Sunday, 31 July 2016

God Is Good To Us Today.

“Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel just as He promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises He gave through His servant Moses. May the Lord our God be with us as He was with our ancestors; may He never leave us nor forsake us.  May He turn our hearts to Him, to walk in obedience to Him and keep the commands, decrees and laws He gave our ancestors” (1 Kings 8:56-58).
God’s faithfulness isn’t just something that belongs in the past. It’s for us. It’s for today.  We’re not just to say, ‘God was good to “His people Israel” a long time ago.' We’re to say, ‘God is good to us today.’ When we realize how God our God is, we will give ourselves gladly to Him – “to walk in obedience to Him.”

Saturday, 30 July 2016

What's In A Name?

Genesis 2:19
The naming of the animals
What’s in a name? Names are important to the Lord. He calls us “by name” (John 10:3). We are known by our own name. How disappointed we are when someone forgets our name. How wonderful it is that the Lord never forgets our name. There’s something more wonderful than that. He gives us His Name. We are known by the Name – Jesus. His Name means Saviour. Every time, we speak His Name, we are reminded that we have been saved by Him. His Name speaks to us of the forgiveness of our sins, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the glorious hope of eternal life.

Lip-Service? or Life-Service?

The choices that we make while we are here on earth will decide whether we we will spend eternity with him or apart from Him. This is the message of Matthew 7:13-14. "False prophets ... vicious wolves" will seek to lead us away from the Lord (Matthew 7:15-16). We must pray that the Lord will deliver us from paying lip-service to Him without living our whole life for Him (Matthew 7:21-23). How are we to live for the Lord? - We must hear His Word and obey it (Matthew 7:24). Obedience to God's Word begins with hearing His Word. Hearing God's Word leads to obeying His Word. May God help us to build on Christ, always receiving His Word as the Word that speaks to us with His authority.

God's Way of Salvation (Psalm 11)

This Psalm begins with a tremendous statement of faith - “In the Lord I take refuge.” The whole Psalm should be understood in the light of this tremendous statement of faith. * From the vantage-point of faith, the Psalmist is able to overcome the temptation to doubt God (vs. 1-3). - His enemies say to him, “”Flee like a bird to your mountain.” The Psalmist replies, “In the Lord I take refuge.” - The “wicked” are out to get him. The Psalmist looks at them, and says, “In the Lord do I take refuge.” - It seems that “the foundations are being destroyed.” The Psalmist looks to the Lord, and says, “In the Lord I take refuge.” * From the vantage-point of faith, the Psalmist views the whole of life in the light of God: "The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord is on His heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them. The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence His soul hates. On the wicked He will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. For the Lord is righteous, He loves justice; upright men will see His face" (4-7). —– “In the Lord I take refuge.” There is only one refuge. The Lord is our refuge. He is our salvation. There is only one place of safety – “in Christ". In Ephesians 1:3-14  we read about our spiritual blessings in Christ - "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will— to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory." In Ephesians 2:8, we read, “It is by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). By grace, we are in Christ. Through faith, we are in Christ. * “He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock” – This is grace. * “Rock opf ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee” – This is faith. Grace and faith belong together. - We are not saved by grace apart from faith. - We are saved by grace through faith. The grace of God reaches us as we receive Jesus Christ in faith. - We are not saved by faith apart from grace. - We are saved by grace through faith. Faith has no meaning in itself. Faith finds its meaning only in relation to the grace of God. Faith is God’s way for us to come to Him through our Lord Jesus Christ. “By grace you have been saved through faith” – This is the Christian’s unshakeable foundation. With this unshakeable foundation, the Christian can face the attacks of the enemy with confidence. — 1 … How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. 2 For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. 3 When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do ?” The devil is at work. He seeks to sow seeds of doubt into the heart of God’s people. He suggests to us that God’s gracious foundation for our faith can be destroyed. This is nothing new. It’s as old as Genesis 3:1 – “Did God say … ?“ The devil says to us, “Has God really forgiven your sins?” He says, “Has God really saved you?” The devil wants to get us on the run. He wants us to run away from him. We must not let him get the upper hand. We are to resist him in the strength of Christ’s victory over him. When we “resist the devil” in the strength of Christ’s victory, “he will flee from us” (James 4:7). To believe the devil is to believe the lie. The truth is that, when take our stand in Christ, the devil has no alternative but to ruin from us. Christ’s victory over the devil becomes our victory over Christ has won the victory over the devil. Through faith in Christ, His victory becomes our our victory over the devil. Here are three important lessons concerning this victory. * Through His death on the Cross, Christ has won the victory over the devil. He has won this victory for us. Hebrews 2:14-15 14Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. * On the basis of the victory that Christ has won for us, we can stand our ground against the devil. Isaiah 28:16 16 So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed. * When we take our stand in Christ, the devil can do nothing else but flee from us. He is strong when we try to stand against him in our own strength. When, however we remind him of Christ’s victory over him, he can do nothing but bow before Christ’s superior power. Rejoicing in the victory that Christ has won for us, let’s remind the devil that he’s a defeated enemy. James 4:7 “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” — Our faith is built on a secure foundation. How do we know this? – “The Lord is on His heavenly throne” (v. 4). Knowing that the Lord is King, we are assured that God’s way of salvation is the one way of salvation. Salvation is by grace through faith. This salvation is centred on Jesus Christ. It is in Jesus Christ that we find the grace of God. It is Jesus Christ in whom we put our trust. Jesus Christ is God’s way of salvation. Through Jesus Christ, we have received salvation. There is no other way of salvation. God’s Kingship is revealed in His way of salvation. There is only way of salvation. It is God’s way of salvation. By grace through faith – This is God’s way of salvation. When we refuse to accept God’s way of salvation, we refuse to acknowledge His Kingship. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). We dare not attempt to dispute this point with God. Who are we to argue with God? We may attempt to save ourselves. We will not succeed. When we attempt to save ourselves, God looks upon us and He sees our sin. In ourselves, we are not “the righteous.” We may think that we are “righteous.” In God’s eyes, we are “the wicked.” This is the truth concerning every one of us: “There is no one righteous, not even one … all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). There is only one way in which “the wicked” can become “the righteous.” We must come to the God of perfect holiness through faith in Jesus Christ. We must remember that “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). This is God’s way of salvation. We don’t tell God that He has to save us because we think that we have earned the right to be saved. He tells us that we are sinners. He tells us that we need to be saved. He tells us that “Jesus Christ is able to save to the uttermost completely those who come to God through him” (Hebrews 7:25). We have the great promise of the Gospel. In Christ, there is full salvation for all who come to God through Him. Alongside this great promise, there is also the warning of the Gospel. We read the solemn words of verse 6 – “On the wicked he will rain fire and brimstone; a scorching wind will be their lot” “Fire and brimstone” – What are we to say about this? We must note that the Psalm doesn’t end with “fire and brimstone.” It ends with the words: “upright men will see His face” (v. 7). God doesn’t want to leave us where He finds us. He doesn’t want to leave us trembling in fear of “fire and brimstone.” He speaks to us of these things so that we might see our need of the Saviour. He speaks to us of these things so that we might”flee from the wrath to come” (Luke 3:7). He speaks to us of these things so that we might find our way to the Cross of Christ. He speaks to us of these things so that we might learn to confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Unbelievers have ridiculed “fire and brimstone” preaching. We cannot, however, allow their scornful attitude to lead us to dismiss “fire and brimstone” preaching. We dare not say that such preaching belongs to the past. * We must note that the Bible preaches “fire and brimstone.” * We must ask, “How does the Bible preach “fire and brimstone”?” - The fact that the Bible preaches “fire and brimstone” means that this emphasis on divine judgment must not be excluded from our preaching in today’s world. - The way that the Bible preaches “fire and brimstone” teaches us that we must always preach with a view to leading men and women to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour. * Jesus Christ is the only way out of judgment. * Jesus Christ is the only way into salvation. We hear the Gospel. We hear its promise. We hear its warning. The Gospel places us at a cross-roads. Each of us must decide. We must come to Christ. We must trust Him as our Saviour. We must come to Him, believing that He died on the Cross for us. We must come to Him and receive His free gift of the forgiveness of our sins. It is only through faith in Him that we will come to know, for ourselves, the truth of the final words of this Psalm: “upright men will see His face” (v. 7).

