Sunday, 31 July 2016

One Year Bible: Days 213-243

Day 213
1 Chronicles 11:1-12:22; Romans 14:19-15:13; Psalm 89:46-52
1 Chronicles 11 speaks of “David’s mighty men” (1 Chronicles 11:11). The focus is not, however, on either David or the “mighty men.” It is on the Lord - “The Lord brought about a great victory” (1 Chronicles 11:14). In their warfare, “the Spirit” brings this message - “... your God will help you” (1 Chronicles 12:18). What are we to say about these things from the Old Testament Scriptures? They were “written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). As we consider what God has done in the past - His “former great love”, we are encouraged to believe in His “faithfulness”, and we say, from our hearts, “Praise be to the Lord for ever! Amen and Amen” (Psalm 89:52).

Day 214
God’s purpose concerns all the nations - “The Lord made all the nations fear David” (1 Chronicles 14:17). Paul was “a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles” (Romans 15:16). God’s purpose concerns all generations - “Lord, You have been our dwelling-place throughout all generations” (Psalm 90:1).

Day 215
In a book full of so many names, David’s psalm of thanksgiving (1 Chronicles 16) stands out. It is a high-point in the midst of the commonplace. The commonplace is not insignificant in God’s purpose. It is the backcloth against which God gives to us His special high-points. In the commonplace, we long for the deeper experience of worship. From the deeper experience of worship, we return to the commonplace with renewed vigour. Romans 16 is a chapter of the many names, the names of men and women who are precious to the Lord and valued by the Lord’s people. As we think of many names, we are to pray, “May Your deeds be shown to Your servants, Your splendour to their children” (Psalm 90:16).
Day 216
1 Chronicles 16:37-18:17; 1 Corinthians 1:1-17; Proverbs 19:3-12
“The Lord gave David victory everywhere he went” (1 Chronicles 18:6,13). “He will keep you strong to the end ... “ (1 Corinthians 1:8). How do we grow strong in the Lord? How do we walk with Him in the way of victory? - We are strong in the Lord, walking in His victory, when we “get wisdom and “cherish understanding” (Proverbs 19:8). The wisdom of God is different from “human wisdom.” The wisdom of God is focused on and derived from “the Cross of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:17).

Day 217
1 Chronicles 19:1-22:1; 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5; Psalm 91:1-8
David - “Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men” (1 Chronicles 20:13).
Paul - “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27).
What a contrast there is between man and God! How important it is that “our faith might not rest on man’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:5).
“He will save you from the fowler’s snare” (Psalm 91:3). Our hope is not in man. It is in the Lord: “He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:2). 

Day 218
1 Chronicles 22:2-23:32; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16; Psalm 91:9-16
The Temple was to be “built for the Name of the Lord”, “to praise the Lord” (1 Chronicles 22:19; 23:5). In the context of such worship - “thanking and praising the Lord” (1 Chronicles 23:30), the Word of God would be spoken “not in words taught by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:13). Together with praise and preaching, there would be prayer: “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him” (Psalm 91:15).

Day 219
Every believer has a part in the work of God. This comes through in the lists of names in 1 Chronicles 24-26. This is also taught in 1 Corinthians 3:6 which goes on to emphasize that the real work is not done by men but by the Lord. Man is not to be exalted - only the Lord: “You, O Lord, are exalted for ever” (Psalm 92:8).

Day 220
The people of Israel had to do battle against their enemies. We also must wage war for God. Paul describes the hardships involved in true discipleship (1 Corinthians 4:9-12). In all of this, our intention must be to do the will of the Lord - “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

Day 221
Our “boasting is not good” (1 Corinthians 5:6). It is better for us to boast in the Lord - “Praise be to You, O Lord .... Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power ... Now, our God, we give You thanks, and praise Your glorious Name ... Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your hand .... O Lord our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building You a Temple for your Holy Name, it comes from Your hand, and all of it belongs to You” (1 Chronicles 29:10-16). “The Lord reigns, He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robes in majesty and is armed with strength .... the Lord on high is mighty” (Psalm 93:1,4). 

Day 222
We are to place value on the most important things. God places the highest value on our salvation (1 Corinthians 6:19). Those who share God’s values will ask for “wisdom and knowledge” (2 Chronicles 1:10), and “not ... for wealth, riches or honour .... “ (2 Chronicles 1:11). We are to think the thoughts of God, and not “the thoughts of man” which are “futile” (Psalm 94:11). 

