Monday, 26 September 2016

Paul, a humble man, who worshipped and served the Lord

1 Timothy 1:12-17
The Lord saved Saul of Tarsus. The Lord changed him. Saul - "blasphemer, persecutor, arrogant man" (1 Timothy 1:13) - became Paul, a humble man, who worshipped and served the Lord.
  *  humble - "worst of sinners" (1 Timothy 1:16)
* worshipper - "Unto the King ... " (1 Timothy 1:17)
* servant - "the ministry ... an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life" (1 Timothy 1:12,16).

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?"

The Kingdom Of God In The Teaching Of Jesus

 * The Kingdom of God does not belong to this world (John 18:36). The Kingdom of God has come into this world (Mark 1:15). God's Kingdom cannot be identified with anything that belongs to this world. The church is not the Kingdom. The church is a signpost. It points us to the Kingdom. It is a sign that the Kingdom has broken into earthly existence.   
 * Jesus has come. The Kingdom has come. When Jesus says that the Kingdom is in the midst of us, He is speaking of His presence in our midst. Where Jesus is, there is the Kingdom. Jesus is the Kingdom.
 * In Christ's first coming, the Kingdom has come. In His Second Coming, the Kingdom will come. Jesus teaches us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come." He is directing our attention to the coming Kingdom. In Jesus' first coming, there is a real coming of the Kingdom. There is also this message, "There is more to come." When we pray, "Thy Kingdom come", we are praying, "Lord, lead us on, from the promise to the fulfilment." Jesus' first coming was a fulfilment. It fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. Jesus' first coming is more than a fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies. It's also a promise that points forward to the ultimate fulfilment, the coming of God's eternal Kingdom.
 * The supreme sign of the Kingdom is Jesus' resurrection. The resurrection follows on from the incarnation (Jesus living among us) and the atonement (Jesus dying for us). The resurrection is God's way of saying, "Jesus really is My Son. Jesus really is your Saviour and Lord." The resurrection also points us to the future.
 * The Kingdom has come. The Kingdom will come. This is the context within which we are to live the Christian life. We have received the Kingdom (Luke 12:32). We have entered the Kingdom (Mark 10:24). We have become sons of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:38). The Kingdom belongs to those who have come to Jesus with simple, childlike faith (Matthew 19:14). The Kingdom has come to us. This is real, but there is more to come. We have only begun to experience the power of God's Kingdom. We must always be longing for more of God, looking forward to the fullness that is still to come.
 * The Kingdom has come. This is Good News (Matthew 4:23; Mark 1:15). Without this Good News, our life is built on sand. With this Good News, our life is built on the Rock, which is Jesus Christ. Building on Christ, we have hope for the future - hope that is more than hoping for the best, hope that is grounded in who Jesus is and what he has done for us.
 * Jesus calls us to put our faith in Him. He calls us to open hearts to Him This what Jesus means when He speaks about entering the Kingdom. We receive the Kingdom when we set aside our own self-righteousness and come as sinners to Jesus, the Saviour of sinners. We receive the Kingdom when we come to Jesus with simple and sincere faith (Mark 2:17; Matthew 18:3; Matthew 11:25). 
 * Jesus calls us to commit ourselves to Him. we are to live as His disciples. We are called to live a life that honours Him, a life upon which His blessing rests (Matthew 5:1-12). 
 * Jesus calls us to prepare ourselves for His return. We are to be grateful for His first coming. We are to have the attitude of gratitude. Thankful to the Lord for what He has done for us, we are to give ourselves in obedience to Him. We are to trust the Lord, and live in obedience to Him. This is the way of receiving joy. This is the way of bringing glory to God.        

A Special Person, A Special Purpose

"Jesus said absolutely nothing in him in reply, so the governor was very surprised" (Matthew 27:14). Jesus had not come to escape death. He had come to die. Pilate was surprised. He did not understand. This was not the normal response. Jesus could not be understood according to the thinking of other people. He was a special person. He had a special purpose. He was heading to the Cross. The place of His suffering was to become the place of our salvation. Thank You, Jesus.

Raised From The Dead!

“God raised Jesus Christ from the dead” (Acts 2:24).

Did this become true only because a lot of people said that it was true? Has it become false because many people refuse to believe that it’s true? No! It’s God’s great miracle. Death has been defeated. There is hope. Death will not triumph over us. Jesus Christ is Lord.

