Tuesday, 18 July 2017

One Year Bible: Days 326-333 - Ezekiel 43-48; 1 Peter 2:4-5:14; 2 Peter; 1 John 1:1-2:11; Psalms 132:1-136:12; Proverbs 28:18-29:9; Daniel 1-6 ; Psalms 132- Proverbs 28:18-

Day 326
In Ezekiel, the priests are described in great detail. In 1 Peter 2:5, the Lord’s people are described as “a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” This description continues in 1 Peter 2:9 - “a royal priesthood ... a people belonging to God. To His people, God gives this call - “Declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” To be “a holy priesthood ... a royal priesthood” is not only privilege. It is also responsibility. Concerning this privilege and responsibility, the Psalmist writes, “May Your priests be clothed with righteousness; may Your saints sing for joy ... I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints shall ever sing for joy” (Psalm 132:9,16). 
Day 327
In Ezekiel, we read of many sacrifices being offered to God. In the New Testament, it is emphasized that one Sacrifice is sufficient - “For Christ died for sins once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). We are called to look to Christ for salvation. We are to trust in the Lord. This is the way of true prosperity (Proverbs 28:25). It is the way of walking in wisdom, the way of enjoying salvation. This way is contrasted with the way of trusting in oneself, the way of the fool (Proverbs 28:26).
Day 328
“The sanctuary will be in the centre of it ... In the centre of it will be the sanctuary of the Lord ... the Temple sanctuary will be in the centre of them” (Ezekiel 48:8,10,21). Here, we have the centrality of worship in the life of God’s people. First and foremost, God calls His people to worship Him. In all our service offered to God (1 Peter 4:10-11), there is to be the offering of worship - “To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11). This worship is not simply personal worship - ‘you in your small corner and I in mine.” It is the worship offered to God by His people when they gather together to praise Him. It is God’s people responding to the call, ‘Let us worship God.’ “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). When God’s people worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), the Holy Spirit descends upon them “like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard” (Psalm 133:2). As God’s people worship Him, the blessing of the Lord will be given: “There the Lord bestows His blessing, even life for evermore” (Psalm 133:3). 
Day 329
Daniel’s praise, offered to God, in Daniel 2:20-23, highlights for us the direction from which blessing comes. It comes from above. What we do not have is given to us by God - “He gives” (Daniel 2:21), “You have given me” (Daniel 2:23). Daniel’s praise is echoed in Peter’s praise: “To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:11). Again, in Psalm 134, the connection between praise and blessing is underlined: “Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord ... May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth bless you from Zion” (Psalm 134:3).
Day 330
God is sovereign. He is establishing His Kingdom which is heavenly, eternal and glorious - “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a Kingdom that will never be destroyed ... it will itself endure for ever” (Daniel 2:44). Alongside the sovereignty of God, there is also the responsibility of man - “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fail, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11). There is no comparison between the kingdoms of men and the Kingdom of God - “I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods ... He struck down many nations and killed mighty kings ... and He gave their land as an inheritance, an inheritance to His people Israel” (Psalm 135:5,10-12).
Day 331
“The Most High is sovereign over the kingdom of men” (Daniel 4:17). It is a great comfort to know that God is sovereign. It gives strength in the midst of the conflict. It’s an unequal conflict - God’s Kingdom will prevail over the kingdom of Satan. We must not, however, doubt that Satan will provide determined opposition - “false prophets ... false teachers ... will bring the way of truth into disrepute” (2 Peter 2:1-2). However fierce the conflict may be, we have this assurance: “The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the Day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9). In the heat of the battle, we must never forget what we are fighting for and who we are fighting for - ‘To be the best that I can be for truth and righteousness and Thee.” In this battle, the Lord Himself fights with us and for us. He enables us to maintain His standard. He keeps us from dropping down to the level of the world’s standards. “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern” (Proverbs 29:7).
Day 332
Worldly men “praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone” (Daniel 5:4). They worship things - material possessions. The Lord calls His people to higher things. He tells us that “the idols of the nations are silver and gold” (Psalm 135:15). They are not to be worshipped. We are to “praise the Lord” (Psalm 135:19-21). We are to give the glory to “our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). We are to praise the Lord - “Your Name, O Lord, endures for ever, Your renown, O Lord, through all generations” (Psalm 135:13).
Day 333
“For He is the living God and He endures for ever; His Kingdom will not be destroyed, His dominion will never end” (Daniel 6:26). “His love endures for ever” (Psalm 136). God is the God of love. His Kingdom is the Kingdom of love. God is eternal. His Kingdom is eternal. The love of God is eternal in its origin. It is eternal in its outcome. The love of God has been revealed in history. Between the beginning and the end, there is the Cross of Jesus Christ: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

