Monday, 31 October 2016

A Real Word From The Lord

"God has spoken once. I have heard it said twice" (Psalm 62:10).
Some things are  worth repeating! Again and again, God speaks to us of His great love for us. He loves us. He emphasizes this point. He says to us, 'Make sure that you don't miss this.' If, in our preaching of God's Word, we set out on an endless search for novelty, we will miss lose our focus on the things that really matter. Our preaching will lack emphasis. It will lack the kind of passion that comes when we're really seeking to emphasize the teachings that are at the heart of God's Word. When God emphasizes something, He's saying, 'This is important.' We see this in God's revelation - "God has spoken once. I have heard it said twice." We see it in His call for our response - "Rejoice in the Lord always, and, again, I say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4). In our preaching, let us make sure that we emphasize the teachings that are so important in God's Word. This kind of preaching will bring joy to the Lord's people. The more we feed our hearts and minds on God's Word, the more we will rejoice in the Lord, the God of our salvation. Preaching that's seeking earnestly to share the Good News of salvation will bring blessing to the hearers. We don't need to pack our preaching with as much information as we possibly can. We may end up with so much information that people are left wondering, "What was all that about?" We need more than information. We need inspiration. We must pray for inspiration. We need a real Word from the Lord. May our words be a true echo of God's Word. May the heart of God reach out to the hearts of those who hear His Word.      

Leading sinners to the Saviour of sinners

"My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins" (James 5:19-20).

It is a great thing to rejoice in God's salvation. We give thanks for the truth upon which our salvation rests. As well as rejoicing in God's salvation and standing upon His truth, we must also speak directly to those who have wandered from the truth, calling upon them to turn from the error of their ways.
Turning "a sinner from the error of his way" - we don't hear much of this kind of talk nowadays. People like to hear the Good News of salvation. They like to be assured of the truth of God's Word. If, however, our teaching regarding the Good News of salvation and the truth of God's Word are to have real depth, we must speak forthrightly about turning "a sinner from the error of his way."
 * Speaking about our "multitude of sins" - this is not to be dismissed as a purely negative reaction against the easy-going outlook of so many people in today's world. There is something much more positive than that - we speak about our sin so that we might learn to glory in God's salvation.
 * Speaking about "the error of our way" - this is not be dismissed as a 'know-it-all' attitude by which we 'look down our noses' at the 'anything goes' approach that is so common in today's world. There's something much more positive here - following our Saviour, we warn against the folly of building on a foundation of shifting sand so that we might learn to build our life upon the Solid Rock: Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:24-27;  1 Corinthians 3:11).
 * Speaking about "death" - this is not be dismissed as out-of-touch with the positive outlook of today's world. Once again, there is something very positive here. We emphasize that "the wages of sin is death" so that there might be a greater appreciation of "the gift of God" which is "eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
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Why do we speak of sin, error and death? 
 - We speak of sin so that people may be called back from the way of sin to a much better way  - the way of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, our Saviour: "He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God through Him" (Hebrews 7:25).
 - We speak of error so that people may be called back from the way of error to a much more reliable way than the way of error - the way of truth, trusting in Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6). 
 - We speak of death so that people may be called back from the way of death to the much more wonderful way that God has planned for all who put their faith in His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ - the way of eternal life: "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life" (1 John 5:11-12).

Coming Home

In Luke 15:13, we read of the prodigal son going into the “far country”. In Luke 15:20-22, we read of the joy of his homecoming -“So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.”

