Monday, 31 December 2018

Wise men (and women) still seek Jesus.

Matthew 2:1-12
The star, which lay ahead of the wise men, led them to Christ’s first coming. The “star”, which lies ahead of us leads us towards Christ’s Second Coming. If we are wise, we will keep the Second Coming of the Lord at the forefront of our attention. As the wise men were ready for Christ’s first coming, so we must be ready for His Second Coming. This is emphasized in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). The wise are ready for the Coming of the Lord. The foolish are not ready for His Coming. “Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (v. 13). What was the “star” which led the wise men to Jesus? Was it not the same “star” which leads us towards His Second Coming ? - the “star” of Holy Scripture, the Word of God (Matthew 2:5). We must be guided by the Scriptures if we are to find our way to Jesus Christ. The Scriptures are “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path” (Psalm 119:105). The Scriptures will bring us wisdom. They lead us to Jesus. As we come to Christ, we will discover that He is our Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-27a, 30a; 2:1-7, 10, 12-13).
What a great difference there is between the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of God which is Jesus Christ! In Matthew 2, we see the wisdom of man. Herod thought he was smart (vs. 8, 12). God is not impressed by man’s wisdom - “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever, I will thwart … Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world” (1 Corinthians 1:19-20). The wisdom of God is very different from the wisdom of this world. God’s wisdom fills us with joy (Matthew 2:10). God’s wisdom leads us to worship Christ (Matthew 2:2, 11). The wise men brought costly gifts to Jesus. This runs counter to the wisdom of this world. Worldly wisdom tells us to acquire riches rather than giving them away to Jesus. When we give ourselves to Jesus, the world may say, “What a waste!” The Word of God assures us that giving our time, talents and money to the Lord is never a waste. When, in joyful worship, we give ourselves to Jesus, He saves us from wasting our lives on things that can never satisfy. Looking to Him, we become less attached to the things we cannot keep - material possessions - and we learn to treasure the one thing that remains forever - eternal life.

A Message For The New Year

We stand between the past and the future. We are to give thanks for the past. Let us “give thanks to the Lord”, remembering “the wonderful works that He has done” (1 Chronicles 16:8,12). We are to commit our future to the Lord in prayer. God promises His blessing to those who call upon Him in 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). There is work to be done. It is God’s work. God gives His command to do His work. God gives the strength to do His work (Ezra 1:2,5). God raises up His servants to do His work. We must be committed to doing the work of the Lord (Esther 4:14,16).
Sometimes, in God’s work, we wonder what is going on. We wonder, “Where is God in all of this?” We need the encouragement of God’s Word: “He knows the way that I take” (Job 23:10). We need to be assured of the faithfulness of God (Lamentations 3:23). Whenever we don’t understand what God is doing, we must learn to look up and catch a glimpse of His eternal purpose for us: “He has put eternity into man’s mind” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Looking beyond the things of this world, we see Jesus. We see Him as “altogether lovely” – “outstanding among ten thousand” (Song of Solomon 5:16,10).
What is so special about our Lord Jesus Christ? What is so important about Him? He is our Saviour. He died for our sins. Though we had “gone astray”, He continued to love us. He saw that we had “turned every one to his own way”, yet He did not stop loving us. He showed His love for us by dying on the Cross for us: “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Through Christ, we have received full salvation.
God has made Himself known to us. He has forgiven our sins. He has become our God. We have become His people” (Jeremiah 31:33-34). He has given us “a new heart” and “anew spirit.” We have His Spirit living within us. We must seek to glorify His “great Name” (Ezekiel 36:26-27,23). With Christ as our Saviour, we have good cause to “rejoice in the Lord” (Joel 2:23). We look away from ourselves to Him, and we say, “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). He is “the living God” – “the God of our salvation (Daniel 6:26-27). We are to “return to the Lord”, believing His promise: “He will revive us” (Hosea 6:1-2). as those who have returned to the Lord and have been revived by Him, we must live for Him, never forgetting that privilege involves responsibility. We dare not sit back and take it easy. If we do, there will be “a famine of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 3:2; Amos 8:11). We need “vision.” Looking ahead to the Lord’s return, we must proclaim His message of salvation – “in Mount Zion there shall be those that escape” – and judgment – “there will be no survivors from the house of Esau” (Obadiah 1:17-18),
Before we can enjoy God’s blessing, we must hear the “witness” of the Lord “against” us. Before we can “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God”, we must see how far we have fallen short of His perfect standard for our lives (Micah 1:2; Micah 6:8). We need to see ourselves as we really are – sinners who need to be saved by the grace of God. We must remember that the Lord is a God of holiness as well as a God of love. In His holiness, He shows us our need to be renewed by Him. In His love, He renews us by the power of His Spirit. When He says to us, “Fulfil your vows”, we are conscious of our own inadequacy. When we look to Him for “strength”, we become aware of something else, something very wonderful – “the Lord is restoring” us to a life which will bring glory to Him (Nahum 1:2,7,15; Nahum 2:1-2).
In our sin, we come to the Lord with this prayer: “O Lord … in wrath, remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2). In His answer, God directs us to the Cross of Christ, where we see our saviour, bearing our sin so that we might receive His forgiveness. When we pray, we must listen for God’s answer: “Be silent before the Lord God!” In His answer, God speaks to us of “the Day of the Lord.” It is “at hand.” It is “near and hastening fast.” It will be “a day of wrath” because of sin – we “have sinned against the Lord”, He leads us on the pathway which leads to true joy. Through Christ, we are able to “rejoice and exult with all our heart.” Our faith in Christ brings joy to us. It also brings joy to God: “He will rejoice over you with gladness.” He looks forward, with great anticipation, to the Great Gathering Together of His people, the Great Homecoming of the redeemed (Zechariah 1:7,14,15,17; Zechariah 3:14,17,20).
We must not allow ourselves to become bogged down in our present situation. God is calling us to “take courage, to draw strength from His promises: “I am with you … My Spirit abides among you … I will bless you” (Haggai 2:4-5,19). Sometimes, we may feel that the Lord has forgotten us. He remembers us. This gives us good reason to “rejoice greatly.” This joy is not a superficial thing. It is true and lasting joy. It is the rejoicing of those who have returned to the Lord. Never forget this: Our rejoicing in the Lord is always vitally connected to our returning to Him. To those who return to Him. To those who return to Him, He gives His precious promise: “I will return to you.” “The Lord Almighty” returns to us, and we are filled with His joy (Zechariah 9:8,13).    
God will not forget His people. As those who belong to Him through faith in Christ, we have a very special place in His heart. He loves us. we belong to Him. He calls us His “treasured possession.” We have a special place in His purpose. He says, “My Name will be great among the nations.” “In every place”, He wants His Name to be glorified. How is God to be glorified among us? He will be glorified when we honour Him with the full commitment of our hearts and lives. God is waiting to pour out His blessing. He wants “to open the windows of heaven for us and pour down on us an overflowing blessing.” He will do this for us when, in our hearts, we put Him first (Malachi 1:11; Malachi 3:10).
May  God help us to move into the future with Him – ready to be the kind of people upon whom He has promised to pour out His blessing.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

An Always And Forever Love

Psalms 82:1-83:18
“A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). Help us, Lord, to look beyond human love and human friendship. Help us to see Jesus. His love is the greatest love. He is our greatest Friend. Thank You, Lord, for Jesus. Thank You for His love. He’s our Forever Friend. May we know, in our hearts, that His love is ‘always and forever’ love.

Restore us, O God ...

Psalm 80:1-19
“Restore us, O God, make Your face shine upon us, that we may be saved” (Psalm 80:3). When, Lord, we come to You with the question of salvation – “What must I do to be saved?”, You come to us with Your answer – “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30-31). In Christ, You have “blessed us with every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3). Thank You, Lord.

So many people are turning away from You, Lord.

Psalm 79:1-13
So many people are turning away from You, Lord. They no longer worship You. We wonder, “Can things be turned around?” It would be so easy to give up and go the way of the world. “Help us, O God of our salvation” (Psalm 79:9) – to keep on praising You: “W, Your people, the flock which You shepherd, will give thanks to You forever. We will praise You throughout every generation” (Psalm 79:13).


Words For Singing, Words Of Living

Psalms 75:1-76:12
“We give thanks to You, O God … I will rejoice for ever, I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. Make your vows to the Lord your God, and perform them” (Psalm 785:1,9; Psalm 76:11). Teach us, Lord, that true rejoicing in You is more than singing praise to You. Teach us to live what we sing. “Fill Thou our life, O Lord our God, in every part with praise.” “Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.” Such words are not to be forgotten as soon as we leave the place of worship. They’re more than words for singing. They’re words for living. How, Lord, can we live a life of praise and consecration? – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Lord, You did great things for Israel. You do great things for us.

