Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Revised Common Lectionary: Year C (Part Five)

Special Days: Christian Unity – Ezekiel 47:1-12; Psalms 133 and 134; Revelation 21:9-14, 22-27; Luke 13:22-30

What a wonderful message the prophet brings to us – the ‘river’ of God’s blessing.

He speaks of the rising of the ‘river’ of God’s blessing - ‘ankle-deep... knee-deep... up to the waist ... deep enough to swim in - a river that no-one could cross’ (Ezekiel 47:3-5).
This is the river of ‘life’- ‘a great number of trees.... Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows... large numbers of fish because... where the river flows everything will live’ (Ezekiel 47:7-9).
‘The Spirit’ brings ‘rivers of living water’ into our lives (John 7:38-39).
Don’t settle for a shallow experience of God’s blessing - ‘ankle-deep’, ‘knee-deep’ (Ezekiel 47:3-4).
‘Deep calls to deep’ (Psalm 42:7). Let ‘the Spirit’ lead you into ‘the deep things of God’ (1 Corinthians 2:10).
‘Launch out into the deep’ (Luke 5:4). ‘Swim’ in God’s mighty ‘river’ of blessing (Ezekiel 47:5).
‘Be filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18).

What a wonderful message the psalmist brings to us – God blesses us as we gather to worship Him.

God sends ‘His blessing’ when His people gather together for worship: ‘How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!’(Psalm 133:1, 3).
Many people like to think of themselves as ‘believers’, yet they show no interest in worshipping together with God’s people.
What does God’s Word say about this? - ‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another...’(Hebrews 10:25).
‘Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the House of the Lord’ (Psalms 133:1; 134:1).
Some people never miss a Sunday morning service - but they always miss the Sunday evening services! They are missing out on so much of God’s blessing.
‘May the Lord... bless you...’on Sunday evenings as well as Sunday mornings (Psalm 134:2)!

What a wonderful message the apostle brings to us – a glimpse of the heavenly worship.

God has given us a glimpse of a future which is heavenly, eternal and glorious: ‘the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God - It shone with the glory of God’ (Revelation 21:10-11).
We read the apostle’s words, and we wonder, Is this ‘eternal life’ (John 3:16) for everyone? Will all people ‘dwell in the House of the Lord for ever’ (Psalm 23:6)? Will everyone be saved? Is this what the Word of God teaches?
‘God wants everyone to be saved’. He wants everyone to ‘come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Timothy 2:3-4). He wants everyone to ‘come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9).
Sadly, there are many who ‘refuse to love the truth and so be saved’ (2 Thessalonians 2:10).
Who will be saved? - ‘only those, whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life’ (Revelation 21:27).
‘Come’to Christ (Revelation 22:17).
‘Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they ... may go through the gates into the city’(Revelation 22:14).

What a wonderful message the Saviour brings to us – Christ is preparing us for the heavenly worship.

Jesus stresses the need for both repentance (Luke 13:1-5) and the fruits of repentance (Luke 13:6-9).
God’s Word, planted in our hearts at conversion, is to bear fruit.
This requires continual repentance and faith (Colossians 2:6; Galatians 3:1-5).
Don’t put it off till tomorrow! Today is ‘the day of salvation’. Don’t ‘neglect’God’s ‘great salvation’(Luke 13:15-16; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 2:3). Let there be spiritual growth, affecting the whole of your life (Luke 13:18-21).
Jesus was ‘journeying toward Jerusalem’- to ‘finish His course’at the Cross (Luke 13:22, 32-33).
He came from the Lord (Luke 13:35). Through Him, we come to the Lord (Luke 13:24; John 10:9).
There is no salvation in ourselves (Luke 13:25-27). Apart from Him, there is ‘no peace’(Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11).
Jesus loves you (Luke 13:34). Make ‘sure’ that your trust is in Him. He will never fail you (2 Peter 1:10-11).


Special Days: Presentation of the Lord (February 2) – Haggai 2:1-9; Psalm 8; 1 John 3:1-8; Luke 2:22-40

God calls us to worship Him.

