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Showing posts from May, 2015

God is in control!

God is in control! Jesus was born at Bethlehem - Long before it happened, God had it planned (Luke 2:1-7; 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' (Luke 2:10): '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' (Luke 2:11) - in your heart!

A very special child!

No ordinary child! Jesus would be special - very special! This was the message the angel brought to Mary - 'He will be great...the Son of the Most High...the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God' (Luke 1:32,35). We celebrate the birth of a child. How much more should we celebrate the birth of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ! 'Come on and celebrate! His gift of love we will celebrate - the Son of God who loved us and gave us life' (Mission Praise, 99). God is calling us to worship His Son, our Saviour. Let Jesus be the centre of your attention. No one else must compete with Him. 'O come let us adore Him...For He alone is worthy...We'll give Him all the glory...Christ the Lord' (Mission Praise, 490). He is more than 'a lovely baby - much more than that! He is our wonderful Saviour!

Praying Through God's Word: John's Gospel

John 1:1-34
We thank You, Lord, for Your Son, Jesus - "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). What a wonderful thing this - it's the great exchange: Jesus has taken our sin, and we receive His salvation.

John 1:35-2:25
Help us, Lord, to look beyond what we are right now. Help us to catch a glimpse of what You want us to become. How are we to become what You want us to be? Your divine power is far more important than our human effort. We don't change ourselves. We are changed by You - changed by Your love, changed by Your power.

John 3:1-36
Where does our salvation come from? Does it come from ourselves? Does it begin with "I"? No! It comes from You. It begins with You - "God so loved the world ... " (John 3:16).
John 4:1-42 We thank You, Lord, for Your great love. You bring us out of our bondage to sin. You bring us into the joy of Your salvation. Your love reaches down to us. Your love brings us to Jesus. He's Your Son…

Saved by the Lord

What we cannot do for ourselves, You do for us. Thank You, Lord. You forgive our sins. You give us new life. You're leading us on to Your eternal glory. Thank You, Lord.

Lead us to Jesus.

We thank You, Lord, that the Holy Spirit directs our attention to Jesus (John 16:14). He leads us to make our confession of faith: "Jesus is Lord" (1 Corinthians 12:3). He leads us into a new life - a life that is centred on Jesus, a life that brings glory to You and blessing to us.

Strengthened By The Lord

We thank You, Lord, for Your gift of the Holy Spirit. We are not called to serve You in our own strength. We come to You in our weakness. You give to us Your strength. This is the strength that we need - the strength that comes from You.

A Message For The New Year

We stand between the past and the future. We are to give thanks for the past. Let us “give thanks to the Lord”, remembering “the wonderful works that He has done” (1 Chronicles 16:8,12). We are to commit our future to the Lord in prayer. God promises His blessing to those who call upon Him in prayer: “If My people who are called by My Name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). There is work to be done. It is God’s work. God gives His command to do His work. God gives the strength to do His work (Ezra 1:2,5). God raises up His servants to do His work. We must be committed to doing the work of the Lord (Esther 4:14,16). Sometimes, in God’s work, we wonder what is going on. We wonder, “Where is God in all of this?” We need the encouragement of God’s Word: “He knows the way that I take” (Job 23:10). We need to be assured of the faithful…

A New Year Sermon: Matthew 2:13-23; Luke 2:21-40

Matthew 2:13-23; Luke 2:21-40
We begin with a thought for the New Year. It's from Warren W. Wiersbe - "What good is it for us to add years to our life if we don't add life to our years?"
Now, let's look together at two parts of the Christmas story which are often overlooked.
 (1) Matthew 2:13-23
 * "Out of Egypt" - God led Israel out of Egypt. This is a pictorial prophecy rather than a verbal one. Here, there are parallels with the book of Exodus - the murder of babies, the protection of Moses and Jesus.
 - Moses is God's servant, the human leader in God's purpose for Israel at that time.
 - Jesus is God's Son, the divine Saviour in God's plan of salvation for every nation and every generation.
Matthew 2:17-18  - This is another pictorial prophecy. Israel's mourning at the time of the Babylonian captivity is compared to the weeping at the time of Herod's massacre of the innocents.
The point is clear. Satan attacks the peo…

