Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Battle May Be ‘Fierce.’ The ‘Victory Is Secure.’

Numbers 31:21-54
If we are to be ‘soldiers of Christ’, we need to be ‘purified’, made ‘clean’. There is purification by ‘fire’ and ‘water’. Purification may be painful, but we have the promise of God’s protective presence. He says, ‘I will be with you’. He assures us, ‘the waters... shall not overwhelm you... and the flame shall not shall not consume you’(22-24; Isaiah 43:2). From the Old Testament wars, we learn important spiritual principles: Enter the war, Destroy the sins, Possess the land. This is what we must do throughout life. Looking beyond Israel’s triumphs to Christ’s victory over Satan (Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8), we thank God for His victory and we claim this victory by faith (1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 John 5:4-5). The battle may be ‘fierce’. The ‘victory is secure’(Church Hymnary, 479). Praise God!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The Kingdom Of God: 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

We begin with some great verses from Titus - "Jesus Christ ... gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:13-14); "He saved us, not because of deeds dine by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).
There are kings who need to be prayed for (1 Timothy 2:1-2), and there is the King to whom we offer prayer (1 Timothy 1:17). To understand the nature of God's kingdom, we must understand the character of the king. God's kingdom contrasts with the kingdoms of men. (a) Kings are "in high position" (1 Timothy 2:2), but "the king of ages" is in the highest position of all. (b) The kingdoms of men last for a time, but "the king of ages" is immortal. (c) The kingdoms of men display great outward show, but "the king of ages" and his kingdom works in an "invisible" way - the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30,36-43). When we compare "the king of ages" to the kings of this world, we conclude that he is "the only God (to whom) be honour and glory for ever and ever" (1 Timothy 1:17).
If we are to be men and women of the kingdom, men and women whose lives are controlled by the king, we are to be men and women of prayer (1 Timothy 2:1), men and women who read the Bible (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
There are many obstacles to our living as men and women of the kingdom. Paul faced many obstacles, and so do we. In the face of many obstacles, Paul had a marvellous testimony (2 Timothy 4:17-18). The Lord stood by him. The Lord rescued him. The Lord saved him. Paul looked at the Lord, and gave the glory to him. He looked at what the Lord had done for him, and he said, "to him be the glory for ever and ever." Like Paul, we can overcome the obstacles. Like Paul, we can bring glory to God - through prayer and God's Word.

The Kingdom Of God: The Prison Letters - Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon

Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon - These letters are known, collectively, as the prison letters. They were written by Paul during his time of imprisonment in Rome.
In Philippians, we see God's kingdom as a kingdom joy: "Rejoice in the Lord always, and, again, I say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4). When the Lord reigns as king in our  lives, he gives us his joy. This joy doesn't depend on our circumstances. It comes to us from the Lord.
In Philemon, we see the kingdom of God as the kingdom of fellowship: "that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave, but as a beloved brother" (15-16).
In Colossians 1:13-14, we have a marvellous statement of what God has done for us in Christ: "He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Through Christ's redemption, we are     now in the  kingdom of God's beloved Son. Now that we are part of God's kingdom, we are to live as men and women whose lives bear the marks of Christ's reign, men and women who are committed servants of God and his kingdom. This is emphasized by Paul in the six chapters of the letter to the Ephesians.
In chapters 1-3, Paul speaks of the salvation God has given to us in Jesus Christ.
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7-8).
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God - not because of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We, the Gentiles, have come to know and enjoy "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8).
In chapters 4-6, we have the call to live a godly life (Ephesians 4:1), to "be filled with the Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18), to "put on the whole armour of God" (Ephesians 6:11).
As those who have been saved, there is a way of life we are to shun and a way of life we are to choose.
 * There is a life of darkness to be shunned and a life of light to be chosen (Ephesians 5:3-14).
 * There is a life of foolishness to be shunned and a life of wisdom to be chosen (Ephesians 5:15-17).
 * There is a life of drunkenness to be shunned and a life of the Spirit to be chosen (Ephesians 5:18-20).
May God help us to make the right choice - Christ.

The Kingdom Of God Is Not In Word, But In Power.

The kingdom of God is a power. Paul tells us, "The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power" (1 Corinthians 4:20). It is the power of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, breaking into our lives and transforming them. "The race of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (2 Corinthians 13:14). This is the blessing of God's kingdom. It's a blessing which is more than mere words. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit - these are not just religious words. They are spiritual realities, the power of God at work in our live, the power of God which brings the forgiveness of sins, the power of God which brings new life, the power of God which gives us a foretaste of heavenly glory.
A foretaste of heavenly glory - This is what the kingdom of God is in our present experience. God's future breaks into our present experience. Here and now, we have begun to experience the salvation of God. In heavenly glory, we will experience all the fullness of God's salvation. Here and now, we have begun to see glimpses of the perfect love and the perfect holiness of God. these glimpses appear in our lives as we learn to walk with Jesus Christ. In the heavenly glory, we will dwell forever in the presence of the God who is both perfect in love and perfect in holiness. Paul contrasts this present life and the life to come. This is what he says: "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12). The contrast between our present experience of God and the fullness of our future salvation is the contrast between "the imperfect" and "the perfect": "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears" (1 Corinthians 13:9-10). What we have now is only a hint or glimpse of what we shall have in the glory of heaven. What we are now is only a hint or glimpse of what we shall be in the glory of heaven. To speak of heaven in this way is not to assume that everyone who says, "Lord, Lord" will find  place in heaven. "The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power" (1 Corinthians 4:20). 
As we look at what the New Testament says to us about the kingdom of God, we must give our answer to the question: Do you know the power of God's kingdom in your life? Has the kingdom of God broken into your life as a transforming power, enabling you to trust Christ as Saviour and submit to him as Lord?
God's future is not a faraway, distant future which has no effect on our present life. It's not an airy-fairy irrelevance which is utterly remote from our life here and now. Those whose lives have been changed by the power of God's kingdom are not to spend their days day-dreaming about a glorious yet irrelevant future. we are to live for Christ here and now, allowing the power of God's kingdom to make us, each day, more like Jesus and more useful in the service of God's kingdom. To know that you are  going to heaven is a great privilege. It's a God-given privilege. God gives this privilege to every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ: "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life"  (1 John 5:13). Do you believe in the name of the Son of God? - not in word, but in power. Has the power of God's kingdom broken into your life, convicting you of sin, showing you your need of Christ to be your Saviour and enabling you to trust Christ and give yourself to him? To receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour is to receive the gift of eternal life. This is the great privilege of which the hymnwriter speaks, "Blessed assurance! Jesus is mine, O what a foretaste of glory divine." With this great privilege comes a great responsibility - to live as sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. We are to live as men and women who have been changed by Jesus Christ. God's Word says to us, "Do not be conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2). How can we avoid being squeezed into the world's mould? We must learn to live in the power of the world to come. We dare not get bogged down in the things of this world. We must learn to turn our eyes upon 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." Look often to Jesus, and you will find that the world's way of living loses its appeal. Look often to Jesus - not once but often. Turn your eyes upon Jesus - and keep your eyes upon Jesus. We must not only begin with Jesus. We must go on with Jesus. To go on with Jesus means putting the past, with its sin, behind us and moving forward, with faith, into god's future. This is what Paul stresses when he writes to the Christians at Corinth. They, and we, are to leave the past behind us and press on to God's glorious future. Corinth was a city in which there was much drunkenness and much prostitution. Into this situation, Paul wrote these words of warning:"Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). This is the situation into which the grace of God came with mighty power: "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11). What was Paul saying in these verses? Three things:
 * Don't forget what you were. That's what you were. Don't forget it.
 * Remember that you have been saved from all that. What a great thing Christ has done for you. Never forget that.
 * Don't go back to the old life. Don't go back to living the world's way. The Lord saved you so that you might live the new life, the life of God's kingdom. We are to live as those who have been "washed ,,, sanctified ... justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11).
There is a past which we must leave behind. There is a future towards which we must move. 1 Corinthians 15 has been described as 'the great resurrection chapter.' It reaches its climax in these great words: "54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). With this as our future hope, how are we to live here and now? -
"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58). May God help us to live this kind of life - a life that is faithful, fruitful and fulfilled, the life of God's kingdom within us.

Jesus - The King

It has been said that, in the Gospel of Luke, we see Jesus as "the Friend of the friendless" (William Barclay, The Men, The Meaning, The Message Of The Books, p. 17). This is wonderful. Jesus is our Friend. We rejoice in this great when we sing, "What a Friend we have in Jesus." Jesus is our Friend, but there is more to the gospel than friendship. Jesus came preaching the gospel of the kingdom. Jesus is not only our Friend. He's also our king.
 - He is the king of our salvation. This is what we say, when we say, "Jesus is our Saviour." He is the king of my salvation. Only Jesus can save me. Without Jesus, I cannot be saved. He is our Saviour, the king of our salvation.
 - He is to be king in our life of discipleship. This is what we are saying when we say, "Jesus is my Lord." He is the king in my life of discipleship. Jesus must take first place in my life. If Jesus is not set on the throne of our lives, you and I are not living as true disciples. Jesus is our Lord. He is to be King in our life of discipleship.
When Jesus was on earth, he went from place to place, preaching the gospel of the kingdom. The kingdom of God - this was the central theme of his preaching. When, today, we are faced with the message of Jesus, we are faced with the question, "How can I enter the kingdom of God?" This the most important question of all. There is nothing more important than this.
When Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God, people misunderstood him. They thought he was a military leader, a political leader, a social reformer. They had missed the point. Jesus had a higher calling. Jesus is our king. He came to this world as our Lord. He came to be our Saviour. When Jesus spoke about the kingdom, he was not speaking about an earthly kingdom.He was proclaiming the kingdom of God, the rule of God, the reign of God. When Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom, he called his hearers to acknowledge him as the king of their salvation, the king of their lives. Today, Jesus says to you, "What is your relationship to the kingdom? Have you entered the kingdom?
Jesus' first hearers missed the point. Today, we can still fail to understand Jesus. To see him as a great teacher, a social reformer, a political activist is to misunderstand him. Who is Jesus? He is our Saviour. He is our Lord. Who is Jesus? This is more than a question of historical curiosity  It's more than a question that we can ask, casually, about a man who lived centuries ago. Who is Jesus? This is the question of our eternal destiny. It is the question of heaven or hell. Jesus is the way to heaven. Without him, you and I are bound for hell. Who is Jesus? This is the most important question of all. It's a personal question. It is directed towards you and me. "Who do you say that I am? Jesus puts his question to every one of us. Do you know Jesus Christ as your Saviour from sin? Have you crowned him as Lord and King of your life? This is the question which the Lord puts to you today.
How can I know Jesus as my Saviour? How can I submit to him as my Lord? You must recognize that you are lost. You must acknowledge that you need to be saved by Jesus. You must ask Jesus to save you. You must come to him with the faith that he, alone, can save you, the faith that he, alone, is the Saviour. This is where we must begin - knowing Jesus as Saviour. From there, you go on, in faith, submitting yourself to Jesus as the Lord of each and every part of your life.
We now turn our attention to Luke 9:57-62 - This is the story of three men. Looking at their story will help us to see the importance of trusting Jesus as our Saviour and submitting to him as our Lord.
There can be no Christianity without discipleship, Christ. These three men were unwilling to submit to Christ as Lord because they did not recognize him as Saviour. Where there is a true recognition of Christ as Saviour, there will also be a real submission to him as Lord. The two belong together. Jesus is our Saviour. Jesus is our Lord. To have one without the other is a contradiction in terms. Jesus Christ comes to us with the offer of forgiveness. He also comes with the call to discipleship. We are not at liberty to say, 'I like the offer of forgiveness, but I can do without the call to discipleship.' Those who have received him as their Saviour find their joy in following him as their Lord.
What can we learn from the story of these three men?
  (a) "As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”  Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  (Luke 9:57-58).
This man probably thought that Jesus had a great career ahead of him. He wanted to get in on this, to be a part of this great career. he wanted to give his support to Jesus the social reformer, Jesus the political leader. Jesus brought him back down-to-earth. Jesus said, 'No. What lies ahead of me is the cross.' This was not exactly a great success story, but it was God's way of victory. Men and women don't like the way of the cross. They want to follow a great leader, but they do not like to be brought low before the cross. The way of the cross may not be popular, but it's exactly what we need.We need more than an example we can follow. we need more than a leader to whom we can give our support. What we need is a Saviour, who is able to save us - to bring us forgiveness, to give us new life, and to lead us on to a place in heaven. For Jesus to be our Saviour, there was only one way for him to go -the way of the cross. Without the cross for Jesus, there would be no salvation for us.
  (b) "He said to another man, “Follow me.”But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59-60).
The matter of salvation is a matter of the greatest urgency. Here, we see a man who is unwilling to make a real commitment to Christ: 'Yes, I will become a Christian but not now. I'm too busy.' We dare not be like this man. You and I must enter the kingdom of God without a moment's delay. We must enter the kingdom of God immediately. Nothing must keep us back. This is the most important matter of all - entering the kingdom of God. The moment you realize that you need Jesus, if you are to escape hell and enter heaven, you do not say to yourself, 'I'll become a Christian sometime, but not now. I have something more important to do.' There is nothing more important than making sure that you have entered the kingdom of God, making sure that you belong to Christ, making sure that you are saved. Nothing must stop you from entering the kingdom of God. No-one must keep you from entering the kingdom of God - not even your nearest and dearest (Luke 14:26).
  (c) "Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”  Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61-62).
Our Lord Jesus Christ calls for an unconditional surrender of of our lives to to him. Here, we see the half-hearted man. He says that he wants to follow Jesus - on his own terms. He says to the Lord, 'Lord, I'm prepared to follow you, but it has to be my way, not your way. This is not discipleship. This is not following Jesus at all. If we are to be disciples of Jesus, he must come first. My convenience is not the most important thing. His Word and his will - these are the most important things in the life of discipleship.
That's the story of these three men. It's a sad story. It's an oft-repeated story. What about the story of your life? Is it a story of being unwilling to come to the cross of Christ and humbly confess your need of Christ to be your Saviour? Is it a story of apathy- too apathetic to settle the most important matter of all the matter of your eternal salvation? Is it a story of half-heartedness? You say that you're willing to follow Jesus, but your words are hollow. They're empty. They mean nothing. Whatever your story may be, the story of your life can be rewritten, if you will come to Christ right now. Trust him as your Saviour. Receive the salvation that he offers to you. Submit to him as your Lord and walk with him on the pathway of discipleship.

The Kingdom Of God Is At Hand ...

 * The beginning of Jesus' ministry
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15).
   - The kingdom has come. We need not create it in the present, and it is not merely in the future.
   - It is good news  - "the gospel of the kingdom" (Matthew 4:17).
   - The gospel calls for a response - repentance and faith. This is no empty 'faith', which makes no difference to our way of living. There is to be a real change of mind and heart. Christ is King as well as Saviour.
 * The development of Jesus' ministry
"I came not to to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17). If there is to be a true response of faith, involving real repentance, there must be a real conviction of sin. There needs to be both conviction and conversion. Without conviction of sin, there is no real conversion to Christ.
 * Two incidents from Jesus' ministry
   (a) "the rich young ruler" (Mark 10:17-31) - This man did not humble himself to receive salvation. He refused to commit himself to a life of discipleship.
   (b) the man who was so near and yet so far from the kingdom (Mark 12:28-34)
(a) The rich young ruler
    (i) Man cannot be praised because of his righteousness. He can only be convicted of his sin.
    (ii) Man's goodness is not enough. "There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin. He (Jesus) only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in."
    (iii) Salvation cannot be bought. It can only be received as a gift.
How are you and I to enter the kingdom? Entering the kingdom - this must be, for us, the most important thing. Every obstacle be set to one side and our eyes must be fixed on Jesus - "the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). Jesus is the way into the kingdom. As we look to him, we see that the cross stands between sinful man and the holy God.
 * The cross stands at the heart of the way of salvation.
 * The cross stands at the heart of the way of discipleship.
From the cross, Jesus speaks to us concerning salvation and discipleship.
   - It is through his death on the cross that we are saved. Jesus says to us, 'It is through my death on the cross that you are saved.' Jesus says to us, 'You see me dying on the cross for you. If you are to be my disciple, you must take up your cross daily and follow me.'
  (b) the man who was so near and yet so far from the kingdom
To understand salvation as the beginning of a life of discipleship, we must understand what salvation and discipleship are not. This will help us to understand what it means to be saved and to set out on the life of discipleship.      
 * "You are not far from the kingdom" (Mark 12:34). He was on the way, but he was still outside of the kingdom. He had not repented.He did not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. He was so near and yet so far. There's no point in saying, ' I was nearer than him, when both of you are outside of the kingdom.
If you're standing at a bus stop and the man in front of you and you don't (because the bus is full), the fact that you were next in line means nothing. The bus has gone, and you have been left behind.
Do you know that you are in the kingdom of God? God wants you to be sure. Believe in Christ, and, in him, be sure of your salvation (1 John 5:13).
This man asked "Which commandment is first of all" (Matthew 12:28), but he did not ask, "What must I do to be saved?" We are not saved by the law. We are saved by Christ. 

Jesus went about ... preaching the gospel of the kingdom.

