Daily Devotional Readings: Year One - September
1st September: Numbers 1:1-54
'Every man able to go forth to war': This is the key phrase in verses 1-46. God is looking for 'soldiers': Soldiers of Christ! To live for Christ is to be engaged in warfare. It is spiritual warfare. We need 'the whole armour of God' (Ephesians 6:10-20). We must remember that 'the weapons of our warfare are not worldly'. They have 'divine power'. They are 'powerful weapons from God'. They are 'mighty through God' (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). The Levites were to lead worship (47-54). The battle is the Lord's (2 Chronicles 20:15). We will never be strong 'soldiers of Christ' unless we are learning to worship the Lord. Worship lies at the very heart of the life of God's people. Without worship, we are weak. Worshipping God, we will grow 'strong'. We will 'firmly resist' the enemy. We will 'take action' for God (Daniel 11:32).
2nd September: Numbers 2:1-34
'The Lord said to Moses': These words appear more than eighty times in Numbers. Let your life be centred on the Word of the Lord - Listen, Read, Study, Memorize, Meditate! God's people were 'facing the tent of meeting on every side' (2). There were to be no gaps in the ranks. We are not to pull in different directions. We are to pull together. Everyone has their place. All who are willing to serve the Lord will find a place in His service. Let us be united in worship and witness. Without this spirit of co-operation, the work of the Lord will fail. Each of us needs to be 'in position' (17) - on the Lord's Day for worship and on other occasions, when we are called upon to 'serve the Lord with gladness' (Psalm 100:2). Let our 'standard' (17,31) be the Lord - not the world: We are God's people!
3rd September: Luke 6:17-49
Four thoughts from Jesus' 'sermon': (a) Hunger for God (21; Matthew 5:6): Laziness leads to superficial Christianity. Do not hunger and you will not be 'filled with the Spirit' (Ephesians 5:18). Do not seek and you will not find (Matthew 7:7). Seek the Lord with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13). God has so much for us (1 Corinthians 2:12). Don't miss out (2 Corinthians 9:6). (b) Love for God: Love is the greatest thing in the world. Our love for God is to be seen in our love for others (27; 1 John 3:16-17). (c) Vision of God: The blind cannot lead the blind (39-42). Make sure you are not 'blind and short-sighted' (2 Peter 1:9). Run with the vision - Others will be blessed (Habakkuk 2:2). (d) Foundations in God: Make sure you are 'rooted' in Christ, our sure 'Foundation' (43-49; Ephesians 3:17; 2:19-22).
4th September: Luke 7:1-35
'When he heard of Jesus...' (3): 'Faith comes from hearing...'. Tell people of Jesus: 'How can they believe in Him if they have not heard His message? How can they hear if no one tells the Good News?' (Romans 10:17,14). 'God has visited His people!' (16): 'Raised from the dead' - Pray for a real 'quickening' as the 'God, who is rich in mercy', pours out 'His great love' upon us (Ephesians 2:4-6). John was looking for the One who was 'to come' (19). What a great thing it is when Christ comes among us. Do we take His presence for granted? Do not presume on God's blessing: 'Blessed are the eyes which see what you see!...many...desired to see what you see and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it' (10:23-24). Do we care about God's blessing? - If we don't, we may lose it!
5th September: Numbers 3:1-51
The Levites were to 'minister at the tabernacle' (5-8). Different people were given different responsibilities. They were not to compete with each other. There was to be no overlapping. One was not to interfere with the work of another. The call comes from God. 'Every male from a month old and upward' (15,24,28,34,39-40,43): Long before we even thought of serving God, He was calling us to be His servants. God is in control: He determines who will serve Him, and how we will serve Him. Each of us has a part to play. The important thing is the whole work of God. Let each of us be faithful so that the whole work can move forward. Never forget this: We serve the Lord as a 'redeemed' people, for whom Christ has provided 'redemption' - 'we have redemption through His blood' (44-51; Ephesians 1:7).
