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Daily Devotional Readings: Year Three - August

1st August: Lamentations 1:1-22

Jerusalem had fallen into hard times - 'she who once was great among the nations...has now become a slave' (1). The explanation for this sad situation was not hard to find - 'Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean...' (8-9). Could things be turned around? Could there once again be blessing? There was a way back to God - the way of being honest before Him. They needed to look seriously at their way of life and think seriously about their attitude towards the Lord. They were not to adopt an arrogant attitude - 'There's really nothing wrong with us. We're doing all right'. They were to come to God with a real confession of sin: 'The Lord is righteous, yet I rebelled against His command...O Lord,...I have been most rebellious' (18,20). God's blessing will begin again when we confess our sin.

2nd August: Lamentations 2:1-22

Jerusalem's fall into hard times was not 'just one of those things that happens'. God's people brought it on themselves. They did not take God seriously - but God continued to take them seriously. They ignored God - but God did not ignore their disobedience to Him. They sinned against God - and He was angry with them: 'How the Lord in His anger has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud!' (1). This was not just a case of glibly saying, 'The good times will come again'. They needed to recognize why the bad times had come: 'The Lord has...carried out His threat' (17). The Lord had warned His sinful people. Judgment was on its way - if they refused to listen to Him. Now, in the time of His judgment, God is still calling us back to Himself: 'Cry aloud to the Lord!...' (18-19). Will we return to Him?

3rd August: Lamentations 3:1-24

There are times when it seems nothing is going right for us: 'I am the man who has seen affliction...' (1-3). In such times, we must remember this: 'The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end'. When we find ourselves in circumstances of great distress, we must learn to look beyond the things that are happening to us. We must learn to look to the Lord and say, 'Great is Your faithfulness'. It will not be easy to see God at work in our lives when everything seems to be going wrong. We must be patient as we wait for the blessing of the Lord to return to our lives. We must put all our hope in the Lord, trusting in His precious promise: 'The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord' (22-26).

4th August: Lamentations 3:25-42

In our 'grief', we must not forget the 'compassion' of God (32). He understands us. He cares for us. How do we know that God loves us? 'Christ died for us' (Romans 5:8). This is the greatest demonstration of God's love for us. How can we doubt God's love for us when we think of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, dying on the Cross for us as our Saviour? When we think of God's love for us, we must remember that He calls us to love Him. We are not to take God's love for granted - 'God loves me. I can do what I like'. We are to appreciate God's love - 'God loves me. I will love Him'. God loves us. Christ died for us. How can we say, 'I'll do what I like'? How can we refuse to be changed by His love? 'Let us examine our ways and turn back to the Lord. Let us open our hearts to God' (40-41).

5th August: Lamentations 3:43-66

'You came near when I called You...O Lord...You redeemed my life' (57-58). We wonder, 'Will God answer my prayer for salvation?'. Yes! At the Cross of Christ, we learn that God loves us and answers our prayer. 'You did not wait for me to draw near to You, but You clothed yourself in frail humanity. You did not wait for me to cry out to You, but You let me hear Your voice calling me. And I'm forever grateful to You, I'm forever grateful for the Cross; I'm forever grateful to You that You came to seek and save the lost'. 'Thank You for the Cross, the price You paid for us, how You gave Yourself so completely, precious Lord, precious Lord. Now our sins are gone, all forgiven, covered by Your blood, all forgotten, thank You Lord, thank You Lord' (Songs of Fellowship, 631; Mission Praise, 632).

6th August: Lamentations 4:1-22

No human king can even begin to compare with our Lord Jesus Christ, 'the King of kings' (Revelation 19:16). The people of Jerusalem were full of confidence. They 'trusted their king to protect them from every invader'. They thought Jerusalem was invincible: 'No one anywhere, not even rulers of foreign nations, believed that any invader could enter Jerusalem's gates'. They were wrong. They thought it would never happen - but it did! The unthinkable happened! 'They captured the source of our life, the king the Lord had chosen'. Why did it happen? God's Word gives us the reason: 'It happened because of the sins of her prophets and...priests'. The king - 'the Lord's anointed' - was unable to prevent Jerusalem's defeat (12-13,20). Praise God - We have a greater King: our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ!

7th August: Lamentations 5:1-22

'You, O Lord, reign for ever; Your throne endures from generation to generation'. We must remember this when we feel like we have been 'forgotten' by God. When we feel like God has 'abandoned' us, we must remember this: 'You, O Lord, are King for ever, and will rule to the end of time' (19-20). We are not only to pay lip-service to the Lord our King. We are to crown Him as King of our heart and life. How are we to do this? We must pray, 'Bring us back to You, Lord!' (21). God is looking for a real return to Him and a real difference in our lives. 'In your hearts enthrone Him. There let Him subdue all that is not holy, all that is not true...'; 'So let us learn how to serve and in our lives enthrone Him, each other's needs to prefer, for it is Christ we're serving' (Church Hymnary, 300; Mission Praise, 162).

8th August: Proverbs 22:1-29

'So that your trust may be in the Lord, I teach you today, even you' (19). Many people say, 'It's not for me'. They know that others have been greatly blessed through reading God's Word. Still, they do not take the trouble to read God's Word for themselves. They can't be bothered. Receiving God's blessing doesn't really matter that much to them. Don't miss out on God's blessing. God's Word is for 'you'. It's not just for somebody else. It's for you - 'even you'. Some people say, 'I'll read God's Word tomorrow'. When 'tomorrow' comes around, they're still saying the same thing - 'I'll read God's Word tomorrow'! Sadly, their 'tomorrow' never comes. They never get round to reading God's Word. They're missing out on so much. Don't say, 'I'll leave it till tomorrow'. Read God's Word 'today'.

9th August: Proverbs 23:1-18

'Continue in the fear of the Lord all day long. Let reverence for the Lord be the concern of your life'. To those who put Him first in their lives, God gives His great promise of blessing, 'There is surely a future hope for you. You have a bright future. Surely you have a wonderful future ahead of you' (17-18). What a glorious future lies ahead of those who love the Lord: '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)! We must not become 'short-sighted'. We must look ahead to 'the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ'. God has given us 'His very great and precious promises'. Let us press on in 'faith', becoming more and more 'active and effective in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ' (2 Peter 1:3-11).

10th August: Ezekiel 1:1-2:10

'The heavens were opened and I saw visions of God...The Word of the Lord came to Ezekiel'(1:1-2). The Lord opens our eyes to 'see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ' (2 Corinthians 4:4). The Lord speaks to us and we must listen to Him: 'Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening' (1 Samuel 3:9-10). 'The Spirit came into me...Do not be afraid of them or their words' (2:2,6). Through the Spirit, we receive wisdom - 'We have received the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand what God has freely given us' - and strength - 'God strengthens us with power through His Spirit in our inner being' (1 Corinthians 2::12; Ephesians 3:16). 'Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart...Be Thou my Wisdom, Thou my true Word...Be Thou my Battleshield, sword for the fight' (Church Hymnary, 87).

11th August: Ezekiel 3:1-4:17

God speaks to us: 'The Word of the Lord came to me' (3:16). We speak to God: "Ah, Lord God!' (4:14). We speak for God: "When I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, "This is what the Lord God says, Whoever will listen, let him listen...' (3:27). How can we keep on listening to God, speaking to God and speaking for God? We need to be strengthened with the power of the Holy Spirit: 'The Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet' (3:24). The Spirit is our 'Helper'. He helps us to listen to God: 'The Holy Spirit will teach you all things' (John 14:26). He helps us to speak to God: 'The Spirit helps us in our weakness' (Romans 8:26). He helps us to speak for God: 'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses' (Acts 1:8).

12th August: Ezekiel 5:1-6:14

'Because you have defiled My sanctuary...I Myself will withdraw My favour' (5:11). To those who despise His Word and treat the place of prayer with contempt, Jesus still speaks His Word of judgment: 'My House will be called a House of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves' (Matthew 21:13). God is warning us: "You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Return to Me and change the way you think and act. If you don't change, I will come to you and remove your lamp from its place' (Revelation 2:4-5). When God removes His blessing, there is nothing left but 'a desolate waste' (6:14). Make sure you don't become like Samson - '"I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free". He did not know that the Lord had left him' (Judges 16:20).

13th August: 2 Peter 1:1-2:10a

God 'has given us His very great and precious promises' (1:4). God has a great purpose for us. He is preparing for us 'a rich welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ' (11). The pathway to heavenly and eternal glory is not an easy one. Often, we will be tempted to settle for being 'ineffective and unproductive in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ'. There will be many distractions, drawing our attention away from Christ. We must keep our eyes on Him if we are not to become 'blind and short-sighted'. We can so easily forget the most important thing - we have been 'cleansed from our old sins'. It is so important that we keep looking to Christ, remembering what He has done for us and giving thanks to Him (1:8-9). 'The Lord' will not fail us in our 'trials' (2:9). Let's not fail Him!

14th August: 2 Peter 2:10b-3:18

'Grow' in Christ and give 'glory' to Him. Centred on 'our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ', our life is filled with 'grace' and 'glory'. From Him, we receive 'grace' - 'From the fulness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another'. From Him, we receive 'glory' - 'I have given them the glory that You gave Me' (3:18; John 1:16; 17:22). Where does this life of grace and glory begin? It begins with God. In ourselves, there is sin. In Him, there is salvation. 'He is patient with us'. He waits for us to 'come to repentance'. He shows us our sin so that we might learn to look to our Saviour - 'Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation' (3:9; 2 Corinthians 7:10). Turn to the Lord. Let it be real. Let Him lead you in His pathway - the pathway of grace and glory.

15th August: Psalms 125:1-127:5

'Those who trust in the Lord...cannot be moved...'. When we put our trust in the Lord, we are like the 'wise man who built his house on the rock'. His house 'did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock'. When we do not put our trust in the Lord, we are like the'foolish man who built his house on sand'. His house 'fell with a great crash'. 'Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain' (125:1; 127:1; Matthew 7:24-27). 'Jesus Christ' is the 'sure Foundation' upon which our faith is built. He is 'the solid Rock', our 'mighty Rock of spiritual refreshment' (1 Corinthians 3:11; 10:3-4; Church Hymnary, 10,411). 'Christ died for our sins...He was raised on the third day'. Let us rejoice in Him: 'The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy' (126:3; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

16th August: Ezekiel 7:1-8:18

'This is what the Sovereign Lord says to the land of Israel: The end!' (7:2). Why did God say, 'This is "the end"'? He had been taking a good look at what was going on among His people: 'the utterly detestable things the house of Israel is doing here, things that will drive Me far from My sanctuary' (8:6). He came to this conclusion - 'This is the end of the road. It's the end of the time of blessing. It's now time for judgment': "The end is now upon you and I will unleash My anger against you. I will judge you according to...all your detestable practices...' (7:3-4). Why did God say, 'This is "the end"' - the end of a time of blessing, the beginning of a time of judgment? The answer is clear: If there is no obedience, there can be no blessing. Disobedience can lead to only one thing - judgment.

17th August: Ezekiel 9:1-10:22

For many people, the time of blessing had come to an end and the time of judgment had begun. Some, however, would escape the judgment, They had been obedient to God. He protected them in the time of judgment: 'Put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done...Do not touch anyone who has the mark' (9:4,6). They were marked out as God's faithful people. They had continued to worship the Lord when so many others were turning away from Him. For many people, life can be summed up in these sad words: 'The glory of the Lord departed'(10:18). 'I looked and I saw...' (10:1,9): In a time when many show no interest in the Lord, there are those who look to Him and catch a glimpse of His glory - 'the glory of the God of Israel was above them' (10:19).

18th August: Psalms 128:1-129:8

'Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways' (128:1). If we are to enjoy the Lord's blessing, we must fear Him and walk in His ways. Many people despise the place of worship. They 'pass by'. They have no desire to know 'the blessing of the Lord'. God warns us that we must not allow this attitude to grow in us: 'May all who hate Zion be put to shame'. We must take care that our love for the Lord doesn't 'wither' away. We must keep on praying that our love for Him will 'grow'. If we place no value on the Lord's blessing, our lives will be empty. Come to the Lord with this prayer: 'The greatest thing in all my life is knowing You, loving You, serving You. I want to know You more, love You more, serve You more'. He will 'fill' your life with His blessing (129:5-8; Mission Praise, 646).

19th August: Ezekiel 11:1-12:16

God speaks to us about our sin - 'Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people' - and His salvation - 'I will...put a new spirit in them...' (12:2; 11:19-20). We must receive' with humility, the bad news concerning our sin - 'The wages of sin is death' - before we can receive, with gladness, the Good News concerning God's salvation - 'The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Romans 6:23). God wants each of us to be saved: 'The Lord ...does not want anyone to perish; He wants everyone to turn away from their sins' (2 Peter 3:9). To those who refuse to be saved, dismissing the bad news concerning their sin and closing their hearts to the Good News concerning God's salvation, God speaks His Word or warning: '...I will punish them for what they have done' (11:21).

20th August: Ezekiel 12:17-13:23

'Hear the Word of the Lord!' (13:2). God's Word warns us: 'The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths'. When we see this happening, we must commit ourselves to the Lord, living as His faithful servants: 'As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry' (2 Timothy 4:3-5). When people are looking for a 'feel good' type of message, a message with plenty of entertainment and no real challenge, we must remember this: God's Word is to be used for 'teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness...' (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

21st August: 1 John 1:1-2:17

'Jesus Christ' died 'for our sins'. This is Good News. It is not to be kept to ourselves - He died 'for the sins of the whole world'. We have 'fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ'. 'We have fellowship with one another'. These blessings are not to be kept to ourselves. We must share the Good News - 'the blood of Jesus, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin'. We must seek to bring others into 'fellowship' - not only 'with us' but, 'with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ' (2:1-2; 1:3,7). We are called to a life of obedience - 'he who does the will of God lives for ever'. This obedience comes from our experience of God's love. 'The love of the Father' leads to 'love for the Father': 'We love' God 'because He first loved us' (15-17; 4:19). Let's love the Lord - and do His will.

22nd August: Ezekiel 14:1-15:8

'Some of the elders of Israel came to' Ezekiel. He spoke the Word of the Lord to them: 'Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!' (14:1,8). This may not have been what they wanted to hear. It was what God wanted them to hear. They did not want to hear this, but they needed to hear it. God was warning them what would happen if they did not make a real return to Him: 'I will make the land desolate because they have been unfaithful' (15:8). God's Word demands a response. What will our response be? Will we say, 'We don't want the Lord "to reign over us"' (Luke 19:14)? Will we be, like Peter, who 'took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him...' (Matthew 16:22)? Don't be like those who dismiss God's Word with arrogant pride. Listen to His Word, and let Him change you.

23rd August: Ezekiel 16:1-34

Without Christ, we are naked and dirty. He covers our nakedness and washes away our dirtiness (8-9). He is our Saviour. We must come to Him with this prayer: 'Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Saviour, I die' (Church Hymnary, 83). God hears and answers this prayer. He has given us His promise: 'Whoever comes to Me, I will never drive away' (John 6:37). When God has heard and answered our prayer for salvation, we have this joyful testimony: 'I delight greatly in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness' (Isaiah 61:10). We rejoice in this: 'He saved us by washing away our sins' (Titus 3:5).

24th August: Ezekiel 16:35-63

God calls His unfaithful people to listen to His Word: 'You prostitute, hear the Word of the Lord!' (35). He speaks to them of 'sin, righteousness and judgment' (John 16:8). He shows them their sin - 'your filthiness and your nakedness' (36). He speaks to them as the righteous God, the God of perfect holiness - 'Your eyes are too holy to look at evil. You cannot stand the sight of people doing wrong' (Habakkuk 1:13). He warns them that there will be judgment: 'I will judge you" (38). Why does God speak to us of sin, righteousness and judgment? This is His way of bringing us to repentance - 'I will make you stop being a prostitute' - and salvation - "My anger will be over, and I will be calm' (41-42). Our sin is great, but our Saviour is greater - 'Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin...Praise His Name!'.

25th August: Psalms 130:1-131:3

We are not to pray to God with superficial words that don't mean very much to us. Our prayer is to be a real cry from the heart: 'Out of depths I cry to You, O Lord' (130:1). We are to 'cry for mercy' with a deep awareness of how sinful we really are: 'If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?' (130:3). We must come to God with deep humility - 'My heart is not proud, O Lord' (131:1). When we truly confess our sin, we recive God's 'unfailing love' and 'forgiveness' (4). 'In the Lord' we have 'full redemption' (7). It is for 'now' - 'The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives'. It is 'for evermore' - 'But purer and higher and greater will be our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see!'. 'Praise the Lord!...Give Him the glory!' (131:3; Church Hymnary, 374).

26th August: Ezekiel 17:1-24

To those who adopt a 'rebellious' attitude to Him, God speaks His Word of warning. They shall 'not escape' His judgment (12,18). To those who abandon this attitude of rebellion, there is a way of salvation. In verses 22 to 24, we have a prophecy which looks forward to the coming of the Messiah, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This prophecy ends with God's promise: 'I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it'. God has fulfilled His promise. He has sent His Son to be our Saviour (Matthew1:22-23). We now await the fulfilment of prophecy concerning Christ's Return: 'I will come again'; 'This same Jesus...will come back'; 'The Lord Himself will come down from heaven'. He says, "I am coming soon'. We say, 'Come, Lord Jesus' (John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonoians 4:16; Revelation 22:20).

27th August: Ezekiel 18:1-32

'The soul that sins shall die' (4). 'If a man is righteous...he shall surely live' (5-9) What hope is there for us? If we look with honesty into our own hearts, we discover this dark truth concerning ourselves: 'None is righteous...All have sinned' (Romans 3:10,23). Is there any Good News for us? Is there a way that leads to eternal life? 'Suppose there is a truly good man, righteous and honest...' (4). Is there such a man? Is there a man concerning whom God says, 'That man is righteous; he will surely live' (9). Yes! There is! Who is this man? What does the Word of God tell us about him? He is Jesus Christ, our Saviour. He 'died for our sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God' (1 Peter 3:18). We put our faith in Him. He gives us 'eternal life'. We 'pass from death to life' (1 John 5:11-13; John 5:24).

28th August: 1 John 2:18-3:18

Through faith in Jesus Christ, 'the Son of God', we receive 'eternal life' (22-25; John 20:31). Our enjoyment of eternal life has already begun - 'we are God's children now'. Our full enjoyment of eternal life is still to come: 'It does not yet appear what we shall be...'. We have begun to experience Christ's victory: 'The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil'. We look forward to our full enjoyment of His victory: 'When He appears, we shall be like Him...' (2,8). Some will try to 'deceive' us. We must keep our eyes on Christ - 'He laid down His life for us'. We have received His 'love'. We must show His love - 'Let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth' (7,16,18). Do you believe in Christ? Live the life. Be a believer - in deed'!

29th August: Ezekiel 19:1-14

There is real sadness here. It is the sadness of God - as He looks upon the sinfulness of His people. If we truly love the Lord, we will have great sadness when we see people turning away from the Lord and ruining their lives. We have joy in the Lord - 'Rejoice in the Lord always' (Philippians 4:4). There is also 'great sorrow' in our hearts when we think of those who refuse to come to Christ for salvation. This 'sorrow' leads us to pray: 'My heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved' (1,14; Romans 9:2; 10:1). Let us pray for our 'dry and thirsty land'. Pray that God will come to our 'wilderness': 'He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth'. Pray that people will 'return to the Lord'. Pray that they will 'press on to know the Lord' (13; Hosea 6:1-3).

30th August: Ezekiel 20:1-26

What great things God did for His people, Israel. He 'brought them out of the land of Egypt'. He led them to 'a land flowing with milk and honey' (6). Think of what God has done for us. He has brought us out of our sin and into His salvation: 'He called you out of darkness into His marvellous light' (1 Peter 2:9). Saved by the Lord, Israel was to live for the Lord: 'I am the Lord your God. Obey My laws and My commands' (19). We have been saved by the Lord: 'You have been saved by grace through faith. This is not your own doing. It is the gift of God'. He calls us to live for Him. We have been 'saved...for good works'. Our 'good works' are to 'bring glory to our Father in heaven' (Matthew 5:16). Let us 'walk in the light', rejoicing in our Saviour - 'the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin' (1 John 1:7).

31st August: Ezekiel 20:27-49

Here, we have a clear statement of God's purpose for our lives: 'Through you I intend to display My holiness for all the nations to see' (41). He wants other people to notice that we are different. He wants them to see that we have been changed by Him: 'As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him' (2 Corinthians 3:18). This is to be our testimony: 'What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart!...I have ceased from my wandering and going astray since Jesus came into my heart! And my sins which were many are all washed away since Jesus came into my heart!' (Mission Praise, 748). May God help us to live as 'a new creation', being 'renewed every day'. Make it 'your aim' to 'live for Him' and 'please Him' (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:9,15,17).


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