From the beginning of his ministry, "Jesus went about ... preaching the gospel of the kingdom" (Matthew 4:23). The message of Jesus could be summed up in this way: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). Jesus' message was good news. This is what the word, 'gospel' means - good news. Jesus preached a message of good news - the good news that the Saviour had come. His message was the gospel of the kingdom. Jesus Christ, the Saviour, is also Jesus Christ, the King. Those who receive Christ as their Saviour must also crown him as their King.
When Jesus preached, his hearers were faced with a decision. They had to make a choice. Would they become "sons (and daughters) of the kingdom"? or Would they remain "sons (and daughters) of the evil one" (Matthew 13:38). Would they make the kingdom of God their first priority? or Would they live for self, and not for Christ? Would they "lay up treasures in heaven"? or Would they "lay up treasures on earth"? (Matthew 6:33; Matthew 6:19-20).
You and I are still faced with a decision. Jesus says to each of us, 'Now, it is make-up-your-mind time.' Will it be Christ on the throne? or Will it be self on the throne? This is the decision which Christ, the King, sets before each one of us today. What will your response be to "the gospel of the kingdom"? Christ, the King, awaits your reply to his question.
There can be no sitting on the fence. Jesus says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). What do you and I find when we try to take seriously those words of Jesus? What we find is this- the more we try to be righteous, the more we become aware of our sin; the more we strive to live a righteous life, the more we become conscious of our need of the Saviour.
Aware of our sin, conscious of our need of the Saviour, we read, again, Jesus' words, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." Together with this call to discipleship, we also hear Jesus' words concerning himself: "I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes yo the Father except through me" (John 14:6).
 - Do you want to enter the kingdom of God?, Jesus says, 'I am the way into the kingdom.'
 - Do you want to live a righteous life? Jesus says, 'I am the way, the true and living way, God's way to a truly righteous life.'
"Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness."
Where are we to begin? We must begin with Jesus.  Jesus is our starting-point.
Where do we go from here? We go on with Jesus.
Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are born again. This is the beginning of the Christian life.
Through faith in Jesus Christ, we live the new life. This is God's way for living the Christian life: "we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us" (Galatians 2:20).
How are we to have faith in Jesus Christ? Jesus says that we are to become like children - not childish but childlike in faith. We are to have a simple, humble and childlike faith in Christ. Jesus said, "Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). Jesus said, "Let the children come to me ... for to such belongs  to the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:14). Jesus said, "Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:4).
 - If you are to be born again, if you are to enter the kingdom of God, you must come, like a child, to Jesus Christ. Come to him - with a simple, humble, childlike faith.
 - If you are to grow in Christ, to become mature in him, you must never outgrow the simplicity of childlike faith in Christ.
It's not easy for us to have this simple, humble and childlike faith in Christ. There are so many obstacles which get in the way. There is the obstacle of pride. There is the obstacle of prejudice. There is the obstacle of worldliness.
 - There are many people who do not come to  Jesus Christ because they are too proud. They hear Jesus' words, "Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28), but they refuse to come to him because they are too proud to recognize their need of him.
 - Many people refuse to come to Christ because they are prejudiced against him. They have closed their minds. They will not even listen to him. They have absolutely no intention of committing their lives to Christ.
 - Many people, in today's world, cannot really understand or appreciate the love of Christ and the gospel of Christ because they are far too preoccupied with the things of this world.
What about you? Will you bring your pride, prejudice and worldliness to Jesus. Will you receive him as your Saviour? Will you crown him as your King?

Lord, we come to You as sinners. May we never forget our Saviour - the Lord Jesus Christ (prayers based on Ezekiel 29 - 31)..

Ezekiel 29:1-21
Lord, in Your dealings with Egypt, we see both Your wrath - ‘Egypt will become a desolate wasteland’ - and Your mercy - ‘At the end of forty years... I will restore the fortunes of Egypt’ (Ezekiel 29:9,13-14). Your wrath is Your response to Egypt’s pride - ‘Because you said, “The Nile is mine; I made it”, therefore I am against you’ (Ezekiel 29:9-10). In Your merciful restoration, You place Your restraint on Egypt’s pride - ‘It shall be the most lowly of the kingdoms, and will never again exalt itself above the other nations’ (Ezekiel 29:15). Lord, we come to You as sinners. We confess our sins, praying, ‘In wrath, remember mercy.’ You save us by ‘Your mercy.’ Your way of salvation - ‘through Jesus Christ our Saviour’ - is a constant rebuke to our pride: ‘This is not your own doing. It is the gift of God’ (Habakkuk 3:2; Titus 3:4-6; Ephesians 2:8).
Ezekiel 30:1-26
‘The day of the Lord is near... A sword will come against Egypt... The day of Egypt’s doom is sure to come’ (Ezekiel 30:3-4,9). Teach us, Lord, not to take You lightly. Show us that we can’t do what we like and get away with it. We must not ‘trample the Son of God under foot.’ We must not ‘treat Christ’s blood as an unholy thing.’ We must not ‘insult the Spirit of grace.’ Help us never to forget this: ‘It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’ Lord, You're speaking to us concerning ‘the Day of the Lord’, the Return of Christ: ‘He who is coming will come...’ You're speaking to us Your Word of warning: ‘Those who shrink back are destroyed.’ He speaks His Word of promise: ‘Those who believe are saved’ (Hebrews 10:29,31,37-39). ‘When Christ comes, will He find faith...?’ Teach us to pray, ‘Search my heart, O God...’ (Luke 18:8; Psalm 139:23-24).
Ezekiel 31:1-18
‘Pharaoh, king of Egypt’ had the appearance of ‘majesty’ - ‘Who can be compared with you in majesty?’ - yet he was ‘brought down’ (Ezekiel 31:2,18). Teach us, Lord that there is one Majesty who will never be brought down. May we never forget our Lord Jesus Christ. He is ‘the same yesterday and today and for ever.’ He will receive ‘glory for ever and ever.’ To Him alone, You say, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever’ (Hebrews 13:8,21; 1:8). This is real Majesty! ‘Majesty, worship His Majesty. Unto Jesus be glory, honour and praise. Majesty, Kingdom authority, flows from His throne unto His own. His anthem raise. So exalt, lift up on high the Name of Jesus. Magnify, come glorify, Christ Jesus the King. Majesty, worship His Majesty, Jesus who died, now glorified, King of all kings’ (Mission Praise, 454).

In Christ, We Are Being Led On To ‘A Better Country... A Heavenly One.’

Genesis 47:27-48:22
No more fear (46:3). No more pride (47:9). Now, no more doubt - God will bless (15-16, 19-21). Let it be confidence(Philippians 1:6), humility(John 15:5) and faith(Hebrews 11:1; Philippians 3:14). Man's way is set aside - ‘his younger brother shall be greater than he’(19). We are ‘saved by grace’(Ephesians 2:8). There is one way of salvation - God’s way (John 14:6). Israel was promised a ‘land’(21). In Christ, we are being led on to ‘a better country... a heavenly one’ (Hebrews 11:16). Jacob said, ‘I am about to die’(21). Jesus says, ‘I died and... I am alive for evermore’(Revelation 1:18). He says, ‘I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also’(John 14:3). No more fear, pride, doubt - Christ saves ‘to the uttermost’(Hebrews 7:25).

Monday, 21 March 2016

Sin And Salvation

I was reading Psalm 58. It speaks about sin. As I read these dark words - words that show us up for what we really are: sinners, I thought about something else: salvation. Thank God - His Word shows us more than our sin. It show us that we can be saved by the grace of God. It show us that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). When your sin gets you down, let the Saviour lift you up.

Let The Glory Be Given To God And Not Kept For Ourselves.

Genesis 47:1-26
Jacob and Joseph - the two stories are one. Christ and the Christian - our story is bound up with His story. Jacob reflects on his life - ‘What has it all amounted to?’. He does not sing his own praises (8-9). Let the glory be given to God and not kept for ourselves. Joseph provided food for his family (12). Jesus has provided for us something better than food (Matthew 4:4) - ‘an eternal redemption’(Hebrews 9:12). Grateful to Joseph for what he had done for them, the people said, ‘You have saved our lives... we will be slaves’(25). Saved by Christ, we are to be ‘slaves’ of Christ (Romans 6:17-18). We belong to Christ. We are to serve Him. We look to Him to ‘give us seed (His Word)... that the land may not be desolate’(19; Mark 4:14; Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 126:5-6). We ‘sow’. We ‘reap’. ‘God gives the growth’(1 Corinthians 3:6-7) !

Sunday, 20 March 2016

God has spoken – and He’s still speaking.

“The Lord, the only true God, has spoken” (Psalm 50:1).
In today’s world, there are many voices that demand to be heard. There is one voice that we really need to hear – and keep on hearing. It’s the voice of the Lord, our God. He has so much to say to us. What He says really matters. Are we listening to Him? Will we keep on listening to Him – when so many other voices are threatening to drown out His voice?

Read About Ruth. Learn About Christ.

