Friday, 22 February 2019

Do You Love God?

Jesus was speaking to men who practised a a very high-brow kind of religion. As far as they were concerned, they did all the right things. They regarded themselves as the people of God. From this high vantage-point of religious observance, these men became proud and arrogant. They looked down on others. Rather than looking deeply into their own sinful hearts and confessing their own sin to God, these men were preoccupied with outward appearances and insisted on passing judgment on the lives of others. Although these men had plenty of religion, Jesus hit the nail on the head when He said to them: "But I know that you have not the love of God within you" (John 5:42).
Jesus' words, in John 5:42, begin with the word, "But." Jesus is saying to these proud, religious men, "I know all about your religion, all about your religious traditions, all about the power and the glory of your religion, all about your knowledge of the Scriptures, but there is something else I know about you - "I know that you have not the love the love of God within you."
How did Jesus know this - because He sees what is in the heart. He sees what is in our hearts!
We really need to hear Jesus' words as a personal challenge. They put before us a serious question: Do I love God or do I not love God?
The Lord Jesus Christ knows all about our church membership and church attendance.He knows about our outward profession of the Christian religion. He knows how often we have sat at the Lord's Table. He knows how often we have heard God's Word. Yet, the Lord, who looks not at outward appearances but at the heart, persists in asking us a most disturbing and extremely challenging question; Do you love God or do you not love God?
Let's think together about this most important question. Let's look deeply into our own hearts, examining ourselves closely in the presence of God, who searches our hearts with the all-seeing eye of His holy Word. Let's think about our attitudes - attitudes towards the creation of God, the blessing of God, the people of God , the Word of God and, above all, the Son of God. We're not speaking here about outward appearances, which can be very deceiving. God looks at the heart. What does He see? Does He see that He is not in all our thoughts, or does He see a real hungering and thirsting for God and righteousness? does He see an attitude which says, "I'm content with a self-centred life, or does He see a God-centred commitment which is determined "to be the best that I can be for truth and righteousness and God"? These are very personal questions. I cannot answer them for you. You cannot answer them for me. Each one of us must answer them for ourselves. we must give our answer to God.
(1) The creation of God
Do we take the created world for granted - hardly ever thinking of God the Creator? When we look at the created world with our own eyes, we see nothing but the things which are seen, the things which are temporal. When we look at God's creation with the eyes of faith, our hearts go out to God in praise and worship, giving thanks to Him that He, the God who created all that we see before us, should come to us in love, giving His Son to be our Saviour.
A modern song, entitled, "I can't wait to get to heaven", expresses well what it means to look at the created world with believing eyes: "Seaside, sunset, silver lining round the clouds; Birds fly, singing, making such a joyful sound. Thoughts of heaven somehow seem to fill my mind. I can't wait to get to heaven. Deep green forest, mountains reaching for the sky; Grasslands and deserts, Your creation fills my eyes. Thank You, thank You, Jesus! though this beauty is just a taste of all Your glory I'll see when I pass through these gates - I can't wait to get to heaven" (Keith Green).
The Lord Jesus Christ is preparing a place for all who love Him. Don't let the earthbound thinking of this present world keep you from loving, trusting, thanking, praising and following Jesus.
(2) The blessings of God
There's an old song which says, "Count your blessings; name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done" (Johnson Oatman Jr,). How often do you think of the many good things the Lord has done for you? How often do you give thanks to Him? The Lord's blessings are so many and varied that we could never manage to count them all. One thing we can say is this: Thank You for Jesus.
When you hear Jesus' words: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My words who sent Me has eternal life", is your heart filled with joyful thanksgiving? Don't let the "take it for granted" attitude of today's society keep you from thanking God for the greatest blessing of all - Jesus.
(3) The people of God
Before Jesus the Saviour, there was John the Baptist. Jesus gives us a great description of John: "He was a burning and shining lamp." John was a man of God, a man on fire for God. How did the proud, religious men of Jesus' day respond to the preaching of John? Jesus tells us that "they were willing to rejoice for a while in his light" (John 5:35). The important words here are the three words: "for a while."They rejoiced in his light for a while, but now they had given up on rejoicing in the preaching of this faithful and fearless man of God. The proud, religious men of Jesus' day were willing to give a hearing to a new preacher. No doubt, they said, "Great preacher! Great sermon!" They said this for a while - but, when the initial enthusiasm wore off, it really wore off, and, then, there was nothing left but an arrogant rejection. Wherever we see that there is a faithful and fearless stand taken for Christ, we must say, "Yes, I will stand with you, I will encourage you. Together, we will serve the Lord."
Remember, commitment to the Lord and to His Church belong together. We cannot live in a wee world of our own, We must be faithful in encouraging others to serve the Lord.
(4) The Word of God
It is the Bible - God's Word - which teaches us the truth of God
We began by asking about our love for God. As we think about our love for Him, we must never forget that our love for Him is grounded in His love for us. We love Him because He has first loved us. All who truly love God will love His Word and will spend time reading His Word. If we neglect the Bible, this is a sure sign that we are neglecting God. When God is truly at work in a someone's life, there will be a real love for the Word of God. Look at your life in the light of the Bible. What do you see? Do you see how much you have failed God, how often you have let Him down? Do you not see how little you love God, how little praise and thanksgiving there is in your heart? Do you not see your weakness? Do you not see your sinfulness and disobedience? Yes! we see all of these things, but - and this is absolutely amazing - in the midst of all this, we see Someone who loves us. As we think about our love for God, we must never forget that our love for Him is always grounded in His love for us. We love Him because He first loved us.
(5) The Son of God
Jesus says, "He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent Him" (John 5:230. How can there be love for God where there is no love for Jesus? we should be humbled and alarmed by our lack of love for Jesus. we must rejoice that jesus is "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6).
You have heard God's Word. Make sure that you don't refuse to come to Christ who alone can give you eternal life. he invites you to come. He promises you eternal life. He loves you. He died for you.