The Lord is ‘majestic’ (Psalm 8:1, 9).
He does not remain remote. He does not keep His distance. He shows us His greatness, the greatness of His love.
We feel forgotten. He remembers us. We feel unloved. He cares for us (Psalm 8:4).
We are tempted. He will ‘still the enemy’ (Psalm 8:2).
We look beyond our creation (Psalm 8:5-8) to our salvation - ‘we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone ... that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil’ (Hebrews 2:8-9, 14).
This is ‘Majesty’- ‘Jesus, who died, now glorified, King of all kings’. The Name of the Lord is majestic ‘in all the earth’ (Psalm 8:1, 9).
To God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - we pray, ‘Glorify Your Name in all the earth.’

God calls us to walk with Him.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, ‘the Son of God’, we receive ‘eternal life’(1 John 2:22-25; 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 ...’ (1 John 3:2).
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...’(1 John 3:8).
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’(1 John 3:7, 16, 18).
Do you believe in Christ? Live the life. Be a believer - in deed’!

God calls us to work for Him.

“Be strong, all you people of the land”, declares the Lord, “and work. For I am with you”, declares the Lord Almighty’ (Haggai 2:4).
We are to work for God.
When we commit ourselves to serving Him, the Lord promises His blessing: ‘From this day on I will bless you’ (Haggai 2:19). To His faithful servants, God promises great blessing: ‘I will fill this House with glory’ (Haggai 2:7).
‘Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that, in the Lord, your labour is not in vain’ (1 Corinthians 15:58).
‘Who is on the Lord’s side? Who will serve the King? ... We are on the Lord’s side, Saviour, we are Thine ... Always on the Lord’s side, Saviour, always Thine’.

In our worship, walk and work, God calls us to follow Christ.

Jesus ‘fulfilled all righteousness’(Matthew 3:15).
His circumcision and presentation to the Lord was ‘according to the law of Moses’(Luke 2:21-24; Leviticus 12:1-8).
Jesus’obedience was always more than mere conformity to ‘the written code’.
He was walking ‘in the Spirit’. He was filled with ‘the Spirit of the living God’(2 Corinthians 3:3, 6).
His obedience came ‘from the heart’and His ‘praise’came ‘not from men but from God’(Romans 6:17; 2:29).
What joy there was for Simeon and Anna! This was ‘salvation’, ‘redemption’(Luke 2:30, 38).
As you journey through life, don’t ‘lose Jesus’(Luke 2:43-45). Keep close to Him!
If you do ‘lose Him’, where will you find Him again? - ‘In the temple’(Luke 2:46).
Have you lost your way? Find your way back to ‘the sanctuary of God’- and things will start to fall into place again (Psalm 73:16-17)!


Special Days: Springtime – Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 126; James 3:13-18; Luke 12:23-31

God calls us to be a holy people.

“The Song of the Vineyard” (Isaiah 5:1-7) is a call to holiness. God’s people are to be “the garden of His delight” (Isaiah 5:7). We are to live a “holy” life (Isaiah 4:3).
 The world speaks of God’s people with contempt - ‘the holy people who need to learn to live in the real world’.
When God calls His people ‘holy’, He speaks in a very different way.
He speaks with affection. He looks upon us with love. We are special to Him. We are precious in His eyes.
God loves us and He calls us to be holy. We are to live as those who have been set apart for God.
We are not to live for this world only. There is something else, something greater than this so-called ‘real world’.
There is a world that is unseen and eternal, heavenly and glorious. This is our higher calling, our call to holiness.
Let us ‘look to the things that are unseen and eternal’. Let us ‘press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’ (2 Corinthians 4:18; Philippians 3:14).

God calls us to be a joyful people.

