Thursday, 30 April 2015

A New Song

"Sing a new song to the Lord" (Psalm 98:1).
What is a new song? It's a song that wasn't there - until the Lord put it into our hearts. It's a song that's come to us from the Lord. We give back to Him what He has given to us.   

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Salvation

Isaiah 12:1-6
"God is my salvation ... He has become my salvation ... You will joyfully draw water from the springs of salvation" (Isaiah 12:2-3).
To understand the full meaning of salvation, we must look beyond Isaiah, the prophet, to Jesus, the Saviour. The prophets can take us so far - and no further. When they have said all that they have to say, there is more to be said and done. There is One who must come, after all the prophets have spoken all their words. There is Jesus, our Saviour. He is our Saviour. He becomes our Saviour. We drink His living water - His salvation.

Looking To The Lord, Learning From Him, Turning To Him, Travelling With Him

Isaiah 2:1-5
The Word of God encourages us to look beyond the here and now. It gives us a glimpse of "the last days" (Isaiah 2:2). God knows the end as well as the beginning - and He show it to us (Isaiah 2:2). We say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord ... He will teach us about His ways so that we may walk in His paths ... Come and let us walk in the Lord's light" (Isaiah 2:3,5). Our world would be a very different world if more people were looking to the Lord and learning from Him, turning to the Lord and travelling with Him. What about you? Are you looking to the Lord? Are you learning from Him? Are you turning to the Lord? Are you travelling with Him? These are the questions that the Word of God puts to every one of us. Will we give the answer of faith and obedience? I cannot answer this question for you. You cannot answer it for me. Each one of us must answer for ourselves. What will your answer be?

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Help us, Lord, to remember that there is one treasure which lasts forever – the treasure of salvation.

Proverbs 31:1-31
‘A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies… Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised’ (Proverbs 31:10,30). Lord, You’re calling us to seek ‘treasures in heaven’ rather than ‘treasures on earth’ (Matthew 6:19-21). You’re showing us that the riches of this world will not last for ever: ‘All your riches and splendour have vanished, never to be recovered… “Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!”’ Help us to remember that there is one treasure which lasts forever – the treasure of salvation. As we think of the eternal treasure of Your salvation, may we grow stronger, may our hearts be filled with praise for our Saviour: ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and power and glory belong to our God’ (Revelation 18:14-17; 19:1).

Jesus Is Our Forever Friend.

Proverbs 17:13-28
“A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). Help us, Lord, to look beyond human love and human friendship. Help us to see Jesus. His love is the greatest love. He is our greatest Friend. Thank You, Lord, for Jesus. Thank You for His love. He’s our Forever Friend. May we know, in our hearts, that His love is ‘always and forever’ love.

Help us, Lord, to look for Jesus – and to find that He was already looking for us before we started looking for Him.

Proverbs 16:1-17
“Wisdom is better than gold” (Proverbs 16:16). Where, Lord, will we find wisdom? Your Word tells us that Jesus Christ is “our Wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:30). When we find Him, we find wisdom. Jesus says to us, “Seek, and you will find” (Matthew 7:7). Set us free from the idea that we already know what wisdom is before we start looking for it. Help us to look for Jesus – and to find that He was already looking for us before we started looking for Him. We thank You, Lord, that, when Jesus finds us, we find the “wisdom” which “is better than gold.”

There is a wise way of living – and there is a foolish way.

Proverbs 10:1-22
There is a wise way of living – and there is a foolish way. We’re always being pulled away from the wise way. We’re always being dragged into the way of foolishness. Sometimes, Lord, we don’t need much persuasion to turn away from following You. Our hearts are already drifting away from You – before Satan comes with his subtle – yet strong – temptations. Help us, Lord, to choose the “way that leads to life” – and not the “way that leads to destruction” (Matthew 7:13-14). Help us to choose Jesus, our Saviour. Help us to know that, in Him, we have the forgiveness of sins, given to us as Your gift of grace; the power of the Holy Spirit, enabling us to live for You; and eternal life, being prepared for us in Your heavenly glory.

Lord, we are so easily entangled in the ways of the world.

Proverbs 5:1-14
Lord, we are so easily entangled in the ways of the world. We try to disentangle ourselves – but we can’t do this by ourselves. we need Your power. We need Your love. It’s Your love that changes everything. It’s Your power that makes us new. Show us Your love. Show us Your power. May Your love lift us out of our sin. May Your power lead us in the way of Your salvation.

There are times, Lord, when it seems like the light has gone out ...

Proverbs 4:10-19
There are times, Lord, when it seems like the light has gone out, and we can see nothing – nothing but darkness. When this happens to us, help us to catch a glimpse of the brightest light of all – the light of Your love. This is the light which will never go out. It is not our faith that lifts us out of the darkness. It’s Your love – the love that we see in Jesus, in His dying for us, His rising for us and His returning for us.

Lord, we want everything to go smoothly – but that’s not what You’ve promised us!

Proverbs 3:1-18

Lord, we want everything to go smoothly – but that’s not what You’ve promised us! Your way can seem like a long and winding road – but it’s better to be facing problems, as we walk with You on the pathway of holiness, than to be having an easy time of it because we’ve stopped standing up for You.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Christ turns the world's values upside down.

"How hard it will be for rich people to enter God's Kingdom!" (Mark 10:23).
Christ turns the world's values upside down. He asks us, 'The things that are so important to you - are they really so important? or Have you made them more important than they really are?'

Faith Is The Victory ...

"Faith is the victory that overcomes the world" (1 John 5:4).
Jesus has won the victory.  He gives His victory to us. We receive His victory by faith. For Jesus, the pathway to victory was the way of the Cross. We will be led in the pathway of victory, as we learn to follow Jesus. He calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him (Luke 9:23).

Saved By Grace, Saved For Good Works, Saved To Be A Witness

 * Saved by grace - "He saved us, but not because of anything we had done to gain His approval. Instead, because of his mercy He saved us" (Titus 3:5). 
 * Saved for good works - "God’s saving kindness ... trains us to avoid ungodly lives filled with worldly desires so that we can live self-controlled, moral, and godly lives in this present world" (Titus 2:11-12).
 *  Saved to be a witness - We are to "show the beauty of the teachings about God our Savior in everything we do" (Titus 2:10). Witness is more than what we say. It's what we do. Our whole life - words as well as actions - is to point people away from ourselves to our Saviour.

"Lord, teach us to pray ... Ask, seek, knock ... " (Luke 11:1,9).

Prayer is more than a form of words. It's about what we're becoming as well as what we're saying. Are we becoming people who are learning to say, "What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer"? "Take it to the Lord in prayer" - Teach us, Lord, to do this.

What no-one else could ever do for us, God has done for us.

"No one can ever buy back another person or pay God a ransom for his life" (Psalm 49:7).
What no-one else could ever do for us, God has done for us -  "... the  Son of Man came ... to give His life as a ransom for many people” (Mark 10:45). "God forbid that I should glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Galatians 6:14).

A Great Celebration, A Great God

"Clap your hands, all you people. Shout to God with a loud, joyful song. ... " (Psalm 47).
What a great celebration! What a great God!

The Mercy Of God

"The mercy of God lasts all day long! ... I trust the mercy of God forever and ever" (Psalm 52:1,8).
Mercy is God's gift to us. Trust is our response to God's mercy. His mercy is for here-and-now. It's for today. His mercy is everlasting - "His mercy endures for ever" (Psalm 136). It's for today. It's for tomorrow. It's for every today. It's for every tomorrow. May God help each of us, today and every day, to trust His mercy. 

More Than My Opinion!

"The Lord, the only true God has spoken" (Psalm 50:1). 
How are we to make sense of life? What are we to believe? Are there answers to life's biggest questions. Where have we come from? Where are we headed for? What's life all about? We don't have all the answers. Sometimes, we have to say, 'I don't know.' - but there is something else that we must always say, "The Lord, the only true God, has spoken" (Psalm 50:1). We've not been left to wander around  in the darkness of our own uncertainty and confusion. God has given us His Word. His light has shone into our lives. We may not understand everything - but we do have His answers to our most important questions. Thank God - we can say more than "This is what I think. I may be right. I be wrong. This is my opinion." God has given us something better - "The Lord, the only true God, has spoken" (Psalm 50:1). We thank You, Lord that "Your Word is truth" (John 17:17). 

Where Does Revelation Come From?

" ... the sky opened, and I saw visions from God ... The power of the Lord came over Ezekiel" (Ezekiel 1:1-2).
Where does revelation come from? Does it come from us? Is it something that we discover? No! It comes from above. It comes from heaven. It comes from the Lord. It is given to us. It is the gift of  His grace. Revelation comes to us - but it doesn't begin with us. It begins with God. We see things differently - when our eyes are opened by the Lord. No glory belongs to us. All the glory belongs to the Lord. We dare not say, "Look  at what I have discovered." All we can say is this, ""To God be the glory! Great things He has done."

By Your Power ... Victory ... Praise .... Give Thanks.

"By Your power You forced nations out of the land, but You planted our ancestors there. You shattered many groups of people, but You set our ancestors free. It was not with their swords that they took possession of the land. They did not gain victory with their own strength. It was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of your presence that did it, because You were pleased with them ...All day  long we praise our God. We give thanks to You forever" (Psalm 44:2-3,8). 
The power comes from God. The victory is given to us. Let us praise the Lord and give thanks to Him.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

More Than We Can Put Into Words

Psalm 78:12-25
"He worked wonders" (Psalm 78:12), "He gave them drink as abundant as the depths" (Psalm 78:15), "He brought streams out of the stone and made water flow down like rivers" (Psalm 78:16), "They spoke against God - Is God able to provide food in the wilderness?" (Psalm 78:19), "waters gushed out, torrents overflowed" (Psalm 78:20), "He opened the doors of heaven" (Psalm 78:23), "He gave them grain from heaven" (Psalm 78:24), "the bread of angels, an abundant supply of food"(Psalm 78:25).
This is about more than food. In Psalm 78:22, we read about "salvation." Whatever words we use to describe God's salvation, we can never say all that needs to be said. It's always more than we can put into words.

"The Lord is my light and my salvation" (Psalm 27:1).

Whenever we confess our faith in the Lord, we must never forget what we were without the Lord. We were in darkness. We were lost. He has brought us out of our darkness and into His light. He has found us. He has saved us.

We Need More Than The Ten Commandments. We Need Jesus, Our Saviour.

Exodus 20:1-21
Before the Ten Commandments, there is love (Exodus 20:2). There is more than law. . There us more than the exodus. There is Jesus, our Saviour. He does for us what the law can never do for us. He saves us.
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17) - What effect do they have on us? Read Exodus 20:18-21 - "thunder and lightning", "the mountain surrounded by smoke", "the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance", "don't let God speak to us, or we will die", "the people remained standing at a distance as Moses approached the thick darkness where God was".
Distance, darkness - This is where the law leaves us.
If we are to move from distance to nearness, from darkness to light, we need more than the law. We need Jesus, our Saviour. 

The Exodus

Exodus 2:23-25
The Exodus is more than a departure. It's a deliverance. It's more than a protest against Egypt. It's an answer to prayer. It's more than a social revolution. It's a spiritual revelation of God's love. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Out Of Our Old Life, Into Christ's New Life

1 Corinthians 10:1-33
‘Participation in the blood of Christ… participation in the body of Christ’ (16): There is nothing more important than this.
We are not to be spectators, standing on the side lines, watching what’s going on without ever getting involved. We are to be participants, getting to know the Lord Jesus Christ, growing in our love for Him, strengthening our faith in Him, bringing more glory to Him. We eat bread. We drink wine.
We remember Jesus Christ, ‘the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us’. We do not only remember this great event from the past. We participate in Christ here and now. He has brought us out of our old life - ‘I have been crucified with Christ’ - and into His new life - ‘It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20).
Participate ‘in Christ’ - not only in ‘the Church’!

Let's Live As Servants Of Christ.

1 Corinthians 7:25-8:13
We are to ‘use the things of the world’ without becoming ‘engrossed in them’ (31).
Becoming more worldly in our way of living is not a purely personal thing. We harm other people ‘for whom Christ died’. They look to us for a godly example and we let them down. We ‘sin against them’. We ‘sin against Christ’. Our choices affect other people. We choose a self-centred life. We cause them to ‘fall into sin.’ We live a life of ‘love’, and they are ‘built up’ in their faith (11-13,1; Matthew 18:5-7, 10).
How are we to live? Are we to become preoccupied with how our actions affect those who watch our every move? That could become very confusing and distracting. We must keep our eyes on Jesus. We must live ‘not ... as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart...’ (Ephesians 6:6-7).


Monday, 20 April 2015

What are we to do when our love for God grows weak?

Psalms 116:1-117:2
‘I love the Lord... I will call on Him as long as I live’(Psam 116:1-2). Our love for God is to be a lifelong life. It is to be the love of our life. What are we to do when our love for God grows weak? We must remember His love for us - ‘Great is His love towards us. The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever’(117:2). When we find it difficult to keep on loving God, we must remember how much He loves us. When we feel like giving up on loving God, we must remember that He never gives up on loving us. He loves us when our love for Him is strong. He loves us when our love for Him is weak. In love, He reaches out to us. He brings us out of our weakness and into His strength. Let His strong love reach you in your weakness and give you His strength: ‘Loving Him who first loved me.’

Our Love For The Lord Must Be Stronger Than Any Other Love.

1 Corinthians 6:12-7:24
The Lord has placed the highest value on us: ‘you were bought with a price’ (6:20; 7:23).
Our love for Him must be stronger than any other love.
Some are under pressure, at home, from an unbelieving husband or wife. You wonder whether your Christian witness is doing any good (7:16). You feel you are getting nowhere. You feel like giving up. You feel yourself being dragged away from the Lord.
What does the Word of God say? - ‘Lead the life which the Lord has assigned’; ‘Remain with God’ (7:17,24).
A difficult situation at home is just one example of ‘the world’ trying to ‘squeeze us into its own mould’ (Romans 12:2).
The world will keep chipping away at our faith - until there’s nothing left. ‘Do not love the world or the things in the world... He who does the will of God abides for ever’ (1 John 2:17).

May God's Blessing Surround You Each Day ...

God's Word is "a lamp to our feet and a light to our path." He has "wondrous things" to teach us as we pray "Open my eyes that I may see" (Psalm 119:105, 18, 11). "May God's blessing surround you each day, as you trust Him and walk in His way. May His presence within guard and keep you from sin, go in peace, go in joy, go in love." "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your Name give glory, because of Your mercy and Your truth" (Psalm 115:1).

The Great Love Of God

Psalms 113:1-114:8 
‘The Lord is high above all nations... Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high?... Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, who turns the hard rock into springs of water’(Psalm 113:4-5; Psalm 114:7-8). Lord, You are greater than we could ever imagine. There is no greatness like Your greatness. All human greatness cannot even begin to compare with Your greatness. Your greatness is not only the greatness of Your power. It is also the greatness of Your love. When we sing, ‘How great Thou art’, we sing not only of Your power - ‘Thy power throughout the universe displayed’. We sing also of Your love - ‘And when I think that God His Son not sparing, sent Him to die - I scarce can take it in, that on the Cross my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin...’

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!

Psalm 11: God's way of salvation

This Psalm begins with a tremendous statement of faith - “In the Lord I take refuge.” The whole Psalm should be understood in the light of this tremendous statement of faith. From the vantage-point of faith, the Psalmist is able to overcome the temptation to doubt God (vs. 1-3). His enemies say to him, “”Flee like a bird to your mountain.” The Psalmist replies, “In the Lord I take refuge.” The “wicked” are out to get him. The Psalmist looks at them, and says, “In the Lord do I take refuge.” It seems that “the foundations are being destroyed.” The Psalmist looks to the Lord, and says, “In the Lord I take refuge.” From the vantage-point of faith, the Psalmist views the whole of life in the light of God. “In the Lord I take refuge.” There is only one refuge. The Lord is our refuge. He is our salvation. There is only one place of safety – “in Christ." “It is by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). By grace, we are in Christ. Through faith, we are in Christ. “He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock” – This is grace. “Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee” – This is faith. Grace and faith belong together. We are not saved by grace apart from faith. We are saved by grace through faith. The grace of God reaches us as we receive Jesus Christ in faith. We are not saved by faith apart from grace. We are saved by grace through faith.
Faith has no meaning in itself. Faith finds its meaning only in relation to the grace of God. Faith is God’s way for us to come to Him through our Lord Jesus Christ. “By grace you have been saved through faith” – This is the Christian’s unshakeable foundation. With this unshakeable foundation, the Christian can face the attacks of the enemy with confidence. 

' … How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain.  For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do ?” (vs. 1-3).

