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Showing posts from November, 2015

The search for wisdom

The search for wisdom may begin for us with the question, “What does the book of Proverbs teach us about wisdom?”, but it must not end there. While it is important to learn what the Old Testament has to say to us, we should not allow ourselves to get trapped in the Old Testament so that we fail to look beyond the first stage of God’s revelation and see the fullness of God’s revelation – our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). The book of Proverbs encourages us to search for wisdom. In our search for wisdom, we find that we are led beyond the book of Proverbs. We read what the New Testament says to us – “you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). We are to led to “Christ” who is “the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). Chri…

The Glory Of The Lord

Exodus 24:1-27:21 “The glory of the Lord” (Exodus 24:16-17) – God is to be glorified in all that we do. Symbolic of God’s glory is the frequent reference to “gold” or “pure gold.” God’s glory is to shine brightly among God’s people. If God is to be glorified among us, if our lives are to be like “pure gold”, we must be like “pure virgin olive oil”, keeping our “lamps” burning for Him (Exodus 27:20-21). God will not be glorified if we are not looking to Him to keep our lamps burning for Him – “Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning”, “Shine, Jesus, shine. Fill this land with the Father’s glory. Blaze, Spirit, blaze. Set our hearts on fire … ” The blessing we read about here is not simply for those who are already God’s people. It is also for those who will be reached for Christ and won for Him, as the Lord’s people rise to the challenge of carrying Christ to “this land” and to “the nations.”

My Saviour and my God

* "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God ... He is my Saviour and my God ... my Rock" (Psalm 42:2,5,8). The living God is our Saviour and our Rock. When we come to Him, our life can never the same again. We were lost. Now, we've been found. We were falling apart. Now, we're standing on the solid Rock.  * "Why are you discouraged, my soul? Why are you so restless? Put your hope in God, because I will still praise Him. He is my Saviour and my God" (Psalm 42:11; 43:5). These two verses are the same as each other. Some things are worth repeating. We need to hear them over and over again. We get discouraged. Our heads go down. We get restless. We're being pulled in different directions. The pull of the world seems so strong. Does this kind of thing happen now and again? No! It's happening all the time. There's never a time when we don't need to hear the words, "Put your hope in God." There's never a time when we n…

Life Is A Rollercoaster.

Exodus 31:1-33:23
The history of Israel is like a rollercoaster ride. It’s full of highs and lows. We read of the Lord giving His Word to Moses (Exodus 31:18). This is followed by the people rebelling against God (Exodus 32:1). The sin of the people is very greater. The mercy of God is even greater. He shows mercy to those whop have rebelled against Him. He continues to speak His Word of grace – “My presence will go with you, and I will give you peace” (Exodus 33:14). Often, we feel like God won’t want to have anything more to do with us. God is the God of grace. He is also the God of glory. He reveals His glory to us (Exodus 33:18-22. His full glory is too much for us. He gives us a glimpse of His glory. He gives us enough to create in us a thirst for more of His glory. He doesn’t give us so much that we are overwhelmed by His glory.  What we have is grace and glory together. When His glory seems too much for us, His grace breaks in and assures us that we belong to Him. …

The Fruitless Life? or The Fruitful Life?

"The Lord spoke His Word through the prophet Haggai" (Haggai 1:1). The prophet is only the messenger. It is the Lord who speaks His Word. God's Word challenges our way of thinking and our way of living. We say, "Everything is okay." God says, "Everything is not okay." There is a problem. God says to us, "Carefully consider your ways" (Haggai 1:5). Our way of thinking and living is self-centred. It should be God-centred (Haggai 1:4). When we respond to God's Word, He says to us, "I am with you" (Haggai 1:13). We are not left to do the work in our own strength. He gives us the strength that we need.
First, the Lord speaks to Haggai (Haggai 2:1). Then, Haggai speaks for God (Haggai 2:2). "The faithful few who returned from Babylon" (Haggai 2:2) - Even if we are few, let us remain faithful. God calls us to "be strong" (Haggai 2:4). He says to us, "Work, because I am with you" (Haggai 2:4).…