Preaching The Word Of The Lord: Isaiah 40:1-11

This sermon was preached on the first Sunday of 2015.
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.
___

More from this sermon -



Daily Devotional Readings: Year Two - September

1st September: 1 Chronicles 21:1-22:1
'Satan stood up against Israel...' (21:1). 'Satan' is 'the devil' (Revelation 12:7). He is a powerful enemy. We must not underestimate him. In the service of the Lord, we face strong opposition. It is is not merely human - 'our struggle is not against flesh and blood'. It is much more powerful - 'the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms' (Ephesians 6:12). Satan is very powerful. When he wins a victory over you, confess your sin to God and seek His forgiveness, believing that 'His mercy is very great' (8,13). Be careful not to overestimate Satan. Christ is more powerful (Colossians 2: 13-15; Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8). Christ has won the victory. In Him, we have the victory - 'they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb' (Revelation 12:10-11). Keep reminding Satan of Christ's victory. Don't let him forget it!
2nd September: 1 Chronicles 22:2-23:32
We need visionaries. We need managers. We need workers. David was a visionary. He had the original idea of building the Temple. Solomon was a manager. Under his leadership, the vision became a reality. David was important - but he was only involved in the 'preparation' for the building of the Temple (22:5). Solomon was important - 'He shall build a House for My Name' (22:9-10) - but he couldn't do everything. The people were important. They were the workers. Without the workers, the work remains undone. Each of us must play our part. We must 'do the work for the service of the House of the Lord' (23:24). In this work, there is something we must never forget - 'thanking and praising the Lord' (23:30). David, Solomon, the people - they were all important. More important is the Lord. We need Him.
3rd September: 1 Chronicles 24:1-25:31
The work of God was to be done 'as the Lord God of Israel had commanded' (24:19). The Lord is our Commander-in-Chief. No-one else can take His place. Never imagine you're 'the king of the castle'. We're only sinners who've been saved by the grace of God. We're 'the dirty wee rascals' -'all our righteous acts are like filthy rags' (Isaiah 64:6). That's what we are in ourselves - nothing more than 'dirty wee rascals'. The Lord has done something wonderful for us. He has given us new clothes - 'the clothes of salvation' (Isaiah 61:10). Let's never 'get too big for our boots'. There's only one 'King of the Castle'. Let us 'exalt Him' - 'You, O Lord are exalted for ever' (25:5; Psalm 92:8). 'The Lord reigns...'. Let's be content to be 'Castle Kids' - 'children of the living God' (Psalm 93:1; Romans 9:26).
4th September: Colossians 1:1-2:7
'In everything' Christ is 'pre-eminent' (18). In Him, there is salvation - 'redemption, the forgiveness of sins' (14) - , sanctification - 'mature in Christ' (28) - and service - making Him known (27). Everything is in Christ. In Him are 'all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge' (2:3) - all that we need for salvation, sanctification and service. We must go on with Him - 'Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him' (2:6). How are we to live in Him? - 'rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness' (2:7). Remember all that the Lord has done for you. Give thanks to Him. He has loved you so much. He has done so much for you. Let gratitude be your attitude. Filled with His strength, we will go from strength to strength.
5th September: Colossians 2:8-3:17
Be what you already are. Be what God has made you in Christ. This is what God is saying to us here. 'You have been raised with Christ...You died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God' (1,3). Paul is describing the new birth. Christ has made His home in us. New life has begun. Now that Christ lives in us - what are we to do about it? How are we to live? - 'Set your hearts and minds on things above' (1-2). This is how we are to live. We are to live out the life which God has put into our hearts. The new life begins when Christ comes to live in us. It does not end there. That is only the beginning. We are to go on, 'being renewed in knowledge after the image of our Creator' (3:10). Christ wants to reign in us. He wants to enrich our lives (3:15-16). In Him, there is so much blessing. Let's enjoy it!
6th September: Colossians 3:18-4:18
God calls us to pray - 'Devote yourselves to prayer'. We are to pray with concern - 'watchful'. We are to pray with gratitude - 'thankful' (2). We are to pray for those who preach God's Word. Thank God for the past. Trust Him for the future. Remember - the important thing is the 'message' (3). The messengers are just 'jars of clay'. The message is the 'treasure' (2 Corinthians 4:7). The messengers must not draw attention to themselves. They must direct attention away from themselves to Jesus Christ - 'We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord' (2 Corinthians 4:5). We are to pray that the message will be 'clear' (4). Pray for good preaching - preaching which does you good, giving you good cause to say in your heart, 'For me it is good to be near God' (Psalm 73:28). Pray for preaching which glorifies God.