A New Year Sermon: 2 Chronicles 30:6-12; Mark 1:1-13

2 Chronicles 30:6-12; Mark 1:1-13
"Then the runners went throughout all Israel and Judah with the letters from the king" (2 Chronicles 30:6).
A message had been given to them. They passed the message on. They "spoke according to the command of the king" (2 Chronicles 30:6).
What we see here, in 2 Chronicles 30, is similar to what we read about in Mark 1 - John the Baptist is the messenger sent from God. He brings God's Word to the people.
In the time of King Hezekiah, in the time of John the Baptist, in today's world, God speaks His Word: "Return to the Lord God" (2 Chronicles 30:6). With the call to return to the Lord, there is the promise: "He will return to you" (2 Chronicles 30:6).
"Return to Me and I will return to you" - This is the message that God is speaking to us all of the time.
We look back to the past, and we ask, "Where have we been? How have we lived in 2014?"
We look on to the future, and we ask, &…

Beginning a New Year with God

Psalm 119:105-112 We begin the year with the words of verse 105: ‘Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’. This a great text with which to begin the year. It is a great starting-point for these studies in God’s Word. As we journey through life with God and His Word, we discover that there is a Word from the Lord for every part of life’s journey. There is never a time when God has nothing to say to His people. Sometimes, He speaks to us from places which seem rather unlikely. As we explore His Word, we learn that He is the true and living God, ever ready to bring to us something new, something fresh, something that will send us on our way rejoicing, something that will strengthen our faith, something to deepen our commitment to Christ, something to increase our love for the Saviour. As we receive God’s Word - ‘a lamp to our feet and a light to our path’ - we are to pray, ‘renew my life, O Lord, according to Your Word’ (107).

The Lord Never Changes – He Remains Unchanged, Unchanging And Unchangeable In His Love.

Numbers 20:1-29
No man or woman is indispensable. God’s work goes on, with or without us! (a) Miriam(Moses’ sister) served and worshipped the Lord (Exodus 2:7-8; 15:20-21). Now, her time had come. She was not to enter the land. She ‘died’(1). (b) Moses had been the leader of God’s people. He sinned, and he was excluded from the promised land (12). Do not rest on your laurels. Yesterday’s grace is not sufficient for today’s challenges. A day-by-day walk with the Lord is called for. (c) Aaron(Moses’ brother) had stood alongside Moses in leadership. He ‘died’(28) without entering the promised land. In the leadership of God’s people, the names and the faces change – but the Lord never changes. He remains unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable in His love. When Moses, Aaron and Miriam had gone, God was still there!

God's Word For New Year's Day

The Naming of Jesus – Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 8; Galatians 4:4-7 (or Philippians 2:5-11); Luke 2:15-21
His Name was called JESUS (Luke 2:21).
Christmas is over – but let’s not forget Jesus. He is still here. He is still with us. He is for New Year’s Day as well as Christmas Day. He is for every day. The New Year has begun. Let there be more than a new year. Let there be new life – the new life that Jesus brings. We have celebrated His birth. It is similar to the birth of any other child. It is a time for joyful thanksgiving. It is different from the celebration of any other child. This is the special Child. This is God’s Son. He is Jesus. He is the Saviour. He brings new life to the world. On the first Christmas Day, the announcement was made: There is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). We move on from the first Christmas. We move on to today. We do not leave Jesus behind. He is with us still. On this day, any day, every day, we h…