Psalm 78:40-72
Lord, You led Your people out of Egypt, through the desert and into Your “holy land” (Psalm 78:52, 42-43,51,54-55). You did great things for Israel. You do great things for us – “You restore our soul. You lead us in the paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). We thank You, Lord, for Your many blessings – “peace with God”, standing in Your “grace”, “our hope of sharing the glory of God”, “Your love poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:1-5).

When, Lord, we’re asking the question ...

Psalm 78:1-39
When, Lord, we’re asking the question, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?” (Psalm 78:19), help us to hear Your answer: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” At Your “table”, You bless us – “You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5). Help us to come to Jesus, Your Son. He is our Saviour. Help us to come to His “table”, to drink from “the cup of salvation” and to be “anointed with the oil of gladness” (Psalm 116:7; Psalm 45:7).

Thank You, Lord, that You do not keep Your distance from us.

Proverbs 4:1-9
Thank You, Lord, that You do not keep Your distance from us. In Your Son, Jesus, our Saviour, You have come to us. This is more than “From a distance, God is watching us.” From a distance, You have come to us. Help us to come to You. Help us to know that you are near to us.

The Lord Is Our Rock.

Psalm 144:1-15 
‘Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle’(Psalm 144:1). Lord, You are ‘the One who gives victory’ to Your people (Psalm 144:10). What a great God You are! You are ‘our loving God, our Fortress, our Stronghold, our Deliverer, our Shield’ (Psalm 144:2). What great blessing You send into our lives! You fight for us (Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:30; 3: 22; Nehemiah 4:20). You are ‘our Strength’ (Psalm 28:7-8; Psalm 59:17). ‘With God we shall gain the victory’ (Psalm 60:12). We pray You will pour out Your blessing upon us: ‘Part Your heavens, O Lord, and come down... Reach down Your hand from on high...’ (Psalm 144:5,7). Lord, we think of how much You have blessed us. Help us to sing our song of praise to You: ‘I will sing a new song to You, O God’ (Psalm 144:9). 

A Lifelong Commitment

Psalm 146:1-10 
‘I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live’ (Psalm 145:2). Praising You, the Lord our God: This is a lifelong commitment. We cannot maintain this lifelong commitment in our own strength. We need Your help. Help us never to forget this: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain’ (Psalm 127:1). We thank You, Lord, that we are not expected to maintain this lifelong commitment in our own strength. We have Your help. May we always remember this: ‘Our help is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth’ (Psalm 124:8). ‘Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, the Lord who remains faithful for ever’ (Psalm 145:5-6).

You keep on loving us, no matter what’s going on in our lives.

Psalm 119:73-96
Lord, we rejoice in Your ‘constant love’. This is our ‘comfort’ - You keep on loving us, no matter what’s going on in our lives. We may be going through really hard times - ‘Men persecute me with lies... They have almost succeeded in killing me’. There’s one thing that never changes - Your ‘constant love’. You love us in the hard times as well as in the happy times. Your love inspires us to keep on loving You when we feel like giving up in despair (Psalm 11976,86-88). We see many changes taking place in our world. Sometimes, we wonder, ‘Where are You, Lord, in all of this? Have You abandoned us? Can we keep on trusting You and rejoicing in Your Word?’. When our minds are full of negative thoughts, help us, Lord, to remember Your Word - ‘Your Word, O Lord, will last for ever... Your faithfulness endures through all the ages’ (Psalm 119:89-90).

Whatever Happens - Don't Stop Praying.

Psalm 88:1-18
Lord, we see the Psalmist ‘down in the dumps.’ He feels like he is ‘in the depths of the Pit.” He feels like he is ‘in the darkest depths’(Psalm 88:6). This is the way he feels, but he has not stopped praying – ‘O Lord, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before You… I call to You, O Lord, every day… I cry to You for help, O Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before You’(Psalm 88:1,9,13). Lord, we read his prayer – and it doesn’t make pleasant reading: ‘My soul is full of trouble… I am like a man without strength… Your wrath lies heavily upon me… the darkness is my closest friend’(Psalm 88:3-4,7,18). How can we be helped when we feel like this? We thank You, Lord, that we can be helped by Jesus. He knows what it feels like. For us, He has entered the ‘darkness’- ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?’. For us, He has triumphed – ‘risen from the dead’(Matthew 27:45-46; 28:5-7). Thank You, Lord, for Jesus, our great Saviour.