Friday, 29 July 2016

Can The Famine Become A Harvest?

In Ruth 2, there’s a beautiful picture of harvest. Look back to Ruth 1:1 – “There was a famine in the land.” The Christian life’s like that. It’s not always harvest. Sometimes, it’s famine. Sometimes, we feel like we’re on the mountain-top. At other times, we’re in the wilderness. Whatever your circumstances, remember this – God knows what’s best for you. In the happy times and the testing times, be sure of this – God is not far from you, He’s with you, He loves you and He wants to bless you. When it seems like nothing’s going right for you, take time to think about what the Lord has done for you and give thanks to Him.
When things are going well, don’t take God’s blessing for granted. He can withdraw His blessing from us if we don’t give thanks to Him – that’s the warning Jesus gives us in the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21).
When things are going badly, don’t let your head go down. Don’t start thinking that God’s blessing will never return to you again. This is the message which comes to us from the book of Ruth. At first, there was famine. Later on, there was harvest. Let’s pray that God will renew our walk with Him. Let’s pray that He will revive our work for Him.
In the happy times and the testing times, let’s count our blessings. Sometimes, we think that we can decide when we’re going to rejoice and when we’re going to complain. God says, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). This is joy in the Lord. It doesn’t depend on us. It comes from the Lord. Good things may happen to us. Bad things may happen to us. In the good times and the bad times, let us “rejoice in the Lord.”
In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” What we’re saying is this. We depend on the Lord. Every good gift comes from Him. Without His blessing, our life is empty. Our life may seem to be full of good things. If Christ isn’t living in us, our life is empty. Don’t be like the rich fool. He lost everything that mattered to him. Life is more than things. We can’t take them with us. Real life is Jesus living in us. It’s the beginning of eternal life.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Sent To Bring Life

“God sent me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:5).
We are to bring life. That’s why God has sent us. We are to bring the Saviour. We are to bring the Scriptures. We are to bring the Spirit. People coming to the Saviour, people learning from the Scriptures, people walking in the Spirit – this is what we’re praying for and working for.

Prayers based on Daniel 7 - 12

Daniel 7:1-28
‘There before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven... His Kingdom is one that will never be destroyed’ (Daniel 7:13-14). We thank You, Lord, for these great words. They point us to Christ’s description of His Second Coming, the Coming of His Kingdom: ‘They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory’ (Matthew 24:30). In Revelation 1:7, we have another echo of Daniel’s ‘vision.’ As we think of these great things, may we be inspired to lift up our hearts to You in praise: ‘Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him’. ‘Lo! He comes, with clouds descending... Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee, high on Thine eternal throne; Saviour, take the power and glory, claim the Kingdom for Thine own. O come quickly! O come quickly! O come quickly! Alleluia! Come, Lord, come!’ (Church Hymnary, 316).
Daniel 8:1-27
We read, Lord, about a ‘vision’ concerning ‘the distant future’, ‘the time of the end’ (Daniel 8:26,17). We catch a glimpse of Satan, the very powerful enemy of God’s people. Satan’s power is very frightening - ‘His power shall be great, and he shall cause fearful destruction...’. It was the power of Satan which lay behind the ‘stern-faced king’: ‘He will become very strong, but not by his own power’ (Daniel 8:23-24). We thank You, Lord, that Satan’s power will be broken. We thank You that Satan faces certain defeat - ‘He will be defeated.’ How will he be defeated? We will not defeat him - ‘He will not be destroyed by human power.’ There is only one Power able to destroy the power of Satan: ‘He shall be broken by the hand of God’. ‘Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Daniel 9:1-27
‘O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act!’ (Daniel 9:19). How, Lord, do we know that You will hear and answer our prayer as we look to You for salvation? - ‘The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him’ (Daniel 9:9). We come to You with our sin - We are ‘dead in our sins and wickedness.’ You come to us with Your grace - ‘By grace you have been saved through faith.’ We come to You, Lord, deeply conscious of our sin. We know, in our hearts, that we can do nothing to save ourselves. The way of salvation can never begin with the word, ‘I’. It always begins with You, Lord. It begins with Your love - Your great love for us’: ‘God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our sins’ (Ephesians 2:1,4-5,8).
Daniel 10:1-11:13
Daniel came to God in great weakness - ‘I am helpless... My strength is gone...’ (Daniel 10:16-17). We thank You, Lord, that Daniel received great strength from You - ‘The One who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength... When He spoke to me, I was strengthened...’. Daniel’s strength came from Your love and Your peace. You assured him of Your love for him. You called him a ‘man greatly beloved.'. We thank You, Lord, that You spoke Your Word of peace to Daniel: ‘Peace be with you.’ As You revealed Your love and peace to him, he came to realize that there was no need to be afraid. He could ‘be strong’ in You (Daniel 10:18-19). When we are weak, help us, Lord, to come to You and receive your strength - ‘His grace is sufficient for us. His strength is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Daniel 11:14-45
Help us, Lord, to live for You - ‘The people who know their God shall be strong and do great things.’ Help us to stand against Satan - ‘The people who know their God will firmly resist him’ (Daniel 11:32). Teach us that, if we are to live for You and stand against Satan, we must ‘put on the whole armour of God’. ‘Strong in the Lord’, we ‘take our stand against the devil’s schemes’ (Ephesians 6:10-11). Help us to rise to the great challenge of living for You and standing against Satan: ‘Soldiers of Christ, arise and put your armour on, strong in the strength which God supplies through His eternal Son... From strength to strength go on, wrestle and fight and pray, tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well-fought day that, having all things done and all your conflicts past, ye may o’ercome through Christ alone and stand complete at last’ (Church Hymnary, 441).
Daniel 12:1-13
We read, Lord, of two very different futures - ‘everlasting life’ and ‘everlasting contempt’ (Daniel 12:2). We thank You that we receive ‘eternal life’ through ‘believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.’ Through faith in Him, we ‘know that we have eternal life.’ You give us Your promise: ‘He who has the Son has life.’ To those who ‘overcome’, through ‘believing that Jesus is the Son of God’, You give this promise: ‘I will never blot his name out of the Book of Life.’ Alongside Your promise, there is also Your warning: ‘He who does not have the Son of God does not have life.’ To those who refuse to come to Christ for salvation, You give this warning: ‘If anyone’s name was not written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire’ (John 20:31; 1 John 5:5,11-13; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 20:15). Help us, Lord, to heed Your warning and trust Your promise.

God Speaks To Us. We Speak For Him.

“Speak only the Word that I tell you” (Numbers 22:35).
If we are to bring the Word of God to others, we must pray that He will speak to us. We must pray that He will give to us His Word – “the Lord put a word in Balaam’s mouth” (Numbers 23:5). At the heart of our ministry of God’s Word, there must be this firm conviction: “God is not a man, that He should lie or change His mind” (Numbers 23:19). Who are we to call in question the Word of the Lord? When God speaks to us, He calls us to believe His Word. We are to trust Him. If we question the Word of the Lord, and, then, attempt to speak His Word to others, we’re asking for big trouble – “If the trumpet doesn’t sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8). We do not help the people of God to triumph over Satan, if we do not speak to them the Word of the Lord.

Before You Can Be The Lord's Servant, He Must Be Your Saviour.

“Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant … For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43,45).
Do you want to be the Lord’s servant? Remember that He is your Saviour. Do you want to serve the Lord? – You must be saved by Him before you can even begin to serve Him. When we think of Jesus as God’s servant and say, “I will serve God the way Jesus served Him”, we have missed the point of Jesus’ words: “the Son of Man” came ”to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Jesus’ service is defined by the giving of His life as a ransom for many. We can never give our life as a ransom for many. Only Jesus can do that for us. Where does our life of service begin? – It begins at the Cross of Christ. It begins when we say, “I cannot serve You. I can only be saved by You.” That’s where the life of service begins. It begins with being saved by the Lord. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Get things right at this point – and then your life of service is ready to begin.

From religion to revival

Standing upon divine revelation – “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), Jesus received God-given strength for challenging the “bread alone” of human religion – the religion of “the hypocrites” (Matthew 6:2,5,16). Their religion was centred upon themselves. Jesus had this to say about their religion – “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them” (Matthew 6:1). The “hypocrites” added their own ideas to the Word of God – and the power of God’s Word was lost. Jesus shows us the better way – looking to the Lord, listening to the Lord and learning from the Lord. He calls to live a God-centred life: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). He calls us to put God first: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). The difference between Jesus and “the hypocrites” was clear for all to see: “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, because He taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (Matthew 7:28-29).
May God raise up, more people, in this generation, whose lives will be centred on God and grounded in His Word – rebels who will protest against the shallowness of superficial religion, prophets whose lives will point beyond religion to revival.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Pain, Prayer, Protection, Peace

The Psalmist is experiencing great pain. His honour is being insulted; his enemies are spying on him; he is being harassed by troublemakers (Psalm 4:2; Psalm 5:8; Psalm 6:8). As well as pain, there is prayer, protection and peace. He prays with confidence in God - “The Lord has heard my plea for mercy. The Lord accepts my prayer” (Psalm 6:9). He stands upon God’s promise - “The Lord protects those who take refuge in Him” (Psalm 5:11). He rests in the peace of God (Psalm 4:8).

Keeping Our Focus On Christ

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).

Joy, Pleasure, Satisfaction ...

Our complete joy, pleasure and satisfaction is found in the Lord. We say, with the Psalmist, “Complete joy is in Your presence. Pleasures are by Your side forever ... I will be satisfied with seeing You” (Psalm 16:11; Psalm 17:15). We join, with the hymnwriter, in singing praise to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: “O Christ, in Thee my soul hath found, And found in Thee alone, The peace, the joy I sought so long, the bliss till now unknown. Now none but Christ can satisfy, None other Name for me. There’s love and life, and lasting joy, Lord Jesus, found in Thee.”

"God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

Sometimes, when we’re going through the mill, it can be difficult to see God in the things that are happening to us – but that doesn’t mean that He isn’t there. It just means that we can’t see Him. We’re looking for Him, but we can’t find Him. Is He hiding from us? Is He trying to confuse us? No! He’s waiting in the background – “From a distance, God is watching us.” When we see nothing but clouds in our sky, we must keep on believing that the sun is waiting to shine. God is there. His Son is there. His Spirit is giving the strength that we need. There is light at the end of the tunnel. God is leading us out of our dark times. He’s leading us to the place, where we will see that He never left us. He was there all the time, leading us to the place where we will say, “God meant it for good.”

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Greatness Of God

In Psalms 7 - 10, there is a real sense of the greatness of God. He is “majestic” (Psalm 8:1). He is “enthroned forever” (Psalm 9:7,11). He is “King forever and ever” (Psalm 10:16). He is our “Judge” (Psalm 7:8). The Psalmist teaches us to see our life in the light of God. His light shines brightly upon us. His light exposes our darkness. He’s calling us to walk in His light. He calls us to take refuge in Him: “O Lord my God, I have taken refuge in You” (Psalm 7:1). He calls us to rejoice in Him: “I will be glad and rejoice in You” (Psalm 9:2). He calls us to seek His help: “Those who know Your Name trust You, O Lord, because You have never deserted those who seek your help” (Psalm 9:10). If we are to answer God’s call - take refuge in Him, rejoice in Him and seek His help, we must leave behind the way of the wicked: “In his pride the wicked does not seek Him; in all His thoughts there is no room for God” (Psalm 10:4). When we answer God’s call, He starts changing us - our way of thinking and our way of living. He is the caring and sharing God: “You have heard the desire of oppressed people, O Lord. You encourage them. You pay close attention to them in order to provide justice for orphans, and oppressed people, so that no mere mortal terrify them again” (Psalm 10:17-18). He’s calling us to be like Him. Let’s not keep His love and His blessing to ourselves. Let’s show His love. Let’s share His love.

Let Christ's Love Flow Among Us.

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!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The Glory Within

The Lord is "the glory within" Jerusalem (Zechariah 2:5). He is "the glory within" His Church. We dare not attach so much importance to the externals of religion that we forget about the presence of the Lord. To make secondary things more important than they really are is to miss the most important thing - the Lord is "the glory within" His Church. To His people, in Old Testament times and today, God says, "I'm going to come and live among you" (Zechariah 2:10).

A Welcome And A Challenge

Numbers 16:1-50
In this chapter, we read about the judgment of God upon those who sinned against Him. God is perfectly holy. He calls us to be holy. This is not to be a pretence. It is to be real. Those who came under God’s judgment claimed to be holy (Numbers 16:3). God saw what they were really like. This very challenging. It’s a reminder that we must not take God lightly: “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Alongside this, we should also remember that Christ’s hands were pierced for us. He waits to welcome all who return to Him, fleeing from “the wrath to come.”

Monday, 18 July 2016

There is work to be done.

What will the future hold for us? One thing we can say is this: there is work to be done – God’s work. God is calling us to do His work and He will give us the strength that we need (Ezra 1:2,5). ‘At such a time is this’, a time when many are turning away from the Lord, showing little or no interest in worshipping and serving Him, a time when many are living according to the world’s standards with no real desire to please God and do His will, God is looking for people who will make a whole-hearted commitment to a life of serving Him. He is looking for people who will say, ‘Serving the Lord – this must be the great priority of my life, the most important thing’ (Esther 4:14,16).

Serving the Lord will not be easy. There will be many times when we will feel like giving up. We will be tempted to follow the crowd rather than following our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. When it seems that we are in danger of being overwhelmed by such temptations, we must say, ‘I have decided to follow Jesus’. We must remember that Jesus went to the Cross for us and we must say, ‘There will be “no turning back”’. We must not by put off by those who have no real love for the Lord: ‘Though none go with me, I still will follow’. We must make our choice: ‘The world behind me, the Cross before me. No turning back’ (Mission Praise, 272).

Sometimes, as we serve the Lord, we may wonder, ‘What’s this all about? Where is the Lord in all of this?’ When such thoughts fill our minds, we must take encouragement from God’s Word: ‘He knows the way that I take’ (Job 23:10). We must remember God’s great faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23). In the Lord our God, we find ‘strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow’ (Songs Of God’s People, 37). As we look to the Lord, we will catch a glimpse of His eternal purpose for us (Ecclesiastes 3:11) – He is ‘fitting us for heaven to live with Him there’ (Church Hymnary. 195).
My prayer for each of you is that you will learn to ‘turn your eyes upon Jesus’. I pray that you will ‘look full in His wonderful face’ and find that He is ‘altogether lovely’. As you learn to love Jesus more, you will discover that ‘the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace’ (Mission Praise, 712; Song of Solomon 5:16). Through the great love of Jesus Christ our Saviour, may we all grow stronger in our commitment to worshipping and serving the Lord our God.

Not An Easy Pathway

Numbers 12:1-13:33 
In his leadership of God’s people, Moses faced problems. It was not an easy pathway towards the promised land. There was opposition from Miriam and Aaron (Numbers 12:1). There was an unbelieving report, brought back from the land of Canaan by most of the spies (Numbers 13:31). Alongside these problems, there was the encouragement, which came from Caleb’s words of faith: “Let’s go now and take possession of the land. We should be more than able to conquer it” (Numbers 13:30). By faith, we shall overcome the problems.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Exactly What The Lord Commanded

Numbers 17:1-18:30
Moses, the priests, the people – All of them were to honour the Lord in everything. (i) “Moses did exactly what the Lord commanded him to do” (Numbers 17:11). (ii) The priests were “a gift, given by the Lord, to do whatever work is necessary at the tent of meeting” (Numbers 18:6). (iii) The people were to “contribute the best and holiest parts to the Lord” (“out of all the gifts they had received” (Numbers 18:29). Whoever we are, whatever our place in God’s work, we are to be dedicated to the Lord, committed to doing His will and being faithful in the work He has given to us to do for Him.

Friday, 15 July 2016

The Lord is 'able to keep us from falling.'

"When I said, “My foot is slipping”, Your love, O Lord, supported me" (Psalm 94:18).
The Lord is 'able to keep us from falling' (Jude 24-25). We are 'kept by the power of God' (1 Peter 1:3-5). Putting our trust in the Lord, we may be confident of this: 'God, who began His good work in us, will carry it through to completion on the Day of Jesus Christ' (Philippians 1:6). As we 'press on', we must never forget this: 'It is God who works in us to will and to work according to His good purpose' (Philippians 3:14; 2:13). 'Let us fix our eyes on Jesus', trusting in His promise: 'My sheep listen to My voice ... I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one shall snatch them out of My hand' (Hebrews 12:2; John 10:27-30).

