Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from February, 2020

We Have Forgotten God. He Never Forgets Us.

Hosea 5:15-7:16 We are to leave the old way of sinful disobedience and follow the new way of faith and obedience: ‘Come, let us return to the Lord... Let us press on to know the Lord’. As we return to the Lord, pressing on to know Him, His blessing returns to us. He leads us in the way of fruitfulness: ‘He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth’(6:1,3). We must not be like those who react to God’s Word with ‘pride’: ‘They do not return to the Lord their God’. God longs to ‘redeem’ them, yet they ‘rebel against’ Him: ‘They do not turn to the Most High God’(7:10,13,16). Our ‘love’ for God is not to be ‘like the early dew that disappears’. Let us ‘acknowledge our guilt and seek His face’. Let us love Him with a ‘steadfast love’(5:15; 6:4,6). Hosea 8:1-9:17 ‘Israel’ had ‘forgotten’ and ‘forsaken’ the Lord (8:14). We have not remembered the Lord. We have turned away from Him. We have forgotten Him. We have been ‘unfaithful’ to Him. T

What Kind Of People Are We Becoming?

Hosea 1:1-3:5 ‘Hosea’ means ‘salvation’. Married to ‘an adulterous wife’, Hosea spoke with great compassion to ‘the land’ which was ‘guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord’(1:2). He brought God’s Word of love to the people: ‘I will show My love to the one I called, “Not My loved one”’. He spoke to them of the life-changing power of God’s love: ‘I will say to those called, “Not My people”, and they will say, “You are My God”’(2:23). He brought a Word of hope to God’s people: ‘The Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God... They will come trembling to the Lord and to His blessings in the last days’(3:5). His words of hope point us to our Saviour, Jesus Christ - ‘In these last days, God has spoken to us by His Son’(Hebrews 1:2). Hosea 4:1-5:14 We read here of Israel’s rebellion against God: ‘A spirit of prostitution leads them astray. They are unfaithful to their God... A spirit of prostitution is in their heart. They do not acknowledge t

Kept By The Power Of God

Philippians 1:1-2:11 Do you feel like you can`t go on? Do you feel like giving up? Here`s God`s Word of encouragement for you: ‘He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the Day of Jesus Christ’(1:6). God finishes what He starts - ‘He didn`t bring us this far to leave us. He didn`t teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn`t build His home in us to move away. He didn`t lift us up to let us down’. In all the changes of life, we must remember this: God is faithful. His love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. We don`t keep going because we are strong. We are ‘kept by the power of God’(1 Peter 1:5). In ‘humility’ let us live ‘to the glory and praise of God’(2:3; 1:11). ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’(2:11) - He will give you the strength to keep going when you feel like giving up.

More Of Christ And Less Of Self!

1 Corinthians 5:1-6:11 ‘Your boasting is not good’ - May we never become so taken up with ourselves that we forget Jesus Christ and all that He has done for us: ‘Christ, ou r Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us’, ‘you were washed... sanctified... justified in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God’ (5:6-7; 6:11). There were problems among God’s people - ‘sexual immorality’, ‘lawsuits’ (5:1; 6:7). In all of this, Christ was being forgotten. * There are no depths to which we cannot sink when we take our eyes off Christ. * There are no heights to which we will not be raised as we look away from ourselves to Him. Christ is able to lift from the guttermost and ‘save to the uttermost all those who come to God through Him’ ( Hebrews 7:25 ). Let it be more of Christ and less of self!

When, Lord, we pray for Your blessing, help us not to think only of ourselves.

Psalms 52:1-53:6 “I am like a green olive tree in the House of God” (Psalm 52:9). Here, Lord, we have a picture of growth and fruitfulness. In Your House, we can grow spiritually. In Your House, we can become spiritually fruitful. When, Lord, we pray for Your blessing, help us not to think only of ourselves. Help us to pray for all of Your people – “Oh, that salvation for Israel would come from Zion.” “Restore the fortunes of Your people.” May all of Your people “rejoice and be glad” (Psalm 53:6).

Do You Feel Useless? You Can Become Useful.