From Rebellion To Righteousness

"This is the Word that the Lord spoke to Zephaniah" (Zephaniah 1:1). Straightaway, our attention is drawn away from the prophet to the Lord - "The Lord spoke His Word" (Zephaniah 1:1). How are we to hear the Word of the Lord? - "Be silent in the presence of the Almighty Lord" (Zephaniah 1:7). How can we hear what the Lord is saying to us, if we're too busy speaking? We must listen to God, if we are to hear what He is saying to us. What we hear from the Lord may not be what we want to hear. It will be what we need to hear. He speaks to us His Word of judgment so that we might see ourselves as sinners and come to Him for salvation. "Search for the Lord, all you humble people in the land... " (Zephaniah 2:2). Even when the people have wandered away, far from God, and the land has become deeply affected by ungodly and unrighteous ways of thinking and living, God continues to call the people to return to Him and enter into His bless…

The Joy Of The Lord

"Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord" (Psalm 64:10). Lord, You give us joy - true joy, lasting joy. This is Your joy. It's not just a passing emotion. It's more than a feeling that doesn't last very long. Your joy changes us. It gives us the strength to live as "a new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Putting God First

God calls us to follow “the way of righteous people” (Psalm 1:6). He directs our attention to His “Son”, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (Psalm 2:7). He promises blessing to those who “take refuge ... In Him” (Psalm 2:12). There is much opposition: “O Lord, look how my enemies have increased! Many are attacking me. Many are saying about me, ‘Even with God on his side, he won’t be victorious’” (Psalm 3:1-2). We need not be afraid of these enemies - “Victory belongs to the Lord! ... You, O Lord, are a shield that surrounds me” (Psalm 3:8,3).

God's Word Of Grace - And His Word Of Warning

Exodus 34:1-35
Moses received the Word from the Lord. He brought God’s Word to the people. With God’s Word of grace – “the Lord, a compassionate and merciful God …”, there is also His Word of warning – “He never lets the guilty go unpunished … ” (Exodus 34:6-7). Hearing God’s Word of warning, together with His Word of grace, Moses pleads with God for mercy – “Lord, please go with us … ” (Exodus 34:9). The Lord promises to give His blessing – “I’m making My promise again.” This promise of His blessing is accompanied by His call to obedience – “Do everything that I command today” (Exodus 34:11). When Moses came, from God’s presence, to the people, his “face was shining” (Exodus 34:30,35). This was a sign of the power of the Spirit – filling Him, giving Him strength, equipping Him for the work of ministry,

We Need The Power Of The Holy Spirit.

“The Spirit of God came upon him” (Numbers 24:2). There needs to be empowering by the Spirit of God. Without His power, our words will never speak to people as the Word of the living God. With His power, everything changes. It is His power that carries home His Word to the hearts of our hearers.

The Greatest Love Of All - The Love Of God

Love, given by God, is not returned by His people. “When Israel was a child, I loved him” (Hosea 11:1), “The more  I called them, the further they went away” (Hosea 11:2). “I was one who taught the people of Ephraim to walk. I took them by the hand” - This is the love of God, “But they didn’t realize that I had healed them” (Hosea 11:3) - This is the ingratitude of God’s people. “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ropes of love” (Hosea 11:4) - Again, we see the love of God. “They have refused to return to Me” (Hosea 11:5) - Again, we see the people of God, turning away from the God of their salvation. How deep is their rebellion against God - “My people are determined to turn away from Me” (Hosea 11:7). How deep is His continuing love for them - “How can I give you up, Ephraim?” (Hosea 11:8). What a great contrast there is between God and man: “I am God, not a human” (Hosea 11:9). He is so much greater than we are. His love is so much greater than our sin. Th…

The Lord - My Rock

“To You, Lord, I call; You are my Rock” (Psalm 28:1). “I’ve anchored in Jesus, the storms of life I’ll brave, I’ve anchored in Jesus, I fear no wind or wave. I’ve anchored in Jesus, for He hath power to save, I’ve anchored to the Rock of Ages” (Lewi­s E. Jones).

The Anointing

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.

