Thursday 11 April 2024

We Preach Christ Crucified...

We preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23); “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
“No one can redeem the life of another
    or give to God a ransom for them —
 the ransom for a life is costly,
    no payment is ever enough —
 so that they should live on forever
    and not see decay” (Psalm 49:7-9).
We cannot pay the price of our salvation. We cannot buy for ourselves a place in heaven.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
What we can never do for ourselves, Jesus Christ has done for us. He has given His life as a ransom for many. He has paid the price of our salvation. His death is the costly price. By dying on the Cross, Jesus Christ has paid the ransom price.The price is not money. “Can’t buy me love. Money can’t buy me love” (Lennon and McCartney). Money can’t buy salvation. Christ has died. He has paid the ransom price. we are set free from guilt and judgment.
This is what we remember when we gather together at the Lord’s Table – “He took my place, and died for me.” “It should have been me. It should have been you.” He died in my place. he died instead of me. He died in your place. He died instead of you.
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
The event we remember – the death of Christ for us – is to be preached. The Lord’s Supper is part of the proclamation of the Gospel. It must, however, be accompanied by the teaching of God’s Word. When we remember the fact of Christ’s death for us, we’re doing more than remembering a fact of ancient history. We’re giving our testimony. We’re declaring that the death of Christ is, for us, a life-changing fact, the fact which brings salvation into our lives. This is the message which is preached. The Christ, who died for us many centuries ago, is the Christ who changes our lives here-and-now. He changes your life and mine, for time and for eternity.
“You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18-19). “Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:13-14).
Let’s think about the way in which Christ changes our lives here-and-now.
(a) He creates in us an appreciation of what He has done for us – “You were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19); “You were ransomed … not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
(b) Out of this appreciation is to come both salvation and consecration.
(i) We are saved from a life of futility. We are saved from an empty life. We cannot achieve salvation through our own efforts – “I can’t get no satisfaction … And I tried … ” (The Rolling Stones). Into this hopeless situation comes a Word of hope, a Word that comes to us from the God of hope. There is the hope of true satisfaction. This does not come to us from ourselves. It’s not something that we can earn for ourselves. It’s something that must be given to us. It must be received as gift that is given to us by our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
(ii) We are saved for a life of giving glory to God.- “You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
(iii) What is the life that glorifies God? It is the life of holiness – He “gave Himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for Himself a people of His own who are zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14).
“And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slain, and with Your blood You purchased for God people from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).
This is the song of the redeemed. In the glory of heaven, there will be one event that will be remembered above all others: “Thou wast slain and by Thy blood didst ransom men for God.”
Ephesians 1:3-10; Colossians 1:9-14
We gather together at the Lord's Table. We celebrate the Lord's Supper. We remember Jesus Christ, "the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20). As we drink the wine , we recall the words of Jesus, our Saviour: "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28).
The forgiveness of sins - This is described, for us, in Ephesians 1:7 and Colossians 1:14.
"In Jesus Christ, God's Beloved Son, we have the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).
"In Jesus Christ, God's Beloved Son, we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:14).
The forgiveness of sins - The sin is ours. The forgiveness comes from God. When we consider this great blessing, the forgiveness of sins, there are two things, which become very clear to us.
(i) God is so generous towards us.
(ii) We are so undeserving of His generosity.
How are we to respond to His generosity? - In Colossians 1:11, we find a benediction. In Ephesians 1:3, we find a doxology.
Benediction and doxology - These are two rich words. They are rich in meaning. They are rich in spiritual experience. they are words which describe, for us, our rich experience of love, grace and mercy - the love, grace and mercy of God.
Benediction  - Here, we speak of the blessing of God. from Him, we receive blessing upon blessing. In Christ, he has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.
Doxology -  This is giving praise and worship to the Lord. It is offering worship to God, in "wonder, love and praise." It  is exalting Him. It is glorifying Him. It is proclaiming His greatness in "humble adoration."
We have been blessed by the Lord. Now, we worship Him. we consider what the Lord has done for us. We think of all that the Lord has given to us, and we say from our hearts, "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Thy Name give glory" (Psalm 115:1).
Worship - We have been redeemed by the Lord. We are called to worship Him. We have received the forgiveness of our sins. In worship, we express our appreciation to Him. We offer our thanksgiving to Him.
How are we to worship God?
  1. We worship Him as those who know that we "have been bought with a price."
  2. We  worship Him as those who have received the forgiveness of our sins.
  3. We worship Him as those who are learning to live for Jesus Christ.
(1) We have been bought with a price.
In both Ephesians 1:7 and Colossians 1:14, we find the word, "redemption." It is a word which speaks of the death of Jesus Christ for our sins. It speaks of the paying of the price. For our salvation, there was a price that had to be  paid. In Ephesians 1:7, the word, "redemption", is followed by the phrase, "through His blood." Our redemption is based on the death of Jesus Christ. There was a price to pay. Jesus paid the price. Think of the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ. Think of the nails through His hands. Think of the nails through His feet. Think of the spear through His side. Think of the crown of thorns on his head. There was great physical suffering. Was that all that there was? No! There was more than that. There was spiritual suffering - "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). Think of Jesus on the Cross. Think of Him, and remember this: "You have been bought with a price."
We worship God as those who know that we have been bought with a price.
(2) We have received the forgiveness of our sins.
Our redemption is like a coin with two sides. On one side of the coin, there is the suffering of Christ, the death of our Saviour. On the other side, there is the forgiveness of our sins, the removal of our guilt. In one sense, our redemption is costly. In another sense, it is free. How costly it was for Jesus! How freely it is given to us!
The forgiveness of our sins - We do not speak of the forgiveness of sins as a general principle, an impersonal principle.We add one short word. This word is highly significant. It's very important. The word is "our" - the forgiveness of our sins, the forgiveness of your sins, the forgiveness of my sins. This is what it means to be a Christian. Your sins have been forgiven.
We worship God as those who have received the forgiveness of our sins.
(3) We are learning to live for Jesus Christ.
Why did Jesus Christ die? - "He Himself bore His sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live for righteousness" (1 Peter 2:24).
The forgiveness of our sins - This is a great blessing, but it is not the end of the end of the Christian life. It's just the beginning. We must go on, from there, to live for Jesus Christ. "You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:20) - How are we to respond to this? Do we just say, "Thank You, Lord", and leave it at that? No! We are to glorify God in the whole of our life. Our worship is to be practical. it is to be life-changing. The words, "you were bought with a price" are repeated in 1 Corinthians 7:23). This time, it is followed by the words, "Do not become slaves of human beings." Forgiveness is just the beginning of a new life, a life in which we are learning to live as servants of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We worship God as those who are learning to live for Jesus Christ.

How are we to worship God? How are we to witness for Him?
Worship and witness belong together.
 * Worship, which does not lead to witness, is incomplete.
True worship doesn't end the moment we leave the Church building. True worship shapes the way we live in the world. We are to worship God as those who are learning to live for Jesus Christ. When the service, in Church,ends, our service, in the world, begins.
 * There can be no real witness without worship.
How can we expect to witness for the Lord if we are not worshipping Him? Where will the strength come from - if we do not wait upon the Lord in prayer, if we do not bow before Him worship? The relationship between worship and witness may be summed up in the words of Isaiah 40:31 - "those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. they shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint."
This was the story of Christ's disciples in the early chapters of Acts. When Christ, they were despondent. By the time we come to Acts 4:4, everything is very different: "Many of those who heard the Word believed; and the number of the men came to about five thousand."
Five thousand believers - Who would have expected this? Remember Peter. He denied the Lord three times. Is this the same man? Yes. It's Peter - but it's Peter with a difference. It's Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8).
Why are things so different? - The resurrection: Christ has risen from the dead. There is, however, something else. The resurrection of Christ led to something else - the response of the disciples. They responded to Christ. They waited upon the Lord. They received His strength. Then, things happened. Everything changed - after they had waited on the Lord, after they had received His strength.
You can come in to the story of Acts, at various points, and you will see this: God is at work.  The Lord is renewing the strength of is people. He is equipping them for His service. The Lord is doing great things. He is working with great power. He is bringing great blessing to many people.
 * In Acts 1, we see the disciples, praying in the upper room.
 * In Acts 2, we see Peter, preaching on the Day of Pentecost.
 * In Acts 3, we see Peter, healing at the gate of the temple.
 * In Acts 4, we hear Peter, pointing men and women to Jesus Christ - "There is salvation in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved" (v. 12).
 * In Acts 5, we see the apostles, taking the message of Christ into the homes of the people (v. 42).
Where do we come into this great story? The great words, spoken by Peter, in Acts 4:12, bring this great story into today's world. His words open up for us the universal dimension of the Gospel., Christ is for everyone. He is for every nation. He is for every generation. He is for every situation. This is the message that Peter brings to us when he says, "There is salvation in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved." This is a great declaration of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. He is the Saviour of the world. This is the great central fact of the gospel. Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world. From this great central point - Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world, we may move out in ever-widening circles to see God at work - God at work centuries ago, God still at work today.
  (1) These great words of Peter are part of a story. It's the story of a healing. It's the healing of "a man, lame from birth" (Acts 3:2). "This man had been healed ... by the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth" (Acts 4:9-10). This story of healing leads to the declaration: Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world.
  (2) This great declaration is part of a story of witness. It's a story with dynamic. It's a story with direction. The dynamic comes from God - "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you." The direction is towards the whole world: "You shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). This story is the story of Jesus Christ. It's the story of the Saviour who died for us. It's the story of the risen Lord. He calls us, today, to be His witnesses.
  (3) "There is salvation in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved" - This is to be our story. It's to be your story. It's to be my story.
(a) It is to be our story, because it is a story for every nation. On the Day of Pentecost, there were, in Jerusalem, "devout men from every nation under heaven" (Acts 2:5). These men heard the Gospel in their own language - "They were amazed and wondered, saying ... how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? ... we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God" (Acts 2:7-8,11).
(b) This is our story because it is a story for every generation. Long before the coming of Christ, God say to Abraham, "In your posterity shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (Acts 3:25). In Christ, this promise has been fulfilled. To this generation, God still says, "I have sent Christ  to you 'to bless you in turning every one of you from your wickedness'' (Acts 3:26)." Do you despair of this generation? Do not give up! Do not lose heart! The story of Christ is for every nation. It is for every generation. It is also for every situation.
(c) How is our situation to be turned around - for God? Let's return to our starting-point: Worship and witness belong together. Worship among God's people is to overflow into witness in the world: "Every day in the temple and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42). You and I worship God. Are we ready to say, with Paul, "I am not ashamed of the gospel; for it is the power of God for the salvation of every one who believes" (Romans 1:16).
Are we ready to obey Him? Are we ready to do His will? Are we ready to be His witnesses?

The Kingdom Will Come.

When Jesus began his preaching ministry, he proclaimed this message: "The kingdom has come." In the coming of Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God has come.  This is a message of great practical relevance to our lives here and now. Since Jesus Christ has come, we are called to repent and believe the gospel - repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In his letters to the church at Thessalonica, Paul emphasizes the future of the kingdom - the kingdom will come. In speaking of the coming kingdom, Paul is speaking of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Like Jesus, Paul emphasizes the practical relevance of the preaching of God's kingdom.
To receive Jesus Christ, we must come to him in repentance and faith. This is the point at which Jesus Christ comes into your life, changing your life, enabling you "to live the kind of life that pleases God" (1 Thessalonians 2:12).
To be ready for Christ's second coming, we must continue in the way of repentance and faith. This is the continuing process of learning to live a godly life, which is centred on Christ. We are able to live this kind of life, as we seek to live according to the Scriptures and in the power of the Spirit.
Coming to Christ and continuing in Him, becoming a Christian and being a Christian - this is the challenge of the kingdom. The two belong together - becoming a Christian and being a Christian. You cannot be a Christian until you become  a Christian. Also, it makes no sense at all to become a Christian if you have no intention of going on to live as a Christian.
In the Christian life, there is crisis, and there is process. There is the great crisis, which Jesus calls the new birth, and there is the life-long process which follows the new birth. During the course of the  life-long process of sanctification (becoming more like Jesus Christ), there may be crisis-experiences, particular times in your life, when you take a huge leap forward in your understanding of God and your experience of his love and grace and mercy. Such experiences are part of the ongoing process of "growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). These experiences of significant growth in faith are not the great crisis. The great decision has been made. The personal commitment to Christ has been made. This is true of every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. The new birth has taken place. Through faith in Christ, we have entered the kingdom of God. The Christian can truly say, "O happy day that fixed my choice on thee, my Saviour and my God ... 'Tis done, the great transaction's done. I am my Lord's and he is  mine."
When the message of God's kingdom first presents us with its challenge, we face a crisis. We are called to decision. We are invited to choose Christ. Once that choice has been made, the great crisis has taken place. The new birth has taken place. The question if our eternal salvation has been settled. Whatever great steps forward there may be later on in the life of faith, nothing can ever compare with conversion, the great change by which we move from darkness to light, from death to life, from the  power of Satan to God, from judgment to salvation.
Some Christians speak of a 'second blessing', a second experience which is comparable to conversion. There are two things we should say about this teaching.
The first is this: At conversion, we receive the fullness of God's salvation. God does not give us salvation by instalments - a part salvation at conversion, another part later on, and so on. The new birth takes place when you receive Jesus Christ into your life. What does this mean - to receive Jesus Christ into your life? Here's what the Bible says about Jesus Christ: "In him, the whole fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily" (Colossians 2:9). In receiving Jesus Christ, you have received the fullness of God. God has no more to give us than himself. In giving you Jesus Christ, God has given you himself. He can give you no more than that. What does this mean in terms of the salvation we have received in Christ? God's Word tells us that, through faith in Christ, we have become spiritual millionaires: "God .. has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:3). If you have received Christ, you have received all that God has to give you - in him.  Don't let anyone suggest that God himself has given you a second-rate, inferior, kind of salvation.
There is, however, a second comment we must make about the 'second blessing' teaching. It is this: Once you have understood that no later experience of God's love and grace and mercy can compare with the new birth, why limit later blessings to a second blessing? Why not a third blessing, a fourth blessing, a fifth blessing, and so on?
Such blessings cannot be compared to the new birth, the decisive step of entering the kingdom of God. Nevertheless, there can be many steps of faith and obedience by which we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We can truly say, "Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your blessings. See what God has done. Count your blessings. Name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done." God gives us many blessings. The more we come to see what God has given to us, the more we come to realize that all blessings can be summed up in blessing - our Lord Jesus Christ. We have received him, not by instalments, a bit now, a bit later on, and a bit more further on again. We have received him at conversion, at the beginning of our faith-journey.
The Christian life begins with coming to Christ. After that initial step of faith, we must continue with Christ, If your Christian life is not what it should be (and this is true of every single one of us without any exceptions), then the problem is not with God. In Christ, he has given us the fullness of the Godhead. He has given us himself, and, with himself, he has given us every spiritual blessing. What's the problem? We are the problem. There's nothing lacking in God's salvation, but there is much that is lacking in our faith. Have you come to Christ? If not, you can come to him now. Receive him and his salvation right now. Begin the Christian life right now. If you have come to Christ, how much do you want to continue with him? This is the question Put puts to us in 1 & 2 Thessalonians. He asks us, 'Do you really want "to lead a life worthy of God" (1 Thessalonians 2:12)? Keep your eyes on Jesus Christ. In him, we see the glory of God's kingdom. As we look to him, as we look upon his glory, we are changed. The glory of the Lord Jesus Christ shines into our lives, and we become more like Jesus.
Keeping our eyes on Jesus involves more than looking back to the story of Jesus' life on earth.. We must also look forward to his second coming. We must seek to be ready for his return. We must rejoice in the Lord, whatever our circumstances. We must pray that the Lord will lead us in his way of victory. We must give thanks that, in Christ, we do have the victory. We must seek to live in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the light of the Holy Scriptures.   
 * As those who have entered the kingdom of God and now belong to the kingdom of God, what kind of people are we to be?
In 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4, the apostle Paul describes the Christians at Thessalonica. Their faith was growing abundantly. Their love for one another was increasing. In persecutions and afflictions, their faith was steadfast. This is the kind of people we are to become.
Do you believe that God has a purpose for your life? 2 Thessalonians 1:5 tells us that God has a wonderful purpose for your life. He is working in you so "that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God." This does not mean that, by being worthy through our own good works, we earn our place in God's kingdom. What it means is this - the Christ who has saved us, through no merit of our own, continues to work in us, after we've been saved, to make us more like himself, to make us men and women who live under the kingship of Jesus Christ, submitting, more and more, to his reign as we go through life.
Paul prayed for the Thessalonian Christians - "To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).
By ourselves, we are unworthy of his call. By ourselves, we are not strong. We are weak. By ourselves, we are not filled with faith. We are filled with unbelief. By ourselves. we do not bring glory to the Lord. We bring shame to his holy name.
Can we be changed? The answer is still the same as it was in New Testament times. We can be changes by "the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."
 - Christ alone is worthy to be our Saviour. He alone is able to make us worthy of his call.
 - Christ is the one in whom we put our trust: "I can do everything God asks me to do with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power" (Philippians 4:13). 

For the sake of the truth

“If apologetics becomes a fight over a system ... it becomes something very different from the 'giving an answer' for faith that the New Testament asks for. The struggle may not be waged for the sake of a fight, but only for the sake of the truth. There must, therefore, never be lust for victory in confrontation. Confrontations can easily be waged in a manner that alienates faith from science without the believing disputants even understanding the problems of science; quick counterarguments are then not even taken seriously by the other side. Apologetics may then celebrate some sort of victory, while in reality it has only exposed its poverty.” — G. C. Berkouwer

"Africa Bible Commentary" on Genesis

Africa Bible Commentary: A One-Volume Commentary Written by 70 African Scholars
Africa Bible Commentary: A One-Volume Commentary Written by 70 African Scholars
The Africa Bible Commentary is unique. Written by African theologians and produced in Africa, it is the first one-volume commentary ever created to help pastors, students, and lay leaders in Africa apply God’s Word to distinctively African concerns, yet its fresh insights will have a universal appeal.
'Scripture is not just a holy book from which we extract teaching and biblical principles ... it is a story in which we participate ... Scripture speaks to us because Scripture speaks about us ... Scripture is the living testimony to what God has done and continues to do, and we are part of that testimony.'

'Comment on the authorship of the Pentateuch (Genesis - Deuteronomy)' - ' ... it is not the author who is important. What matters is the existence of a message that is relevant to the community.'

'...'at that time men began to call on the name of the Lord' (Genesis 4:26b) ... Seth and his line feared God and called on his name. Lamech, Cain's descendant, called only on his wives to hear his boasting (Genesis 4:23).' (p. 19).

'Though everything that was not in the ark was destroyed (Genesis 7:21-23), the ultimate goal of the flood was not to destroy all life but to destroy the stranglehold of sin ... the flood did not aim to wipe out creation but to preserve it ... Destroying all creation would have signified the defeat of the Creator ... Not even the initial sin of Adam and Eve had derailed his plan, for he had immediately announced the future coming of the Saviour to crush the devil and bring in a new community that would celebrate his glory (Genesis 3:15).' (p. 22).

'As long as the sins we have committed are not recognized, confessed to the Lord and abandoned, they will continue to be a great burden, no matter how much we try to hide our suffering. Only Christ's forgiveness relieves us and restores to us the strength and the joy of living to continue our service of faith.' (p. 22).

'The God who is to be feared because of his devastating judgment of evil is also the one who 'blessed Noah and his sons' (Genesis 9:1).' (p. 24).

'God provided the rainbow as a sign that he would keep his 'covenant for all generations to come' (Genesis 9:12-13) ... This sign is needed not because God may possibly forget his covenant - that is not his nature (Psalm 105:8; Psalm 111:5; Luke 1:72) - but an assurance to humans that God will not forget. Some have arg...ued that God has broken this promise, for there have been floods of various kinds that have claimed many lives. But what is promised here is not protection from all floods, but rather protection from a catastrophic flood that will 'destroy all life' (Genesis 9:15b).' (p. 24).

'Scripture ... records both the victories and the failures of God's people. readers are constantly reminded of the need of God's grace. None of us ... can claim to deserve God's acceptance.' (p. 24).

'Then the servant left, taking with him ten of his master’s camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master (Genesis 24:10). If we relate this to our being sent out on a mission by our heavenly master, the focus all the time should be on our master and not on ourselves. We owe nothing, and our entire mission is on behalf of our master.' (p. 44).

'Though the New Testament stressed God's free choice of Jacob over Esau (see Romans 9:10-13), this incident highlights the other side of the story - human responsibility. It cannot be denied that 'Esau despised his birthright' (Genesis 25:34b; Hebrews 12:16-17). There is a tension between God's choice of Jacob and Esau's responsibility for freely selling his birthright. In the same way, God's grace draws us to Jesus for salvation (John 6:44), but at the same time, it remains our duty to believe (John 3:16).' (p. 48).

'I am the God of your father Abraham (26:24a). God is not just identifying himself; he is also reaffirming his commitment. As the Lord was with Abraham, so he will be with Isaac. As his power was seen in the life of Abraham, so it will also be seen in the life of Isaac' (p. 49).

“The Bible records both the good and evil that men and women do. And not all evil was punished, for if it were, none would have survived. God graciously overlooks some evil.” (p. 68).

“Elders pass harsh judgments on people who have committed the same sins that they themselves are guilty of - except that they have managed to keep it secret. This is nothing less than hypocrisy!” (p. 68).

“Once a wrong act has been repented of and confessed, it should not be repeated.” (p. 68). “The Lord's presence always brings blessings. These will not always be material things, for the joy of communing with God is in itself a blessing.” (p. 68).

“... it does not matter where we serve the Lord. We may serve in a high position or in a low one. God can bless us in either position.” (p. 69).

“... the chief cupbearer remembered Joseph. He began by acknowledging his failure to remember Joseph earlier (Genesis 41:9) and then went on to tell how 'a young Hebrew' who was in prison had accurately interpreted his and the chief baker's dreams (Genesis 41:10-12). What mattered to Pharaoh was not what the young Hebrew was called but what he did ... what matters most is not whether people remember our names, but what they remember about us. How would they describe us to someone else? Do we simply have the label of being a Christian, or would people describe us as acting in Christian ways?” (p. 70). 

'When Joseph had asked the cupbearer to mention his case to Pharaoh, he was hoping that Pharaoh would listen and respond to his needs. But God's plan was that the needy one would be Pharaoh, and that Joseph would listen to him and meet his needs!' (p. 70).

'It is important to pray, but it is equally important to know that God will respond to our prayers in his own time and in his own way' (p. 70).

'Often those who claim that the Lord has given them gifts place God in a secondary role while they display the gift as if it were their very own. This is a very bad mistake. the gift can never be greater than the giver.' (p. 70).

'In Africa, many preachers ... have tended to speak to please the king, rather than to honestly declare the word of truth. In some cases, they have even become so involved in the politics of the day that they have compromised their role as servants odf God. we need more people of Joseph's character and courage to stand before our presidents if Africa is to move towars establishing systems that care for the needs of ordinary people. Fairness to all should be at the centre of the counsel our presidents receive from preachers.' (p. 71).

'As long as the sins we have committed are not recognized, confessed to the Lord and abandoned, they will continue to be a great burden, no matter how much we try to hide our suffering. Only Christ's forgiveness relieves us and restores to us the strength and the joy of living to continue our service of faith.' (p. 73).

'... at each step, it must be remembered that regeneration, the basis of all godly authority, begins with God working in the individual and extends to every facet of life' (p. 79).

Praying Through God's Word: 2 Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians 1:1-2:12
Lord, we thank You that Your Son, Jesus, is coming again. For “all those who have believed”, “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” will be a great Day, the Day of celebration, the Day of our salvation, the Day of “our being gathered together in Him” (2 Thessalonians 2:1 & 1:10). It will also be a Day of judgment for “those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8). You speak to us about the future – about salvation and judgment. You’re inviting us to have a heart-to-heart talk with You. From Your heart, You speak to us of Your love for us – and “Your desire for us to be saved” (John 3:17 & 2 Peter 3:9). Help us to say, from our hearts, “Yes, Lord. I believe in the Lord Jesus. I trust in Your promise – ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved'” (Acts 16:31).
2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:18
“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in all ways” (2 Thessalonians 3:16). Where does true peace come from? It comes from You, Lord. You are “the Lord of peace.” Peace doesn’t depend on good things happening to us. It doesn’t come to us because we have plenty of the good things of this world. Real peace is Your peace. Help us, Lord, to “be still and know that You are God” (Psalm 46:10).

Praying Through God's Word: 1 Timothy

1 Timothy 1:1-2:15
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance” (1 Timothy 1:15). Help us, Lord, to receive this Gospel truth – and to have this Gospel testimony: “I received mercy … the grace of our Lord overflowed for me” (1 Thessalonians 1:13-14). Help us to say, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith”; “God forbid that I should glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:16 & Galatians 6:14). Help us to be “eager to preach the Gospel” (Romans 1:15).
1 Timothy 3:1-4:16
What are we to believe? How are we to behave? Lord, these are very important questions. We’re not only to believe the right things. We’re to live the right way. Help us to be “nourished in the words of the faith” so that we “may know how one ought to behave in the household of God” (1 Timothy 4:6 & 3:15). Help us to “watch our life and doctrine closely” (1 Timothy 4:16). Be real to us, Lord, in every part of life: “Fill Thou our life, O Lord our God, in every part with praise – Not for the lip of praise alone nor even the praising heart, I ask, but for a life made up of praise in every part.”
1 Timothy 5:1-6:21
Lord, there have been disappointments in life. “Some have already strayed after Satan.” Many “have wandered away from the faith.” They have not found happiness. They “have pierced their hearts with many griefs” (1 Timothy 5:15 & 6:9-10). What are we to do? How can we be victorious in this spiritual battle? We must “give the enemy no opportunity to slander us.” We must take care how we live – so that “God’s Name … may not be slandered” (1 Timothy 5:14 & 6:1). Help us, Lord, to live a life of “godliness”, a life that is based on “the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

‘Let Everyone Who Names The Name Of The Lord Depart From Iniquity.’

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).

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