Thanksgiving And Hope

"This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23).
When we think of all that the Lord has done for us, let us think also of what He will do for us.
Let us look back with thanksgiving. Let us look forward with hope.

The Lord is always greater than all our words about Him.

"Who can speak about all the mighty things the Lord has done? Who can announce all the things for which He is worthy of praise?" (Psalm 106:2).
There is always more to be said about the Lord than we can ever say. When we have said all that we can say, we have not said enough. The Lord is always greater than all our words about Him. How great is our God! How great is His mighty work of salvation! Praise be to His Name - the Name of our salvation.

Exalt The Lord Our God ...

"Exalt the Lord our God, And worship at His holy hill; For the Lord our God is holy" (Psalm 99:9).
We read about the people who worship God, the place where we worship Him, and the God whom we worship.
"Exalt the Lord our God" - We are called to worship God. We are the worshippers. He is the Lord our God. There is nothing special about our worship. Even when we worship, we must never forget that we are never any more than sinners who have been saved by God's grace. When we hear the call: "Exalt the Lord our God", we must always remember this: God is not exalted because we exalt Him. We exalt Him because He is exalted.
"Worship at His holy hill" - Why do we think of the place where we worship as a holy place? Is it because we, the worshippers, are holy. No! Let's never imagine that we are more holy than we really are. Any holiness we may have has been given to us by God through Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). We are never perfectly holy. When are called to "pursue ... holiness, without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14), we must begin by looking away from ourselves to our Saviour, Jesus Christ. He alone can "ascend the hill of the Lord." He alone "has clean hands and a pure heart." He alone can "ascend the hill of the Lord." He alone can stand in God's holy place. He alone will "receive blessing from the Lord" (Psalm 24:3-5). There is, however, something else which Scripture teaches us about Christ. It is something very wonderful: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). He comes to us in love. He forgives our sin. He renews our strength. He leads us in His paths of righteousness. The holiness of the place where we worship comes from the God whom we worship, the God who loves, the God who has saved us, the God who has forgiven our sins, the God who has sent His Holy Spirit to live in our hearts.
"For the Lord our God is holy" - Holiness: if this was all we had to say about God, we would have to say, "We dare not even attempt to set foot on "His holy hill." Thank God - There is another "holy hill" where we see His love as well as His holiness: "On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross ... where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain ... 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died to pardon and sanctify me." God is holy - and, in love, He calls us to come to Him, to receive His forgiveness, to walk with Him on "the Highway of Holiness" (Isaiah 35:8).

God's Truth - Jesus, Our Saviour

“Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Saviour, and my hope is in You all day long. Remember, Lord, Your great mercy and love, for they have existed from eternity” (Psalm 25:5-6).
What does God’s “truth” teach us? He is our “Saviour.” He is our “hope.” He is the God of “great mercy.” He is the God of “love.” He is the eternal God. “All day long”, He is our God, our Saviour and our hope.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Loved By The Lord - And Saved By Him

“Show Your marvellous lovingkindness …  O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 17:7; Psalm 19:14).
The lessons that we discover in the Word of God are lessons that are given to us by revelation. God shows us His “marvellous lovingkindness.” He shows us His salvation. Learning about God’s love and His salvation – There is nothing more wonderful than this. To know that we are loved by the Lord and have been saved by Him – This is what gives us strength to keep on loving and praising Him as we travel with Him towards His glorious Kingdom.