Thursday, 13 July 2017

One Year Bible: Days 320-325 - Ezekiel 32-42; James, Psalms 127-131; Proverbs 28:7-17

Day 320
God’s Word must be spoken as a Word which calls for response. The prophet is to “warn the wicked man to turn from his ways” (Ezekiel 33:9). He is to declare that “the Sovereign Lord ... takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” The prophet is to say, “Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel” (Ezekiel 33:11). If God’s Word is to be received as a Word of salvation, it must be “humbly accepted.” We must “not merely listen to the Word.” We are to “do what it says” (James 1:21-22). Our “house” must be built on the Lord (Psalm 127:1). This is the way of wisdom, the way of building on the Rock, which is God Himself. When the storms of life become very testing, those who have built their lives upon the Lord will not collapse - “They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:5). God’s Word promises blessing to those who respond to its challenge with the obedience of faith.
Day 321
The Word of God speaks clearly about sin and judgment - “See, I Myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep” (Ezekiel 34:20), “judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful” (James 2:13). God’s Word also gives to us great promises. They are promises of mercy: “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). They are promises of blessing: “There will be showers of blessing” (Ezekiel 34:26). If we are to enjoy the Lord’s blessing, we must fear Him and walk in His ways: “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways” (Psalm 128:1).  
Day 322
The Breath of God (the Spirit of God) brings life (Ezekiel 37:9). When “the tongue ... is ... set on fire by hell” (James 3:6), the words which it breathes out will be “full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). How important it is that we keep on praying, “Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew.” If the Breath of God is not sweeping through our lives, we will be blown here and there by every wind of doctrine, by “restless evil” which goes from one false doctrine to another, never content to settle upon the stability of God’s Word. There is a blessing of the Lord for those who love Him - “The blessing of the Lord be upon you; we bless you in the Name of the Lord” (Psalm 129:8). This blessing will not be given to those who turn away from the Lord - “May all who hate Zion be turned back in shame” (Psalm 129:5).
Day 323 
Ezekiel 38:1-39:29; James 4:1-17; Proverbs 28:7-17
God’s Word speaks of His judgment upon sin (Ezekiel 39:23-24). It also speaks of His great salvation from sin (Ezekiel 39:25-29). “Scripture says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’” (James 4:6). God’s Word speaks of the choice placed before man - obedience or disobedience, blessing or judgment (Proverbs 28:13-14).
Day 324
Ezekiel 40:1-49; James 5:1-20; Psalm 130:1-8
The prophecy spoken by Ezekiel has its ultimate Source in God Himself - “the hand of the Lord was upon me” (Ezekiel 40:1). He goes on to describe “visions of God” (Ezekiel 40:2). To speak the Word of God faithfully requires patience. There is not always evidence of great blessing. Nevertheless, we must be faithful like “the prophets who spoke in the Name of the Lord” (James 5:12). Such ministry is to be accompanied by prayer - “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). The prayer and preaching are to be directed towards bringing men and women back to the Lord from whom they have wandered away (James 5:19-20). There is blessing for those who lead others  back to the Lord. 
Day 325
Ezekiel emphasizes that the Temple was to be built according to God’s pattern. Our lives are to be lived according to God’s pattern - “Be holy in all you do”, “Love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Peter 1:15,22). The instructions for the building the Temple were precise. The instructions for our living in obedience to the truth (1 Peter 1:22) are comprehensive. Holiness and love - these are the principles which are to guide us in the whole of life. Psalm 131 speaks of humility and hope. With a humble heart, we are to bow before the Lord. Like “a weaned child” trusts “its mother”, we are to trust our Heavenly Father. Such childlike faith is the essence of hope - trust in “the Word of the Lord” which stands for ever” (1 Peter 1:24).