 14:13). Restitution (1-17) - Be faithful in practical matters (Luke 19:8; 3:10-14). Read of 'the thief' (8). Think of the Lord - and be ready for His return (1 Thessalonians 5:2; Matthew 6:19-21). All our human problems are to be brought 'before God'. Never forget Him (8-9,11). God is 'compassionate' (27). We are to be 'consecrated' (31). God loves us. Will we continue to live as those who have never known His love? - 'God forbid! How can we who died to sin still live in it?' (Romans 6:2).
3rd July: Mark 10:1-31
The Pharisees came to Jesus - 'to test Him' (2). They asked Him about divorce (2). He spoke to them about marriage (6-9). We need to be positive, well grounded in the basic principles of God's Word. When the thorny problems come - as they surely will - we will face them with maturity, and not as 'children, tossed to fro and and carried about with every wind of doctrine' (Ephesians 4:14). Jesus loved the little children (13-16). Do we? Some say 'No' to the love of Jesus (21-22). Say 'Yes' to Him. We cannot save ourselves. Salvation is God's doing, not ours (26-27). Don't let 'self' take the place of Christ: 'we have left everything...' (28). Don't say, 'I have given so much to God, done so much for Him, given up so much for Him'. God has given you more! God has done more for you! God has given up more for you! John 3:16.
4th July: Mark 10:32-52
Jesus was 'going up to Jerusalem' - to the Cross (32). He came to die, 'to give His life as a ransom for many' (45). The death of Christ lies at the very heart of the Gospel (1 Peter 1:10-12; 1 Corinthians 1:23 & 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; 1 John 1:7, 2:2; Hebrews 2:9). Don't think, 'Glory for me' (37). Think, 'Glory to God' (43-44): 'God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Galatians 6:14). Bartimaeus cried out to the Lord for mercy (47). 'How embarrassing', some people thought - 'how undignified' (48). When God is at work, some people don't like it! They like everything to be dignified - dull and dead! When God is at work, people get converted. This may not please the 'critics', but it pleases God - and that's what matters. Cry to God for mercy. Your prayer will be heard - and answered.
5th July: Exodus 23:1-33
God is love: He loves 'the stranger' (9). God is holy: He 'will not acquit the wicked' (7). He wants to reproduce His love and holiness - in us. Not holiness without love: that is self-righteous legalism. Not love without holiness: that is spineless sentimentalism. To Israel, He sent 'an angel...' (20). To us, He has sent Christ: He is the Way to the place prepared for us (John 14:2-3,6). Through the Holy Spirit, Christ continues His ministry among us (John 14:25-26). 'Pay attention' to the words of Christ. 'Listen' for the voice of the Holy Spirit (21). Do not 'quench' or 'grieve' the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30). It may take time - 'little by little' (30) - but God will work through his obedient people - 'I will...you shall...' (30-31).
6th July: Exodus 24:1-18
Moses was alone with the Lord - receiving the Word of the Lord (1-2). Moses went to the people - speaking the Word of the Lord (3). There was also a written ministry of the Word (4). At the heart of our worship, there is 'the blood of the covenant' (8; 12:13; John 1:29; Hebrews 9:22; 10:4; 9:13-14; 1 John 1:7). Moses worshipped on 'the mountain of God' (12-18). We worship 'in spirit and truth' (John 4:19-24). We come to the Father through Christ and in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:18). We come on the basis of Christ's blood shed for us (Hebrews 10:19-22). We come as those to whom the Spirit has been given (John 1:33; 3:34). With 'the Spirit of God' living in us and helping us as we pray, let us feast on Christ, the Truth, the living Word, to whom the written and spoken word point us (Romans 8:9,26; John 14:6; 1:1,14; 17:17).
7th July: Exodus 25:1-40
This is full of Christ! We don't 'read into' the Old Testament things which aren't really there. We read this part of Scripture in the light of the full revelation of God. We see Christ as the Central Theme. Above everything else and everyone else, there is Jesus Christ our Saviour. God dwells among His people (8). Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20; Colossans 1:27). God is merciful to us (17-22; Psalm 103:8-12; Micah 7:18-19). Through Christ, we have received 'mercy' (Ephesians 2:4-7; Titus 3:4-7). From 'mercy' we move on to 'testimony' (18). The two are vitally related (1 Timothy 1:12-17). The 'bread of the Presence' (30) turns our thoughts to the Cross. The 'lampstand of pure gold' calls us to shine brightly for Christ, who 'came...to save sinners' (1 Timothy 1:15).
8th July: Mark 11:1-33
Here we learn of the authority of Christ. Calling the 'colt' into His service, He says, with authority, 'The Lord has need of it' (3). With authority, He speaks to the fig tree (14) - a 'visual aid' of His teaching: 'Every branch of Mine that bears no fruit, He takes away' (John 15:2). In the temple, He speaks with authority, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer...' (17). He speaks of authority in prayer: 'whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours' (24). The religious leaders did not understand Jesus (27-33). Why? - They didn't love Him. We can experience His authority: His Word spoken to us 'in power...' (1 Thessalonians 1:5). We can exercise His authority: Through prayer, setting His Word free to do His mighty work (Ephesians 6: 18-20) - if we are learning to love Him!
9th July: Mark 12:1-44
Jesus - God's 'beloved Son' (6): Rejected by men, raised by God (10-11). Jesus' enemies tried 'to trap Him in His talk' (13). He spoke with wisdom - and so can we. Anointed by the Holy One, we have the mind of Christ (1 John 2:19-20; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16). Christ's enemies knew 'neither the Scripture nor the power of God' (24). We are to speak as those who know the living God (27). Our 'first' priority is love for God (29-30). Jesus says, 'Love your neighbour' (31). This is not, however, 'the be-all and end-all' of our life. There is more. We must not forget God. Jesus is 'Lord' (35-37). Let it be: Jesus is my Lord. The scribes had all the external trappings of religion - and nothing else (38-40)! The 'poor widow' had very little, yet she had everything that really matters: she loved the Lord (41-44)!
10th July: Exodus 26:1-37
From the outside, it was a 'tent'. On the inside, the tabernacle was a place of great beauty. Many look at Christ, and see 'no beauty that we should desire Him' (Isaiah 53:2). The believer looks at Christ, and says, 'You are beautiful beyond description, too marvellous for words, too wonderful for comprehension, like nothing ever seen or heard' (Mission Praise, 788).The 'veil' has been removed (2 Corinthians 4:3-4,6). Our sin had separated us from God, hiding His face from us (Isaiah 59:2). When Christ died, 'the curtain of the temple was torn in two...' (Mark 15:37-38). He has changed everything (Hebrews 9:7-8,11-12). Once, we were 'separated...alienated... strangers...far off'. Now, we are 'in Christ Jesus' - 'brought near in the blood of Christ' (Ephesians 2:12-13; Hebrews 10:19-22).
11th July: Exodus 27:1-19
We highlight two interesting phrases - (a) 'as you were shown on the mountain' (8); (b) 'towards the sunrise' (13, New International Version). We need both 'the Scriptures' and 'the power of God' (Mark 12:24). Our faith is based on divine revelation - 'according to the Scriptures' (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). We are 'not' to 'go beyond what is written' (1 Corinthians 4:6). Face the risen Son - We may not always be facing the rising sun, but we should always be facing the risen Son! The revelation, the resurrection, the Scriptures, the Son - these are the great focal-points of our Christian Faith: God has revealed Himself, Christ has risen. Encouraged by the Scriptures, and empowered by the Son, we face the risen Son and we say, 'I will proclaim the glory of the risen Lord' (Romans 15:4; Matthew 28:18-20; Mission Praise, 14).
12th July: Mark 13:1-37
We are not to be a people whose 'faith' is locked in the past! We are to be a people of hope. We look to the future. We 'see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory' (26). There may be 'wars and rumours of wars' (7). When Christ returns, only one thing will matter: 'he who endures to the end will be saved' (13). 'This day - the noise of battle': Look beyond all that to 'the victor's song' (Church Hymnary, 481). In human conflict, there is so much of self - 'We are the people'. When Christ returns, nothing will matter but this: 'When the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there' (Mission Praise, 759). We hear of 'wars and rumours of wars'. Do we say, 'This is part of our history. It's always been this way'?. We must remember: Preaching Christ's Gospel is far more important than 'defending' our ways (10)!
13th July: Proverbs 4:10-19
'The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day' (18). Face the risen Son. His life in us is like the rising sun. It begins with 'the first gleam of dawn'. It 'shines ever brighter until the full light of day''. Christ 'dawns on us like the morning light' (2 Samuel 23:4). In a moment of discovery, we say, 'It's just dawned on me'. It is very wonderful when Christ reveals Himself, when He brings us out of our darkness and into His light. This is just the beginning. There is so much more: 'No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him' (1 Corinthians 2:9). 'Light has dawned that ever shall blaze...Light a flame within my heart... Let my flame begin to spread' (Mission Praise, 422; Songs of Fellowship, 339).
14th July: Exodus 27:20-29:9
The 'lamp' was 'set up to burn continually' (27:20) - 'May we be a shining light...Let the flame burn brighter...' (Songs of Fellowship 389; Mission Praise, 743). A 'royal priesthood', we have been called by God - to let His light shine (1 Peter 2:9). He has called us to serve Him (28:1 John 15:16; Acts 20:28; 13:2; 9:15; Hebrews 5:4). The divine call is accompanied by a divine empowering - 'the Holy Spirit sent from heaven' (1 Peter 1:12). We are precious to God - Our 'names' are written on His heart (9-12,21,29-30; Luke 10:20; Phillipians 4:3; John 10:3). In Christ we are cleansed (29:4 1 John 1:7), anointed (29:7; 1 John 2:27) and robed (29:5-6,8-9; Isaiah 61:10). In Christ, we have 'the best robe' (28:2; Luke 15:22; Revelation 7:9-10,13-14). In Him, we are 'consecrated' by the Word and 'anointed' by the Spirit (28:3,41; John 17:17; 14:16-17, 26; 16:13-14).
15th July: Exodus 29:10-46
There is a great contrast between the many sacrifices of the Old Testament and the one sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 9:25-28; 10:1-4, 10-14). Looking to Christ, we focus attention on verses 42-46. For God's people, 'the tent of meeting' was a special place concerning which God said, 'I will meet with you, to speak there to you. There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by My glory' (42-43). Let us pray that, in both the pulpit and the pew, there will be the glory of God. Aaron and his sons were 'consecrated to serve' (44). We look beyond them to Christ who 'came ...to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many' (Mark 10:45). He dwells among us (45; John 1:14). He has provided for us a 'better' redemption than the redemption of Israel from Egypt - He is 'much more excellent' (46; Hebrews 8:6; 9:23-24).
16th July: Exodus 30:1-38
The Word of God ('the testimony') declares the mercy of God, leading to our meeting with God (6). We highlight several features of our worship: (a) 'the blood of the sin offering of atonement' (10) - This points to the 'how much more' sacrifice of Christ on the Cross for us (Hebrews 9:13-14); (b) 'washing' (18) - Christ 'has washed us from our sins in His blood' (Revelation 1:5; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5-6); (c) 'holy anointing oil' (25) - We are to be 'consecrated', 'most holy', servants of the Lord, 'making holiness perfect in the fear of God', living in the power of the Holy Spirit (29-30; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Zechariah 4:6); (d) 'incense' (35) - We are to be 'the aroma of Christ', spreading His 'fragrance' (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). Christlike living is grounded in prayer (Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4; Luke 18:1; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
17th July: Mark 14:1-25
Jesus was surrounded by enemies, 'seeking to kill Him' (1). There was also a hypocrite, preparing 'to betray Him' (10-11). What a joy it was to find a woman with such heartfelt love for Him (3-9). Her love for Christ must never be forgotten (9). There is something else which must never be forgotten - His love for us. Our love for Him can never begin to compare with His love for us. When we celebrate the Lord's Supper (22-24; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26), we rejoice in His love. Think little of your love for Him. Think much of His love for you. 'Who His love will not remember? Who can cease to sing His praise? He can never be forgotten throughout heaven's eternal days' (Songs of Fellowship, 168). Remember Christ, and let your remembering be filled with worship (25; Ephesians 5:19-20; Colossians 3:16-17).
18th July: Exodus 31:1-32:14
'Called' by God and 'filled' with His Spirit (31:1-3), Bezalel had the support of Oholiab and 'all able men' (31:6). Few may be called and equipped to lead, but many are required for God's work to be done - effectively (1 Corinthians 12:4-10). 'All' of us receive our strength from the 'Spirit' (1 Corinthians 12:11). We offer ourselves in service with this faith, 'Jesus is Lord'. Faith is God's gift: 'no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit'. There are many gifts. They are varied expressions of one gift: the faith which confesses that 'Jesus is Lord' (1 Corinthians 12:3). The people fell into idolatry and immorality (32:6): a 'warning' to us (1 Corinthians 10:6-12). We have God's help - to overcome temptation (1 Corinthians 10: 13). Moses sets for us a godly example: he spent time with God, hearing His voice and prevailing in prayer (32:1,7-14).
19th July: Exodus 32:15-33:23
In Moses, we see the holiness and love of God: a deep hatred of sin (32:19), an intense longing for sinners to be forgiven (32). Filled with 'the fear of the Lord', Moses was fearless before men. God's Word to sinners is clear: He warns them (Proverbs 29:1); He calls them to repent (Acts 2:38); He invites them to return to Him (Hosea 6:1). Moses' faithful and fearless preaching emerged from his closeness to God: 'The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend' (11). Moses prayed; God heard; God answered (33:17). Moses prayed for a revelation of God's glory (33:18). God revealed Himself as the good God, the God of grace and mercy (32:19). Let us go up to God and bring down all that is needed to build the Body of Christ that God may take pleasure in it and that He may appear in His glory (Haggai 1:8).
20th July: Exodus 34:1-35
God gives His promise (33:19). God keeps His promise (5-7). The glory of Christ is revealed to those who are learning to love Him (John 14:21). We are not yet ready for the full glory (33:20). When Christ returns, 'we shall see Him as He is' (1 John 3:2). There is to be 'no other god' but the Lord (14). We are not to be squeezed into the world's mould (Romans 12:2). 'No molten gods', 'no graven image' - We are to be remoulded by God, 'conformed to the image of His Son' (17; 20:4; Romans 12:2; 8:29). Moses' face was shining - Other people noticed (29)! Let others see Christ in you. Never take pride in your own spirituality - 'If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not know (the Lord) as he ought to know (Him)' (1 Corinthians 8:2). Keep your eyes on Jesus. The glory comes from Him. No glory for me - All glory to Him (2 Corinthians 3:18)!
21st July: Mark 14:26-52
After 'they had sung a hymn' (26), Peter showed that there was a great deal of 'self' in him (29). All of us can be like this - 'they all said the same' (31). We attend Communion (22-24), we sing hymns (26) - yet still the wrong attitudes persist! We 'enjoy' praise, prayer, and preaching - Remember: God is concerned with the whole of life, not just the 'spiritual' activities! Christ looked ahead to the Cross - 'the hour', 'this cup' (35-36). He was far removed from an 'enjoyable atmosphere' within which prayer is 'easy'. Sorely tempted, He prayed, 'not what I will but what You will' (36). This was no easy road - the 'betrayer' was waiting for Him (42). It was a lonely road - 'they all forsook Him, and fled' (50). 'The gate is narrow, the way is hard' (Matthew 7:14). May God help us to follow Jesus.
22nd July: Exodus 35:1-36:7
The work of God is shared by many different people with many different gifts. The work is done according to (a) the Lord's command (35:1,4,10; 36:1,5); (b) heartfelt obedience (21; 36:3,5-7); (c) the God-given abilities (24-25; 36:2,4,8). There is something for 'everyone' to do - everyone 'whose heart is stirred whose spirit is moved' (21). Many gifts are needed (31-35). Underlying them all, there is this: 'filled with the Spirit of God' (31). In God's work, there is to be 'full' obedience. When we are fully obedient, there will be 'an overflowing blessing' (Malachi 3:10). 'The people bring much more than enough...'. There 'was sufficient to do all the work, and more' (36:5,7). God is ready to bless. Are we ready to obey? 'If my people...I will...'(2 Chronicles 7:14). 'Always abounding in the work of the Lord' (1 Corinthians 15:58)!
23rd July: Exodus 36:8-38
Moses may have been the leader among God's people, but he could not do all the work by himself! Two of his helpers - Bezalel and Oholiab - are named (1-2). Most - 'all the able men' - remain anonymous (8). Anonymous yet indispensable - Without them, the work of God would have been left undone! To those who are full of their own importance, God says, 'No-one is indispensable. I will find someone else to do My work'. To those who, without fuss, get on with doing His work, God says, 'You are my servants, through whom My work will make good progress'. Building Christ's Church is a long process, involving suffering and disappointments as well as hard-fought victories. In so many ways, the tabernacle pointed to Christ: 'God with us' (Matthew 1:23). May God help us to lead many people to Christ!
24th July: Mark 14:53-15:5
Jesus is 'the Christ, the Son of the Blessed'. He is 'seated at the right hand of Power'. He is 'coming with the clouds of heaven' (61-62). He is 'the King of the Jews': His Kingdom is greater than Herod imagined - it is 'not of this world' (2; John 18:36). Why, then, did He remain silent when false charges were brought against Him? He was bearing our sin - That is why 'He did not open His mouth' (Isaiah 53:4-7; 1 Peter 2:22-24; 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21). He knew that He was going to the Cross - for us (John 10:11,15,17-18). Jesus did not deny us: His silence was a godly silence - 'He bore the sin of many', making 'Himself an offering for sin' (Isaiah 53:12,10). Will we deny Him? Our silence is a guilty silence (66-71). May Christ's Word, and His look of love, cause us to weep - and repent (72; Luke 22:61-62; 2 Corinthians 7:10).