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The devil is at work. He seeks to sow seeds of doubt into the heart of God’s people. He suggests to us that God’s gracious foundation for our faith can be destroyed. This is nothing new. It’s as old as Genesis 3:1 – “Did God say … ? The devil says to us, “Has God really forgiven your sins?” He says, “Has God really saved you?” The devil wants to get us on the run. He wants us to run away from him. We must not let him get the upper hand. We are to resist him in the strength of Christ’s victory over him. When we “resist the devil” in the strength of Christ’s victory, “he will flee from us” (James 4:7). To believe the devil is to believe the lie. The truth is that, when take our stand in Christ, the devil has no alternative but to ruin from us. Christ’s victory over the devil becomes our victory over Christ has won the victory over the devil. Through faith in Christ, His victory becomes our our victory over the devil. 

' … How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain."  For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.  When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do ?' (vs. 1-3).
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Here are three important lessons concerning Christ's victory over the devil.
* Through His death on the Cross, Christ has won the victory over the devil. He has won this victory for us (Hebrews 2:14-15 - "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death."
* On the basis of the victory that Christ has won for us, we can stand our ground against the devil (Isaiah 28:16 - "So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed."
* When we take our stand in Christ, the devil can do nothing else but flee from us. He is strong when we try to stand against him in our own strength. When, however we remind him of Christ’s victory over him, he can do nothing but bow before Christ’s superior power. Rejoicing in the victory that Christ has won for us, let’s remind the devil that he’s a defeated enemy (James 4:7 - “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”)


Our faith is built on a secure foundation. How do we know this? – “The LORD is on His heavenly throne” (v. 4). Knowing that the Lord is King, we are assured that God’s way of salvation is the one way of salvation. Salvation is by grace through faith. This salvation is centred on Jesus Christ. It is in Jesus Christ that we find the grace of God. It is Jesus Christ in whom we put our trust. Jesus Christ is God’s way of salvation. Through Jesus Christ, we have received salvation. There is no other way of salvation. God’s Kingship is revealed in His way of salvation. There is only way of salvation. It is God’s way of salvation. By grace through faith – This is God’s way of salvation. When we refuse to accept God’s way of salvation, we refuse to acknowledge His Kingship. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). We dare not attempt to dispute this point with God. Who are we to argue with God? We may attempt to save ourselves. We will not succeed. When we attempt to save ourselves, God looks upon us and He sees our sin. In ourselves, we are not “the righteous.” We may think that we are “righteous.” In God’s eyes, we are “the wicked.” This is the truth concerning every one of us: “There is no one righteous, not even one … all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). There is only one way in which “the wicked” can become “the righteous.” We must come to the God of perfect holiness through faith in Jesus Christ. We must remember that “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). This is God’s way of salvation. We don’t tell God that He has to save us because we think that we have earned the right to be saved. He tells us that we are sinners. He tells us that we need to be saved. He tells us that “Jesus Christ is able to save to the uttermost completely those who come to God through him” (Hebrews 7:25).
We have the great promise of the Gospel. In Christ, there is full salvation for all who come to God through Him. Alongside this great promise, there is also the warning of the Gospel. We read the solemn words of verse 6 – “On the wicked he will rain fire and brimstone; a scorching wind will be their lot” “Fire and brimstone” – What are we to say about this? We must note that the Psalm doesn’t end with “fire and brimstone.” It ends with the words: “upright men will see His face” (v. 7). God doesn’t want to leave us where He finds us. He doesn’t want to leave us trembling in fear of “fire and brimstone.” He speaks to us of these things so that we might see our need of the Saviour. He speaks to us of these things so that we might”flee from the wrath to come” (Luke 3:7). He speaks to us of these things so that we might find our way to the Cross of Christ. He speaks to us of these things so that we might learn to confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Unbelievers have ridiculed “fire and brimstone” preaching. We cannot, however, allow their scornful attitude to lead us to dismiss “fire and brimstone” preaching. We dare not say that such preaching belongs to the past.
We must note that the Bible preaches “fire and brimstone.” We must ask, “How does the Bible preach “fire and brimstone”?” The fact that the Bible preaches “fire and brimstone” means that this emphasis on divine judgment must not be excluded from our preaching in today’s world. The way that the Bible preaches “fire and brimstone” teaches us that we must always preach with a view to leading men and women to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Jesus Christ is the only way out of judgment. Jesus Christ is the only way into salvation.We hear the Gospel. we hear its promise. We hear its warning. The Gospel places us at a cross-roads. Each of us must decide. We must come to Christ. We must trust Him as our Saviour. We must come to Him, believing that He died on the Cross for us. We must come to Him and receive His free gift of the forgiveness of our sins. It is only through faith in Him that we will come to know, for ourselves, the truth of the final words of this Psalm: “upright men will see His face” (v. 7).

You keep on loving us, no matter what’s going on in our lives.

Psalm 119:73-96
Lord, we rejoice in Your ‘constant love’. This is our ‘comfort’ - You keep on loving us, no matter what’s going on in our lives. We may be going through really hard times - ‘Men persecute me with lies... They have almost succeeded in killing me’. There’s one thing that never changes - Your ‘constant love’. You love us in the hard times as well as in the happy times. Your love inspires us to keep on loving You when we feel like giving up in despair (Psalm 11976,86-88). We see many changes taking place in our world. Sometimes, we wonder, ‘Where are You, Lord, in all of this? Have You abandoned us? Can we keep on trusting You and rejoicing in Your Word?’. When our minds are full of negative thoughts, help us, Lord, to remember Your Word - ‘Your Word, O Lord, will last for ever... Your faithfulness endures through all the ages’ (Psalm 119:89-90).

Lord, You’re calling us to love You with our whole heart.

Psalm 119:145-176 
‘With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!’ (Psalm 119:145). Lord, You’re calling us to pray. There is nothing more important than this. If other things have become more important in our lives, we need to think about the way we are living. You want to send Your blessing into our lives: ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7). Your blessing will come to those who seek him with their whole heart: ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you seek me with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:13). If we do not ask, we will not receive: ‘You do not have, because you do not ask’ (James 4:2). Your blessing is not given to those who are half-hearted. You’re calling us to love You with our whole heart: ‘I long for Your salvation, O Lord, and Your law is my delight’ (Psalm 119:174).

Lord, have we pushed You out to the edges of our life? Help us to walk with You in the light of Your Word.

Psalm 119:121-144
‘The entrance of Your words gives light’ (Psalm 119:130). Lord, Your Word brings light into our lives. Sadly, many people ‘love darkness rather than light’. They  refuse to ‘come to the light’. They prefer to remain in the darkness. They refuse to listen to what You are saying to them through Your Word. Then, when things are not going so well for them, they blame You. They say, ‘It’s all Your fault’! Things could have been so different. They could have learned to spend time with You. They could have learned the lessons of faith which are found in Your Word. They could have learned to cope with life’s difficulties. They could have been filled with Your strength. They would not be complaining against You. They would be rejoicing in You. What about us, Lord? How much are we moulded by the world’s way of thinking? Have we pushed You out to the edges of our life? Lord. Lord, You have “called us out of darkness into Your marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:10). Help us to walk with You in the light of Your Word.

Lord, You have so much to teach us – and we have so much to learn.

Lord, You have so much to teach us – and we have so much to learn. How do we learn from You? – You open up Your Word to us. You speak to us words of life. You shine Your light upon us. You show us how much You love us. Every day You have something to say to us. Every day, You have something to share with us. Every day, You show us more of Your love for us. Help us, each and every day, to take time to learn from You.
Throughout life, Lord, we have to make choices. Some choices are relatively straightforward. Others are very much more difficult. Some choices don’t affect the rest of our life very much. There are, however, choices which affect the whole of our life. Help us, Lord, to make the one choice which is more important than any other – Choosing the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour. Those who refuse to choose are ‘double-minded’(Psalm 119:113). They can’t make up their mind. They know that they should be following Christ – but they are still ‘in love with the world’. They are ‘lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God’ (I John 2:15; 2 Timothy 3:4). Lord, give us the strength to keep on choosing Christ. Help us to say to the world, ‘Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God’. Help us to say to You, ‘I have decided to obey Your laws until the day I die’ (Psalm 119:115,112).

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Lord, Your Word makes such a difference!

Psalm 119:49-72 
Lord, Your Word makes such a difference! When everything seems so hopeless, we turn to Your Word,  and we find that there is ‘hope’ (Psalm 119:49). When we are going through a time of  terrible ‘suffering’, we turn to Your Word, and we find ‘comfort’ (Psalm 119:50,52). When everything seems to be going so badly, help us, Lord, to keep on reading Your Word: ‘The wicked have laid a trap for me, but I do not forget Your law’ (Psalm 119:61). Through Your Word, You are teaching us to see Your purpose in our sufferings: ‘The punishment You gave me was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to Your laws’ (Psalm 119:71). You, Lord, are showing us what is really important: ‘The law that You gave means more to me than all the money in the world’ (Psalm 119:72). Teach us to see Your ‘love’ in every part of our life (Psalm 119:64).