‘The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy’ (Psalm 126:3). We rejoice in our Saviour who ‘died for our sins’ and ‘was raised on the third day’ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Holiness and joy belong together. We will not find true happiness unless we seek real holiness. We find real holiness and true happiness when we build our life upon our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Psalm 125:1 tells us that ‘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’ (Matthew 7:24-27).
‘Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain’ (Psalm 127:1). ‘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).
In Christ alone, we find true happiness and real holiness.

God calls us to be a wise people.

Use your words with wisdom - ‘the wisdom that comes from heaven’(James 3:17-18). So much harm can be done by a hurtful word. So much good can be done by a word of witness. An evil ‘fire’(James 3:5) can be turned into a godly fire: ‘It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it. You spread His love to everyone. You want to pass it on’.
Don’t fight to get your own way.
Be wise - ask God to show you His way (James 4:2).
Be wise - be careful how you speak: ‘Do not slander one another...Who are you to judge your neighbour?’(James 4:11-12).
May God deliver us from hypocrisy - ‘out of the same mouth come praise and cursing’(James 3:10).
May He give us ‘more grace’- to be ‘humble’and not ‘proud’, submitting to God and resisting the devil (James 4:6-7).

God calls us to seek His Kingdom.

‘Seek His Kingdom... it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom’(Luke 12:31-32).
 - Seeking God’s Kingdom, we will live by faith and not by fear.
 ‘Do not fear...’(Luke 12:4): ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’(Romans 8:31).
 - Seeking God’s Kingdom, we will be unashamed of our Saviour.
Acknowledge Christ or deny Him (Luke 12:8-9): Let your choice be clear - ‘Christ means everything to me’(Philippians 1:21).
Do you want to confess Christ? - Here’s a great promise for you: ‘the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say’(Luke 12:12).
 - Seeking God’s Kingdom, we will lay up our treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20).
In our generation, there is a ‘gold rush’. Many are preoccupied with ‘having a lot of material possessions’(Luke 12:15). What does God say about this? - ‘Fool!’(Luke 12:20).
We hear it said, ‘He’s too heavenly-minded to be any earthly good’. You can be ‘too earthly-minded to be any heavenly good’!
It is better to be ‘spiritually minded’ than ‘carnally minded’(Romans 8:6).


Special Days: Harvest Festival – Ruth 2; Psalm 144; Galatians 5:16-25; Luke 12:13-21

Looking beyond the harvest to the Lord of the harvest

Ruth meets Boaz. It seemed like a ‘chance’ meeting - ‘she happened to come...’ (Ruth 2:3). It was more than that. God was at work.
Ruth had committed herself to the Lord (Ruth 1:16-17). She was being guided by the Lord (Psalm 37:3-5; Proverbs 3:5-6).
Ruth was unassuming and grateful, hard-working and responsible (Ruth 2:10, 13, 7, 18). She is a fine example of the ‘good wife’, described in Proverbs 31:10-31. In Boaz, she found a good man - godly, generous and sensitive (Ruth 2:12, 14, 16).
We read about Ruth. We learn about Jesus Christ. When you come to Him, He says, ‘Do not go to glean in another field...’ - ‘There is salvation in no one else’ (Ruth2:8; Acts 4:12). In Him, there is amazing grace. He loves us. He looks upon us favourably. He takes notice of us. He died for us (Ruth 2:10; Romans 5:8). Let us follow Him (Ruth 1:16-17; John 6:67-69).

Praying that the Lord of the harvest will send His blessing

‘Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle’ (Psalm 144:1). The Lord is ‘the One who gives victory’ to His people (Psalm 144:10). What a great God we have! He is ‘our loving God, our Fortress, our Stronghold, our Deliverer, our Shield’ (Psalm 144:2).
What great blessing the Lord sends into our lives! He fights for us (Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:30; 3: 22; Nehemiah 4:20). He is ‘our Strength’ (Psalms 28:7-8; 59:17). ‘With God we shall gain the victory’ (Psalm 60:12).
Let us pray that God will pour out His blessing upon us: ‘Part Your heavens, O Lord, and come down... Reach down Your hand from on high...’ (Psalm 144:5, 7).
Let us think of how much the Lord has blessed us. Let us sing our song of praise to Him: ‘I will sing a new song to You, O God’ (Psalm 144:9).