Notes on Deuteronomy

DEUTERONOMY

1:1-46 -  With the exception of Caleb and Joshua, the older generation – including Moses – was not to enter the land (34-38).  For the new generation, there was a challenge.  There must be no more failures.  One wasted generation was enough.  This was the time for real commitment to the Lord.  He loved them – He had ‘set the land before’ them.  They were to rise up in faith and ‘ take possession of the land’ (8).  We are called to go on with the Lord.  ‘You have stayed long enough’ at a low level of Christian living.  God is calling us on to maturity: ‘go in and take possession of the land; (6,8; Philippians 3:13-14).  Do not hesitate to move forward with God:  ‘do not fear… It is a good land which the Lord gives us’ (21,25).  Will we be the new generation, ‘a new creation in Christ’ (2 Corinthians 5:17) ?
2:1-37 -  During their wilderness years, God’s people had many problems.  God is greater than all the problems!  Israel’s journey began in the land of  ‘bondage’ (Exodus 2:23-25).  From there, He led them to the land of promise, ‘the land which the Lord our God gives to us’ (29).  This is ‘amazing grace’:  ‘Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home’ (Mission Praise, 31).  In the giving and taking of the land, we see both grace and faith: ‘I have begun to give… this land over to you; begin to take possession…’ (31).  We are not saved by grace apart from faith.  We are ‘saved by grace through faith’.  We are not saved by faith without grace.  We are ‘saved by grace through faith’.  Saved by the Lord, let us press on to a life of ‘good works’ (Ephesians 2:8-10).
3:1-29 -  The promised land was near.  For Moses, it was ‘so near and yet so far’.  He was excluded.     Together with the sadness of Moses’ exclusion, there was the joy of the people’s entrance (27-28).  When we consider Moses’ sadness and the people’s joy, we must remember this: Nobody deserved to go into the land!  The land was God’s gift.  Without His strength, the people of Israel would fail.  With Him, they would be victorious:  ‘You shall not fear them; for it is the Lord your God who fights for you’ (22).  There is here a basic principle of Christian living: ‘not by might , nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts’ (Zechariah 4:6).  ‘In heavenly armour we’ll enter the land.  The battle belongs to the Lord.  No weapon that’s fashioned against us will stand. The battle belongs to the Lord’ (Mission Praise, 639).
4:1-43 -  The people of Israel were involved in the work of the Lord.  The work was based on God – not Moses.  Moses would not be in the promised land.  God would be there.  Moses would ‘not go over the Jordan’.  As God’s man. he was to prepare the people for their task:  ‘you shall go over and take possession of that good land’ (22).  Privilege involves responsibility.  Israel was a privileged people, redeemed by the Lord, delivered from bondage ‘by a mighty hand and outstretched arm’ (34).  Israel was a responsible people, called to obey the Lord: ‘Obey His laws and commands’ (40).  The Lord our God is ‘a merciful God’ (31).  He has saved us.  We are to serve Him.  Let Him reign in your heart.  Let there be ‘no other besides Him’ (35).  Flee to Christ for refuge (42-43), and live each day with ‘the attitude of gratitude’.
4:44-5:33 -  Obedience is grounded in salvation.  The Ten Commandments (7-21) are preceded by the divine declaration: ‘I am the Lord your God’ who brought you… out of the house of bondage’ (6).  He has redeemed us.  We are to live for Him.  The Word of God was spoken to Moses before it was spoken by him (27).  We cannot begin to live for the Lord until we begin to listen to Him.  The way of obedience is the way of blessing.  Our obedience is to be offered in a spirit of gratitude to God for His gracious salvation.  Never imagine it is because of our obedience that God loves us.  His love for us is always prior to our love for Him.  Remember what the Lord has done for you, and your love for Him will grow stronger.  Forget, and you love will grow weaker.  Loved by God, let us love Him – more!
6:1-25 -  ‘Hear’ and ‘do’ (1-3; James 1:22-25).  In our obedience to God, there is to be the fear of the Lord and love for the Lord (2,5).  Fear and love: the two belong together.  God is holy – fear Him.  God is love – love Him.  This is for every generation: ‘you and your son and your son’s son’(2).  ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart’ (5).  Teach the children well so that the blessing of God may be ‘prolonged’ among us (7,2).  Our promised land – heaven (John 14:1-3) – is far better than Israel’s promised land.  Through faith in Christ, we have received ‘eternal life’ (John 5:24; 6:40).  Never take the Lord’s blessing for granted.  Always remember to thank Him for all that He has done for you (10-12).  Teach the children what the Lord has done for them (20-23).  Then, and only then, tell them what they must ‘do’ for Him (24-25).
7:1-26 -  Enter, Destroy, Possess (1-2).  Don’t try to jump straight from entering to possessing.  Don’t forget to destroy.  We enter the Christian life through faith in Christ.  We will not ‘take possession of’ a fuller enjoyment of His salvation if we refuse to ‘destroy’ the obstacles to His blessing in our  lives.  Sin is like a ‘cancer’.  It will ‘kill’ us if we let it (Romans 6:23).  This is why we must fight it – with ‘the whole armour of God’ (Ephesians 6:10-17).  From beginning to end, our salvation is the work of God:  ‘…it is because the Lord loves you… that He has… redeemed you…’ (6-8).  The Lord’s love speaks of His keeping power.  He will complete the work He has begun (17-19; Philippians 1:6).  Saved and kept by the power of God, we travel from Christ’s Cross to our Crown (Romans 1:16; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 2:24-25; 5:4).
8:1-9:21 -  The ‘wilderness’ was a place of ‘testing’.  God was ‘disciplining’ His people.  He was teaching them to ‘walk in His ways’ (2,5-6).  In the ‘wilderness’, we must remember this: ‘man does not live by bread alone… man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord’ (3).  Everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord – His warnings as well as His promises!  He speaks to us in warnings: ‘Take heed lest you forget the Lord your God…’ (11).  He speaks to us in promises:  ‘the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land’ (7).  ‘God forbid that I should glory…’ (8:17-18; 9:4-6; Galatians 6:14).  God gave Israel the land.  He gives us ‘the Kingdom’ (Luke 12:32).  As earthly kingdoms rise and fall, ‘the God of heaven will set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed’ (Daniel 2:44).
9:22-10:22 -  ‘We will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word’ (Acts 6:4).  Moses was an intercessor (25-29).  The ministry of the Word needs to be grounded in prayer.  Prayerfully seeking the Lord’s help, we are to place His Word at the centre of the life of His people (5).  God shows His mercy by providing His servants to carry His Word in a ministry of blessing to the people, a ministry which helps the people to ‘go in and possess the land’ (8,10-11).  In gratitude to God, our Creator-Redeemer, we are to give ourselves to Him in obedience (12-15).  Let your heart and life be changed by the Lord, never forgetting this: ‘He is your praise; He is your God, who has done for you… great… things’ (16-21).  ‘God… gives the growth’ (22; Corinthians 3:7).  Read Psalm 126:6 and pray!
11:1-32 -  God is at work among His people, teaching them many lessons.  Through His precious promises and strong warnings, He leads us in the way of obedience and blessing (31-32).  If we are to enjoy the Lord’s blessing, we need the whole Word of God – the warnings as well as the promises.  Obedience to God – This is the most important thing in the life of faith.  Obedience demonstrates the reality of faith.  By our obedience, we show our ‘love’ for the Lord.  We rejoice in ‘all the great work of the Lord’.  By ‘His mighty hand’, He has provided for us a great salvation.  Our enjoyment of His salvation increases as we live in obedience to Him (8-15).  Without obedience, there can be no blessing (16-17).  Teach others to obey God – especially the ‘children’ (18-21).  God is good.  He loves us (22-25).  Obey Him.  Choose blessing (26-28).
12:1-32 -  In our hearts, nothing else must compete with the Lord.  There is no room for idolatry.  ‘Destroy’ everything that threatens to take the place of God in your life. (2-3).  We are not to ‘do what is right in our own eyes’.  We are to worship as the Lord ‘chooses’ (5,8,13-14).  Remove every distraction.  Get rid of those things which keep you from crowning Christ as Lord of your life.  When you are tempted to put other things before the Lord, ‘be careful not to be ensnared’ in the ways of the world (29-31).  When we are tempted, we must take our stand on God’s Word.  ‘Everything’ He has given to us – This means more than our favourite passages!  Don’t ‘add to it’, making ‘the traditions of men’ more important than the Word of God.  Don’t ‘take from it’, ignoring the parts you don’t like (32; Mark 7:8; Acts 20:27).
13:1-14:21 -  Obedience to God involves an uncompromising attitude toward those who would lead people away from God.  Those who say ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (13:2,6,13) must not be permitted to exert their evil influence on God’s people.  God says, ‘You must not listen to them (13:3,8).  Temptations to ‘idolatry’ can come under the guise of ‘spirituality’ – ‘a prophet… a dreamer of dreams… a sign or a wonder’ (13:1; 1 John 4:1).  ‘Idolatry’ can come from within one’s own family.  The Lord must come first (13:6-11; Luke 14:26).  God’s judgment is upon ‘idolaters’ so that others may see their folly, turn from ‘idolatry’ and receive God’s mercy (13:12-18).  Remember God’s purpose of love (John 3:17).  In our worship and in the whole of life, we are to be ‘a people holy to the Lord our God’ (14:2,21).
14:22-15:23 -  ‘Tithing’ (Giving the tenth to God) emerges out of holiness: ‘You are a people holy to the Lord your God… You shall tithe’ (14:21-22). It is more than giving things to God. It is giving ourselves to Him. It also involves caring for others (7-11; Isaiah 58:6-7). We have been ‘earmarked’ as servants of the Lord (17). Being ‘earmarked’ for God involves listening to God (Isaiah 55:2-3). Bring ‘the firstling’ to God (19). ‘We are here to bring You the best that we can bring. And it is our love rising from our hearts’ (Mission Praise, 717). ‘Just as I am… to be the best that I can be for truth, and righteousness, and Thee, Lord of my life, I come’ (Church Hymnary, 448). No second bests – Only the best will do for God.
16:1-17:13 -  Blessed by God, the people of Israel had much to celebrate. They had been brought out of the land of bondage. They were about to enter the land of promise. The keeping of the feasts (16:1-17) was a response to God’s love, a way of celebrating His love. Why did God bring Israel to the promised land? It was because He ‘loved them’ (Psalm 44:3). The Passover was a continuing reminder of God’s mighty work of redemption. The Lord’s Supper is a memorial of what God has done for us in Christ. In remembering His dying love for us, we remember what we were without Him and we give thanks for all that He has done for us. As well as ‘joy’ (45), there is to be justice (16:18-17:13; Micah 6:8). Note the effect of justice: ‘And all the people shall hear, and fear, and not act presumptuously again’ (17:13).