Philemon 1-25 ‘He was useless... now he has become useful’(11). This is the story of Onesimus (the name means ‘useful’). A runaway ‘slave’, he became ‘a beloved brother... in the Lord’(16). It appears that Onesimus had stolen from his master, Philemon (18-19). He landed up in prison - and there, he was converted! This is what Paul is telling us when he speaks of ‘Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment’(10). Why did God allow Paul, His faithful servant, to land up in prison - for the sake of the Gospel? Part of the reason was Onesimus. God wanted Paul to meet Onesimus. Paul was to lead Onesimus to Christ. Sometimes, our difficult circumstances may feel like a prison sentence. You want to get out, but you can’t - until God has fulfilled His purpose: the ‘useless’ becomes ‘useful’- in the service of God.

Come To Christ And Find Salvation In Him Alone.

Genesis 7 What was going on outside of the ark is contrasted with the haven of salvation inside the ark. We read that, once all were in the ark, "the Lord closed the door behind them" (v. 16). What was it that made the ark a place of salvation? - The Lord. What is it that makes Jesus Christ the Source of our salvation? - "God has given Him the Name that is above every name, the Name of our salvation" (Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 4:12). This is the spiritual significance of what we read in Genesis concerning the flood: "Salvation is of the Lord"(Jonah 2;9). Christ is the Door. Those who enter through Him will be saved (John 10:9). We must listen to what God says concerning salvation. If we listen to what the world says, we will conclude that all will be saved. If we listen to the Lord, we will come to Christ and find salvation in Him alone. From the ark, we learn of (a) the one way of salvation - The ark had only one door. Jesus is 'the Doo

Help And Hope - From The Lord

God is calling us to live as "righteous people" (Psalm 58:10-11). When we face hostile persecution, our only hope is in the Lord: “God is my Stronghold, my merciful God” (Psalm 59:9,17). Looking to the Lord, we pray, “Give us help against the enemy because human assistance is worthless” (Psalm 60:11). Trusting in the Lord, we have this confidence: “With God, we will display great strength. He will trample our enemies” (Psalm 60:12). Knowing that god is with us as the God of our salvation, we can say, with glad assurance of faith, “I will triumph!” (Psalm 60:6). We are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Whatever Satan does, he will not succeed. We have the victory in Christ.

We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

Leviticus 1:1-2:16 We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). In His death for us, we see Your love for us. Help us to come to the Cross of Christ. Help us to worship You in the beauty of holiness. Help us to celebrate Your love in the spirit of thanksgiving.

Lord, You are holy. We are sinners.You see our sin - and You keep on loving us.

Leviticus 9:1-10:20 Lord, You are holy. We are sinners. You see our sin - and You keep on loving us. We see Jesus - and we know that You will never stop loving us. Help us, Lord, to confess our sin and to receive Your forgiveness. Lead us out of our sin and into Your holiness - and help us to give all the glory to You.

Lord, You call us to "worship You in spirit and in truth."

Lev i ticus 22:17-23:44 Lord, You call us to "worship You in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Where does true worship come from? - It comes from You. It comes from Your Spirit. It comes from Your Truth. We read the Holy Scriptures - and we begin to worship You. We open our hearts to the Holy Spirit - and the spirit of praise grows stronger in us. We listen to the voice of our Holy Saviour - and He leads in the pathway of true worship. True worship comes from You: "Fill Thou our life, O Lord our God, in every part with praise."

New Life!

Leviticus 17:1-18:30 Through the shed blood of Christ, we have peace with God and eternal life (Leviticus 17:11; Romans 5:1-2,8-10). We have received new life in Christ. Now, we are to leave our sinful past behind us. We are to live a new life as those who belong to Christ (Leviticus 18:1-5; Romans 6:12-14; Romans 12:1-2).

Lord, You are the God of perfect holiness. You are the God of perfect love.

Leviticus 18:24-19:37 Lord, You are the God of perfect holiness. You are the God of perfect love. You call us to a life of holiness. You call us to a life of love. How are to live this life of holiness and love? We need the Holy Spirit - the Spirit of love. Without Him, we cannot even begin to live this new life - the life of holiness and love. We thank You, Lord, that You have not left us to live this life in our own strength - "the Holy Spirit ... lives in us" (2 Timothy 1:14).

We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, died - so that we might live.

Leviticus 17:1-18:23 We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, died - so that we might live. He was forsaken by You - so that we might live with You. We think of Jesus, suffering for us - "In my place, condemned, He stood." We think of the blessing that He brings to us: "Sealed my pardon with His blood." Here-and-now, there's a song of praise, arising in our hearts - but there's more than that: We look forward to the full glory of Your heavenly and eternal glory: "When He comes, our glorious King, all His ransomed home to bring, then anew this song we'll sing: Alleluia! What a Saviour!"