7th September: 1 Chronicles 26:1-27:34
We are called to serve God. At the heart of our service, there is this - 'ministering in the House of the Lord' (26:12). Part of our worship involves the dedication of 'gifts for the maintenance of the House of the Lord' (26:27). There is more to serving God than worshipping Him in His House. There is more to serving God than supporting the work which takes place within His House. We are to serve Him in the world. When our service of worship ends, our service in the world begins. We must offer our whole life to God - not only the 'religious' part. For God's people, there were responsibilities outside of the House of the Lord - 'the service of the king' and 'the affairs of the king'. We are to serve God in our everyday life. This is part of our obedience to God. Be faithful in 'all the work of the Lord', 'in everything pertaining to God' (26:30,32).
8th September: 1 Chronicles 28:1-29:5
Some servants of the Lord complete their ministry without seeing their vision becoming a reality. This is what happened to David. He had the initial idea - 'I had my heart set on building the Temple...'. He had begun thinking about how the Temple could be built - 'I made preparations for building'. It was not to be - 'God said to me, "You may not build a House for My Name"'. This was not, however, God's last Word to David. There was also a Word of hope - 'It is Solomon your son who shall build My House' (28:2-3,6). Solomon was 'young and inexperienced'. He was taking on a huge task. He needed God's Word of encouragement - '...the Lord God is with you...'. He needed the support of the people - 'all the people will be wholly at your command'. Let us 'dedicate ourselves to the Lord today' (28:20-29:1,5).
9th September: 1 Chronicles 29:6-30
The Temple of the Lord did not come easily. It had to be built. This involved God's people in much sacrificial giving. This was a great challenge. The Lord's people rose to the challenge. They gave to the Lord - joyfully, generously and wholeheartedly (9). This giving was an expression of their worship. They were saying to the Lord, 'Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty' (10). Worshipping the Lord like this transforms our giving. It is no longer a legalistic burden - "Why do I have to give so much?". It becomes our joyful privilege. Our giving becomes thanksgiving. We thank the Lord for all that He has done for us. Let us give 'with great gladness' - 'Our God, we thank You...Everything comes from You. We give only what has come from Your hands' (22, 13-14).
10th September: Psalm 38:1-22
What a sorry state of affairs we have here! - 'My guilt has overwhelmed me. Like a heavy load, it is more than I can bear' (4). What are we to do when things are going from bad to worse? What are we to do when everything seems to be falling apart? We must do what the Psalmist does - 'I wait with hope for You, O Lord' (15). The Psalmist was 'completely devastated'. His 'heart was in turmoil'. He looked to his friends for help, but they were not there - 'My loved ones and friends keep their distance' (8,11). Despised and forsaken by his friends, there was only one thing for it - 'Take it to the Lord in prayer'. There is 'a Friend so faithful'. He 'knows our every weakness'. He 'will share all our sorrows'. This Friend is Jesus. He will be there for us when there's nowhere else to go (Mission Praise, 746).
11th September: Proverbs 14:20-35
'Righteousness lifts up a nation, but sin is a disgrace in any society' (34). Our nation can flourish again - by the preaching of God's Word and the praising of God's Name. Times of blessing can come again - if we will listen to God's Word and sing His praise. Times of blessing will not come if we refuse to listen to the Lord, if we will not worship Him. We are living in difficult times - 'dark powers are poised to flood our streets with hate and fear'. We must learn to see things as God sees them - 'You stand appalled to see Your laws of love so scorned and lives so broken. Pray for mercy - 'Have mercy, Lord'. Pray for revival - 'Revive Your Church again'. Pray that Christ's 'glorious Cross shall tower triumphant in this land'. Pray that 'righteousness' will flow 'like a never-failing stream' (Mission Praise, 509).
12th September: Psalm 39:1-13
Some live to a ripe old age. Some die young. How does God view our time on this earth? - This is what the Psalmist says, 'My life span is nothing compared with Yours' (5). The quality of our living is more important than the quantity of our years. "How am I living?'- This is the question of quality. It is more important than the question of quantity - "How long have I lived?". "What am I doing with my life?" - This is the question each of us must answer. Life is not only about survival - living for a long time. It is about revival - living in the light of eternity. The Psalmist asks the question - 'Lord, what am I waiting for?'. He gives his answer - 'My hope is in You' (7). Let us live as 'citizens of heaven' - 'We look forward to the Lord Jesus Christ coming from heaven as our Saviour' (Philippians 3:20).
