Daily Devotional Readings: Year One - June
1st June: Exodus 1:1-2:10
Things were difficult for Israel yet 'the more they were oppressed the more they multiplied' (12). Difficult times can be the making of God's people! Pharaoh (and Satan!) is murderously anxious about the growth of God's people (15-16; John 10:10). God is about to move in saving power - His 'midwives' are preparing for the 'birth' of His redeemed people (17,20). Moses was preserved in 'a basket made of bulrushes' (2:3). Born again, we are preserved through God's Word and Spirit - 'the living and abiding Word of God' (1 Peter 1:23). Moses was drawn out of the water (2:10). Israel was drawn out of the bondage in Egypt (6:6-8). Like Israel, we have been redeemed by blood (12:13; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Redeemed by the Lord, we are to be consecrated to Him. In 20:1-2, 'the Ten Commandments' are introduced by a declaration of God's salvation. Our obedience to God is to be grounded in this: He has redeemed us!
2nd June: Exodus 2:11-3:22
Salvation, service, personal faith, life among God's people - God has much to teach us. Moses sins (2:12). God graciously forgives (Micah 7:18-19) - this is salvation. His sin forgiven, Moses is called to service. He is called by the eternal God, the God who draws near to His people (3:14-15). Saved by Christ, we are called to serve Him, the eternal 'God' who 'became flesh and dwelt among us' (John 1:1-14). Saved, we belong to God's people (1 Peter 2:10). Serving, we play our part within the 'one body' of Christ (Romans 12:4-5). Moses was to serve God's people, the people whose prayer God answered - delivering them from bondage and leading them on to great blessing (2:23-25; 3:8). Moses was a key figure, but he did not stand alone. The work of God made progress because the people of God went forward together. In God's work, we are to be participators - not spectators!
3rd June: Exodus 4:1-31
Two great obstacles had to be overcome - Moses' sense of inadequacy and Pharaoh's stubborn resistance. Moses had to learn that 'our competence comes from God' (2 Corinthians 3:5). Part of God's provision for Moses was Aaron (14-16). We are not called to go it alone. What encouragement there is in the support of our fellow-believers. Weak believers need strengthening. Stubborn unbelief (Pharaoh) is ready to overwhelm us. We need strength if we are to 'attempt great things for God' and 'expect great things from God' (William Carey). Concerning Pharaoh, God says, 'I will harden his heart' (21). This was also Pharaoh's own choice - 'Pharaoh hardened his heart' (8:15,32; 9:34). God sent circumstances into Pharaoh's life which led him to harden his own heart by rejecting God's Word. Pharaoh's resistance did not hinder God's salvation - he was 'compelled by a mighty hand' (3:19). God is at work - make sure you don't miss out on His blessing!
4th June: Exodus 5:1-6:13
In 4:29-31, we see Moses, the elders and the people worshipping God. Pharaoh opposes them - 'Who is the Lord, that I should heed His voice...?' (2) - , and 'the foremen of the people of Israel' start complaining (19-21). What does Moses do ? - He prays. Notice the honesty of his prayer - he asks the 'Why ?' question, and he protests, 'You have not rescued Your people at all' (22-23). God gives His answer - redemption will be given (6:1,6-8). Redemption - this is God's answer to our suffering. He gave His Son to suffer for our sins. Through Christ, we receive salvation. Moses had to learn to wait for the fulfilment of God's promise. God's own people were not listening to him. How could he expect the unbelieving Pharaoh to listen to him (6:9,12)? It was not easy. Nevertheless, this 'charge' had been given - 'bring the people out'. It shall be done!
5th June: Mark 1:1-20
This is a new 'beginning'. The prophets had spoken. Now, the Saviour has come. This is good news. John has prepared the way. Now, he stands aside to make way for Jesus Christ, the Son of God' (1,11). Following Jesus' baptism, there was temptation. This was Kingdom against kingdom. Satan's kingdom was under threat. The Kingdom of God had come. Christ triumphed over Satan. In Him, we triumph when, hearing the Gospel declaration - 'the Kingdom of God is at hand' - , we obey the Gospel command - 'repent and believe the gospel' (15). With the command, 'Follow Me', there is the promise, 'I will make you...' (17). Christ's call is 'full of grace and truth' (John 1:14). It is truth - a call to discipleship. It is grace - a call from Jesus. In Christ, we become 'a new creation' (2 Corinthians 5:17). We become 'fishers of men' (17).