Day 223
“I know that everything God does will endure for ever” (Ecclesiastes 3:14).
In the constant flux of life in this world, here we have something which must never be forgotten. There are many circumstances in life which are confusing - “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:16). In the face of life’s confusing circumstances, there will be times when we will say, “My foot is slipping.” In times like these, we must learn to say, “Your love, O Lord, supported me” (Psalm 94:18).

Day 224
“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).
This is the world’s way. The Lord’s way is a better way. We are to “use the things of the world” without being “engrossed in them” (1 Corinthians 7:31). What we must remember is this: “The fear of the Lord leads to life; Then one rests content, untouched by trouble” (Proverbs 19:23). When our relationship with the Lord is the most important thing in life, we do not get unduly anxious about how things are going, in terms of material prosperity. 

Day 225
“Do not be over-righteous, neither be overwise” (Ecclesiastes 7:16). This is not a protest against wisdom and righteousness. It is telling us that, in our wisdom and righteousness, we must not become proud like the Pharisees. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Without love, everything else is nothing. We must never forget this. “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:7-8). Where our wisdom (or knowledge) and righteousness become centred on ourselves - ‘How wise and righteous I have become’, we have closed our hearts to God. Listen to God. Learn from Him. Live for Him. Real wisdom has nothing to do with self-centredness. It’s all about learning to be Christ-centred. Real wisdom leads to true righteousness. It’s about learning to become like Jesus. We look to Him and we learn to live for Him.

Day 226
“Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). There are many matters which are secondary. Living in accordance with the Gospel is the all-important thing: “We put up with anything rather than hinder the Gospel of Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:12). “For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods” (Psalm 96:4). The fear of the Lord is directly related to worshipping Him. To fear the Lord is not to cower away from Him. It is to come to Him in worship. Together with the fear of the Lord, there is rejoicing in Him (Psalm 96:11).

Day 227
Worship and witness belong together. The building of the Temple speaks to us of the priority of worship. Before we can become witnesses, we must be worshippers. The ministry of Paul speaks to us of witness: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). Both our worship and our witness are to be filled with joy: “Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise His holy Name” (Psalm 97:12).

Day 228
“The glory of the Lord filled the Temple of God” (2 Chronicles 5:14). There is glory among God’s people when He answers their prayers (2 Chronicles 6:40-42 and 2 Chronicles 7:1-3). All that we do is to be done “for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). This includes our life in the Church - our participation in the blood of Christ .... and the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:16). It also includes our life in the world - “If some unbeliever invites you to a meal ...” (1 Corinthians 10:27). “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5). Our hearts are searched by the Word of the Lord and through faith, which leads to understanding, we learn to glorify God.

Day 229
Worship lies at the heart of the Christian life. If the blessing of God is to come upon His people, there must be the gathering together of the His people for worship.  In calling His people to prayer, God says this: “Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place” (2 Chronicles 7:15). In worship, we gather together for proclamation - to “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Prayer and proclamation are accompanied by praise - “Sing to the Lord a new song ...” (Psalm 98:1). The community of faith grows strong as it meets together for worship - to praise God, to pray to Him, to proclaim Him.

Day 230
God uses the physical as an analogy of the spiritual. In 1 Corinthians 12, “the body” symbolizes the Church. In Song of Songs, the theme is physical love. By the Spirit of God, the physical language points beyond itself by using imagery which is suggestive of deep spiritual truth. What is happening in the heavenly realms always has great relevance to what is going on here on earth: “Great is the Lord in Zion; He is exalted over all the nations” (Psalm 99:2).

Day 231
There is physical love (Song of Songs). There is the love spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13. There is the love of God - “For the Lord is good and His love endures for ever” (Psalm 100:5). The more we consider what the Scriptures say about love, the more we realize that ‘love is a many-splendoured thing.’ To understand love, there needs to be a response of love arising from our hearts. Touched by love, we learn to love.

Day 232
Prayer, prophecy and praise - these are three essential ingredients of worship. Prayer - “They sought God eagerly and He was found by them” (2 Chronicles 15:15). Prophecy - “Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy” (1 Corinthians 14:39). Praise - “To You, O Lord, I will sing praise” (Psalm 101:1).

Day 234
The people of God are to be “armed for battle” (2 Chronicles 17:18). The battle is spiritual. It can only be won through the power of the risen Christ. His purpose is the destruction of “the last enemy ... death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). This has been accomplished, in principle, through Christ’s resurrection. The full reality of His victory will be seen at His return. With such a strong and victorious Lord on our side, we are encouraged to pray to the Lord, fully expecting  to receive help from Him - “Hear my prayer, O Lord, let my cry for help come to You ... “ (Psalm 102:1-2).

Day 235
Those who were armed for battle received this message from the Lord: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 21:15). Now, we fight many battles. There will come a Day when these battles will be behind us and we will share in the glory of God: “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the Man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:4-9). The glory of the Lord will be revealed. There will be no king but the Lord - “all the kings of the earth will revere Your glory” (Psalm 102:15).

Day 236
The conflict between good and evil, godliness and ungodliness, may be seen throughout the Scriptures. This is particularly true in the history of the Old Testament kings. God is doing a work. Satan is doing all that he can to destroy it. We must make “a covenant ... to be the Lord’s people” (2 Chronicles 23:16). We must never lose sight of the final outcome of the battle between good and evil. Satan will be “slain with the sword” (2 Chronicles 23:21). He will be “hurled down” - “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11). From our hearts, we can say, “But thanks to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). If we are to enjoy His victory, we must live in the light which shines from “the lamp of the Lord” (Proverbs 20:27).

Day 237
During the time of the Old Testament kings, there was much “turning away from following the Lord” (2 Chronicles 25:27). In such times as these, we need to be encouraged to go on with the Lord: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians16:13-14). The warnings from previous generations, together with the call to follow the Lord, are written for people of every generation: “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord” (Psalm 102:18). 

Day 238
2 Chronicles 26:1-28:27; 2 Corinthians 1:1-11; Psalm 103:1-12
“In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord” (2 Chronicles 28:22). Times of trouble can lead people towards bitterness and further rebellion against the Lord. On the other hand, times of trouble can be precisely the times when God’s purpose is most powerfully fulfilled - “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Ahaz’ rebellion against the Lord had negative effects on the whole of Israel. Scripture speaks of both “his downfall and the downfall of Israel” (2 Chronicles 28:23). We receive comfort from the Lord so that we may have a positive effect on others - “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). As we consider what God is seeking, even in our troubles, to do in us and for us, we must learn to say, with the Psalmist, “Praise the Lord, o my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2).

Day 239
A revival of worship does not come from the worshippers. It comes from the God whom they worship - “what God had brought about for His people” (2 Chronicles 29:35b-36). “It is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:22). If we are live in obedience to God’s Word, we must give ourselves wholeheartedly to praising Him. This will involve more than paying lip-service to Him. We must do His will (Psalm 103:20-21).

Day 240
“With us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:8). The battle will not be easy. “Satan” is seeking to “outwit us” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Nevertheless, “we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). In our spiritual battle for God and against Satan, we need to know both our enemy and our God who helps us and fights for us. “The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin” (Proverbs 21:12). This is what Christ has done for us. This is what we are to do in Him.

Day 241
Covenant - This is vitally important in both the Old Testament and the New Testament (2 Chronicles 34:29-32; 2 Corinthians 3:6). There is the Word of God (2 Chronicles 34:30) and the Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 3:6). There is the human response (2 Chronicles 34:31-32) and renewal by the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:6). Psalm 104 speaks much of “the waters.” This makes one think of Jesus’ words concerning “rivers of living water” (John 7:37-39) - the power of the Spirit being poured into our hearts (Psalm 104:10; Romans 5:5), satisfying our spiritual thirst (Psalm 104:11,13) and bringing fruitfulness into our lives (Psalm 104:14) with a sufficiency that comes from the Lord (Psalm 104:16). 

Day 242
The glory of Israel was a fading glory. We should read the closing chapters of 2 Chronicles in the light of 2 Corinthians 3:7 - The glory was fading. God, however, has revealed His glory in greater fullness - “what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:10). The renewal of God’s glory comes through the Spirit (Psalm 104:30).

Day 243
“All the nations may walk in the names of their gods; we will walk in the Name of the Lord our God for ever and ever” (Micah 4:5). This is the kind of commitment the Lord is looking for. We commit ourselves to Him not for our benefit but for this purpose: “so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15). As part of this thanksgiving to God, we offer our song of praise to Him: “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (Psalm 104:33).

Daily Devotional Readings: Year One - August

1st August: Leviticus 1:1-2:16
Jesus Christ, 'the Lamb without blemish', has 'made atonement' for sin through the shedding of His 'precious blood' (1:3-5; 1 Peter 1:18-19). This offering of Christ - He 'loved us and gave Himself up for us' - is 'a pleasing odour to the Lord', 'a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God' (1:9,13,17; Ephesians 5:2). Read of the 'cereal offering' in which there was to be 'no leaven' (2:11). Think of Christ - 'Our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed': 'Let us celebrate the festival (the Lord's Supper)...with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth' (1 Corinthians 5:7-8). May our worship - 'frankincense': an expression of worship (Matthew 2:11) - be filled with 'the oil of gladness', 'with the Holy Spirit and with fire' (Psalm 45:7; Luke 3:16). Such worship is 'most holy...to the Lord' (2:3,10).
2nd August: Leviticus 3:1-4:35
Christ is the real thing. Israel's sacrifices are only 'copies of the heavenly things', 'a shadow of the good things to come' (Hebrews 9:23-24; 10:1,5-10). As you read of the 'peace offering', rejoice in this: 'we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ' (Romans 5:1). We look to Christ, and we say, 'He is our peace' (Ephesians 2:14). Christ is 'our sin offering' - 'offered...to bear the sins of many (4:3; Hebrews 9:28). The 'blood' has been shed - We have been 'washed...in the blood of the Lamb' (4:5-7; Revelation 7:14). Christ went 'outside the camp' for us: He 'suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through His own blood' (4:12; Hebrews 13:11-12). For Christ, there was suffering. For us, there is forgiveness - 'he shall be forgiven' (26,31,35).
3rd August: Luke 1:1-38
God was about to do 'a new thing' (Isaiah 43:19). It was centred on Christ, though John also played his part (31-33,16-17). There were obstacles - Zechariah and Elizabeth were 'old' (18), and Mary had 'no man' (34). What were these obstacles to God? - Nothing: 'with God nothing will be impossible' (37). How are we to respond to God's 'new thing'? - 'let it be to me according to Your Word' (38). How will God's 'new thing' make progress among us? - Through the power of the Holy Spirit: 'he will be filled with the Holy Spirit' (15), 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you...' (34). 'Holy Spirit, we welcome you...Move among us with holy fire...Let the breeze of your presence flow...Please accomplish in me today, some new work of loving grace, I pray; Unreservedly have Your way...' (Mission Praise, 241).
4th August: Leviticus 5:1-6:30
Christ's sacrifice covers every sin. No matter what your sin may be, you can bring it to Him for forgiveness. 'If any man sins' - Take your sin to Christ: He has 'made atonement for sin' (5:1,6,10,13-14,16; 6:2,7). 'Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit' (Mark 3:28-30) does not refer to some specific, identifiable sin, which lies beyond God's power to forgive. It refers to your persistent refusal to bring your sins to Jesus Christ for forgiveness. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and leads to the Saviour (John 16:8-9,14). Let Him show you your sin. Let Him lead you to your Saviour. 'It is a thing most holy' (6:17) - Never forget God's holiness. Christ's death speaks of both holiness and love. In holiness, God pronounces His judgment on sin. In love, He provides forgiveness for sinners.
5th August: Leviticus 7:1-38
As we read about the sacrifices, rejoicing in Christ - the perfect Sacrifice for sin - , let us bring our sacrifice of 'thanksgiving' (12-13,15). 'Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God' (Hebrews 13:15). Let it be 'a living sacrifice', the sacrifice of our lives - this is 'our spiritual worship' (Romans 12:1). God's salvation is 'to the praise of His glorious grace' (Ephesians 1:6). 'We bring the sacrifice of praise...we offer up to You the sacrifices of thanksgiving...the sacrifices of joy'. 'Fill Thou my life, O Lord my God, In every part with praise...Not for the lip of praise alone nor e'en the praising heart, I ask, but for a life made up of praise in every part' (Mission Praise, 722; Church Hymnary, 457). Still 'in the wilderness' (38), let us learn to worship as we travel to 'the promised land'!
6th August: Luke 1:39-80
There are two great 'songs of praise' here (46-55,67-79). God was doing 'a new thing'. His people were rejoicing in Him. Great things were happening. Greater things were going to happen. Soon, the Saviour would be born. The birth of John the Baptist (57-66) - This was great. The birth of our Saviour - This would be even greater. Mary and Zechariah felt the touch of God upon their lives, and their hearts were filled with praise to God: 'When I feel the touch of Your hand upon my life, it causes me to sing a song that I love You, Lord. So from deep within my spirit singeth unto Thee, You are my King, You are my God, and I love You Lord' (Mission Praise, 753). John was 'in the wilderness'. He 'became strong in spirit' (80). May God help us to grow spiritually, even when life is not very easy!
7th August: Leviticus 8: 1-36
'This is the thing which the Lord has commanded to be done' (5): For us, it must be 'as the Lord commanded' (4,9,13,17,21,29,36). God calls us to serve Him (Hebrews 5:4-5). Obedience to God, love for God - These are to be our priorities (1 Samuel 15:22; 1 Corinthians 13:3). Christ is to be our 'first love' (Revelation 2:4). Washed, robed, anointed (6-7,12): Our robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, we have this anointing - 'to preach the Gospel...' (Revelation 7:14; Luke 4:18-19). Ears, hands and feet: Consecrated by the blood of Christ to hear the Word of the Lord, do the work of the Lord and walk in the way of the Lord (24), we must pray for a change of heart - 'O for a heart to praise my God, a heart from sin set free; a heart that always feels Thy blood so freely shed for me' (Church Hymnary, 85).
8th August: Leviticus 9: 1-10:20
Aaron had to make atonement for himself and for the people (9:7). Christ did not need to make atonement for Himself - He was 'without sin' (Hebrews 4:15). In Christ, we are 'accepted'. In Him there is blessing, glory and joy (9:22-24; Ephesians 1:6,3; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 Peter 1:8). God has given us 'holy fire'. Let us not try to do His work with 'unholy fire' (10:1-2; Acts 2:3-4). To those who seek to live 'as the Lord has commanded' (9:7; 10:15), God promises to reveal His holiness, nearness and glory (10:3). Do you want to draw near to God, to become 'mature' in Christ? - Learn 'to distinguish between the holy and the common... the unclean and the clean...good and evil' (10:10; Hebrews 5:14). God reveals the glory of His holiness. Let us confess our sins, be forgiven and be obedient. (Isaiah 6:3-8).
9th August: Luke 2: 1-20
God is in control! Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Long before it happened, God had it planned (1-7; Micah 5:2-3). As we approach Christ's Return, God still has His plan. He is still in control. The birth of Christ is not merely an event from the past. It is also a message for the future. We look back so that we can move forward. We are fearful about many things. 'What's the world coming to?', we ask. God turns our question on its head: 'Christ is coming to the world'. From His first coming, we look on to His second coming - He 'will come to all the people' (10): 'every eye will see Him' (Revelation 1:7). His Return invites us to ask another question: 'when the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?' (18:8). For you, is it still 'before Christ'? Let the 'new age' begin: Let Christ be 'born this day' (11) - in your heart!
10th August: Leviticus 11:1-47
God sees only two types of people: 'clean' and 'unclean'. All of us are 'in Adam' (sinners). Not all are 'in Christ' (saved) (Romans 5:12-21). How about you? - Are you cleansed, forgiven, born again, saved, committed (1 John 1:7,9; John 3:7; Acts 16:31; 2 Timothy 1:12)? Or, are you still in your sins, guilty of neglecting God's great salvation, not far from - yet still outside of - God's Kingdom, almost persuaded but still uncommitted (John 8:24; 9:41; Hebrews 2:3; Acts 26:28)? Before the call to holiness (45), there is the call to salvation. Give your heart to Christ. This is where holiness begins (Mark 7:14-23). Holiness is not our own achievement - 'God is at work in you' (Phillipians 2:13). Remember: Our holiness is grounded in His redemption (45). Feed on His Word - and let holiness grow (Psalm 119:9-11).
11th August: Leviticus 12:1-13:46
How can I be made clean (12:8)? - This is the vital question to which the Gospel gives its emphatic answer. We ask, 'What can wash away my stain?'. The answer is given, 'Nothing but the blood of Jesus'. We ask, 'Has atonement been made for my sin' (12:8)?'. The answer is clear: 'Christ has for sin atonement made'. You can be 'washed in the blood of the Lamb'. What water cannot do, Christ does for us. The water used in baptism - 'a little' or 'a lot'! - cannot wash away our sin. It can only point beyond itself to Christ's Cross, where we hear the Good News: 'There is wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb' (Redemption Hymnal, 333,615,309,288). Confess your sin - 'Unclean, unclean' (13:45). Christ will change you - beginning with your 'heart' (12:3; Romans 2:28-29).
12th August: Luke 2:21-52
Jesus 'fulfilled all righteousness' (Matthew 3:15). His circumcision and presentation to the Lord was 'according to the law of Moses' (21-24; Leviticus 12:1-8). Jesus' obedience was always more than mere conformity to 'the written code'. He was walking 'in the Spirit'. He was filled with 'the Spirit of the living God' (2 Corinthians 3:3,6). His obedience came 'from the heart' and His 'praise' came 'not from men but from God' (Romans 6:17; 2:29). What joy there was for Simeon and Anna! This was 'salvation', 'redemption' (30,38). As you journey through life, don't 'lose Jesus' (43-45). Keep close to Him! If you do 'lose Him', where will you find Him again? - 'In the temple' (46). Have you lost your way? Find your way back to 'the sanctuary of God' - and things will start to fall into place again (Psalm 73:16-17)!
13th August: Proverbs 4:20-27
'Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you' (25). Living the Christian life is like 'walking a tightrope' - We must 'not swerve to the right or to the left' (27; Deuteronomy 28:14; Joshua 1:7; 23:6). Looking straight ahead, 'let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...'(Hebrews 12:2). In the face of life's many difficulties, you may ask, "Can I 'run with perseverance the race marked out for me' (Hebrews 12:1)?". Keep your eyes on your own capacity for perseverance - and you will be filled with thoughts of your own weakness. Keep your eyes on Christ and His preserving power (1 Peter 1:5; John 10:27-29; Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:37-39). You will grow strong - strengthened by Christ's Word: 'My grace is sufficient for you' (2 Corinthians 12:9).
14th August: Leviticus 13:47-14:32
We read about skin disease. Remember: there is also the sin disease - and we're all suffering from that!. Sin is a deadly 'cancer' for which there is only one treatment: 'Oh, precious is the flow that makes me white as snow; no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus' (Redemption Hymnal, 333). The new birth - like physical birth - is a unique, once-for-all, experience: it is the beginning of the Christian life (John 3:3-6). Many times over, we will need to be 'washed a second time' (58). Justification (Romans 5:1) happens in a moment: 'The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment a pardon receives'. Sanctification (Romans 6:13,19). lasts a lifetime: 'Take time to be holy...(Mission Praise, 708,625). God loves us: He will help us to 'be holy' (1 Peter 1:16).
15th August: Leviticus 14:33-15:33
You can get 'dry rot' in people - as well as houses (14:34; Hebrews 12:15)! Sin is like 'a wasting disease' (Psalm 106:13-15). It will only get worse - unless something is done about it! Sin spreads. and spreads, and... Can anything be done about this sad situation? Look into yourself, and you will find that the situation is hopeless (Romans 7:14-20). Look to Christ, and there is hope: 'where sin increased, grace abounded all the more' (Romans 5:20). Sin is not to be taken lightly. Don't underestimate the power of sin. Little by little, it will lure you away from Christ. Keep close to Jesus, rejoicing in this: 'He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world' (1 John 4:4). God calls for holiness: 'your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit'; 'present your bodies...to God' (1 Corinthians 6:19; Romans 12:1).
16th August: Luke 3:1-38
John's message came from 'God' (2). He did not begin with love. He preached about sin and divine judgment, warning his hearers to 'flee from the wrath to come' (7). He called for 'repentance' (3,8). This was not what people wanted to hear. Before we can rejoice in the Good News concerning salvation, we must recognize our sin and our need of salvation. John prepared the way for Jesus. 'All have sinned', 'The wages of sin is death' - This is the 'bad news' which prepares us to receive, with joyful thanksgiving, 'the Good News': 'the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Like John, we are to point to Jesus, God's 'beloved Son' : Before 'Adam' was, He is. Pray that the 'Holy Spirit' will bring people to Christ (22,38; 8:58).
17th August: Leviticus 16:1-34
God is 'holy': We cannot 'draw near' and 'come' to Him without a 'sin offering' (1-3). We cannot bring 'a sin offering' to Him. We can only bring our sin: Our righteousness is 'like filthy rags' (Isaiah 64:6). There is a 'way' for sinners to 'draw near' to God: Christ is the true and living Way (John 14:6; Hebrews 10:19-22). In verses 20-22, we have a great picture of Christ bearing the sin of the world: 'Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood...Full atonement, - Yes it is! Hallelujah! What a Saviour!' (Church Hymnary, 380). Atonement has been made for us...We have been cleansed from all our sins (30): What a perfect atonement! What a perfect Saviour! - 'God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Galatians 6:14).
18th August: Leviticus 17:1-18:23
We are to be devoted 'to the Lord' (17:4-6,9): 'You are not your own; you were bought with a price' (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Underlying Christ's atoning death, there is this principle: 'the life...is in the blood...I have given it for you...to make atonement...' (17:11). Christ has shed His blood: He has given His life that we might have life. God looks upon His Son, crucified for us: He 'has commanded the blessing, life for evermore' (Psalm 133:3). We confess our sin, acknowledging that 'without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins' (Hebrews 9:22). With grateful thanksgiving, we rejoice in our Saviour, 'the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world' (John 1:29). 'Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power...' (Mission Praise, 671).
19th August: Luke 4:1-30