17:14-18:22 -  Even the king is subject to God’s ‘law’. His supreme responsibility is this: Pay careful attention to God’s Word (17:18-20). Politically, he may be in an elevated position – a ‘king over’ others (17:14-15). Spiritually, he must not allow ‘his heart’ to be ‘lifted up above his brethren’ (17:20). There must be humble obedience to God’s Word. Priests speak to God for us. Prophets speak to us for God. We need both – ‘prayer and the ministry of the Word’ (Acts 6:4). In our worship, we must keep the Lord at the very centre. Anything or anyone who distracts our attention from the Lord is no help to true worship (9-14). ‘A prophet like Moses’ (18:15): Jesus is the ultimate prophet – to see and hear Him is to see and hear God (John 5:19; 12:49; 14:9). He preaches God’s Word.  He is ‘the Word of God’ (John 1:1).
19:1-20:9 -  Justice is concerned with (a) the protection of the innocent – ‘innocent blood will not be shed in your land’ (10); (b) the punishment of the guilty – ‘you must purge the evil from among you’ (19). Through justice, God is to be glorified among His people. We are to fight for the Lord without fear, confident of His glorious presence (20:1-4). In the service of the Lord, we must not be ‘fearful and fainthearted’ (20:8). We are to be ‘good soldiers of Jesus Christ’ (2 Timothy 2:3). We need to give careful attention to the Word of God: ‘When you draw near to the battle, the priest will come forward and speak to the people, and say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel…’ (20:2-3). God’s Word is not concerned only with ‘Church work’. It sends us ‘back to our house’ – ‘dedicated’ to the Lord (20:5-9).
20:10-21:23 -  The offer of ‘peace’ is made (20:10; Romans 5:1). Some refuse to ‘make peace’. They choose to ‘make war’ (20:12). When the enemies of  Christ and the Gospel are raging, we must be resolute in our commitment to living ‘as the Lord our God has commanded’ (20:16-18). We are to ‘do what is right in the sight of the Lord’. This will involve ‘going forth to war against our enemies’. It will involve ‘purging the evil from our midst’ (21:9-10,21; Ephesians 6:10-13; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Hebrews 12:1-2,11). Our life of holiness is grounded in the death of Christ who, on the Cross, was ‘accursed by God’ so that we might be saved by God (21:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24). Through faith in Him, we have been declared holy (Romans 5:1,3-5,9-10).
22:1-30 -  Care for ‘your brother’ (1-4). Our caring is not to be selective  – ‘If the brother does not live near you or if you do not know who he is’ (2). When Jesus says, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Luke 10:27), He means much more than loving the people who live near us, the people that we know. The ‘Samaritan’ didn’t know ‘the man who fell into the hands of robbers’ (Luke 10:30,33). ‘Jews did not associate with Samaritans’ (John 4:9). Jesus says, ‘Love your enemies (Matthew 5:44). Love your enemies with the love of the Lord – ‘when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son’ (Romans 5:8,10). Don’t love the ways of those who ‘live as enemies of the Cross of Christ’ (Philippians 3:18). ‘Purge the evil from the midst of you’ (21-22,24).
23:1-25 -  God sees us as we really are. He ‘looks on the heart’ as well as ‘the outward appearance’. We must live to please Him, praying, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!’ (14; 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 139: 23-24). God calls us to be holy: ‘you shall keep yourself from every evil thing’ (9). This ‘holiness’ is not to be a proud, arrogant thing. It is to be filled with compassionate caring. Don’t write anyone off, saying, ‘They’re not our kind of people’ (7). Don’t be out for all you can get for yourself without any thought of how your actions affect other people (24-25). Let your holiness be real. Don’t say one thing and do another. Don’t pretend to be more ‘holy’ than you really are. Choose to be holy – every day (21-23).
24:1-25:29 -  Justice for the vulnerable is grounded in God’s redemption (24:17-18). This is an important principle for us. God loves us. He has done great things for us. He cares. We are to care. Let His love be the guiding light in every part of your life. Scripture speaks of both salvation and judgment. Israel was given ‘the land’ as ‘an inheritance to possess’. The Amalekites were blotted out (25:19). The Christian life is a spiritual warfare. When we are ‘faint and weary’, we will be ‘attacked on the way’. If we ‘lag behind’ in our walk with God, those who ‘do not fear God’ will try to ‘cut us off’ from the Lord and His people. This is the work of Satan. We must not be ‘ignorant of his devices’. God is with us in the battle. He is leading us on to our eternal ‘inheritance’ (25:17-19; 2 Corinthians 2:11).
26:1-27:10 -  The people of Israel had a testimony. They had been redeemed by the God of love.   Thankful for His love and salvation, they brought their offerings to the Lord (26:5-9). The call to obedience is grounded in the gift of salvation. Redeemed by the Lord, we are called to be ‘a people holy to the Lord our God’ (26:16-19). There is no privilege without responsibility. Israel was privileged: God was giving them ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’. Israel was responsible: God was saying to them, ‘Keep all the commandments which I command you this day’ (27:1-3). God blesses us. We obey Him. We enjoy more of His blessing. This leads us to obey Him more. Break the ‘vicious circle’. Get on to God’s ‘victorious circle’: He shows us His love. We love Him. He shows us more of His love. We love Him more… (John 14:21).
27:11-28:24 -  Through His strongly worded warnings, God calls us back from the way of disobedience (27:15-26;28:15-24). Through His promises of blessing, He calls us to the way of obedience, the only way to true happiness (28:1-14). God’s blessing cannot be taken for granted. Where there is disobedience, there is no blessing. Our ‘enemies’ will triumph over us (28:25). We need not be defeated. God has shown us His way of blessing. It is the way of obedience (1-2). We are not blessed because we deserve to be blessed. We can never earn the Lord’s blessing. The blessing comes from Him (8). He blesses us because He loves us – not because we are worthy of His blessing. You can be in ‘the promised land’ without enjoying the promised blessing. Don’t ‘suffer loss’ – ‘saved, but only as through fire’ (1 Corinthians 3:15).
28:25-68 -  There is nothing inevitable about the chain of events described in these verses. These are the consequences of disobedience. God is warning His people: ‘If you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God…’ (28:15). Why does God warn His people of the consequences of disobedience? He wants them to draw back from the way of disobedience and follow the pathway of obedience and blessing. These ‘curses’ were avoidable. They would only happen if Israel persisted in rebelling against the Lord. We can bring ‘curses’ upon ourselves. Don’t imagine that God doesn’t care how you live. He does. That is why He calls us back from the pathway of disobedience. That is why He exhorts us to choose holiness. Read Hebrews 10:26-31; 12:25-29. Pray for God’s mercy (Luke 18:13). Ask Him to make you more holy (Hebrews 12:14).
29:1-29 -  God has done great things for His people – ‘in the land of Egypt… in the wilderness’ (2,5). Acknowledging Him to be the Lord their God, they were to live in obedience to Him (6,9). The way of obedience is the way of blessing. Moses warns the people that they must not depart from the way of blessing. Moses warns the people that they must not depart from the way of obedience (16-28). Turning away from the Lord leads to judgment – ‘anger and fury and great wrath’ (24-28). There are ‘secret things’. There are ‘things that are revealed’. Some ‘things’ we will never understand. These ‘things belong to the Lord our God’. There are many ‘things’ we have learned and have firmly believed. ‘The things that are revealed’ are found in ‘the Holy Scriptures’. Through God’s written Word, we are brought to ‘salvation’ and we are ‘thoroughly equipped’ for Christian  living (29; 2 Timothy 3:14-17).
30:1-31:13 -  For Israel, a real turning to the Lord with ‘all the heart and soul’ involved obedience to ‘His commandments… written in this book of the law’ (30:10). We are not left wondering what God wants us to do – ‘…the Word is very near you…’(11-14). Through His Word, God ‘sets before’ us a choice. He calls us to ‘choose life’ (15-20). Joshua was to succeed Moses (31:1-2,7-8). Conflict lay ahead. God’s people needed His Word of encouragement: ‘Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them’. Beyond the conflict, there would be triumph. God gave His Word of promise: ‘It is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you’ (31:6). Turning from the people to Joshua, Moses spoke the same words (31:7-8). Hear; Learn to fear the Lord; Be careful to obey His Word (31:12-13).
31:14-32:18 -  ‘Write this song, and teach it to the people of Israel’ (19,22). Moses did not delay his obedience to God. ‘Write… Teach…’: God is speaking to us about the renewal of our worship. Don’t say, ‘It’s never been done that way before’ – ‘the seven last words of the church’! Moses’ song was ‘a witness for God against the people of Israel’ (19). It can still help us, in this generation, to confess our sin – We ‘have dealt corruptly with Him’ (5) – and glorify our God – ‘I will proclaim the Name of the Lord’  (3). Modern music can help us to hear afresh the ancient message: ‘Ascribe greatness to our God…’ (3-4; Mission Praise, 40). Let us praise God ‘in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’ (Ephesians 5:18-20).
32:19-33:17 -  Here, we have both the warning of judgment and the promise of salvation. Rebuking ‘a perverse generation’ – ‘They are devious people, children who can’t be trusted’ – God says, ‘I will hide My face from them’ (20). When, in our need, we look to Him for mercy, we have His promise: ‘The Lord will… have compassion on His servants, when He sees their power is gone’ (36). ‘This is the blessing…’ (1). For each tribe – Reuben (6), Judah (7), Levi (8-11), Benjamin (12), Joseph (13-17) – , there is a different Word from the Lord. Each of us is different. Our circumstances are different. God knows what we need to hear. He speaks the Word which is just right for each one. He ‘loves’ every one of us. We are ‘in His hands’. Let us ‘follow in His steps, receiving direction from Him’ (3).
33:18-34:12 -  ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’ (27): This is no guarantee of peaceful tranquillity. For Israel, there was conflict. ‘Saved by the Lord’, Israel had found true happiness. Still, there were ‘enemies’ to be ‘thrust out’ and ‘trampled down’ (27,29). Knowing the blessing of God’s salvation is no guarantee that life will be easy. When the enemies of the Gospel see a believer intent on glorifying the Lord, they do all they can to create problems. We have ‘enemies’ in ‘high places’ (29; Ephesians 6:12). Their argument is not with us. It is with God. If God’s work is to do well, there needs to be spiritual leadership. Moses had led God’s people in his day. Joshua was to take his place (9). Moses was important. Joshua was important. The Lord is more important  –  ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:31).                                        

In Love, God Shows Us The Way To Happiness.

Psalm 33:1-12 
Worship the Lord with joy (Psalm 33:1,3). We give thanks for the Word of the Lord and the work of the Lord. They show us His love. They assure us that He can be trusted (Psalm 33:4-5). We learn that He is the 'forever' God. He opens His "heart" to us (Psalm 33:11). He shows us the way to happiness (Psalm 33:12).

Jesus' Death For Us - The Good News Of God's Love

"At that time, the Son  of Man will be handed over to be crucified" (Matthew 26:2). Jesus was not taken by surprise. He knew what He was letting Himself in for. He knew why He had come to earth. He knew what He had come to do. He knew the purpose of His life. "You will not always have Me with you. She poured this perfume on My body before it is placed in a tomb" (Matthew 26:11-12). Jesus was under no illusions about what lay ahead of Him. He had come to die. The time of His crucifixion was drawing near - and He knew it. Immediately after He speaks about His tomb, He speaks about the "Good News" being "spoken  in the world" (Matthew 26:13). He knew the connection between the two - His death and the Good News. He died for us. This is the Good News of God's love.

The Holy Spirit Comes From God - And Changes Us.

(i) The Holy Spirit comes from God.

- The new birth (John 3:3, 7).

- “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16).

(ii) The Holy Spirit changes us.
– “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-4).
– “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8).

Notes on Numbers

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).
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!
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).
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!
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).
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?
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).
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!
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).
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).
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).
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).
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.
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!
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).
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).
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).
19:1-22  -  The sacrifice was to be ‘without defect’. There was to be ‘no blemish’ (2). Here, we have a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ - ‘without sin’, He offered Himself ‘for the sins of the people’ (Hebrews 4:15; 2:17). The gathering of ‘the ashes’ (9-10) speaks of the completeness of Christ’s work for us - ‘for all time a single sacrifice for sins’ (Hebrews 10:12). The danger of becoming unclean through touching a ‘dead body’ (11) - there is a warning for us here. ‘Dead in trespasses and sins’, we have been ‘made alive’ in Christ (Ephesians 2:1). We dare not look back (Luke 17:32; Genesis 19:26; Luke 9:62; 2 Peter 2:20-22). We have been purified ‘from dead works to serve the living God’ (Hebrews 9:14). Christ ‘saves to the uttermost’. How dare we ‘shrink back’ from Him? ‘Have faith. Be saved’ (Hebrews 7:25; 10:39).
20:1-29  -  No man or woman is indispensable. God’s work goes on, with or without us! (a) Miriam (Moses’ sister) served and worshipped the Lord (Exodus 2:7-8; 15:20-21). Now, her time had come. She was not to enter the land. She ‘died’ (1). (b) Moses had been the leader of God’s people. He sinned, and he was excluded from the promised land (12). Do not rest on your laurels. Yesterday’s grace is not sufficient for today’s challenges. A day-by-day walk with the Lord is called for. (c) Aaron (Moses’ brother) had stood alongside Moses in leadership. He ‘died’ (28) without entering the promised land. In the leadership of God’s people, the names and the faces change - but the Lord never changes. He remains unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable in His love. When Moses, Aaron and Miriam had gone, God was still there!
21:1-35  -  In verses 5-9, there is an illustration of God’s salvation (John 3:14-15). There is sin and death (Romans 5-6; 3:23, 6:23). Christ prays for our forgiveness (7; Luke 23:34). Lifted up on the Cross, He dies that we might have eternal life. In love, He appeals to us, ‘Look to me and be saved’ (John 12:32; Isaiah 45:22). Enter, Destroy Possess (21-24, 33-35): Let Christ enter your heart, destroying Satan’s strongholds and taking possession of your life (2 Corinthians 10: 3-5). If we are to be victorious to the ‘praise and glory and honour... of Jesus Christ’ (1 Peter 1:6-8), we must ‘go by the King’s Highway, not turning aside to the right hand or the left’(22; 20:17). For the Christian, ‘the King’s Highway is ‘the Way of Holiness’: ‘This is the way, walk in it’ (Isaiah 35:8; 30:21).
22:1-41  -  Learn from the past. In 2 Peter 2:15-16, Jude 11 and Revelation 2:14, we are encouraged to learn from the events of this chapter. Each passage contains a warning. (a) 2 Peter 2:15-16  - Don’t leave ‘the straight way’ and follow the crooked way! (b) Jude 11 - Don’t let making a profit become more important than being a prophet! (c)  Revelation 2:14 - Make sure you don’t get drawn away from God into sin! What is God saying to us here? - ‘these things happened... as a warning... they were written down for our instruction... let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall’. With the warning, there is also the promise: ‘...God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide a way of escape...’ (1 Corinthians 10:11-13).
23:1-30  -  Our words are to be an echo of God’s Word. We are to speak only what God says (8,12). Before we can speak for God, He must speak to us. ‘God’s Word is truth’ (John 17:17). God does not lie. He does not change His mind. What He says, He does. He fulfils His purpose (19). How does God carry forward His purpose of blessing? We receive His blessing. We share His blessing with others. We can only bring blessing to others when we ourselves seek blessing from the Lord. His blessing comes to us. His blessing reaches out through us. We speak His Word, yet - through our words - He speaks (20). This is the work of the Holy Spirit. ‘God’s Word is the sword of the Spirit’ (Ephesians 6:17). The Spirit uses the Word to convict us of our sin and lead us to our Saviour (Hebrews 4:12-16).
24:1-25  -  When ‘the Spirit of God came upon him’, Balaam’s ‘oracle’ was described as ‘the message of the man who sees clearly’. His ‘eyes are opened’. He sees ‘with far-seeing eyes’. He ‘hears the words of God’. He ‘sees the vision of the Almighty’ (2-4,15-16).  Balaam looks beyond his own time. ‘With far-seeing eyes’, he prophesies concerning our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘I see Him, but not now’ (17). Balaam catches a glimpse of Jesus Christ, the ‘King of kings’ (Revelation 19:16). This is what we must pray for: ‘the revelation of Jesus Christ’. Pray that you will be ‘in the Spirit’, ready to ‘hear what the Spirit says’ (Revelation 1:1,10; 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). God is the unchanging God - Nothing changes Him (23:19). He is also the changing God. He changed Balaam. He will change us!
25:1-26:22  -  Read of Israel’s adultery and idolatry and remember God’s Word of warning: ‘Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mould’ (25:1-5; Romans 12:2). God is looking for people who have the ‘same zeal’ as He has (25:11). Those who are zealous for God may be few in number, but we must not be discouraged. Glorying in Christ our Saviour, we must continue to be zealous for Him. In Christ we have ‘peace’, ‘atonement’ and a ‘perpetual’ salvation (25:12-13; Romans 5:1-2,9-10). We are saved to serve - This is the thought contained in the phrase, ‘all in Israel who are able to go forth to war’ (26:2). The wilderness wanderings were over. God was doing a new thing. He was looking for a new people, determined, by grace, to carry His work forward into the future. He is still looking!
26:23-65  -  There is real sadness in the final words of this chapter: ‘There was not left a man of them, except Caleb and Joshua’ (65). There is also a sense of expectation. So many had died in the wilderness. This was now a new generation. We’re living in changing times. God is equipping His people for new challenges. We must not stand still. We dare not say, ‘It’s never been done that way before’! A new generation has to be won for Christ. Will we rise to the challenge? Or, will we ‘die in the wilderness (65)? Taking possession of ‘the promised land’ would not be easy. Making advances for Christ will not be easy. We must lay aside those things which need to ‘die in the wilderness’. We must take hold of all that God has given to us - if there is to be ‘Good News for the next generation’!                                               
27:1-23  - The daughters of Zelophehad were concerned about the continuation of the father’s name (1-11). Our first concern must be the glory of God, our Heavenly Father. We are to honour our parents, loving them deeply. We must not allow such love to compete with our love for Christ. He must come first. We are called to a life of single-minded devotion to Jesus Christ. Joshua is chosen to succeed Moses as the leader of God’s people (12-23). Soon, Moses would be gone. The Lord was preparing His people for the future. God had His man - Joshua - waiting to continue the work which Moses had begun. For each place and time, God has His ‘Joshua’. The work of God will go on. His work requires more than a ‘Joshua’. What part will you play in God’s ongoing work? Will you take up the challenge?
28:1-31  -  The sacrifices, offered to God, were to be ‘a pleasing odour’ to Him (2,6,8,13,24,27). These sacrifices are no longer required. A greater Sacrifice has been offered and accepted. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, has offered Himself as a Sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 9:23-26). This Sacrifice is ‘a pleasing odour’ to God. It is ‘good news’ for us. This is ‘good news’ - the Gospel of our salvation: ‘Christ died for our sins’ (1 Corinthians 15:3). How do we know that Christ’s Sacrifice is ‘a pleasing odour’ to God? - God ‘raised’ Him from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:4). The ‘feast of weeks’ (Pentecost) turns our thoughts towards the Holy Spirit (26-31; Acts 2:1-4). It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that the ‘good news’ of Christ becomes real in our lives. He brings us to Christ and leads us on with Him (Acts 2:37-47).
29:1-40  -  Between the feast of weeks (Pentecost) and the feast of trumpets (28:26-29:6), there was the harvest. Pentecost - the outpouring of the Holy Spirit - has ushered in the time of  Harvest - the saved are being gathered in as men and women are being won for Christ. During this time of harvest, we ‘blow the trumpets’ of worship, rejoicing in the Lord (1), and ‘alarm’, calling on men and women to pay attention to the Word of the Lord (Joel 2:1). By blowing the trumpets for God, we prepare the way for the final trumpet, ‘the trumpet of God’ (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). We must get ready, and we must encourage others to get ready, for Christ’s Return. Atonement (7-11), Tabernacles (12-40): Christ has ‘tabernacled’ among us (John 1:14). He has made ‘atonement’ for us (Romans 5:11). Share the Good News!
30:1-31:20  -  Vows (30:1-16): Be careful what you say - You may live to regret it (Ecclesiastes 5:2, 4-6; Matthew 12:36-37; James 3:6-11). Learn from Balaam. Full of good intentions about speaking God’s Word (22:18; 23:12), he hoped to ‘die the death of the righteous’ (23:10). He did not live up to his good intentions. He sinned and he led others into sin (31:16). He ended up being slain among God’s enemies (31:8). Why were the Midianites destroyed (31:7-8)? They opposed the Lord, exerting an evil influence on His people. We must take care that we do not cause God’s people ‘to act treacherously against’ Him (31:16). Sin needs to be removed if we are to press on to a greater enjoyment of God’s blessing. ‘Put to death what is earthly in you... put off the old nature... put on the new nature’ (Colossians 3:5-11). This is what we must do.
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!
32:1-42  -  Some look for an easy life. They know that there will be conflict on the other side of the Jordan. They opt out - ‘do not take us across the Jordan’ (5). They think they’ve travelled far enough. God says, ‘Let us go on to maturity’ (Hebrews 6:1). ‘My happiness’ - This is what concerns the self-centred person. Spiritual maturity is not about happiness. It’s about holiness. We find happiness when we aim at holiness. What is holiness? - ‘It’s the life apart from the world’s excess. It’s the Lord’s command, not the Lord’s request. It’s the only life that the Lord can bless’. Pretend to be more holy than you really are, and ‘be sure your sin will find you out’ (23). A small minority - Caleb and Joshua - ‘wholly followed the Lord’ (12): Better a minority with God than a majority without Him.
33:1-49  -  In the history of Israel - Set free by the power of God, failure to learn, wandering, the promised land - , there is a picture of the Christian life - conversion and growth to spiritual maturity by way of learning from our mistakes. We are not to remain in the past. That would be nostalgia. It is, however, a good thing for us to remember, with gratitude, all the way the Lord has led us. This will increase our appreciation of the goodness of God. It will deepen our sense of indebtedness to Him. Israel’s redemption was a mighty work of God. Our salvation is a mighty work of God. Think back over your life - ‘stage by stage’ (2) - and thank God for all that He has done. ‘These are the stages of’ what the Lord has done (1): You may see the Lord in places where you hadn’t noticed Him before!
33:50-34:29  -  ‘Drive out all the inhabitants of the land’ (52): We must drive out the enemy (Satan) if we are to enter more fully into our salvation in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:3-14). Idolatry is to be banished (52). It has no place among God’s people. God wants us to ‘possess the land’ (53) - a fuller enjoyment of Him. Idolatry is settling for ‘second best’ - letting something or someone else become more important to you than the Lord. Don’t let it happen! The setting of the boundaries of the land of Canaan (34:1-29) is a reminder that there are boundaries in the Christian life, boundaries set by God Himself, the boundaries of Holy Scripture. When we move beyond the boundaries of God’s holy Word, we move outside the sphere of God’s blessing. Live in the will of God - within the boundaries set by His Word.
35:1-36:13  -  Cities of refuge were provided for those who had killed someone accidentally. This is a good illustration of fleeing to Christ for refuge. He is our ‘strong tower’. We ‘run’ to Him and we are ‘safe’ (Hebrews 6:18; Proverbs 18:10). God gave Israel a ‘land’. They were not to ‘defile the land’ (34). God has given us a Saviour. We are not to dishonour Him. Christ is our ‘inheritance’. Our full enjoyment of Him is still to come (36:2-4, 7-9,12; Ephesians 1:18; Colossians 3:24; 1 Peter 1:4). How can we enjoy our Saviour more fully? - ‘These are the commandments...’ (36:13). The names change. The places change. The principle remains the same: Obedience to God. We have been redeemed by God. Let us live in obedience to Him. There is nothing more important than this - if we really want to enjoy His blessing.