6th June: Mark 1:21-2:12
Great things were happening. God was moving in power. In all this, we could easily overlook something very important: Jesus prayed (35). He made time for prayer. This was not wasted time. This was time well spent. Jesus was mighty before men - the power of God was flowing freely. Jesus knew where the power comes from - He was humble before God. We long for this - 'they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!"' (12). We must pray in faith, bringing people before the Lord, convinced that such prayer 'is powerful and effective' (2:5; James 5:16). "If my people...pray..., I will...forgive their sin and heal their land' (2 Chronicles 7:14). "O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee. Send a revival. Start the work in me. Thy Word declares Thou wilt supply our need. For blessing now, O Lord, I humbly plead' (Mission Praise, 587).
7th June: Exodus 6:14-7:24
This list of names emphasizes that God is concerned with the 'little people', and not only the 'the big names' like Moses. Gifted individuals have their important place in carrying forward God's purpose. Such individuals are used by God for the blessing of the whole people of God. The forward movement of God's work is often preceded by great difficulties. We must 'walk by faith, not by sight' (2 Corinthians 5:7). Adverse circumstances must not defeat us. The Lord is calling us on to greater faith. God's purpose of grace moves forward according to His power and not our weakness. Moses spoke 'with faltering lips' (30). God worked miracles (8-24). Turning to 'sorcerers' and 'magicians', Pharaoh, the servant of Satan, 'would not listen' to God's servants (11,13;7:22). 'Our God is marching on' - to glorious victory (Church Hymnary, 318)!
8th June: Exodus 7:25-8:32
God's work is 'in the midst of the earth'. He claims His own people for Himself (22-23). To 'all the ends of the earth', He says, 'Turn to Me and be saved'. Concerning His own people, He says, 'In the Lord all the offspring of Israel shall triumph and glory' (Isaiah 45:22,25). In the plagues, we see God's power and Pharaoh's pride. There is a conflict between the reality of God and Pharaoh's fantasy. Conflict is God's training ground for spiritual growth. We take our stand on the reality of God. Those who oppose God live in a fantasy world, imagining that they can successfully oppose the mighty God of salvation - 'To pluck from His hand the weakest, trembling soul, it never, never can be done' (Sacred Songs and Solos. 508). Pharaoh was neither the first nor the last to oppose God- and fail! Put to death by men, Christ was raised by God (Acts 2:23-24) - Hallelujah!
9th June: Exodus 9:1-35
Today, we highlight three lessons: The importance of trusting Christ as your Saviour, the folly of refusing Christ's salvation and the danger of professing conversion without really meaning it. Each of us must choose: Will you step into Christ or remain outside of Him? Will you flee to Him and take refuge in Him or will you neglect Him and remain under judgment? 'Flee from the wrath to come'. 'How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?' (20-21; Luke 3:7; Hebrews 2:3). You can enter into salvation through faith in Christ or you can, in unbelief, remain outside of Christ (Hebrews 4:2-3). Pharaoh 'confessed' his sin, but didn't really mean it. He had had 'enough' of God's interference. That was his 'reason' for admitting his sin. This was not real repentance - only a dislike for suffering! Make your decision for Christ, and make it real!
10th June: Exodus 10:1-29
The conflict between God and Pharaoh is a conflict between light and darkness. We are to shine as lights - for God, the 'Light' in whom there is 'no darkness at all' (Matthew 5:16; 1 John 1:5). God's purpose is moving forward. Pharaoh becomes more determined in his rebellion. Pharaoh's stubborn unbelief becomes his own undoing. Pharaoh doesn't want God. God confirms him in his unbelief (28-29). God says, 'You can go your own way, but you will be spiritually dead' (Psalm 106:13-15). God says, 'Do not harden your heart. You may be very close to the point of no return' (Hebrews 3:8; Proverbs 29:1). Before you lose all inclination to return to the Lord, let Christ's love touch your heart. Only His love can 'create in you a clean heart'. Only His love can 'put a new and right Spirit within you' (Psalm 51:10).
11th June: Exodus 11:1-12:28
Here, we focus attention on two verses which emphasize the importance of being saved by the Lord and going on to live for Him: 'when I see the blood, I will pass over you...you must eat unleavened bread' (13,20). In verse 13, we are directed beyond the Passover to Jesus Christ, whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins (John1:29; 1 John1:7). In verse 20, we have the call to holy living. In 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 and Galatians 5:7-9, Paul uses 'leaven' as a symbol of 'sin', which holds us back from 'running a good race'. We are to live as a new creation, who feast on 'the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth'. Forgiveness of sins and holy living belong together. We are not to rejoice in God's forgiveness and then gloss over His call to holy living: 'justified by faith', we are to 'walk in newness of life' (Romans 5:1; 6:4)
12th June: Exodus 12:29-13:16
God delivered His people from their bondage (3,14,16). There is, in the Exodus, a great picture of the Gospel, which sets us free. Christ sets us free. He does this by His Word of 'truth' (John 8:32,36). The Gospel says, 'Sin will have no dominion over you...You have been set free from sin' (Romans 6:14,18,22). Through 'the Spirit of God', we have received 'not...the spirit of slavery...but...the spirit of sonship' (Romans 8:14-15). Israel's deliverance from the land of bondage was also deliverance for a new life in 'a land flowing with milk and honey' (5). We look back in grateful remembrance. We look forward in eager anticipation. We have received 'the first fruits of the Spirit'. There is more to come - 'the glorious liberty of the children of God...the redemption of our bodies' (Romans 8:21-23).
13th June: Exodus 13:17-14:31
Sin may be 'near', but God never leads His people into it (13:17, James 1:13). Following Christ means walking a narrow road (Matthew 7:13-14). We are surrounded by many temptations. Pray that your feet will not slip (Psalm 37:31; 17:5; 44:18). Sometimes, the Lord leads us 'by way of the wilderness' - a way of apparent fruitlessness. Why? - So that 'equipped for battle', we might learn to serve Him better (13:18). The Lord does not leave His people in the wilderness. Pursued by their enemies (the Egyptians), they were guided by the 'cloud' and 'fire' (13:21-22). God was with them, and He was about to reveal His saving power in a mighty way (13-14). There is judgment as well as salvation (30). Looking to neither the 'right' nor the 'left', we must look to the Lord (14:21-22). Rejoicing in 'the great work' He has done, our faith 'in the Lord' grows strong (31).
14th June: Exodus 15:1-21
This is a song of redemption - God has redeemed His people; a song of thanksgiving - we give thanks for God's redemption; and a song of hope - we look forward to the complete fulfilment of God's redemption. This is not only a 'song of God's people'. It is also the song of Moses, a personal song. This is worship - not a mere formality, but worship which arises from the depths of Moses' heart. Deeply moved by the grace and glory of God, Moses pours his heart out to God in worship: (i) He praises the God of grace - 'my strength...my song...my salvation' (2). (ii) He praises the God of glory - God triumphs 'gloriously' (1). His 'glorious' power is demonstrated in His 'glorious' deeds (6,11). (iii) Worshipping this God of grace - the redeeming God (13) - and glory - the reigning God (18) - , we say, 'You are my God, and I will praise You' (Psalm 118:28). Let us worship God - personally as well as publicly.
15th June: Mark 2:13-3:12
Jesus changes people. Levi became Matthew (14). He became 'a new creation' (2 Corinthians 5:17). The change of name marked his new birth (John 3:6). To be changed by Jesus you must recognize yourself as a sinner (17). There is a world of difference between legal obedience - 'old wine' - and Gospel obedience - 'new wine' (21-22). There is an eternity of difference between belonging to God's Kingdom and remaining outside of His Kingdom (John 3:3,5,7). The religion of the Pharisees was legalistic. The obedience of Jesus was spiritual. Will we follow Jesus, or will we be like these 'religious' men who planned 'to destroy Him' (6)? It is sadly possible to participate in 'religion', professing faith in 'the Son of God', in an 'unclean spirit' (11). Prompted by the Holy Spirit, let us truly confess that 'Jesus is Lord' (1 Corinthians 12:3).