God's Word Of Love - For The Preacher And The People

"The Lord spoke the Word to Micah" (Micah 1:1).  The Word is given to the prophet. This is where true prophecy begins. It begins with God. It does not come from the mind of the prophet. It is given to him by the Lord. In this revelation, given by God to the prophet, there is "the Word" and "the vision." God speaks to us. He draws near to us. Jesus is God's "Word" to us. He is more than the words spoken to us. He is "the Word made flesh" (John 1:1,14). To "all" people, God says, "Listen ... Pay attention" (Micah 1:2). What does God say to us? He speaks "against" us (Micah 1:2). Do we need to hear this? Yes! We do. The Word that is spoken against us prepares us for the Good News of God's love. The more seriously we take the Word that is spoken against us, the more we will give thanks to God for His love. We will rejoice in this - His love reaches us in our sin and triumphs over our sin. …

A Message From The Lord

Three times, in the first verse of Obadiah, the divine origin of Obadiah's message is emphasized - "This is what the Almighty Lord says ... We heard a message from the Lord. A messenger was sent ..." (Obadiah, verse 10).  The final verse   places the emphasis on the divine outcome of the prophetic message: "The Kingdom will belong to the Lord" (Obadiah, verse 21). What is the way in which the Lord leads us from the beginning of our faith to the completion of our faith? - It's the way of holiness (Obadiah, verse 17). God is calling us to be holy. He's calling us to walk with Him in holiness of life.

A New Direction In Life

Amos begins with a humble description of himself - "one of the sheep farmers" (Amos 1:1). Being a prophet of God has nothing to do with  what we are in ourselves. It's all about God. It's all about His grace and His call. Looking after sheep - This is such an apt description of the ministry of a pastor. "The Lord roars from Zion" (Amos 1:2). These words make us think of a lion. This could be terrifying for sheep. Think of the lion - Aslan - from "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (C S Lewis). It's a picture of Christ. His voice is more than a roar. It's the voice of love. The "roar" speaks of authority. The greatest authority is the authority of love. How does the Lord command our respect? He loves us. As we learn to appreciate His love, we learn to love Him. Our love for Him is inspired by His love for us. As we learn to love Him, our obedience to Him increases in strength. "The Lord has said this" (A…

Moral Living - Grounded In Spiritual Worship

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).

Redeemed By The Lord, Let Us Serve Him.

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.

Holiness - In Every Part Of Our Life

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.

Travelling Towards God's Future

“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…

Can Things Be Turned Around?

In Ezekiel 26, we find an awesome Word of judgment, spoken against the city of Tyre. The Word, spoken by God through His prophet, is uncompromising - “Tyre, you famous city, you have been destroyed” (Ezekiel 26:17). The effect of Tyre’s fall is described: “Your defeat will make the people, who live by the coast, tremble. Your end will terrify the islands in the sea” (Ezekiel 26:18). This is the fear of the Lord. We become aware that it’s a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. The Gospel tells us about the hands that were nailed to the Cross for us, so that we might pass from judgment to salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ. This is a continuation of the Word of judgment, which began in Ezekiel 26. How final are the words at the end of Ezekiel 27: “You have come to a terrible end, and you will never exist again” (Ezekiel 27:36). This is the bad news concerning all of us. We are sinners. We are under God’s judgment. Our only hope is the God of grac…

Listen To God. Learn From Him. Live For Him.

Numbers 1:1-4:49
God spoke, Israel obeyed (Numbers 1:1,54). This is the constant pattern of the life of faith – hearing and obeying the Word of God. The names of God’s people differ from place to place. The pattern of their life remains the same. This pattern is also emphasized in Numbers 2, which begins with God speaking (Numbers 2:1) and ends with the people obeying (Numbers 2:34). This pattern is repeated in Numbers 3-4, which begin with God’s Word (Numbers 3:1; Numbers 4:1) and end with our obedience (Numbers 3:51; Numbers 4:49). In Numbers, we read so much that is unfamiliar to us. We must learn to look for the Word that comes to us, in our time, as a Word from the Lord who is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Hear and obey. Listen to what God is saying. Do what He has said.

Our Rebellion, God's Redemption

Speaking through the prophet, God uses very colourful sexual imagery to describe Israel’s relationship with Himself and her revolt against Him. The last word, in Ezekiel 16, is not, however, a word concerning the rebellion of Israel against the Lord. It is the message of redemption - the forgiveness of sins (Ezekiel 16:63). “I am the Lord ... I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it” (Ezekiel 17:24). In His Word, God tells us who He is and what He has done for us. He is the God who loves us. He has shown us His love in the death of His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. What a contrast there is between God’s salvation and man’s sin. God brought His people out of Egypt and into the promised land. They rebelled against Him and refused to listen to Him (Ezekiel 20:6-8). God had not given up on His people. He would draw them to Himself. He would make them His instrument of blessing to the nations (Ezekiel 20:40-44). In Ezekiel 21 - 22, words concerning God’s holy judgment ag…

"The Lord’s Spirit came to me and told me to say ... Listen to the Word of the Lord.”

“The Lord’s glory rose from the angels” (Ezekiel 10:4); “The Spirit lifted me” (Ezekiel 11:1 - These prophecies of Ezekiel bring us into the presence of God. “the sound of the Almighty God when He speaks” (Ezekiel 10:5); “The Lord’s Spirit came to me and told me to say” (Ezekiel 11:5) - When we are in the Lord’s presence, He speaks His Word to us. He speaks to us, so that we might speak for Him. “The Spirit lifted me up” (Ezekiel 11:24); “The Lord spoke His Word to me” (Ezekiel 12:1) - The Word and the Spirit belong together. The Spirit inspires the Word. The Word expresses the mind of the Spirit. “This is the divine revelation” (Ezekiel 12:10); “This is what the Almighty Lord says, Everything that I say will no longer be delayed. Whatever I say will happen, declares the Almighty Lord” (Ezekiel 12:28). Through His Word and His Spirit, the Almighty Lord is leading us on to His future. He is lifting us up to glory - His heavenly and eternal glory. “Listen to the Word of th…

Our Sin? or God's Blessing?

Numbers  5:1-6:27
We must take sin seriously. It can lead to a withdrawal of God’s blessing. This is the important and challenging message of Numbers 5. We must not lose sight of God’s purpose for our lives. We are to be “dedicated to the Lord” (Numbers 6:6). It is God’s intention to bless. In His love for us, He continues to speak to us His Word. His promise of blessing is still His Word to us. It is a Word which never ceases to be relevant to His people: “The Lord will bless you and watch over you. The Lord will smile on you and be kind to you. The Lord will look on you with favour and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Life under the sun? or Life in the Son?

Life “under the sun” is depressing (Ecclesiastes 1:3,9,14). When life is seen in an earthbound way, with nothing above and beyond it, there is no hope, no glimmer of light. The preacher is not saying that this is the only way we can look at life. He is saying that this way of thinking about life is a dead-end street. He is inviting us to see the meaninglessness of a life that is no more than life “under the sun.” He shows us the hopelessness of life “under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:17,20,22). We can never be satisfied by life “under the sun.” There is always a sense of something more. This dissatisfaction, this longing for something more, comes from God: “He has put a sense of eternity in people’s minds” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Life “under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 4:1,3) offers nothing to those who are searching for a real sense of meaning, purpose and direction.There is an emptiness at the heart of life “under the sun.” Attempting to find something more, through our own effo…

The coming Saviour and the coming Kingdom

Isaiah 10 speaks of a divine judgment, in which the only “survivors” will be those who “depend on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 10:20). Isaiah 11 contains a Messianic prophecy. These are words, which point forward to our Saviour, Jesus Christ. They are words of the coming Kingdom (Isaiah 11:1-10). Isaiah 12 contains a hymn of praise to God: “I will praise You, O Lord” (Isaiah 12:1), which is followed by a call to praise God – “Praise the Lord …” (Isaiah 12:4-6). This is a short chapter. It only has six verses. Its words are very precious. We can come to these words, again and again, and experience the fulfilment of the Lord’s precious promise: “With joy you will draw water from the springs of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3). This is the “living water”, which is Christ Himself.