We stand in the strength of the Lord.

The Psalmist speaks of his enemies – “my foes” (Psalm 3:1). They are not only his enemies. They are the Lord’s enemies (Psalm 2:2).
What an encouragement it is to know that we do not stand against our enemies on our own. The Lord is standing with us. We do not stand in our own weakness. We stand in the strength of the Lord. He is with us. Many times, we will fail Him. He will never fail us. Often, we will let Him down. He will never let us down. What does God say to us, in our weakness? – He assures us that He holds on to us with a love which is much stronger than our weak love for Him – “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). When, in our battle against strong a nd determined enemies, we like giving up, let’s remember this: God is faithful – and He is much stronger than Satan. “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

If I Perish ...

“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?’ … I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.’” (Esther 4:14,16).
God has a plan for us. Are we willing to pay the price?

A Call To Prayer And A Promise Of Blessing

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
In 2 Chronicles 7:14, there is a call to prayer and promise of blessing: ‘If My people who are called by My Name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their hand’. Why is there so little blessing? – ‘You do not have, because you do not ask’. God will bless mightily – when His people pray earnestly. Why does the devil have so many victories among us? – ‘Resist the devil, and he will flee from you’. God will lead us in His way of victory – when we stop tolerating the devil, and start resisting him. Why does God seem so far away? – ‘Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you’ (James 4:2,7-8). God will come near to us – if we will let Him. ‘I stand at the door and knock; if any one… opens the door, I will come in…’ (Revelation 3:20).
We are to seek God’s face. Seeking God’s face – what will this mean? We could simply repeat what is said here – come to him in prayer, come to Him with humility, come to Him in repentance – turning from our wicked ways. Let’s think a little bit more about seeking God’s face. We communicate with each other by letters, emails and telephone calls. All of these things are good, but they’re not really a substitute for being with each other – face-to-face. Seek God’s face – God is calling us to get to know Him better. He’s calling us to move beyond a casual acquaintance with Him. Don’t be content with a superficial knowledge of God. Don’t be content with a shallow experience of God’s love and power. God has given us great promises – “I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” How great is our God! How wonderful is His blessing! Our appreciation of our great God and His wonderful blessing will grow stronger as we are learning to say, from hearts that have been deeply touched by His love and power, ”O for a closer walk with God.”

Monday, 18 February 2019

What God Has Done, What God Will Do

We look back, and we ‘give thanks to the Lord’, remembering ‘the wonderful works that He has done’ (1 Chronicles 16:8,12). We look forward, committing our future to the Lord in prayer, looking to Him to fulfil the promise He gives to those who call upon Him in heartfelt prayer: ‘If My people who are called by My Name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14).

The dedication of our lives to the Lord

David called God’s people to worship. They were ‘to raise sounds of joy’, praising the Lord with ‘loud music’. David did not leave it to others. He gave the lead. Along with all the others, he was there, ‘dancing and making merry’. He was a true spiritual leader. He ‘blessed the people in the Name of the Lord’. He called upon the people to ‘praise the Lord’ (1 Chronicles 15:16,28-29; 16:2,4). God calls us to worship Him continually’ (1 Chronicles 16:6). May God help us to be the kind of people who take ‘delight in the Word of the Lord, meditating on His Word day and night’ (Psalm 1:2). Our meditation on God’s Word is to be accompanied by obedience to His Word – ‘be careful to do according to all that is written in it’ (Joshua 1:8). This is the true ‘spiritual worship’ God is looking for – the dedication of our lives to Him (Romans 12:1).

The Great Love Of God - Hallelujah! What A Saviour!