How, Lord, do You revive us according to Your Word?

Psalm 119:25-48
‘Revive me according to Your Word’ (Psalm 119:25). How, Lord, do You revive us according to Your Word? You give us Your salvation: ‘Let Your unfailing love come to me, O Lord - Your salvation according to Your Word’ (Psalm 119:41). You give us Your strength: ‘My soul is weary with sorrow. Strengthen me according to Your Word’ (28). You give us a change of heart: ‘I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on Your laws... I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free... Give me understanding, and I will keep Your law and obey it with my whole heart... Turn my heart to Your testimonies...’ (Psalm 119:30,32,34,36). You give us ‘new life’: ‘When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!’ (Psalm 119:40; 2 Corinthians 5:17).  

Help us, Lord, to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

Psalm 119:1-24 
Lord, You show us the way of blessing. It is the way of obedience (Psalm 119:1,9,11,17). Many will choose the way of disobedience - ‘influential people sit together and slander me’. Help us to choose the way of obedience - ‘Your servant will meditate on Your teachings’ (Psalm 119:23). We know, Lord, that following Jesus Christ will not be easy. We see many people turning back from following Him. We are tempted to join them. We feel the pull of the world. We must not return to the world’s way of living. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.  Help us to remember all that Jesus has done for us - ‘He loved us and gave Himself for us’ (Galatians 2:20) - and recommit ourselves to following Him: ‘I have decided to follow Jesus... The world behind me, the Cross before me... Though none go with me, I still will follow... No turning back, no turning back’ (Mission Praise, 272). 

My Strength, My Song, My Saviour

Psalm 118:1-29 
‘The Lord is my Strength and my Song. He is my Saviour’(Psalm 118:14). We thank You, Lord, that Jesus Christ is our Saviour. We thank You that He gives us a song to sing: ‘Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine... This is my story, this is my song, praising my Saviour all the day long’. Help us, Lord, to grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ, our Saviour. May we sing His song with strength, committing ourselves to His service, earnestly seeking to win others for Him.

Those who fear You, Lord, have no need to live in fear of man.

Psalms 111:1-112:10 
'Praise the Lord... To Him belong eternal praise... Blessed is the man who fears the Lord... His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes...'(Psalm 111:1,10; Psalm 112:1,8). Those who 'fear' You, Lord, have no need to live in fear of man. Those who know that ‘eternal praise’ belongs to You, Lord, can face their enemies with confidence. Our confidence is not in ourselves. Our confidence is You. We know how good You have been to us - ‘He provided redemption for His people’. We thank You that we have heard and believed the Good News of Christ. We need not ‘fear’ any ‘bad news’ which the devil sends our way. We 'trust' in You, Lord, confident that the ‘light ‘will triumph over the ‘darkness’. We thank You that the Good News of Christ will triumph over the devil’s bad news (Psalm 111:9; Psalm 112:4,7).

We come to You, Lord, in our weakness, and You ‘renew our strength.’

Psalm 110:1-7 
‘The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand...’(Psalm 110:1). Lord, we read these words, and we think of our Lord Jesus Christ: When ‘He was taken up into heaven, He sat at the right hand of God’(Mark 16:19). When Jesus ascended to Your Father’s right hand, the Holy Spirit was sent down from heaven to fill our lives with Your blessing (John 7:37-39). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, our lives are changed: ‘In the Day of Your power, Your people will come to You willingly...’. We come to You, Lord, in our weakness, and You ‘renew our strength’. We come to You in our weariness, and we are ‘refreshed’ by Your ‘streams of living water’(Psalm 110,7). ‘Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace. Streams of mercy never ceasing call for songs of loudest praise.’

What, Lord, are we to do when the world, the flesh and the devil are threatening to overwhelm us?

Psalm 109:1-31 
Lord, we come to You, recognizing that, without You, our situation is hopeless - ‘I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. I fade away like an evening shadow’(Psalm 109:22). When our enemies are on the attack, we are no match for them. What are we to do when the world, the flesh and the devil are threatening to overwhelm us? We must come to You, Lord, praying for Your help, asking You to save us - ‘Help me, O Lord my God; save me in accordance with Your love’(Psalm 109:26). Help us, Lord, to look away from ourselves and our own weakness. Help us to put our trust in You and Your strength. You will not fail us. You ‘stand beside’ us in our time of testing. You ‘save’ us from our enemies. Help us to keep on praising You: ‘I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth. I will praise Him among many people...’(Psalm 109:30-31).

Worshipping the Lord - not just on a Sunday, not only when I feel like it, not only ‘when there’s nothing better to do’!

Psalm 104:1-35
‘I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live’(Psalm 104:33). Sometimes, Lord, we feel like giving up. Other things become more important to us. Worshipping You gets pushed out to the edge of your life. Wrong attitudes creep in. It starts with the idea, ‘Worship’s just an hour on a Sunday’. Then, it becomes, ‘I’ll worship the Lord when I feel like it’. It soon becomes, ‘I’ll worship the Lord when I’ve nothing better to do’. Before long, all desire for worshipping You Lord has gone! Little-by-little, we drift away from the Lord. It’s time, for us, to start thinking about what’s happening. It’s time for a new beginning. It’s time for an ‘all my life’ commitment to worshipping You, Lord - not just on a Sunday, not only when I feel like it, not only ‘when there’s nothing better to do’!

Are we to say, ‘God loves me. I can do what I like’?

Psalm 103:1-22
‘Praise the Lord’(Psalm 103:1-2,20-22). Lord, You're calling us to praise You for His ‘steadfast love’. You are ‘abounding in steadfast love’(Psalm 103:8). How are we to respond to Your ‘steadfast love’? Are we to say, ‘God loves me. I can do what I like’? No! We must not think like this. We’re not to say, ‘I’ll keep on sinning. God will keep on forgiving’(Romans 6:1-2). Your Word tells us something very different. You love us. Teach us to love You. When Your ‘steadfast love’ has really touched our hearts, it changes our lives: ‘As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him... The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear Him’(Psalm 103:11,17). We thank You, Lord, for Your love. Help us to live to please You!

Lord, our situation seems to be utterly hopeless. How can we possibly win the victory?

Psalm 108:1-13 
‘With God we shall gain the victory. He will trample down our enemies’(Psalm 108:13). In ourselves, Lord, there is only defeat. We are no match for ‘our enemies’- the world, the flesh and the devil. We are surrounded by the world - ‘The world is ever near. I see the sights that dazzle. The tempting sounds I hear’. We live with the constant problem of the flesh - ‘the storms of passion, the murmurs of self-will.’ Behind the world and the flesh, there is an even stronger enemy - the devil: ‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against... the spiritual forces of evil...’(Ephesians 6:12). Lord, our situation seems to be utterly hopeless. How can we possibly win the victory? The simple truth is: We cannot. There is, however, a deeper truth: You, Lord, are with us - and ‘with God we shall win the victory’!

Some things are worth repeating!

Psalm 107:1-43 
Lord, there are some things that are worth repeating! The story of Your amazing grace is worth repeating over and over again - ‘Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress’(Psalm 107:6,13,19,28). The call to praise You is also something we need to hear again and again - ‘Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men’(Psalm 107:8,15,21,31). Help us, Lord, 'consider Your great love.' Help us to ‘give thanks to You’(Psalm 107:43,1). 

A History Of Sin - And A History Of Salvation

Psalm106:1-48
Lord, we read about Israel’s sin - ‘They soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for His counsel... They despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His promise... They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord... They rebelled against the Spirit of God’(Psalm 106:13,24-25,33). This is not only ancient history. It’s the story of our life! We read this, and we must join in Israel’s confession of sin: ‘We have sinned, even as our fathers did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly’(Psalm 106:6). We thank You, Lord, that the history of Israel is not only a history of sin. It's also a history of salvation: ‘He saved them...’(Psalm 106:8,10). When, Lord, we read of Your salvation, may we echo the prayer of Your people - ‘Save us, O Lord our God...’ May we join with them in praising You - ‘Praise be to the Lord...’(Psalm 106:47-48).

When things are going badly and we feel like giving up ...

Psalm 105:23-45 
‘He brought His people out with joy’(Psalm 105:43). When things are going badly and we feel like giving up, help us, Lord, to remember Your Word: ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’(Nehemiah 8:10). You're calling us to ‘rejoice in You always’. You do not leave us on our own when our time of testing comes. You are there for us in our time of need: ‘My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus’(Philippians 4:4,19). When we are deeply conscious of our own weakness, You come to us with Your Word of strength: ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness’(2 Corinthians 12:9). Through Your Word, we receive strength. Your Word brings joy to us. May we sing ‘glad songs of victory’: ‘The Lord is my Strength, my Song, my Saviour’(Psalm 118:14-15).

Serving Our Lord Jesus Christ

1 Corinthians 4:1-21
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 (1-4).
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’ (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’ (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).

The Saviour Is More Important Than The Preacher.

1 Corinthians 2:6-3:23
We come to know God when ‘the Spirit’ leads us to 'Jesus Christ' (2:10-13; 3:11; John 16:14).
We must not attach too much importance to the preachers - ‘What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants ...’. When we make too much of the servant, we draw attention away from the Saviour.
There is a very important lesson here - ‘Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth’ (3:5-7).
We are not members of a ‘mutual appreciation society’ - ‘You pat my back, and I’ll pat yours’!
We must learn to point to Jesus, saying, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (John 3:30).
Let ‘Jesus take the highest honour’. Let His Name be ‘the Name high over all’. ‘’Tis all my business... to cry Behold the Lamb!’ (Mission Praise, 378,385) - Let’s say it and mean it!

Keeping Our Focus On Christ

1 Corinthians 1:1-2:5
Paul preached the Gospel, ‘not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power’ (17; 2:4). He preached 'Christ crucified' with a determination ‘to know nothing except Jesus Christ crucified’(23; 2:2). This is the message of our salvation - ‘Christ crucified... Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God’ (23-24). All the glory belongs to God. We have no right to steal away any of the glory for ourselves: ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord’ (26-31). Our faith is ‘not based on human wisdom but on God’s power’ (2:5). ‘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’ (Mission Praise, 712). Christ is our full salvation. ‘Let us rejoice and be glad’ in Him’ (30; Psalm 118:24).

Friday, 17 April 2015

Praying And Caring

"The Holy Spirit" (Acts 6:5) - This is in relation to social concern. "Prayer and the ministry of the Word" (Acts 6:4) - This is not the whole service of the Lord. It lies at the heart of God's work, but there must also be ways of showing people that we care.

Looking beyond the prophet to the Saviour

The birth of Jesus and the birth of John are closely connected. God was sending His Son. He was also sending His prophet. The prophet should not be exalted too highly.  His purpose is to exalt the Saviour. As we read about Mary, Elizabeth and Zechariah, we see that each of them gave glory to the Lord. "Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit" (Luke 1::41). "Mary said, My soul praises the Lord's greatness" (Luke 1:46). "Zechariah began to praise God .... Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied" (Luke 1:64-67).

Eternal Life or Eternal Loss?

Matthew 25 begins with the words, "When the end comes" (Matthew 25:1), and ends with the words, "eternal life" (Matthew 25:46). Often, we might wish that this was all that the Word of God says  about "the end" - "eternal life." This is not all that is said. Jesus also speaks to us about eternal loss (Matthew 25:11-12,30,41,46). The choices that determine eternal loss and eternal life are being made here-and-now. Each one of us must decide whether we will be like the wise bridesmaids or the foolish bridesmaids. By our way of life, here on earth, we will show whether we are "good and faithful servants" or "useless servants." Our response to the Lord will be seen in our response to other people (Matthew 25:40). Live for the Lord now. Live with Him in eternity.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Keep On Listening To What God's Word Says.

Whenever the end-times are spoken of, many strange things are said. People speak as if they know it all. The more they say, the more they show that they don't know it all. We need to make sure that we keep listening to what God's Word says to us. This will keep us from being deceived by people who make things up as they go along. The main thing that Jesus says to us is this:  "you must be ready because the Son of Man will return when you least expect Him" (Matthew 24:44).

When The World Comes To An End, God's Word Remains - Forever,

Jesus speaks about the end-times: "The earth and heaven will disappear." He also speaks about something that will never come to an end: "My words will never disappear" (Matthew 24:35). In all of life's changing circumstances, we must hold on to this great truth: God's Word is forever.

Why does Jesus speak to us about the end-times?

Why does Jesus speak to us about the end-times? - He is encouraging us to "endure to the end" (Matthew 24:13). We cannot endure to the end without the grace of God: "If God does not reduce the number of those days, no one will be saved" (Matthew 24:22). God's Word tells us that we are to "keep ourselves in the love of God" (Jude 21). It also tells us that we are kept, in the love of God, by the power of God - the power of His love (Jude 24).

A Protest Against Hypocrisy, A Protest For Holiness

In Matthew 23, we have a devastating protest against hypocrisy. What is a protest against hypocrisy? It's a protest for holiness. God is calling us to be holy. He is saying to us that we must never be content with hypocrisy. God has something better for us. The way of holiness begins with welcoming the Saviour. Our faith and life are grounded in Him - "Blessed is the One who comes in the Name of the Lord" (Matthew 23:39). Jesus inspires our worship. He gives us strength for living.

Jesus Has So Much To Say To Us.

What variety there is in Matthew 22 - a story about a wedding reception, a question about taxes, the dead come back to life, love God and your neighbour, how can David's son be David's Lord? When we read the Gospels, we must allow the Lord Jesus to speak to us on all the subjects that He brings to us. We are not to select our favourite passages and ignore the other passages. If we only read the parts we like, we are not really listening to the Lord. He has so much to say to us. Lord, give us a listening ear.

The Authority Of Grace

In Matthew 21:23-46, we learn that the authority of Jesus is heard in His words and seen in His actions. He speaks of grace. He lives by grace. Jesus is the foundation of our salvation. Without Him, there is no salvation. With Him, we are greatly blessed. What a great Saviour He is!

A Very Different King

In Matthew 21:1-22, we learn that Jesus is a very different King from the kings of this world. He is the King of love. There is no tyranny, no dictatorship, no reign of terror. Alongside His love, there is His holiness. We see this in the cleansing of the Temple. He is looking for us to be fruitful. This is the lesson of the cursed fig tree. May God help us to be fruitful - in holiness and in love.

The Reversal Of The World's Values

"The last will be first, and the first will be last" (Matthew 20:16). This is the reversal of the world's values. This is grace - not works. The way in which grace reaches us is through Christ's death and resurrection  (Matthew 20:17-19). When we hear the Gospel - Jesus "came to serve and gave His life as a ransom for many people" (Matthew 20:28), our eyes are opened to see who Jesus really is and to understand what He has done for us, and we follow Him (Matthew 20:34).

A New Way Of Thinking - And A New Way Of Living

Jesus speaks about "the Kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:12,23), "the Kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:14,24) and "eternal life" (Matthew 19:29).  Jesus' way of thinking and living is so very different from the world's way of thinking and living. He challenges us to think His way and live his way.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Here are some great words from Jim Elliot, an American missionary who died at the hands of Auca Indians in Ecuador in the 1950s – “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
 * "To gain what he cannot lose" - Eternal life has lasting value.
 * "what he cannot keep" - The things of this world don’t have lasting value.
After Jim Elliot and four other American missionaries were killed, there was great blessing among the Aucas.
 * Think of these faithful martyrs. Think of the blessing which followed. 
In 2 Corinthians 4:15, we have a great comment on the wonderful blessing which followed the killing of the American missionaries by the Aucas - “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” The American missionaries laid down their lives. The Aucas found eternal life. It was for their benefit. Grace reached more and more people. There was an overflow of giving glory to God.
* Think of own times of suffering.
We must remember this  - we’re not alone. God is there with us. We see this in the sufferings of Job. What suffering Job endured. He knew that he was not alone. He knew that God was with him. In the middle of the most intense suffering, Job gives us a great testimony of faith: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25).
 * Think of the eternal glory towards which the Lord is calling us.

From Disaster To Revival

 * "In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and You listened to my cry" (Jonah 2:2).
What are we to do when the going gets tough? We've heard the saying, When the going gets tough, the tough get going. We wonder if this really helps. What if we find that we're not really so tough? What happens when we can't get going? There are times when we know that this is too much for us. We can't raise ourselves up. We need to be lifted. We need You, Lord. You are "the lifter of my head." (Psalm 3:3). It's Your love that lifts us: "Love lifted me. When no-one but Christ could help, love lifted me" (James Rowe).
 * “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered You, Lord, and my prayer rose to You, to Your holy temple" (Jonah 2:7).
Where does this remembering come from? It comes from the Lord. He puts the prayer into our hearts. Jonah was running away from God. God was drawing Jonah back to Himself. Like Jonah, we lose our way in life. That's when we need to hear the wonderful words of Jesus, our Saviour. He tells us that He "came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10).
 * "Salvation is of the Lord. Victory belongs to the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).
Without the Lord, there is no salvation. Without Him, there is no victory. Jonah's story was a disaster story - until God stepped in. It was God who changed everything. That's the way it was with Jonah. That's the way it is with us.
 * "Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, ‘Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.’ The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth" (Jonah 3:3-5).
What a revival! What power there is in the Word of God!
________________

Praise doesn't begin with us!