13th September: 2 Chronicles 1:1-2:18
'Give me wisdom' (1:10). What is the greatest wisdom of all? - It is the 'wisdom' which leads to 'salvation through faith in Christ Jesus'. Where do we find this wisdom? - Read 'the Holy Scriptures'. Ask God for wisdom - 'Open my eyes that I may see the wonderful truths in Your Word'. Ask the question concerning salvation - 'What must I do to be saved?'. God will give you His answer - 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved' (2 Timothy 3:15; Psalm 119:18; Acts 16:31). Salvation cannot be earned. It can only be received as a gift. It is 'the gift of God' (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8). What is wisdom? - It is to say, with Solomon, 'Our God is greater than all other gods' (2:5). Nothing else and no-one else can even begin to compare with the Lord. Be wise. Build your life on Him (Matthew 7:24-27).
14th September: 2 Chronicles 3:1-5:1
'Work in the Temple of the Lord' (4:11; 5:1) is no ordinary work. This work is 'most holy' (3:8,10; 4:22). Real work for the Lord emerges out of true worship of the Lord. If we are to be the Lord's workers, we must first be His worshippers. Worship comes first. This is vitally important. Take away worship from the place of highest priority, and you have nothing left - nothing which can really be called the work of the Lord. You may have busy people, doing this, that and the other, but you will not have servants of the Lord doing the work of the Lord - without worship. We sometimes ask, "Where are the workers?". God asks, "Where are the worshippers?". Begin to worship the Lord. Keep on worshipping Him. Worship the Lord, and let Him show you 'what you must do' (Acts 9:3-6).
15th September: Psalm 40:1-17
We have been saved by the Lord: 'He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my feet secure' (2). He calls us to a life of worship and witness. We are to worship Him with 'a new song...a song of praise to our God' (3). We are to be His witnesses, sharing with others the Good News of His salvation: 'I have not hid Thy saving help within my heart, I have spoken of Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation...' (10). God has given out His call to worship and witness. May our response be like the Psalmist's: 'I delight to do Thy will, O my God'. Let us worship the Lord - 'Great is the Lord'. Let us be His witnesses - 'I have told the glad news of deliverance'. Let us pray for the Lord's help: 'let Thy steadfast love and Thy faithfulness ever preserve me!' (8,16,9,11).
16th September: Proverbs 15:1-33
'The path of life leads upward for the wise' (24). The wisdom which leads upward is centred on Christ. He is the Way to the 'Father's House' (John 14:2-3,6). 'Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it' (17). Jesus teaches us the way to live wisely: 'lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven' (Matthew 6:20) - 'I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold, I'd rather be His than have riches untold...' (Mission Praise, 319). 'The lips of the wise spread knowledge' (7). Christ is our Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30). We must not keep Him to ourselves. Share Him with others. Let people know that Jesus is your Saviour. Let them know that He is your Lord. Don't just 'believe in your heart'. 'Confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord' (Romans 10:9). Your words will help others to find Him.
17th September: Psalm 41:1-13
What do you do when everything seems to be going wrong? Do you forget about God? That's the worst thing you can do? That's just asking for trouble! Our problems are bad enough - with God's help. Things can only get worse - if we turn away from the Lord. When the going gets tough, we must turn to the Lord. Share your 'day of trouble' with the Lord. Let Him come to you with His blessing (1-3). Satan is busy, trying to draw you away from the Lord. It is only through the strength of the Lord that you will be able to say, with confident faith, 'my enemy has not triumphed over me' (11). Look up from your problems to your Lord. Let Him fill your heart with praise - 'Blessed be the Lord...' (13). Let this be your testimony: 'When no one but Christ could help, Love lifted me!' (Mission Praise, 450).
18th September: 2 Chronicles 5:2-6:42
Without the blessing of God, our worship is empty. We must look for God's blessing in the place of worship. What we must pray for is this: 'the glory of the Lord filled the House of God' (5:14). We must look for God's blessing in the pulpit, praying that the preachers of God's Word will be 'clothed with salvation'. We must look for God's blessing in the pews, praying that all of God's people will 'rejoice in His goodness' (6:41). Where does the blessing come from? - It comes from this: God is 'good' and 'His steadfast love endures for ever' (5:13). All of our praying for the Church can be summed up in this prayer: 'O Lord God...Remember Your steadfast love...' (6:42). More than anything else, we must pray for this: 'God's love...poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit...' (Romans 5:5).
19th September: 2 Chronicles 7:1-22
In verse 14, there is a call to prayer and promise of blessing: 'If My people who are called by My Name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their hand'. Why is there so little blessing? - 'You do not have, because you do not ask'. God will bless mightily - when His people pray earnestly. Why does the devil have so many victories among us? - 'Resist the devil, and he will flee from you'. God will lead us in His way of victory - when we stop tolerating the devil, and start resisting him. Why does God seem so far away? - 'Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you' (James 4:2,7-8). God will come near to us - if we will let Him. 'I stand at the door and knock; if any one...opens the door, I will come in...' (Revelation 3:20).
20th September: 2 Chronicles 8:1-9:31
In Solomon, we see strength and weakness. He was strong - 'the House of the Lord was completed' (8:16). He was also weak. He was infatuated with foreign women, who did not belong among the redeemed people of God. He married 'Pharaoh's daughter', a woman who had no love for 'the holy places' of worship (8:11). To the queen of Sheba, a woman who had more love for 'her own land' than for life among the people of God, 'Solomon gave all that she desired' (9:12). Solomon was a complicated man. He had a real love for the Lord, yet the world still had a strong hold on him. "O let me feel Thee near me: the world is ever near; I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear; My foes are ever near me, around me and within; but, Jesus, draw Thou nearer, and shield my soul from sin' (Church Hymnary, 434).
21st September: Psalms 42:1-43:5
Three times, the question is asked, 'Why are you downcast, O my soul'. Three times, the answer is given, 'Put your hope in God'. Three times, there is the response of faith: 'I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God (42:5,11; 43:5). Often, we are filled with questions. We must bring our questions to God. We must learn to listen for His answers. The Lord is speaking to us. Are we listening? God speaks to us through His Word. Are we taking time to read His Word? He wants us to come to Him with the prayer, 'Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening' (1 Samuel 3:8-10). Listen to the Word of the Lord. Let His Word be your Guide: 'Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me...' (43:5). 'Deep calls to deep' (42:7) - Let 'the Spirit' show you 'the deep things of God' (1 Corinthians 2:10).
22nd September: Psalm 44:1-26
Victory comes from the Lord. In ourselves, we are defeated. In Him, there is victory. We see this in the history of Israel, the people whom the Lord redeemed (3). We see it also in the experience of the Psalmist (6-7). We must remind ourselves of these things. It is so easy to forget. We take our eyes off the Lord, and we get despondent - '...You have rejected and humbled us...You have made us retreat before the enemy...You gave us up to be devoured like sheep...You have made us a reproach to our neighbours...My disgrace is before me all day long...' (9-16). What are we to do when such negative thoughts fill our minds? We must pray, 'Awake, O Lord!...Rise up and help us; redeem us because of Your unfailing love'. Pray for the faith which says, 'We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us' (23,26; Romans 8:37).
23rd September: 2 Chronicles 10:1-11:23
We read here of division among God's people: 'Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day' (10:19). What does God say about this? - 'Do not go up to fight against your brothers (11:4). Jesus tells us that 'a house...divided against itself cannot stand' (Mark 3:25). Paul speaks to us 'in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ'. There are to be 'no divisions' among us (1 Corinthians 1:10). God's Word says that we are 'all one in Christ Jesus' (Galatians 3:28). Far too often, our lives tell a very different story. Division among God's people is a big problem. We must learn to pray in the spirit of Jesus' prayer. He prayed that 'all of them may be one': 'May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me' (John 17:21,23).
24th September: 2 Chronicles 12:1-13:22
'He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord' (12:14). Read these words, and pray - 'Lord, may these words never be true of me'. These words are a warning to us. Things will only go from bad to worse if we turn back from following the Lord. 'As for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken Him' (13:10). Read these words, and pray - 'Lord, may these words always be true of me'. This is the better way - God's way: 'God is with us; He is our Leader' (13:12). We read about unbelief and disobedience. We read about faith and obedience. "Do not fight against the Lord...you will not succeed'. 'Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey' (13:12; Mission Praise, 760).