"Even outside the borders of Israel, the Lord is great (Malachi 1:5). The Lord is not great because we call Him great. We call Him great because He is great. When we worship God, we are not creating His greatness. We worship God because He is so much greater than we can put into words or even imagine. His greatness does not come from our understanding of Him or our faith in Him. our understanding is limited. Our faith is weak. Our God is great. We must never forget this. It's not about our great faith or our great understanding. It's about our great God. He is great in holiness and power. more than that, He is great in love. We see the greatness of His love in Christ, His Son, our Saviour. We see His love in the death of our Saviour - "Hallelujah! What a Saviour!" "His Name will be great among the nations" (Malachi 1:11). To say that God's greatness extends beyond Israel is not an excuse for complacency. We have a God-given responsibility to proclaim His greatness: "I am a great King" (Malachi 1:14). The Lord is King. He's the King of love. Let us never think that the Lord can be compared to earthly kings. He is far greater than any and every earthly king. He is to be the King in our worship. He is to be the King in every part of our life. When we say, "The Lord is King, we're not just speaking words - even words of faith. we're pointing to the reality - "The Lord is King" - and we're committing ourselves to living in the light of this reality.
God's Word speaks out against us so that we might learn to stop speaking against Him. We speak against Him when we present ourselves as righteous in His sight. To imagine that we are righteous is to be guilty of self-deception. If we are to enjoy the blessing that comes to us from the Lord, there is something that we must hear: "this warning is for you" (Malachi 2:1). Through the warning of the Gospel, we are brought into the position where we see ourselves as sinners. This is God's way of showing us our need of the Saviour. It's His way of leading us to Jesus.
There is, in Malachi 3:1, a prophecy which has two parts - John the Baptist, Jesus the Saviour. When Jesus comes to us, He makes us new (Malachi 3:2-3). This purpose of God - to make us holy - is in fulfilment of His plan, which has been spoken of in "the past, as in years long ago" (Malachi 3:4). In His coming, there is salvation, and there is also judgment (Malachi 3:5). When we speak about prophecy and fulfilment, there is something we must never forget: "I, the Lord, never change" (Malachi 3:6). When we read God's Word, we must pray that we will see the continuity that comes from the character of God. In Old Testament times, in New Testament times and today, He calls us to "return" to Him. He promises that He will "return" to us. As we are faithful in committing ourselves to Him, He will send His blessing to us (Malachi 3:7-10). This blessing is described in Malachi 3:11-12. If we are to enjoy His blessing, we must learn to stop speaking against Him (Malachi 3:12-14). It is a good thing to seek God's blessing. We must never take His blessing for granted. That is arrogance (Malachi 3:15). The better way is the way of fearing the Lord and serving Him (Malachi 3:16,18). When we give ourselves truly to the Lord, we will draw strength from this: "They will be mine, says the Lord of Armies. On that day I will make them My special possession" (Malachi 3:17).
"The Sun of Righteousness will rise ... " (Malachi 4:2). The perfect Son of God has risen from the dead. This is the great declaration of salvation. The resurrection - This is what stands at the heart of the New Testament. The resurrection stands at the centre of the Gospel of Christ. This is the thought that we are to carry with us into the New Testament.

Prophecy - Preparing The Way For The Saviour

"Rejoice with all your heart... Shout in triumph... Your King is coming to you... " (Zechariah 9:9). Here, we have the prophecy that was fulfilled by Jesus when He entered the city of Jerusalem, on His way to the Cross. This is followed, in Zechariah 9:10, by the words, "He will rule from sea to sea, and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth." This speaks to us of the coming King and His coming Kingdom. While we are here on earth, we catch glimpses of the coming Kingdom. The full revelation is still to come. It will come - in God's time.
"From them (the people of Judah) will come a cornerstone" (Zechariah 10:4). Here, we have a prophecy concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Cornerstone of our faith, the Cornerstone upon which the Church is built. He is our solid Rock. Those who build on Him are wise. "I will bring them (the people of Judah, Joseph's people) back because I have compassion for them" (Zechariah 10:6) - This is the love of God and the salvation of God. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, we receive life. This life gives us new strength.
Favour and unity (Zechariah 11:7) - God will look with favour on His people when they are united in Him. Let us seek the Lord's favour. Let us be united in seeking His favour. Let us seek to be united in the Lord, praying that He will look upon us with favour.
"I will pour out the Spirit of blessing and mercy on David's family and on those who live in Jerusalem" (Zechariah 12:10). Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who is "greater than David", we receive the blessing of the Spirit. This blessing is given to us through the mercy of God. It's all of grace. All the glory belongs to the Lord. Let us magnify His Name, the Name of our salvation. After Jesus' ascension, His apostles were told to wait in Jerusalem until the Spirit of the Lord was poured upon them. What a day it was - the day of Pentecost - when the Spirit came upon them in power.It was power for the effective communication of the Gospel, leading to the conversion of many. Such an outpouring of the Spirit brings great glory to the Lord. When great numbers of sinners are brought to the Saviour, all we can say is that this is the Lord 's doing and it is marvellous in our eyes. Hallelujah!
Favour and unity (Zechariah 11:7) - God will look with favour on His people when they are united in Him. Let us seek the Lord's favour. Let us be united in seeking His favour. Let us seek to be united in the Lord, praying that He will look upon us with favour.
"A fountain ... to wash away their sin and stain" (Zechariah 13:1) - Here's a prophecy that points forward to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. In death, He gave Himself for us. His blood was shed for us.Through His death, by the shedding of His blood, we receive the forgiveness of our sins. This is such a great blessing from such a great Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ.