Sunday, 31 January 2016

We thank You, Lord, that You love us - and You forgive us.

2 Samuel 14:1-33
We thank You, Lord, that You love us - and You forgive us. What a difference that makes! There are times when we feel unloved. We wonder, "How could You possibly forgive us?" When we feel like this, help us to remember that Jesus died for us. When we see ourselves in the light of the cross of Christ, our great Saviour, how can we keep on feeling unloved and unforgiven? Take us, Lord, to the cross. Show us Your love. Show us our Saviour, suffering for us. Show us our Saviour, praying for us: "Father, forgive them ..." (Luke 23:34).

Lord, You have done great things for us. You are still doing great things for us.

Joshua 23:1-16
Lord, You have done great things for us. You are still doing great things for us. You will continue to do great things for us. When we say, "Thank You, Lord, for Your many blessings", help us never to take Your blessing for granted. Help us to keep on living in obedience to Your Word. Help us to see, more clearly, the vital connection between obedience and blessing: Keep the obedience going, and the blessing will keep on coming.

Lord, You love us so much. Help us never to forget this.

Exodus 15:22-16:36
Lord, You love us so much. Help us never to forget this. Help us to remember Jesus - to remember that His body was broken for us, and His blood was shed for us. Help us to feed on Jesus, and to be strong in Him. Lord, when the going gets tough, help us to remember that Your love keeps going and going and going  ...It is a love that never comes to an end. It's everlasting love - the only everlasting love.

When, Lord, we think of Jesus ...

Leviticus 7:1-38
When, Lord, we think of Jesus, crucified for us, may our hearts be filled with joyful praise and heartfelt thanksgiving.

Lord, what are we to do when we can’t find any peace of mind?

Lord, what are we to do when we can’t find any peace of mind?
Where are we to look? Are we to look inside of ourselves? Is that where we’ll find peace? Is there an inner peace – if we look deep enough, we’ll find it?
Jesus says something very different. He says, “My peace I give to you” (John 14:27).
Peace is His gift to us. It’s not something that’s already there in our hearts – if we look deep enough we’ll find it. It’s something that has to be given to us. We have to receive it from Jesus.
Inner peace, peace of mind – All of this seems to be so much about ourselves: if you look deep enough, you’ll find it!
What does all this have to do with You, Lord? – Nothing at all! It’s all to do with ourselves. It’s all about self-discovery.
Lord, teach us Your way of peace. Show us that real peace is peace with You. Show us that this peace comes to us “through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
We can’t escape from our sin. It follows us everywhere we go.
Lord, when we come to You, You speak to us wonderful words of love, wonderful words of forgiveness, wonderful words of cleansing.
You say to us, “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses you from all sin” (1 John 1:7). We worship You. We bring our praise to You. We sing to You, “Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, who like me His praise should sing?” Lord, lead us to the Cross. Lead us to Jesus - and may He lead us out of the emptiness of our life without Him and into His fullness: “a life made up of praise in every part.”

The God Of Power, The God Of Love

“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace” (Psalm 29:10-11).
The Lord is “enthroned” – This is the God of power.
The Lord “gives”, the Lord “blesses” – This is the God of love.
When we think of the God of power, we must always remember that He is also the God of love.
When we think of the God of love, we must never forget that He is also the God of power.
The Lord is the King of love.

In The Wilderness ...

"In the wilderness (or the wild country)" (Numbers 1:1).
"Stage by stage" (Numbers 33:2) - Moses kept a record of Israel's journey.
"In the wilderness", "stage by stage" - When we read these two phrases, and think about our own journey through life, we are invited to think about where we've been, where we are, and where we're going.   
Have we been in the wild country for far too long? Will we leave the wild country in the past?
There's more to life than being in the wild county. This is the message of Numbers for us today.
When we're in the wilderness, what we must remember is this - There's a way out of the wilderness.
Where will we find the way out of the wilderness? The book of Numbers gives us God's answer.
When we read about life "in the wilderness", we must remember this - We are not alone in the wilderness.
God is there with us. He's with us all of the time - not just some of the time.
This is what we need to hear and know, when we feel like God's gone away and left us.
Numbers isn't just about wilderness wanderings. It's about the guiding, delivering, sustaining and protecting hand of God.
God brought His people out of Egypt, and He was leading them to the Promised Land.
We must not forget this, when we're reading the book of Numbers.
When we're reading Numbers, it's easy to get bogged down. It's a tragic record of sad failure. That's what we see when we only see the human side of this story.
When we look beyond the human situation, we see something more. We see God - and we begin to see something else. We see another story - a story of glorious victory.
Numbers invites us to think about past, our present and our future. We read about the old generation, the transition era, and the new generation - and we wonder, 'Where do we fit in?'
This isn't just about old age and youth. It's about the old life and the new life - the life without Christ and the life that's being transformed by Him. It's about the struggle to put the old life behind us. It's about the call of God. He's calling us to to walk with Him in new life.
In Numbers, there's a strong emphasis on divine revelation (Numbers 1:1; Numbers 2:1). More than eighty times, in Numbers, we read the words, "The Lord spoke to Moses."
What does God say to us about our life? 
 - Without Him, our life is in ruins.That's the message of our fall into sin (Genesis 3).
 - With Him, we are redeemed. This is the message of the Exodus.
 - Once we've been redeemed by the Lord, we're to worship Him. That's our calling. We learn much about worship in Leviticus.
 - Worshipping the Lord involves more than what happens when we're in the Lord's House. We're to serve the Lord while we're travelling through life's wilderness. This is the challenge of Numbers. Find God in the wilderness. Follow Him as He leads you out of the wilderness and on to the Promised Land.
How are we to serve the Lord? We must begin with this - We have been saved by the Lord. Salvation comes before service. We've been saved by grace. Now, we must grow in grace. "Stage by stage", we must put the wilderness behind us, and press on to a life of faithful and fruitful service. 
 - Serving the Lord is a privilege that is given to us by the God of grace (Numbers 3-4).
 - We are to serve the Lord - according to His will (Numbers 7).
How are we to become God's faithful and fruitful servants? What we must learn is this - The way of service is the way of consecration (Numbers 6:1-8) and blessing (Numbers 6:24-26). Blessing comes from the Lord. It comes to us when we are consecrated to Him.
What does it mean to be consecrated to the Lord? It means this - We are to follow Him in the way that He leads us. When we take our eyes off Him, we will drift away from Him, and we will be pulled more deeply into the wilderness. When we keep our eyes on Him, He will lead us towards the Promised Land. 
Numbers challenges us - What will we be? Will be faithful? Will we be failures? In Numbers 13, we read about the unbelieving ten and the faithful two. God is saying to us, 'Let there be less unbelief, and more faith.' Numbers 13:30 is particularly challenging - "Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’"
In these words of Caleb, we learn about faith.
 - Our faith is based on facts - the promise of God.
 - Standing on the facts - God's promise, we believe that God is faithful. We believe that He will fulfil His promise. This is faith.
 - This brings us on to feelings. We don't start with feelings. We begin with facts. We build on facts. God's promise gives the firm foundation for our faith. When our faith is securely based on God's facts, our feelings will follow the lead given to them by God's facts and our faith. 
Without the God-given foundation for our faith, our feelings will take us all over the place. That's what happened to the people of Israel. The majority of the people lost sight of God's saving purpose - and they wandered around in the wilderness for forty years - “Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of those who were twenty years old or more when they came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly” (Numbers 32:11-12). When we read about failure of the majority, we must not forget faithful Caleb and Joshua. What a great example and wonderful inspiration they are to all of us.
In Numbers 27:18-23, we learn that Joshua had been chosen by God to succeed Moses as the leader of His people.
"So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership,and lay your hand on him. Make him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence ... At his command the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.’ Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and made him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord instructed through Moses."
Reading about those who failed the Lord and those who were faithful - This challenges us: What will we  do? What will we be? Will we fail the Lord? Will we be faithful to Him?
To those who are unfaithful, the Lord says, "Be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23).
To those who are faithful, He gives His promise - "Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess" (Numbers 33:53).
Looking beyond the promised land, we see the promised Saviour.
In Numbers 19:9, we read about "cleansing ... purification from sin." This is what Jesus came to do for us. He's "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
In Numbers 28, we read about the feasts of Israel. they're full of prophetic significance. They point forward to our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the promised Saviour. Let us learn to look beyond all the details - to catch a glimpse of Jesus, our great Saviour.     