25th September: Psalm 45:1-17
Jesus Christ is 'the most excellent of men' (2). He is more than that. He is God. In verse 6, we read these words - 'Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever'. We read them again in Hebrews 1:8. They are the words which God the Father speaks to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. How does the Word of God describe Jesus Christ? - 'He is your Lord'. How are we to respond to Him? - We are to approach Him with 'reverence'. We are to 'honour' Him. We are to 'bow down' and 'worship' Him. We are to 'obey' Him (11). Think of the "Good News' of our Lord Jesus Christ - ' the Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me'. Let your heart overflow with praise to the Lord Jesus Christ - What a wonderful Saviour He is (1; Galatians 2:20)! Let us celebrate His Name in this generation. Let Him be praised 'for ever and ever' (17).
26th September: Psalms 46:1-47:9
'Be still, and know that I am God...Shout to God with loud songs of joy' (10; 47:2). In our worship, there is to be both quiet trust and loud praise. We read the great words: 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble' (46:1). God's Word brings peace - 'in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength'. We must not keep God's blessing to ourselves. We must share it with joy - 'Sing to the Lord...let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare His praise in the coastlands' (Isaiah 30:15; 42:10-12). The Lord is to be 'exalted among the nations'. He is not only 'our King'. He is 'the King of all the earth' (10; 47:6-7). ' Father (Jesus/Spirit), we love You. We worship and adore You. Glorify Your Name in all the earth' (Mission Praise, 142).
27th September: 2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14
Keep on going! Don't give up! Asa began so well - 'Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God' (14:2). He led the people to the Lord. Under his leadership, the people 'entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and all their soul' (15:12). Everything seemed to be going so well - until Asa let things slide. He acted 'foolishly'. He 'relied on the king of Syria'. He 'did not rely on the Lord his God' (16:7-9). There were difficult times ahead for Asa. He became seriously ill. Sadly, he did not return to the Lord - 'even in his disease he did not seek the Lord' (16:12). 'No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God'. 'He who endures to the end will be saved'. 'Let us go on...' (Luke 9:62; Mark 13:13; Hebrews 6:1).
28th September: 1 Thessalonians 1:1--2:20
If God is to be glorified through the preaching of His Word, there needs to be more than the 'words' of the preacher. There needs to be 'the power of the Holy Spirit' (1:5). Good preaching is not a matter of 'plausible words of wisdom'. We must look for 'a demonstration of the Spirit's power' (1 Corinthians 2:4). When the Spirit is at work, there is effective communication, leading to a life-changing encounter with God. 'When you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers' (13). Don't let God's Word 'go in one ear and out the other'. The 'message' will do you no good if you don't hear it 'with faith' - 'Today, when you hear His voice, harden not your hearts' (Hebrews 4:2; 3:15).
29th September: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-4:12
We need both 'love' and 'holiness' (3:12-13). Our love is to be holy. Our holiness is to be loving. Getting the right balance between love and holiness is like walking a tightrope. You can easily lose your balance and fall off. We can be too soft - all love and no holiness. We can be too hard - all holiness and no love. Love doesn't mean 'anything goes' - 'I don't care how you live'. That's not love. That's indifference, a 'couldn't care less' attitude. Holiness doesn't mean looking down your nose at other people - 'You've sinned and I will never let you forget it'. Don't be like 'the Pharisees'. They wanted to 'stone the woman caught in adultery'. We must not 'stone' people with our 'hot tongue and cold shoulder'! Be like Jesus. Show love - 'I don't condemn you' - and holiness - 'Do not sin again' (John 8:3-11).
30th September: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:28
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' (24). He has a great future for us: 'God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ' (9). We look forward to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ: 'The Lord Himself will descend from heaven' (4:16). We look forward to heavenly and eternal glory: 'We shall always be with the Lord' (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' (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' (11; 1 Corinthians 10:3; Matthew 7:24-27).