"Praise God in His sanctuary" (Psalm 150:1). "Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit... glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Where does praise come from? How do we learn to glorify God"? We learn that we "have been bought with a price" (1 Corinthians 6:20). At the Cross of Christ, we learn to praise God. We see Jesus, crucified for us - and our hearts are filled with praise to God. This is where praise begins. It doesn't begin with us. It begins with God. It begins with Jesus. It begins with the Holy Spirit.

God's Temple ...

"Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple" (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

God has given us a great privilege - "you yourselves are God's temple... God's Spirit dwells in your midst."  He's given us a great responsibility - we must take care of "God's temple." When God's Spirit comes into our hearts, what does He do? Does He give us a feeling of superiority - we're better than they are? No! He calls upon us to search our hearts more deeply: "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24).

God's Glorious Future

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

How does the Lord keep us walking in His way? – He keeps on bringing to our attention the glorious future which He is preparing for us. He keeps on reminding us that we are being prepared for His eternal glory. How is He preparing us for ”praise,  glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed”? – He is teaching us to “love Him. ” The more we are learning to love Him, the more we will look forward, “with an inexpressible and glorious joy” to  ”the end result of our faith, the salvation of our souls” (1 Peter 1:7-9).

Filled With Glory

"I will fill this temple with glory" (Haggai 2:7).
We read about the glory of the temple at Jerusalem.  There is, however, a greater glory - the glory of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2) - "I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple" (Revelation 21:22). Where do we find the real glory? Is it in the place where we worship? No! It's in the Person whom we worship. It's in the Lord. The real glory comes from Him. It's the Lord who fills the temple with His glory.

Monday, 13 April 2015

“Give thanks to the Lord.”

Psalm 107 calls us to “give thanks to the Lord” (Psalm 107:1,8,15,21,31). When we hear the call to “give thanks to the Lord”, our response is to be ‘I want to give thanks to You among the people, O Lord” (Psalm 108:3). “With my mouth I will give many thanks to the Lord, I will praise Him among many people” (Psalm 109:30).

Praise and thanksgiving - to God

The Psalmist calls upon all of us to offer our praise and thanksgiving to God - "Shout happily to God, all the earth! Make music to praise the glory of His Name. Make His praise glorious" (Psalm 66:1-2). "Let everyone give thanks to You. Let the nations be glad and sing joyfully ... Let the people give thanks to You, O God. Let all the people give thanks to You" (Psalm 67:3,5).

Listen to the Word of the Lord!

The Word of God, spoken by Jeremiah, still needs to be heard today – “O land, land, land! Listen to the Word of the Lord!” (Jeremiah 22:29). God has much to say to this land and every land. Are we listening to His Word? or Have we closed our ears? Jeremiah speaks of our Saviour, Jesus Christ – “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will grow a righteous Branch for David” (Jeremiah 23:5). Like Jeremiah, we must direct attention to the Saviour. Speaking God’s Word, Jeremiah said, “I am a God who is near. I am also a God who is far away” (Jeremiah 23:23). We must maintain these two emphases in our preaching. God is greater than we can imagine, yet He has come near to us in Christ.

God's Power - And God's Mercy

"Listen to my cry for help, O Lord" (Psalm 61:1). God is the God of power and mercy: "Power belongs to God. Mercy belongs to You, O Lord" (Psalm 62:11-12), "I look to You in the holy place to see Your power and Your glory. My lips will praise You because Your mercy is better than life itself" (Psalm 63:3). When we consider how great God is - great in power, great in mercy, we are filled with thanksgiving, praise and joy - "I will thank You as long as I live ... My mouth will sing Your praise with joyful lips" (Psalm 63:4-5).

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Two types of people ...

In Psalms 36 and 37, we see the conflict between the righteous and the wicked, the godly and the ungodly. By drawing this radical contrast between these two types of people, God’s Word calls us to make our choice. What kind of people will we be? How will we live? There is no more important than the question of character. Will our lives be shaped by the character of God? or Will thy be shaped by a very different character - Satan, the evil one?

Comforters? or Critics?

In Job 15, we have another speech from Eliphaz. He charges in with all the subtlety of an elephant on the rampage: “you destroy the fear of God, and diminish devotion to God” (Job 15:4). He continues in the same vein, getting bolder and brasher in his word of accusation: “Your sin teaches you what to say. You choose to talk with a sly tongue. Your own mouth condemns you, not I. Your lips testify against you” (Job 15:5-6). Eliphaz did not listen to Job, but he insisted on Job listening to him: “I’ll tell you; listen to me! I’ll relate what I’ve seen, I’ll tell you what wise people have declared” (Job 15:17-18). Eliphaz gives a vivid description of the tortured life of the wicked person (Job 15:20-35). He begins with the words, “The wicked person is tortured all his days” (Job 15:20). This part of his speech is in the third person. While he doesn’t explicitly say, “I’m describing you, Job”, it is perfectly clear that this is what Eliphaz is doing. “This is what you are like, Job” - This is the message that Eliphaz wants Job to take out of his description of “the wicked person.”
Job stands up to his ‘comforters’, who are really his critics: “You are all pathetic at comforting me” (Job 16:2). He is, however, at ‘the end of his tether’, as he tries to understand what is going on in his life: “now, God has worn me out” (Job 16:7). The extent to which Job has been overcome by despair becomes clear in the final verses of Job 17. Again, he stands up to his critics: “I won’t find one wise man among you” (Job 17:10). Again, he feels that his situation is hopeless (Job 17:14-16). As we read of Job’s deep distress, we should remember also the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, as he hung on the Cross: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Christ suffered for us - but He also rose again for us. Job catches a glimpse of this when he says, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25).

God's Wisdom? or Our Wisdom?

In Job 11, we hear from Zophar. So far, so good - That’s what we can say about the basic principles of his message: “God’s wisdom is higher than heaven” (Job 11:8); “If you want to set your heart right, then pray to Him. If you’re holding on to sin, put it far away” (Job 11:13). There’s a problem with Zophar’s message. He applies these basic principles to Job. He allows the idea that Job has sinned to dominate his thinking rather than allowing for the possibility that God, in His perfect wisdom, may have another reason, a very different reason, for permitting Job to suffer. When we have two important principles - God’s wisdom and God’s forgiveness, we must not assume that we know exactly how the two relate to each other. If we act on the basis of our own wisdom rather than God’s wisdom, we may end up showing ourselves to be fools.
In Job 12 - 14, Job speaks. He emphasizes that wisdom comes from God (Job 12:13). He charges his so-called ‘comforters’ with speaking foolishly, without the wisdom which comes from God: “Will you talk wickedly for God and talk deceitfully on His behalf? ... Doesn’t His Majesty terrify you? Doesn’t the fear of Him fall upon you?” (Job 13:7,11). Job is still unclear about what is happening to him. He is still wishing that he was dead: “I wish You would hide me in Sheol” (Job 14:13). He still insists on his innocence: “I know that I will be declared righteous” (Job 13:18).

The Day Of Salvation Will Come!

In Job 8, we have the first speech of Bildad. Its theme is very straightforward. Sin leads to suffering (Job 8:4). Obedience leads to prosperity (Job 8:5-7). This teaching is presented in a heavy-handed way. In Job 8:20, we have an attack on Job’s character: “Certainly, God does not reject a person of integrity or give a helping hand to wicked people.” When this statement is applied to Job, it has the effect of saying to him, “You’re not a person of integrity. You’re a wicked person.” There’s a problem with Bildad’s words. He doesn’t recognize that there is an eternal perspective within which the divine judgment is set. Here, on earth, the wicked may be prospering, but the time of judgment will come. It may not be in this world, but it will come, in God’s final judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). Here, on earth, the righteous may suffer much, but their suffering will not be forever. The day of salvation will come. There will be “a great reward in heaven!” (Matthew 5:10-12). Our suffering is “for a little while now”, but it will not last forever: “Your faith is more precious than gold, and by passing the test, it gives praise, glory and honour to God. This will happen when Jesus Christ appears again” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
In Job 9 - 10, Job speaks. He is in a mood of deep distress. He speaks of the futility of arguing with God (Job 9:3). His situation is very depressing: “I hate my life” (Job 10:1). He is surrounded by deep darkness: “So stop this, and leave me alone. Let me smile a little before I go away to a land of darkness and doom to a dismal land of long shadows and confusion where light is as bright as darkness. I’ll never return” (Job 10:20-22).