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life? - We thank You, Lord, that we shall overcome Satan ‘by the blood of the Lamb' (prayers based on Ezekiel 27 - 28).

Ezekiel 27:1-36
‘Your wealth... will sink into the heart of the sea on the day of your shipwreck’ (Ezekiel 27:27). Teach us, Lord, that we will sink if we don’t ‘keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.’ Help us not to allow ourselves to get weighed down. Keep us from becoming ‘entangled’ in the world’s way of living. Help us to ‘throw off everything that hinders’ our spiritual growth. We thank You, Lord, that Jesus is ‘the sure and strong Anchor for our lives.’ He will keep us from sinking. Teach us to look to Him and learn from Him: ‘Do not lay up treasures on earth... Lay up treasures in heaven’ (Hebrews 12:1-2; 6:19; 2 Timothy 2:4; Matthew 6:19-20). ‘Will your anchor hold in the storms of life...? We have an Anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love!’ (Church Hymnary, 412).
Ezekiel 28:1-26
‘You were on the holy mount of God... You were blameless in your ways... You sinned... I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God’ (Ezekiel 28:14-16). This is much more than the ‘long time ago’ story of ‘the king of Tyre’ (Ezekiel 29:12). As we read these words, Lord, may we catch a glimpse of ‘the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms.’ We read about ‘war in heaven.’ We read about the downfall of ‘Satan’. Your Word is warning us: ‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood.’ You're showing us that we face a much more powerful ‘enemy’ - ‘Satan.’ He ‘disguises himself as an angel of light’. Help us not be fooled by him. He is no ‘angel of light.’ He is ‘a roaring lion.’ He is ‘prowling about, looking for someone to devour.’ We thank You, Lord, that we shall overcome him ‘by the blood of the Lamb...’ (Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 12:7-9,11; 2 Corinthians 11:14; 1 Peter 5:8).

Build For The Future - Pray And Witness.

"The Lord is your keeper" (Psalm 121:5); "My help comes from the Lord" (Psalm 121:2).
Such words fill us with hope - and they call us to prayer. They do not fill us with a superficial optimism. They stir us to receive more of the Lord's help, and to know more of His keeping power.
When we come to God in prayer, we come with questions: Will the Lord hear our prayer? Will He not dismiss us as guilty sinners who have no right to come to Him, no right to ask for His blessing?
  • The Scriptures speak with unmistakable realism, about our sin: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).
They also speak, with tremendous encouragement, about God's salvation: "And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).
  • In the great first chapter of John's Gospel, which speaks so majestically of Jesus Christ, the eternal Word (vs. 1-3) and declares that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth" (v. 14), we hear John the Baptist, describing Jesus as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
This is our assurance that our prayer will be heard: Jesus Christ died for sinners.
  • We also read of "person-to-person" evangelism: vs. 35-42 - Jesus speaks to Andrew. Andrew speaks to Peter. Jesus speaks to Philip. Philip speaks to Nathaniel. As well as speaking to God for others, we are to speak to others for Him.
God's work moves forward to a brighter future as His people learn to pray to Him and witness for Him.
When we read the words spoken by Jesus to Nathaniel: "You shall see greater things than these" (John 1:50), we are encouraged to believe that the Lord has great things in store for His people - not only in this life but in the eternal life that lies ahead of us: "you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man" (John 1:51).

Notes on Leviticus

LEVITICUS

1:1-2:16 -  Jesus Christ, ‘the Lamb without blemish’, has ‘made atonement’ for sin through the shedding of His ‘precious blood’ (1:3-5; 1 Peter 1:18-19). This offering of Christ – He ‘loved us and gave Himself up for us’ – is ‘a pleasing odour to the Lord’, ‘a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God’ (1:9,13,17; Ephesians 5:2). Read of the ‘cereal offering’ in which there was to be ‘no leaven’ (2:11). Think of Christ – ‘Our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed’: ‘Let us celebrate the festival (the Lord’s Supper)… with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth’ (1 Corinthians 5:7-8). May our worship – ‘frankincense’: an expression of worship (Matthew 2:11) – be filled with ‘the oil of gladness’, ‘with the Holy Spirit and with fire’ (Psalm 45:7; Luke 3:16). Such worship is ‘most holy… to the Lord’ (2:3,10).
3:1-4:35 -  Christ is the real thing. Israel’s sacrifices are only ‘copies of the heavenly things’, ‘a shadow of the good things to come’ (Hebrews 9:23-24; 10:1,5-10). As you read of the ‘peace offering’, rejoice in this: ‘we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5:1). We look to Christ, and we say, ‘He is our peace’ (Ephesians 2:14). Christ is ‘our sin offering’ – ‘offered… to bear the sins of many (4:3; Hebrews 9:28). The ‘blood’ has been shed – We have been ‘washed… in the blood of the Lamb’ (4:5-7; Revelation 7:14). Christ went ‘outside the camp’ for us: He ‘suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through His own blood’ (4:12; Hebrews 13:11-12). For Christ, there was suffering. For us, there is forgiveness – ‘he shall be forgiven’ (26,31,35).
5:1-6:30 -  Christ’s sacrifice covers every sin. No matter what your sin may be, you can bring it to Him for forgiveness. ‘If any man sins’ – Take your sin to Christ: He has ‘made atonement for sin’ (5:1,6,10,13-14,16; 6:2,7). ‘Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ (Mark 3:28-30) does not refer to some specific, identifiable sin, which lies beyond God’s power to forgive. It refers to your persistent refusal to bring your sins to Jesus Christ for forgiveness. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and leads to the Saviour (John 16:8-9,14). Let Him show you your sin. Let Him lead you to your Saviour. ‘It is a thing most holy’ (6:17) – Never forget God’s holiness. Christ’s death speaks of both holiness and love. In holiness, God pronounces His judgment on sin. In love, He provides forgiveness for sinners.
7:1-38 -  As we read about the sacrifices, rejoicing in Christ – the perfect Sacrifice for sin – , let us bring our sacrifice of ‘thanksgiving’ (12-13,15). ‘Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God’ (Hebrews 13:15). Let it be ‘a living sacrifice’, the sacrifice of our lives – this is ‘our spiritual worship’ (Romans 12:1). God’s salvation is ‘to the praise of His glorious grace’ (Ephesians 1:6). ‘We bring the sacrifice of praise… We offer up to You the sacrifices of thanksgiving… the sacrifices of joy’. ‘Fill Thou my life, O Lord my God, In every part with praise… Not for the lip of praise alone nor e’en the praising heart, I ask, but for a life made up of praise in every part’ (Mission Praise, 722; Church Hymnary, 457). Still ‘in the wilderness’ (38), let us learn to worship as we travel to ‘the promised land’!
8:1-36 -  ‘This is the thing which the Lord has commanded to be done’ (5): For us, it must be ‘as the Lord commanded’ (4,9,13,17,21,29,36). God calls us to serve Him (Hebrews 5:4-5). Obedience to God, love for God – These are to be our priorities (1 Samuel 15:22; 1 Corinthians 13:3). Christ is to be our ‘first love’ (Revelation 2:4).  Washed, robed, anointed (6-7,12): Our robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, we have this anointing – ‘to preach the Gospel…’ (Revelation 7:14; Luke 4:18-19).   Ears, hands and feet: Consecrated by the blood of Christ to hear the Word of the Lord, do the work of the Lord and walk in the way of the Lord  (24), we must pray for a change of heart – ‘O for a heart to praise my God, a heart from sin set free; a heart that always feels Thy blood so freely shed for me’ (Church Hymnary, 85).
9:1-10:20 -  Aaron had to make atonement for himself and for the people (9:7). Christ did not need to make atonement for Himself – He was ‘without sin’ (Hebrews 4:15). In Christ, we are ‘accepted’. In Him there is blessing, glory and joy (9:22-24; Ephesians 1:6,3; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 Peter 1:8). God has given us ‘holy fire’. Let us not try to do His work with ‘unholy fire’ (10:1-2; Acts 2:3-4). To those who seek to live ‘as the Lord has commanded’ (9:7; 10:15), God promises to reveal His holiness, nearness and glory (10:3). Do you want to draw near to God, to become ‘mature’ in Christ? – Learn ‘to distinguish between the holy and the common… the unclean and the clean… good and evil’ (10:10; Hebrews 5:14). God reveals the glory of His holiness. Let us confess our sins, be forgiven and be obedient. (Isaiah 6:3-8).
11:1-47 -  God sees only two types of people: ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’. All of us are ‘in Adam’ (sinners). Not all are ‘in Christ’ (saved) (Romans 5:12-21). How about you? – Are you cleansed, forgiven, born again, saved, committed (1 John 1:7,9; John 3:7; Acts 16:31; 2 Timothy 1:12)? Or, are you still in your sins, guilty of neglecting God’s great salvation, not far from – yet still outside of – God’s Kingdom, almost persuaded but still uncommitted (John 8:24; 9:41; Hebrews 2:3; Acts 26:28)? Before the call to holiness (45), there is the call to salvation. Give your heart to Christ. This is where holiness begins (Mark 7:14-23). Holiness is not our own achievement – ‘God is at work in you’ (Phillipians 2:13). Remember: Our holiness is grounded in His redemption (45). Feed on His Word – and let holiness grow (Psalm 119:9-11).
12:1-13:46 -  How can I be made clean (12:8)? – This is the vital question to which the Gospel gives its emphatic answer. We ask, ‘What can wash away my stain?’. The answer is given, ‘Nothing but the blood of Jesus’. We ask, ‘Has atonement been made for my sin’ (12:8)?’. The answer is clear: ‘Christ has for sin atonement made’. You can be ‘washed in the blood of the Lamb’. What water cannot do, Christ does for us. The water used in baptism – ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’! – cannot wash away our sin. It can only point beyond itself to Christ’s Cross, where we hear the Good News: ‘There is wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb’ (Redemption Hymnal, 333,615,309,288). Confess your sin – ‘Unclean, unclean’ (13:45). Christ will change you – beginning with your ‘heart’ (12:3; Romans 2:28-29).
13:47-14:32 -  We read about skin disease.  Remember: there is also the sin disease – and we’re all suffering from that!.  Sin is a deadly ‘cancer’ for which there is only one treatment: ‘Oh, precious is the flow that makes me white as snow; no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus’ (Redemption Hymnal, 333).  The new birth – like physical birth – is a unique, once-for-all, experience: it is the beginning of the Christian life (John 3:3-6).  Many times over, we will need to be ‘washed a second time’ (58).  Justification (Romans 5:1) happens in a moment: ‘The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives’. Sanctification (Romans 6:13,19). lasts a lifetime: ‘Take time to be holy…(Mission Praise, 708,625). God loves us: He will help us to ‘be holy’ (1 Peter 1:16).
14:33-15:33 -  You can get ‘dry rot’ in people – as well as houses (14:34; Hebrews 12:15)!  Sin is like ‘a wasting disease’ (Psalm 106:13-15).  It will only get worse – unless something is done about it!  Sin spreads. and spreads, and…  Can anything be done about this sad situation?  Look into yourself, and you will find that the situation is hopeless (Romans 7:14-20).  Look to Christ, and there is hope: ‘where sin increased, grace abounded all the more’ (Romans 5:20).  Sin is not to be taken lightly.  Don’t underestimate the power of sin.  Little by little, it will lure you away from Christ.  Keep close to Jesus, rejoicing in this: ‘He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world’ (1 John 4:4).  God calls for holiness: ‘your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit’;  ‘present your bodies…to God’ (1 Corinthians 6:19; Romans 12:1).
