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Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost: Judges 4:1-7; Psalm 123 or Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18; Psalm 90:1-8, (9-11), 12; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30

Our help comes from the Lord. The glory goes to the Lord.
Barak is an example of ‘faith’ (Hebrews 11:32-34). Faith involves believing God’s promise - ‘I will give...’and obeying His command - ‘Go’ (Judges 4:6-7). God still says, ‘Go... I am with you always...’ (Matthew 28:19-20). Barak needed Deborah’s help (Judges 4:8-10). Both needed God’s help - ‘Our sufficiency comes from God’ (2 Corinthians 3:5-6). In Deborah’s song, we learn of the importance of giving all the glory to God: ‘Bless the Lord... To the Lord I will sing, I will make melody to the Lord... Bless the Lord’ (Judges 5:2-3, 9). We are to repeat the triumphs of the Lord’. This is our high calling as ‘the people of the Lord’ (Judges 5:11). ‘Awake, awake, Deborah … Arise, Barak …’ (5:12) – God is still calling His people to wake up, to rise up: ‘Rise up O Church of God, awake!’ (Church Hymnary, 477; Mission Praise, 178).
‘I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the House of the Lord”’ (Psalm 122:2). Why do we go to the House of the Lord? We go ‘to give thanks to the Name of the Lord’ (Psalm 122:4). We seek His mercy for our past sins: ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us!’ (Psalm 123:3). We seek His help for our future temptations: ‘Our help is in the Name of the Lord...’ (Psalm 124:8). As we receive mercy and help from the Lord, we worship Him: ‘Blessed be the Lord’ (Psalm 124:6). In our worship, we ‘look to the Lord our God’, drawing encouragement from His Word: ‘The Lord is on our side’- In Him we have the victory (Psalms 123:2; 124:1-5). Rejoicing in God’s blessing, we pray for others: ‘May they prosper who love You’ (Psalm 122:6).

Worshipping the Lord in Spirit and in truth, we celebrate His great love for us.
‘The great Day of the Lord is near - near and coming quickly... That Day will be a Day of wrath... I will bring distress upon the people... because they have sinned against the Lord’ (Zephaniah 1:14-17). This is God’s Word of warning. He is calling us back to Himself: ‘Seek the Lord - before the fierce anger of the Lord comes upon you, before the Day of the Lord’s wrath comes upon you’. We are to seek the Lord in ‘righteousness’and ‘humility’. This is the way of being ‘sheltered on the Day of the Lord’s anger’ (Zephaniah 2:2-3). God is calling us to ‘worship Him in Spirit and in truth’: ‘Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him. This is the true worship that you should offer’ (John 4:24; Romans 12:1).
‘Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations... From everlasting to everlasting, You are God’ (Psalm 90:1-2). The Bible begins with the words, ‘In the beginning, God...’ Before the world began, there was God - ‘the eternal God’. He is ‘the high and exalted One’. He is the God ‘who inhabits eternity’. He is the God ‘who lives for ever’. He has no beginning. He has no end. He is ‘the beginning and the end’. Our life on earth has a beginning. It has an end. Trusting in ‘the eternal God’, we rejoice in His precious promises - ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’; ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’; ‘The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 33:27; Isaiah 57:15; Revelation 21:6; Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 6:23).

We worship the faithful God. He gives us strength to be faithful to Him.
Do you feel like giving up? God is not about to give up on you: ‘He who calls you is utterly faithful and He will finish what He set out to do’ (1 Thessalonians 5:23). He has a great future for us: ‘God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Thessalonians 5:9). We look forward to the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘The Lord Himself will descend from heaven’ (1 Thessalonians 4:16). We look forward to heavenly and eternal glory: ‘We shall always be with the Lord’ (1 Thessalonians 4:17). This is the kind of encouragement we need. We are to remind one another of these things: ‘Comfort one another with these words’ (1 Thessalonians 4:18). We are ‘to encourage one another’ to go on with the Lord. Let’s ‘build one another up’, encouraging each other to build on ‘the Rock’ which is ‘Christ’ (1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 10:3; Matthew 7:24-27).
We are to be faithful to God (Matthew 25:21). There is a reward for faithfulness (Matthew 25:29; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). Our ‘reward’ is not to get more glory for ourselves: ‘what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord’ (2 Corinthians 4:5). Bringing glory to God - this is to be our greatest joy. We are not to be thinking, ‘What am I going to get out of this?’ We are to be asking, ‘What can I give to others?’ The ‘righteous’ are not full of boasting about their ‘righteous’ actions (Matthew 25:37-38). The Lord’s true servants do not draw attention to themselves. Do you have ‘talents’? Yes - you do! Use them! ‘Serve the Lord with gladness’ (Psalm 100:2). Let this be your ‘reward’: the joyful privilege of bringing blessing to others and glory to God. On earth, we begin to ‘enter the joy of our Lord’ (Matthew 25:21). In heaven, there will be ‘fullness of joy’ and ‘pleasure for evermore’ (Psalm 16:11).

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