Is There Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

In Job 3, we see Job in a state of deep depression. At this stage, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. He is in desperate need of the Lord’s sustaining strength. Where will the Lord’s help come from? When will his time of suffering come to an end? Job has many questions. He doesn’t have any answers. This “the dark night of the soul.”
In Job 4 - 5, we have the first speech of Eliphaz. On the pretext of bringing comfort to Job, Eliphaz brings a message of accusation. However much Eliphaz claims to be bringing God’s Word to Job, we can be sure that he is not God’s messenger. Why? - It’s because his message conflicts with God’s understanding of Job’s situation (Job 1:8).
In Job 6 - 7, Job replies. There is real pain in Job’s words. He speaks of his “grief” and “misery” (Job 6:2). There is a real longing for God to answer his prayer. Sadly, his prayer has become a cry of despair: “that God would finally be willing to crush me, that He would reach out to cut me off” (Job 6:9). Even though he is in great distress, Job retains sufficient clarity of thought to know that his so-called ‘friends’ have got it wrong - “Please change your mind ... Change your mind because I am still right about this! ...or is my mouth unable to tell the difference between right and wrong?” (Job 6:29-30). There is sadness here - “As a cloud fades away and disappears, so a person goes into the grave and doesn’t come back again” (Job 7:9). Job hasn’t broken through this sense of hopelessness to the triumphant faith, expressed in his confession of confidence in God: “I know that my Redeemer lives ...” (Job 19:25-26), a tremendous declaration of Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection in Him. It’s so wonderful that in a book, filled with so much suffering, there is this marvellous glimpse of an eternal glory, in which all suffering will be banished forever.

Attacked And Accused

With God’s permission, “Satan, the accuser” attacks Job (Job 1:8). The attack is ferocious, May the Name of the Lord be praised! Through all this, Job did not sin or blame God for doing anything wrong” (Job 1:21-22). Satan’s attack on Job is really a challenge to God. The Lord is in control of the situation. Satan can only do what God permits him to do (Job 2:6).
Job’s so-called ‘friends’ were watching the situation. They intended to sympathize with him and comfort him (Job 2:11). When they saw the “great pain” he was in, they did not say anything to him (Job 2:13). They were thinking about what was happening to him, and their thoughts moved from comfort to blame. They started off with the intention of being comforters. They ended up doing the work of accusers.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Lamentations

The title―Lamentations ― suggests human sadness. There is, however, something else here ― divine faithfulness. At the heart of this short book, we find this great declaration ― ‘Great is thy faithfulness’ (3:23). Knowing God as the God of great faithfulness involves looking beyond our circumstances and our feelings.
Israel’s circumstances were depressing. Jerusalem had fallen. The Temple had been destroyed. Depression seemed to be the mood of the moment. Humanly speaking, things did not look good. Israel had known better times. The Lord’s people had wandered from the Lord. The people of God knew little of the power of God. This was not, however, the whole story. The faithful God had not given up on his wayward people. He assured them that they would again have good reason to say ― ‘Great is thy faithfulness’. We could easily miss the five chapters of Lamentations. Hidden away between the fifty two chapters of Jeremiah and the forty eight chapters of Ezekiel, they hardly catch the eye. The title ― Lamentations ― hardly grabs our attention. It would be a great pity ― for us ― if we overlooked this testimony to God’s faithfulness. Here, we have a message of great contemporary relevance. Lamentations was written at a time, strikingly similar to our own day. God’s people had been taken captive. They lived in an alien environment. This is the story of our own nation in the twenty-first century. We live in a secularized society, a society in which there is little sense of God’s presence. Our society is a materialistic society, a society which has made money its ‘god’. The people of God are a people under pressure. We are tempted to become prisoners of our circumstances, prisoners of our feelings. We look at our circumstances, and we feel ‘desolate’ (1:4) and ‘despised’ (1:11). In our discouragement, we cry to God: ‘O Lord, behold my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed!’ (1:9). What did God say to Israel in their time of distress? He spoke to them of his great faithfulness, his readiness to revive his work. This is the message which we must hear in our day. It is a message which will draw out from our hearts that great confession of faith ― ‘Great is thy faithfulness’. How are we to live for Christ in the twenty-first century? We must live with realism, and we must live by faith. We need realism if we are to look honestly at our present circumstances. Looking beyond those circumstances calls for faith ― faith in the God of great faithfulness. The Church’s present situation is aptly yet sadly described in the words ― ‘How the gold has grown dim’ (4:1). We can come to God only in confession of sin ― ‘O Lord ... see our disgrace’ (5:1). We look at our secularized society, and we acknowledge that ‘our inheritance has been turned over to strangers’ (5:2). We look at the secularization of the Church, and we acknowledge that ‘our homes (have been turned over) to aliens’ (5:2).
We look into our own hearts and lives, and we acknowledge that ‘the joy of our hearts has ceased; (and) our dancing has been turned to mourning’ (5:15). In the world of today and the Church of today, it is not easy to rejoice in our hearts. It is even more difficult to be joyful in testifying for the Lord. We must seek a positive answer to the question, ‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?’ (Psalm 137:4).
Israel’s difficulty in singing the Lord’s song is emphasized by the sad fact that ‘Mount Zion ... lies desolate’ (5:8). This is the situation, which is described in Psalm 137:1 ― ‘By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion’. In this situation, the ‘tormentors’ of God’s people mockingly say, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ (Psalm 137:3). When we are faced with similar circumstances, we are forced to ask, ‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?’ How are we to do this? Are we to hide our heads in the sand, run away from our difficult circumstances and escape into pious emotion? This is what we must not do. We must face our circumstances honestly. This is realism.
We dare not ignore the reality of our situation. There is, however, another reality of which we must take account ― the reality of God, the God concerning whom we say, with faith, ‘Great is thy faithfulness’. By faith, we look beyond our circumstances to our God: ‘But thou, O Lord, dost reign for ever; thy throne endures to all generations’ (5:19). To believe in God’s faithfulness is to believe that his ‘throne endures to all generations’. God is still on the throne. There is no question of ‘God used to be on the throne, but now he is no lnger on the throne’. We have heard what the so-called ‘Death of God’ theologians have had to say for themselves.
We have also heard what the book of Lamentations says for God: ‘Great is thy faithfulness’. Having heard the voice of God, in the midst of the voices of unbelief, we affirm our faith in the living God. God is still on the throne. For ever, he reigns. His throne endures to all generations. This is the faith which inspired Israel in their captivity. This is the faith with which we move forward in the twenty-first century. It is the faith which transforms our feelings. By faith, we bring our feelings to God. Like Israel, we may feel forgotten and forsaken (5:20). In God’s presence, we exchange our feelings ― forgotten and forsaken ― for his blessings ― restoration and renewal: ‘Restore us to thyself, O Lord ... Renew our days as of old!’ (5:21).
In the Lord’s presence, we become convinced of God’s faithfulness. He has not forgotten us, and he will not forget us. He has not forsaken us, and he will not forsake us. In our prayer for restoration and renewal, we bring our circumstances and feelings to God, refusing to be overwhelmed by them.
We pray with urgency, conscious of our great need of restoration and renewal. Prisoners of circumstances and feelings, we pray ― with faith ― that the chains will start falling and the changes will start happening. In prayer, we look back ― with thanksgiving ― to past blessings, and we look forward ― in hope ― to future blessing. We remember what God has done in ‘days ... of old’, and our faith grows ― God reigns for ever and his throne endures to all generations. Strengthened in faith, we pray, ‘Renew our days as of old!’ The restoration and renewal for which we must pray is the restoration of our walk with God ― 'He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake’ (Psalm 23:3) ― and the renewal of our witness for God ― ‘Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee?’ (Psalm 85:6). Walking with God and witnessing for God, we are sustained by the joy of the Lord. In this Book with such an unpromising name ― ‘Lamentations’ ― the joy of the Lord comes shining through. Looking beyond our circumstances to the Lord, we are able, with joy, to affirm our faith: ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end’ (3:22). The steadfast love of the Lord may also be described as his faithful love. His love is love, unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. Rejoicing in such love, we praise God’s faithfulness: ‘Great is thy faithfulness’ (3:23).
Through the faithful love of God, we are given a testimony: ‘The Lord is my portion’. With this testimony, we face the future with the courage of faith: ‘I will hope in him’ (3:24). In our walk with God, this testimony ― ‘The Lord is my portion’ ― is an expression of the joyful faith which finds its true satisfaction in the Lord. We speak of  'a good portion’ and ‘a satisfying meal’. Those who have found that ‘none but Christ can satisfy’ have this testimony: ‘The Lord is my portion’. Assured of God’s faithful love ― a love which is completely trustworthy, utterly reliable and entirely dependable, we confidently affirm, ‘The Lord is my portion’. This faith is no secondhand faith. It may be a faith which reflects on the Lord’s dealing with the whole body of his people but it is, nevertheless, a personal faith ―‘The Lord is my portion’. In Christ, we have received the full portion of God’s blessing. As ‘his sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ’, we have received ‘every spiritual blessing’ (Ephesians 1:4-5). For once, the ‘child’s portion’ is the ‘full portion!’ Knowing Christ as ‘the bread of life’ (John 6:35) and ‘the living water’ (John 4:10, 13-14 and John 7:37-38), we gladly say ‘The Lord is my portion’. Those who have begun to walk with God are also to witness for him. Those who have the personal testimony ‘The Lord is my portion’ ― are to say to others, ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good’ (Psalm 34:8). We have found Christ. We are to share him with others. We have come to know Christ. We are to make him known Surprising though it may seem, the Book of Lamentations can be of some value in the preaching of the gospel. A book bearing the unlikely title ― ‘Lamentations’ ― hardly creates the impression that it will be
of any real use in the proclamation of ‘good news’. The desolation of God’s people in the twenty first century is so reminiscent of the desolation of which we read in Lamentations. Many watch what is going on in our generation, and they wonder, ‘Where is the Word of the Lord’ in all this? (Jeremiah 17:15) The sadness which pervades so much of Lamentations reflects the mood of many of the Lord’s people in our day ― longing for better times, for the ‘days ... of old’ (5:21). Ours is an age of many questions and, so it seems, few answers. Lamentations is a book which ends with questions, ‘Why dost thou forget us for ever, why dost thou so long forsake us? ... Or hast thou utterly rjected us? Art thou exceedingly angry with us?’ (5:20, 22). So often, modern man expects no answer to his questions. In Lamentations, these questions are set in the context of believing affirmation ― ‘But thou, O Lord, dost reign for ever; thy throne endures to all generations’ (5:19) ― and earnest prayer ― ‘Restore us to thyself, O Lord, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old!’ (5:21). How are we to bring good news to a world that is living with questions, a world that shows little inclination to believe the confession of faith ― ‘Thou, O Lord, doest reign for ever’ ― and little interest in praying the fervent prayer ― ‘Restore us to thyself, O Lord’? This is a question which calls for a practical response. It demands a response which will take into account the questions which men and women are asking in this generation. To speak of questions ― some spoken in the context of prayer and faith, and others asked with little expectation of an answer ― is to acknowledge that there are many different types of questions.
This may be brought out clearly through a brief review of the questions asked in the Book of Lamentations. In 1:12, we have a question put to those who despise the Lord’s people, ‘Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?’. In 2:12, there is the question asked by ‘infants and babes faint(ing) in the streets of the city’(2:11) -  ‘Where is bread and wine?’ In 2:13, there are questions which raise the question of the comfort and restoration of a fallen people: ‘What can I say for you, to what compare you, O daughter of Jerusalem? What can I liken to you that may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For vast as the sea is your ruin; who can restore you?’ The question of the cynics who ‘hiss and wag their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem’ is found in 2:15 ― ‘Is this the city which was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of all the earth?’ In 2:20, we have questions asked in the mood of prayerful moral indignation: ‘Look, O Lord, and see! With whom hast thou dealt thus? Should women eat their offspring, the children of their tender care? Should priest and prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord?’
Moving into the third chapter, we find this triology of questions at vs. 37-39: ‘Who has commanded and it came to pass, unless the Lord has ordained it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and evil come? Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins?’ There are so many different questions being asked today.
They are being asked by different people. They are being asked in different ways and with different expectations. What do the question of  Lamentations have to say to our day, a day of many questions? They may prompt the modern questioner to think about the question he’s not asking as well as the questions he is asking ― ‘Perhaps, there is a God who has his own questions to put to me.’ Lamentations asks its questions within the context of the great declaration of faith : ‘Great is thy faithfulness’ (3:23). This combination of intense questioning and confident faith might well increase the questioner’s expectation of an answer ― an answer which while it may leave some questions unresolved, opens the doors to faith. As we face modern man’s questions, we must ‘be ready always to give an answer to every man who asks us to give a reason for our hope’ (1 Peter 3:15). In giving an answer, we dare not imagine that we can ever hope to give a complete answer to every question. We must always remember that ‘the secret things belong to the Lord our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us’ (Deuteronomy 29:29). The answer which we give is not our answer. It is God’s answer.
Man’s question has been answered by God. He has answered it in person. The God of faithfulness ― the Word made flesh (John 1:1, 14) ― is God’s answer to mans question. The answer which we give must always be a Christ-centred answer. We may now focus special attention on two of the questions asked in Lamentations ‘Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?’ (1:12), and ‘Where is bread and wine?’ (2:12). We read these questions in connection with two other questions, the first two questions asked in the Bible: ‘the serpent ... said to the woman, “Did God say ... ?” ’ (Genesis 3:1), and ‘the Lord God called to the man..., “Where are you?” ‘ (Genesis 3:9). Taking these four questions together, we may find a helpful pattern for thinking about Christian witness in today’s world. The Bible’s first question was asked by neither God nor man. It was asked by ‘the serpent’ ― ‘that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan’ (Revelation 20:2). We do not introduce the devil here in order to provide ourselves with an excuse for our unbelief. After all, Scripture tells us that ‘each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire’ (James 1:14). Rather, we speak of Satan’s question ― ‘Did God say?’ in order to emphasize that many of today’s questions arise from unbelief, and not from faith seeking understanding. We speak of the Satanic origin of the Bible’s first question in order to stress that, in today’s world, we are involved in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:12), when we seek to bring the modern questioner from one form of questioning ― the questioning of unbelief ― to another very different form of questioning ― faith seeking understanding. We must  eckon with the activity of Satan when we encounter the questioning which arises from unbelief‘the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 4;4). How is the problem of unbelief to be overcome? Unbelief gives way to faith, only when God is at work in the human heart: ‘it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 4:6). The emergence of faith in the human heart is the work of ‘the Lord, who made heaven and earth’ (Psalm 121:2). If we are to combat unbelief effectively, our evangelism must be God―centred. We proclaim the God of love, the God who sent his Son ‘to seek and to save the lost’ (Luke 19:10). God has not changed. He is still the God of love. He still calls out to the lost, ‘Where are you?’. In love, he still invites the sinner to return to him. His love is a yearning love, a passionate love, a love which says to the indifferent: ‘Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?’. His love for us is a love which draws out from our hearts a returning love ― ’Loving him who first loved me’. Touched by the love of God, the modern questioner finds that the character of his questioning begins to change. The question of the unbeliever gives way to the question of the seeker: ‘Where is bread and wine?’. There is a hunger and thirst which the world cannot satisfy, a hunger and thirst which can be satisfied only by the One whose body was broken for us and whose blood was shed for us. ‘Where is bread and wine?’ It is not the ‘bread’ and ‘wine’ of this world, which satisfies the deepest need of the human heart. It is Jesus Christ ‘the bread of Life’ (John 6:48), ‘the true vine’ (John 15:1). ‘Where is bread and wine?’ This is the question of the seeking heart. To those who are truly seeking, Jesus says, ‘You will find’ (Matthew 7:7). Why do we start asking the seeker’s question? His love lays hold on us. What do we find when we truly seek? His love. The love which prompted us to seek is the love which we find in Jesus Christ. Evangelism, when it is truly God-centred, will also be Christ-centred. Evangelism, which is both God―centred and Christ-centred, becomes effective through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is witness for Christ, which is grounded in walking in the Spirit. True evangelism is grounded in care and prayer. If we truly desire to see the mighty blessing of God in our day, we must care for those who are living without Christ, and we must pray for them. Caring and praying ― both are vital if we are to be really used by the Lord to bring his blessing into the lives of others. Caring for those who have yet to find the Saviour, we invite them to consider the question of 1:12 ― ‘Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?’. Praying for them, we pray that they will ask the seeker’s question ― ‘Where is bread and wine?’ (2:12). Caring and praying, we are ― by our lives and our words ― to invite men and women to consider Jesus Christ and to discover for themselves what w e can do in their lives. As we seek to be faithful to God in our Christian walk and witness, we will discover ― despite all the difficulties facing the Christian Faith and the Christian Church ― the great truth which lies at the heart of Lamentations ― ‘Great is thy faithfulness’.

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