16th June: Mark 3:13-35
The conflict intensifies. The 'twelve' are 'sent...to cast out demons' (14-15). Jesus is accused of being demon-possessed (22). Jesus warns against 'an eternal sin' - blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (28-30). With the offer of forgiveness - 'the blood of Jesus...cleanses us from all sin' - , there is the call to 'confess our sins' (1 John 1:7,9). 'If we say we have no sin' (1 John 1:8,10) and no need of Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we resist the Holy Spirit who seeks to convict us of our sin and lead us to the Saviour (John 16:8-9,14). Are you anxious about 'an unpardonable sin' ? Let the Holy Spirit lead you to the Saviour. Take your sin to Jesus, and let His 'perfect love cast out your fear' (1 John 4:17). Do you think you cannot be forgiven ? God's thoughts are 'higher': 'Return to the Lord...He will abundantly pardon' (Isaiah 55:6-9).
17th June: Proverbs 4:1-9
This is 'a father's instructions' to his 'sons' (1). The father has been a 'son' (3). He has wrestled with temptation. He has needed the exhortation - 'Let your heart hold fast...' (4) - and the warning - 'Do not turn away...' (5). Now, we turn to the divine Father and Son. The Father does not keep His distance from us. Through the Son, He has come near to us. Through the Son, we come to the Father (John 14:9,6). When Scripture says, 'Get wisdom' (7), it means this: 'Come to the Father through Jesus the Son'. Wisdom brings 'a beautiful crown', 'the crown of righteousness', 'the unfading crown of glory' (9; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4). Be wise. Be ready for the Lord's Return (Matthew 25:1-13). 'Purer...higher...greater - Our wonder, our worship, when Jesus we see!' (Church Hymnary, 374).
18th June: Exodus 15:22-16:36
God allows His people to suffer difficulties. Why? - To strengthen our faith (15:25; 16:4; Deuteronomy 8:2,16; 1 Peter 1:6-7). He chastens us, to teach us repentance (Revelation 3:19). Don't forget God's love. He is faithful: 'He didn't bring us this far to leave us'. He shows us His glory (7). He assures us that He is God (12). He provides us with 'daily bread' (4). Yesterday's 'bread' is insufficient for today's challenges (19-20). 'Morning by morning', the 'bread' is to be gathered (21; Lamentations 3:22-23). Jesus is the Living Bread (John 6:32-35,48-51). Feed on Him each day. Don't invite spiritual starvation by missing days. If you miss some days, don't let it continue. Remember: 'Seven days without prayer makes one weak'! 'How long has it been since you talked with the Lord?' Too long? It is time to pray and feed on Jesus!
19th June: Exodus 17:1-18:27
Worldly people create problems (17:3). Moses asks, 'What shall I do...?' (17:4). Indecision asks, 'Is the Lord among us or not?' (17:7). He gives victory (17:8-9,13). Joshua is being equipped for special service - 'in the ears of Joshua' (17:14). God's great concern is that His people move forward together. The work is not to be left to the few (18). God is looking to faithful servants who will 'bear the burden' together (21-22). There is much to be done, but we must never forget this: 'prayer and the ministry of the Word' (Acts 6:1-4). You may not be a Moses or a Joshua, but you can play your part. We rejoice in who God is and what He has done for us. Assured of His presence with us, let us worship Him: 'Blessed be the Lord...' (18:10-11).
20th June: Exodus 19:1-25
Before law, there is Gospel - what God has done for us (4). We are to obey in the Spirit of grace, as those who have been redeemed by His mercy (5-6; 1 Peter 2:9-10). God's Word is not only for the leader. It is for the whole people of God (3,7,9,11). God speaks to us concerning possession, consecration and reverence. Possession - We are His 'own possession' (5). In love, He has claimed us for Himself. We belong to Him. Consecration - God is holy. We are to be holy (10,14; 1 Peter 1:15-16). Reverence - Don't rush into God's presence, presuming on His blessing. We must not take God's blessing for granted. That would be arrogance (21-22). We must come to Him with this humble confidence: God will bless those who truly call upon Him (2 Chronicles 7:14-16). May God help us to say, 'All that the Lord has spoken we will do' (8).