Ready To Do The Lord's Work

Numbers 7:1-8:26 
From each tribe, the gifts came. The Levites had a special ministry. For this ministry, they needed to be made “clean” (Numbers 8:5). Through cleansing, they were made “ready to do the Lord’s work” (Numbers 8:11). In a very special sense, God said of them, “the Levites will be Mine” (Numbers 8:14). Between the gifts from the tribes (Numbers 7) and the preparation of the Levites (Numbers 8:5-26), there are the seven lamps on the lampstand, giving “light in front of the lampstand” (Numbers 8:1-4). The lamp stand was made of “gold.”  This is the precious light of God’s Word, shining like gold, which is greater than all the other metals. God’s Word is the light which inspires the giving of the tribes and the ministry of the Levites. Without God’s Word at the centre, everything else means nothing.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

A Lamp And A Light

God's Word is "a lamp to our feet and a light to our path" (Psalm 119:105).
He has "wondrous things" to teach us as we pray "Open my eyes that I may see" (Psalm 119:18,11). "May God's blessing surround you each day, as you trust Him and walk in His way. May His presence within guard and keep you from sin, go in peace, go in joy, go in love." "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your Name give glory, because of Your mercy and Your truth" (Psalm 115:1).

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

My Help Comes From The Lord.

Why? Why? Why? - Even when we don’t understand, we can still say, ‘My help comes from the Lord’ (Psalm 121:2).

Listen To God. Learn From Him. Live For Him.

Numbers 1:1-4:49
God spoke, Israel obeyed (Numbers 1:1,54). This is the constant pattern of the life of faith – hearing and obeying the Word of God. The names of God’s people differ from place to place. The pattern of their life remains the same. This pattern is also emphasized in Numbers 2, which begins with God speaking (Numbers 2:1) and ends with the people obeying (Numbers 2:34). This pattern is repeated in Numbers 3-4, which begin with God’s Word (Numbers 3:1; Numbers 4:1) and end with our obedience (Numbers 3:51; Numbers 4:49). In Numbers, we read so much that is unfamiliar to us. We must learn to look for the Word that comes to us, in our time, as a Word from the Lord who is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Hear and obey. Listen to what God is saying. Do what He has said.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Make a new beginning with God.

"Create in me a clean heart, O God... Cast me not away from Thy presence... Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation" (Psalm 51:10-12).
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. Make them your words. Make a new beginning with God.

Righteousness And Joy

"May Your priests be clothed with Your righteousness; may Your faithful people sing for joy" (Psalm 132:9).
We need "righteousness" and "joy" - not righteousness without joy, not joy without righteousness. What is "righteousness", if there's no "joy"? It's Pharisaism. What is "joy" without "righteousness"? Is it really "the joy of the Lord"? No! "The joy of the Lord" gives us "strength" to live for the Lord (Nehemiah 8:10). "The joy of the Lord" is always more than a nice feeling. The joy of the Lord changes us.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Forgiveness And New Life

Mark 2:1-17

"He was speaking the message to them" (Mark 2:3) - and there were "signs following" (Mark 16:17). Preaching and miracles: we see this pattern in Mark 1 - preaching (Mark 1:14-20), miracles (Mark 1:21-34,40-45). In Mark 1:39, we see both - preaching and miracles. Along with preaching and miracles, there is prayer (Mark 1:35). In Mark 2, there is forgiveness of sins (Mark 2:5) and healing for the paralyzed man (Mark 2:11-12). Notice which comes first - forgiveness. Jesus is saying, 'This is about more than the legs.' What is He saying to us? We need more than physical health. "So long as you have your health" - This isn't the full story. We need to have our sins forgiven. Only Jesus can do this for us.
When we read about the call of Matthew, known before his conversion as Levi (Mark 2:13-14), we learn about how life can be turned around by Jesus.
Levi, Evil, Live
The story of Levi is to become our story. Like Levi, we are evil. Like Levi, we have begun to live. Through faith in Christ, we have stepped out of our old life and into His new life.
Jesus came to call sinners (Mark 2:17). Sinners - That's what we are. We must not pretend that we are "righteous" (Mark 2:17). We're not. We must not say, "I have not sinned. I don't need to be saved." We must confess our sins, and receive God's forgiveness.

'Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom' (Psalm 90:12).

The older generation will be familiar with the opening question and answer of the Shorter Catechism. It is a question about the purpose of our life. We are 'to glorify God'. We are 'to enjoy Him for ever'. We live our life in the light of eternity. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we look forward to the wonderful future God has in store for us: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him' (1 Corinthians 2:9). How are we to prepare ourselves for this glorious future? We are to pray, 'Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom' (Psalm 90:12). We must not think only about how long we live. We must think also about how well we live. We are to be men and women of faith, men and women who have asked the question of salvation, 'What must I do to be saved?', men and women who have obeyed the Gospel command, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved' (Acts 16:31). We must not think only of ourselves. There is more to life than achieving a comfortable standard of living. We are to be 'rich toward God' (Luke 12:21). There is more to life than 'storing up for ourselves treasures on earth'. We must not forget the challenge put to us by our Lord Jesus Christ: 'store up for yourselves treasures in heaven' (Matthew 6:19-21). As we grow older, we must not forget another type of growth – spiritual growth: 'grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ' (2 Peter 3:18).

Friday, 8 July 2016

What does the Lord require of us?

Micah 6:8

In Micah 6:8, the question is asked, “What does the Lord require of us?”
As well as Micah’s answer, there is a New Testament answer to this question.
 * “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin” (Hebrews 9:22).
God calls us to come to the Cross. That’s where the life of faith and obedience begins.
 * “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).
God calls us to put our faith in Christ. It’s personal faith. Each one of us must come to Jesus - “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.” Faith is God’s gift. Each one of us must receive His gift.
 * “Without holiness, no-one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
God is calling us to become more like Jesus. Our life is to be less of self and more of Christ - and we’re to give all the glory to God.
Micah 6:8 gives us an Old Testament answer to the question, “What is holiness?”

Thursday, 7 July 2016

"Sit, Walk, Stand"

"Sit, Walk, Stand" - This is a useful summary of the message of Ephesians: "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6); "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called" (Ephesians 4:1); "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11).
"Sit, Walk, Stand" - We also find these words in the first Psalm: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful" (Psalm 1:1). Concerning those who persist in walking in the counsel of the ungodly, standing in the way of sinners and sitting in the set of the scornful, the first Psalm says this: "Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous" (Psalm 1:5).

Don't Let Your Light Go Out.

