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.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Before we began to serve You, Lord, You were calling us to be Your servants.

Numbers 3:1-51
Before we began to serve You, Lord, You were calling us to be Your servants. Before we can serve You, we must be saved by You. We're saved to serve. Help us, Lord, to receive Your salvation and to give ourselves in Your service. Your salvation always comes first - never our service! Your salvation never stands on its own - it leads to our service! 

We thank You, Lord, that Jesus, Your Son, has taken our sin upon Himself.

Numbers 5:1-31
We thank You, Lord, that Jesus, Your Son, has taken our sin upon Himself. We thank You that He brings Your salvation to us. With Jesus as our Saviour, we cannot remain the same as we were before we met Him. Jesus changes us. He makes us new. Help us, Lord, to live in the power of this new life which Jesus gives to us. Help us to live in His power - the power of His love.

What blessing comes to us when the Holy Spirit comes to us!

Numbers 29:1-40 
What blessing comes to us when the Holy Spirit comes to us! We thank You, Lord, for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Before the Holy Spirit can work through - to bring others to Christ, He must work in us - yo make us more like Christ. When, Lord, we pray for blessing, help us to pray for "the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).

Lord, You call us to be "soldiers of Christ."

Numbers 31:21-54 
Lord, You call us to be "soldiers of Christ" - to "fight the good fight of faith" (2 Timothy 2:3-4; 1 Timothy 6:12). When "the battle is fierce", help us to remember that "the victory is secure. The victory is secure - What a great encouragement this is to us! It encourages us us to keep on going when we feel like giving up. When we feel like we're falling down in the weakness of the flesh, Your victory encourages us to keep on standing in Your strength (Ephesians 6:10-11).

Lord, You call us to "be filled with Your Spirit."

Numbers 6:1-27
Lord, You call us to "be filled with Your Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18) - the Spirit of holiness, the Spirit of love. You are the holy God, the loving God - our holy Father, our loving Father. May there be, in us, the family likeness. Help us to become more like You - more holy, more loving.

Lord, You speak to us. Help us to speak to You.

Numbers 7:48-89
Lord, You speak to us. Help us to speak to You. You're speaking. Are we listening? You're listening to us. Are we speaking to You? Your Word to us is the call of love. You tell us that You love us. You're calling us to love You. May our words (and our life) be our response to Your love - "loving Him who first loved me." 

Lord, we need Your Word of encouragement.

Numbers 12:1-13:33
Lord, we need Your Word of encouragement. Sometimes, our problems seem to be so big. Help us to see that Your power is always greater than our problems. When everything in us seems to be saying, "I can't", help us to hear - and speak - the Word of faith, " I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

Sometimes, Lord, we wonder, "Is there any light at the end of the tunnel?"

Numbers 14:1-45 
Sometimes, Lord, we wonder, "Is there any light at the end of the tunnel?" Help us to hear Your answer - Yes. There is: "I will be with you. I will never leave you" (Joshua 1:5). Strengthened by Your wonderful promises, help us to rise up and face the future with the confidence that comes from knowing that You are leading us on into Your glorious future: "eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

Lord, we are, so often, dragged down to the world's way of living.

Numbers 16:1-50
Lord, we are, so often, dragged down to the world's way of living. Again and again, we fail to respond to "the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14). We fail to rise to the challenge of walking with You on "the high way of holiness" (Isaiah 35:8). When we rejoice in Your gift of forgiveness, help us, also, to choose the way of holiness.
Far too often, Lord, we keep our distance from You. You're calling us into a closer walk with You - but we draw back from You. You're seeking to change us - but we're quite content to stay the way we are. Forgive us, Lord, and deliver us from our self-centredness. Make us the kind of people that You want us to become.

We say, "We want to be happy." You, Lord, say to us, "What about being holy?"

Numbers 32:1-42
We say, "We want to be happy." You, Lord, say to us, "What about being holy?" Happiness is like 'the elusive butterfly." We try to catch it - and it keeps on evading our grasp." Lord, how can we find true happiness? Happiness comes to us when we are blessed by You, when we're learning to take delight in Your Word: "Blessed is the person who ... delights in the teachings of the Lord" How are we to enjoy the blessing of true happiness?  We find true happiness when we're learning to rejoice in You, the God of our salvation, the God who leads us on the Highway of Holiness" (Psalm 1:1-2; Isaiah 35:8). Help us, Lord, to keep on taking the High Road - God-centred holiness. Help us never to be content with the low road - self-centred happiness.

Lord, we thank You for Your Holy Spirit. He leads us to Jesus, our Saviour.

Numbers 24:1-25
Lord, we thank You for Your Holy Spirit. He leads us to Jesus, our Saviour (John 15:26). Help us, Lord, to "hear what the Spirit is saying" to us (Revelation 3:22). He calls us to hear the voice of Jesus - "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him ... "(Revelation 3:20). He calls us to receive us the new life which begins, for each one of us, when we say, "Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus."