27th-31st May: Genesis 49-50; Matthew 28; Psalm 8
27th May: Genesis 49:1-27
Jacob blesses his sons, 'blessing each with the blessing suitable to him' (28). The most significant blessings are reserved for Joseph (22-26). This is not simply the blessing of Jacob. This is the blessing of 'the Mighty One of Jacob...the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel...the God of your father...God Almighty' (24-25). God blesses us 'with blessings of heaven above, blessings which are mighty beyond the blessings of the eternal mountains, the bounties of the everlasting hills' (25-26). He does this for us in Jesus Christ, the fulfilment of the divine purpose within which Joseph was privileged to take his part. 'God... has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places' (Ephesians 1:3). What blessings He has given to us - the forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit, eternal life (Ephesians 1:7,13-14)! 'Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits' (Psalm 103:2).
28th May: Genesis 49:28- 50:26
It was a time of 'very great and sorrowful lamentation' (10). Jacob had died (33). Soon, Joseph would be gone (26). God was still there. He had been there in the past (20). He would be there in the future (24-25). Times are hard. We rejoice: 'The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases'. An earthly life has ended. We say, 'His mercies never come to an end'. We cannot cope. We discover that 'His mercies are new every morning'. Everything seems to be changing. We trust in God's unchanging love: 'Great is Thy faithfulness'. It seems hopeless. We say, 'I will hope in the Lord' (Lamentations 3:22-24). 'Bad' things are happening to you. Do you need to be 'reassured... and comforted'? - 'God meant it for good...Do not fear'. The Lord 'will provide for you' (20-21). Whatever happens, remember this - God is in control, and He loves you (Romans 8:28)!
29th May: Matthew 28:1-10
The resurrection declares Christ's victory over evil, the triumph of His love. There is no need for fear: 'He has risen' - His 'perfect love casts out fear' (5-6; 1 John 4:18). There has to be a new beginning in faith. First, there was a new beginning 'in fact - Christ has been raised from the dead' (1 Corinthians 15:20). Christ has won the victory over the grave. Christ has taken the sting out of death (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). Between the new beginning in faith - making disciples (19) - and the new beginning in fact - Christ's resurrection - , there is worship (9). The fact is not dependent on our feelings. 'He has risen' (6-7) - the fact stands, even when many doubt and few worship (17). As we worship, we are strengthened in faith, strengthened for our task. We are to invite people to come to the place where 'they will see' Jesus (10). We are to 'make disciples' (19). Run and tell - with great joy (8)!
30th May: Matthew 28:11-20
Why is it so important that we 'make disciples' (19)? There is a devil, and he is doing his utmost to hinder the progress of God's truth. He spreads lies about Christ - 'to this day' he is still sowing seeds of unbelief (11-15). We must combat the enemy of Christ - with words of truth, with the believing declaration, 'He has risen' (6-7). Satan failed to halt the progress of the Gospel. Christ's disciples rose to the challenge, and so must we: 'Rise up, you champions of God...We'll reach this generation...Go forth! Jesus loves them. Go forth! Take the Gospel. Go forth! The time is now. The harvest is ripening; Go forth! Feel now the burden of the Lord. Feel how He longs to save them. Feel now for those who never heard...Now is the time' (Songs of Fellowship, 486). 'All authority...has been given to Me...I am with you always' (18-20).
31st May: Psalm 8:1-9The Lord is 'majestic' (1,9). He does not remain remote. He does not keep His distance. He show us His greatness, the greatness of His love. We feel forgotten. He remembers us. We feel unloved. He cares for us (4). We are tempted. He will 'still the enemy' (2). We look beyond our creation (5-8) to our salvation - 'we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone...that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil' (Hebrews 2:8-9,14). This is 'Majesty' - 'Jesus, who died, now glorified, King of all kings'. The Name of the Lord is majestic 'in all the earth' (1, 9). To God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - we pray, 'Glorify Your Name in all the earth' (Mission Praise. 454,142).