25th July: Exodus 37:1-29
Pure gold (2,6,11,16-17,22-24, 26); Jesus Christ is 'pure gold'. He is 'God with us'. His body was broken for us. We feed on Him, the living Bread. His light is shining. He spreads the fragrance of His holiness, and the aroma of His love (Matthew 1:23; Luke 22:19; John 6:35; 8:12; 2 Corinthians 2:14-16). Read about the ark, the mercy seat, the table, the lampstand, the altar of incense, the holy anointing oil...Think of Christ: He is the 'mercy seat of pure gold' (6). 'The Lord is merciful and gracious...': In mercy, He withholds His judgment from us - He is 'slow to anger'. In grace, He pours His blessing on us - He is 'abounding in steadfast love' (Psalm 103:8). We deserve judgment. We receive salvation. Why? Christ took our judgment that we might receive His salvation. This is the Gospel - and it is 'pure gold'!
26th July: Exodus 38:1-31
We read, in verse 8, of 'the ministering women...'. See also 35:25-26,29 - 'all women ...all the women... All the men and women...'. Male and female - We need each other. We are 'one in Christ Jesus'. In Him, 'there is neither male nor female' (Galatians 3:28). There should never be a competitive spirit. We are to complement each other. In verse 25, we read of 'the silver from those of the congregation'. God's work does not depend entirely on those who have been called to be leaders. Each of us must play our part. There should be no pulling in different directions. We belong together. We are to work together. Let's pull together, pooling our resources, pulling our weight. Among God's people, there is 'gold' - but it must be 'used for the work' (24). Will you be worth your weight in gold - for God?
27th July: Mark 15 6-41
Jesus did not 'save Himself'. 'He saved others' (31). He sacrificed Himself for our salvation. His was the sacrifice. Ours is the salvation. He 'put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself' (Hebrews 9:26). Barabbas was 'released'. Jesus was 'crucified' (15). This is the Gospel - He took my place, He died for me. He was 'forsaken' by God (34). We are reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:19,21). We rejoice that Christ ignored the mocking call from 'the chief priests' and 'scribes': 'come down now from the Cross' (32). He paid the full price of our salvation. For us now, there is full salvation. His suffering was complete: 'It is finished' (John 19:30) was not a whimper of defeat. It was the declaration of victory. All that was needed - He has done for us. Now, He invites us to receive salvation: 'Come; for all is now ready' (Luke 14:17).
28th July: Exodus 39:1-43
'As the Lord had commanded...' (1,5,7,21,26,29,31-32,42-43): Obedience to God - this is the most important thing. 'And Moses blessed them' (43): Where there is obedience, there is blessing - there's a vital connection between the two. In Jesus, we see perfect obedience: 'My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work' (John 4:34). Jesus was fully obedient to the Father's will: 'He became obedient unto death, even death on a Cross' (Philippians 2:8). Through His obedience, there is blessing for us: 'by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous' (Romans 5:19). We look beyond the Old Testament priesthood to Christ, the 'High Priest of the good things that have come' - By 'His own blood', He has secured for us 'an eternal redemption' (Hebrews 9:11-12).
29th July: Exodus 40:1-38
Here, we highlight three lessons: (a) The work of God begins with the Word of God: 'The Lord said to Moses...' (1). Before we can do anything for God, we must be taught by God. (b) The work of God must proceed in the way of God: 'Thus did Moses; according to all that the Lord commanded him, so he did' (16). If we are to accomplish anything for God, we must do God's work in God's way. (c) The work of God must lead to the worship of God: 'The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle' (34). If we are really seeking to work for God, we must seek to give Him the glory for all that is accomplished. Making these our priorities - the Word, way and worship of God - , we will look for 'the cloud and fire', the presence and power of God among us: He will be our Guide 'throughout all our journeys' (38).
30th July: Mark 15:42-16:20
Dead and buried (44-46) - 'The End'? No! There is more. An 'Appendix'? No! A whole new beginning - For Jesus, for us! He is 'the first fruits (1 Corinthians 15:20,23). The full glory is still to come (1 Corinthians 15:24). He has risen (6). 'At His coming, those who belong to Christ' will be raised - with Him and by Him - to everlasting life (1 Corinthians 15:23). This is the glory of the resurrection. It is not simply a thing of the past. It is our glorious future - we 'will be raised imperishable' (1 Corinthians 15:52). There is a Gospel to be preached - the Gospel of salvation (15-16). May God help us to preach the Gospel 'everywhere' - This will involve all of us, not just a few of us! May He give us the joy of seeing Him at work, confirming the message by the signs that attend it (20).
31st July: Psalm 10:1-18
Wickedness seems to be so prevalent. Many 'renounce the Lord', saying 'There is no God' (3-4). It seems that the wicked 'prosper at all times', while the innocent victims of oppression feel that 'God has forgotten' (5-11). When it appears that God 'has hidden His face', when we feel that He has forgotten us, we must remember this: 'The Lord is King for ever and ever' (11,16). Do not judge by appearances. Do not trust your feelings. Everything changes. Nothing remains the same. Everything changes - except God. He is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable in His faithful love for us. We rejoice in this: 'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever' (Hebrews 13:5). Whatever circumstances and feelings may suggest, never forget this: 'He loved us from the first of time, He loves us to the last' (Church Hymnary, 293).

One Year Bible: Days 182-212

Day 182
“Then the Lord awoke from sleep” (Psalm 78:65). When the Lord awakes from sleep, there is awakening. In 2 Kings 4:32-35, we see an example of such awakening - resurrection from the dead. How does such awakening come? It comes when the Lord’s people pray earnestly, with actions as well as words, “The Lord’s will be done” (Acts 21:14). To say this and mean it will be costly: “I am ready ... to die ... for the Name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).

Day 183
Elisha was known as “the man of God” (2 Kings 4:40,42; 2 Kings 5:8,14-15,20; 2 Kings 6:9,15). What a marvellous description - “the man of God.” To Paul, the call of God came - “You will be His witness” *Acts 22:15). Called to be a “man of God”, called to be “His witness” - what a high calling this is! Being a “man of God, being “His witness”, involves calling on the Lord: “How long, O Lord? Will You be angry for ever? ... Help us, O God our Saviour, for the glory of Your Name” (Psalm 79:5,9).

Day 184
“Go to meet the man of God. Consult the Lord through him” (2 Kings 8:8). The servants of the Lord were appointed to serve the people in the Name of the Lord. God’s servants are to lead the people to a deeper knowledge of God. The Lord said to Paul, “Take courage! As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11). God gives a ministry to His servants. He gives them courage to fulfil this ministry. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). 

Day 185
The Word of God speaks of judgment. The judgment upon Jezebel was an awesome judgment (2 Kings 9:36-37). God’s Word also speaks of salvation. This is not simply the safety spoken of in Acts 23:24. It’s the eternal salvation, which is suggested to us in the Psalmist’s prayer: “Restore us, O God, make Your face shine upon us, that we may be saved” (Psalm 80:37).

Day 186
How important it is to make a covenant to be the Lord’s people (2 Kings 11:17). In our faithfulness to God, we “believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets” (Acts 24:14). We do, however, move beyond this to the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets. We speak “about faith in Christ Jesus” (Acts 24:24). When we pray, “Restore us, O Lord God Almighty; make Your face shine upon us that we may be saved” (Psalm 80:19), we are asking God to turn towards us in speaking His Word to us, the Word which leads to the renewal of the covenant of salvation.

Day 187
The kings were compared with earlier kings - the evil king, Jeroboam (2 Kings 13:11), the good king, David (2 Kings 14:3). We may learn from this one and that one but, above all, our faith centres upon Jesus (Acts 25:19). Even the best of kings can never begin to compare with Him. He is the King of kings. He is the Lord of lords.

Day 188
Here, we have the record of seven reigns - five in Israel, two in Judah. The five in Israel “did evil in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Kings 14:24; 2 Kings 15:9,18,24,28). The two in Judah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Kings 15:3,34). There is, however, one criticism of these two kings of Judah: “The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there” (2 Kings 15:4 ,35). “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall ... blessed is he who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:18,20). There is a choice to be made - Do “evil in the eyes of the Lord” or do “right in the eyes of the Lord.” When we read Paul’s testimony, in Acts 26, we learn that there is a great difference between religious pride which brought him “to the ground” (Acts 26:14) and trust in the Lord who says, “I am Jesus ... get up and stand on your feet” (Acts 26:15-16).

Day 189
“They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless” (2 Kings 17:15). There is no god who can compare with the Lord (Psalm 81:9-10). He alone is worthy of praise. He alone gives value to our lives by bringing fulfilment to them: “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10). When we give our Christian testimony, we offer this fulfilment, in Christ (Acts 26:28-29), to our hearers.

Day 190
“Do not let the god you depend on deceive you” (2 Kings 19:10). The Lord alone is worthy of our trust. He alone will prove trustworthy. There is no god like the Lord - “God presides in the great assembly: He gives judgment among the gods” (Psalm 82:1). God will not fail us. He alone is Lord. With gladness, we confess our faith in Him: “I have faith in God” (Acts 27:25).

Day 191
“Now, O Lord our God, deliver from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that You alone, O Lord, are God” (2 Kings 19:19). Here and now, we have begun to experience our deliverance from Satan’s power. When Christ returns in the fullness of His power and glory, we will know the fullness of our deliverance from Satan’s power. On the island of Malta, Paul was delivered from the poison of “the snake” (Acts 28:4-5). The snake is a symbol of the cunning devil - Satan - who opposes God (Psalm 833:2-3). God will let His enemies know that He “is the Lord ... the Most High over all the earth” (Psalm 83:18). 

