Saturday, 24 June 2017

One Year Bible: Days 298-303

Day 298
The final chapter of Jeremiah speaks of the fall of Jerusalem, followed by captivity in Babylon. Difficulties face God’s people in every generation: “There are many rebellious people ... “ (Titus 1:10). The Lord’s people must not be afraid to stand up for Him (Titus 1:11). Whatever others may say and do, this is what we must say and do: “I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow Your righteous laws” (Psalm 119:106). 

Day 299
“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights” - These are the last words of Habakkuk (Habakkuk 3:19). “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age ...” (Titus 2:11-12). Where does the strength come from - the strength we need for rising from the depths of ungodliness to the heights of godliness? The strength comes from the Lord, the God of grace, the God of our salvation. The Proverbs speak of wisdom. True wisdom is to know that our real strength comes not from within ourselves, but from above, from the Lord.

Day 300
“The Lord is righteous, yet I rebelled against His command” (Lamentations 1:18). “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). This is the story of our life without Christ, but it is not the full story. We must move on to Titus 3:4-7: a great declaration of the love of God, the salvation of God and the glory of God. This is God, working powerfully in our lives. Psalm 119:115 describes the transformation. No longer is it “I rebelled against His command.” Now, it is “Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!” How does this transformation take place? “Uphold me, and I shall be delivered; I shall always have regard for Your decrees” (Psalm 119:117).

Day 301
At the heart of the book of Lamentations, there is this great declaration concerning the love of God: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed” (Lamentations 3:22). His love reaches us not only directly but also through the love of His people - “Your love, dear brother, has brought me great joy and much encouragement! You have cheered the hearts of all God’s people” (Philemon 7). In difficult times, our faith is tested - “My eyes fail, looking for Your salvation, looking for Your righteous promise” (Psalm 119:123). In times such as these, we cry to God, “It is time for You to act, O Lord; Your law is being broken” (Psalm 119:126). This prayer is to be accompanied by obedience: “I love Your commands, more than gold, more than pure gold” (Psalm 119:127).

Day 302
Lamentations 4:20 contains an interesting phrase - “The Lord’s anointed, our very life breath.” Christ is the Lord’s anointed. Christ is our life. He is God’s Word to us - “in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:2).  He is God’s Son - “about the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever’” (Hebrews 1:8). Psalm 119:130 says, “The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” This opening up of God’s Word is redemptive. As we read His Word, we pray, “Redeem me” (Psalm 119:134) and there arises in our hearts the joyous confession, “O Lord ... You have redeemed my life” (Lamentations 3:58).

Day 303
The last words of Obadiah are a great declaration; “the Kingdom will be the Lord’s” (Obadiah 21). When we think of God’s Kingdom, we are thinking not only of a Kingdom which belongs to solely to God, but a Kingdom which He shares with the redeemed. Christ says, “Here am I, and the children God has given Me” (Hebrews 2:13). Though there may be “a fierce lion roaming the streets (the devil)” (Proverbs 26:13), the Lord will fufil His saving purpose.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

One Year Bible: Days 294-297

Day 294
“A curse on him who is lax in doing the Lord’s work!” (Jeremiah 48:10). We should not be lax in doing the Lord’s work, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a Spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). Through the power of the Spirit of God, we are able to say, with Paul, “I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to “obey the statutes of Your mouth” (Psalm 119:88).

Day 295
Jeremiah speaks of a time of judgment upon Babylon (Jeremiah 50:1-3) and a time of blessing upon the people of Israel (Jeremiah 50:4-5). If the blessing, and not the judgment, is to come in our own day, we must be faithful in the ministry of God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15). Faithful ministry of God’s Word is “like cold water to a weary soul.” It is “good news from a distant land” (Proverbs 25:25). It is the Good News sent down from heaven, the Living Water of the Holy Spirit.

Day 296
This part of Jeremiah’s prophecy is concerned with God’s judgment upon Babylon. God sets Himself against those who set themselves against Him. We live in times when “evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). In such times, we must build upon “the Holy (God-breathed) Scriptures which are able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” and which will “thoroughly equip us for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-17). This Word of the Lord is “eternal”, and God’s “faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 119:89-90). To say that God’s Word is eternal does not mean that it is distant and remote from time. Rather, it is to emphasize that it is relevant. It is relevant to every generation. It is eternally relevant.

Day 297
The Word of God is to be preached, even if it is a difficult message. In face of the judgment pronounced upon Babylon, God says to His messengers, “When you get to Babylon, see that you read all these words aloud” (Jeremiah 51:61). Paul calls on Timothy to “preach the Word” - “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His Kingdom, I give you this charge” (2 Timothy 4:1-2). Those who truly love the Lord’s Word and meditate on it all day long (Psalm 119:97) will find it their joyful privilege and their solemn responsibility to speak His Word; “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119:103).