Leviticus 24:1-23
If our light is to be keep on burning continually, we need pure oil (Leviticus 24:2). The emphasis here is on keeping close to God. It is only through closeness to God that our light will be kept burning. In Leviticus 24:15, we read, “Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin.” This is followed, in Leviticus 24:16, by some words of explanation of what bearing his sin meant: “He who blasphemes the Name shall be put to death.” As we read these words, our thoughts move to Christ, the sinless Saviour who bore the sins of many – “He died that we might be forgiven. He died to make us good, that we might go at last to heaven, saved by His precious blood.” Through Him, we are brought close to God. Through Him, we are darkness and into light.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Singing A New Song

The singers will come “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). 

Not just some nations! All nations! Not just this generation! Not just the “now” generation! Every generation will be there. They will come from the past. They will come from the future. This is bigger than the Eurovision Song Contest!

“They sang a new song” (Revelation 5:9). 

When does a “new song” become an old song? – People stop singing it. They forget about it. It becomes last year’s song.
What about God’s “new song”? Does it ever become yesterday’s song? Will there ever be a time when there is no-one to sing the song of salvation? Will the song of praise ever be silenced? Will it ever be thrown into the dustbin of the ancient past?
No! The song of joyful worship is always the song of the eternal future. We’re looking forward to something that’s far bigger, brighter and better than the Eurovision Song Contest!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Blessing

Leviticus 26:1-46
There is blessing for those who learn to obey the Lord (Leviticus 26:3-13). There is judgment for those who persist in sinning against the Lord (Leviticus 26:14-33). The opportunity of blessing remains even for those who are in despair and are wasting away because of sin (Leviticus 26:36,39) – God says, “I will remember My promise” (Leviticus 26:42). Those who have sinned against the Lord “must accept their guilt.” This is the way of coming to know the blessing of the Lord who says, “I will not reject them of look at them with disgust” (Leviticus 26:43).

Holiness - In Every Part Of Our Life

Leviticus 27:1-34
The underlying theme of this final chapter is giving ourselves to the Lord to belong to Him, to be dedicated to Him, to be set apart for Him, to be holy. Such dedication to the Lord is to affect the whole of our life. We learn this from the variety of details in this chapter. There must be no turning back from following the Lord. Those who turn back do so at great cost. They become spiritually dead through their disobedience to the Lord. Let us keep up our dedication to the Lord.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Another “3:16″ to set alongside John 3:16!

John 3:16, Rev 3:16–20
In John 3:16, we read these wonderful words concerning God’s love: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Here’s another “3:16″ – “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).
This “3:16″ leads on to some other words about God’s love: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent” (Revelation 3:19).
Called to repentance by the God of love, we hear the great promise given to us by our Saviour: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

When You're Down ...

When you’re down, look to the Lord. He loves You. He will lift you up.
Life is full of ups and downs. For Elijah, there was a very high point. He prayed. ‘The fire of the Lord fell’. ‘All the people said, ‘The Lord, He is God’’(1 Kings 18:37-39). This was followed by a very low point: ‘O Lord, take away my life’(1 Kings 19:4). We are so changeable. Often, we feel 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.

Let's Give God Our Very Best.

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).

Lord, You love us. You call us to love You.

Leviticus 8:1-36
Lord, You love us. You call us to love You. Help us, Lord, to grow in our love for You - to obey Your Word, to do Your will, to walk in Your way.

We thank You, Lord, that "we have peace with You through our Lord Jesus Christ"

Leviticus 3:1-4:35
We thank You, Lord, that "we have peace with You through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). We thank You that "Jesus is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14). This peace is not something that comes from within ourselves. It comes to us from outside of ourselves. It comes from above. It comes to us from You. It's given to us. It's Your gift. We cannot give this gift to ourselves. We can only receive it by faith - faith in Jesus, our Saviour.

Lord, we want blessing - but we're not so keen on obedience.

Exodus 39:1-43
Lord, we want blessing - but we're not so keen on obedience. Help us to learn from Jesus. For Him, obedience was everything. He was fully obedient. For Him, it meant the Cross (Philippians 2:8). Lord, help us not to be thinking, "What are we going to get out of this?" Help us to be praying, "How can we do Your will? How can we bring glory to You?"

Lord, there is work to be done.

Exodus 38:1-31
Lord, there is work to be done. It's Your work. Help us all to play our part. We leave it to someone else - and it never gets done. Change us, Lord. Spectators can become workers. Help us not to hang back - on the sidelines. You're calling us to come into the centre of Your will and Your work. When we're tempted to stand back and watch, help us to come forward and work. Help us to remember this: "There's a work of Jesus none but we can do."

We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, is "pure gold."

Exodus 37:1-29
We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, is "pure gold." There's nothing better than Jesus. there's no-one better than Him. He's the very best. What Jesus has done for us - this is "pure gold." He died for us. He was raised to life for us. This is Good News. It's the best news we could ever hear. Lord, help us not to get bogged down in the bad news of our sin. Lord, lift us up with the Good News of our Saviour.

Teach us, Lord, that it's not all about us.

Exodus 36:8-38
Teach us, Lord, that it's not all about us. It's not about getting ourselves noticed. It's all about You. It's about giving all the glory to You.

Lord, You call us to serve You.

Exodus 31:1-32:14
Lord, You call us to serve You. How are we to serve You? How can we serve You? - Our sin keeps on getting in the way. We start off well - and then, we take our eyes off Jesus, and things start to go badly. Lord, we need Your Spirit. He is the Holy Spirit. How can we possibly serve You - if we are not learning to walk with You in the way of holiness. Before we pray, "Help us to serve You better", help us to pray, "Lead us in the way of holiness."

Lord, You are the faithful God.

Exodus 34:1-35
Lord, You are the faithful God. You give us Your promises. You keep Your promises. You never go back on Your Word. You always stand by the Word that You have spoken. Your promises come to us from the past. They lead us on into Your future. What a wonderful future You are planning for us. We thank You for Jesus' great promise: "I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). Help us to receive His Word, to rejoice in His promise, to be renewed by His love.

So often, Lord, we get preoccupied with ourselves.

Exodus 30:1-38
So often, Lord, we get preoccupied with ourselves. Our words say that You are more important than anyone else. Often, our lives tell a very different story - 'It's all about us. It's all about what pleases us.' How can we be changed? Lead us to the Cross of Your Son, Jesus. Show us Jesus - dying for us. Teach us to live for Him. Lift us out of our weakness and failure into Your strength and victory - and help us to praise You with hearts that are becoming more God-centred and less self-centred.