6th September: Numbers 4:1-49
'The sons...from thirty years old up to fifty years old' (2-3,22-23,29-30...): The service of the Lord calls for maturity. Long before we ever offered ourselves to God, He had His hand upon us. If, however, we are to prove worthy servants of the Lord, we must press on to spiritual maturity. Why is it that so many people upon whom God's hand has been laid early in life never attain their true spiritual status? - They have been distracted. 'Self' has intruded where only God should be. Choose God-centred blessing - not self-centred rebellion. God is 'holy' (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8). Serving Him is a 'holy' calling (4,15,19-20). In all of our service, one thing must take priority: Worship. We can 'put on a performance'. It can be very impressive. Without real worship, it means nothing!
7th September: Luke 7:36-8:21
Jesus does not come to us because we are good. He comes to us because He forgives sins. The woman came to Jesus and received forgiveness. The Pharisee, though steeped in religion, remained unforgiven (47-50). Don't be like the Pharisee. Don't look down your nose at the ordinary people who mean so much to the Lord. 'Some women...': Much of God's work is being upheld by faithful women who, by their praying, giving and working, are 'ministering to Him' (1-3). We read Jesus' parables (4-18), and we learn. Let us read 'the book of everyday life', and learn what the Lord is saying to us concerning Himself. Let us learn from everyday life, always with this goal: Hearing the Word of God and doing it (21).
8th September: Numbers 5:1-31
'The Lord said...' (1): Let us hear and obey His Word. God is holy: His people are not to be defiled (3). Sin is not merely moral. It is spiritual. It is not only a deviation from law. It is an offence against God - 'breaking faith with the Lord' (6). God is holy: 'Atonement' is more than a provision for our need of forgiveness. It is a 'restitution...to the Lord' (8). Christ's atoning death does two things: (a) It meets the demands of God's holiness. (b) It meets our need of salvation. We must not do 'the wrong' and 'break faith with the Lord' (6-7). We are to obey the Gospel call for 'faith in our Lord Jesus Christ': This is 'repentance'. We obey God's 'command...to repent' (Acts 20:21; 17:30). No longer 'trusting in ourselves that we are righteous', we confess our sins and look to Christ for mercy (Luke 18:9,13).
9th September: Numbers 6:1-27
'Separate...to the Lord,...Separate...from wine and strong drink' (2-3): These two thoughts are closely connected in the New Testament - 'Do not get drunk with wine,...Be filled with the Spirit' (Ephesians 5:18). We are to be 'holy to the Lord' (8). 'Consecrated to the Lord', our whole life must be controlled by one thing: 'Do all to the glory of God' (1 Corinthians 10:31). Motivated by a desire for God's glory, we will enjoy God's blessing (22-27). God's blessing is not a 'cheap' thing, something that doesn't matter very much. Remember Esau (Genesis 25:29-34). He couldn't be bothered. He couldn't care less. God's blessing meant nothing to him. He didn't want God's blessing. What did God do? - He gave it to Jacob. 'The Lord bless you...': Do you want this? Or must God find somebody else?
10th September: Luke 8:22-56
'Where is your faith?' (25). The Lord is not looking for lip-service. He is looking for real faith. Some beg Jesus 'to depart from them' (37). They don't want to know!Others long to 'be with Him' (38). They don't want to go! Some have no interest in worship. They don't really want to get to know Jesus. Others love to 'worship', but they are so slow to witness. They need to hear Jesus' words - 'Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you' (39). Real faith worships. Real faith witnesses. We need both - Worship and Witness. Some - 'the multitudes' (45) - touch Jesus superficially. They are interested - when everything seems exciting! They touch Jesus religiously. They do not touch Him by faith. Where is the 'power', the resurrection power (46,54)? Without faith, there is no power!