The harvest of the Spirit – sent to us by the Lord of the harvest

What are we praying for when we ask God to fill us with His Spirit? We are praying ‘for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control’. This is ‘the fruit of the Spirit’(Galatians 5:22-23).
How are we to be filled with the Spirit? How does the fruit of the Spirit grow in our lives? We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, saying in our hearts, ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world’(Galatians 6:14).
‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace’. Looking to Him, let’s concentrate on the one thing that really matters - living as ‘a new creation’(Galatians 6:15).

The challenge set before us by the Lord of the harvest

Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord challenges us to look honestly at ourselves.
What is happening in our lives?
Have we settled for something less than God’s very best?  - I’ll say to myself, You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry (Luke 12:19).
Jesus says to us, There is more to life than the physical harvest. There is the harvest of the Spirit.
Make sure that you are rich towards God (Luke 12:21).


Special Days: Michaelmas (September 29) - Genesis 21:33 and 23:19-20 (see explanation below); Psalm 148; Revelation 12:7-12a; Luke 9:23-27

Explanatory Comment regarding the Genesis Reading
I had been intending to comment on the passages given in “The Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland” (1994). When I looked for the Genesis passage (23:20-33), I found that Genesis 23 ends at verse 20!! I have gone to Genesis 21 to find a verse 33 and have made a comment on it! I have also commented on Genesis 23:19-20. I hope these comments are helpful.

The Lord is the Everlasting God.

Abraham returned to the place where he had ‘called...on the Name of the Lord, the Everlasting God’ (Genesis 21:33). This is a good ‘place’ to be, the ‘place’ of calling on the Name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. As we read of the death and burial of Sarah, we must remember this: the Lord is the Everlasting God.
The death of Sarah took place in God's time. Her death signified that her work had been done. She had mothered the child of promise. Beyond the death of Sarah, there was the continuing purpose of God. The cave at Machpelah (Genesis 23:19-20) became the burial place for Sarah, Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Leah.
Here, we see the continuity of history, and we thank God for His continuing faithfulness down through the generations.

Praise the Lord.

‘Praise the Lord’. Psalm 148 begins and ends with these great words. These words are also the opening and closing words of Psalms 146, 147, 149 and 150.
Our personal song of praise to God - ‘Praise be to the Lord my Rock... I will sing a new song to You, O God... I will exalt You, my God the King; I will praise Your Name for ever and ever; Every day I will praise You... My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord... I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live’(Psalms 144:1,9; 145:1-2,21; 146:2) - is just a small part of something so much richer and fuller - ‘Let everything that has breath praise the Lord’(Psalm 150:6).
“Praise the Lord” – may these words Psalms 146-150 inspire us to praise the Lord more truly and more fully.
In our Lord Jesus Christ, we have the victory.
In Genesis 3:1, we read of ‘the serpent’. Here, he is again - ‘that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan’.
- He is a powerful enemy. He ‘leads the whole world astray’.
- He is a determined enemy. ‘Day and night’, he is busy, accusing God’s children.
- He is a defeated enemy. ‘They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb...’.
This is not only Christ’s victory over Satan. This is our victory in Christ, the victory Christ has won for us.
- Why is Satan so busy? It’s because ‘he knows his time is short’ (Revelation 12:9-12).
- How are we to take our stand against Satan? We must listen to the Word of God: ‘He who has an ear, let him hear’. We must obey the Word of God: ‘This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness...’(Revelation 13:9).
Christ has won the victory for us. Let us claim His victory by faith.
Looking to Christ, we await the coming Kingdom of God.
In Luke 9:18-27, we learn (a) Who Jesus is: ‘the Christ of God’ (20). (b) What Jesus has done for us: His death and resurrection (22). (c) What Jesus calls us to be: His followers (23).
May God give us grace to follow ‘the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us’(Galatians 2:20). May God help us to follow Christ, looking for ‘the Kingdom of God’(27).

