Friday, 20 April 2018

The Great King

Jesus Christ – the great King (Psalm 24:8–10 )

“Who is this great King?” (Psalm 24:8, 10) The Psalmist tells us – “He is the Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, victorious in battle … The triumphant Lord – He is the great King!” (vs. 8, 10).
When we turn to the New Testament, we learn that Jesus is the great King. Jesus is the Lord. Jesus is strong and mighty. Jesus is victorious in battle. Jesus is the triumphant Lord. Jesus Christ is the Name which jumps out at us from the first chapter of Ephesians. Everything is centred upon Christ.

Our Shepherd, Our Strength - The Lord Saves And Satisfies.

Blessed by the God of love, called to be “His people, the flock of His pasture”we “praise” Him and “give thanks” to Him (Psalm 79:13). He is our “Shepherd” (Psalm 80:1). He restores our soul. He leads us in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake (Psalm 23). He is “our Strength.” In Him, we rejoice with true happiness (Psalm 81:1). “All the nations” belong to the Lord (Psalm 82:8). He is “the Most High God of the whole earth” (Psalm 83:18). Those who know the Lord as their Shepherd and their Strength, the One who “saves” (Psalm 80:19) and “satisfies” (Psalm 81:16), are to pray and work, with the goal of bringing others to the knowledge of Him.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

One Year Bible: Day 98 - Deuteronomy 9:1-10:22; Luke 12:1-34; Psalm 42:6b-11

As they entered the promised land, the people of God received this reminder of the undeserved grace of God - “It is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this land to possess” (Deuteronomy 9:6). In His free grace, God gave the land to Israel. To us, He has graciously given the Kingdom - “Your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32). To Israel, the Psalmist says, “Put your hope in God” (Psalm 42:11). To us also, this comes as a Word from the Lord and, with the Psalmist, we make our declaration, “I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God” (Psalm 42:11).

Saturday, 7 April 2018

One Year Bible: Day 97 - Deuteronomy 6:1-8:20; Luke 11:33-54; Psalm 42:1-6a

God’s people were called to enter the promised land. They were called to live in obedience to the Lord who had brought them into the promised land. To those who refuse to enter into God’s land of blessing, God says, “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering” (Luke 11:52). There is a better way - “My soul thirsts for God, the living God” (Psalm 42:2).

Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God - our Saviour

As we read of the testing of Abraham in regard to God's call for Isaac to be sacrificed, we have a hint of God's provision of Jesus Christ as the Saviour who was sacrificed for the sins of the world. By faith, Abraham says, "God himself will provide the lamb ... " (Genesis 2:8). "Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided" (Genesis 22:14). The events on Mount Moriah point forward to the greater Event on  Mount Calvary - the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, who died not for the sins of Abraham only "but for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2).
As Matthew speaks of Jesus Christ, he gives his personal testimony. He doesn't draw attention to himself. He simply tells us that Jesus said, "Follow Me ... and Matthew got up and followed Him" (Matthew 9:9). As we consider the Saviour whom God has given to us, our Lord Jesus Christ who calls us to follow Him, may we learn to say, with the Psalmist -  "I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High" (Psalm 7:17).
(One Year Bible - Day 10: Genesis 21:1-23:20; Matthew 8:23-9:13; Psalm 7:10-17)

The darkness of sin ... and the light of God's salvation

Genesis 19 is a chapter that's full of the darkness of sin. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is followed by the sordid episode with Lot and his daughters. Sin leads to judgment. That's the lesson of Sodom and Gomorrah. sin leads to judgment. we see this in the birth of these two illicitly conceived children - "the father of the Moabites" and "the father of the Ammonites" (Genesis 19:37-38). To follow the pathway of sin is to walk in the way of the fool. It's to build on sand. It's better to build on the Rock, which is Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:24-27).
As we read of Jesus' teaching along with the stories of Genesis, we see the continuity of God's work of salvation. This is summed up in the words of Jesus: "many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 8:11). In Genesis, there's a message of judgment. We see this also in Jesus' teaching - "the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 8:12).
There is judgment - "Arise, Lord, in Your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies" (Psalm 7:6). Thank God - there is also salvation - we cry to "the righteous God", "Make the righteous secure." He hears and answers our prayer. He gives us this great testimony: "My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart" (Psalm 7:10).
(One Year Bible - Day 9:  Genesis 19:1-20:18; Matthew 7:24-8:22; Psalm 7:1-9)

Out of small beginnings, great blessing can come ...

Following Abram's rash action of fathering a child, Ishmael, by his maidservant, Hagar, we see, in Genesis 17, God's determination to bless him and to make him a blessing to many people. God will not be put off by our objections (Genesis 17:15-19). To such objections, He gives this answer: "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14). Despite God's plan to send blessing, there are still many hindrances: the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were such hindrances to God's purpose: "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous" (Genesis 18:20). Time and again, God held back His judgment. Still, the sin continued, and the judgment was coming. Even in the face of judgment, we must take great encouragement from the patience of God - "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it" (Genesis 18:32). God is looking for the remnant of faith. Out of such small beginnings, great blessing can come. Only a few were found faithful. They did not seem to be very significant. It was through this small band of faithful people that God carried forward His plan of salvation.
God's plan of salvation reaches its fulfilment in our Saviour, Jesus Christ. In His teaching, as in the teaching of Genesis 17-18, there is both salvation and judgment. Some will be saved. Many will be lost (Matthew 7:13-14,21-23). If we are to be saved, we must follow the wisdom of the Proverbs - "Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching" (Proverbs 1:8). Above all, we must follow the "Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing", the living Word - our Lord Jesus Christ. Satan is seeking to destroy us - "let’s swallow them alive, like the grave" (Proverbs 1:12). To "go along with" those who do not honour the Lord Jesus Christ is to "rush into sin" (Proverbs 1:15-16). To live by faith in Christ is "to be kept by the power of God for full salvation" (1 Peter 1:5).
(One Year Bible -  Day 8: Genesis 17:1-18:33; Matthew 6:25-7:23; Proverbs 1:8-19)

A lifestyle, governed by heavenly priorities

In Genesis 14:18-20, we read about the remarkable appearance of the mysterious figure, Melchizedek. Here, we have the first suggestion of tithing - "Then Abram gave Him a tenth of everything" (Genesis 14:20). This is not a legalistic practice. It is set in the context of grace and worship. Abram's tithing follows on from this: "Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine" (Genesis 14:18). In view of what we read, in Hebrews 7, about Melchizedek and our Lord Jesus Christ, it is appropriate that we should think about tithing in the context of our response to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose body was broken for us and blood was shed for us. Tithing is set within the context of worship. It is a part of our worship. In this act of worship, we are saying, "blessed be God Most High" (Genesis 14:20). Within this context of worship, there is blessing - "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth" (Genesis 14:19). Those who have been blessed by the Lord consider it their privilege to bring their tithes to the Lord. The blessing of God upon Abram is to increase greatly. The promise reaches its fulfilment in Jesus Christ - "Count the stars—if indeed you can count them ... So shall your offspring be" (Genesis 15:5). Through Jesus Christ, there is salvation for "a great multitude, which no man could number" (Revelation 7:9).
Abram "believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6) - This is faith, receiving salvation as God's gift. Unfortunately, Abram's faith was not constant. He listened to Sarai's suggestion:  "Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her" (Genesis 16:2). This led to the birth of Ishmael. It also led to thirteen years of silence from God's side: "Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael. When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him" (Genesis 16:16-17:1).
In Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, we have teaching which links up well with the teaching regarding tithing in Genesis 14: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth ... store up for yourselves treasures in heaven ...  You cannot serve both God and money" (Matthew 6:19-20,24). Tithing is not merely a mechanical thing. It's part of a lifestyle, governed by heavenly priorities. If we are to make sense of life in this world, we must keep heaven in view. No matter what our circumstances may be, we must believe that the wise man builds on Christ  -  "The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer" - and the way of the fool will come to nothing - "All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame" (Psalm 6:9-10).
(One Year Bible - Day 7: Genesis 14:1-16:16; Matthew 5:43-6:24; Psalm 6:1-10)

God is doing a work of grace.

God is doing a work of grace. This becomes clear in the promise given to Abram (Genesis 12:1-3). Satan is still very active in the world - "Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord" (Genesis 13:13). This is a situation which causes great distress to the people of God - "Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray" (Psalm 5:1-2). When the Bible speaks about sin, we're not to point the finger at other people. This is about us. We're all sinners (Romans 3:23). The standards of God's holiness are beyond us - "You are not a God who is pleased with wickedness: evil shall not dwell with You" (Psalm 5:4). When we read the deeply challenging analysis of God's law, given by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount, we become deeply conscious of our sin. Thank God - His Word does not only speak of His perfect holiness. It also speaks of His great love - "I, by Your great love, can come into Your house" (Psalm 5:7).
(One Year Bible - Day 6: Genesis 11:10-13:18; Matthew 5:21-42; Psalm 5:1-12)

Only God can give real joy and peace to us.

God made a new beginning with Noah and his family. It doesn't take us long to spoil God's good work, With no concern for God's glory, we say, "let us ... make a name for ourselves" (Genesis 11:4). God's response to this situation was Jesus Christ. He is the Man who sought only to give glory to God. Christ was God's response to our sin - "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). He was also God's response to the prayers of believing people who longed for a Saviour. In Psalm 4:1, the Psalmist prays, "Answer me when I call to You, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer." Jesus Christ is God's Answer to this prayer. Christ brings relief (salvation). This salvation arises from the mercy of God. In this salvation, we have a "joy" and "peace" (Psalm 4:7-8) which the world cannot give. Only God can give this joy and peace to us.
(One Year Bible - Day 5: Genesis 9:8-11:9; Matthew 4:23-5:20; Psalm 4:1-8)

Satan is defeated. Jesus is victorious ...

In the story of the flood, we read of the covenant made with Noah. As we move into the story of Jesus, we come into the realm of the new covenant. God was doing a new thing, something greater than anything that ever happened under the old covenant. At the outset of Jesus' ministry, the devil made another attempt to undermine the work of God. He tried to distract Jesus from His mission. His methods bear a striking similarity to those used in the Garden of Eden. He tries to sow seeds of doubt - "If you are the Son of God ..." (Matthew 4:3,6). Quoting Scripture (Matthew 4:6), he gives the appearance of spirituality. Satan's goal becomes clear in the third temptation. He wants Jesus to "bow down and worship" him (Matthew 4:9). Satan is defeated. Jesus is victorious. This victory can be ours as we grasp the truth: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7), as we learn, when tempted by Satan, to say, with Jesus, "It is written" (Matthew 4:4,7,10).
(One Year Bible - Day 4: Genesis 7:1-9:17; Matthew 4:1-22; Proverbs 1:1-17)

Closeness to God develops as we learn to delight in the Word of God ...

Among many names and life-spans, there is this remarkable statement: "Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away" (Genesis 5:24). This closeness to God develops as we learn to delight in the Word of God. Together with "Noah" who "found favour in the eyes of the Lord" (Genesis 6:8), Enoch stands in stark contrast to the general tenor of human life at the time - "how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth ... every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time" (Genesis 6:5). The story of good and evil, God and the devil, is highlighted in the story of Jesus and Herod. Concerning Herod, we read this - "those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead" (Matthew 2:20). Herod is dead. God remains the living God. The human situation is described in Psalm 3:1 - "Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!" There is, however, something else we must never forget - "From the Lord comes deliverance" (Psalm 3:8).
(One Year Bible - Day 3: Genesis 4:17-6:22; Matthew 2:19-3:17; Psalm 3:1-8)

If there is to be delight in God's Word, we must overcome doubt ...

If there is to be delight in God's Word, we must overcome doubt. Satan is always saying, "Did God really say ...?" (Genesis 3:1). We must learn to say, "God did say" (Genesis 3:3). We must stand by this confession of faith in God and His Word. Satan will not give in easily. He will try to talk us out of believing God's Word. Satan will try to confuse us by speaking in a "spiritual" way. We must, however, be clear about Satan's purpose. He is seeking to undermine God's purpose. If he thinks he can achieve this purpose, he will speak about "God" (Genesis 3:5). It will seem that he is interpreting God's Word. He is seeking to lead us away from God. He's seeking to undermine our faith and obedience so that we will go "out from the presence of the Lord" (Genesis 4:16).
There is a better way. It's the way of the wise men - "We ... have come to worship Him" (Matthew 2:2). Worshipping the Lord, we are to delight in His Word. True wisdom is grounded in God's Word (Matthew 2:5-6). Satan seeks to undermine our faith in the Lord's Word. Speaking through Herod, he expresses this desire to "worship Christ" (Matthew 2:8). Satan is a liar. However much he may speak about God, he has no intention of worshipping Him. The truth about Satan is this: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy." It is Jesus who gives "abundant life" (John 10:10). Satan's purpose of death is seen in Herod's plan "to search for the child to kill Him" (Matthew 2:13). God's purpose was not thwarted. God's purpose is life. This life is in Christ.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the One concerning whom God says, "You are My Son" (Psalm 2:7). He is the One to whom God says, "I will make the nations Your inheritance, the ends of the earth Your possession" (Psalm 2:8). God speaks to us concerning His Son - "Kiss His Son, or He will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for His wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him" (Psalm 2:12). To go the way of the Son is to go the way of life. To reject Him is to go the way of death. Go the way of the Son. Take delight in Him - "Kiss the Son." Those who delight in the Son of God will also delight in the Word of God. The written Word of God - Scripture - leads us to the living Word of God - our Lord Jesus Christ.
(One Year Bible - Day 2: Genesis 2:18-4:16; Matthew 2:1-18; Psalm 2:1-12)