Ruth 1:1-2:23
Ruth meets Boaz. It seemed like a ‘chance’ meeting - ‘she happened to come... ‘ (2:3). It was more than that. God was at work. Ruth had committed herself to the Lord (1:16-17). She was being guided by the Lord (Psalm 37:3-5; Proverbs 3:5-6). Ruth was unassuming and grateful, hard-working and responsible (2:10,13,7,18). She is a fine example of the ‘good wife’, described in Proverbs 31:10-31. In Boaz, she found a good man - godly, generous and sensitive (2:12,14,16). We read about Ruth. We learn about Jesus Christ. When you come to Him, He says, ‘Do not go to glean in another field... ‘ - ‘There is salvation in no one else’ (2:8; Acts 4:12). In Him, there is amazing grace. He loves us. He looks upon us favourably. He takes notice of us. He died for us (2:10; Romans 5:8). Let us follow Him (1:16-17; John 6:67-69).

Ruth 3:1-4:22

Ruth was covered by the ‘garment’ of Boaz, her ‘kinsman-redeemer’ (3:9). Jesus is our Kinsman-Redeemer. He has become one of us. He shares our ‘flesh and blood’, our ‘humanity’. Through His ‘suffering’ and ‘death’, we are brought to ‘glory’ (Hebrews 2:10-11,14-15). In Him, we ‘rejoice’: ‘He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness’ (Isaiah 61:10). ‘Our righteous acts are like filthy rags’. Bring your ‘robes’ to Christ and let them be ‘washed’, ‘made white in the blood of the Lamb’ (Isaiah 64:6; Revelation 7:14). A ‘Moabitess’, Ruth was brought into the house of Israel (4:10-11). In Christ, Jew and Gentile become one (Ephesians 2:11-18). Ruth played her part in leading us to Christ (4:13-17; Matthew 1:1,5-6). May God help us to lead people to Christ.

Praying Through God’s Word: Luke’s Gospel

Luke 1:1-38
Lord, we need Your Word and Your Spirit. Your Word shows us how we are to live. Your Spirit gives us strength – for living Your way. May “the Word of Christ dwell in us richly” (Colossians 3:16) – prompting us to walk with You in the way of faith. May we “be filled with Your Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) – empowering us to walk with You in the way of obedience.
Luke 1:39-80
When, Lord, You touch our lives with Your love, everything changes. Nothing remains the same. Every part of life is changed by Your love. We have been saved by Your love. May our life be shaped by Your love.
Luke 2:1-20
We thank You, Lord, that Jesus has “come to us.” He has been born as “one of us.” We thank You that He was “led out to die on Calvary.” He has “cleansed our souls from sin.” We thank You that He has “risen from death to set us free.” He has “poured Your love and goodness in.” May “Your power break through into our lives.” Help us, Lord to “live for You” (Patrick Appleford).
Sometimes, we wonder, “What’s the world coming to?” When, Lord, our minds are filled with many questions, help us to hear Your answer: Christ is coming to the world. Sometimes, it seems to us that everything’s hopeless. We try – and we fail. Show us, Lord, that there’s something else. There’s something more than “Always look on the bright side of life.” There’s something that keeps on going when we feel like giving up. Thank You, Lord, for Your love – it never comes to an end.
Luke 2:21-52
Lord, we come to Your House – but what’s going on in our hearts? Do we come to Your House with Grudge-Giving: “I have to”? Is it “Duty-Giving”: “I ought to”? Do we come to You with “Thanksgiving”: “I want to”? Help us, Lord, to get beyond our religion – our “Grudge-Giving” and our “Duty-Giving”? Help us to find Jesus in Your House. Help us to say, “Thank You, Lord.” Give us a new spirit – a spirit of thanksgiving. Help us to really feel it. Help us to really mean it. Fill our hearts with gratitude. Fill our lives with generosity.
Luke 3:1-38
Lord, there are things that we don’t like to hear about. We don’t like to hear about sin. We don’t like to hear about death. There are some things that we do like to hear about. We like to hear that “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What are to make of this kind of thinking: “We like this – but we don’t like that”? How can we really appreciate the Good News – “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” – if we refuse to listen to the bad news: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)?  Help us to see how great our sin is – so that we can appreciate how great our Saviour is!
Luke 4:1-30
Lord, we are often tempted. Satan attacks us. He drags us down. He draws us away from You. What are we to do about this? We look at ourselves – and we get downhearted. We feel like we’re getting nowhere. We seem to be making some progress – and, then, we lose our way again. We take our eyes off Jesus – and we fall down. We get down-in-the-dumps. We feel like we’re no use – but that’s not the whole story. Satan is only part of the story. There’s Someone who is stronger than Satan: Jesus, our Saviour. We’re “on the victory side – With Christ within, the fight we’ll win.”  When the going gets tough, help us, Lord, to remember that we’re not alone. Jesus is fighting for us – and He is Lord!
Luke 4:31-5:11
Lord, we need Your Word – and we need Your power! We need the written Word – and the living Word! Speak to us Your Word. Speak to us in the power of the Holy Spirit. May we know, in our hearts, that Your Word is more than “the word of men.” It’s “the Word of God which is at work in us who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13) – the Word of God which brings us  to “faith” in Christ (Romans 10:17), the Word of God which brings to us new life in Christ (1 Peter 1:23-24; James 1:18), the Word of God  which leads us to “grow” in Christ (1 Peter 2:2). Thank You, Lord, for Your Word. May it always be to us more than the written Word. Help us to hear Your living Word – the Word which changes us (Hebrews 4:12).
Luke 5:12-6:11
We thank You, Lord, for the new life in the Spirit. Your way is not the way of empty religion – paying lip-service to You without being changed by Your Word and Your Spirit. Lead us in Your way. Lead us out of our weakness and into Your strength. Give us Your joy. May we know that “the joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Luke 6:12-49
So often, Lord, we’re too easily satisfied. You want to give us so much more – but we get stuck in a rut. We do not hunger for more of You, for more of Your blessing. Help us, Lord, to appreciate Your love for us, to grow in our love for You, to share Your love with the people we meet.
Luke 7:1-35
We hear Your Word, Lord – but do we believe it? We hear Your Word – but do we live in obedience to Your Word?  We hear Your Word – but are we afraid to speak Your Word to others? Lord, You’re always challenging us. Hearing Your Word is good – but it’s not enough! You’re calling us to do more. Help us, Lord, to believe Your Word, to obey Your Word, to be Your witnesses.
Luke 7:36-8:21
Lord, You do not come to us because we are good. You come to us because You are love. We thank You, Lord, that Your love is greater than our sin. We look at ourselves. We see our sin. We look at our Saviour. We see Your love. When we look at our sin, help us to say, “We want less of this.” When we look at our Saviour, help us to say, “We want more of Him.”
Luke 8:22-56
Lord, You are calling us to have a real faith – a faith that is more than mere words. We’re not only to say that we have faith. We’re to show that we have faith: a faith that is seen in the place of witness – not only in the place of worship.
Luke 9:1-27
Lord, You’re calling us to be Your servants. We’re not to keep Your blessing to ourselves. We’re to share Your blessing with others. Help us to rejoice in Jesus, our Saviour. Help us to speak of Him – and live for Him.
Luke 9:28-62
Lord, we thank You for Your Son, Jesus – “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). There is no-one like Jesus. He is Your Son – Your only Son: “There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin.” He is our Saviour – our only Saviour: “He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.”
Luke 10:1-37
We thank You, Lord, that “Your Kingdom has come near to us” (Luke 10:9). Jesus has come near to us. He brings Your Kingdom to us. We don’t raise ourselves up. You raise us up. Your love has come down to us. It’s Your love that lifts us up – out of our earthbound way of thinking and living, into a new life that is being shaped by Your Kingdom, the Kingdom of love, the greatest love of all, eternal love.
Luke 10:38-11:28
Lord, help us to listen to You. Help us to speak to You. Help us to live for You. Without Your help, we will get bogged down in our own self-centredness. Lift us, Lord, out of the mire of our sin. Set our feet on the Rock, which is Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Give to us a testimony which calls on others to join with us in saying, “Praise the Lord” (Psalm 40:1-3).
Luke 11:29-54
We thank You, Lord, that Jesus has risen from the dead (Luke 24:6). Death could not hold Him (Acts 2:24). He has triumphed over death – “Where, O death, is your victory? … Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Luke 12:1-34
Lead me to some soul today. Teach me Lord, just what to say.” Help us not to keep Jesus to ourselves. Help us to share Him with others. Help us to tell them what He has done for us. Help us to pray for them – that they will be brought to a living faith in the Saviour. Help us to give all the glory to You.
Luke 12:35-59
Help us, Lord, to get ready for Your Son, Jesus. We look back to His first coming. We look back – with thanksgiving. Help us to look forward to His Second Coming. Help us to look forward – with faith which rejoices in Your amazing grace, faith which lives to give praise to You, faith which gives all the glory to You.
Luke 13:1-35
You call us, Lord, to be changed by You – changed by Your love, changed by Your power. Being changed by You is very different from being changed by the world. How are we being changed? Are we being “conformed to the world” or “transformed by the Lord”? Help us, Lord, to be wary of change that comes to us from a worldly way of thinking and living. Help us to welcome the Godly, Christlike, Spirit-filled change which comes to us when we pray, “Change my heart, O God … ” (Songs of Fellowship, 58).
Luke 14:1-35 
Lord, let Your love flow. Let it flow into our hearts. Let it flow out from us to others. Let Your love flow freely. May our love for one another be more like the love that Jesus, our Saviour, has for all of us. May it be a love that attracts others to the Saviour, a love that says to them, “Jesus loves you – and His love is the best love, the greatest love of all.”
Luke 15:1-32
When, Lord, we lose our way, lead us to Jesus, our Saviour. We are wayward. We go our own way. We wander away from You. Lead us howeward – back to Your loving arms, back to Your loving welcome, back to the joy of being home – in Your presence (Luke 15:20).
Luke 16:1-31
Lord, the things that are most important to us are not always the things that are most important to You. Jesus, Your Son, tells us that eternal profit is more important than personal profit. He says to us, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” (Mark 8:36). Help us, Lord, to hear what Jesus is saying to us – and to be changed by what He says to us.
Luke 17:1-37
When, Lord, we are tempted to turn from You, help us to turn to You. Help us to take our stand on your promise of victory over temptation: ” … God is faithful … with the temptation He will also make the way of escape … ” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Help us, Lord, to say, with triumphant faith, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
Luke 18:1-43
We look, Lord, at what we have been, and we feel like we’ve made a right mess of things, then we remember Jesus – and His forgiveness: “The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). We look at what we are, and we feel like we’re still making a right mess of things, then we remember Jesus – and His promise of power: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” (Acts 1:8). We wonder what we will become, and we fear that we’ll keep on making a right mess of things, then we remember Jesus – and His promise of eternal glory: “I will come again and take you to Myself” (John 14:3).
Luke 19:1-48
We thank You, Lord, that Jesus is our Saviour – He came to save us (Luke 19:10). He is also our Lord – He wants to “reign over” us (Luke 19:27). We’re so glad that salvation has come to us (Luke 19:9). Help us to be good and faithful servants of Jesus, our Saviour and Lord (Luke 19:17).
Luke 20:1-47
Help us, Lord, to stop talking about ourselves – and start listening to You. We can get so busy – talking about all the things that matter most to us. We forget to listen to what You are saying to us about the things that matter most to You. Hep us, day-by-day, to turn to Your Word – to come to You with the prayer: “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).
Luke 21:1-38
Fill our lives, Lord, with grace, gratitude, giving and glory. The grace comes from You. We are saved by Your amazing grace. Where does the gratitude come from? It comes from You. You put it into our hearts. You show us how much You have done for us. You give us the attitude of gratitude. How are we to give to You? We must learn to receive from You. From You, we receive Jesus. He’s Your greatest gift. As we receive Jesus, our Saviour, may we give glory to You – the God of our salvation, the God who is leading us on to eternal glory.
Luke 22:1-38
We think, Lord, of Jesus, Your Son, We think of His suffering. We think of His salvation. He suffered for us. We are saved by Him. We think of all that Jesus has done for us. We can say nothing more or less than this: Thank You, Lord.
Luke 22:39-71
When we are suffering, help us, Lord, to look to Jesus. Help us to see Jesus – suffering for us. Help us, like Jesus, to look beyond suffering – to glory: the glory of being with You – being with You in Your eternal glory.
Luke 23:1-25
In our world, Lord, we see the love of power. In our Saviour, we see something else, something better than this. We see the power of love. Help us, Lord, not to be shaped by this world’s way of thinking. Help us to be changed by our Saviour and His way of salvation – changed by the power of His love.
Luke 23:26-24:12
We thank You, Lord, for Your Son, Jesus – crucified for us and risen for us. Jesus died to bring us out of the dark shadows of our past – our sins have been forgiven. Jesus rose to bring us into the bright shining light of Your future – eternal life.
Luke 24:13-53
We thank You, Lord, for the Scriptures. They lead us to our Saviour – Jesus. The Scriptures speak to us of His suffering and our salvation. When we think of all that Jesus has done for us, may we receive, from You, the spirit of thanksgiving – joyful thanksgiving, heartfelt thanksgiving.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