11th September: Luke 9:1-27
It was a short mission (1-6) - short but important! They were being trained for future work. There and then, people were hearing the Gospel, believing in Christ and being saved. There was opposition (7-9): There's always plenty of that - 'We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us' (Romans 8:37). There is physical need. There is also spiritual need - 'Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life' (10-17; John 6:27). In verses 18-27, we learn (a) Who Jesus is: 'the Christ of God' (20). (b) What Jesus has done for us: His death and resurrection (22). (c) What Jesus calls us to be: His followers (23). May God give us grace to follow 'the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us' (Galatians 2:20). We follow Christ, looking for 'the Kingdom of God' (27).
12th September: Numbers 7:1-47
Why do we bring our offerings to the Lord? - 'that they may be used in doing the service of the tent of meeting' (5). We give ourselves to the Lord - 'Love so amazing, so divine, Shall have my soul, my life, my all' - and we ask Him to put our gift to good use - 'O use me, Lord, use even me, just as Thou wilt, and when, and where' (Church Hymnary, 437,485). Why is there so much repetition here? - God does not look only at the total offering. He prizes each separate offering. Each gift expresses the giver's love for Him. Let us 'lay up...treasures in heaven', bringing our offerings in faith, as an expression of our gratitude to God for His abundant grace. Which matters most to you? - 'earth' or 'heaven': 'Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also' (Matthew 6:19-21).
13th September: Numbers 7:48-89
At the end of this long chapter, we have Communion with God: 'When Moses went into the tent of the meeting to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat...' (89). This is what it's all about: We 'draw near to the throne of grace'. We 'receive mercy and find grace...' (Hebrews 4:16). Listen for God's Word. Speak to God in prayer. So often, the most important things get crowded out. We lose sight of God - His love, His grace, His mercy. Religion becomes a burdensome, legalistic thing. There is no joy in it. God comes to us in mercy - ready to forgive. In love, He offers us a new beginning. By His grace, we can live as the people of God. God is speaking. Are you listening to Him? God is listening. Are you speaking to Him? Nothing is more important than this!
14th September: Luke 9:28-62
The 'glory' of Christ (32) - 'Before the world was made', He shared the Father's glory. Through the Cross - 'His departure...'(31) - , Christ, 'the Lamb that was slain' for sinners, has fulfilled God's eternal purpose of salvation (John 17:4-5; Revelation 13:8). We are to 'look' to the Lamb of God. We are to 'listen'' to God's beloved Son. If we do not look and listen, we will not learn. To those who refuse to look, listen and learn, God issues His Word of warning: 'See that you do not refuse Him who is speaking' (Hebrews 12:25). We must confess our spiritual poverty, our lack of power (37-42), understanding (43-45), humility (46-48), unity (49-50) and love (51-56). Looking to Christ who 'set His face to go to Jerusalem' and refusing to 'look back', we must choose to be 'good soldiers of Jesus Christ' (51,62: 2 Timothy 2:3-4).
15th September: Numbers 8: 1-26
The Levites were 'set apart' for God (14). They were 'a gift to Aaron...to do the service for the people of Israel at the tent of meeting...' (19). We are to work together as a team. 'Yield yourselves to God...' (Romans 6:13): Help each other to be better servants of Christ. The 'lampstand' (1-4): 'Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path' (Psalm 119:105). Without Christ, the living Word, we remain in darkness. With Him we 'walk in the light', in the joy of His salvation (John 8:12; 1 John 1:7). 'Service for the people of Israel' (19): As servants of Christ - He 'came not to be served but to serve' (Mark 10:45) - , we are to serve others for 'Jesus' sake' (2 Corinthians 4:5). To those whom we serve, we say, 'We are your servants but you are not our lords'. Jesus is Lord: It is 'as the Lord commands' (22).
