Tuesday, 21 April 2015

What Matters Most To You?

The values of our Lord Jesus Christ, Gospel values, Kingdom values are very different from the world's values. It's the difference between "treasures on earth" and "treasures in heaven" (Matthew 6:19-20). When we treasure the things of earth, we will worry about the things of earth. Jesus says that we are not to worry about these things. We are to have a higher priority than 'looking after No. 1'. We're to be concerned about "God's Kingdom and what has His approval"  (Matthew 6:33). When the things that matter most to God are not the things that matter most to us, other things will take over our lives. What matters most to you? This is what Jesus is asking us. Are the things that matter most to God becoming the things that matter most to us?

Be Holy. Be Loving.

Jesus calls us to be both holy and loving. We need both - holiness and love. We're not to be hypocrites who've given up on holiness. We're not to be content with keeping up appearances. We're to seek holiness of heart. This is the heart of holiness. We're not to be hypocrites who show no love for other people. How can we have much love for God if we don't have much love for other people? A life that's centred on ourselves is very different from a life that's centred on Christ. A life that's being shaped by Christ's love will be a life of receiving His love and sharing His love. He's teaching us how much He loves us. He's helping us to show His love to other people.

What Are You Doing With Christ's Invitation?

“Many are invited. Few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14).
How are we to know that we are chosen as well as invited? How are we to answer this question? We must ask another question – What are we doing with the invitation? Will we discard the invitation? or Will we take up the invitation? There is a way that we can have the assurance that we have been chosen by the Lord. It begins with taking up His invitation. He invites us to come to Him. We come to Him, and we are welcome. It is His welcome that gives us the assurance that we have been chosen by Him.

G. C. Berkouwer On "Election And The Hiddenness Of God"

In his discussion, "Election and the Hiddenness of God" in Divine Election (Chapter Four, pp.102-131), G. C. Berkouwer emphasizes that God's hiddenness is not to be set over against His salvation. He rejects a concept of God's hiddenness which "separates the God of revelation from our lives and mitigates the absolute trustworthiness of that revelation" (p. 125). Even in confessing God's salvation, faith acknowledges that it does not know everything about God (pp. 120-121, especially  the reference to Isaiah 45:15 - "Truly You are a God who has been hiding Himself, the God and Saviour of Israel."). Although our knowledge of God in Christ is confessed to be true and reliable, we must not presume upon complete knowledge (p. 124 - especially the reference to John 14:9 - "He who has seen Me has seen the Father."). The attempt to attain to complete knowledge is admonished for its spiritual pride, when Christ speaks of these things which are hidden from "the wise and learned" yet revealed "to little children" (p. 123, quoting Matthew 11:25). This Biblical passage - Matthew 11:25 - concludes Berkouwer's study of Divine Election (p. 330). He ends by emphasizing that knowledge of God is not to be sought apart from a simple faith, which looks to Christ as Saviour.

Reached By The Love Of God, Changed By The Love Of God

Jesus calls us to be both holy and loving. What will it mean to live a life that is becoming both more holy and more loving? It begins with being reached by the love of God and changed by the love of God. We cannot make ourselves more holy. We cannot make ourselves more loving. When we catch a glimpse of the great God, who is both holy loving, we see ourselves as we really are - sinners, and we also see the Saviour who is reaching out to us, the Saviour who can and will change us. How does he change us? He shows us our sin. He forgives our sin. Seeing our sin as it really is, we cannot be, like the Pharisee who looked down his nose at the tax collector (Luke 18:11). Seeing our Saviour as He really is, we know that there is hope for every one who comes to the Saviour. We have His precious promise - "I will never turn away anyone who comes to  Me" (John 6:37). When the love of Christ reaches us, we rejoice in this: "Every offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives." Thankful to the Lord for His love, which has reached us, we pray that His love will change us. We pray that we will become more like Jesus - more holy and more loving. We will say, 'Lord, Your love has reached us. May Your love change us. May your love inspire us to live a life that is pleasing to you - a life of holiness, a life of love.' We cannot change ourselves. We need to be changed by the Lord. Let us pray for His help. Let us pray that He will fill us with His love. This is where true  holiness comes from. It comes from the love of God, reaching us. It comes from the love of God, changing us. The love of God - This is the real power that lies behind a life of holiness and love. We need more holiness. We need more love. These are not things that we can reach out and grasp for ourselves. We must always look away from ourselves to the Lord - "How much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?" (Matthew 7:12).

First Things First

"Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).

First things first - This is what Jesus says to us. 
What He means is this - The Lord is King.
 * The Lord is King. Let this be real in your life.
 * The Lord is King. Let this change you.
 * The Lord is King. Let this make a difference - in the way that you think and the way that you live.

A House Of Prayer, A Life Of Prayer

"a house of prayer" (Matthew 21:13)

Our whole life is to be "a house of prayer" - centred  on God, shaped by prayer. This means more than going to a place that is called "a house of prayer." God is calling us to a life of prayer. He's calling us to be prayerful people, people who love to be in His presence. Where are we to begin? - We must begin with the prayer - "God, be merciful to me, a sinner" (Luke 18: 13). We must begin with this - "The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Everything good comes from this staring-point: "in me, there is no good thing" (Romans 7:18). The "good thing" - salvation - has to come to us from outside of ourselves. It has to be given to us by Jesus, our Saviour. When we begin here - how great is our sin, how great is our Saviour, we begin in the right place, the place where spiritual growth begins.

A positive faith is much more helpful than a purely negative reaction!

The Pharisees were subtle - just like the ‘ancient serpent who is the devil’ (Genesis 3:1; Revelation 20:2). They tried ‘to entangle Jesus in His talk’ (Matthew 22:15). They wanted to trap Him and bring a charge against Him. They asked Jesus about payment of taxes to Caesar (Matthew 22:17). Jesus moved beyond this question to our greatest responsibility: ‘Render ... to God the things that are God’s’ (Matthew 22:21). If we must speak words of political significance - ‘Render.. to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s’ (Matthew 22:21) - , let them arise out of this: Giving God His rightful place in His Church, the nation and the wider world. Jesus’ words to the Sadducees, in Matthew 22:29, were not simply a protest against the religion of the Sadducees. They were a protest for the Scriptures and the power of God. A positive faith is much more helpful than a purely negative reaction!

Christ’s Journey Through History

Before we even reach the opening chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, the Old Testament proclaims this message of hope: Christ is coming. The journey through the Old Testament  paves the way for the coming of Christ. The first 17 verses of Matthew’s Gospel gives us a brief outline of Old Testament history as a preparation for the coming of Christ. These verses present us with a family tree. It’s not particularly interesting reading. For this reason, these verses are often overlooked. There are, however, important lessons which we must not miss! Here are two interesting names in Christ’s family tree - Rahab (Matthew 1:5) and Solomon (Matthew 1:6). Who was Rahab? - a prostitute! Who was Solomon? - a child born out of an adulterous relationship! How did they get into Christ’s family tree? Was there some kind of mistake? - No! It must be stresses that the names of Rahab - a prostitute - and Solomon - the child of an adulterous relationship - are found in Christ’s family tree so that we might learn that the love of God is greater than the sin of man. God forgives sinners! God restores the fallen. This is the message proclaimed to us by the inclusion of Rahab - the prostitute - in Christ’s family tree. God gives a new beginning. This is the message proclaimed to us by the inclusion of Solomon - the son of an adulterous relationship - in Christ’s family tree.

If We Are To Be True Followers Of Jesus ...

"Be careful! Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!" (Matthew 17:6),. even after there us divine revelation (Matthew 16:17), the influence of evil can be felt (Matthew 16:23), The warning - "Be careful! Watch out ... !" must never be forgotten. Satan is looking for an opportunity to leads us away from the Lord. We must hear what Jesus is saying to us about discipleship (Matthew 16:24), and we must commit  ourselves to Him (Matthew 16:25). There is nothing more important than this (Matthew 16:26). If we are to be true followers of Jesus, we must learn to live our lives in the light of eternity (Matthew 16:27). We are to seek revelations of God's eternal Kingdom, revelations which will send us back, from the mountain-top, to live each day for Jesus.

Learning from children and caring for children

Learning from children and caring for children: This is what Jesus speaks about in Matthew 18:1-10. We should never act like we know it all, and have nothing more to learn. We should never act like we're a law unto ourselves. We must do all that we can to protect little children in a world that has so many dangers. We need little children. They have something to teach us. Little children need us. they need the protection that we, adults, can give to them.