"The Seed Is The Word Of God."

Luke 8:1-15
"The seed is the Word of God" (Luke 8:11). This is what Jesus' parable of the sower is all about. It's about the Word of God. God's Word is sown in our hearts. God's Word bears fruit in our lives. The sowing of God's Word in our hearts requires patience. We don't reap the harvest right away. We must work patiently for the harvest which God will give to us in His time. Let us be faithful in sowing the seed of God's Word. Let's keep on praying that God will give to us the "hundredfold" harvest (Luke 8:8). May God help us to be faithful in sowing and fruitful in reaping. God's Word comes to us. It is given to us by the Lord. What are we doing with His Word? When God's Word is sown in our hearts, what kind of soil does it find there? Are we allowing it to grow in our hearts? Are we allowing God to produce His abundant harvest in our lives? God's Word emphasizes to us the direct connection between sowing and reaping: "Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny." Let there be good soil. Let there be good thoughts and actions, good habits, good character and a great destiny.

‘I know the plans I have for you... to give you a future and a hope.’

Jeremiah 29:1-32
‘I know the plans I have for you... to give you a future and a hope.’ Lord, this was Your long-term purpose for Your people. It was important that they did not lose sight of this. There would be ‘seventy years’ of captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:10-11). At times, they must have wondered, ‘Will this ever end? Is there really something better still to come?’ Our life on earth may sometimes seem like the ‘seventy years’ in Babylon: ‘The length of our days is seventy years... yet all they bring us is trouble and sorrow’! We wonder, Lord, ‘Is there a glorious future still to come?’ In our times of ‘suffering’ and ‘sorrow’, teach us to draw our ‘strength’ from Your Word. May we look forward to ‘the Day’ when Christ ‘comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be admired in all who believe’ (Psalms 90:10; 119:28; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5,10).

Friday, 18 March 2016

Help us, Lord, to look beyond our earthly life. Give us a life-changing glimpse of our glorious future.

Jeremiah 30:1-24
‘I am with you to save you’. This, Lord, was Your Word to Your people. You assured Your people that their ‘captivity’ in Babylon would not last forever. You gave Your promise to them: ‘I will restore the fortunes of My people... I will bring them back to the land which I gave to their fathers’ (Jeremiah 30:10-11,3). ‘I am with you to save you.’ This is still Your Word to us. You tell us that our ‘captivity’ will not last forever. Christ has died to ‘free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death’. Help us, Lord, to look beyond our earthly life. Give us a life-changing glimpse of our glorious future - ‘Death’ will be ‘swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’. Let us ‘be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, our labour is not in vain’ (Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:54,57-58).

Thursday, 17 March 2016

The God Of Love

"You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You" (Psalm 86:5).
Sometimes, we contrast 'the God of the Old Testament' and 'the God of the New Testament.'  We speak about 'the God of law' and 'the God of love.' If we think that 'love' only began with the start of the New Testament, we need to read God's Word more carefully. Here, we are in the Old Testament. What do we find? We find love - the love of God, the God of love.

Deliver us, Lord, from knowing so much – yet knowing so little about what really matters!

Jeremiah 8:4-22
‘Wise people are put to shame, confused, trapped. They have rejected the Word of the Lord. They don’t really have any wisdom’ (Jeremiah 8:9). Deliver us, Lord, from thinking that we’re smart. Keep us from becoming wise in their own eyes. Deliver us from the ‘know it all’ attitude. May we not have an answer for everything – except the most important question, the question of salvation: ‘What must I do to be saved?’ Deliver us from knowing know so much – yet knowing so little about what really matters! ‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved’ (Jeremiah 8:20). Keep us, Lord, from becoming so obsessed with getting on in the world that we make no time for You. When, Lord, we’re getting too busy enjoying all the pleasures of this world, help us to remember Jesus’ words: ‘What good will it do you if you gain the whole world – and lose eternal life?’ (Matthew 16:22).

‘The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one’ (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

Jeremiah 32:1-25
‘Nothing is too hard for You’ (Jeremiah 32:17). Lord, we face many difficult situations. What are we to do when we feel we can take no more? Help us to remember You. Nothing is too hard for You. Help us to remember Your promise: ‘The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one’ (2 Thessalonians 3:3). May we hear the voice of Jesus, calling us to follow Him. May we hear His word of warning - ‘the way is hard.’ May we also know that He is our loving Saviour. He does not leave us to go it alone. We thank You, Lord, that Jesus gives us His strength - ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light’ (Matthew 4:19; 7:14; 11:30). We thank You, Lord,

God's Everlasting Love

Jeremiah 31:1-20
‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness’ (Jeremiah 31:3). So often, Lord, we have been like ‘the prodigal son’ (Luke 15:11-24). We have walked away from Your House. We have wandered off into ‘the far country.’ We feel that we are far from You, yet still You draw near to us. You, Lord, are at work in our hearts. You are bringing us ‘to our senses’. You are reminding us of Your love. You are drawing us back to Yourself. In love, You are calling us home again. You are speaking to our hearts. You are saying to us, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’. As Your love reaches our hearts, ‘the prodigal son’ becomes ‘the returning son’: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son’. ‘Bring me back, let me come back, for you are the Lord my God!’ (Jeremiah 31:18).