Day 192
The rediscovery of the Book of the Law (2 Kings 22) revealed the standard from which Israel had fallen, the standard to which Israel was called. The apostolic preaching had the same twofold effect, speaking of both sin (Acts 28:26-27) and salvation (Acts 26:28). “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife” (Proverbs 17:1). God’s Word reveals to us the inadequacy of a worldly way of living and the better way of resting in the Lord and His Word.

Day 193
“Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did ...” (2 Kings 23:25). Like Josiah, Paul was a man who was unashamed of his Lord; “ I am not ashamed of the Gospel ...” (Romans 1:16). Where does this strength come from? It comes from “the living God.” It is given to those who say from the heart: “My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Psalm 84:2).

Day 194
Babylonian captivity - The words are full of symbolic significance regarding the power of evil at work in every generation. Romans 1:18-32 describes the ‘cause and effect’ of ‘Babylonian captivity’: They did not glorify God and “God gave them over to the sinful desires of their hearts” (Romans 1:21,24). In the midst of ‘Babylonian captivity’, God remains faithful to His promises: “O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in You” (Psalm 84:12).

Day 195
In Nineveh, God works in mighty power. “Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry” (Jonah 3:10-4:1). To this proud attitude, God says, “You ... have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else” (Romans 2:1). He calls for a change of attitude: “Do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness ... ?” (Romans 2:4). Rather than complaining about God’s goodness - ‘What right has He to bless these people, of all people?’, we are to cry to God that we ourselves may also be revived: “Restore us again ... Will you not revive us again ... ?” (Psalm 85:4,6).

Day 196
God is perfectly holy. He cannot stand sin. This is clear in both Amos and Romans. It is stressed in Proverbs, which emphasizes that sin is not so much sin against man but “contempt for their Maker” (17:5). Proverbs 17:9 tells us that we are to “promote love.” This love is to be modelled on the love of God. He is always the One who is sinned against. He is never the One who has done the sinning. Nevertheless, His love remains constant. It is the divine pattern for our living in love.

Day 197
Scripture speaks honestly about sin - “You have not returned to Me” (Amos 4:6,8,9,10,11); “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). God’s reply to sin is salvation - “Surely His salvation is near those who fear Him, that His glory may dwell in our land” (Psalm 85:9).

Day 198
Religion is not salvation. “Sacrifices and offerings” (Amos 5:25), circumcision (Romans 4:9-12) - All of this can be “works” which are given to God as a means of earning His favour. The Gospel shows us another way - “righteousness apart from works” (Romans 4:6). This is the way of which the Psalmist speaks: “You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to You” (Psalm 86:5).

Day 199
Amos was commissioned by the Lord - “Go, prophesy to My people Israel” (Amos 7:15). The purpose of such prophecy, in our generation, is to declare the Gospel: “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). If this message of love is to be brought to the people, the preacher must pray: “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth ...” (Psalm 86:11). 

Day 200
Christ restored what Adam lost (Romans 5:15). The Garden of Eden was devastated, but God promises to restore the garden (Amos 9:13-15). This is a prophecy - “The days are coming ... “ (Amos 9:13). It is fulfilled in Christ, through whom we receive eternal life (Romans 5:21). In Christ, there is the great blessing of forgiveness - “acquitting the guilty”, but there is also the warning to those who imagine themselves to be innocent - “condemning the innocent” (Proverbs 17:15). There is no innocence in ourselves. Guilt can only be removed by Jesus Christ.

Day 201
The grace of God is amazing - “I will show My love to the one I called ‘Not My loved one ...’” (Hosea 2:23). We are now to live as those who have received grace (Romans 6:1-2). We put the past, with its sin, behind us. We look to the future - the fullness of God’s salvation (Psalm 87:3). 

Day 202
The sin of God’s people is described thus: “A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the Lord” (Hosea 5:4). This is not God’s way - “You used to be slaves to sin ... You have been set free from sin and have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). Psalm 88 could be viewed as a vivid description of the way in which the “Lord, the God who saves me” (Psalm 88:1) puts to death the sinful nature so that the new nature might arise (Romans 7:4-6).

Day 203
God longs to redeem us (Hosea 7:13). This is the deep desire of His hearts for us. His intention is to train and strengthen us (Hosea 7:15). This great purpose of God is not easily fulfilled in our lives. There is a great conflict going on within us (Romans 7:25). What are we to do? - “I call to You, O Lord, every day” (Psalm 88:9b).

Day 204
Hosea 8:1-9:17; Romans 8:1-17;  Proverbs 17:25-18:6
Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces” (Hosea 8:14). When man forgets God, he builds monuments to his own glory. There is, however, a better way which brings glory to God - “Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires ... The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6). We must come often to “the fountain of wisdom” (Proverbs 18:4) if our minds are to be controlled by the Spirit. It is the Spirit’s work to lead us to Christ, the living Word, through Scripture, the written Word. Through Scripture, we are made “wise for salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15). In Christ, we find “wisdom”, true wisdom, the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:30). 

Day 205
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). God’s purpose of love will not be thwarted. Whatever trouble He may have with us - “My people are determined to turn from Me”, He will not give up on us - “How can I give you up ...?  ... All My compassion is aroused ... I am God ... The Holy One among you, I will not come in wrath. They will follow the Lord” (Hosea 11:8-10). God is determined to bless us. This creates in us a response - “They will follow the Lord.” At the heart of this response, there is worship and witness (Psalm 89:1). 

Day 206
God longs for men and women to be saved (Hosea 14:1-2; Romans 9:1-5). He has “great sorrow and unceasing anguish in His heart” as He considers the sins, the waywardness of man (Romans 9:2; Hosea 14:2,4). When He saves, His people “sing for joy at His Name”, singing, “Your arm is endued with power, Your hand is strong, Your right hand exalted” (Psalm 89:12-13).

Day 207
So many names! We have names. We are called by name. God calls us His people, “sons of the living God” (Romans 9:25-26). He gives us His own Name. We are in Christ. We “rejoice In His Name all day long” (Psalm 89:16).

Day 208
More names! It’s great to have a name - and not to be a nameless person of unknown identity. It’s even greater to have the Name of the Lord given to us for our salvation. “Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are saved” (Proverbs 18:10).

Day 209
When we speak of “Israel”, as Paul does in Romans 22, we must not think of a nameless and faceless crowd of people. Behind the word “Israel”, there are many names and many faces to whom the Lord shows His mercy (Romans 11:31-32). The best name is the Name of the Lord - “My faithful love will be with him, and through My Name his horn will be exalted” (Psalm 89:24).

Day 210
The names tell a story - the story of the historical development of the Lord’s purpose with His people. The many names, stretching over a vast expanse of time, highlight the greatness of God and the great work He is doing among His people. They draw out from us a response of heartfelt worship: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! ...” (Romans 11:33). As we think of a progression over the course of many centuries, we realize the depth and dependability of God’s faithful love: “I will not take My love from him, nor will I ever betray My faithfulness” (Psalm 89:33).

Day 211
Is there no end of names? As we read so many names, we wonder at the amazing scope of the Lord’s love - “God so loved the world ... “ (John 3:16). When we consider the universal scope of the Lord’s great love, we are strengthened in our obedience to His Word: “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Romans 13:9). There are times when we find it difficult to see that God loves us (Psalm 89:38-45). In such times, we must not lose hold of Him. We must hold on to our limited awareness of His love. We must pray that a renewed sense of His love will return to us.

Day 212
1 Chronicles 10 tells of the death of Saul - “Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord ...” (1 Chronicles 10:13-14). Romans 14 speaks of the strong and the weak. Physically, Saul was strong.  Spiritually, he was weak. Maintaining our spiritual strength, our relationship with God, is to be the great priority of our life: “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). There is a physical harvest. There is also a spiritual harvest: “The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:20-21).

Sometimes, Lord, it seems like You have left us.

2 Samuel 13:1-39
Sometimes, Lord, it seems like You have left us. We feel like we're looking for You, but we're not finding You. We ask, "Where have You gone?" - then we start thinking, "Have you really left us?" or "Are we the ones who have wandered away from You?" Call us back to Yourself, Lord. Show us where we've gone wrong. Lift us above our changeable feelings into Your unchangeable love. Show us that You're beside us every step of the way - especially when we find it difficult to feel that You're really with us.

Lord, You speak to us the Word of condemnation ... You also speak to us the Word of compassion.

Deuteronomy 32:19-33:17
Lord, You speak to us the Word of condemnation. You tell us that we are "a perverse generation" You tell us that "You will hide Your face from us" (Deuteronomy 32:20). You also speak to us the Word of compassion - "The Lord will ... have compassion on His servants, when He sees their power is gone" (Deuteronomy 32:26). Help us, Lord, to hear the Word of condemnation - to know that "our power has gone", so that we can hear the Word of compassion, the Word that comes to us in our weakness, the Word that brings us into Your strength - "a new creation in Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Lord, You are not a god who keeps his distance from us.

Deuteronomy 30:1-31:13
Lord, You are not a god who keeps his distance from us. You are not a god who keeps his silence.You come near to us. You speak Your Word to us (Deuteronomy 30:11-14). How do we know that You are near to us? How do we know that You speak Your Word to us? Jesus is "God with us" (Matthew 1:23). He is "the Word made flesh" (John 1:14). Thank You for Jesus - He comes near to us and He speaks to us. Help us, Lord, to treasure His presence and to respond to His Word.

We thank You, Lord, that You love us.

Deuteronomy 24:1-25:29
We thank You, Lord, that You love us. We thank You that You have done great things for us. We think of Your great love. We think of all that You have done for us - and we say, "To God be the glory."

Why, Lord, do You speak to us the Word of warning and the promise of blessing?

Deuteronomy 28:25-68
Why, Lord, do You speak to us the Word of warning and the promise of blessing? There is a good way to which we must turn - and there's also a bad way from which we turn. How can we really appreciate and embrace the good way if we do not see the clear contrast between the good way and the bad way? Help us, Lord, to choose the good way - to choose Jesus, who is "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6).

Lord, You speak to us Your Word of warning - and Your promise of blessing.

Deuteronomy 27:11-28:24
Lord, You speak to us Your Word of warning - and Your promise of blessing. You call us back from the way of disobedience - and on to the pathway of obedience and blessing. Where does the blessing come from? Does it come from our obedience? No! It comes from Your love. It comes from Your promise. Your love reaches us in our sin. Your blessing increases in us as we learn to turn from our sin and give You first place in our lives.

Lord, You have saved us. You call us, now, to live in obedience to Your Word.

Deuteronomy 26:1-27:10
Lord, You have saved us. You call us, now, to live in obedience to Your Word. Teach us Your way, Lord, and help us to walk in it. May the light of Your love shine upon us. May Your love for us fill us with more love for You.