16th September: Numbers 9:1-23
God's people were 'in the wilderness' (1) - No longer in the land of bondage, not yet in the land of promise. This is our situation - We look back to what the Lord has done for us, we look forward to what the Lord will yet do for us. The Passover directs our attention to the death of Christ, 'our Passover Lamb' (4; 1 Corinthians 5:7). The Cloud directs us to the return of Christ - 'He is coming with the clouds' (Revelation 1:7; Matthew 24:30). God's people are guided by the 'cloud' and 'fire' (15): Not one without the other, but both together. We need both grace and faith: Not grace without faith, not faith without grace. God is 'able to keep us from falling' (Jude 24) - This is grace. We are to keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 21) - This is faith. 'Kept by the power of God through faith' (1 Peter 1:5).
17th September: Luke 10:1-37
Christ's message - 'The kingdom of God has come near to you' (9) - calls for our response - hearing with faith or rejecting in unbelief (16). Where does this response of faith come from? - From God: He reveals Himself to us (21). Questions: Why do we ask them? - 'to put Jesus to the test' (25), 'to justify ourselves' (29)? You cannot come to Christ until you stop trying to justify yourself - Are you trying to test Him or learning to trust Him? (a) What shall I do to inherit eternal life?' (25): The law cannot save. It can only show us our need of the One who does save - Jesus (Romans 8:3-4). (b) 'Who is my neighbour?' (29): 'Passing by on the other side' (31-32) - This is not love. It's nothing like the love of God for 'sinners' (Romans 5:8). Jesus loves you. Let Him save you. Let His love change you.
18th September: Proverbs 5:1-14
Being married: There are many temptations - the 'loose woman' (3-6). Be positive: Through 'mutual love and respect', let's build 'strong and happy' marriages, in which 'the marriage bond is honoured'. Singles: Don't spoil everything by getting entangled with those who are 'loose' in their commitment to believing in and living for Jesus Christ! Bringing up children: There are many problems - the natural reaction of the child (11-12). Our children are to be brought up 'in the nurture and admonition of the Lord' (Ephesians 6:4). We need the tenderness - 'I don't condemn you' - and firmness - 'don't sin' - of Christ (John 8:11). Children: The natural reaction - 'I hate discipline. I will not listen' - is the sinful reaction. Pray for God's help - to 'obey your parents in the Lord' (Ephesians 6:1-3).
19th September: Numbers 10:1-36
God's Word - 'the testimony' (11) - reveals God's purpose (29) and provides God's guidance (33). The 'cloud' is like the presence of God's Spirit hovering over us. Great things are about to happen. The Spirit of God is moving over the face of the people of God gathered for worship (11; Genesis 1:2). Through the Word, the Spirit draws our attention to the Lord who has promised good to us (29). Instructed by the Word and strengthened by the Spirit, we 'journey' with God (33). We are moving on with God, looking forward to the fulfilment of His good purpose. We have heard the trumpet sound, calling us to worship the Lord, to be His soldiers and servants (1-10). We hear the divine declaration, 'I am the Lord your God' (10), and we say, 'Yes, Lord, You are our God' (Psalm 63:1; John 20:28).
20th September: Numbers 11:1-35
'The people complained in the hearing of the Lord' (1) - Remember: All our words are spoken 'in the hearing of the Lord'! There was 'a rabble among them' (4): What problems there are when such people are mingling with God's people! What are we to do when this happens? - Pray for God's help (10-15). God will not disappoint us - He gives people who will 'take their stand with us' (16), the Spirit who rests on God's people (25), the Word, 'strong meat' to sustain our spiritual strength (31-32; Hebrews 5:12-14). The lure of the world , the pull of the flesh - 'the rabble' wanted to go back to 'Egypt' (4-6): This is the attack of the devil. Standing in Christ's strength alone, we 'resist the devil'. Defeated by Christ, Satan can do nothing but 'flee from us' (Philippians 4:13; James 4:7; 1 John 3:8).
21st September: Luke 10:38-11:28
Mary was 'listening to the Lord' (39). Martha was 'distracted' (40). 'One thing is needful' (42): Don't let anything distract you from this - Getting alone with God. More than anything else, Jesus wants to 'teach us to pray' (1). The greatest gift that God gives - in answer to prayer - is the Holy Spirit (13). We are to 'pray at all times in the Spirit', relying completely on the Spirit to teach us to pray (Ephesians 6:18). Pray that you will be 'filled with the Holy Spirit' (Acts 4:31). As you pray, let the Spirit be your Helper (Romans 8:26). 'Some' are so critical: Negative thinkers, they 'point the finger' at everything (15). 'Others' are never satisfied: They've made complaining a way of life (16). Let's rise above all this: 'Blessed...are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!' (28).
22nd September: Numbers 12:1-13:33
Miriam and Aaron complained (12:1-2). Caleb and Joshua encouraged (30; 14:6-9). Thank God for encouragers! How did Moses react to criticism? He 'was very meek' (3). He was like Jesus - 'When He was reviled, He did not revile again' (1 Peter 2:23). Moses - 'a servant' - was 'entrusted with all God's House': We look beyond Moses to Christ who is 'faithful over God's House as the Son' (12:7; Hebrews 3:5-6). In times of difficulty, we draw our strength from Him. Where there is the encouragement of faith, the discouraging voice of unbelief is not far behind it. Unbelief sees nothing but problems - 'We are not able...' (30-31). 'Not able' or 'well able'? The choice is yours. Choose faith. There must be no place for unbelief.
23rd September: Numbers 14:1-45
'All the congregation raised a loud cry...', 'all the people of Israel murmured...', 'all the congregation said to stone them...' (1-2,10). Was there any 'light at the end of the tunnel'? Yes! - 'The Lord... will bring us into this land' (8). With the promise, there was also the warning: 'Do not rebel against the Lord' (9). Though angry, God remained patient: 'How long will this people despise Me? How long will they not believe in Me?' (11). He was waiting patiently for a change of heart. Moses prayed for mercy without presuming on it: 'He will by no means clear the guilty' (18-19). God announces His pardon (20). Nevertheless, there may be times when God says, 'Enough is enough - It's time for a new beginning': Only Caleb, Joshua and the 'little ones' would enter the land (30-31): No one else! Not even Moses!
24th September: Luke 11: 29-54
Christ is 'greater than Jonah' (32). Jonah was preserved alive (Jonah 1:17-2:10). Christ 'died...was buried' and 'was raised' (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Through His resurrection, He has been 'declared with power to be the Son of God' (Romans 1:4). We are not to be secret disciples (33): Believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9). Guard against 'the lust of the eyes' (34; 1 John 2:16; Genesis 3:6; 13:10-11; 19:26; Joshua 7:20-21; 2 Samuel 11:2-5). The Pharisees were 'fools' (40). Clean on the outside but not in their hearts, they 'loved the best seat in the synagogues' but they were spiritually dead - 'like graves' (39,43-44). Their true nature is seen in their reaction to Christ (53-54): Don't be a 'fool'! Don't be a 'Pharisee'!
25th September: Luke 12:1-34
'Do not fear...' (4): 'If God is for us, who can be against us?' (Romans 8:31). Acknowledge Christ or deny Him (8-9): Let your choice be clear - 'Christ means everything to me' (Philippians 1:21). Do you want to confess Christ? - Here's a great promise for you: 'the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say' (12). In our generation, there is a 'gold rush'. Many are preoccupied with 'having a lot of material possessions' (15). What does God say about this? - 'Fool!' (20). We hear it said, 'He's too heavenly-minded to be any earthly good'. You can be 'too earthly-minded to be any heavenly good'! It is better to be 'spiritually minded' than 'carnally minded' (Romans 8:6). 'Seek His Kingdom...it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom' (31-32).
26th September : Numbers 15:1-41
We read of offerings for 'atonement' (25,28). We think of Christ: He went 'outside the camp' for us (35-36; Hebrews 13:12) - to bring us forgiveness (25,28). We are to 'be holy to our God', the God of our redemption (40-41). Obedience to God is of the utmost importance:We need to be reminded of all His commandments (39). Our supreme motivation is redeeming love. This divine redemption creates a relationship. God is our God and we are His people. Out of this relationship is to come the obedience of faith (40-41). 'E'er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply, Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die'; 'When He comes, our glorious King, all His ransomed home to bring, then anew this song we'll sing, "Hallelujah! What a Saviour!"' (Mission Praise, 671; Church Hymnary, 380).
27th September: Numbers 16:1-50
'You have gone too far!': They regarded themselves as 'holy', yet they refused to go 'too far' with God (3)! What kind of 'holiness' is this? There is a 'holiness' which is more concerned with respectability than obedience to God. Faced with 'the upward call of God in Christ Jesus', we dare not say, 'We will not come up' (12; Philippians 3:14). We are to be 'holy': 'Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity' (4; 2 Timothy 2:19). 'Separate yourselves' (20): This is not the false separation of the Pharisees - Spiritual 'pride' is 'an abomination to the Lord' (Proverbs 11:1-2). Maintain your high calling - Don't get dragged down to the level of those who 'will not come up' to where God wants them to be - and remember: 'By grace ...not your own doing...the gift of God' (Ephesians 2:8).
28th September: Luke 12:35-59
'Be ready' for Christ's Return (40): Wait on the Lord (36; Isaiah 40:31). Stay 'awake' (37), 'your loins girded with truth' (35; Ephesians 6:14) - be real; be true to the Word of God. Keep 'your lamps burning' (35). Our 'lamp' is Christ, 'the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world' (Revelation 21:23; John 1:29). Be faithful (41-48): There can be no fruitfulness without faithfulness. God's blessing is given to those who are faithful (42-43). With the promise of blessing, there is also the warning of judgment. Knowing the will of God and not doing it leads to judgment (47). Going Christ's way will not be easy (49-53): We must avoid the way of the 'hypocrites' who have no real knowledge of God (54-56), the legalists who know nothing of the Spirit of grace (57-59). Keep close to Christ: He will keep you - faithful and ready.
29th September: Numbers 17:1-18:32
The call comes from God - to Aaron, to Christ (17:5; Hebrews 5:4-6). Christ is both the Offering for sin and the Great High Priest (Hebrews 5:7-10; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 7:25). We look at ourselves, and we say, 'We perish, we are lost, we are dead' (17:12). We look to Christ, and everything changes (John 3:16; Luke 19:10; Ephesians 2:1). 'Service' and 'reward' (18:31): The Lord blesses those who serve Him faithfully each day (1 Corinthians 15:58). Building on Christ, we seek to do work of lasting value - 'gold, silver precious stones'. We dare not rest content with shallow superficiality - 'wood, hay, straw'. There is 'a reward' for those whose 'work' is 'built on the Foundation, which is Jesus Christ' (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
30th September : Psalms 14:1-15:5
Life can be testing and trying. In all of this, God makes Himself real to us. This is our assurance of faith: 'The Lord restores the fortunes of His people'. He makes us 'glad' - In Him, we 'rejoice' (7). God Himself is the Sure Foundation for our lives: Build on Him, and you 'shall never be moved' (15:5). We long for God's blessing, 'O that salvation...would come...' (7). He will not disappoint us. Do not be 'the fool' who 'says in his heart, "There is no God"' (14:1). 'Fear the Lord' - 'and give Him glory' (15:4; Revelation 14:7). We are to 'act wisely' - 'seeking after God', 'calling upon the Lord' (14:2,4). Do you want to 'dwell on God's holy hill' (15:1)? - 'There is a way for man to rise to that sublime abode...' (Church Hymnary, 357): Christ is the Way to God and Heaven (John 14:2-6).