Special Days: All Saints (November 1) – Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18; Psalm 149; Ephesians 1:11-23; Luke 6:20-32

The Glory of God is revealed in His salvation.

Our God is the God of “salvation” – “the Lord takes delight in His people: He crowns the humble with salvation” (Psalm 149:4). Through receiving the free gift of God’s salvation, we receive true joy: “Let the saints rejoice in this honour and sing for joy …” (Psalm 149:5).  In Psalm 149:9, we read of “the glory of all His saints”. In the prophecy of Daniel, we catch a glimpse of the full glory of God’s salvation. 

The Glory of God is revealed in the Coming of Christ, our Saviour.

Daniel received “visions” from the Lord (Daniel 7:1-2, 15). He wondered about their “true meaning” (Daniel 7:16). They were visions of God’s Kingdom”: “the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it for ever – yes, for ever and ever” (Daniel 7:18).   The coming of God’s eternal Kingdom is described in Daniel 7:13-14 - ‘There before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven… His Kingdom is one that will never be destroyed’. These words point us to Christ’s description of His Second Coming, the Coming of His Kingdom: ‘They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory’(Matthew 24:30). In Revelation 1:7, we have another echo of Daniel’s ‘vision’: ‘Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him’. ‘Lo! He comes, with clouds descending… Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee, high on Thine eternal throne; Saviour, take the power and glory, claim the Kingdom for Thine own. O come quickly! O come quickly! O come quickly! Alleluia! Come, Lord, come!’  

Trusting in Christ, we travel towards the Glory of God’s Eternal Kingdom.

In Ephesians 1:18, we read of “the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints”. Our attention is directed towards “Christ” who is “seated at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:20). “Christ” is our “hope”. (Ephesians 1:12). Trusting in Him, we look forward to our full “redemption” (Ephesians 1:14).The pathway to God’s eternal Kingdom is described for us in Ephesians 2:8-10 - ‘By grace you have been saved through faithfor good works’.God calls us to live a ‘holy’life. We cannot make ourselves holy. We are spiritually ‘dead’. We need to be ‘made alive’- by God. Holiness does not come from ourselves. It comes from the Lord. Long before we ever thought of loving Him - He loved us. Our love for Him is so changeable. His love for us is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. It is eternal. He loved us ‘before the foundation of the world’. He will love us ‘in the world to come’. This is the love of God, the love which inspires us and enables us to live a ‘holy’life (Ephesians 2:1; 1:4; 2:7). When we realize the truth concerning ourselves - ‘nothing good dwells within me’(Romans 7:18) - and God - He is ‘rich in mercy’(Ephesians 2:4) - , we will ‘praise His glorious grace’(Ephesians 1:6). 

Live your life “to the praise of God’s glory”.

In Luke 6:17-49, Jesus calls us to live our life to the praise of God’s glory (Ephesians 1:14).
(a) Hunger for God (21; Matthew 5:6): Laziness leads to superficial Christianity. Do not hunger and you will not be ‘filled with the Spirit’(Ephesians 5:18). Do not seek and you will not find (Matthew 7:7). Seek the Lord with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13). God has so much for us (1 Corinthians 2:12). Don’t miss out (2 Corinthians 9:6).
(b) Love for God: Love is the greatest thing in the world. Our love for God is to be seen in our love for others (27; 1 John 3:16-17).
(c) Vision of God: The blind cannot lead the blind (39-42). Make sure you are not ‘blind and short-sighted’(2 Peter 1:9). Run with the vision - Others will be blessed (Habakkuk 2:2).
(d) Foundations in God: Make sure you are ‘rooted’ in Christ, our sure ‘Foundation’(43-49; Ephesians 3:17; 2:19-22).


Special Days: Remembrance Day – Micah 4:1-8; Psalm 9:9-20; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5; Luke 1:68-79

The prophet calls us to  worship the Lord and walk with Him.