Opening up God’s Word: 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 …

Opening Up God’s Word: Exodus 2:23-25

The mercy of God, revealed in the Exodus, is connected with the ongoing purpose of God – “God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24).
From Exodus 1:13 to Exodus 2:23-25, there were 80 years (Acts 7:23,30). These 80 years are referred to as “the course of those many days” (Exodus 2:23). Egypt is “the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 5:6). The people of God were in bondage for many years. Year after year passed, and the people remained in bondage. Where in the world was God in all this? Was He absent? Has He left His people? Had God forgotten His promises? No! Not at all! God was there all the time. In mercy, He was waiting patiently for His people to call upon Him, to cry to Him for mercy.
Is there not here a lesson for our Church and our community? Don’t give up. God hasn’t given up on us. He is still waiting for us to call upon Him. In mercy, He is waiting for us to cry to Him for mercy.
In Exodus 2:23-25, we read about …

Barth's Theme - Not I, but Christ

Karl Barth is not the Name.
Jesus, for salvation, came.
Barth points us to the One,
Jesus Christ, God’s only Son.
If Barth were here today,  I think he would still say, Look from Barth, look away.  Look to Jesus, he would say.
Karl Barth spoke of Christ’s grace.  Yes! Karl Barth knew his place. He did not seek the glory.  He wrote to tell Christ’s story.
Look! Here comes Doctor Barth!  It doesn’t sound quite right! If God’s Word claims our heart,  “Jesus only” is in our sight.
“Barth is small. Christ is great.”  This is what “KB” said. We’re in an awful state, When we say “Barth is great ...”.
Karl Barth wrote many books.  What were they all about?
To Jesus Christ he looks.  Let’s get His message out.
Words of Christ's text are few.*  They are addressed to you. “The Bible tells us so”, And Jesus helps us grow.
Karl Barth said, “Less of me.” More of Christ may we see. When we read Barth’s CD,** May Christ be all we see.
Karl Barth calls us to praise.  Our songs to Christ we raise. With the Lord we will win.  He is V…

God’s Word is preached publicly. It must also be applied personally – by you!

Joshua 11:16-12:24What is the spiritual value of this list of victories? Don’t be sidetracked by the military aspect. This is not about Israel blowing its own trumpet. It is about giving glory to God. In Genesis 12:1-3, we have God’s promise to bring blessing to all nations. Before Christ came as ‘the Saviour of the world’ (John 4:42), Israel was to become ‘a great nation’ - ‘a holy nation’, ‘a light to the nations’ (Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 49:6). This involved the ‘curse’ on the rebellious peoples who presented a sinful obstacle to God’s saving purpose. The Lord is King! The united people of God won a decisive victory in ‘the whole land’ (Joshua 11:23). There was, however, still ‘very much land to be possessed’ by the individual tribes (Joshua 13:1). God’s Word is preached publicly. It must also be applied personally - by you!

Opening Up God’s Word: Genesis 3

“Behold, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought many devices” (Ecclesiastes 7:29).
* Following the glory and majesty of the Creator and His creation in Genesis 1 & 2, the third chapter of Genesis begins with the enemy of God, the enemy of our souls, the devil, Satan (Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2). He is “subtle” – sly, cunning, crafty. He is evil.He sows seeds of doubt: “Did God say?” (Genesis 3:1). From his very first words, it is clear that he is the enemy of God. “Did God say? Did God really say?” One can almost hear the wicked, unbelieving tone of voice with which Satan spoke.
* When the woman heard the voice of Satan, she ought to have turned away from him. She ought to have said, “Get behind me, Satan. I don’t want to have anything to do with you.” She ought to have said this, but she didn’t. She discussed the matter with the enemy. She had no right to do this. There was one answer she ought to have given to the devil: God has spo…