From Prophecy To Power

"The Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:2,5,8,16) - This was the time for the fulfilment of promises made by Jesus during His earthly ministry (John 14:16,25; John 16:12).
"The Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4,17-18,33,38) - God is doing a new thing. This far surpasses all that happened in the Old Testament. What had been promised is now reality. From prophecy to power - This is what happened on the Day of Pentecost.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Far too easily, Lord, we accept defeat - when You're leading us on into Your victory.

1 Samuel 30:16-31:13
Far too easily, Lord, we accept defeat - when You're leading us on into Your victory. What's wrong with us? It's sin. That's our problem. It never goes away, this problem of ours - but we don't have to fight against it in our own strength. Our sin may seem to be inevitable - "That's the way I am. That's the way I've always been. That's the way I'll always be." Our sin isn't invincible. Jesus triumphed over sin. That's what He did when He died for us and rose again. Jesus won the victory for us. He gives His victory to us. Help us, Lord, to receive His strength, to walk in His victory, and to say. "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23).

We thank You, Lord, that the devil flees from us when we flee to Jesus.

Numbers 35:1-36:13
We thank You, Lord, that the devil flees from us when we flee to Jesus. What a precious promise is given to us in Your Word: "The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe" (Proverbs 18:10). Who are "the righteous" - Surely, not us? We've failed You so often. How can we be "the righteous"? Jesus Christ is "righteous" - and He has died for our sins (1 John 2:1-2). This changes everything - "There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). What a Saviour! What a victory over Satan! Thank You, Jesus.

Lord, living for You is not easy. We have a fight on our hands.

Deuteronomy 7:1-26
Lord, living for You is not easy. We have a fight on our hands. Satan is a determined enemy. Help us to remember that He's also a defeated enemy. When the battle seems to be getting too much for us, help us to remember that we are "kept by the power of God" (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Two ways of living

Psalm 1
The first Psalm speaks to us about two ways of living – the Lord’s way and the world’s way. Each of us must choose. When we choose God’s way, His blessing fills our lives. We must not turn away from Him, and lose out on His blessing. May God help us to keep on walking with Him, and to enjoy His blessing on our lives.

“Whoever calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.”

There is to be prayer from “every one who lives in the land” (Joel 1:14). It is to be personal prayer - “O Lord, I cry to You for help!” (Joel 1:19). These two belong together - prayer for the nation and personal prayer. This is expressed so well in the words: “O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee. Send a revival. Start the work in me.”
We hear the words, “Return to the Lord, your God” (Joel 2:13). They are followed by some wonderful words about the character of God - “He is merciful and compassionate, patient and always ready to forgive and to change His plans about disaster” (Joel 2:13). How do we know that God is like this? We look at what He has done for us - “Be glad and rejoice. The Lord has done great things!” (Joel 2:21). Looking at all that the Lord has done for us, we trust His promise: “Whoever calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32). This salvation is more than forgiveness for past sins. It’s more than the future glory of being in God’s everlasting Kingdom - “Mount Zion” (Joel 2:32). It’s also the power of the Spirit, here and now: “I will pour out My Spirit on everyone” (Joel 2:28).
“The Lord will be a Refuge for His people. He will be a Stronghold for the people of Israel. You will know that I am the Lord, your God” (Joel 3:16-17). The Lord is reaching out to us. He’s speaking to us His Word of salvation. As we learn to trust the Lord, we will find that God shows Himself to be the faithful God. May the Lord keep us close to Himself.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Putting God First

God calls us to follow “the way of righteous people” (Psalm 1:6). He directs our attention to His “Son”, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (Psalm 2:7). He promises blessing to those who “take refuge ... In Him” (Psalm 2:12). There is much opposition: “O Lord, look how my enemies have increased! Many are attacking me. Many are saying about me, ‘Even with God on his side, he won’t be victorious’” (Psalm 3:1-2). We need not be afraid of these enemies - “Victory belongs to the Lord! ... You, O Lord, are a shield that surrounds me” (Psalm 3:8,3).

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear.

We are not to be afraid of those who oppose God and His Word (Jeremiah 42:11). We are to trust God. We are to stand on the promises that He has given to us in His Word – “I will have compassion on you” (Jeremiah 42:12).

Friday, 24 June 2016

The Joy Of The Lord

"Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord" (Psalm 64:10). Lord, You give us joy - true joy, lasting joy. This is Your joy. It's not just a passing emotion. It's more than a feeling that doesn't last very long. Your joy changes us. It gives us the strength to live as "a new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Listening To The Word Of The Lord - And Being Changed By The Word Of The Lord

Jeremiah’s ministry was a call from God to the people – a call to “listen to the Word of the Lord” (Jeremiah 44:24). Listening to what the Lord has to say to us will mean being ready to revise our own ideas. Our thoughts, without the guiding Word from the Lord, will be very different from thoughts which have been shaped by the Word of the Lord.

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

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

Jesus Christ - the "Rock of our salvation"

You, Lord, are "our rock and our salvation" (Psalm 62:2,6). 
We think of Your Son, Jesus Christ - the "Rock of our salvation" (1 Corinthians 10:1-4,16), and we say, "Your steadfast love is better than life ... I will praise You as long as I live" (Psalm 63:3-4). We look at Jesus, our great Saviour, and we say, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Lord, You’re calling us to choose the life of fruitful service.

1 Kings 7:13-8:13 Lord, You’re calling us to choose the life of fruitful service – “gold, silver, precious stones”. You’re calling us t...