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Lord, we can, so often, get preoccupied with the things that matter most to us ...

Genesis 29:31-30:24
Lord, we can, so often, get preoccupied with the things that matter most to us - and we forget about the things that matter most to You. We start to get comfortable, sorting things out to suit ourselves - and then You come to us with a very challenging question, "What matters most to you?" Help us, Lord, to see that pleasing You is more important than pleasing ourselves.

We think, Lord, of Your redemption, and our hearts are filled with thanksgiving - and hope.

Exodus 15:1-21
We think, Lord, of Your redemption, and our hearts are filled with thanksgiving - and hope. We think - and we thank. we look back on all that You have done for us, and we say, "Thank You, Lord." Give us the spirit of thanksgiving, the attitude of gratitude - and, with it, give us the confidence to face the future, knowing that it is more than our future. It is Your future for us.

Lord, You're leading us on to glory.

Lord, You're leading us on to glory. You're taking us to a better place - a place where there will be no more weakness, a place where we will be surrounded by the strength of Your love.

Lord, You love us. You call us to love You.

Leviticus 8:1-36
Lord, You love us. You call us to love You. Help us, Lord, to grow in our love for You - to obey Your Word, to do Your will, to walk in Your way.

The Son Of God

“Truly this Man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39).
Jesus Christ was no ordinary man. He was special. He was unique. He is God’s ‘only Son’ (John 3:16). He is God’s ‘beloved Son’ (Matthew 3:17; Luke 9:35). He is not only the greatest Man who ever lived. He is ‘greater than the angels’ in heaven. ‘All God’s angels’ are called to ‘worship Him’. ‘Truly this Man was the Son of God’ – In these words of faith, we hear an echo of God’s Word concerning His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ – ‘You are My Son; today I have become Your Father…I will be His Father, and He will be My Son…Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever…Sit at my right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for your feet’ (Hebrews 1:1-14). ‘Truly this Man was the Son of God’ – Let these words be your confession of faith in Christ.

The Power, The Victory, The Thanksgiving

The Power – “the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power” (1 Samuel 16:13).
The Victory – “I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty … the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:45, 47).
The Thanksgiving – “I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me” (Psalm 30:1).

Friday, 29 January 2016

Lord, we are surrounded by so many temptations.

Exodus 13:17-14:31
Lord, we are surrounded by so many temptations. We cannot avoid this. There's no getting away from it. It's part-and-parcel of our life in this world. What are we to do when temptation comes our way? What are we to do when we feel the powerful pull of the world, drawing us away from You? Lord, help us to turn to You. Help us to renew our strength - in You.

We thank You, Lord, that Your salvation is greater than our sin.

Leviticus 5:1-6:30
We thank You, Lord, that Your salvation is greater than our sin. We look at Christ's sacrifice - He gave Himself in death for us. We are glad that He is our Saviour. He has taken our sin upon Himself. He gives Your salvation to us. Thank You, Lord.

“The glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:11).

“The glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:11).
The house of the Lord is never to be the chief focus of our attention. The Lord of the house is to be the focus of all that we do when we gather together for worship.
When we look, with admiration, at the grand cathedrals, we may wonder, “Who were they trying to impress when they built this?” When we see two hugely impressive examples of Chucrh architecture located very close to each other, we may wonder, “Is there more than a bit of the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ thing going on here?”
We may wonder, “What goes on in these places?” Are they places of which it can be said, “The glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord”? or Have they become places that are not really much more than tourist attractions?”
When Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, He found that life in the Jerusalem Temple was busy with activity, but it was empty – God was not there.
At the end of the book of Ezekiel, there are these simple yet very wonderful words: “The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35).
When we hear these words, we know that this is what really matters: “The Lord is there.”
“The glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” – What does this mean?
- We are to be “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10).
- We are to “worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
- We are to “pray in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18).
- We are to pray that we will “hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 2:7).
- We are to pray that our preachers will speak with the authority and power of God: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel … ” (Luke 4:18).

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Look To Jesus - And Learn From Him.

In Matthew 9:18-38, we read about Jesus' healing ministry. At the end of Matthew 9, there's a reminder to us that the Lord's work is to be carried on by His followers - "The harvest is large, but the workers are few. So ask the Lord who gives this harvest to send workers to harvest His crops" (Matthew 9:37-38). Jesus wasn't saying, 'Look at what I am doing and see how great I am." He was saying, 'Look at what I am doing and learn from Me - learn how to see the crowds with compassion, to see them in their trouble, to see how helpless they are - "like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). we are to be looking at Jesus and learning from Him. We are to be looking at the world and seeing how we can serve the world for Jesus' sake (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Lord, we give all the glory to You.

Lord, we give all the glory to You. We think of Jesus, crucified for us - and we say, "Thank You, Lord - You have done for us what we could never have done for ourselves." You have brought us out of the darkness of of our sin and into the light of Your salvation - out of sadness and into gladness. Help us never to forget that You have saved us. Help us to live, each day, as Your faithful servants.

Lord, we make everything so complicated.

Genesis 39:1-23
Lord, we make everything so complicated. We go our own way - and everything gets very messy. Everything would be so much simpler - if we kept our eyes on You. When we are tempted to turn away from You, help us, Lord, to keep on looking to You - and to know that we are "loved with everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3).

No Mighty Triumph For Satan, Abundant Blessing From God

The apostles pray for God's help (Acts 4:23-31). The believers share their property (Acts 4:32-37). The Lord is doing a mighty work among His people. At the heart of this work of God, there is "the Holy Spirit" (Acts 4:31).
God was doing a mighty work - and He was protecting it. Satan was trying to destroy the work of God - but God was one step ahead of him. This work must go on. It must not be spoiled. Following on from the act of divine judgment (Acts 5:1-11), there was great blessing (Acts 5:12-16). The judgment came so that Satan may be prevented from having a mighty triumph over God's people. This judgment paved the way for the blessing. First, there was God's purifying judgment. Then, there was His abundant blessing.

"Look, I'm standing at the door ... " (Revelation 3:20).

Are you ‘looking for a better country - a heavenly one’ (Hebrews 11:16)? ‘God has put eternity into man’s mind’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In every human heart, there’s ‘a God-shaped blank’. Jesus came to give us ‘life’ - ‘abundant life’, ‘eternal life’ (John 10:10; John 17:3; 1 John 5:11). Without Jesus, our lives are empty. The ‘longing for a better country’ can only be satisfied by Him. He is God’s ‘foretaste of glory divine’ (Mission Praise, 59). Jesus stands at the door of every human heart. He knocks. He waits for our answer. He says, ‘Look, I’m standing at the door and knocking. If anyone listens to My voice and opens the door, I’ll come in...’ (Revelation 3:20). Don’t ‘shrink back’ (Hebrews 10:39). Invite Him into your heart now.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

"Now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).

In our thinking about the Lord’s Return, it is very important that we do not forget that the decision between salvation and judgment is one which must be made here and now. The Bible speaks of the Day of the Lord’s Return as a Day of salvation for the Lord’s believing people. The Lord’s Return will also bring a Day of judgment for all who turn their backs on the Saviour. The Bible also speaks of another day of salvation, another day of judgment. That day is today. This is precisely what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:2 - “Now is the day of salvation.” Now is the time for making your decision for Christ. Now is the time for faith in the Saviour. Jesus underlines the importance of our present response to Him. He does this, in John 3:18, when He speaks of those who are already under judgment because of their unbelief: “he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God.” The Lord awaits for our response now. May God help us to put our trust in His Son, Jesus Christ. May God help us to await Christ’s Return with joyful expectation.

So many things are changing, Lord.

Genesis 44:1-34
So many things are changing, Lord. How are we to live in a changing world? We trust in Your unchanging love. In our changing world, Your love remains the same - unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable.  You are also the changing God - the God who changes us. Your love is a changing love. Your love changes us. Help us, in our ever-changing world, to keep on praying for the best kind of change - being changed by You - changed by Your love. Help us to become less self-centred and more Christ-centred.

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus ... "

More looking at Jesus, and less looking at ourselves - that's what we need. The more we look at ourselves, the more discouraged and depressed we get. We see what we're really like - and we don't like it. Failure - that's what we see, and it tears us apart. We wish we were so much better than we are. Becoming all that God wants us to be - it all seems so hopeless, when we're constantly looking in at ourselves rather than looking out from ourselves to Jesus. How can we be changed? Let Jesus do it. Look at Him - not once in a while. Look at Him - again and again. See how wonderful He is, and let Him change you. We can't change ourselves. Real change doesn't begin with "I." It comes to us from Jesus - "Turn your eyes upon Jesus. look full on His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."

A Call For A Christ-Centred Life

The concluding message, preached by Joshua, is a call for the people to exalt the Lord. They make a definite and public commitment to the Lord. The Christ-centredness of real commitment to the Lord is summed up in the words of John the Baptist: "He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30). We must confess Christ and honour Him - "The One who comes from heaven is above all" (John 3:31). We must listen to what He says to us - "The One whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit" (John 3:34). It will not be easy to live a life of true commitment to Christ. Nevertheless, we have God's promise: "Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you" (Psalm 55:22).

Take Your Stand - In The Name Of Christ And The Power Of Christ.

In Matthew 8:1-17, we see Jesus' healing ministry. There are three miracles - healing people who were suffering from "a skin disease" (Matthew 8:1-4), paralysis (Matthew 8:5-13) and "a fever" (Matthew 8:14-15). After these three miracles, we have a more general statement about the ministry of casting out demons (Matthew 8:16-17). This is followed by Matthew 8:18 - "Now, when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He ordered His disciples to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee." Jesus was moving from place to place, taking His ministry to more people.
In Matthew 8:19-34, we learn about discipleship (Matthew 8:19-22), peace (Matthew 8:23-27) and deliverance (Matthew 8:28-34). How sad it is that this chapter ends with these words: "Everyone from the city went to meet Jesus. When they saw Him, they begged him to leave their territory" (Matthew 8:34). If it had ended with the words, "Everyone went out to meet Jesus", we would say, "Wonderful! We want more of this." When this is followed by the sentence, "When they saw Him, they begged Him to leave their territory", we sense that we are in the presence of something solemn, even something sinister. What we have here is the activity of Satan. Even when the Lord is working powerfully, Satan is also at work, seeking to hinder the work of God, creating resistance in the hearts of those who have begun to show an initial interest in Jesus. Satan gets worried. He does everything he can to prevent people moving from seeking to finding. Let us take our stand against Satan. Let us take our stand in the Name of Christ. Let us take our stand in the power of Christ.

Paradise Lost! Paradise Regained?

Genesis 3 - From the majestic perfection of God and the privileged responsibility of humanity, we now move to the evil subtlety of Satan. An intruder has sneaked into the privileged place between God, the Creator, and mankind, His creation.

Chapter 2 ends with the absence of shame. Chapter 3 begins with the presence of Satan. The work of Satan, successfully executed, ensures that chapter ends rather differently from chapter 2 – “the Lord God sent the man out of the Garden of Eden” (v. 23).

This was “Paradise Lost”. Was there a way to “Paradise Regained”? There are two answers to this question: “No” and “Yes”. Taking ourselves as the starting-point, the answer is “No”. God will not permit us to take salvation into our own hands (v. 24). Starting with God, the answer is “Yes”. This is the answer of verse 15: Christ (the woman’s descendant will be crucified (the bruising of His heel), but the outcome of this will be the defeat of Satan (the crushing of his head).

More Than A Prophet?

“A great prophet … Are you the one who is coming?” (Luke 7:16,19-20).
“A great prophet” – This may be the beginning of our faith, but it’s not the end of our faith.
“A great prophet” – This is the first stage of our faith. We sense that there’s something different about Jesus. Then, we begin to ask the question, “How different is Jesus?” We start to wonder, “Is Jesus more than a prophet?”
“Are you the one who is  coming?” Where does this question come from? It comes to us, when we start thinking, “There’s something different about Jesus.”
We ask the question. God gives His answer. It is an answer that arises in our hearts, as we think about Jesus, as we think, “This is more than a prophet. This is my Saviour.”

Monday, 25 January 2016

Teach Us, Lord, To Live For You.

"I am filled with the power of the Lord's Spirit" (Micah 3:8). This is what makes true ministry of God's Word so different from 'prophecy' that doesn't come from the Lord. Without the power of the Lord, there can be no Word from the Lord. We need the Word, and we need the power.
"Let's go to the mountain of the Lord ...He will teach us His ways so that we may live by them" (Micah 4:2). We are taught by the Lord so that we might live for Him. Teaching and living - they belong together. We do not learn from God's Word so that we can amass more head-knowledge. We pray for a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ - a life-changing knowledge that gives us the strength that we need to live for the glory of God.

Lord, when our hold on You is weak ...

Genesis 26:1-35
Lord, when our hold on You is weak, help us to remember that Your hold on us is strong. Often, we get bogged down in our sin. Lift us up by Your grace. Give us strength to rise above our sin - strength to become all that You want us to be.

Often, Lord, we fail You - and we wonder why You bother with us.

Exodus 4:1-31
Often, Lord, we fail You - and we wonder why You bother with us. We thank You, Lord,that You never fail us. When we let You down, You lift us up. Help us, Lord, not to be shaped by our failure. Help us to be transformed by Your love and power. Help us to respond to Your call to "attempt great things for You and expect great things from You" (William Carey).

The Mercy Of God And The Ministry Of His Word

In the work of ministry, we are often discouraged by the lack of response. May God help us to remember that “we have received this ministry by the mercy of God” (2 Corinthians 4:1). May He give us the wonderful privilege of seeing more people responding to the Word of God which, by the power of the Holy Spirit, “gives the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Lord, help us to have faith in You.

Lord, help us to have faith in You - faith that is humble, and faith that is confident. Lord, give us a humble faith. Give us the humility that comes from knowing that You are God - and we're not God! Lord, give us the confidence which is confidence in You - and not self-confidence!

Lord, we thank You that Your love is "an everlasting love."

Lord, we thank You that Your love is "an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3). Human love can be strong. It can be weak. Human love can come to an end. Your love is always strong. Your love never comes to an end. Your love is "everlasting love" - the only "everlasting love"!

Lord, there is work to be done.

Exodus 38:1-31
Lord, there is work to be done. It's Your work. Help us all to play our part. We leave it to someone else - and it never gets done. Change us, Lord. Spectators can become workers. Help us not to hang back - on the sidelines. You're calling us to come into the centre of Your will and Your work. When we're tempted to stand back and watch, help us to come forward and work. Help us to remember this: "There's a work of Jesus none but we can do."

We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, is "pure gold."

Exodus 37:1-29
We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, is "pure gold." There's nothing better than Jesus. there's no-one better than Him. He's the very best. What Jesus has done for us - this is "pure gold." He died for us. He was raised to life for us. This is Good News. It's the best news we could ever hear. Lord, help us not to get bogged down in the bad news of our sin. Lord, lift us up with the Good News of our Saviour.

The Love Of Christ - For Us, His Bride

Christ loves us. He has given Himself for us. He calls us His ‘Bride’ (Ephesians 5:25-27; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 21:2, 9).

No-one else can ever be more important and more wonderful than Jesus.

Knowing the Lord Jesus Christ is more important and more wonderful than everything else (Philippians 3:8).

Paul's testimony lifts us above the shallow superficiality of the worldly way of thinking. Too often, we attach too much importance to the things that aren't really that important. We need to be reminded that Jesus is the most important Person of all. No-one else can ever be more important and more wonderful than Jesus.


“I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the House of the Lord.’ Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:2).
* Standing – in the House of the Lord! In life’s many trying times, we are put to the test – Will we stand? Will we fall?
* Standing – in the house of the Lord! Let’s never imagine that we can stand in our own strength – “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
* Standing – in the House of the Lord: We stand when we put our trust in the Lord. We stand when we build our life on Him.

Sin Comes From Satan. Salvation Comes From God.

Sin, Judgment … And Salvation (Genesis 3:1-24)

Genesis 3:1   –  “The serpent” (Satan) raises doubts – “Has God said?

Genesis 3:2-3   –  The woman tells Satan what “God has said.”

Genesis 3:4   –  Satan contradicts God’s Word. Note the progression from questioning God’s Word to contradicting His Word.

Genesis 3:5   –  “Your eyes will be opened.” You will see everything in a different way. You will know “good” as something you’ve lost. All you’ll have left is “evil.” That’s not exactly how Satan said it would turn out. What can you expect from someone who contradicts God’s Word? – Nothing but lies!

Genesis 3:6   –  This is the beginning of sin. We listen to Satan. We do what he says – instead of listening to God and doing what He says.

Genesis 3:7   –  “Their eyes were opened.” They saw what they had become through their disobedience to God’s Word.

Genesis 3:8   –  Sin leads to hiding from God.

Genesis 3:9   –  “Where are you?” Why is God looking for them? Is this nothing more than the voice of accusation? There is something more than that. There is the voice of love.

Genesis 3:10   –  The sinner does not hear the voice of God as the voice of love. He hears only the voice of accusation.

Genesis 3:11   –  More questions from God – He makes us think about what we have done.

Genesis 3:12   –  Passing the buck!  

Genesis 3:13   –  More passing the buck!!

Genesis 3:14   –  Here, we have the Word of judgment – but that’s not the only Word that God speaks to the sinner.

Genesis 3:15   –   This is the Word of salvation. It’s the first prophecy of Satan’s defeat. Christ will win the victory over Satan.

Genesis 3:16-19   –  Sin has its consequences!

Genesis 3:20-24   –  In these verses, we read about “the tree of life.” Here, we catch a glimpse of Christ who died on the Cross for us. It’s through His death that we receive eternal life.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Travelling Through God's Word: Genesis

We have been created by God. We have been created to be like God. "God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light." We are to let His light shine. His light is the light of His love. It is the light of life. Let there be light, love and life. May light, love and life be seen in us.
"You may freely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not ear, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." A command is not to be discussed. It is to be obeyed. Do what God tells you to do, and you will be blessed. Go your own way, instead of God's way, and there will be no blessing. God's command is also His promise and His warning.
The "serpent" begins with questioning, and moves quickly on to contradicting. He's a liar - from the beginning to the end. There will be conflict between "the serpent" and "the seed of the woman" (Christ) - "you (the serpent) shall bruise His heel", but the victory belongs to the Lord - "He shall bruise your head." We see this conflict and victory in the death of Christ. The serpent tried to destroy the Saviour. He failed. God raised His Son from the dead.
Cain and Abel brought very different offerings. In Abel's offering, we catch a glimpse of the sacrifice of Christ, "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Was there hope for Cain? Yes! "If you do well, will you not be accepted?" There is also a word of warning - "Sin is crouching at the door." Cain's ruin was not inevitable - "you must master sin."
"Enoch walked with God" - on and on, he walked, into eternity. God gives us a future - "eternal life", but we must learn to walk with him while we are here on earth. In these words about Enoch, we catch a glimpse of God's purpose for our life. He's teaching us to walk with Him. He's preparing us for His eternal glory.
Noah stood out from the crowd - "the wickedness of man was very great ... But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord." We must go the way of Noah, not the way of the crowd:   "Noah walked with God."
The truth about mankind is stated clearly - "the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth", but there's also something else here. It's the grace of God. He looks beyond our sin. He gives us hope for the future: "Neither will I ever again destroy every living creature." When it seems like we're being overwhelmed by the darkness, we must not lose sight of the light of God's love. Our sin is great. His love is greater than our sin.
Life is full of highs and lows. We look up at the rainbow, and we see the greatness of God's love for us. We look inside ourselves, and we see how low we can sink - "Noah became drunk ... " When we fall down, how are we to be raised up? Are we to say, "Come, ... let us make a name for ourselves"? No! We must  listen to what God says to us - "The Lord said to Abram." We must do what He says to us - "Go ... ", and we must leave it to Him to fulfil His promise: "I will make your name great."  We must learn to give God all the glory, and stop trying to lift ourselves up: "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up."
"Abram was 75 years old." It's never too late to make a new beginning with God.He gives us the strength that we need to put our past behind us and move on into His future. The Lord was leading Abram. How did Abram respond? "Abram built an altar to the Lord." He worshipped the Lord. He "called on the Name of the Lord." "There was a famine in the land." When we're walking with God, we don't always walk straight into favourable circumstances. Should Abram have gone "down into Egypt"? Going down into Egypt was the beginning of a downward slope - telling lies, which brought Abram - and his God - into disrepute.There is the beginning of a return to God - journeying to Bethel, "the place where he had made an altar", back to the place he had been before he went down to Egypt. Now that Abram was worshipping the Lord again, he was less self-centred. The blessing of God returned to his life, and he continued worshipping God.

Lot was very different from Abram. Lot loved the world more than he loved the Lord. This is a warning for us. Make sure that you don't become like Lot. We read about Lot, and we wonder, "Had God given up on Lot?" Before we start thinking like this, here's something for us to think about. "So the enemy ... captured Lot, Abram's kinsman ... Then one who had escaped came and told Abram ... that his kinsman had been taken captive, Abram led forth his trained men ... He brought back all the goods, and Lot with his goods and people." Reclaiming what had been taken: Is there a spiritual message here? The enemy, Satan, has taken us away from God, Jesus comes to set us free from Satan's hold over us. When we see people wandering away from the Lord, let's not give up on them. In love, the Lord is reaching out to them, calling them to come back home to Him.
On the way back from the battle, in which he reclaimed Lot, Abram receives a visitor - Melchizedek: "Melchizedek .... brought bread and wine and blessed Abram." We read these words about Melchizedek, and we think of Jesus, our Saviour. In Hebrews 7, we read about Melchizedek - "See how great he is." These words describe Melchizedek. They also describe Jesus.
"Your own son shall be your heir." This is what the Lord said to Abram. Abram did not wait  for God to fulfil His promise.He took things into his own hands. A child was born, but he was not the child whom God had promised. Note the result of Abram's unbelief. Hagar, the child's mother, had "contempt" on Sarai, Abram's wife. This is a story of sin, shame, strife and sadness.
"My covenant is with you" - Abram failed God, but God didn't fail Abram. The covenant came from God, but, for Abram, there were covenant responsibilities: "Walk before Me, and be blameless." Despite God's renewal of His covenant, Abram was still full of unbelief. He needed to be assured of this: what man cannot do, God does. Again, God gives His promise. Again, there is laughter - this time, from Sarah. God responds with a question: "Is anything too hard for the Lord?  
Abraham was chosen for blessing and for holiness. Abraham prays for Sodom. God is willing to be merciful, but, still, the people of Sodom continue in their wicked ways. They were prayed for, but they did not repent. "The heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9).
Sodom and Gomorrah are brought to nothing. This is the judgment of God. lot's wife could have been rescued, but she "looked back." Her heart was in Sodom and Gomorrah. She was lost. Still, there is sin and shame in Lot's family.
One thing leads to another. Here, we read of Lot's drunkenness - and incest. "Both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The first-born son ... Moab ... is the father of the Moabites to this day." To this day - sin has far-reaching consequences.
"God has made laughter for me", said Sarah. This is what Sarah said at the time of the birth of her son, Isaac. this was a different kind of laughter. The child was given by the Lord - and so was the laughter.
"I will make a nation of Hagar's son also." This is common grace. Even for those who are wandering in the wilderness, there is grace. Even when it seems like there is no hope, God does not forget His promise of blessing. God said that He would bless Ishmael, and He did bless him.
"Ishmael's mother, Hagar, took a wife for him from the land of Egypt." Knowing what we do about Egypt, from the book of Exodus, we fear for the future of Ishmael and his descendants.
The testing of Abraham: Abraham loved Isaac, Isaac had been given to him by God. This would be a great sacrifice. "God will provide a lamb." This directs our thoughts forward to God, providing His Son, Jesus, as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Isaac was spared. He was not to be a sacrifice for sin. He was to be a link in the chain that led to Jesus, the \Lamb of God, the perfect Sacrifice for sin.
The servant is sent to find a wife for Isaac. He prays for God's guidance, He is led to Rebekah. Knowing what we know, from the rest of the story, we know that this marriage was not plain sailing. Rebekah favoured one son - Jacob - over the other son - Esau. Isaac favoured Esau over Jacob. We know that the conflict between the two sons had been prophesied at the time of their birth, but we still have to say that Rebekah and Isaac did not set a good example for other parents to follow. "Isaac loved Esau" and "Rebekah loved Jacob - this was not a good recipe for a happy home. Later on, in Scripture, this division between Jacob and Esau is seen in terms of God's purpose (see Malachi 1 and Romans 9). This places Rebekah on the side of God, and Isaac on the other side. Having said this, we must state clearly that the methods used by Rebekah to achieve her goal were deceptive. At the time of his birth, Isaac was regarded as being the one who fulfils God's promise, As it turns out, he fulfilled God's promise for the next generation, only by being deceived into doing so.

When someone stops trusting in Jesus and following Him ...

1 John 5:4 tells us that "whatever is born of God overcomes the world; our faith overcomes the world." When someone stops trusting in Jesus and following Him, we must allow for the possibility that their "faith" was only a superficial faith, a "faith" that "endures for a time" but doesn't "endure to the end" (see Jesus' parable of the sower - Mark 4).
In John 6:66-68, we read about people turning back from following Jesus. Jesus let them go away because they were never really His true followers. Jesus asked His disciples, "Will you also go away?" Peter replied, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (see also John 6:37,40,44). Peter failed the Lord. He was restored. What the Lord did for Peter. He can do for us. He can lead us on to an obedient faith, a courageous faith and a fruitful faith.
We'd like to think that everyone who has professed faith in Christ was really saved, but we're warned of the possibility of an empty profession (Luke 9:62; Matthew 7:22-23).
We have God's promise that He will complete His good work in us (Philippians 1:6), but we can only pray for ourselves, "Jesus, keep me near the cross." Our faith is not only about looking back to the beginning of our faith - O happy day! that fixed my choice on Thee, my Saviour and my God!" It's a faith for today and every new day: "High heaven, that heard the solemn vow, that vow renewed shall daily hear; till in life's latest hour I bow, and bless in death a bond so dear." 
When it comes to other people, who have stopped following Jesus, we can only say, "The foundation of the Lord stands sure. The Lord knows those who are His. Let every one who names the Name of the Lord depart from iniquity" (1 Timothy 2:19).
We turn to the words of Jesus, in Matthew 24. He says that, in a time of "great tribulation", "false Christs" and "false prophets" will do "signs and wonders." "If it were possible, they will deceive even the very elect." The words, "if it were possible" suggest that the elect will not be deceived. They will persevere to the end because they are being preserved for eternal life by the Lord. When we speak about God's election, we must be careful what we say. We dare not say, "I'm one of the elect. I can do what I like."  When we start thinking like this, it suggests that we're not one of the elect. Thinking about God's election should fill our heart with praise to God and strengthen our will to keep on living for Christ.
Let's stand on the promises of God. The verses I mentioned earlier - John 6:37,40,44 - are very precious, but let's remember that the real sign of being a true believer - born of God - is overcoming the world while many others, who had professed faith, are being overcome by the world. For us, let it be, "I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back", and let us always remember, "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23).
When we see other people falling away, while we, by the grace of God alone, are still going on with the Lord, we must never think of ourselves as superior to them. We must always say, "Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to Your Name give glory because of Your faithful love, because of Your truth" (Psalm 115:1).

‘Devote yourselves to prayer.’

God calls us to pray - ‘Devote yourselves to prayer’. We are to pray with concern - ‘watchful’. We are to pray with gratitude - ‘thankful’ (Colossians 4:2). We are to pray for those who preach God’s Word. Thank God for the past. Trust Him for the future. Remember - the important thing is the ‘message’ (Colossians 4:3). The messengers are just ‘jars of clay’. The message is the ‘treasure’ (2 Corinthians 4:7). The messengers must not draw attention to themselves. They must direct attention away from themselves to Jesus Christ - ‘We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord’ (2 Corinthians 4:5). We are to pray that the message will be ‘clear’ (Colossians 4:4). Pray for good preaching - preaching which does you good, giving you good cause to say in your heart, ‘For me it is good to be near God’ (Psalm 73:28). Pray for preaching which glorifies God.

Lord, give us Your wisdom.

Genesis 25:19-34
Lord, give us Your wisdom. Help us to see that walking in Your way is better than getting our own way. When we are being drawn away from Your way, bring us back again - back to the way of obedience, back to the way of blessing.

Lord, we thank You that You don't give up on us - even when we don't pay much attention to You.

Genesis 34:1-31
Lord, we thank You that You don't give up on us - even when we don't pay much attention to You. We can become so self-centred. Everything revolves around ourselves. You keep on coming to us. You come to us in love.  You're calling us back to Yourself. You're calling us to bring You back into the centre of our lives. Lord, may it be less of self and more of You.

Pain, Prayer, Protection, Peace

The Psalmist is experiencing great pain. His honour is being insulted; his enemies are spying on him; he is being harassed by troublemakers (Psalm 4:2; Psalm 5:8; Psalm 6:8). As well as pain, there is prayer, protection and peace. He prays with confidence in God - “The Lord has heard my plea for mercy. The Lord accepts my prayer” (Psalm 6:9). He stands upon God’s promise - “The Lord protects those who take refuge in Him” (Psalm 5:11). He rests in the peace of God (Psalm 4:8).

Lord, You call us to serve You.

Exodus 31:1-32:14
Lord, You call us to serve You. How are we to serve You? How can we serve You? - Our sin keeps on getting in the way. We start off well - and then, we take our eyes off Jesus, and things start to go badly. Lord, we need Your Spirit. He is the Holy Spirit. How can we possibly serve You - if we are not learning to walk with You in the way of holiness. Before we pray, "Help us to serve You better", help us to pray, "Lead us in the way of holiness."

Lord, help us to prepare for the future – Your future.

Lord, help us to prepare for the future – Your future.
Life without a future is no life at all. Often, we feel like we are stuck in the prison of the present.
You lift up our eyes. You show us Your future. You fill our pathway with Your light.
It is Your light that makes our future very bright – brighter than we can put into words, brighter than we can even imagine.
Lead us, Lord, into Your future. Help us to walk with You on Your pathway to glory – Your eternal glory.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Lord, what are we to do when we're going through a hard time?

Exodus 1:1-2:10
Lord, what are we to do when we're going through a hard time? Hard times can be the breaking of us - or the making of us. We can blame You - or we can trust You. Help us to trust You - to know that You are near, even when it feels like You are far away.

"“King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16)

Jesus was tempted. Jesus is victorious. He is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16) – and He’s at work in us, bringing us through temptation and into victory. We don’t live in constant victory. Often, we’re defeated. We need to learn to listen to God’s Word and be led into the pathway of victory. It’s a lifelong learning process. There’s never a time when our ‘education’ is complete. Throughout our life, we must keep on coming to the Lord, confessing our need of His cleansing and power and praying that He will make us more truly and more fully what He wants us to be – “Cleanse me from my sin, Lord. Put Thy power within, Lord. Take me as I am, Lord, and make me all Thine own. Keep me day by day, Lord, underneath Thy sway, Lord. Make my heart Thy palace, and Thy royal throne” (Mission Praise, 82).
May God bless each of us as we read His Word and learn to trust the Lord to give you victory over temptation.
“Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin;
each victory will help you some other to win;
fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue,
look ever to Jesus, he’ll carry you through.
Ask the Savior to help you,
comfort, strengthen and keep you;
He is willing to aid you,
He will carry you through.
Shun evil companions, bad language disdain,
God’s Name hold in reverence, nor take it in vain;
be thoughtful and earnest, kindhearted and true,
look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown;
Through faith we shall conquer, though often cast down;
He Who is our Savior our strength will renew;
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through."

Keep On Speaking The Word Of The Lord - And Keep On Walking In His Ways.

"How horrible it will be ... " (Amos 6:1,3-6,13) - This is a prophecy concerning God's judgment. Such words need to be heard, if people are to be turned back into walking in the ways of the Lord. If we don't hear of God's judgment, we are likely to keep on walking in our own ways. There needs to be "an alarm to the unconverted" (Joseph Alleine). There needs to be an alarm to the converted. The danger of remaining apathetic and unconverted is not the only danger. There is also the danger that, after being converted, we become apathetic and backslidden. God is calling us to turn to Him. He's calling us to keep on being turned towards Him.
"Almighty Lord, please forgive us!" (Amos 7:2) - This is the prayer that the Lord is waiting to hear and answer. "Almighty Lord, please stop!" (Amos 7:5) - This is a prayer for God's mercy. We come to Him, deeply aware of our sin and His judgment. We cry to Him for mercy. Why should He have mercy on us? From our point of view, there is no answer to this question. From His point of view, there is an answer - the Cross. Upon Christ, there is our sin and God's judgment. To us, there is mercy and grace. There are people who do not want to hear the Word of the Lord. They say, "Don't ever prophesy again in Bethel" (Amos 7:13). Why did they tell the prophet to "run away to Judah! ... and prophesy there" (Amos 7:12). The reason is this - "This is the king's holy place and the king's palace" (Amos 7:12). Holy? - What is holy about a place when its people send away the prophet of God, and tell him to preach the Word of God somewhere else? If a place is really holy and the people are really holy, there would be a real desire to hear what the Lord has to say to us. What did Amos say about this? This is what he said - It was the Lord who said to me, "Prophesy to My people, Israel" (Amos 7:15). The Lord says, "Speak." The world says, "Stop speaking to us." A true prophet will speak the Word of the Lord.
"The days are going to come, declares the Almighty Lord, when I will send a famine throughout the land. It won't be an ordinary famine of hearing the words of the Lord. People will wander from sea to sea, and roam from the north to the east, searching for the Word of the Lord, but thy won't find it" (Amos 8:11-12). There's a real sadness in these words. People are looking, and they're not finding.  They know they're looking for something, but they don't know what it is. It is the Word of the Lord. May God help us to continue speaking the Word of the Lord and looking to Him to send the blessing.
"I will restore and rebuild My people, Israel, as they were a long time ago" (Amos 9:11,14). This is not about good times and bad times. Sometimes, we have good times. Sometimes, we have bad times. This is about the blessing of God, which comes to us from the faithfulness of God. We must never forget the Lord. Real blessing comes from Him. God-given blessing is more than things turning out all right for us. It's having a real sense that the Lord is with us, that He's showing us how much He loves us, that He's leading us into a closer walk with Himself, and that He's leading us to give all the glory to Him.

Physical Blindness - And Spiritual Blindness

“Many warned him to be quiet, but he cried out all the more … ” (Mark 10:48).
There were many people who tried to silence blind Bartimaeus. Here was the voice of prayer – and they were saying, “Shut up’! Thank God – he didn’t shut up. He shouted out. They more they said, “Shut up”, the more he shouted out.
Because our praise is loud, that doesn’t mean that it’s real – but what kind of worship if we can hardly burst a paper bag! Let’s lift up our voices to the Lord. Why? Because we want to be loud? – No! There’s something much more important than how loud we’re singing. It’s this – how much we are lifiting up our hearts to the Lord.
We read the story of blind Bartimaeus, and we ask the question: Who was really blind – Bartimaeus or the people who were trying to shut him up?
They could see Bartimaeus, but they couldn’t see that he was doing the one thing that really mattered. He was calling upon the Lord. They were busy criticizing him. He kept on calling on the Lord. They were so busy trying to put Bartimaeus right that they hardly even noticed Jesus.
Who was really blind – Bartimaeus or his critics? What did Jesus say? – Jesus spoke by His actions.
Here, we learn from what Jesus didn’t do before we learn from what He did do.
If Jesus had been on the side of the silencers, He would have joined them in telling Bartimaeus to shut up. Did Jesus do that? No! He didn’t. He did something much better than that.
Jesus’ miracle was about more than giving Bartimaeus his sight. It was about faith – “Your faith has made you well.” It was about following Jesus – “he followed Jesus” (Mark 10:52).
Bartimaeus had faith. He followed Jesus. What was the problem with his critics? Their problem was quite simple. They were not men of faith. They were not following Jesus. May God help us to be like Bartimaeus – men and women of faith and followers of Jesus.

Going Back To The Beginning

“In the beginning, God”  – The first four words of the Bible take us back to the point where we can go no further, back to the eternity of God.
What do we find when we are taken back – into the heart of the eternal God?
We find love. We discover that “God is love.”
Creation is love because God is love. Before God made us, He loved us.
The love which we find in the opening chapters of Genesis is the love that is proclaimed throughout God’s Word – from Genesis to Revelation.
It’s the great love of God for us. It’s the love that never ends. It’s the love that goes on and on.
* How do we get to know God the Creator? How do we come to know that His heart is full of love for us?
In Genesis 1, three words are repeated over and over again: “And God said”.
These words emphasize the creative power of the Word of God.
God created through His Word. He proclaims His love to us through Jesus Christ, the living Word of God. He declares His love for us in the Scriptures, the written Word of God. We come to a true knowledge of god as our loving Creator when we come, in faith, to Jesus Christ, our Saviour.  As the Scriptures proclaim the Saviour to us, we learn that we need to be re-created in Christ, if we are to discover the  purpose of God’s love when He created us in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27). In Jesus Christ, we learn that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). Through Christ, we read Genesis with new eyes, the renewed eyes of “a new creation in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Through this new creation in Christ, we come to a real understanding of what it means to say, “Lord God, You created me. You are my Creator.”
* When we see creation from the standpoint of Jesus Christ, it is no longer merely a matter of ‘long, long ago.’ When we see God, our Creator, through the eyes of Jesus, our Saviour, we no longer have the feeling of something ‘far, far away’, something which is so distant and remote from our lives that it does not really concern us very much at all. In Jesus Christ, God, our Creator, has come to us. In Jesus Christ, God, our Creator, has declared his love to us.  When you read the story of the Garden of Eden, let your thoughts move beyond that garden to another garden, the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed to His Father, “Not My will, but Yours be done (Luke 22:42). As you come, in faith, to the Christ of Calvary, you will see creation from the vantage-point of the cross. You will read what God’s Word says about creation with the eyes of one who has become a new creation in Christ. You will read of God, breathing the breath of life into man (Genesis 2:7), and you will rejoice in the gift of God – the Holy Spirit: God’s gift to every believer in the lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:14). When you read of God’s command to man to do His will, you will, by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, make it your delight to do the will of God. This is what it means to be re-created in the image of God. It is a life of learning to pray, with Jesus, “Not my will but yours be done.” To believe in God as our Creator is to obey Him as our Lord. Faith in God, the creator, is a living faith, when we know that Jesus is “God with us” and acknowledge Him as Lord.
We make our confession of faith  – “Jesus is Lord”, and we give thanks that “creation’s voice proclaims” that He is Lord.

So often, Lord, we get preoccupied with ourselves.

Exodus 30:1-38
So often, Lord, we get preoccupied with ourselves. Our words say that You are more important than anyone else. Often, our lives tell a very different story - 'It's all about us. It's all about what pleases us.' How can we be changed? Lead us to the Cross of Your Son, Jesus. Show us Jesus - dying for us. Teach us to live for Him. Lift us out of our weakness and failure into Your strength and victory - and help us to praise You with hearts that are becoming more God-centred and less self-centred.

Lord, we thank You for Jesus, our Saviour.

Lord, we thank You for Jesus, our Saviour. In Him, You have given us "every spiritual blessing" (Ephesians 1:3). What blessings You have given to us - the forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit living in us, eternal life with You (Ephesians 1:7,13-14). Help us to praise You today. Help us to praise You every day.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

A Strong Faith? or A Strong God?

“Paul … strengthened  the faith of all the disciples” (Acts 18:23).
Strengthening the faith of all the disciples – This is such an important ministry. We are not to be content with the faith that we have. We are to press on to a stronger faith. What do we mean when we speak about a strong faith? What we mean is this: We’re learning to trust in our strong God. Our God is always stronger than our faith. It’s not so much our faith that’s strong. It’s our God who’s strong. The strengthening of our faith – This is about a growing awareness of our strong God. He is our strength. Our faith is growing stronger when we’re learning to look away from ourselves – we are always weak – to our God – He is always strong.

Monday, 18 January 2016

“Whoever calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.”

There is to be prayer from “every one who lives in the land” (Joel 1:14). It is to be personal prayer - “O Lord, I cry to You for help!” (Joel 1:19). These two belong together - prayer for the nation and personal prayer. This is expressed so well in the words: “O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee. Send a revival. Start the work in me.”
We hear the words, “Return to the Lord, your God” (Joel 2:13). They are followed by some wonderful words about the character of God - “He is merciful and compassionate, patient and always ready to forgive and to change His plans about disaster” (Joel 2:13). How do we know that God is like this? We look at what He has done for us - “Be glad and rejoice. The Lord has done great things!” (Joel 2:21). Looking at all that the Lord has done for us, we trust His promise: “Whoever calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32). This salvation is more than forgiveness for past sins. It’s more than the future glory of being in God’s everlasting Kingdom - “Mount Zion” (Joel 2:32). It’s also the power of the Spirit, here and now: “I will pour out My Spirit on everyone” (Joel 2:28).
“The Lord will be a Refuge for His people. He will be a Stronghold for the people of Israel. You will know that I am the Lord, your God” (Joel 3:16-17). The Lord is reaching out to us. He’s speaking to us His Word of salvation. As we learn to trust the Lord, we will find that God shows Himself to be the faithful God. May the Lord keep us close to Himself.

Let's Give God Our Very Best.

Ephesians 4:7-5:14
God wants us to ‘grow up in every way into Christ’ (15). We are to ‘walk in love’ (2), a life which is ‘pleasing to the Lord’ (5:10).
It is so easy for us to settle for something less than God’s very best. We settle down into a state of spiritual complacency.
What does God have to say about this? - ‘Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God’ (30). He gives us His wake-up call: ‘Awake, O sleeper…’ (5:14). God says to us, ‘Awake, awake, put on your strength… Shake yourself from the dust, arise’ (Isaiah 52:1-2).
Have you become ‘lukewarm’? - ‘Be zealous and repent’. Christ says, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him’ (Revelation 3:16,19-20).

Salvation, Joy, Victory

Jesus is the way of salvation, joy and victory.
  • Jesus is the way of salvation – Concerning “the Name of Jesus Christ”, Peter tells us that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10, 12).
  • Jesus is the way of joy – Jesus tells us, “In the world, you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
  • Jesus is the way of victory – Paul gives to us this word of encouragement: “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Lord, sometimes, the things that happen to us don’t seem to make sense – to us!

Lord, sometimes, the things that happen to us don’t seem to make sense – to us!
We try to tell the story of our life. We try to make sense of it all. We try – but we fail.
Why? – We don’t know the full story.
Sometimes, we feel like we’re living on Dead End Street!
You say to us, “You’re missing the point! You don’t need to understand what it’s all about. You can leave that to Me.”
Help us, Lord, to know that we’re not alone – trying to make sense of our life. Help us to know that You’re with us. Help us to think of Jesus. He is “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). 
When everything seems to be so confusing, help us to remember that
Jesus understands us. He knows what we’re like – and He hasn’t stopped loving us. He never will!
He loves us – and He’s praying for us: ”We praise You, our glorious Lord and Saviour, and are for ever glad that now there is in heaven One who understands and intercedes for us” (Common Order, Prayer for Ascension).

Great Boldness And Great Blessing - From Our Great Saviour

Peter preached Christ with great boldness: ‘There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’(Acts 4:12).
This boldness came from the Holy Spirit. Peter was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’(Acts 4:8). Don’t say, ‘I‘m no Peter’. Peter failed his Lord and had to be restored (Matthew 26:69-75; John 21:15-17). Peter drew great strength from ‘the company of those who believed’. They ‘gathered together’ for prayer. They ‘were of one heart and soul’…’(Acts 4:31-33). Why did God deal so severely with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11)? This was the start of something great. God refused to let His work be spoiled! There is a warning for us: Don’t pretend to be more holy than you really are. God sees what you’re really like. ‘Search me, O God…’(Psalm 139:23-24). There was great blessing: ‘More than ever believers were added to the Lord’(Acts 5:14). There was persecution (Acts 5:17-18). This did not hinder the advance of the Gospel (Acts 5:42). Satan was not going to give up easily. He came right back at the apostles (Acts 6:1). Satan was defeated. Through the Spirit of God and the Word of God, the victory was won. The apostles ‘devoted themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word’. They were supported by ‘seven men… known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom’(Acts 6:3-4). Armed with ‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God’, let us be ‘be strong in the Lord’- ‘filled with the Spirit’- as we ‘let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly’(Ephesians 6:17,10; 5:18; Colossians 3:16). Filled with His Spirit and obedient to His Word, let us look to God for His blessing (Acts 6:7).

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Lord, help us to walk with You.

Lord, help us to walk with You.
We can be so good at talking the talk – but we’re not so good at walking the walk: “I can say, ‘I love you’, but do I show it by the way I live? … Talk is cheap. Lip-service is no service at all” (“Talk Is Cheap” – Garry Brotherston).
Lord, help us not to be content with saying the right things. Help us to live the right way.
We need Your grace every day – if we’re to walk the walk as well as talking the talk.
Lord, help us to walk with You.

The Glory Of God

“The heavens declare the glory of God ...” (Psalm 19:1). In God’s creation, we see His glory. “The teachings of the Lord are perfect. They renew the soul” (Psalm 19:7). He reveals Himself to us through His Word. We make our response to Him, as we worship Him - “We will joyfully sing about Your victory ... The Lord will give victory to His anointed king ...We will boast in the Name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:5-7). “Arise, O Lord, in Your strength. We will sing and make music to praise Your power” (Psalm 21:13). “Through the mercy of the Most High, we will not be moved” (Psalm 22:7).

Lord, we thank You for Jesus - There is no-one like Him.

Lord, we thank You for Jesus - There is no-one like Him. What a great Saviour He is! He does for us something that we could never – ever – do for ourselves. He forgives our sins – and He forgets them!
The forgiveness of all our sins - What a great blessing this is! We read the words, “I will remember their sins no more” – and we think to ourselves, “How wonderful is this?” We think of Jesus. We think of all that He has done for us. He was crucified for us. He has risen for us.
Our sins have been forgiven – and forgotten. Can we even begin to understand this? Do we need to understand all of this? We do not understand it all. How can we possibly understand all that You have done for us?  “Jesus Christ, we greet You! … risen from the grave … You have come: not to answer our questions, but to show us Your face” (Common Order, Prayer for Easter). Thank You, Lord, for Jesus – Your Son, our Saviour. Thank You for His love – Love is shining from His face. In His face, we see His smile. It is the smile of His love (“Still the night, holy the night!”).

Make Sure That You Don't Reach The Point Of No Return.

God’s judgment on Jezebel was awesome (2 Kings 9:30-37).
Why does God’s Word speak to us so strongly of judgment? He is warning us. He is calling us to repent, to return to Him before it is too late, before our opportunity for repentance has gone. Make sure that you don’t reach the point of no return. ‘Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near’ (Isaiah 55:6). For you, this may be God’s time. The Lord may never be so ‘near’ again. You are in ‘the valley of decision’: ‘Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’ (Joel 3:14; Hebrews 4:7). There is still time – to open your heart to Christ, to trust Him as your Saviour, to become a new creation in Him. Here is a prayer you can pray: ‘Restore us, O God; let Thy face shine, that we may be saved!’ (Psalm 80:3,7,19).

Like A Roaring Lion!

Daniel 6:1-28

The deliverance of Daniel from the mouths of the lions - What a great miracle this is! It points forward to an even greater miracle - the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Why is the resurrection a greater miracle? - It seemed almost inevitable that Daniel would be killed, but he didn’t actually die. Jesus did die. The shadow of death hung over Daniel, but death did not take him. Jesus was raised from death. He was “crucified, dead and buried” - and, after all that, He was raised to life.
The message of Daniel’s deliverance from the mouths of the lions - “For He is the living God, and He endures forever; His Kingdom will never be destroyed, and His dominion has no end” (Daniel 6:26). This is the message of Jesus’ resurrection.
Daniel’s deliverance gives us a glimpse of God’s glory. Jesus’ resurrection is a marvellous and mighty revelation of the eternal God and eternal life (see 1 John 5:20 - “Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”) Daniel was a great man. Jesus is our great Saviour.
Like Daniel, we will face “lions” - Satan goes about “like a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8). Like Daniel, we must “resist” the devil, firm in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9). Christ delivers us - and He will raise us.

The Authority Of Jesus - The Word and The Spirit

"It is right to do good on the day of worship" (Matthew 12:12). Why did Jesus have authority over the day of worship? It was because of who He is. He is worshipped. Jesus fulfils prophecy (Mathew 12:17-21). He has authority over Satan (Matthew 12:28). The victory of Jesus over Satan becomes ours when we receive God's Word, with humble faith, as "the sword of the Spirit." This speaks of the work of the Spirit in and through the Word. The Spirit leads us to Jesus. He leads us out for Jesus. Jesus is risen from the dead (Matthew 12:40), Let us serve Him and be His true family (Matthew 12:50).

Friday, 15 January 2016

Lord, the world seems so strong – but You are stronger!

Lord, the world seems so strong – but You are stronger!
“The world is ever near … my foes are ever near me … but, Jesus, draw still nearer, and shield my soul from sin” (CH4, 644).
Sometimes, the battle seems to be too much for us. Sometimes, we feel like giving up.
Come to us, Lord. Show us Your love. Without Your love, we are helpless. Our situation is hopeless. Your love brings us help. Your love gives us hope. It’s Your love that makes us “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).

Give Careful Attention To God's Word.

The people of Berea were more open-minded than the people of Thessalonica. They were very willing to receive God’s message, and every day they carefully examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).
Give careful attention to God’s Word. This is what we learn from the Bereans. May God help us to be more like them.

Stop Speaking Against God - And Start Listening To Him.

“We have spoken against the Lord” (Numbers 21:7).
Before we can hear the Lord speaking to us, we must stop speaking against Him. How can we hear what the Lord is saying to us if we keep on speaking against Him? If we are to speak for God, we must begin with listening to Him.

Worship God in the company of His people.

The Psalmist loved to worship God in the company of God’s people: “O Lord, I love the House where You live, the place where Your glory dwells... I will praise the Lord with the choirs in worship” (Psalm 26:8,12). “I have asked one thing from the Lord. This I will seek - to remain in the Lord’s House all the days of my life in order to gaze at the Lord’s beauty and to search for an answer in His Temple” (Psalm 27:4).”Hear my prayer for mercy when I call to You for help, when I lift my hands towards Your most holy place... Thank the Lord! He has heard my prayer for mercy! The Lord is the strength of His people and a fortress for the victory of His Messiah. Save Your people, and bless those who belong to You. Be their Shepherd and carry them forever” (Psalm 28:6-9).

Lord, where have all the years gone?

Lord, where have all the years gone? Five years becomes ten years. Ten years becomes twenty years. Twenty years becomes forty years …. Is there something more than this? - We thank You that You are the eternal God. In all the changing circumstances of our life, help us to remember this: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27). You are the eternal God. Your love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. This is our encouragement – when everything around us is changing. We are encouraged. Lord, may we also be challenged: How much of our life is bringing glory to You?

We thank You, Lord, that we have the victory in Christ.

Genesis 32:22-32
We thank You, Lord, that we have the victory in Christ. This is not our own victory. It's His victory. On the Cross, He won the victory over Satan. How do we know that He has won the victory? - You raised Him from the dead. We thank You, Lord, that Jesus didn't win the victory for Himself. He won the victory for us. He gives His victory to us. Help us, Lord, to walk with You in victory. When we stumble and fall - as we so often do, pick us up and set us on our feet again. Help us to take our stand against Satan. help us to take our stand in Christ. Lead us on, Lord, from victory to victory.

Less of our sin, more of Your love - Lord, this is our prayer.

Exodus 20:1-20
Less of our sin, more of Your love - Lord, this is our prayer. Our sin does us nothing but harm. Your love always does us good - nothing but good. We're sinners, Lord. Why do You keep on loving us? We don't know why - but we're glad that You do! We rejoice in this: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15).

Forgiveness And New Life

We read, in Matthew 9:2, of the forgiveness of sins. This is followed, in Matthew 9:6, by the words that brought healing to the paralyzed man. When we read about Jesus' healing miracles, we must also remember the healing that comes to us through the forgiveness of our sins. The healing of our lives begins here. From this beginning - the forgiveness of our sins, we move on to the healing of our lives, which takes place when we look to the Lord to take the brokenness of our lives and put everything back together again. This is followed by Matthew's own story. He receives the forgiveness of his sins. From the conversion of Matthew, the message that comes to us is this: Jesus "came to call sinners" (Matthew 9:13).  We come to Jesus - with our sins. We receive from Him - our salvation. At the heart of our salvation is this great message: God does more for us than forgiving our sins. He gives us new life - described here as "new wine" (Matthew 9:17).

Great Boldness For God, Great Blessing From God

"The Holy Spirit, whom God gives to those who obey Him" (Acts 5:32). "The men you put in prison are standing in the temple courtyard. They're teaching the people" (Acts 5:25). "Every day in the temple courtyard and from house to house, they refused to stop teaching and telling the Good News that Jesus is the Messiah" (Acts 5:42). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the work of the Lord moved forward. There was great boldness in preaching the Gospel. People were brought to the Saviour.

Lord, You are always with us ...

Lord, You are always with us - but we are not always with You. There is never a time when You are not there at our side – but there are many times when we don’t realize that You are right there, beside us at every stage in our journey through life. Life isn’t easy! Bad things happen to us – and we take our eyes off You. Before we know it, we’re going round in circles – getting nowhere quickly. What are we to make of all this? Are we to say, “Why have You left me, Lord?” Our difficult circumstances are shouting at us, “God has left you. You’re on your own. Make the most of it – without Him.” Lord, help us, when we feel like this, to keep on listening for Your “still, small voice.” Help us to hear the “gentle whisper” of Your love (1 Kings 19:11-12). When our emotions are pulling us this way, pulling us that way, pulling us all over the place, help us to hear and believe Your precious promise: “I will be with you always” (Matthew 28:20).

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