Praying Through God's Word: Micah

Micah 1:1-2:13 We thank You, Lord, that Micah was a fearless preacher of Your Word. His message was not popular: ‘Let the Lord God be a witness against you.’ He was a forthright preacher of Your Word. He knew that the people wouldn’t want to hear what he had to say to them. He demanded that they listen to him. This wasn’t only Micah’s word. It was Your word, Lord. That’s why Micah said, ‘Hear, O peoples, all of you. Listen, O earth and all who are in it’ (Micah 2:2). Teach us, Lord, that we cannot afford to ignore Your Word. Help us to listen to Your Word. You speak Your Word against us. You say to us, ‘You cannot save yourselves’ (Micah 2:3). You speak Your Word against us so that we might learn to rejoice in Your Word of salvation: ‘I will bring you together like sheep returning to the fold’ (Micah 2:12).
Micah 3:1-5:1
We thank You, Lord, for the words that Micah speaks to those ‘who hate good and love evil’ (Micah 3:2). He calls upon them to change their way of living.…

Praying Through God's Word: Leviticus

Leviticus 1:1-2:16 We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). In His death for us, we see Your love for us. Help us to come to the Cross of Christ. Help us to worship You in the beauty of holiness. Help us to celebrate Your love in the spirit of thanksgiving.
Leviticus 3:1-4:35 We thank You, Lord, that "we have peace with You through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). We thank You that "Jesus is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14). This peace is not something that comes from within ourselves. It comes to us from outside of ourselves. It comes from above. It comes to us from You. It's given to us. It's Your gift. We cannot give this gift to ourselves. We can only receive it by faith - faith in Jesus, our Saviour.
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 ou…

Praying Through God’s Word: Haggai

HAGGAI
1:1-15
We read, Lord, the questions that You put to Your people: ‘Why is everyone saying it is not the right time for rebuilding My Temple?'; ‘Is it then the right time for you to live in luxurious homes, when the Temple lies in ruins?’ (Haggai 1:2-4). Your people had forgotten about You. They were pleasing themselves – but they were not pleasing You! Lord, You’re challenging us to think about our way of living – ‘Consider your way of life’ (Haggai 1:5,7). Teach us, Lord, to ‘obey Your voice.’ Help us to change our way of thinking – ‘the people feared the Lord’ – and living – ‘They came and began work on the House of the Lord Almighty, their God.’ Help us to obey Your voice and trust in Your promise – ‘I am with you’(Haggai 1:12-14). 2:1-23
Lord, You’re speaking Your Word to us: ‘“Be strong, all you people of the land”, declares the Lord, “and work. For I am with you”, declares the Lord Almighty’ (Haggai 2:4). You’re calling us to work for You. When, Lord, we c…

Worship (Part One) - Psalm 17

1) Worship with sincerity (Psalm 17:1-5).
2) Worship the Saviour (Psalm 17:6-9). 3) Worship despite setbacks (Psalm 17:10-14). 4) Worship with satisfaction (Psalm 17:15). ----- 1) Worship with sincerity (Psalm 17:1-5). God calls us to be sincere. Without sincerity, we can never offer true worship to the Lord. We are not, however, at liberty to decide for ourselves what "sincerity" means. Sincerity isn't everything. You can be sincere - and wrong. God is looking for more than sincerity. We need truth as well as sincerity.  Our worship is to be grounded in God's Word. We are to build upon truth with sincerity. Our faith is to be grounded in the "Scriptures" (2 Timothy 3:14-15). Our faith is to be "a sincere faith" (2 Timothy 1:15). This sincerity is to be grounded in the Scriptures. We come to the Scriptures, ready to hear what the Lord has to say to us. We come to the Scriptures, ready to be changed by what the Lord has to say to us (2 T…

The Darkness Of Sin, The Light Of Salvation

Beyond the darkness of sin, there's the light of salvation (Genesis 1-3).
This is not only about creation. It's also about sin. There's also the promise of salvation (Genesis 3:15). Even in the darkness of sin, there's a glimpse of the light that will come. God created us. He has not forgotten us. He has sent His Son for us. He has not left us in our sin. He has delivered us. We have just a hint of this here - "The seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent" (Genesis 3:15). There is enough of a hint to persuade us that there are better things still to come. We do not get bogged down in sin. God is calling us beyond that. He is calling us on to salvation. He is calling us to come to the Saviour - our Lord Jesus Christ.