The Shepherd Of Love

"The Son of Man came to save the lost" (Matthew 18:11). In Matthew 18:12-1, Jesus speaks about sheep. He's really speaking about us. He is the Shepherd. We are His sheep. Sheep wander away from the shepherd. We wander away from the Lord. The shepherd looks for the lost sheep. Jesus has come to seek for us and find us. He brings  us home to God, our Father. Through His saving grace, we receive new life - a life  in which we rejoice in our great Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. He delivers us from the condemnation, which our sin has brought upon us. He brings us into the knowledge of His forgiveness. This Gospel of salvation changes us. It teaches us to live in the power of God's love.

Christ - Our Wisdom

Christ is our Wisdom. We will never be wise unless we build our lives on Him (Matthew 7:24-27).

New Treasures

“Jesus said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old” (Matthew 13:52).
We are travelling towards “the kingdom of heaven.” As we journey towards God’s Kingdom, He is teaching us many lessons. We are to treasure the lessons which come to us from the Word of God in the power of the Spirit of God. There is nothing more precious than this: “We have received … the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).

Salvation And Discipleship

Jesus brings us salvation - “Friend, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5) - and He calls us to discipleship - “Follow Me” (Mark 2:14). We cannot be His disciples without, first, coming to Him for salvation. We must emphasize that salvation leads to discipleship. Our discipleship demonstrates the reality of our salvation. We must hear the words, “I’ve come to call sinners” (Mark 2:17) before we can respond to the call to live as “saints” (God’s people). By nature, we are not God’s people. Through His redemption, we become His people. We are redeemed through the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). We are called to live in the strength of the Lord, walking with Him in the pathway of victory, “more than conquerors” through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

Let Your Light Shine.

"The Light shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it" (John 1:5).
Jesus is the Light of the world. We are to be like John, who said, "Make the way for the Lord straight" (John 1:23). Like John, we are to say, "Look! This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). When we are faithful, we will see others being brought to the Saviour. At the beginning of their faith, they will be filled with the joy of the Lord. Like Jesus, we must teach them that there is greater joy, still to come: "You will see the sky open and God's angels going up and coming down to the Son of Man" (John 1:51).

Knowing Jesus And Following Him

There's a contrast between the two parts of John 2 - the joy of water being turned into wine (John 2:1-12), the seriousness of the money changers being thrown out of the temple courtyard (John 2:13-17). We need both - joy and seriousness; the joy that comes from knowing Jesus, the seriousness of commitment to following Jesus. The rebuilding of our lives comes from the resurrection of Jesus (John 2:18-22). This rebuilding comes to us when we seek to know the reality of the Lord in our lives. This reality comes to us when we seek to be real with God (John 2:23-25).

We thank You, Lord, that You have blessed us.

Exodus 2:11-3:22
We thank You, Lord, that You have blessed us. We have come to You with our sin - and You have forgiven us. We thank You, Lord, that You call us to bring Your blessing to others. We have received Your blessing. Help us to share it with others.

Lord, we can, so often, get preoccupied with the things that matter most to us ...

Genesis 29:31-30:24
Lord, we can, so often, get preoccupied with the things that matter most to us - and we forget about the things that matter most to You. We start to get comfortable, sorting things out to suit ourselves - and then You come to us with a very challenging question, "What matters most to you?" Help us, Lord, to see that pleasing You is more important than pleasing ourselves.

Ordinary Stories - With An Extraordinary Message

In Matthew 13, we see Jesus, the Storyteller. His stories are ordinary stories - with an extarordinary message. The stories are human. The message is divine. They are stories about people. They are stories about God. Following on from Jesus' parables, we have His return to "His hometown" (Matthew 13:54). The people were "amazed" at His teaching (Matthew 13:54), They did not, however, look for a divine explanation. They looked at Jesus in a human way. They said that He shouldn't be able to speak like this. They denied Him the right to speak with divine authority. They did not hear and receive what He said to them. What did Jesus say about them? "The only place a prophet isn't honoured is in his hometown and in his own house" (Matthew 13:57). What was the result of their refusal to recognize Jesus' authority? His power was not released among them: "He didn't work many miracles there because of their lack of faith" (Matthew 13:58).

In The Wilderness ...

"In the wilderness (or the wild country)" (Numbers 1:1).
"Stage by stage" (Numbers 33:2) - Moses kept a record of Israel's journey.
"In the wilderness", "stage by stage" - When we read these two phrases, and think about our own journey through life, we are invited to think about where we've been, where we are, and where we're going.   
Have we been in the wild country for far too long? Will we leave the wild country in the past?
There's more to life than being in the wild county. This is the message of Numbers for us today.
When we're in the wilderness, what we must remember is this - There's a way out of the wilderness.
Where will we find the way out of the wilderness? The book of Numbers gives us God's answer.
When we read about life "in the wilderness", we must remember this - We are not alone in the wilderness.
God is there with us. He's with us all of the time - not just some of the time.
This is what we need to hear and know, when we feel like God's gone away and left us.
Numbers isn't just about wilderness wanderings. It's about the guiding, delivering, sustaining and protecting hand of God.
God brought His people out of Egypt, and He was leading them to the Promised Land.
We must not forget this, when we're reading the book of Numbers.
When we're reading Numbers, it's easy to get bogged down. It's a tragic record of sad failure. That's what we see when we only see the human side of this story.
When we look beyond the human situation, we see something more. We see God - and we begin to see something else. We see another story - a story of glorious victory.
Numbers invites us to think about past, our present and our future. We read about the old generation, the transition era, and the new generation - and we wonder, 'Where do we fit in?'
This isn't just about old age and youth. It's about the old life and the new life - the life without Christ and the life that's being transformed by Him. It's about the struggle to put the old life behind us. It's about the call of God. He's calling us to to walk with Him in new life.
In Numbers, there's a strong emphasis on divine revelation (Numbers 1:1; Numbers 2:1). More than eighty times, in Numbers, we read the words, "The Lord spoke to Moses."
What does God say to us about our life? 
 - Without Him, our life is in ruins.That's the message of our fall into sin (Genesis 3).
 - With Him, we are redeemed. This is the message of the Exodus.
 - Once we've been redeemed by the Lord, we're to worship Him. That's our calling. We learn much about worship in Leviticus.
 - Worshipping the Lord involves more than what happens when we're in the Lord's House. We're to serve the Lord while we're travelling through life's wilderness. This is the challenge of Numbers. Find God in the wilderness. Follow Him as He leads you out of the wilderness and on to the Promised Land.
How are we to serve the Lord? We must begin with this - We have been saved by the Lord. Salvation comes before service. We've been saved by grace. Now, we must grow in grace. "Stage by stage", we must put the wilderness behind us, and press on to a life of faithful and fruitful service. 
 - Serving the Lord is a privilege that is given to us by the God of grace (Numbers 3-4).
 - We are to serve the Lord - according to His will (Numbers 7).
How are we to become God's faithful and fruitful servants? What we must learn is this - The way of service is the way of consecration (Numbers 6:1-8) and blessing (Numbers 6:24-26). Blessing comes from the Lord. It comes to us when we are consecrated to Him.
What does it mean to be consecrated to the Lord? It means this - We are to follow Him in the way that He leads us. When we take our eyes off Him, we will drift away from Him, and we will be pulled more deeply into the wilderness. When we keep our eyes on Him, He will lead us towards the Promised Land. 
Numbers challenges us - What will we be? Will be faithful? Will we be failures? In Numbers 13, we read about the unbelieving ten and the faithful two. God is saying to us, 'Let there be less unbelief, and more faith.' Numbers 13:30 is particularly challenging - "Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’"
In these words of Caleb, we learn about faith.
 - Our faith is based on facts - the promise of God.
 - Standing on the facts - God's promise, we believe that God is faithful. We believe that He will fulfil His promise. This is faith.
 - This brings us on to feelings. We don't start with feelings. We begin with facts. We build on facts. God's promise gives the firm foundation for our faith. When our faith is securely based on God's facts, our feelings will follow the lead given to them by God's facts and our faith. 
Without the God-given foundation for our faith, our feelings will take us all over the place. That's what happened to the people of Israel. The majority of the people lost sight of God's saving purpose - and they wandered around in the wilderness for forty years - “Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of those who were twenty years old or more when they came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly” (Numbers 32:11-12). When we read about failure of the majority, we must not forget faithful Caleb and Joshua. What a great example and wonderful inspiration they are to all of us.
In Numbers 27:18-23, we learn that Joshua had been chosen by God to succeed Moses as the leader of His people.
"So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership,and lay your hand on him. Make him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence ... At his command the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.’ Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and made him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord instructed through Moses."
Reading about those who failed the Lord and those who were faithful - This challenges us: What will we  do? What will we be? Will we fail the Lord? Will we be faithful to Him?
To those who are unfaithful, the Lord says, "Be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23).
To those who are faithful, He gives His promise - "Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess" (Numbers 33:53).
Looking beyond the promised land, we see the promised Saviour.
In Numbers 19:9, we read about "cleansing ... purification from sin." This is what Jesus came to do for us. He's "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
In Numbers 28, we read about the feasts of Israel. they're full of prophetic significance. They point forward to our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the promised Saviour. Let us learn to look beyond all the details - to catch a glimpse of Jesus, our great Saviour.     