Prayer And Preaching

"A prayer of the prophet Habakkuk" (Habakkuk  3:1) - Prayer and prophecy go together. Pray before preaching God's Word. Let the prayers go up to the Lord. May the power come down from the Lord. Keep on praying after the Word's been preached. Pray that the Lord will follow His Word with His blessing. "... renew... reveal... remember... " (Habakkuk 3:2). Pray that God will remember us - "remember to be merciful." Pray that He will reveal Himself to us as the living God, the God who works in our lives to change us and make us more like Himself. Pray that He will renew our life so that we are no  longer walking in our own weakness. Now, we are living in His strength. "Praise... power... paths... " (Habakkuk 3:3-6), "His praise fills the earth, His brightness as the sunlight. Rays of light stream from His hand. That is where His power is hidden." We need to go to His Word. We need to let His Word shine upon us. We need to pray that His power will reach us and change us. "The ancient paths belong to Him." Which way are we to go? We  are to "walk with the Lord  in the light of His Word." This is the way of blessing - praising the Lord, receiving His blessing, walking in His pathway. The Lord reaches out to us with His "salvation." He comes to us with "rivers" of blessing (Habakkuk 3:8). The Lord saves us. He calls us to be His people. He anoints us, touching our lives, shaping our lives by His Holy Spirit. Why does He save us? Does He forgive our sins, and then leave us just the way we were? No! He empowers us for "action (Habakkuk 3:9). As we consider all that the Lord has done for us, is doing for us and will do for us, we learn to say, "I will be happy with the Lord, I will truly find joy in God, who saves me, The Lord Almighty is my strength... He makes me to walk on the mountains" (Habakkuk 3:18-19). There is so much in these verses to encourage us to go on with the Lord, strong in Him, strengthened by His Word and His Spirit. To God be the glory!

The Power Of The Spirit

The work of God is not done in our own strength. We need the superior power of God's Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). The power of the Spirit comes to us as the power of love, the power of Christ, the power of the Gospel. This is the power that reaches us and changes us. There  is no power like the power  of God's Spirit. The power of God's Spirit does not come in an entirely supernatural way. It comes to us through people:. "Zerubbabel's hands have laid the foundation of this House, and his hands will finish it" (Zechariah 4:9). It is the Lord who uses us in His service. We must never forget that the real power comes from Him: "Then you will know that the Lord of Armies has sent me to you" (Zechariah 4:9). This supernatural dimension is at the heart of every real work of God. When we emphasize this supernatural dimension. This something that we must never forget - if we are to honour the Lord, truly and fully. God works through ordinary people, who give themselves to Him, the extraordinary God. God is looking for people who will say to Him, "Here am I, send me" (Isaiah 6:8).

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Places on a map of the world - and the secret places of our hearts

Jeremiah 44:15-45:5
‘Egypt’ was to be a place of punishment. Lord, You speak to those who remain in the the place of rebellion. You say to them, ‘I will punish you in this place.’This is Your Word of warning. We don’t need to remain in the place of rebellion and punishment. We can ‘return’ to ‘Judah’, the place of obedience and blessing (Jeremiah 44:28-29). This is not about places we will find on a map of the world. It’s a call to look into the secret places of our hearts. Teach us, Lord, to search our hearts. What will You find when You look into our hearts? Will You find rebellion? Will You find obedience? You want us to leave the place of rebellion and punishment. You want us to return to the place of obedience and blessing. ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart!... See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!’ (Psalm 139:23-24).

Help us, Lord, not to stagger along in our own strength when You’re calling us to stand in Your strength ...

Psalm 18:1-24
Lord, You are “our strength, our rock, our fortress, our deliverer, our shield and the horn of our salvation, our stronghold (Psalm 18:1-2). What more can we ask for? You are all that we need – and more! Help us, Lord, not to stagger along in our own strength when You’re calling us to stand in Your strength and march on with You to victory (Ephesians 6:13). Our own strength isn’t strength. It’s weakness. Your strength is the only true strength. We are strong when we stand upon Your gracious promise – “My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

My Saviour and my God

  * "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God ... He is my Saviour and my God ... my Rock" (Psalm 42:2,5,8).
The living God is our Saviour and our Rock. When we come to Him, our life can never the same again. We were lost. Now, we've been found. We were falling apart. Now, we're standing on the solid Rock.
 * "Why are you discouraged, my soul? Why are you so restless? Put your hope in God, because I will still praise Him. He is my Saviour and my God" (Psalm 42:11; 43:5).
These two verses are the same as each other. Some things are worth repeating. We need to hear them over and over again. We get discouraged. Our heads go down. We get restless. We're being pulled in different directions. The pull of the world seems so strong. Does this kind of thing happen now and again? No! It's happening all the time. There's never a time when we don't need to hear the words, "Put your hope in God." There's never a time when we no longer need to hear the call to return to the Lord and start praising Him again. What do we find when we return to the Lord? This is what we find - "He is my Saviour and my God."

Monday, 14 March 2016

‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word of God.’

Jeremiah 52:1-34
We need ‘a portion for each day... all the days of our life’ (Jeremiah 52:34). When, Lord. we pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’, teach us to look beyond our physical need for food. May we remember our spiritual need for ‘the Bread of life’: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word of God’ (Matthew 6:11; John 6:35; Luke 4:4). Teach us, day-by day, to pray for spiritual feeding: ‘Break Thou the Bread of life, dear Lord to me, as Thou didst break the bread beside the sea. Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord. My spirit longs for Thee, Thou living Word! Thou art the Bread of life, O Lord, to me, Thy holy Word the truth that saveth me. Give me to eat and live with Thee above. Teach me to love Thy truth, for Thou art love.’

Sunday, 13 March 2016

God Is Calling For True Obedience.

Amos 5:6-6:14
‘Seek the Lord and live’. ‘Seek good, not evil...’(5:6,14). Those who truly seek the Lord are to live a godly life. God sees right through hypocritical religion. He is not pleased with it: ‘I hate your show and pretence - your hypocrisy of ‘honouring’ Me with your religious feasts and solemn assemblies... Away with your hymns of praise - they are mere noise to My ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is’(21,23). God is looking for true obedience: ‘a mighty flood of justice - a torrent of doing good’- ‘Let justice flow like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream’(24). God speaks to us about our sins - ‘Many and great are your sins. I know them so well’- so that we might learn to ‘hate evil’ and ‘love good’(5:12,15).

Amos 7:1-9:15
‘That’s enough, prophet! Go back to Judah and do your preaching there... Don’t prophesy here at Bethel any more’(7:12-13). Amos was a faithful preacher of God’s Word - but his hearers wanted to get rid of him! This was the beginning of a time of great darkness: ‘The days are coming when I will send a famine through the land - not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the Word of the Lord, but they will not find it’(8:11-12). There were dark times ahead - but God was looking beyond them to a brighter future: ‘I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel’(9:14). ‘Restore us again, O God of our salvation...’(Psalm 85:4-7).

Saturday, 12 March 2016

God Is Calling For Our Attention!

Amos 1:1-2:16
‘The Lord roars’. ‘The Lord thunders’(1:2). God’s Word comes to us from above - ‘The Lord will roar from on high’. He speaks to us from heaven - ‘He will thunder from His holy dwelling’. We dare not ignore the Word of the Lord. His Word comes to us as a Word of warning - ‘He will shout against all who live on the earth’- and a Word of judgment - ‘He will bring judgment on all mankind’. God is calling for our attention: ‘Look! Disaster is spreading from nation to nation; a mighty storm is rising from the ends of the earth’. God speaks to us about His ‘fierce anger’. He calls us to turn from our sin. Let us return to the Lord and hear His Word of salvation: ‘I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more (Jeremiah 25:30-32,37; 31:34).

Amos 3:1-5:5
‘You only have I chosen... therefore I will punish you for all your sins’(3:2). Along with the privilege of being ‘chosen’ to belong to the Lord comes the responsibility of living as the servants of the Lord. God’s Word is not to be taken lightly - ‘The lion has roared - who will not fear?’(3:8). God speaks to us very directly about the way we are living - ‘You have not returned to Me’(4:6,8-11). We must take Him seriously: ‘Prepare to meet your God’(4:12). God calls us to ‘seek Him and live’: ‘Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake His way and the evil man his thoughts, Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon’(5:4; Isaiah 55:6-7).

Thursday, 10 March 2016

From Pride To Praise

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

‘By Grace You Have Been Saved…’

2 Samuel 23:1-39
By birth, David was ‘the son of Jesse’. By grace, he was ‘the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel’(1). What we are in ourselves is nothing compared with what we can become through the grace of God! Look at David. Listen to what he says, ‘The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me, His Word is upon my tongue’(2). What had David done to deserve this? What was so special about him? Nothing - This was the work of God, the work of divine grace. In ourselves, we are ‘godless’, good for nothing, ‘like thorns that are thrown away’(6). In ourselves, we are not ‘mighty men’(8-9). How can we be changed? - ‘The Lord wrought a great victory’(10,12). Which of us can be described as ‘a valiant man… a doer of great deeds’(20) - apart from the grace of God? ‘By grace you have been saved…’(Ephesians 2:8-10).

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Serving You, Lord, begins with Your call.

Jeremiah 1:1-19
Serving You, Lord, doesn’t begin with our choice. It begins with Your call. The initiative is Yours – not ours. Thank You, Lord, that You love us so much. Thank You for saving us – and calling us to be Your servants.

Keep On Praying. Keep On Believing.

2 Samuel 21:1-22:7
There are no two ways about it. God’s people were getting it rough. There seemed to be so many problems. Were they to give up hope? - Not a bit of it! Read verse 14 - ‘After that God heeded supplications for the land’. What happened when God heard and answered the prayers of His people? - ‘the plague was averted from Israel’(24:25). Things would have been an awful lot worse, if it was not for the Lord hearing and answering prayer! Keep on praying. Keep on believing that God hears and answers prayer. He is not a tragic victim of circumstances - ‘Poor God. He can do nothing about it all’. Don’t believe that. That’s the lie of the devil. He is still the living God. Things are not out of His control. He is still on the throne. God can, if we will - ‘If my people…’(2 Corinthians 7:14). Pray ‘for the land’! 

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Jerry Bridges, "Holiness: Day by Day"

Jerry Bridges
Holiness Day by Day by Jerry Bridges
I've just read, at the "Pray Millennials" blog (Wordpress), that Jerry Bridges has passed away. I'm reposting these quotations from his book, "Holiness: Day by Day." This book was a great blessing to me. I hope these excerpts will bring blessing to you.
"Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace."
"The heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 ... obeyed by faith ... obedience is the pathway to holiness ... no one will become holy apart from a life of faith. Faith enables us to claim the promises of God, but it also enables us to obey the commands of God."
"... the pursuit of holiness must be anchored in grace; otherwise it is doomed to failure."

"Scripture speaks of a holiness which we have in Christ before God and a holiness which we must strive after."
"To remember no more is God's way of expressing absolute forgiveness."
"Micah 7:19 ... "You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." The picture is of God vigorously disposing of our sins by hurling them overboard. He doesn't just drop them over the side; He hurls them ..."
"Holiness requires continual effort on our part and continual nourishing and strengthening by the Spirit."
"When we commit ourselves to the pursuit of holiness, we need to ensure that our commitment is actually to God, not simply to a holy lifestyle or a set of moral values ... offer yourselves to God, and in doing that commit yourselves to the pursuit of holiness in order to please Him."
"Only when we're thoroughly convinced that the Christian life is entirely of grace are we able to serve God out of a grateful and loving heart."
"We obey God's Law, not to be loved but because we are loved in Christ."
"We need to approach the Bible each day with a spirit of deep humility, recognizing that our understanding of spiritual truth is at best incomplete and to some extent inaccurate ... we should approach the Scriptures in humility and expect the Spirit to humble us even further as we continue being taught by Him from His Word."
"There's a direct correlation between faith in the righteousness of Christ and zeal in the cause of Christ. The more a person counts as loss his own righteousness and lays hold by faith of the righteousness of Christ, the more he'll be motivated to live and work for Christ."
"God never grants justification without also giving sanctification at the same time ... Sanctification in us begins as an instantaneous act of the Holy Spirit and is carried forward by His continued action in our loves."
"... we did decide to trust Christ, but the reason we made that decision is that God had first made us spiritually alive. ... God comes to us when we're spiritually dead, when we don't even realize our condition, and gives us the spiritual ability to see our plight and to see the solution in Christ. God comes all the way, not partway, to meet us in our need. When we were dead, He made us alive in Christ. And the first act of that new life is to turn in faith to Jesus."
"God does not believe for us, but through His Spirit He creates spiritual life in us so that we can believe. Faith is the gift of God. It's part of the whole salvation package that God gives to us through the work of Christ for us and the work of the Holy Spirit in us. It's not our contribution, so to speak, to God's great plan of salvation. God does it all. It's part of the unsearchable riches of Christ."
"... self-control is not control by oneself through one's own willpower but rather control of oneself through the power of the Holy Spirit."
"Progressive sanctification is not a partnership with the Spirit in the sense that we each - the believer and the Holy Spirit - do our respective tasks. Rather, we work as He enables us to work. His work lies behind all our work and makes our work possible."
"A son or daughter in any human family is either born to or adopted by the parents. By definition, a child can't be both. But with God we're both born of Him and adopted by Him."

When, Lord, our message isn’t popular, help us to remember that it’s Your message – not ours.

Jeremiah 2:1-19
They had turned away from the Lord. They had chosen to go their own way (Jeremiah 2:13). When, Lord, our message isn’t popular, help us to remember that it’s Your message – not ours. You have not called us to preach a superficial message. You’ve called us to preach a searching message. We are to invite our hearers to think about what their wrong choices were doing to them: ‘Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the Lord your God when He led you in the way?’ (Jeremiah 2:17). We are to leave them in no doubt about where their wrong choices are leading them – ‘“Your own evil will punish you, and your turning from Me will condemn you. You will learn how bitter and wrong it is to abandon Me, the Lord your God, and no longer to remain faithful to Me”, I, the Sovereign Lord Almighty, have spoken’ (Jeremiah 2:19). This isn’t what people want to hear. It’s what they need to hear. Help us to be faithful to You – even when it’s difficult and discouragement is never very far away from us.

Can A Hopeless Situation Be Turned Around?

“There was a famine in the land” (Ruth 1:1). 
The situation seemed hopeless. We wonder, “Where will hope come from?” In Amos 8:11, we read about a different kind of famine: “not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” How do we find hope when there is a famine of hearing the words of the Lord”? We must learn to pray to the Lord: “Speak; your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).

God Gives His Blessing To Those Who Are Walking With Him In Obedience.

“You have … obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you. But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. So Joshua blessed them … ” (Joshua 22:2,5,6).
We don’t earn God’s blessing as a reward for our obedience. His blessing is always His gift – but we must never forget this: He gives His blessing to those who are walking with Him in obedience.
Remembering that God’s blessing is given by Him and not earned by us, we must not forget to give thanks to Him when we are blessed by Him. We must also remember that we dare not take His blessing for granted. We dare not presume that He will continue to bless us if we do not continue to walk with Him on the pathway of obedience.

God Is Always Greater Than Our Inadequate Worship.

2 Samuel 22:8-51
David’s ‘song’ of praise is also found in Psalm 18. Some things are worth repeating! David is praising the Lord. He is giving glory to Him. We must never tire of praising God. We can never praise Him enough. He is always greater than our inadequate worship. He is ‘worthy to be praised’(4). Again and again, we must lift our hearts and voices to Him in praise. Think of the Lord. Think of how great He is. Think of how much He loves you. Think of how much He has done for you. Let your song of praise rise to Him: ‘The Lord lives; and blessed be my Rock, and exalted be my God, the Rock of my salvation’(47; Mission Praise, 306). Some things are worth repeating - when we’re giving all the praise and glory to the Lord! Praising the Lord- We were created for this. We have been redeemed for this.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Help us, Lord, never to allow the place of worship to become more important than the Person we worship.

Jeremiah 7:1-8:3
‘Stop believing these deceitful words, “We are safe! This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!”’ (Jeremiah 4:4). Help us, Lord, never to allow the place of worship to become more important than the Person we worship. We worship You, Lord. May we not talk a lot about ‘the Church’ – and never speak of Christ! May we not become more concerned about ‘the Church’ looking good than we are about what You, Lord, see when You ‘look at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7)! Deliver us, Lord, from self-centred talk – ‘I love my Church. I never miss my Church. I always support my Church’. Help us to see that there’s a great deal of ‘I’ in this kind of talk – but Christ is conspicuous by His absence! May there be less ‘Look at what I have done for my Church’ and more ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20).

‘Paul Planted, Apollos Watered, But God Gave The Growth.’

2 Samuel 19:40-20:26
‘The words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel’(43). At the heart of all this conflict was Sheba. He was a real trouble-maker. ‘A worthless fellow’, he was up to no good. A complainer, he wreaked havoc among God’s people. He was out to make an impression - and he succeeded. Sadly, it was all negative. He did a great deal of ‘harm’(1-2,6). How sad it is when there is strife among God’s people! God’s Word speaks out strongly against this kind of thing: ‘While there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh…?’. Strife can arise when we attach too much importance to certain individuals and pay too little attention to the Lord: ‘“I belong to Paul”… “I belong to Apollos”’. Remember - ‘Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth’(1 Corinthians 3:3-7).