Lord, help us never to think, "We are blessed because we are obedient."

Leviticus 26:1-46 Lord, help us never to think, "We are blessed because we are obedient." Help us always to say, "We are blessed because You love us and Jesus died for us." Your love for us, Jesus' death for us:  This is where the blessing comes from - and it's where our obedience comes from! We think of Your great love for us. We think of Jesus, crucified for us.  We say, "Lord, You love me. Help me to love You." We say, "Jesus, You died for me. Help me to live for You." This is how Your blessing comes to us - You show us how much You love us, You put Your love into our hearts, the obedience grows stronger - and so does the blessing!

We thank You, Lord, that "the vilest offender, who truly believes, that moment, from Jesus, a pardon receives."

Leviticus 13:47-14:32 We thank You, Lord, that "the vilest offender , who truly believes, that moment, from Jesus, a pardon receives." By faith, we receive Your forgiveness - but we never earn Your forgiveness. Forgiveness is always Your gift. It's never a reward. By faith, we look away from ourselves. We look to Jesus, our Saviour. We do not say, "How great is my faith." We say, "How great is my Saviour."

A Hopeless Situation?

For Jerusalem, the situation seemed to be hopeless. Humanly speaking, everything looked very gloomy. This was the situation into which the word of the Lord came. Often, our feelings may tell us, “My enemies have triumphed” (Lamentations 1:9). These are the times when we must learn to look beyond our feelings, believing that God has His Word for us, and it is a Word of victory. There is so much, in Lamentations 2, about God’s judgment. It is, however, encouraging to read the words of Lamentations 2:13 – God’s people are described as the “beloved people of Zion.” Beloved – This is a great word. God used this word to describe Jesus – His Beloved Son. We are in Christ. We are in the Beloved. We are God’s Beloved. We are loved with an everlasting love. At the heart of this book, in which there is much lamentation, we find words of great encouragement – “Great is Thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23). The Lord is assuring us that, whatever may happen to us, here is somethin

Praying Through God’s Word: Jude

“Certain men whose condemnation was written long ago have secretly slipped in among you … godless men … ” (Jude 4). What are we to do when this happens? Your Word tells us: “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21). How are we to do this when the pull toward evil seems to be getting stronger all the time? There is something we must never forget: You, Lord, are “able to keep us from falling” (Jude 24).

God Doesn't Give Up On Us!

Jonah tried to run away from the Lord. The Lord protected Jonah (Jonah 1:17). The Lord hadn’t given up on Jonah. God had a purpose for Jonah. What a great purpose it was! The call of God (Jonah 1:1-2) wasn’t obeyed by Jonah – but the call of God remained. God was still planning to use Jonah to bring great blessing to the people of Nineveh. Jonah’s attempt to go to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3) was a detour – but God had not forgotten His plan for Jonah. The “big fish” was the beginning of God’s way of getting Jonah to the place where He wanted him to be. The “three days and three nights” were God’s way of getting Jonah ready for being His faithful and fruitful servant. In this time of preparation for service, there is prayer (Jonah 2:1-10). Jonah’s prayer was preparing the way for revival in Nineveh. “From inside the fish…” – Not a great place to be; Jonah prayed to the Lord our God” – Can prayer change things? – Yes! “I called to the Lord in my distress, and He answered me” (J

Truth - And Faith

John 17 - This is such a great prayer. At the heart of it, we have these great words, “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). True prayer is always grounded in truth. There is a conversation between ourselves and God. God initiates this conversation. From Him, there is revelation. From us, there is response. Revelation comes first. He speaks to us. Then, we speak to Him. In our world, there are many voices. There is one voice which must not be drowned out: the voice of God. “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17).Where does our faith come from? It comes from the Lord. He has spoken to us in His Word. He is still speaking to us. Are we listening to Him? We’re not to come to the Word of God with the attitude that says, “This is true. That’s not true.” On what basis do we say, “This is true. That’s not true”? We may come to some parts of the Bible and say, “That speaks to me.” We may come to other parts of the Bible and say, “That doesn’t speak to me.” What are we saying when we say t

Bring Your Sin To The Saviour Of Sinners.

John 8:34-36 Sin is our greatest problem. What are we to do about it? We ask the question, "What are we to do about sin?" We ask this question, and, then, we ask another question, "What can we do about it?" When we realize how big a problem sin is, we became aware that we need help. We need more than self-help. We need salvation. This cannot come from ourselves. Salvation must be given to us. It must come from outside of ourselves. It must come from above. It must come to us from our Saviour, Jesus Christ. We have a problem with the idea that salvation must come to us from outside. The problem is ourselves. Here, we come to the heart of sin. What is sin? It's self-centredness. G K Chesterton hit the nail on the head when he said, "What's wrong with the world? I am." Sin is our problem. Salvation is God's solution. What is sin? Sin is self-will: "I did it my way" Sin is self-indulgence: "Looking after No. 1" Si

Think of God's faithfulness, and "count your blessings."

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

God's Love - Unchanged, Unchanging And Unchangeable

We read in the Bible about God’s love. Is this just something from the ancient past? Is it for us? The Bible speaks to us from the ancient past – but it’s not to be left in the ancient past. * “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) – This is for us today. He loved the world then. He loves the world now. His love is unchanged . * Sometimes, we start off well. We’re reading the Bible. We’re learning about God’s love. Then something unexpected happens – and we start wondering, “Does God still love me?” Where does that thought come from? Does it come from the Spirit of God? No, it comes from our enemy, Satan. He sows seeds of doubt in our mind. He says, “Do you really think that God loves you?” He contradicts God’s Word – and leaves us very confused (Genesis 3:1-5). When Satan comes to us with his lies, we must remember this: God never stops loving us. We may stop loving Him – but He will never stop loving us. His love is unchanging . * How do we know that God’s love is uncha

Giving thanks to the Lord

Joel 2:21-32 Give thanks to the Lord (Joel 2:21). Joel 2:22-24 - Harvest is a special time for giving thanks to the Lord.  * We look back from the harvest, and we see the character of God (Joel 2:13).  * We look forward from the harvest - to greater blessing: spiritual as well as material (Joel 2:28-29). Note the way of salvation - “Call on the Name of the Lord, and be saved” (Joel 2:32).

Words From God? or Words From Satan?

In Job 20, we hear, again, the voice of Zophar - the ‘so far, so good’ man. His principles concerning the judgment of God on the wicked are all right as far as they go. The problem is that they are general. They are floating over the specific case of Job, without really coming to terms with the real man to whom his harsh words are addressed. Zophar begins his speech with the claim that he has been inspired by God - “a spirit beyond my understanding gives me answer” (Job 20:3). He assumes that this spirit is God. He is, in fact, speaking in the power and service of another spirit - Satan. Zophar is serving Satan, whose purpose is to do down God’s servant, Job. Zophar speaks with arrogance, a ‘know it all’ attitude. He displays the kind of spiritual pride which is characteristic of Satan, the enemy of God and the people of God. Zophar’s speech ends with summarizing words: “This is the reward God gives to the wicked person, the inheritance God appointed for him” (Job 20:29)

The Last Word - From The Lord (Job 38-42)

In His speech, the Lord asks many questions. They underline the fact that God is God, and none can even begin to compare with Him: “Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind” (Job 38:36). Wisdom and understanding come from the Lord. In his response (Job 42:1-6), Job humbles himself before God. At the beginning of the book, Job was close to God - “My servant Job.” At the end of the book, he is even closer to God. This is highlighted in Job 42:5 - “I had heard about You with my own ears, but now I have seen You with my own eyes!” The book ends with the restoration of Job. Before we read of what became of Job, we note God’s Word to Job’s so-called ‘comforters.’ These words are spoken to Eliphaz - “I’m very angry with you and your two friends (Bildad and Zophar) because you didn’t speak what is right about Me as My servant Job has done” (Job 42:7). In this criticism of the ‘comforters’, there is also the divine approval of Job. God was pleased with

Lord, help us to listen for the voice of Your love – and not to be deceived, discouraged, and distressed by words that come to us from Satan.

Job 25:1-27:6 Lord, we hear biting sarcasm in Job’s response to his ‘comforters’: “How you have helped him who has no power! How you have saved the arm that has no strength!” (Job 26:2). We hear Job’s searching question: “With whose help have you uttered words, and whose spirit has me forth from you?” (Job 26:4), and we pray, “Lord, help us to listen for the voice of Your love – and not to be deceived, discouraged, and distressed by words that come to us from Satan.”

We thank You that You are not only the God of great power. You are also the God of great love.

Job 22:1-23:7 Lord, we read Job’s question: “Would He contend with me in the greatness of His power?” We also read his answer: “No; He would give heed to me” (Job 23:6). We thank You that You are not only the God of great power. You are also the God of great love. If You, Lord, were nothing but power, we would have good reason to be terrified of You. At the Cross of Jesus, we see how much You love us. In Jesus’ resurrection, we see Your power. It’s not just the power to do strange and mysterious miracles. It’s the power of Your love – the love that lifts us when we’re down, the love that leads us on to a life, in which there will be “no more death or  mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).

Out of depression and defeat, into vigour and victory

Jeremiah’s message had been ignored. His faith was sorely tested. Despite all of this, he was able to say, “Sing to the Lord! Praise the Lord!” (Jeremiah 20:13). This was not his constant theme. In the very next verse, he says, “Cursed is the day that I was born.” We are pulled this way and that way by a turmoil of confused and confusing emotions. Our heart is a battleground. May the Lord lift us out of depression and defeat. May He lift us into vigour and victory.

We Preach Christ Crucified...

“ We preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23); “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). “No one can redeem the life of another      or give to God a ransom for them —   the ransom for a life is costly,      no payment is ever enough —   so that they should live on forever      and not see decay” (Psalm 49:7-9). We cannot pay the price of our salvation. We cannot buy for ourselves a place in heaven. “ For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). What we can never do for ourselves, Jesus Christ has done for us. He has given His life as a ransom for many. He has paid the price of our salvation. His death is the costly price. By dying on the Cross, Jesus Christ has paid the ransom price.The price is not money. “Can’t buy me love. Money can’t buy me love” (Lennon and McCartney). Money can’t buy salvation. Christ has died. He has paid

The Use of the Bible in Evangelical Preaching Today

If you want to read the list of footnotes, which accompanied the original article, click on this link – The Use of the Bible in Evangelical Preaching Today . _________________________________ Ernest Best was Professor of New Testament at the University of Glasgow. Robert Davidson was Professor of Old Testament at the University of Glasgow. The late George Macleod was the Founder of the Iona Community. Each of these men has exerted a significant influence on the ministry of the church of Scotland. Comments made by Best, Davidson and Macleod provide an appropriate point of departure for this short study concerning contemporary preaching. In his book, From Text to Sermon , Best writes, ‘The preacher … ought to avoid merely using the text as a jumping-off for what he wants to say.’  When invited to introduce a former student ― Rev. Fraser Aitken ― to his first charge, Neilston Parish Church, Davidson preached from Ephesians 3:8, concerning Paul’s description of his ministry in ter

We thank You, Lord, for Your great salvation.

Numbers 21:1-35  We thank You, Lord, for Your great salvation. Nothing comes from ourselves: nothing but our sin - our need of Your salvation. Everything comes from Jesus, our wonderful Saviour. Salvation is never our achievement. It's always Your gift. Help us, Lord, to say with all our heart, "To God be the glory!" Help us to thank You for Jesus, our Saviour - He "opened the life-gate that all may go in." Help us to say, "Praise the Lord."

Praying Through God’s Word: Esther

Esther 1:1-2:18 Our story is a human story. It’s more than that. You, Lord, are in our story – even when we don’t realize it. We find it difficult to put this into words – but we believe it’s true. You are there with us, every step of the way. Esther 2:19-4:17 “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). Esther was ready to put her life on the line. We thank You, Lord, that Jesus did lay down His life. He died for us. Now, because He died in our place, we will live forevermore. Thank You, Lord, for sacrificial love and everlasting life. Esther 5:1-6:14  We read about Mordecai. He nearly lost his life (Esther 5:14). Then, he was honoured by the king (Esther 6:10-11). We look beyond Mordecai to Jesus. We see Jesus, crucified for us. We see Him, risen from the dead (Acts 2:23-24). We thank You, our Father, for Jesus, Your Son. He is our Saviour. He is “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Esther 7:1-8:17 We read about “a foe and enemy! The wicked Haman!” (Esther 7:6). Th