The God Of Abraham

Genesis 12:1-3
Our concern is not so much with Abraham. Our chief focus of attention is on “the God of Abraham.” The story of Abraham is both the story of Abraham and the story of God’s grace and power. We see the grace of God, revealed in the promises of God. We see the power of God, revealed in the fulfilment of His promises: “God can do anything; God can do anything; god can do anything but fail; He can save. He can keep. He can cleanse, and He will. God can do anything but fail.”
God’s promise to Abraham has three parts: (a) personal – “I will bless you; (b) national – “I will make of you a great nation”; (c) universal – “by you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” As the fulfilment of God’s promise moves forward from Abraham to Israel to Christ, we hear God’s Word speaking to us: “I will bless you” – saved, kept, cleansed.
As we receive the blessing of God’s salvation, we discover how faithful God is, in His love towards us. “God can do anything but fail” – God cannot fail, because He is the everlasting God. He is Lord. He is carrying out His purpose, the purpose of His unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable love. This purpose of love is expressed in His promises. His promises have been fulfilled in Christ. His promises are offered to us today. These promises are summed up in the simple yet rich words, “I will bless you.” His promises express “the unchangeable character of His purpose” (Hebrews 6:17). We know that God will not fail us. He will not let us down. He will not forsake us. He will not leave us. We know this not only because of the promise given to Abraham. We know that God is faithful, in His love, because of the Cross of Christ – “the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19).
As we learn about the faithfulness of God, we discover that the God of Abraham is our  God, and the God of Jesus Christ is our God. We find ourselves drawn to Him. This isn’t a superficial and shallow attraction. It’s a deep devotion. It’s a heartfelt, loving loyalty. As we think about God’s faithfulness, our hearts are filled with hope for the future. This hope is summed up for us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our Saviour. we think of Him, and we say, “Hallelujah! What a Saviour!”

Going Back To The Beginning

“In the beginning, God”  – The first four words of the Bible take us back to the point where we can go no further, back to the eternity of God.
What do we find when we are taken back – into the heart of the eternal God?
We find love. We discover that “God is love.”
Creation is love because God is love. Before God made us, He loved us.
The love which we find in the opening chapters of Genesis is the love that is proclaimed throughout God’s Word – from Genesis to Revelation.
It’s the great love of God for us. It’s the love that never ends. It’s the love that goes on and on.
* How do we get to know God the Creator? How do we come to know that His heart is full of love for us?
In Genesis 1, three words are repeated over and over again: “And God said”.
These words emphasize the creative power of the Word of God.
God created through His Word. He proclaims His love to us through Jesus Christ, the living Word of God. He declares His love for us in the Scriptures, the written Word of God. We come to a true knowledge of god as our loving Creator when we come, in faith, to Jesus Christ, our Saviour.  As the Scriptures proclaim the Saviour to us, we learn that we need to be re-created in Christ, if we are to discover the  purpose of God’s love when He created us in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27). In Jesus Christ, we learn that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). Through Christ, we read Genesis with new eyes, the renewed eyes of “a new creation in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Through this new creation in Christ, we come to a real understanding of what it means to say, “Lord God, You created me. You are my Creator.”
* When we see creation from the standpoint of Jesus Christ, it is no longer merely a matter of ‘long, long ago.’ When we see God, our Creator, through the eyes of Jesus, our Saviour, we no longer have the feeling of something ‘far, far away’, something which is so distant and remote from our lives that it does not really concern us very much at all. In Jesus Christ, God, our Creator, has come to us. In Jesus Christ, God, our Creator, has declared his love to us.  When you read the story of the Garden of Eden, let your thoughts move beyond that garden to another garden, the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed to His Father, “Not My will, but Yours be done (Luke 22:42). As you come, in faith, to the Christ of Calvary, you will see creation from the vantage-point of the cross. You will read what God’s Word says about creation with the eyes of one who has become a new creation in Christ. You will read of God, breathing the breath of life into man (Genesis 2:7), and you will rejoice in the gift of God – the Holy Spirit: God’s gift to every believer in the lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:14). When you read of God’s command to man to do His will, you will, by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, make it your delight to do the will of God. This is what it means to be re-created in the image of God. It is a life of learning to pray, with Jesus, “Not my will but yours be done.” To believe in God as our Creator is to obey Him as our Lord. Faith in God, the creator, is a living faith, when we know that Jesus is “God with us” and acknowledge Him as Lord.
We make our confession of faith  – “Jesus is Lord”, and we give thanks that “creation’s voice proclaims” that He is Lord.

Lord, You call us to love You - and to love our neighbour.

Lord, You call us to love You - and to love our neighbour. Help us never to think that we can grow in our love for You if we are not also learning to love our neighbour with the love that You give to us. Help us never to forget You. Help us always to rejoice in the love that You have for us - and to let Your love shine out through us to others. May our love for our neighbour never become a substitute for loving You.

Lord, You have done so much for us.

Exodus 19:1-25
Lord, You have done so much for us. What are we doing for You? You tell us about Your redemption. You call for our response. Our response is inspired by Your redemption. Thank You for the grace of Your redemption - "By grace you have been saved." Give us the grace to make our response - "Saved through faith for good works" (Ephesians 2:8-10). Lord, help us to have less self-confidence and more confidence in You. Self-confidence is all about us. It has nothing to do with You. Confidence in You is so different. It comes from faith - not from pride. Help us to find our true strength. It's not our strength. It's Your strength.

Less of our sin, more of Your love - Lord, this is our prayer.

Exodus 20:1-20
Less of our sin, more of Your love - Lord, this is our prayer. Our sin does us nothing but harm. Your love always does us good - nothing but good. We're sinners, Lord. Why do You keep on loving us? We don't know why - but we're glad that You do! We rejoice in this: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15).

Monday, 20 April 2015

Lord, help us to put You first in our lives.

Genesis 38:1-30
Lord, help us to put You first in our lives. No-one is more important than You. Why do we forget this - again and again. When we forget You, Lord, bring us back to the Cross of Christ. Show us - all over again - that You have not forgotten us, that You never will forget us.

So many things are changing, Lord.

Genesis 44:1-34
So many things are changing, Lord. How are we to live in a changing world? We trust in Your unchanging love. In our changing world, Your love remains the same - unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable.  You are also the changing God - the God who changes us. Your love is a changing love. Your love changes us. Help us, in our ever-changing world, to keep on praying for the best kind of change - being changed by You - changed by Your love. Help us to become less self-centred and more Christ-centred.

Sometimes, Lord, we wonder what it's all about!

Sometimes, Lord, we wonder what it's all about! When we feel like this, help us to know that You love us. Help us to see that You are working in us - to teach us to love You.

Lord, we thank You that we do not need to live in fear.

Lord, we thank You that we do not need to live in fear. Your love is greater than our fear. Where does fear come from? It comes from the devil. Who is he? He's our enemy. He's a determined enemy. He's also a defeated enemy. Lord, we rejoice in Your word of victory: "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Lord, we give all the glory to You.

Lord, we give all the glory to You. We think of Jesus, crucified for us - and we say, "Thank You, Lord - You have done for us what we could never have done for ourselves." You have brought us out of the darkness of of our sin and into the light of Your salvation - out of sadness and into gladness. Help us never to forget that You have saved us. Help us to live, each day, as Your faithful servants.

Lord, You call us to speak Your Word - but, first, You call us to listen to Your Word.