Jesus was 'tempted by the devil' (2). He was rejected by His enemies (28-29). When we look around us, we see nothing but temptations and rejection - What a negative way of looking at things! There is something more positive here - the presence of the Holy Spirit (1,14,18). Do not be afraid. There is no need to be discouraged. We need not be defeated. The temptations may be many. The opposition may be fierce. We can 'pass through the midst of them' (30): 'God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control' (2 Timothy 1:7). Satan is persistent - They did not rest until they had crucified Him. Faced with such opposition, we - like Jesus - must walk in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:12,17-18).
20th August: Leviticus 18:24-19:37
Holiness and love - the two belong together (1,18,34). God calls us to live a life of holiness, a life of love. Through His Spirit - the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love - , He enables us to live this life. We need His promises. We need His commands. Take them both together - not one without the other! Promises without commands - We take God for granted, we presume on His blessing. Commands without promises - Our 'obedience' becomes a legalistic thing which has nothing to do with the Gospel of grace. We are to 'be holy...before Him in love' (Ephesians 1:4). 'The holiness without which no one will see the Lord' (Hebrews 12:14) is to be accompanied by the 'love' without which we are 'nothing' (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). The Lord has redeemed us: By His grace, we shall 'be holy...in love' (34,36).
21st August: Leviticus 20:1-27
The life of holiness is not an expression of our own moral virtue. It is an expression of the holy character of God being reproduced in us: 'I am the Lord who sanctify you' (8). God wants us for Himself - This is why we must not live the world's way: 'I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine' (26). God has a great purpose for us: 'You shall inherit their land...I will give it to you, a land flowing with milk and honey' (24). 'You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies...my cup overflows' (Psalm 23:5). 'The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly...in Christ Jesus' (1 Timothy 1:14). This is the pathway to holiness: 'By grace you have been saved through faith...for good works' (Ephesians 2:8-10).
22nd August: Luke 4:31-5:11
'His Word was with power' (32). Where there are hindrances, obstructing the flow of God's Word, we must pray that God's Word will be heard for 'what it really is' - 'not the word of men but the Word of God' (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Our hearing of God's Word is not to be a superficial thing - Here, the people of Capernaum 'tried to keep Him from leaving them' (42). Later, Jesus said, 'You, Capernaum...shall be thrust down to hell' (10:15). We must hear the Word of God and act on it (1,3). We may feel, 'it's a waste of time'. We must be obedient to God: 'at Your Word I will let down the nets' (5). We are to be 'partners' in the Lord's work (7): 'workers together with God' (2 Corinthians 6:1). All the glory belongs to the Lord: We are 'sinful' - Through His grace, we can win others for Him (8,10).
23rd August: Leviticus 21:1-22:16
We are sanctified by the Lord (21:8,15,23; 22:9,16). It is His doing - God's call to holiness is founded in His gift of holiness: 'the Holy Spirit...has been given to us' (Romans 5:5) - 'every virtue we possess...every victory won...every thought of holiness, are His alone' (Church Hymnary, 336). When we are so conscious of our own weakness, God says, 'I am the Lord' (21:12; 22:2-3,8). He is more than sufficient for our justification, sanctification and glorification. Between our justification (the forgiveness of our sins) and our glorification (heaven) there is our sanctification ('conformed to the image of His Son'). This is God's doing. From beginning to end, it is the work of God (Romans 8:28-29). We lack faith, we lack holiness, we lack perseverance: In this we rejoice - 'Salvation is of the Lord' (Jonah 2:9).
24th August: Leviticus 22:17-23:44
God says, 'I am the Lord' (22:30-33): Let Him be 'your God' (23:14,22,28,40,43,). We are to 'worship in Spirit and in truth' - 'in the Spirit on the Lord's Day' (John 4:24; Revelation 1:10) When Christ died - This was the day of atonement. We worship Him, 'our Passover Lamb' (22:28; Exodus 12:13; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8). After 'fifty days' came the Day of Pentecost - What a day that was (Acts 2:4,16-21,41)! Bring 'the first fruits of your harvest' (9): 'What can I give Him? - my heart' (Church Hymnary, 178). Blow the trumpet (23:23; Joel 2:1,15) - It must be a 'clear call': 'Get ready for battle' (1 Corinthians 14:8). On the 'day of worship' (3), God is preparing us for the rest of the week: 'Be strong in the Lord' (Ephesians 6:12). Pray for the 'fire' of God (8,18,25,27,36-37; Acts 2:3-4).
25th August: Luke 5:12-32
'You can make me clean...I will; be clean' (12-13). Look at Christ's death for you - Can you doubt His desire to save you? Look at His resurrection - Can you doubt His power to save you? The Lord 'desires all people to be saved' (1 Timothy 2:4). We are saved through 'the Gospel' which 'is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith' (Romans 1:16). Jesus can save. Jesus will save. 'The power of the Lord' (17) is available to all: 'Whoever wishes' may 'come' and receive 'the free gift' of salvation (Revelation 22:17). To each one, Jesus says, 'Follow Me' (27). We must not think of ourselves as 'righteous'. Each one must come as a 'sinner' to Jesus, the Saviour of sinners (32). Through prayer, the Lord's saving power can be released among us (16-17; John 14:13-14; 1 John 5:14-15).