Often, Lord, we come to Your House with so little expectation of Your blessing.

Exodus 29:10-46
Often, Lord, we come to Your House with so little expectation of Your blessing. Where does this attitude come from? - It doesn't come from You. You are the great God. You fill our hearts with 'great expectations.' When Satan comes to us, filling our hearts with apathy - the 'couldn't-care-less' attitude, help us to tell him that You are the great God (Psalm 135:5) - great in holiness, power and love, the faithful God who comes to us with great promises of blessing. When, Lord, we are blessed by You, help us to give all the glory to You.

Sometimes, Lord, our lights are switched off.

Exodus 27:20-29:9 
Sometimes, Lord, our lights are switched off. Sometimes, they're switched on. The light of Your love is never switched off. It's always switched on. Your love is 'all the time' love. There is no love like Your love for us. It's the only 'always and forever' love. Thank You, Lord, for the light that never stops shining - the light of Your undying love. This is the only light that is always shining.

Sometimes, Lord, we don't feel like the sun is shining upon us.

Exodus 27:1-19
Sometimes, Lord, we don't feel like the sun is shining upon us. When we feel like this, help us to know that the light and love of Your Son is always shining upon us. When we're feeling down, help us to remember that You raised Jesus up - "Up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph o'er His foes." This is what we need to hear. This is what lifts us up: up - into Your presence, up - out of our sin, up - into Your salvation' upwards and onwards - to Your eternal glory.

Every Spiritual Blessing

"Every spiritual blessing in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3)

Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3).

Every spiritual blessing – in Christ: Come to Him and receive His blessing.

Comforted By God's Faithfulness

Isaiah 40:1-11

 

Comfort (Isaiah 40:1) – This comes from God’s great faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23).
In our past, present and future, we see the faithfulness of God- “His mercies never end. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Think of God’s faithfulness, and “count your blessings.” Think of this, that and the other blessing (good things in your life) – and don’t forget to thank Him for the greatest blessing of all: Jesus.
– The faithfulness if God is summed up in this: “The Word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
– There’s a New Testament way of saying this: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
As we move from one year to another year, let’s think about the old and the new.
On His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus speaks about the old and the new.
– He tells us that He didn’t come to destroy the Law and Prophets. He came to fulfil them (Matthew 5:17-20). He wasn’t setting aside the Old Testament. He was building on it.
– He doesn’t just repeat what others have said. He brings something new, something fresh. He said, “You have heard that it was said, but I say to you” (Matthew 5:21,27,31,33,38,43).
Build on the past. Move on into the future.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

The greatness of God

Isaiah 40:12-31

The greatness of God
 * He is great in Himself. Before the world was created, God is great: “In the beginning, God....” (Genesis 1:1).
 * He is great for us. This is the great message that comes to us from Isaiah 40:28-31.
God is great in love. God is great in power. God is great in holiness. God is great in faithfulness. God is great in glory.
 * Love - “God is love” (1 John 4:16); “God so loved the world...” (John 3:16); “God showed His love for us...” (Romans 5:8).
 * Power - the power of God’s love - “kept by the power of God” (1 Peter 1:5); “He is able to keep us from falling” (Jude 24).
 * Holiness - God is holy. Through his love and His power, He is working to make us holy. As well as the command - “Be holy”, there is the promise - “You shall be holy.”
 * Faithfulness - “Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22). God is faithful. He will accomplish His purpose in us (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
 * Glory - Jude 24-25 and Revelation 1:5-6. God shares His glory with us.

The Holy City ...

"The Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God - It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel" (Revelation 21:10-11).

At the heart of "the Holy City", there is Jesus Christ. In Him, we see the bright shining light of God's love. He is the precious cornerstone upon which our eternal salvation is built (1 Peter 2:4-7).
As we read about "the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God" (Revelation 21:10), our thoughts turn to our Saviour, Jesus Christ. It's only because of what He has done for us that we will be welcomed into the glory of God's saving and eternal presence of love. Jesus is "the cornerstone" of our faith (1 Peter 2:6). He is the foundation upon which our salvation is built. Without Him, there is no salvation. With Him, there is full salvation. What light there is shining into our hearts - from the wonderful love of our Saviour. It's the light that comes from the glory of God. It has touched our life here on earth. It will fill our life with Him - when we go to be with Him in "the Holy City."

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Travelling Towards God's Future

“a sin offering … an atonement … clean” (Leviticus 12:8).
We read the words of the book of Leviticus. We feel like we’re out of our depth. We don’t really know what to make all of this. We read about ” a sin offering.” We read about “an atonement.”We read about being made “clean.” We read all of this, and the light begins to shine. It’s the light of Jesus, our Saviour. We think of Him. We think of His death upon the Cross. We know that He died for us. We know that He loves us – and we rejoice in His love. Do we need to understand all that there is in the book of Leviticus? No! We catch a glimpse of Jesus – and His “sin offering.” Our hearts are filled with joy, as we think of His “atonement.” This a new beginning for us – “the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).    It’s a new beginning. We’re set free from our past. We’re set free for God’s future.
What is God’s future? What great plan does He have for us? – This is what He says to us, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high” (Leviticus 26:13).
What God has done for us in the past is not all that He will do for us. We must never forget what He has done for us in the past. the Exodus from Egypt was a great event. It was an event of salvation. The death of our Saviour was an even greater event. this is the event of our salvation. without His death for us, we could never be saved. he took our place. He died our death. He took our sin upon Himself. He died that we might have life – the new life of those who have received the forgiveness of their sins, the eternal life which will be filled with joy forevermore. Following our entry into this new life and before our entry into God’s everlasting Kingdom, there is a journey that each of us must make. It will be a different journey for each of us. We must make our own journey. My journey will not be your journey. Your journey will not be my journey. In my journey, I am not alone. In your journey, you are not alone. The Lord is with you. The Lord is with me.
What kind of journey will it be? It will be a hard road. How hard? In what way will it be hard? No-one really knows. We know that there will be “enemies” – but we know that the Lord has given us his promise: “When they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them … I am the Lord their God” (Leviticus 26:44).
What a great promise this is! We have many enemies – but there is one enemy who is more determined than all of the rest of them, put together. Our great enemy is Satan. God’s Word teaches us that Satan is a determined enemy. It also teaches us that he’s a defeated enemy. we look at Satan – and we look at Jesus. We see what Satan is trying to do to us. We look at what Jesus has done for us. At the Cross, we learn that Jesus has succeeded – and we learn that Satan has failed. Jesus has triumphed over Satan. Can we doubt that Jesus’ victory over Satan will be a complete victory? Can we doubt that Satan’s defeat will be a total defeat? At the Cross, we catch a glimpse of the final victory. In our hearts, we know that God’s Word is true: “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Friday, 1 July 2016

Help us, Lord, to "give a friendly welcome."

Joshua 2:1-24
Help us, Lord, to "give a friendly welcome" (Hebrews 11:31). What a difference the friendly welcome makes! It's the word of encouragement that makes us feel loved. It's the act of kindness that lets us know that love is more than words. Lord, You are our Father. Help us to be like You - "when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him" (Luke 15:20). What amazing grace! Before the confession of sin - "Father, I have sinned... " (Luke 15:21), there is the friendly welcome. It's Your grace that inspires our confession of sin. It's Your grace that leads us into the joy of Your forgiveness. It's not only joy for us. It's joy for You - "my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to celebrate" (Luke 15:24).

Lord, help us to remember that You are the everlasting God.

Lord, help us to remember that You are the everlasting God.
We are so changeable. Your love for us is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable.
Our feelings take us here, there and everywhere. Your love brings us back to the place where our love for You grows strong.
How does our love for You grow strong? Is this something that we do for ourselves? – No! It’s something that You do for us.
You show us how much You love for us. You take us to the Cross of Christ.
You show us that Your love for us remains strong even when our love for You has become very weak.
This is the way in which our love for You grows strong. We are strengthened by a stronger love, a love that never becomes weak, a love that is always strong - everlasting love.
These are things we must never forget – Lord, help us to remember that You are the everlasting God. Help us to remember that Your love is everlasting love.

Lord, we thank You that Jesus came to earth for us ...

Lord, we thank You that Jesus came to earth for us – and we thank You that He died for us.
He ‘came to seek and to save the lost’ (Luke 19:10). He came to bring us back from our wandering about in the shadows of our life. He came to bring us into the light of Your love.
Lord, we give You thanks for Jesus.

Lord, we thank You that You guide us ...

Lord, we thank You that You guide us – You keep us in the right way. You lead us in the way that brings glory to You.
You show us Your love. You teach us to trust in Your faithfulness. You fill our hearts with praise. You fill our lives with Your ‘overflowing blessing’ (Malachi 3:10).
For all of these things, we give You our thanks.

Lord, give us Your wisdom.

Genesis 25:19-34
Lord, give us Your wisdom. Help us to see that walking in Your way is better than getting our own way. When we are being drawn away from Your way, bring us back again - back to the way of obedience, back to the way of blessing.

When, Lord, we settle for anything less than Your very best ...

Joshua 16:1-17:18 
When, Lord, we settle for anything less than Your very best, we miss out on Your blessing - and we have no blessing to pass on to other people. Help us, Lord, to move out of complacency and into commitment, out of the 'No' attitude - 'no time for You, Lord' - and into the 'Yes' actions - "Yes, Lord, I will follow You, I will serve You."

We thank You, Lord, for Your gift of the Holy Spirit. In Him, You give to us "rivers of living water."

Joshua 15:1-63
We thank You, Lord, for Your gift of the Holy Spirit. In Him, You give to us "rivers of living water" (John 7:37-39). How are these "rivers of living water" to flow in us and through us? - We need less of this world - "Do not be conformed to this world" - and more of Your Word - "Be transformed by the renewal of your mind" (Romans 12:2).

We thank You, Lord, that we have Your wonderful promise - "The Lord your God is with you" - as well as Your clear command - "Be strong."

Joshua 1:1-18
We thank You, Lord, that we have Your wonderful promise - "The Lord your God is with you" - as well as Your clear command - "Be strong" (Joshua 1:9). Without Your promise, the command is no use. Again and again, we fail to keep Your commands. Again and again, we need to be reassured. You are still with us. This is what we need to hear. This is where our strength comes from. It comes from Your promise. It comes from knowing that You never fail us. You have never failed us. You never will fail us.

Where does victory come from?

Joshua 11:16-12:24
Where does victory come from? Does it come from ourselves? No! It comes from You, Lord. You give us the victory. We give You the glory: "To God be the glory! Great things He has done. So loved He the world that He gave us His Son ... Praise the Lord!"

We thank You, Lord, that we do not fight against Satan in our own strength.

Joshua 10:16-11:15
We thank You, Lord, that we do not fight against Satan in our own strength. You fight for us (Joshua 10:42). Victory is never our own achievement. It is always Your gift: "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).

When we're following You, Lord, Satan is never very far away.

Joshua 9:1-10:15
When we're following You, Lord, Satan is never very far away. He's always looking for ways of tripping us up and leading us away from You. Help us, Lord, to remember that You are stronger than Satan. Here-and-now, Satan has his successes - but he will not win the final victory. He will be defeated (Revelation 20:10) - and it will be clear to all that You are "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Revelation 19:16).

Help us, Lord, to take sin seriously.

Joshua 7:1-26
Help us, Lord, to take sin seriously. The world tells us that it doesn't matter how we live. Your Word tells us that it does matter how we live. Help us to think about our way of living. Help us to be honest with ourselves - to be honest with You: Are we living to please ourselves - or to bring glory to You?

Help us, Lord, to be active for You ... and to wait on You.

Joshua 3:1-17
Help us, Lord, to be active for You - "the people who know their God will be strong and take action" (Daniel 11:32) -  and to wait upon You - "those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31). We need both - prayer and action, seeking Your will and doing Your will. Give us wisdom to know Your will, and courage to do Your will.

Lord, we thank You that Your Son, Jesus, comes to us as more than our personal Saviour.

Joshua 5:1-15
Lord, we thank You that Your Son, Jesus, comes to us as more than our personal Saviour. He comes to us as the "commander of the army of the Lord" (Joshua 5:14). We thank You that "Christ, the Royal Master, leads against the foe." We thank You that He leads us "on to victory." Help us to be His faithful followers on His pathway of victory.

A Great Salvation - And A Grave Warning

Refusal to come to Christ for salvation leads to judgment: ‘How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?’ (Hebrews 2:3).

Help us to resist Satan – in Your strength.

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” (2 King...