21st June: Exodus 20:1-20
God does not want to see sin in us (20). He wants to see Himself in us. Sin robs us of His great blessing. He wants to fill us with love (Mark 12:28-31; Galatians 5:14; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13). Before our love for Him, there is His love for us. He is the God of redemption. He has redeemed us. We are His people. This is His doing. All the glory belongs to Him (1-2). We are to live as His people. He is to have first place in our lives (3). The 'law' is 'holy' and 'good', but it cannot make us holy and good - without 'the new life of the Spirit' (Romans 7:12,6: 8:2; 2 Corinthians 3:3). 'Moses' cannot save! There is only one Saviour - Jesus! Not under law, we yield ourselves to the God of salvation (Romans 6:13-14). Our obedience comes from faith in Christ - not legalism (Romans 1:5-6)! Our holiness comes from the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
22nd June : Mark 4:1-34
God's Word carries this message: 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says...' (9; Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). We must listen for the voice of the Spirit. Grace has been 'given' to us (11). It is God's gift. To God be the glory! Sadly, some refuse to listen. Think about your response to God's Word (15-20). Let your light shine (21-23; Matthew 5:16). Use your gifts, or lose them (24-25). We preach the Word. God gives the growth (26-29; 1 Corinthians 3:6-7). A small child can count the seeds in an apple. Only God knows how many apples there are in a single seed! God's Word is a 'seed' which bears much fruit (30-32; 1 Peter 1:23-25). Parables whet the appetite - for more! They were given to people 'as they were able to hear it' - 'a starter' (33-34)! May we be 'visual aids' to whet people's appetite - for God!
23rd June: Mark 4:35-5:20
Jesus was sleeping because He was tired - not because He didn't care (38)! He does care. Everything was under control. Faith was being tested. Fear and faith are opposites (40). 'Awe' (41) is very different from unbelieving fear. Awe leads to worship. Fear destroys faith. The man was filled with 'unclean spirits' (13). He was a 'demoniac' (15-16). No one could do anything for him (3) - except Jesus! They tried to 'subdue' him (4). Jesus saved him! He is able to lift from the guttermost...and 'save to the uttermost' (Hebrews 7:25). The human situation is hopeless (Ephesians 4:18-19; 2 Corinthians 4:4) - without Christ! With Him, everything changes (2 Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 4:22-24). ''The gates of hell prevail against' us. They do not prevail against Christ (Matthew 16:18). Tell others what the 'Lord has done for you' - God will use your words to bring blessing (19-20).
24th June: Mark 5:21-6:13
The story begins with Jairus (21-24). Then, there is an 'interruption' - which brought healing to a woman (25-34). The woman had nowhere else to go (25-26). She came to Jesus (27). She was healed - not because she touched His garment (many others were brushing against Him), but because she had 'faith' (28,31,34). Jesus brought her out into the open - so that she might confess Him (30,32-33). The new birth can take place in very quiet circumstances - by faith in Christ. Jesus wants us to 'come out' - to confess Him. Back to Jairus' daughter - People thought there was no hope. Jesus said, 'Do not fear, only believe' (35-36). Not everyone believes. We can limit the power of Christ among us - by our unbelief (5-6)! We can, however, be called, sent and given authority...(7) - Never forget: The power and glory belongs to God (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
25th June: Mark 6:14-44
They were great men of God - 'John the baptiser...Elijah...the prophets of old' (14-15). None of them can compare with the Lord Jesus Christ. These men directed attention to the Lord (1 Kings 18:36-39; Isaiah 52: 13-53:12; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27). Of Christ alone, we say, 'There is salvation in no one else...' (Acts 4:12). Christ saves - and satisfies: We feed on Him and we are 'satisfied' (42). Apart from Him, the human search ends in this: 'I can't get no satisfaction'. In Him, there is satisfaction - He is the Saviour. Saved, satisfied and sharing - this is what we are to be. To His disciples, He still says, 'You give them something...' (37). We say, 'We don't have enough'. He says, 'I am more than enough' (2 Corinthians 3:5). Many are 'like sheep without a shepherd'. We must not fail them. We must 'teach them many things' (34).
26th June: Mark 6:45-7:23
The storm is raging: 'they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them' (48). Jesus draws near, and there is peace: 'the wind ceased' (51). Another 'storm' continues to rage: 'Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders...?' (5). How did Jesus respond to this 'storm' of criticism? - He exposed the hypocrisy of those who made the tradition of men more important than the Word of God (7-9,13). He invited 'the people' to come 'to Him', to 'hear', to 'understand'. His Word was addressed to 'all' of them (14). Jesus emphasizes this point: 'man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart' (1 Samuel 16:7). The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. Which will it be? - 'Their hearts were hardened' (52) or 'Loving the Lord your God with all your heart' (12:30).
27th June: Mark 7:24- 8:26
Verse 27: The Gospel is for all - Jews and Gentiles (John 3:16). It seems like a 'refusal'. It is not. In love, Jesus says, 'Show me that your faith is real'. First things 'first': Do you really want to be blessed by the Lord ? Or, are you content with 'going through the motions' of religious ritual. Is God's Word going in one ear and out the other (deaf)? Are you ashamed of the Lord (dumb)? Jesus 'makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak' (37). Jesus feeds those who are hungry - for Him. To those who say, "'Yes, Lord, even the crumbs', so long as it comes from You", Jesus gives much - and we are 'satisfied' (28;8). Don't settle for 'the leaven of the Pharisees' (15) - second best (by a long way!) - when you can have Jesus, the very best! 'Open our eyes, Lord. We want to see Jesus' (22-26; Mission Praise, 545).
28th June: Mark 8:27-9:13
'Who do you say that I am ?': Jesus puts this question to all of us. Some believe He is the Christ. Others do not. Some try to 'sit on the fence'. Everyone makes their response to Him. God is not deceived by outward observance of religion, when it masks an inward refusal to receive Christ as Saviour, to submit to Him as Lord. On the day of judgment, God will not be looking for respectability. He will be looking for faith (Luke 18:8). Peter confessed Christ (29). Then, he was overcome by Satan (33). He became 'puffed up' with pride (1 Corinthians 8:1). He forgot that faith comes from divine revelation (Matthew 16:17). We are not 'to rebuke' the Lord (32). Looking to 'Jesus only' (8; Romans 4:5), we are to live as His disciples (34) - not of this world, as He is not of this world (John 17:14,16; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Peter 1:3-4).
29th June: Mark 9:14-50
'Our God is able' (Daniel 3:17). Do we believe this? There is no doubt about God's power. What about our faith? We come to Jesus, saying, 'If you can'. Jesus turns things around: 'If you can! All things are possible to him who believes' (22-23). This is not so much an appeal for positive thinking. It is a call to prayer (29). Less self-confidence and more confidence in God - This is what we need. God's greatness is more important than our 'greatness' (33-35). Are there things that you don't understand? Don't be afraid to ask (32). You may even learn from those who 'don''t belong to our group' (38-40). They don't belong to our group? So what? Do they belong to Christ? That's what matters. 'It is better' (43,45,47) to be Christ's - than anything else! May our faith, though 'tested by fire', grow strong - to God's glory (49-50; 1 Peter 1: 6-7).
30th June: Psalm 9:1-20
'I will give thanks to the Lord...'(1-2). The enemy is defeated (3-6). 'The Lord sits enthroned for ever' (7). 'The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble' (9). What an encouraging Psalm this is: We have the victory in Christ. Nevertheless, it is not easy when we face determined opposition from the enemies of Christ and His Gospel: 'Behold what I suffer from those that hate me' (13). In this situation, we must call upon the Lord: 'Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail' (19). Though the conflict is raging all around, we must - taking our stand in Christ - declare God's praises and rejoice in His salvation (14). 'The Lord dwells in Zion' (11): 'Blest inhabitants of Zion, Washed in the Redeemer's blood', may we always say, 'Let the world deride or pity, I will glory in Thy Name' (Church Hymnary, 421).