26th August: Leviticus 24:1-25:24
'Pure' worship is to be offered 'continually': This is what God is looking for (1-8). 'Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? Who shall stand in His holy place?': No-one else but Christ - He alone 'has clean hands and a pure heart', He alone 'will receive blessing from the Lord' (Psalm 24:3-5). Our worship is offered to God - in Christ...to the praise of His glorious grace' (Ephesians 1:3,6). This is our worship, this is our joy - We have been reconciled to God 'through our Lord Jesus Christ' (Romans 5:11). The 'jubilee' - 'fiftieth year' (25:11): Half a century is such a short time in the light of eternity (James 4:14). God has been good to us. How have we lived? How much do we love God? How much have we loved one another? Rededicate yourself to 'the Lord your God' (25:17).
27th August: Leviticus 25:25-55
Moral conduct is to be grounded in divine redemption. Throughout the detailed ethical instructions, there is the recurrent emphasis on God's salvation: 'I am the Lord your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt (Salvation) to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God (Sanctification)...For to Me the people of Israel are servants (Service) whom I have brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God' (38,55). Salvation; Sanctification; Service. We do not begin with the questions, 'How can I live a godly life? How can I serve the Lord?' We begin with the question, 'What must I do to be saved?'. God's answer is clear: 'Believe in the Lord Jesus ...` (Acts 16:31).
28th August: Luke 5:33-6:16
There is such a difference between the 'old' legalism and the 'new' life in the Spirit (36-39; Romans 8:2-4). The question, asked in verse 2, springs from the dead hardness of strict legalistic religion. Christ is Lord (5) - not the 'Pharisees'. They try to control people's lives. With their kill-joy attitude, they only succeed in making everybody miserable - like themselves! The 'old' needs to be 'crucified', so that the 'new' can be born in us (Romans 6:6; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Some say, 'I don't need to be born again'. Jesus disagrees (John 3:3). Disciples, Apostles (13): We learn everything from Jesus - nothing from the 'Pharisees'! We are sent out by Christ for Christ - not by the Pharisees to spread Pharisaiam! God is interested in names (14-16): 'rejoice that your names are written in heaven' (10:21).
29th August: Leviticus 26:1-46
'Every spiritual blessing' is 'in Christ' (Ephesians 1:3). The moment you begin to feel superior - 'I am blessed because I am obedient' (There is too much of 'I' in this!) - , remember: 'in Christ'. We are blessed because God loves us and Christ died for us. It is His grace which changes us. Without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Our obedience comes from Him. Our disobedience comes from ourselves. We do not deserve His blessing. We deserve His judgment. There is only one way to blessing: Humbly confess your sin, turning to the Lord in whom alone there is blessing. We must not 'be proud' of our 'obedience'. There is only one thing about which we should 'boast': 'the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Galatians 6:14). Thank God for His 'new covenant' (42,44-45; Hebrews 8:8-13; 1 Corinthians 11:25).
30th August: Leviticus 27:1-34
'Every devoted thing is most holy to the Lord' (28). We are loved by the holy God. We are precious in His eyes. In love, He has reached out to us - through the Cross of Christ (Romans 5:8). We are 'greatly beloved' (Daniel 9:23). The Lord takes great joy in every sinner who returns to Him (Luke 15:7,10). 'Most holy to the Lord' - This is how the holy God looks upon those who have 'faith in Jesus' (Romans 3:26). We are to be 'devoted' to the Lord: The Lord must come first - 'All the tithe...is the Lord's' (30). The bringing of the tithe (tenth) to God was an outward sign of an inward commitment. Do you love God? - Let it show in your living and giving. Let it be Thanksgiving (I want to) - not Grudge Giving (I have to) or Duty Giving (I ought to): 'God loves a cheerful giver' (2 Corinthians 9:7).
31st August: Psalms 11:1-13:6
'The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven': We 'take refuge' in Him (11:4,1). We are to seek His face, confident that 'when He appears...we shall see Him as He is' (11:7; 27:8; 1 John 3:2). Seeking God's face, we learn to rest in His promises, we are protected, we are kept (12:6-7). We may face difficult circumstances (13:1-4). We can still trust in the Lord's 'steadfast love'. We can still 'rejoice' in His 'salvation'. We can still say with the Psalmist, 'I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me' - 'God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (13:5-6; 2 Corinthians 9:8).