Micah speaks to those ‘who hate good and love evil’ (Micah 3:2).
 - He calls upon them to change their way of living.
 - He calls upon them to worship the Lord - ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord’- and walk with Him - ‘We will walk in the Name of the Lord our God for ever and ever’ (Micah 4:2, 5).
How do we learn to ‘walk in His paths’?
 - We come to His ‘House’.
 - We worship the Lord in His House.
 - We listen to His ‘Word’
 - We pray that His Word will come to us ‘with power’.
 - We ask Him to ‘teach us His ways’.
 - We pray that we will be ‘filled with the Spirit of the Lord’ (Micah 3:8).
Gathered in His House for worship, we ‘receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on us’. Through His power, we are equipped for witness: ‘you will be My witnesses...’ (Acts 1:8).

The psalmist calls us to worship the Lord and walk with Him.

Psalm 9 will help us to worship the Lord. It will help us to be His witnesses. 
 - ‘I will give thanks to the Lord...’ (1-2).
 - The enemy is defeated (3-6).
  - ‘The Lord sits enthroned for ever’ (7).
 - ‘The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble’ (9).
What an encouraging Psalm this is!
We have the victory in Christ. Nevertheless, it is not easy when we face determined opposition from the enemies of Christ and His Gospel: ‘Behold what I suffer from those that hate me’ (13).
In this situation, we must call upon the Lord: ‘Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail’ (19). Though the conflict is raging all around us, we must - taking our stand in Christ - declare God’s praises and rejoice in His salvation (14).
‘The Lord dwells in Zion’(11): ‘Blest inhabitants of Zion, Washed in the Redeemer’s blood’, may we always say, ‘Let the world deride or pity, I will glory in Thy Name’.

The apostle calls us tp pray to the Lord.

Paul prayed for the Thessalonians and he asked them to pray for him.
 - He prayed that God would ‘comfort their hearts and establish them in every good work and word’(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).
 - He prayed that they would enjoy peace: ‘Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in all ways’(2 Thessalonians 3:16).
He asked them to pray for his ministry - ‘pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may speed on and triumph among you’(2 Thessalonians 3:1).
Paul was writing to the Thessalonians, ‘You keep on praying for us and we’ll keep on praying for you’.
We must not forget each other. We must remember each other - in prayer.
Far too often, we forget. It becomes a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
We’re not to live in the past. We are to keep on praying for those who belong to our past.
Don’t forget to remember!

The prayer of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79) calls us to worship the Lord and walk with Him.

We are called to join with Zechariah in saying, Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel ... (68).
As we worship the Lord, we are confident of this: He will “guide our feet into the path of peace” (79).
May God help us to respond to His call. Let us worship God. Let us walk with Him.


Special Days: St Andrew’s Day (November 30) – Isaiah 55; Psalm 1; 1 Corinthians 4:1-16; John 12:20-36

I am a Church of Scotland minister. St Andrew is the “patron saint” of Scotland.

Seek the Lord.
The Word of God is spoken - ‘Seek the Lord while He may be found...’ (Isaiah 55:6-7).
No one seems to be listening. What are we to do?
We must remember God’s promise: ‘My Word will not return to Me empty’ (Isaiah 55:11).
We do not see all that God is doing. He is doing much more than we realize - ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts...’ (Isaiah 55:8-9).
We may be feeling very despondent - ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything’(Luke 5:5).
The Lord still comes to us with His Word of encouragement: ‘You shall go out with joy...’ (Isaiah 55:12).
Before there is joy, there may be many tears. When there seems to be nothing but disappointments, we must remember the Lord’s promise: ‘Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy...’ (Psalm 126:5-6). We must not ‘judge before the time...’ (1 Corinthians 4:5).

Seek the Lord’s blessing.