Exodus 24:1-18
Lord, You call us to speak Your Word - but, first, You call us to listen to Your Word. How can we speak for You if we're not listening to You? Help us to come to the Cross of Christ. Help us to hear the voice of Your love. Send us from the that holy place - the place of His crucifixion, the place of our salvation - back into the world. May we return to the world as people who've been changed - changed by the love of Christ. 

Sometimes, Lord, we don't feel like the sun is shining upon us.

Exodus 27:1-19
Sometimes, Lord, we don't feel like the sun is shining upon us. When we feel like this, help us to know that the light and love of Your Son is always shining upon us. When we're feeling down, help us to remember that You raised Jesus up - "Up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph o'er His foes." This is what we need to hear. This is what lifts us up: up - into Your presence, up - out of our sin, up - into Your salvation' upwards and onwards - to Your eternal glory.

Sometimes, Lord, our lights are switched off.

Exodus 27:20-29:9 
Sometimes, Lord, our lights are switched off. Sometimes, they're switched on. The light of Your love is never switched off. It's always switched on. Your love is 'all the time' love. There is no love like Your love for us. It's the only 'always and forever' love. Thank You, Lord, for the light that never stops shining - the light of Your undying love. This is the only light that is always shining.

So often, Lord, we get preoccupied with ourselves.

Exodus 30:1-38
So often, Lord, we get preoccupied with ourselves. Our words say that You are more important than anyone else. Often, our lives tell a very different story - 'It's all about us. It's all about what pleases us.' How can we be changed? Lead us to the Cross of Your Son, Jesus. Show us Jesus - dying for us. Teach us to live for Him. Lift us out of our weakness and failure into Your strength and victory - and help us to praise You with hearts that are becoming more God-centred and less self-centred.

Often, Lord, we come to Your House with so little expectation of Your blessing.

Exodus 29:10-46
Often, Lord, we come to Your House with so little expectation of Your blessing. Where does this attitude come from? - It doesn't come from You. You are the great God. You fill our hearts with 'great expectations.' When Satan comes to us, filling our hearts with apathy - the 'couldn't-care-less' attitude, help us to tell him that You are the great God (Psalm 135:5) - great in holiness, power and love, the faithful God who comes to us with great promises of blessing. When, Lord, we are blessed by You, help us to give all the glory to You.

Lord, You call us to serve You.

Exodus 31:1-32:14
Lord, You call us to serve You. How are we to serve You? How can we serve You? - Our sin keeps on getting in the way. We start off well - and then, we take our eyes off Jesus, and things start to go badly. Lord, we need Your Spirit. He is the Holy Spirit. How can we possibly serve You - if we are not learning to walk with You in the way of holiness. Before we pray, "Help us to serve You better", help us to pray, "Lead us in the way of holiness."

Lord, You are the God of holiness. You are the God of love.

Exodus 32:15-33:23
Lord, You are the God of holiness. You are the God of love. Your holiness is loving holiness. Your love is holy love. Help us to see that Your holiness and Your love belong together. It's not one without the other. It's not holiness without love. It's not love without holiness. We need both - Your holiness and Your love. Your holiness shows us our sin. Your love forgives our sin. You love us. Help us to love You - and be changed by Your holy love.

Lord, there is work to be done.

Exodus 38:1-31
Lord, there is work to be done. It's Your work. Help us all to play our part. We leave it to someone else - and it never gets done. Change us, Lord. Spectators can become workers. Help us not to hang back - on the sidelines. You're calling us to come into the centre of Your will and Your work. When we're tempted to stand back and watch, help us to come forward and work. Help us to remember this: "There's a work of Jesus none but we can do."

Lord, You are the faithful God.

Exodus 34:1-35
Lord, You are the faithful God. You give us Your promises. You keep Your promises. You never go back on Your Word. You always stand by the Word that You have spoken. Your promises come to us from the past. They lead us on into Your future. What a wonderful future You are planning for us. We thank You for Jesus' great promise: "I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). Help us to receive His Word, to rejoice in His promise, to be renewed by His love.

Help us, Lord, never to think that we have nothing to offer to You.

Exodus 35:1-36:7
Help us, Lord, never to think that we have nothing to offer to You. We can never save ourselves. That is something that You must do for us. We have been saved by Your grace. Now, we must serve You in Your strength. You gave Your Son for us. Help us to give ourselves to You. May we never be half-hearted in our devotion to You. Help us to be whole-hearted in all that we do for You.

We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, is "pure gold."

Exodus 37:1-29
We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, is "pure gold." There's nothing better than Jesus. there's no-one better than Him. He's the very best. What Jesus has done for us - this is "pure gold." He died for us. He was raised to life for us. This is Good News. It's the best news we could ever hear. Lord, help us not to get bogged down in the bad news of our sin. Lord, lift us up with the Good News of our Saviour.

Lord, we want blessing - but we're not so keen on obedience.

Exodus 39:1-43
Lord, we want blessing - but we're not so keen on obedience. Help us to learn from Jesus. For Him, obedience was everything. He was fully obedient. For Him, it meant the Cross (Philippians 2:8). Lord, help us not to be thinking, "What are we going to get out of this?" Help us to be praying, "How can we do Your will? How can we bring glory to You?"

Lord, help us to listen to Your Word ...

Exodus 40:1-38
Lord, help us to listen to Your Word, walk in Your way and "worship You in Spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). These are the things that matter most. Are they our priorities? We know, Lord, that they should be our priorities - but we are often distracted. We lose our focus. Other things become more important to us. "Restore our souls and lead us in the paths of righteousness for Your Name's sake" (Psalm 23:3).

We thank You, Lord, that Your salvation is greater than our sin.

Leviticus 5:1-6:30
We thank You, Lord, that Your salvation is greater than our sin. We look at Christ's sacrifice - He gave Himself in death for us. We are glad that He is our Saviour. He has taken our sin upon Himself. He gives Your salvation to us. Thank You, Lord.

Lord, we thank You that the blood of Your Son, Jesus, cleanses us from all sin.

Leviticus 12:1-13:46
Lord, we thank You that the blood of Your Son, Jesus, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). We come to the Cross of Christ in our failure. At the Cross of Christ, we receive Your forgiveness. We bring our sin to the Saviour. He gives to us His salvation. Bring us, Lord, out of the darkness of our sin and into the light of Your salvation.

Lord, You are holy. We are sinners.You see our sin - and You keep on loving us.

Leviticus 9:1-10:20
Lord, You are holy. We are sinners. You see our sin - and You keep on loving us. We see Jesus - and we know that You will never stop loving us. Help us, Lord, to confess our sin and to receive Your forgiveness. Lead us out of our sin and into Your holiness - and help us to give all the glory to You.

We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, died - so that we might live.

Leviticus 17:1-18:23
We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, died - so that we might live. He was forsaken by You - so that we might live with You. We think of Jesus, suffering for us - "In my place, condemned, He stood." We think of the blessing that He brings to us: "Sealed my pardon with His blood." Here-and-now, there's a song of praise, arising in our hearts - but there's more than that: We look forward to the full glory of Your heavenly and eternal glory: "When He comes, our glorious King, all His ransomed home to bring, then anew this song we'll sing: Alleluia! What a Saviour!"

Lord, if we are to become holy, it must be Your doing - not our own achievement.

Leviticus 20:1-27
Lord, if we are to become holy, it must be Your doing - not our own achievement. We come to our Saviour with our sin. We receive from Him Your forgiveness - and the Spirit of holiness. Our past is put behind us. Our sins are forgiven - and forgotten. You call us on into Your future. We are being changed by Your love and Your holiness. We look back at all that You have done for us - and we say, "To God be the glory! Great things He has done." We look forward to all that You will do for us - and we say, 'To God be the glory! There is more to come  - "much more" (Romans 5:10). The best is yet to be! (1 Corinthians 2:9).'

Friday, 17 April 2015

Search The Scriptures: Leviticus

Leviticus 1:1-3:17
We may note the frequent recurrence of the phrase, "a soothing aroma to the Lord" (Leviticus 1:9,13,17: Leviticus 2:2,9,12; Leviticus 3:5,16). The presence of the Lord is "like a fragrance that fills the air." Not all people welcome the presence of the Lord. To some, it is "the aroma of Christ", " a life-giving fragrance." To others, it is "a deadly fragrance" (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). We are to pray that our life - in every part - will be pleasing to the Lord, bringing glory to Him. This will involve our worship in the holy place. It will also involve our living for the Lord in the many and varied situations of everyday life.
Leviticus 4:1-35
The word, "blood, appears often here. We may note, in particular, the phrase, in Leviticus 4:25, "the blood of the offering for sin." In the final verse (Leviticus 4:35), we may note why "the blood of the offering for sin" was shed - "forgiveness" and "peace with the Lord." Reading about this, our thoughts turn towards Jesus Christ, our Saviour, who died that we might be forgiven. Out of love for us, He gave Himself for our sins so that we might have peace with God (Romans 5:8,1).
Leviticus 5:1-7:38
In the descriptions of different offerings, we catch a glimpse of our need and Christ's salvation. There is the "offering for sin" (Leviticus 5:6), the "fellowship offering of thanksgiving" (Leviticus 7:15), the "guilt offering" (Leviticus 7:34), the "ordination offering" (Leviticus 7:37). There is teaching here which we must build on in our understanding of our Christian experience. Christ died for our sins to remove our guilt and bring us into fellowship with God. Grateful to Him, we give ourselves to Him, confident that He has ordained that we should bear fruit for Him (1 Peter 3:18; John 15:16). All of this arises from the Old Testament details: - "the burnt offering, the grain offering" (Leviticus 7:37). We must always look beyond the Old Testament sacrifices to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Leviticus 8:1-9:24
Aaron was anointed with "the anointing oil", set apart or "dedicated" to the Lord for "holy duties" (Leviticus 8:12,30). Anointed by the Lord and dedicated to Him, "Aaron and his sons did everything the Lord commanded, through Moses" (Leviticus 8:36). Concerning the Lord's commands, "Moses said, 'The Lord has commanded you to offer these sacrifices so that you may see the Lord's glory'" (Leviticus 9:6). Together with Moses, Aaron was obedient to God, bringing the blessing of God to the people - "Then the Lord's glory appeared to all the people" (Leviticus 9:23). The principles of God's blessing are still the same. We need the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He calls us to obedience. This is the way of receiving God's blessing. This is the way in which the glory of God comes down upon the people of God. We receive God's blessing when the Holy Spirit comes down upon us in His mighty power.
Leviticus 10:1-11:47
It is vital that we know "the difference between what is holy and what is unholy" (Leviticus 10:10). God calls us to "be holy", to "live holy lives" (Leviticus 11:44). This is the central point we must see in all the many unfamiliar details of ancient Jewish worship. This is the "permanent law" (Leviticus 10:9,15). This is the teaching which must be passed on to "generations to come."
Leviticus 12:1-13:59
Again and again, we read the word, "clean." Looking beyond the teaching "regarding health", we may recall that "the blood of Jesus Christ - God's Son - cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). This is the cleansing which everyone needs. No matter how healthy we may be in our bodies, we are spiritually diseased because of sin, and we need Christ's cleansing.
Leviticus 14:1-57
We read here of our need of cleansing and of the sacrifice of a lamb as a way of removing our guilt and bringing us into peace with God (Leviticus 14:21). Spiritually, we are "poor." What we have to bring to God is not "that much." It is not enough to provide for our cleansing. What we need has been provided for us - "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us what we could never do for ourselves - "There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin. He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in." All glory to God!
Leviticus 15:1-16:34 
Each of us is unclean before God. Each of us needs Christ, who has given Himself as "a sin offering" to "make atonement" for us (Leviticus 16:16). Christ is the perfect Saviour, who "bears all our iniquities" (Leviticus 16:22). Concerning His great sacrifice for us, the Word of God says, "On this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the Lord" (Leviticus 16:30).
Leviticus 17:1-18:30
Through the shed blood of Christ, we have peace with God and eternal life (Leviticus 17:11; Romans 5:1-2,8-10). We have received new life in Christ. Now, we are to leave our sinful past behind us. We are to live a new life as those who belong to Christ (Leviticus 18:1-5; Romans 6:12-14; Romans 12:1-2).
Leviticus 19:1-37
Again and again, we read the words, "I am the Lord your God", or, more simply, "I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:3-4,10,12,14,16,18,25,28,30-32,34,36-37). The whole point of this is that our moral practice is grounded in our spiritual worship (Romans 12:1).
Leviticus 20:1-21:24
The Lord calls us to be holy - because He is holy (Leviticus 20:26). We are to be like Him. He has set us apart as holy (Leviticus 21:8). We are "dedicated with the anointing oil of our God" (Leviticus 21:12).We may take this "anointing oil" as symbolic of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. We are to "eat the food of our God - what is holy and what is very holy" (Leviticus 21:22). Here, our attention is directed towards Christ, who is our spiritual food - "the Bread of Life" (John 6).
Leviticus 22:1-23:44
Our careful obedience to God's Word is not to be a purely legalistic thing. We must never forget that God is the God of redemption. Our holiness is grounded in Him: He is holy, and He sets us apart as holy (Leviticus 22:31-33). Holy living involves both worship and service. We are to worship God (Leviticus 23:1-4), but we must not forget the "poor people" (Leviticus 23:22).
Leviticus 24:1-23
If our light is to be keep on burning continually, we need pure oil (Leviticus 24:2). The emphasis here is on keeping close to God. It is only through closeness to God that our light will be kept burning. In Leviticus 24:15, we read, "Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin." This is followed, in Leviticus 24:16, by some words of explanation of what bearing his sin meant: "He who blasphemes the Name shall be put to death." As we read these words, our thoughts move to Christ, the sinless Saviour who bore the sins of many - "He died that we might be forgiven. He died to make us good, that we might go at last to heaven, saved by His precious blood." Through Him, we are brought close to God. Through Him, we are darkness and into light.
Leviticus 25:1-55
This chapter is full of the Lord's instructions concerning the Jubilee to be celebrated by Israel. Why was it so important for Israel to hear and obey the Word of the Lord? - "The Israelites belong to Me as servants. They are My servants. I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord" (Leviticus 25:55). This is still the foundation of our call to obedience. The Lord, who calls us to obedience, has first called us to belong to Him through redemption. He has redeemed us. We belong to Him. We will serve Him.
Leviticus 26:1-46
There is blessing for those who learn to obey the Lord (Leviticus 26:3-13). There is judgment for those who persist in sinning against the Lord (Leviticus 26:14-33). The opportunity of blessing remains even for those who are in despair and are wasting away because of sin (Leviticus 26:36,39) - God says, "I will remember My promise" (Leviticus 26:42). Those who have sinned against the Lord "must accept their guilt." This is the way of coming to know the blessing of the Lord who says, "I will not reject them of look at them with disgust" (Leviticus 26:43).
Leviticus 27:1-34
The underlying theme of this final chapter is giving ourselves to the Lord to belong to Him, to be dedicated to Him, to be set apart for Him, to be holy. Such dedication to the Lord is to affect the whole of our life. We learn this from the variety of details in this chapter. There must be no turning back from following the Lord. Those who turn back do so at great cost. They become spiritually dead through their disobedience to the Lord. Let us keep up our dedication to the Lord.
"a sin offering ... an atonement ... clean" (Leviticus 12:8).
We read the words of the book of Leviticus. We feel like we're out of our depth. We don't really know what to make all of this. We read about " a sin offering", we read about "an atonement", we read about being made "clean" - We read all of this, and the light begins to shine. It's the light of Jesus, our Saviour. We think of Him. We think of His death upon the Cross. We know that He died for us. We know that He loves us - and we rejoice in His love. Do we need to understand all that there is in the book of Leviticus? No! We catch a glimpse of Jesus - and His "sin offering." Our hearts are filled with joy, as we think of His "atonement." This a new beginning for us - "the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).     It's a new beginning. We're set free from our past. We're set free for God's future.
What is God's future? What great plan does He have for us? - This is what He says to us, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high" (Leviticus 26:13).
What God has done for us in the past is not all that He will do for us. We must never forget what He has done for us in the past. the Exodus from Egypt was a great event. It was an event of salvation. The death of our Saviour was an even greater event. this is the event of our salvation. without His death for us, we could never be saved. he took our place. He died our death. He took our sin upon Himself. He died that we might have life - the new life of those who have received the forgiveness of their sins, the eternal life which will be filled with joy forevermore. Following our entry into this new life and before our entry into God's everlasting Kingdom, there is a journey that each of us must make. It will be a different journey for each of us. We must make our own journey. My journey will not be your journey. Your journey will not be my journey. In my journey, I am not alone. In your journey, you are not alone. The Lord is with you. The Lord is with me.
What kind of journey will it be? It will be a hard road. How hard? In what way will it be hard? No-one really knows. We know that there will be "enemies" - but we know that the Lord has given us his promise: "When they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them ... I am the Lord their God" (Leviticus 26:44).
What a great promise this is! We have many enemies - but there is one enemy who is more determined than all of the rest of them, put together. Our great enemy is Satan. God's Word teaches us that Satan is a determined enemy. It also teaches us that he's a defeated enemy. we look at Satan - and we look at Jesus. We see what Satan is trying to do to us. We look at what Jesus has done for us. At the Cross, we learn that Jesus has succeeded - and we learn that Satan has failed. Jesus has triumphed over Satan. Can we doubt that Jesus' victory over Satan will be a complete victory? Can we doubt that Satan's defeat will be a total defeat? At the Cross, we catch a glimpse of the final victory. In our hearts, we know that God's Word is true: "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Still the same choice today

Deuteronomy 27:1-28:68
Obedience and blessing or disobedience and curse – This was the choice which was set before the people of God. It is still the same choice today. What a difference there is between the two ways – the way of obedience and the way of disobedience, the way of blessing and the way of curse. So much has changed since these words were written – yet the spiritual principles remain the same.

From the land of bondage - to the land of salvation

Deuteronomy 16:1-17:20
“Honour the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 16:1) – We are to worship the Lord. Our worship is to be filled with thanksgiving, praising the Lord for His redemption – “The Lord your God brought you out of Egypt.” Moving from the land of bondage, we move, by faith, into the land of salvation: “You will enter the land that the Lord your God is giving you. You will take possession of it and live there” (Deuteronomy 17:14). As the Lord leads us on, our praise to Him increases. Let praise increase as grace increases.

"Love the Lord your God.”

Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20
“Today I offer you life … Choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:15,19). The meaning of these words concerning life is expanded on in Deuteronomy 30:16,20 – “Love the Lord your God.” Loving God – This is what life is all about. This is life as He intended it to be. This is the meaning and purpose of life. This is to be the direction of our life.

Friday, 10 April 2015

God's Giving To Us, Our Giving To Him

“You shall give to the Lord your God, as the Lord your God has blessed you” (Deuteronomy 16:10).
Our giving to the Lord can never be any more than a response to His giving to us. His giving to us is always greater than our giving to Him. There can be no comparison between His giving to us and our giving to Him. When we focus our attention on His giving to us, our giving to him will be transformed. It will not be legalism. It will be thanksgiving. No longer grudge-giving – “I have to”, or duty-giving – “I ought to”, it will be thanksgiving – “I want to.

Victory Comes From The Lord.

Deuteronomy 3:1-29 

The promised land was near. For Moses, it was ‘so near and yet so far’. He was excluded. Together with the sadness of Moses’ exclusion, there was the joy of the people’s entrance (27-28). When we consider Moses’ sadness and the people’s joy, we must remember this: Nobody deserved to go into the land! The land was God’s gift. Without His strength, the people of Israel would fail. With Him, they would be victorious: ‘You shall not fear them; for it is the Lord your God who fights for you’(22). There is here a basic principle of Christian living: ‘not by might , nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts’(Zechariah 4:6). ‘In heavenly armour we’ll enter the land. The battle belongs to the Lord. No weapon that’s fashioned against us will stand. The battle belongs to the Lord’(Mission Praise, 639).

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Thank You, Lord, for Your love. You always remember us - because You love us.

1 Chronicles 1:1-54 
Sometimes, Lord, we read, in your Word, things that make us wonder, "What's this all about?" What are You saying to us in the parts of the Bible that don't jump out at us? We ask, "Do we really need to read a long list of names?" You say to us, "All of these people were important to Me. I loved every one of them. You are important to me. I love you," Thank You, Lord, for Your love. You know each one of us by name. You never forget us. You always remember us. You remember us - because You love us. 

Lord, You forget our sins - but you never forget us.

1 Chronicles 6:1-60 
Lord, we often forget names. You never forget our names. You forget our sins - but you never forget us. You forget our sins - how great Your forgiveness is! You never forget us - How great Your love is! What can we say about Your love and Your forgiveness? All we can say is this: "Thank You, Lord." 

Wholehearted Devotion

“And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep Your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided” (1 Chronicles 29:19).
We don’t begin with what’s on the outside – building the temple. We begin with what’s on the inside – “wholehearted devotion.” The first thing isn’t doing things for God. It’s loving the Lord. In the work of the Lord, there’s something we must never forget: The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. Everything good in the work of the Lord flows from this: “wholehearted devotion” to Him.

Lord, You want to lead us in the way of victory.

1 Chronicles 4:24-5:26 
Lord, You want to lead us in the way of victory (1 Chronicles 5:22). You don't want us to be disobedient and defeated. You want us to be obedient and victorious. Why do we draw back from the kind of commitment that will bring blessing into our lives? Do we think You're going to 'lead us up the garden path?' Do we think You're 'taking us on a wild goose chase?' Do we think that You're going to take us so far along Your way, and, then, leave us to go it alone? Teach us, Lord, that Your way is better than the world's way. Show us that you're always with us, supporting us and giving us the strength that we need to keep on walking in Your way. 

We take refuge in You, Lord - "our refuge and our strength."

1 Chronicles 6:61-7:40 
In Your Word, Lord, we read about "a city of refuge" (1 Chronicles 6:67). We take refuge in You, Lord. You are "our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). Refuge, strength and help - What great blessings You give to us! Where do we find these blessings? - we find them all in Christ. When "evil" threatens to overwhelm us (1 Chronicles 7:23), we run to Jesus, we are strengthened by Him, and we receive help from Him. what are we to do when You bless us so much? - we are to give all the glory to You. Without You, Lord, we "can do nothing" (John 15:5). With You, we can "do all things" - because you give us the strength that we need.

Lord, help us to become "mighty" for You - "mighty" in Your strength, "mighty" in Your victory.

1 Chronicles 11:20-12:7 
We read, Lord, of "the mighty men of the armies", "the mighty men who helped ... in war" (1 Chronicles 11:26; 1 Chronicles 12:1). Lord, You're teaching us about spiritual warfare - "We are not carrying on a worldly war ... the weapons of our warfare are not worldly ... the weapons of our warfare ... have divine power to destroy strongholds." You're calling us to "take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Lord, help us to become "mighty" for You - "mighty" in Your strength, "mighty" in Your victory.

Lord, You're calling us to be spiritual leaders. Help us to be faithful in hearing Your Word and doing Your Word.

1 Chronicles 12:8-13:14 
"The kingdom of Saul was turned over to David according to the Word of the Lord" (1 Chronicles 12:23). Lord, You're calling us to be spiritual leaders - "let us bring again the ark of our God" (1 Chronicles 13:7). We're to call the people to return to You and rejoice in You (1 Chronicles 13:4,8). We're to warn the people that failure to do Your will leads to the withdrawal of Your blessing (1 Chronicles 13:9-10). Where Your Word is honoured and given its rightful place, there will be blessing among Your people (1 Chronicles 13:14). Help us, Lord, to be faithful in hearing Your Word and doing Your Word. This is the way of obedience and blessing (James 1:22,25).

Help us, Lord, to seek Your will, to do Your will, and to give all the glory to You.

1 Chronicles 14:1-15:15 
It was You, Lord, who "established David king over Israel" (1 Chronicles 14:2). Help us to be like David. He "inquired of You" (1 Chronicles 14:10,14). He "did as You commanded him" (1 Chronicles 14:16). He gave all the glory to You (1 Chronicles 14:11,17). Help us, Lord, to seek Your will, to do Your will, and to give all the glory to You.

May we learn to say, "Not My will, Lord. Your will be done."

1 Chronicles 28:1-29:5 
"It is Solomon your son who shall build My House (1 Chronicles "8:6). Lord, this was the Word that You spoke to Your servant, David. what a Word of hope this was! David had heard the words, "You are not to build a House for My Name" (1 Chronicles 28:3). His heart sank - but You lifted him up again. It wasn't all about David - and it isn't all about us. It's all about You. You do things Your way - not our way. May we learn to say, "Not My will, Lord. Your will be done."

Chapter 3, Verse 16: The Saviour, The Scriptures, The Spirit

John 3:16 – The Saviour
2 Timothy 3:16 – The Scriptures
Colossians 3:16 – The Spirit

Let us come to the Saviour. Let us read the Scriptures. Let us worship God in Spirit and in truth.

Praying Through God's Word: 2 Timothy

2 Timothy 1:1-2:7
Lord, we’re not to keep Your Word to ourselves. You’ve given us the “Gospel.” Help us to share it with “faithful” people who will “pass it on to others” (2 Timothy 1:11,13 & 2:2).
2 Timothy 2:8-3:9
Help us, Lord, to “remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead” (2 Timothy 2:8). Jesus is the living Lord.  Help us never to forget this. When we’re tempted to forget Him, help us to remember why He died. “He died that we might be forgiven. He died to make us good, that we might go at last to heaven, saved by His precious blood.”When we’re tempted to forget Him, help us to remember that He’s alive today – and He lives in us. Help us to say, in our hearts, “I must decrease. Christ in me must increase” (John 3:30).
2 Timothy 3:10-4:22
We thank You, Lord, for “the Holy Scriptures which are able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). Help us to “preach the Word” in the power of “the Holy Spirit” (2 Timothy 4:2 & 1 Peter 1:12) – and help us to remember this: When all our words have been spoken, Your Word remains “the living and abiding Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). When all our words have been spoken, the ministry of the Holy Spirit continues. Through His ongoing ministry, Your Word is “written” in the “hearts” of those who have heard the Word preached (2 Corinthians 3:3). Thank You, Lord, for the Holy Scriptures – and the Holy Spirit.

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: Joshua

Joshua 1:1-18
We thank You, Lord, that we have Your wonderful promise – “The Lord your God is with you” – well as Your clear command – “Be strong” (Joshua 1:9). Without Your promise, the command is no use. Again and again, we fail to keep Your commands. Again and again, we need to be reassured. You are still with us.This is what we need to hear. This is where our strength comes from. It comes from Your promise. It comes from knowing that You never fail us. You have never failed us. You never will fail us.
Joshua 2:1-24
Help us, Lord, to “give a friendly welcome” (Hebrews 11:31). What a difference the friendly welcome makes! It’s the word of encouragement that makes us feel loved. It’s the act of kindness that lets us know that love is more than words. Lord, You are our Father. Help us to be like You – “when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). What amazing grace! Before the confession of sin – “Father, I have sinned… ” (Luke 15:21), there is the friendly welcome. It’s Your grace that inspires our confession of sin. It’s Your grace that leads us into the joy of Your forgiveness. It’s not only joy for us. It’s joy for You – “my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:24).
Joshua 3:1-17
Help us, Lord, to be active for You – “the people who know their God will be strong and take action” (Daniel 11:32) –  and to wait upon You – “those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31). We need both – prayer and action, seeking Your will and doing Your will. Give us wisdom to know Your will, and courage to do Your will.
Joshua 4:1-24
Lord, You have blessed us so much. Help us never to forget this. We look at the world You have made for us – and we say, “Thank You, Lord.” We look at the Saviour You have sent to us – and we say, “Thank You, Lord.” Why must we keep on remembering You? – We “remember” so that we might learn to fear You (Joshua 4:23-24). We remember so that we may have hope for the future – “times of refreshing” (Acts 3:19).
Joshua 5:1-15
Lord, we thank You that Your Son, Jesus, comes to us as more than our personal Saviour. He comes to us as the “commander of the army of the Lord” (Joshua 5:14). We thank You that “Christ, the Royal Master, leads against the foe.” We thank You that He leads us “on to victory.” Help us to be His faithful followers on His pathway of victory.
Joshua 6:1-27
We thank You, Lord, that victory comes from You – “I have handed Jericho over to you” (Joshua 6:2). Help us to receive Your victory by faith – “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down” (Hebrews 11:30). We don’t achieve this victory in our own strength. You give us Your promise of victory. Help us to believe Your promise – to receive the victory as Your gift, to stand upon Your promise and claim the victory that You give to us.
Joshua 7:1-26
Help us, Lord, to take sin seriously. The world tells us that it doesn’t matter how we live. Your Word tells us that it does matter how we live. Help us to think about our way of living. Help us to be honest with ourselves – to be honest with You: Are we living to please ourselves – or to bring glory to You?
Joshua 8:1-35
Help us, Lord, to do Your work in Your way – believing Your promise and obeying Your command (Joshua 8:7-8). How are we to do Your work in Your way? We must read “all that is written in Your book” – the strong warnings that call us back from the way of sin, and the precious promises that lead us on in the way of holiness.
Joshua 9:1-10:15
When we’re following You, Lord, Satan is never very far away. He’s always looking for ways of tripping us up and leading us away from You. Help us, Lord, to remember that You are stronger than Satan. Here-and-now, Satan has his successes – but he will not win the final victory. He will be defeated (Revelation 20:10) – and it will be clear to all that You are “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16).
Joshua 10:16-11:15
We thank You, Lord, that we do not fight against Satan in our own strength. You fight for us (Joshua 10:42). Victory is never our own achievement. It is always Your gift: “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Joshua 11:16-12:24
Where does victory come from? Does it come from ourselves? No! It comes from You, Lord. You give us the victory. We give You the glory: “To God be the glory! Great things He has done. So loved He the world that He gave us His Son … Praise the Lord!”
Joshua 13:1-14:25
You call us, Lord, to “lead a life worthy of Your calling” (Ephesians 4:1). We say, ‘I can’t.’ You say to us, “I have blessed you, in Christ, with every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3). Why we do allow our lives to be controlled by our own weakness when we can be transformed by Your strength? Help us, Lord, to think of all that You have given to us, in Christ, and to rise up, with new strength – Your strength – to live for You day-by-day.
Joshua 15:1-63
We thank You, Lord, for Your gift of the Holy Spirit. In Him, You give to us “rivers of living water” (John 7:37-39). How are these “rivers of living water” to flow in us and through us? – We need less of this world – “Do not be conformed to this world” – and more of Your Word – “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
Joshua 16:1-17:18
When, Lord, we settle for anything less than Your very best, we miss out on Your blessing – and we have no blessing to pass on to other people. Help us, Lord, to move out of complacency and into commitment, out of the ‘No’ attitude – ‘no time for You, Lord’ – and into the ‘Yes’ actions – “Yes, Lord, I will follow You, I will serve You.”
Joshua 18:1-19:51
Lord, we like to take it easy. We like to have a comfortable life. we don’t want to be too committed. We’ve become half-hearted. Where does this apathy come from? Does it come from You? Are You not calling us to be whole-hearted? Lord, lift us out of a life pf paying lip-service to You and into a life of being changed by Your love and Your power.
Joshua 20:1-21:45
We thank You, Lord, that Your love goes on and on. We may stop loving You – but You will never stop loving us. What a wonderful love You have for us. There is no love like Your love. Thank You, Lord, for Your love.
Joshua 22:1-34
Help us, Lord, to hear Your Word, to speak Your Word, and to live Your Word. You speak to us. Are we listening? There are people who need to hear Your Word. Do we fail them? Do we keep Your Word to ourselves? the world is watching us. Are we living for You? In our hearing, speaking and living, help us, Lord, to be, more truly and more fully, all that You want us to be.
Joshua 23:1-16
Lord, You have done great things for us. You are still doing great things for us. You will continue to do great things for us. When we say, “Thank You, Lord, for Your many blessings”, help us never to take Your blessing for granted. Help us to keep on living in obedience to Your Word. Help us to see, more clearly, the vital connection between obedience and blessing: Keep the obedience going, and the blessing will keep on coming.
Joshua 24:1-33
Help us, Lord, to mean what we say, and say what we mean. May our words of faith by backed up by a life of faith. In our life of faith, may we be unashamed to say, “I’m living this way because I love Jesus. It’s not about me. It’s about Jesus. He’s changing me – “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Give to us, Lord, Your joy.

2 Samuel 6:1-23
Give to us, Lord, Your joy - "The joy of the Lord is our strength" (Nehemiah 8:10). When the devil tries to tear away our joy from us, help us to remind him that Jesus died and rose again so that we might have true and lasting joy. Help us to remind him of Jesus' words: "In the world you'll have trouble. But cheer up! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

"May the Lord do what seems good to Him."