Saturday, 5 March 2016

'Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom' (Psalm 90:12).

The older generation will be familiar with the opening question and answer of the Shorter Catechism. It is a question about the purpose of our life. We are 'to glorify God'. We are 'to enjoy Him for ever'. We live our life in the light of eternity. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we look forward to the wonderful future God has in store for us: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him' (1 Corinthians 2:9). How are we to prepare ourselves for this glorious future? We are to pray, 'Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom' (Psalm 90:12). We must not think only about how long we live. We must think also about how well we live. We are to be men and women of faith, men and women who have asked the question of salvation, 'What must I do to be saved?', men and women who have obeyed the Gospel command, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved' (Acts 16:31). We must not think only of ourselves. There is more to life than achieving a comfortable standard of living. We are to be 'rich toward God' (Luke 12:21). There is more to life than 'storing up for ourselves treasures on earth'. We must not forget the challenge put to us by our Lord Jesus Christ: 'store up for yourselves treasures in heaven' (Matthew 6:19-21). As we grow older, we must not forget another type of growth – spiritual growth: 'grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ' (2 Peter 3:18).

Friday, 4 March 2016

Help us, Lord, not only to seek blessing for ourselves. Teach us to pray that others will be blessed also.

Jeremiah 4:1-18
‘If you will return, O Israel,… then the nations will be blessed…’ (Jeremiah 4:1-2). Help us, Lord, not only to seek blessing for ourselves. Teach us to pray that others will be blessed also. Your blessing is not to be kept to ourselves. It is to be shared. We are not to be small-minded people – ‘What will I get out of it?’. Help us to remember what Jesus said to His first disciples, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’. This is still Your Word to us today. May we never rest content with being an inward-looking Church. Christ has given us a worldwide mission: ‘You will be My witnesses… to the ends of the earth’. We are not left to face this great task on our own. Christ says, ‘I am with you always’. We thank You, Lord, that we do not take up this great challenge in our own strength. Christ says to us, ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you’ (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).

Praying Through God's Word: Mark's Gospel

Mark 1:1-20
Lord, we thank You that Your Son, Jesus, has triumphed over Your enemy, Satan. To us, Satan can seem so strong. Help us to remember that Jesus is stronger than Satan. With Jesus as our Saviour, we shall triumph over Satan, our enemy.

Mark 1:21-2:12
Lord, help us never to think that prayer time is wasted time. Jesus prayed. Jesus received Your blessing. Jesus brought Your blessing to others. Help us to be like Jesus - praying, receiving Your blessing, bringing Your blessing to others.

Mark 2:13-3:12
Lord, there are some changes that are good changes - but not all change is good change. We live in an ever-changing world. We look at some of the changes. We wonder, "Where are these changes coming from?" Is it because so many people have stopped listening to what Your Word is saying to them? What about good change, Lord? Where does good change come from? It comes from You, Lord. Real change, true and lasting change, comes to us when we put our trust in You, when we say, "Not my will, but Your will be done, Lord."

Mark 3:13-35
Sometimes, Lord, when we think about our many sins, we wonder, "How can we possibly be forgiven?" - and, then, we remember Jesus. We remember that He died for our sins. We look at ourselves, and everything seems to be so hopeless. We look at Jesus, and we say, "Thank You, Lord, for Your wonderful love. Your love is greater than all of our sin. Thank You, Lord.

Mark 4:1-34
Lord, what does Your Spirit have to say to us? He speaks to us of our sin. He shows us our Saviour. It's a good thing to be aware of our sin. It's an even better thing to know that Jesus "receives sinners" (Luke 15:2). We come to Him - and He welcomes us. He is our Savour. He forgives our sins. Our sin gets us down. Our Saviour lifts us up. No wonder we sing, "Hallelujah! What a Saviour!"

Mark 4:35-5:20
"No-one ever cared for me like Jesus": Lord, help us to remember this - when our heads start to go down, and everything seems to be getting on top of us. Help us to remember this: "Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:38-39).

Mark 5:21-6:13
Lord, when we feel like there's no hope, show us that You are "the God of hope" (Romans 15:130. This is why we believe that "there is hope" (Jeremiah 31:17). Our hope is in You - the God of great faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23). With You as our God, how can we ever feel that we're hopeless? - To ask this quesion is to answer it! You are our God. You are our hope. Thank You, Lord.

Mark 6:14-44
Lord, we look for happiness. Where will we find it? "Happiness is to know the Saviour, living a life within His favour." How does happiness come our way? It comes when we're learning to see that pleasing You is more important than pleasing ourselves: Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."

Mark 6:45-7:23
Where, Lord, will we find peace - when our emotions are tearing us apart? We feel like we're being pulled this way and that way. Sometimes, we feel like we're all over the place. We don't know whether we're coming or going. Lord, give us Your peace. Give us Your Son, Jesus. He is our Saviour. He is our Peace.

Mark 7:24-8:26
How much, Lord, do we want to be blessed by You? Is this something that we can take or leave? Do we say, "It would be nice to have more of the Lord's blessing - but we're doing OK, as things are? Are we doing OK? or Are we too easily satisfied? Create in us, Lord, a greater hunger and thirst for Your righteousness. Give us a greater desire that You will be glorified in us and through us. Help us not to settle for less than You want to give to us.

Mark 8:27-9:13
Where does our faith come from? - It comes from You, Lord. You put it into our hearts. You brought us to Jesus, Your Son - Jesus, our Saviour. You brought us out of unbelief and into faith. We came to You in our sin. You gave to us Your salvation. Thank You, Lord.

Mark 9:14-50
Lord, we come to You in weakness. You come to us in power. Our faith is weak. your power is great. What is our faith? It is faith in Your power - the power of Your love. It's not faith in ourselves. It's faith in You. You are our God. We put our trust in You. May we know, in our hearts, that You are absolutely trustworthy - the God who will never fail us.

Mark 10:1-31
When problems come our way, help us, Lord, to see that You have given us the answer - Your Answer: Jesus. What are we to do when we have problems? - We take them to Jesus. We see nothing but our problems - He sees something else: His opportunities. Our big problems can be turned into His great opportunities! Our problems bring us down. Your grace lifts us up. When our faith is put to the test, help us to remember Your precious promise: "My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Mark 10:32-52
Lord, You gave Your Son for us. We give all the glory to You. Our salvation does not begin with ourselves. It begins with You - Your gift to us, the gift of Your love: "God so loved the world that he gave His only Son" (John 3:16). Thank You, Lord, for Your love. Thank You for Your gift. Thank You for Your Son.

Mark 11:1-33
Lord, You call us to be fruitful for You. You call us to pray to You. Lead us in the way of fruitfulness. Lead us in the way of prayer. Help us to see that real fruitfulness comes from You. It comes to us - when we seek blessing from You and give glory to You.

Mark 12:1-44
Lord, give us wisdom. Give us Jesus. Give us faith - faith that is grounded in Your Holy Word, faith that is empowered by Your Holy Spirit. This is wisdom - living in the light of Your Word, living in the power of Your Spirit, living for Jesus. Lord, give us wisdom.

Mark 13:1-27
Lead us on, Lord - from our past to Your future. Whatever our past has been, show us Your future. Show us that You haven't given up on us. Show us that You have a great future planned for us.

Mark 14:1-25
We thank You, Lord, for Your love. It's the greatest love of all. Your love for us is so much greater than our love for You. Help us, Lord, to think less about our love for You, and more about Your love for us.

Mark 14:26-52
Lord, we praise You. We pray to You. We preach Your Word. Help us, Lord, as we praise, pray and preach, to remember that this is only part of our life. You call us to belong to You - and to serve You in the whole of life. This is not only about the things that we do - even the 'holy' things! It's about being the kind of people You've called us to be. We're called by Your holiness - called to be holy. We're called by Your love - called to be loving. We're called by Jesus - called to become more like Him. Help us, Lord, to hear Your call. Help us to say, 'Yes' to Your call - the call to live in holiness and love, the call to follow Jesus.

Mark 14:53-15:5
We thank You, Lord, that Jesus went to the Cross for us. He didn't stop halfway. He didn't opt out at 'the eleventh hour.' He didn't give up. He kept on going. What was it that kept Him going? - It was His love for us. Thank You, Lord, for His love - real love, wonderful love, perfect love, complete love, eternal love.

Mark 15:6-41
Thank You, Lord, that Jesus gave Himself for us. He took our place. He died for us. We are the sinners. He is the Saviour. He made the complete sacrifice. We receive the full salvation.This is Good News. It's the best news we could ever hear.

Mark 15:42-16:20
We thank You that Jesus has risen from the dead. He died. He was buried. Was that the end of Him? No! There was a wonderful new beginning - for Jesus, for us. He has been raised to life - a glorious resurrection. We will be raised to life - a glorious future. Here-and-now, Lord, may our life be shaped by Your future - filled with the glory of the risen Lord. 

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