The first Psalm contrasts two ways - the way of the Word and the way of the world, the way of blessing and the way of judgment. Encouraging us to build upon the solid foundation of God’s Word, the opening Psalm sets the tone for what is to follow.
Here are some early lessons from the first few Psalms: stability in the Lord (1:1-2); service for the Lord (2:11); salvation of the Lord (3:8); sanctification from the Lord (4:4-5); singing to the Lord (8:4); strength in the Lord (9:9).
These are some of the blessings promised to those who ‘delight in the law of the Lord’ (Psalm 1:1-2).
With a God like this - full of so much blessing for us - what else can we do but rejoice in Him?

Seek the Lord’s glory.

As ‘servants of Christ’, we must concern ourselves with one thing - being ‘found faithful’.
This is not a matter of pleasing people - ‘it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you...’. Pleasing God - this is the most important thing (1 Corinthians4:1-4).
Serving Christ is not easy. There are always those who are quick to pass judgment on the Lord’s servants. What does God say about this? - ‘Do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes’(1 Corinthians 4:9-13,5).
Being ‘found faithful’is not just a matter of ‘saying the right words’. We must be the right people. This is what Paul means when he says, ‘The kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power’(1 Corinthians 4:20).
‘You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses’(Acts 1:8; Romans 12:11).

Serve the Lord’s purpose – the defeat of Satan and the salvation of sinners.

The Pharisees are developing their wicked plan. God is fulfilling His saving purpose (John 11:49-53).
The voice of ‘common sense’is not always the voice of the Lord (John 12:4-6). There is a higher wisdom than ‘common sense’. We are to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. He leads us to put Jesus at the centre of our lives.
Jesus is not suggesting that the poor are unimportant. He is emphasising that we must not lose sight of Him. If our concern for the poor is not truly grounded in devotion to Christ, it is not the obedience of faith (John 12:8).
The Pharisees are lying in wait for Jesus. They say, ‘The world has gone after Him’(John 12:19). They are going after Him too - in a different way!
The crucifixion draws near. God is to be ‘glorified’ in the defeat of Satan and the salvation of sinners (John 12:28, 31-32). Jesus had ‘come’for this ‘hour’(John 12:27).


Special Days: Dedication / Anniversary - 2 Samuel 24:18-25; Psalm 122; 2 Peter 2:1-10; Luke 4:16-30
To God be the glory.
David wanted to ‘know the number of the people’ (2 Samuel 24:2). Why? He wanted to feel important - ‘the big man’. He was not giving the glory to the Lord. In the spirit of pride, he was taking the glory for himself.
Did God give up on David - ‘a hopeless case, too full of himself and his own importance’? Of course not!
The Lord, whose ‘mercy is great’, drew David back to Himself.
David confessed his sin - ‘I have sinned greatly… I have done very foolishly… I have sinned and I have done wickedly’ (2 Samuel 24:10, 17). David was accepted by the Lord - ‘The Lord your God accepts you’. He was brought from pride to praise (2 Samuel 24:23, 25).
This is what God has done for us. We are ‘accepted in the Beloved’- ‘to the praise of His glorious grace’ (Ephesians 1:6).

Let us glorify the Lord in our worship.
‘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).
Let us live for the glory of God.
God ‘has given us His very great and precious promises’(2 Peter 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’(2 Peter 1:11).
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 (2 Peter 1:8-9).
‘The Lord’ will not fail us in our ‘trials’ (2:9). Let’s not fail Him!
Let the Holy Spirit lead you on the pathway to God’s glory.
Jesus was ‘tempted by the devil’(Luke 4:2). He was rejected by His enemies (Luke 4:28-29).
When we look around us, we see nothing but temptations and rejection - What a negative way of looking at things! There is something more positive here - the presence of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1, 14, 18).
Do not be afraid. There is no need to be discouraged. We need not be defeated. The temptations may be many. The opposition may be fierce. We can ‘pass through the midst of them’ (Luke 4:30): ‘God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control’(2 Timothy 1:7).
Satan is persistent - They did not rest until they had crucified Him. Faced with such opposition, we - like Jesus - must walk in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:12, 17-18).

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