2 Samuel 10:1-11:27 
"May the Lord do what seems good to Him" (2 Samuel 10:12). Lord, this is the way it should be. We should be saying, "Not my will but Yours be done" (Matthew 26:39). It's the way things should be - but it's not the way things are. Often, we make wrong choices. we choose our own way rather than Your way. Help us, Lord, to sop trying to get our own way. Help us to start walking in Your way. Help us to say, "As for God, His way is perfect" (2 Samuel 22:31; Psalm 18:30).

You, Lord, convict us of our sin ... We confess our sin to You.

2 Samuel 12:1-31
You, Lord, convict us of our sin - "You are the man" (2 Samuel 12:7). We confess our sin to You - "I have sinned against the Lord" (2 Samuel 12:13). Conviction of sin always comes before confession of sin. How could we confess that we are sinners if You do not show us that we are sinners? You forgive our sin - "the Lord has taken away your sin" (2 Samuel 12:13). You lead us in the way of Your salvation - "washed ... anointed .... changed he went into the house of the Lord and worshipped" (2 Samuel 12:20). What blessing comes to those who confess their sin. You lead us to confess our sin. From there, You lead us into Your forgiveness. You lead us into the fullness of Your salvation. Thank You, Lord.

Sometimes, Lord, it seems like You have left us.

2 Samuel 13:1-39
Sometimes, Lord, it seems like You have left us. We feel like we're looking for You, but we're not finding You. We ask, "Where have You gone?" - then we start thinking, "Have you really left us?" or "Are we the ones who have wandered away from You?" Call us back to Yourself, Lord. Show us where we've gone wrong. Lift us above our changeable feelings into Your unchangeable love. Show us that You're beside us every step of the way - especially when we find it difficult to feel that You're really with us.

Who are we trying to please?

2 Samuel 15:1-37
Who are we trying to please? Are we trying to please You, Lord? or Are we trying to please other people? Are we more interested in getting what we want or doing what You want? These, Lord, are searching questions. They call us to be honest with ourselves, to be honest with You. Help us, Lord, to see ourselves the way we really are. Help us to pray for change, real change, change in our hearts, change in our lives, change that brings blessing to us, change that brings glory to You.

Often, we wish we could look into the future, and see what's going to happen to us.

2 Samuel 18:1-33
Often, we wish we could look into the future, and see what's going to happen to us. We can't. the future belongs to You, Lord - not to us. Help us to wait on You, Lord - to wait patiently for the time when Your future becomes our present. Our 'tomorrow' can never become our 'today' - until our 'today' becomes our 'yesterday.' Help us, Lord, to forget about gazing into some kind of 'crystal ball.' Give us the grace to walk with You in faith - one day at a time.

The closer we get to Your servants, the smaller they become.

2 Samuel 19:1-39
The closer we get to Your servants, the smaller they become. Jesus is different - very different. The closer we get to Him, the bigger He becomes. Help us, Lord, to make less of Your servants and more of our Saviour. We speak about this one, and that one. Sometimes, we say good things. Often, we say bad things. Help us to speak more of our Saviour. Help us to say nothing but good things about Him.

Our words can do a lot of good - and they can do a lot of harm!

2 Samuel 19:40-20:26 
Our words can do a lot of good - and they can do a lot of harm! Lord, help us to watch what we say. May our words be words that heal - not words that hurt. May they be helpful words, words that will help others to love You more - not words that will lead them away from You.

What are we to do when our whole life seems to be one problem after another?

2 Samuel 21:1-22:7
What are we to do when our whole life seems to be one problem after another? We're to pray - and, when we pray, we're to believe that You will hear and answer our prayers (2 Samuel 21:14; 2 Samuel 24:25). What are we to do when the going gets tough? We turn to You, Lord. It's not about how tough we are. It's about how trustworthy You are. You are absolutely trustworthy, completely dependable, utterly reliable. You are the faithful God. Those who trust You fully find You wholly true. Help us, Lord, to trust You - to know that You are faithful.

Lord, we thank You for Your amazing grace ... Your love reaches us. It lifts us up ...

2 Samuel 23:1-39
Lord, we thank You for Your amazing grace. What we are, in ourselves, is nothing compared with what we can become through the power of Your love. Your love reaches us. It lifts us up - out of our sin, which drags us down, and into Your salvation, which renews our strength and makes us new men and women.

Less pride and more praise - That's what we need, Lord.

2 Samuel 24:1-25
Less pride and more praise - That's what we need, Lord. Less taking glory for ourselves and more giving glory to You - May that be the story of our life. Less living in our own weakness and more living in Your power - Lead us, Lord, into a life that is becoming less centred on ourselves and more centred on You.

‘By Grace You Have Been Saved…’

2 Samuel 23:1-39
By birth, David was ‘the son of Jesse’. By grace, he was ‘the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel’(1). What we are in ourselves is nothing compared with what we can become through the grace of God! Look at David. Listen to what he says, ‘The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me, His Word is upon my tongue’(2). What had David done to deserve this? What was so special about him? Nothing - This was the work of God, the work of divine grace. In ourselves, we are ‘godless’, good for nothing, ‘like thorns that are thrown away’(6). In ourselves, we are not ‘mighty men’(8-9). How can we be changed? - ‘The Lord wrought a great victory’(10,12). Which of us can be described as ‘a valiant man… a doer of great deeds’(20) - apart from the grace of God? ‘By grace you have been saved…’(Ephesians 2:8-10).

Keep On Praying. Keep On Believing.

2 Samuel 21:1-22:7
There’s no two ways about it. God’s people were getting it rough. There seemed to be so many problems. Were they to give up hope? - Not a bit of it! Read verse 14 - ‘After that God heeded supplications for the land’. What happened when God heard and answered the prayers of His people? - ‘the plague was averted from Israel’(24:25). Things would have been an awful lot worse, if it was not for the Lord hearing and answering prayer! Keep on praying. Keep on believing that God hears and answers prayer. He is not a tragic victim of circumstances - ‘Poor God. He can do nothing about it all’. Don’t believe that. That’s the lie of the devil. He is still the living God. Things are not out of His control. He is still on the throne. God can, if we will - ‘If my people…’(2 Corinthians 7:14). Pray ‘for the land’! 

God Is Always Greater Than Our Inadequate Worship.

2 Samuel 22:8-51
David’s ‘song’ of praise is also found in Psalm 18. Some things are worth repeating! David is praising the Lord. He is giving glory to Him. We must never tire of praising God. We can never praise Him enough. He is always greater than our inadequate worship. He is ‘worthy to be praised’(4). Again and again, we must lift our hearts and voices to Him in praise. Think of the Lord. Think of how great He is. Think of how much He loves you. Think of how much He has done for you. Let your song of praise rise to Him: ‘The Lord lives; and blessed be my Rock, and exalted be my God, the Rock of my salvation’(47; Mission Praise, 306). Some things are worth repeating - when we’re giving all the praise and glory to the Lord! Praising the Lord- We were created for this. We have been redeemed for this.

‘Paul Planted, Apollos Watered, But God Gave The Growth.’

2 Samuel 19:40-20:26
‘The words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel’(43). At the heart of all this conflict was Sheba. He was a real trouble-maker. ‘A worthless fellow’, he was up to no good. A complainer, he wreaked havoc among God’s people. He was out to make an impression - and he succeeded. Sadly, it was all negative. He did a great deal of ‘harm’(1-2,6). How sad it is when there is strife among God’s people! God’s Word speaks out strongly against this kind of thing: ‘While there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh…?’. Strife can arise when we attach too much importance to certain individuals and pay too little attention to the Lord: ‘“I belong to Paul”… “I belong to Apollos”’. Remember - ‘Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth’(1 Corinthians 3:3-7).

In Christ - God's Love And Forgiveness

2 Samuel 14:1-33
David loved Absalom - ‘the king’s heart went out to Absalom’(1). David could not bring himself to forgive Absalom: ‘Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence’(24). God loves us. God forgives us. We dare not come to Him in pride - ‘I’m really not that bad. I’m really quite good’. We must come to Him with a real confession of sin: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son’. In ourselves, we are ‘lost’. In Christ, we are ‘found’. In ourselves, we are ‘dead’. In Christ, we are ‘made alive’(Luke 15:21,24; Ephesians 2:1,5). In Christ, we see God’s love. Through Christ, we receive God’s forgiveness. Christ does not leave us ‘out on a limb’. He is preparing a place for us - in His Father’s House (John 14:1-3). This is love - without limits!