16:1-34 -  God is ‘holy‘. We cannot ‘draw near’ and ‘come’ to Him without a ‘sin offering’ (1-3).  We cannot bring ‘a sin offering’ to Him.  We can only bring our sin:  Our righteousness is ‘like filthy rags’ (Isaiah  64:6).  There is a ‘way’ for sinners to ‘draw near’ to God:  Christ is the true and living Way (John 14:6; Hebrews 10:19-22).  In verses 20-22, we have a great picture of Christ bearing the sin of the world: ‘Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood… Full atonement, – Yes it is! Hallelujah! What a Saviour!’ (Church Hymnary, 380).  Atonement has been made for us…We have been cleansed from all our sins (30):  What a perfect atonement!  What a perfect Saviour! – ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14).
17:1-18:23 -  We are to be devoted ‘to the Lord’ (17:4-6,9):  ‘You are not your own; you were bought with a price’ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Underlying Christ’s atoning death, there is this principle: ‘the life… is in the blood… I have given it for you… to make atonement…’ (17:11).  Christ has shed His blood:  He has given His life that we might have life.  God looks upon His Son, crucified for us: He ‘has commanded the blessing, life for evermore’ (Psalm 133:3).  We confess our sin, acknowledging that ‘without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins’ (Hebrews 9:22).  With grateful thanksgiving, we rejoice in our Saviour, ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29).  ‘Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power…’ (Mission Praise, 671).
18:24-19:37 -  Holiness and love – the two belong together (1,18,34).  God calls us to live a life of holiness, a life of love.  Through His Spirit – the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love – , He enables us to live this life.  We need His promises.  We need His commands.  Take them both together – not one without the other!  Promises without commands – We take God for granted, we presume on His blessing.  Commands without promises – Our ‘obedience’ becomes a legalistic thing which has nothing to do with the Gospel of grace.  We are to ‘be holy… before Him in love‘ (Ephesians 1:4).  ‘The holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14) is to be accompanied by the ‘love’ without which we are ‘nothing’ (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).  The Lord has redeemed us: By His grace, we shall ‘be holy… in love’ (34,36).
20:1-27 -  The life of holiness is not an expression of our own moral virtue.  It is an expression of the holy character of God being reproduced in us: ‘I am the Lord who sanctify you’ (8).  God wants us for Himself – This is why we must not live the world’s way: ‘I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine’ (26).  God has a great purpose for us:  ‘You shall inherit their land… I will give it to you, a land flowing with milk and honey’ (24).  ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies… my cup overflows’ (Psalm 23:5).  ‘The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly… in Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 1:14).  This is the pathway to holiness:  ‘By grace you have been saved through faith… for good works’ (Ephesians 2:8-10).
21:1-22:16 -  We are sanctified by the Lord (21:8,15,23; 22:9,16).  It is His doing – God’s call to holiness is founded in His gift of holiness: ‘the Holy Spirit…has been given to us’ (Romans 5:5) – ‘every virtue we possess… every victory won… every thought of holiness, are His alone’ (Church Hymnary, 336).  When we are so conscious of our own weakness, God says, ‘I am the Lord’ (21:12; 22:2-3,8).  He is more than sufficient for our justification, sanctification and glorification. Between our justification (the forgiveness of our sins) and our glorification (heaven) there is our sanctification (‘conformed to the image of His Son’).  This is God’s doing.  From beginning to end, it is the work of God (Romans 8:28-29).  We lack faith, we lack holiness, we lack perseverance:  In this we rejoice – ‘Salvation is of the Lord’ (Jonah 2:9).
22:17-23:44 -  God says, ‘I am the Lord’ (22:30-33):  Let Him be ‘your God’ (23:14,22,28,40,43,).  We are to ‘worship in Spirit and in truth’ – ‘in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day’ (John 4:24; Revelation 1:10)  When Christ died – This was the day of atonement.  We worship Him, ‘our Passover Lamb’ (22:28; Exodus 12:13; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8).  After ‘fifty days’ came the Day of Pentecost – What a day that was (Acts 2:4,16-21,41)!  Bring ‘the first fruits of your harvest’ (9):  ‘What can I give Him? – my heart‘ (Church Hymnary, 178).  Blow the trumpet (23:23; Joel 2:1,15) – It must be a ‘clear call’: ‘Get ready for battle’ (1 Corinthians 14:8).  On the ‘day of worship’ (3), God is preparing us for the rest of the week: ‘Be strong in the Lord‘ (Ephesians 6:12).  Pray for the ‘fire’ of God (8,18,25,27,36-37; Acts 2:3-4).
24:1-25:24 -  ‘Pure’ worship is to be offered ‘continually’:  This is what God is looking for (1-8).  ‘Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?  Who shall stand in His holy place?’:  No-one else but Christ – He alone ‘has clean hands and a pure heart’, He alone ‘will receive blessing from the Lord’ (Psalm 24:3-5).  Our worship is offered to God – in Christ… to the praise of His glorious grace’ (Ephesians 1:3,6).  This is our worship, this is our joy – We have been reconciled to God ‘through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5:11).  The ‘jubilee’ – ‘fiftieth year’ (25:11):  Half a century is such a short time in the light of eternity (James 4:14).  God has been good to us.  How have we lived?  How much do we love God?  How much have we loved one another?  Rededicate yourself to ‘the Lord your God’ (25:17).
25:25-55 -  Moral conduct is to be grounded in divine redemption.  Throughout the detailed ethical instructions, there is the recurrent emphasis on God’s salvation:  ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt (Salvation) to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God (Sanctification)… For to Me the people of Israel are servants (Service) whom I have brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God’ (38,55).  Salvation; Sanctification; Service.  We do not begin with the questions, ‘How can I live a godly life?  How can I serve the Lord?’  We begin with the question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’.  God’s answer is clear: ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus …` (Acts 16:31).
26:1-46 -  ‘Every spiritual blessing’ is ‘in Christ’ (Ephesians 1:3).  The moment you begin to feel superior – ‘I am blessed because I am obedient’  (There is too much of ‘I’ in this!) – , remember: ‘in Christ‘.  We are blessed because God loves us and Christ died for us.  It is His grace which changes us.  Without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Our obedience comes from Him. Our disobedience comes from ourselves.  We do not deserve His blessing.  We deserve His judgment.  There is only one way to blessing: Humbly confess your sin, turning to the Lord in whom alone there is blessing.  We must not ‘be proud’ of our ‘obedience’.  There is only one thing about which we should ‘boast’: ‘the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14).  Thank God for His ‘new covenant’ (42,44-45; Hebrews 8:8-13; 1 Corinthians 11:25).
27:1-34 -  ‘Every devoted thing is most holy to the Lord’ (28).  We are loved by the holy God.  We are precious in His eyes.  In love, He has reached out to us – through the Cross of Christ (Romans 5:8).  We are ‘greatly beloved’ (Daniel 9:23).  The Lord takes great joy in every sinner who returns to Him (Luke 15:7,10).  ‘Most holy to the Lord’ – This is how the holy God looks upon those who have ‘faith in Jesus’ (Romans 3:26).  We are to be ‘devoted’ to the Lord: The Lord must come first – ‘All the tithe… is the Lord’s’ (30).  The bringing of the tithe (tenth) to God was an outward sign of an inward commitment.  Do you love God? – Let it show in your living and giving.  Let it be Thanksgiving (I want to) – not Grudge Giving (I have to) or Duty Giving (I ought to): ‘God loves a cheerful giver’ (2 Corinthians 9:7).

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I am not forsaken. I am forgiven.

Psalm 22:1-18 “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1). This was the Psalmist’s prayer. Often, it’s our prayer - it’s th...