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Help us, Lord, not to keep Your Good News to ourselves.

Proverbs 11:12-31
Lord, You’re calling us to win others for You. You’re calling us to share Your love with them. You’re calling us to bring Jesus to them. Help us, Lord, not to keep Your Good News to ourselves. Help us to pray, “Here I am, wholly available – as for me, I will serve the Lord” (Chris Bowater).

Love, Joy, Peace

Philippians 4:1-9
Joy (Philippians 4:4) and peace (Philippians 4:7) are grounded in God's love for us, not our love for Him. Perfect joy and perfect peace (1 Peter 1:8; Philippians 4:7) - but this is not our experience. Here, we must note the difference between God's love for us and our love for Him. His love for us is perfect. Our love for Him is not perfect. If our love in the Lord, our joy in the Lord and our peace in the Lord are to grow strong, we must feed on God's love. His love is faithful. His love endures forever. This is where our love, joy and peace come from.

Lord, help us to listen to Your Word ...

Exodus 40:1-38
Lord, help us to listen to Your Word, walk in Your way and "worship You in Spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). These are the things that matter most. Are they our priorities? We know, Lord, that they should be our priorities - but we are often distracted. We lose our focus. Other things become more important to us. "Restore our souls and lead us in the paths of righteousness for Your Name's sake" (Psalm 23:3).

What, Lord, does it mean to find Jesus? It means that He found us.

Song of Solomon 3:1-4:8
We thank You, Lord, that Jesus says to us, "Seek and you will find" (Matthew 7:7). When we have found Him, may we say, with joy, "I found Him whom my soul loves - my true love" (Song of Solomon 3:4). What, Lord, does it mean to find Jesus? It means that He found us. Before we ever thought of seeking for Him, He came seeking for us. Before we ever thought of loving Him, He loved us: "I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3). Before we can say, "Hallelujah! I have found Him", He finds us: "I once was lost, but now am found."
 

Before the creation, there is the Creator.

Genesis 1:1-2:3
Before the creation, there is the Creator.
 * He is the chief focus of attention in the Bible’s first chapter. Wherever we look in Genesis 1, we see the word, God. This is about Him. Genesis 1 speaks about us. It tells us where we have come from. We have come from God. He is our Creator. Take away God, and our life has no meaning, no purpose, no direction.
 * Move on from the Bible’s first chapter. Read the rest of Genesis, the rest of the Old Testament,the rest of the Bible. What do you find? The Bible is a Book about God. It’s not only a Book about God. It’s a Book that has been given to us by God. It’s His Word.
 * What about our faith and our life? Our faith comes to us from God. Our life has been given to us by God. We are to put our faith in God. We are to live our life for God.
 * “God said, Let there be light, and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). The light of God’s love and holiness. “He created us in His own image” (Genesis 1:27). Created by God - love. Created for God - called to holiness. The light of His love - a sure foundation for our faith. The light of His holiness - The Lord is calling us to walk with him in the light of His holy Word.
 * “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). This was before our sin spoiled the world. We must not blame God for our sin. We are the ones who have spoiled His good creation.
 * “God completed His work”  (Genesis 2:2). This was the end of the beginning. When we come to Genesis 3, it seems like we’re reading about the beginning of the end. It’s not. It’s the start of a new beginning - God’s rescue plan (Genesis 3:15). 

Enthroned

“You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3).
God is not enthroned because we enthrone Him. We enthrone Him because He is enthroned.

The Word of God - Spoken In The Power Of The Spirit Of God

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (Psalm 19:7).
God’s Word does not return to Him empty. It accomplishes the purpose for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:11). Often, we feel like God’s Word returns to us empty. It never returns to Him empty. Wherever God’s Word is preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, God is at work. He is doing more than we realize. Some may refuse to listen to the voice of the Spirit – but the Spirit keeps on speaking to them, calling them to return to the Lord and receive His free gift of salvation: “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on them, and to our God, for He will freely pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7). Let us pray that the Word of God will be spoken in the power of the Spirit of God: The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul (Psalm 19:7).
Psalm 19:14
Pray that ‘the meditation of your heart’ and ‘the words of your mouth’ will be filled with the Spirit of love.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Be Open To The Life-Changing Love Of Christ ...

"Jesus ... was deeply hurt because their minds were closed" (Mark 3:5). "Whoever curses the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. He is guilty of an everlasting sin" (Mark 3:29). "Whoever does what God wants is My brother and sister and mother" (Mark 3:35). These are challenging verses, They call us to be open to the life-changing love of Christ, to draw back from the evil way of unbelief and disobedience, to allow the Lord to change us into "new creatures In Christ Jesus" and inspire us to live as "a new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17).