Back to the beginning

Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This is our only starting-point. We begin with the eternal God. Before there was creation, there is God. There is nothing beyond God. He is the Beginning. Genesis 1:2 -“darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of face of the waters.” Before the Spirit of God has done his powerful work in our hearts, we remain in darkness. We can do nothing about this. The light does not come from ourselves. It comes from the Lord. Genesis 1:3 -“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” This is the mighty work of God. Through His amazing grace, He brings us out of His darkness and into His light. Genesis 1:4 -“the light was good” What a wonderful blessing it is when the light of the Lord shines in our hearts.

Out of the darkness - and into the light

Genesis 1:5 – “Day and Night” It’s like the difference between Day and Night. What a great change there is in us when the Lord brings us out of our darkness and into His light. Genesis 1:6 -“a firmament” Firm – We have a firm foundation upon which to build our faith. There is solid ground upon which we can take our stand. The sold ground is Jesus Christ. He is the firm Foundation. Genesis 1:7 -“the waters” In the days of Noah, there was a great flood. All around us there is danger. The flood threatens to overwhelm us. How are we to be saved from drowning? There is one way of salvation. Jesus Christ is our Saviour. Genesis 1:8 -“Heaven” What a wonderful word this is! What a wonderful Saviour Jesus is. He is the way to heaven (John 14:6). Genesis 1:9 – “gathered together unto one place” What a release of the living waters of God’s Spirit there is when the Lord’s people are gathered together with a real desire to give praise and glory to Him. Genesis 1:10 -“the gathering together of t…

Blessed By The Lord

Genesis 1:22 -“God blessed them” What a great thing it is to be blessed by the Lord. Without His blessing, we have nothing. We must never forget these challenging words of Jesus; “Without Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). What a great challenge they are to our human pride. When we think we can manage on our own, Jesus reminds us, “You are nothing, you have nothing and you can do nothing without My blessing.” With His blessing, everything changes. This is the great change which God has brought into our life – “In Christ, He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3).

The Glory of the Lord in His Creation (Psalm 8)

This Psalm is a hymn of praise. It proclaims the glory of the Lord in His creation. The focus is not so much on the glories of nature. The great theme is the glory of Him who created nature. The Psalm begins and ends with the praise of God – “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (v. 1); “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (v. 9). The whole Psalm is filled with the fear of God and joy in God. The words of verse 2 – “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger” – are quoted in the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem – “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ” ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?” (Matthew 21:16). The reference to “children and infants” refers also to those who are withouit spiritual learni…

In God's Image ...

Genesis 1:26 -“in God’s image” This doesn’t sound like a true description of the way we really are! We are sinners. We have lost our way. It’s a reminder of what God created us to be. It’s His high calling for us. He calls us to be like Him. He calls us to bring glory to Him. Genesis 1:27 -“male and female” We belong together. We’re not to compete with each other. We are to help each other to love the Lord more and more as we journey through life together. Genesis 1:28 -“dominion” We are given dominion. God has dominion. Let us never forget this. We must not think too highly of ourselves. We can never think too highly of the Lord.

The Good News of salvation (Psalm 6)

(1) The Psalmist’s need of salvation. He comes to God in his need – “My soul is in anguish” (v. 3); “I am worn out from groaning” (v. 6); “My eyes grow weak with sorrow” (v.7). He looks to the future, and all that he sees is “the grave” (v. 5). (2) The Psalmist’s prayer for salvation. He looks to the Lord for salvation – “Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love” (v. 4). He prays that God will not come under the judgment of God – O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath” (v. 1) He prays that God will have “mercy” on him – “Be merciful to me, Lord” (v.2) He trusts in God’s “unfaliling love – “Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love” (v. 4). (3) Repentance and Faith In the Psalmist’s prayer, there is repentance - “Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping” (v. 8) – and faith – “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer” (v. 9). (4) Assuran…