Friday, 28 October 2016

The release of God's Spirit among God's people

Numbers 11:1-35
There were problems among God's people. The spirit of complaint had spread among them. This brought the "fire" of judgment (Numbers 11:1). The spirit spirit of complaint comes when people don't like what God is doing among His people.We see this in Numbers 11:26-28. The words of prophecy are described as the result of the working of "the Spirit" (Numbers 11:26), yet Joshua said, "Stop them, sir!" (Numbers 11:28). Note Moses' response - "I wish all the Lord's people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit on them" (Numbers 11:29). What we need is not the quenching of the Spirit, but the release of God's Spirit among God's people.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Travelling towards the promised land

Numbers 9:1-10:36
The Israelites were travelling towards the promised land. As they travelled, they were to celebrate the Passover (Numbers 9:1-14). In their journey, they were being led by the Lord (Numbers 9:15-23). In the course of their journey, they faced opposition from their enemies, the enemies of the Lord. In this situation, they looked to the Lord for victory: "the Lord your God will remember you and rescue you from your enemies", "Arise, O Lord! Scatter Your enemies! Make those who hate You, run away from You!" (Numbers 10:9,35). Our journey is from the past (for which we give thanks to God), through the present (in which we look to the Lord for victory), to the future (towards which we are being led by the Lord.) In every part of our journey, we are journeying with God.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Without God's Word at the centre, everything else means nothing.

Numbers 7:1-8:26 
From each tribe, the gifts came. The Levites had a special ministry. For this ministry, they needed to be made "clean" (Numbers 8:5). Through cleansing, they were made "ready to do the Lord's work" (Numbers 8:11). In a very special sense, God said of them, "the Levites will be Mine" (Numbers 8:14). Between the gifts from the tribes (Numbers 7) and the preparation of the Levites (Numbers 8:5-26), there are the seven lamps on the lampstand, giving "light in front of the lampstand" (Numbers 8:1-4). The lamp stand was made of "gold."  This is the precious light of God's Word, shining like gold, which is greater than all the other metals. God's Word is the light which inspires the giving of the tribes and the ministry of the Levites. Without God's Word at the centre, everything else means nothing.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Sin Can Lead To A Withdrawal Of 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).

Monday, 24 October 2016

Listen to what God is saying. Do what He has said.

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.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Set Free For 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, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high" (Leviticus 26:13).
What God has done for us in the past is not all that He will do for us. We must never forget what He has done for us in the past. the Exodus from Egypt was a great event. It was an event of salvation. The death of our Saviour was an even greater event. this is the event of our salvation. without His death for us, we could never be saved. he took our place. He died our death. He took our sin upon Himself. He died that we might have life - the new life of those who have received the forgiveness of their sins, the eternal life which will be filled with joy forevermore. Following our entry into this new life and before our entry into God's everlasting Kingdom, there is a journey that each of us must make. It will be a different journey for each of us. We must make our own journey. My journey will not be your journey. Your journey will not be my journey. In my journey, I am not alone. In your journey, you are not alone. The Lord is with you. The Lord is with me.
What kind of journey will it be? It will be a hard road. How hard? In what way will it be hard? No-one really knows. We know that there will be "enemies" - but we know that the Lord has given us his promise: "When they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them ... I am the Lord their God" (Leviticus 26:44).
What a great promise this is! We have many enemies - but there is one enemy who is more determined than all of the rest of them, put together. Our great enemy is Satan. God's Word teaches us that Satan is a determined enemy. It also teaches us that he's a defeated enemy. we look at Satan - and we look at Jesus. We see what Satan is trying to do to us. We look at what Jesus has done for us. At the Cross, we learn that Jesus has succeeded - and we learn that Satan has failed. Jesus has triumphed over Satan. Can we doubt that Jesus' victory over Satan will be a complete victory? Can we doubt that Satan's defeat will be a total defeat? At the Cross, we catch a glimpse of the final victory. In our hearts, we know that God's Word is true: "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Listen to what God is saying. Do what He has said.

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.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Set Apart For The Lord

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.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

There is blessing for those who learn to obey the Lord.

Leviticus 26:1-46
There is blessing for those who learn to obey the Lord (Leviticus 26:3-13). There is judgment for those who persist in sinning against the Lord (Leviticus 26:14-33). The opportunity of blessing remains even for those who are in despair and are wasting away because of sin (Leviticus 26:36,39) - God says, "I will remember My promise" (Leviticus 26:42). Those who have sinned against the Lord "must accept their guilt." This is the way of coming to know the blessing of the Lord who says, "I will not reject them of look at them with disgust" (Leviticus 26:43).

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Hear And Obey The Word Of The Lord.

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.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Give me oil in my lamp. Keep me burning.

Leviticus 24:1-23
If our light is to be keep on burning continually, we need pure oil (Leviticus 24:2). The emphasis here is on keeping close to God. It is only through closeness to God that our light will be kept burning. In Leviticus 24:15, we read, "Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin." This is followed, in Leviticus 24:16, by some words of explanation of what bearing his sin meant: "He who blasphemes the Name shall be put to death." As we read these words, our thoughts move to Christ, the sinless Saviour who bore the sins of many - "He died that we might be forgiven. He died to make us good, that we might go at last to heaven, saved by His precious blood." Through Him, we are brought close to God. Through Him, we are darkness and into light.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Holy living expresses itself in both worship and service.

Leviticus 22:1-23:44
Our careful obedience to God's Word is not to be a purely legalistic thing. We must never forget that God is the God of redemption. Our holiness is grounded in Him: He is holy, and He sets us apart as holy (Leviticus 22:31-33). Holy living expresses itself in both worship and service. We are to worship God (Leviticus 23:1-4), but we must not forget the "poor people" (Leviticus 23:22).

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Lord calls us to be holy ...

Leviticus 20:1-21:24
The Lord calls us to be holy - because He is holy (Leviticus 20:26). We are to be like Him. He has set us apart as holy (Leviticus 21:8). We are "dedicated with the anointing oil of our God" (Leviticus 21:12). We may take this "anointing oil" as symbolic of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. We are to "eat the food of our God - what is holy and what is very holy" (Leviticus 21:22). Here, our attention is directed towards Christ, who is our spiritual food - "the Bread of Life" (John 6).

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Moral practice is 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).

Friday, 14 October 2016

Through the shed blood of Christ ...

Leviticus 17:1-18:30
Through the shed blood of Christ, we have peace with God and eternal life (Leviticus 17:11; Romans 5:1-2,8-10). We have received new life in Christ. Now, we are to leave our sinful past behind us. We are to live a new life as those who belong to Christ (Leviticus 18:1-5; Romans 6:12-14; Romans 12:1-2).

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Christ is the perfect Saviour ...

Leviticus 15:1-16:34 
Each of us is unclean before God. Each of us needs Christ, who has given Himself as "a sin offering" to "make atonement" for us (Leviticus 16:16). Christ is the perfect Saviour, who "bears all our iniquities" (Leviticus 16:22). Concerning His great sacrifice for us, the Word of God says, "On this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the Lord" (Leviticus 16:30).

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us what we could never do for ourselves ...

Leviticus 14:1-57
We read here of our need of cleansing and of the sacrifice of a lamb as a way of removing our guilt and bringing us into peace with God (Leviticus 14:21). Spiritually, we are "poor." What we have to bring to God is not "that much." It is not enough to provide for our cleansing. What we need has been provided for us - "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us what we could never do for ourselves - "There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin. He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in." All glory to God!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Christ's Cleansing

Leviticus 12:1-13:59
Again and again, we read the word, "clean." Looking beyond the teaching "regarding health", we may recall that "the blood of Jesus Christ - God's Son - cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). This is the cleansing which everyone needs. No matter how healthy we may be in our bodies, we are spiritually diseased because of sin, and we need Christ's cleansing.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Living A Holy Life

Leviticus 10:1-11:47
It is vital that we know "the difference between what is holy and what is unholy" (Leviticus 10:10). God calls us to "be holy", to "live holy lives" (Leviticus 11:44). This is the central point we must see in all the many unfamiliar details of ancient Jewish worship. This is the "permanent law" (Leviticus 10:9,15). This is the teaching which must be passed on to "generations to come."

Sunday, 9 October 2016

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.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Beyond the Old Testament sacrifices ...

Leviticus 5:1-7:38
In the descriptions of different offerings, we catch a glimpse of our need and Christ's salvation. There is the "offering for sin" (Leviticus 5:6), the "fellowship offering of thanksgiving" (Leviticus 7:15), the "guilt offering" (Leviticus 7:34), the "ordination offering" (Leviticus 7:37). There is teaching here which we must build on in our understanding of our Christian experience. Christ died for our sins to remove our guilt and bring us into fellowship with God. Grateful to Him, we give ourselves to Him, confident that He has ordained that we should bear fruit for Him (1 Peter 3:18; John 15:16). All of this arises from the Old Testament details: - "the burnt offering, the grain offering" (Leviticus 7:37). We must always look beyond the Old Testament sacrifices to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, 7 October 2016

The blood of the offering for sin

Leviticus 4:1-35
The word, "blood, appears often here. We may note, in particular, the phrase, in Leviticus 4:25, "the blood of the offering for sin." In the final verse (Leviticus 4:35), we may note why "the blood of the offering for sin" was shed - "forgiveness" and "peace with the Lord." Reading about this, our thoughts turn towards Jesus Christ, our Saviour, who died that we might be forgiven. Out of love for us, He gave Himself for our sins so that we might have peace with God (Romans 5:8,1).

Thursday, 6 October 2016

A soothing aroma to the Lord

Leviticus 1:1-3:17
We may note the frequent recurrence of the phrase, "a soothing aroma to the Lord" (Leviticus 1:9,13,17: Leviticus 2:2,9,12; Leviticus 3:5,16). The presence of the Lord is "like a fragrance that fills the air." Not all people welcome the presence of the Lord. To some, it is "the aroma of Christ", " a life-giving fragrance." To others, it is "a deadly fragrance" (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). We are to pray that our life - in every part - will be pleasing to the Lord, bringing glory to Him. This will involve our worship in the holy place. It will also involve our living for the Lord in the many and varied situations of everyday life.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

So Strange ... Yet So Relevant

Exodus 38:1-40:38
All of this may seem so strange to us. Among all the many details, there is one thing which we must not miss. They "made everything that the Lord commanded." They "followed the Lord's instructions" (Exodus 38:22; Exodus 39:1,5,7,21,26,29,31-32,42-43). God's people are called to be obedient to Him. We are not to do what we want We are to what He commands. We are to follow His instructions. There can be no "anointing" (Exodus 40:9-15), if there is no obedience. The two go together - obedience and anointing. We are to do everything the Lord commands us. We are to follow His instructions (Exodus 40:16,19). Such obedience to God will involve putting His Word at the centre of our lives. His Word is not so much a Word of demand as a Word of "promise." It is not so much a Word of law as a Word of "mercy" (Exodus 40:20). Our obedience to God is grounded in our experience of God's "promise" of "mercy." Having received this "mercy" of God, promised to us in Jesus Christ, we follow the Lord's instructions (Exodus 40:21,23,27,29,32). When we have "finished the work" God has given us to do, we must look to Him to send the blessing - "the glory of the Lord filled the tent" (Exodus 40:34-35). In all the strangeness of the world of Old Testament worship, there are deep spiritual lessons for us, lessons which enable us to go on with the Lord - receiving His mercy, obeying His Word, experiencing His glory. God is good to us. He shows His mercy to us. He puts a new Spirit within us - the Spirit of obedience. He sends His glory so that we might rejoice in His presence and be strengthened by His presence.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Gold ... And God

Exodus 37:1-29
Many times over, we read the word, "gold." We look beyond the furnishings of the place of worship to the God whom we worship. In our hearts, we say, "My God, how wonderful You are." All that we read of here is pointing us to the great God, the God of glory, the god who is worthy of all praise. Many people place great value on "gold", but they do not worship God and give glory to Him. How sad it is that so many people place such high value on the things of this world  - and place such little value on the God who created our world. In our world, we must learn to look beyond this world. We must learn to say, "I'd rather have Jesus than riches untold." The Lord must always be more important to us than anyone or anything else. We must not let "gold" become our "god." We must look beyond the "gold" to our God.

Monday, 3 October 2016

When God's work is done in God's way, there will be God's blessing.

Exodus 35:1-36:38
The work of God requires the work of a large number of people, who pool their resources together to see that God's work is done. When there is this willing spirit among God's people, God's work moves forward. This willing spirit comes from the Lord Himself - "The Lord has filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God." Through the Spirit of God, we receive gifts which are put to good use in the service of God (Exodus 35:31). When God's work is done in God's way - "as the Lord has commanded" (Exodus 36:1), there will be God's blessing: "The people are bringing much more than we need for doing the work the Lord has commanded us to do" (Exodus 36:5).

Sunday, 2 October 2016

What glory there is in the presence of the Lord!

"The skin of Moses' face shone" (Exodus 34:35).
What glory there is in the presence of the Lord! The glory of the Lord was shining upon Moses. The glory of the Lord was shining out from Moses. In the Lord's presence, there is light. When we come into His presence, we come out of the darkness, and we come into the light. It is the light of His glory. It is the light of His love. It is the glory of His love. This is what changes us. This is what makes us new men and women. How can we remain the same when we have been in the presence of the Lord? Was there something special about Moses? No! There was something special about God. Is there something special about us? No! There's something special about God. In His presence, everything changes. The things that seemed so important to us are seen in a new light - the light of eternity. They are seen for what they really are. Do these things really matter as much as we thought they did? or Have we been shaped too much by the world's way of thinking? In the Lord's presence, everything seems so different. Light is shining upon us. It is the light of God's Word. It is the light of the Gospel. His light is a great light. It shines brightly. It will not be overcome by the darkness. Often, we feel that the darkness is so powerful. It seems like we're struggling to get into the light - and the darkness keeps on pulling us back in. What do we learn when we come into the Lord's presence? What do we learn when we read His Word? What do we learn when His Gospel reaches us? We learn that it's not all about us - our struggle to break free from the darkness. It's all about Him - His power to set us free. "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."

Saturday, 1 October 2016

The Word From The Lord, The Word For The People

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.

Friday, 30 September 2016

The history of Israel is like a rollercoaster ride.

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. He shows us that His glory is the glory of His love, the greatest love of all.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Holy To The Lord

Exodus 28:1-30:38
In all our worship and in all of life, we are to be "holy to the Lord" (Exodus 28:36). Holiness lies at the heart of God's instructions to His people. God speaks of the special blessing of His "presence" at "the tent of meeting - "My glory will make this place holy" (Exodus 29:42-43). The holiness of God is full of love. He lives among His people as the God of redemption: "I brought them out of Egypt so that I might live among them" (Exodus 29:45-46). In the Lord's presence, there is grace - "in the Lord's presence ... the sins in their lives are removed" (Exodus 30:16). This redemption, given to us by the grace of God, is to be an ongoing experience through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Our salvation is never to be taken for granted in an arrogant way. Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we do receive assurance of God's salvation - but we must never forget this: "Holy to the Lord" (Exodus 30:37).

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

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."

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Gathered into Christ

"The Feast of Ingathering" (Exodus 23:16).
We are gathered into Christ. Jesus came "to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). This is Good News - but it's not to be kept to ourselves. Good News is for sharing. We're to gather others into Christ. As I thought about this phrase, "the feast of ingathering", my thoughts turned to the words of Psalm 126:5-6 - "Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy." We are to take the "precious seed" with us. We are to sow the "precious seed." We are to trust in the Lord's promise: We "will surely come back with shouts of joy, bringing our sheaves with" us. Our salvation is a tremendous privilege - and so is the service that we offer to our Lord. The Lord has saved us, and we say, "Glory to You, Lord." He has called us to be His servants, and, again, we say, "Glory to You, Lord." We look at our life in Christ - being gathered into Him and gathering others into Him, and we say, "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23). In the New Testament, we read about a man called Levi (Mark 2:13-14). He was to become Matthew (Matthew 9:9-13). Spiritually, it looked like his life was going nowhere - until Jesus came along, and everything changed. He was never the same again. What a big part Matthew has had in the ingathering of men and women for Christ. He was no longer Levi, a despised and forgotten tax collector. He was Matthew, the Gospel-writer. In Matthew's story, we learn about being gathered into Jesus and gathering in others for Jesus. His story is a story of both conversion and call. His life was turned around. It was turned outward towards others. He had a new purpose in life - winning people for his Saviour. * We see the opening of his eyes. Before Jesus spoke the two life-changing words, "Follow Me", was Levi watching Jesus? Was he seeing something different in Jesus? Was he beginning to see himself differently? Was the Spirit of the Lord working in him, preparing him for these life-transforming words, "Follow Me"? His immediate response - "he got up and followed Jesus" - suggests to us that the Lord was already working in his heart, preparing him for that moment when his new life, his life of discipleship, his life of mission would begin. On the day that Jesus came along, Levi saw himself as he really was - a sinner. He also saw Jesus as He really is - the Saviour of sinners, his Saviour. He was gathered in to Jesus - but this was just the beginning of gathering many others into Jesus. * We see the stirring of his heart. Had Levi noticed Jesus? Had he sensed something of the love of Jesus? Was he already beginning to hope that Jesus might do something special for him? Was the love of Jesus already reaching out to him before Jesus spoke the words, "Follow Me"? One thing we can say is this: Levi's conversion was a conversion of the heart. He gave his whole heart to the Lord Jesus - and, when he speaks to us in his Gospel, he speaks to us from his heart, and he speaks to our hearts. * We see the opening of his ears. As we read Matthew's account of his conversion, we are struck by the power of Jesus' words, "Follow Me." Whatever we may think about what could have been happening in Levi's life prior to that moment, we must say this: The moment that Jesus spoke the words, "Follow Me" was the moment that life began again for Levi. It was the moment that he was saved by the Lord - saved from a life of serving his own interests, saved for a life of serving his Saviour. * We see the changing of his life. Levi, the tax collector, became Matthew, the Gospel-writer - a new name and a new mission. He was not only gathered into Jesus. He began a new life of gathering others into Jesus. * We see the loosening of his tongue. We don't know a lot about Matthew. In Acts, we read of Peter and Paul. They were faithful and fruitful preachers of the Gospel. We don't read about Matthew being a preacher. We do know that, in his Gospel, he was speaking for his Lord. He was letting the world know how much Jesus meant to him. He was playing his part - a very important part - in gathering in men and women for the Saviour. * What about us? Will we play our part in the great "ingathering"? "Return to the Lord ... He will revive us ... He will raise us up ... He will come to us like the rain ... " (Hosea 6:1-3). * Return to the Lord. This is where it begins. A life of faithful and fruitful service to the Lord begins when we return to the Lord, when, like Levi, we say to Jesus, "Yes, Lord. I will follow You." * He will revive us. We pray for revival - a great ingathering of many people to our Saviour. Where does it begin? It begins with ourselves: "He will revive us." * He will raise us up. This is not just a little pick-me-up. This is resurrection. In ourselves, we are spiritually dead. In Christ, our risen Saviour, we are made alive. * He will come to us like the rain. "The spring showers water the land" - This is what we must pray for: a spiritual harvest which will bring many people to the Saviour and much glory to God.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Set Free

"If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing” (Exodus 21:2).
In the seventh year, the slave could choose to leave his master. The slave was no longer under a legal requirement to remain in the service of his master. In the service of Christ, we are bound to Him by His everlasting love. There is never a point at which we should ever choose to turn back from following Him. Jesus redeemed us by the shedding of His precious blood. Let us serve Him all the days of our life.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Our obedience to God ...

Exodus 21:1-23:33
Our obedience to God is to take shape within the varied circumstances of everyday life. At the heart of our obedience, there is to be compassion, an expression of God's compassion (Exodus 22:21,28; Exodus 23:9). At the heart of our obedience, there is to be worship (Exodus 23:14). taking compassion and worship together, we come to the very heart of our obedience to God. It is not compassion without worship. It is not worship without compassion. The spiritual and the social belong together. We need spiritual foundations, leading to social changes. The social does not stand on its own. There needs to be spiritual depth. The 'spiritual' does not stand on its own. It is empty formality, if it does not lead to a change in our way of living from day-to-day.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

God's Mercy ...

"showing mercy to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Exodus 20:6).
In there, among the Ten Commandments, there's the word, "mercy" - what a wonderful word! What a wonderful thought - God is merciful. He does not look upon us in our sin. He looks upon us in His Son, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He looks at Jesus - dying on the Cross. He sees Jesus, bearing our sin - and He sees us, receiving Jesus' salvation. "In my place, condemned He stood. Hallelujah! What a Saviour!" - This is mercy, and it's right here in the Ten Commandments. How wonderful is this!
God's Word speaks here of our love for the Lord and our obedience to His commandments. Where does this come from? It comes from the Lord - from the God of love, grace and mercy. Before we come to the Ten Commandments, we have the great declaration of God's salvation: "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" (Exodus 20:2). Real love for the Lord and true obedience to his Word can never be reduced to legalism. It's always much more than that. His love for us inspires our love for Him. Our obedience to His Word is grounded in gratitude for His love.
Thousands came out of Egypt. They had been redeemed by the Lord. They weren't taken straight into the Promised Land. They had to spend many years in the wilderness. Is that not the story of our life? We want to love Him more truly and obey Him more fully - but our sin keeps on holding us back. We're not the finished article. We're a work in progress. Thousands - this is not just about the spiritual leaders, people like Moses and Joshua. This is about ordinary people, people with a story tell: "This is what the Lord has done for me." My story is not your story. Your story is not my story. Each one tells their own story - in their own way. All of us tell the same story - "Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me ... " This is mercy - and it's reached so many different people: different names, different faces, different places, one Saviour - Jesus.
How does God's mercy lead us in the pathway of loving him more truly and obeying Him more fully?
"May your Spirit make us look at the commandments not as a set of observances. May they move us to serve you not in a slavish way but as your sons and daughters who love you and whom you have set free. May we thus fulfil more than the law and serve you as your sons and daughters, in whom you recognize Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord forever."
"As grateful children of God, let us put our hearts into seeking in the commandments not our will but the will of God, so that we do not ask what God orders us to do but simply how we can respond to his love and show that love to the people around us."
"Commandments are not just observances that guarantee our salvation. they are a response to all God has given us. We ask God not what we are obliged to do, but what He expects us to do to respond to his love."
"May we learn from Jesus that love is the heart of the law and that true love knows how to serve" (Camilo J. Marivoet, "Liturgy Alive - Models of Celebration: Weekdays", pp. 314-316)
We've read about "thousands", receiving God's mercy, "thousands", learning to love God and obey Him. God's Word describes, for us, the glory of heaven. It says that there will be "a great multitude, which no man could number" (Revelation 7:9). How amazing is this! We'll come from different nations, different languages, different cultures and different centuries. Each of us will come with a different story to tell - our own unique story of what the Lord has done for us. There will be so many differences, but they will mean nothing to us. We will all be singing the same song. We'll be singing, "Salvation to our God, who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb" (Revelation 7:10). As we think of where we have come from - the depths of sin - and where we have been brought to - the heights of glory, we will sing to the Lord: "Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might be to our God for ever and ever" (Revelation 7:12).

Friday, 23 September 2016

What God has done for His people ...

Exodus 18:1-20:26
The Word of God tells us what God has done for His people: "the Lord saved them" (Exodus 18:8). The Word of God teaches us that being saved by the Lord places us under responsibility to be obedient to Him (Exodus 19:4-5). the vital connection between salvation and obedience is brought out clearly in the giving of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Before speaking to His people about what they must do if they are to live as His obedient people, God reminds them of what He has done for them: "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of slavery in Egypt" (Exodus 20:2). We must never forget how much the Lord has done for us. If we lose sight of His love, His grace and His mercy, so wonderfully revealed to us in our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, our 'obedience' will be nothing but legalism. Real obedience comes from real salvation. It comes to us from the God of our salvation.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Lord provides.

Exodus 16:1-17:16
The Lord provides. Through the provision of manna and water, the Lord sustains His people. Strong in Him, they press on to victory. This is a picture of the Christian life. Before we can be soldiers of Christ, we must receive our strength from the Lord. We come to Him, looking to Him for strength - His strength. Jesus is the Bread of Life. He is the Living Water (John 6:51: John 4:14). Strengthened by Him, we will not be defeated. We will be victorious - "more than conquerors through Him who loved us." His love will give us the victory. "Nothing will be able to separate us from His love" (Romans 8:37-39). In the provision of manna and water, we see love. In the victory over the Amalekites, we see the victory of love: "Love has the victory forever." The God who loved His people - revealing His love in the Exodus, maintaining His love in the wilderness - gave them the victory.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The great power of the Lord ...

Exodus 14:1-15:27
Here, we see "the great power of the Lord" (Exodus 14:31). This leads to worship - "I will sing to the Lord. He has won a glorious victory ... The Lord is my strength and my song. He is my Saviour. This is my God and I will praise Him ... " (Exodus 15:1-2). In the work of God's redemption, we see His love and power - "Lovingly You will lead the people You have saved. Powerfully, You will guide them to Your holy dwelling" (Exodus 15:13). This is the greatness of God's power - it is power which serves the purpose of His love. The Lord is King - "The Lord will rule as King forever and ever" (Exodus 15:18). He is not a tyrant. He is not a dictator. He is the King of love. He loves us. We are to love Him, living for Him and looking to Him to fulfil His promises in our lives.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

"God will surely visit you" (Exodus 13:19).

"God will surely visit you" (Exodus 13:19).
Sometimes, when we’re reading the Scriptures, there are some words that just jump out at us. We say to ourselves, “That was just what I needed to read.” We say to God, “Thank You, Lord for that Word. You’ve spoken Your Word to me. It was just the right Word – for me, for right now.” Here’s a great word of encouragement – “God will surely visit you” (Exodus 13:19). What a great privilege this is – God visits us! Are we ready for His visit? Do we pretend that we’re not in when He comes knocking on our door? or Are we so pleased to get a visit from Him? Often, we’re so busy with small things – things that don’t really matter that much in the light of eternity – that we fail to give the Lord an enthusiastic welcome.
As I thought about these words of encouragement – “God will surely visit you”, I looked at the rest of the verse and read these words, “the bones of Joseph”! Here, we see the realism of God’s Word. It lifts us up to the eternal God, but it also keeps our feet on the ground – with a reminder of our mortality! Do we need to hear about “the bones of Joseph”? – Of course, we do! We’re not going to go on forever. “The bones of Joseph” – there’s more than this. There are the heavenly “mansions” (John 14:2). Then, we’ll be going to “visit” the Lord. We’ll be more than visitors. We’ll “dwell in the House of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). That’s our glorious future. This is what we have to look forward to!
Here-and-now, we must settle for something less than that. We’re not quite ready for the fullness of His glory. He’s preparing us for glory. He’s giving us His visitations. He’s giving us ” a foretaste of glory divine.” How well prepared will be for the full revelation of God’s glory? We’ll never be fully prepared. We’ll always be sinners. We can, however, draw encouragement from God’s precious promise – “God will surely visit you.” Here-and-now, we must learn to appreciate God’s visitations. They’re preparing us for something better – “Eye has not seen. Ear has not heard. Neither has it entered into the heart what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Monday, 19 September 2016

The purpose of the Passover

Exodus 12:1-13:22
The purpose of the Passover was to build a bridge between the past, the present and the future: "Remember this day - the day when you left Egypt, the land of slavery. The Lord used His mighty hand to bring you out of there" (Exodus 13:3), "In the future, when your children ask you what this means, tell them, " 'The Lord used His mighty hand to bring us out of slavery in Egypt'" (Exodus 13:14). What must be remembered about these events is this: the Lord was in control. Once they had come out of Egypt, God continued to be in control of their journey. In Exodus 13:17-18, we read that God closed one door - "the shortest route" - and opened another door. God's perfect way may not always be "the shortest route" - but it is His way, and it's the best way.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

More plagues, more opportunities for repentance ...

Exodus 9:1-11:10
More plagues, more opportunities for repentance - God was appealing to Pharaoh to change his mind about God and the people of God. The call to repentance was ignored. Pharaoh put on a show of repentance (Exodus 9:27-28; Exodus 10:16-17). - but he didn't mean it: "Pharaoh was stubborn", "the Lord made him stubborn" (Exodus 9:35; Exodus 10:20). He was a man of unbelief. God confirmed him in his unbelief. the final plague - the death of the firstborn - represented the end of the road for Pharaoh - "the Lord made Pharaoh stubborn" (Exodus 11:10). God was saying, 'Enough is enough.' God was going to bring His people out of Egypt - with or without Pharaoh's permission. there were good things happening - "the Lord made the Egyptians kind to the people. And Moses was highly respected by Pharaoh's officials and all the Egyptians" (Exodus 11:3) - but this didn't change the fact that Pharaoh was resistant to God. This resistance did not hinder God in the outworking of His great purpose of salvation.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

In the bad times as well as the good times ...

“Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw” (Exodus 5:14).
When everything seems to be going from bad to worse, we must pray that God will give us the strength that we need to keep on loving Him, trusting Him and serving Him. Our circumstances may have changed. Nothing seems to be going right. We didn’t think it would turn out this way. Has our Saviour changed? Has He gone away and left us? No! He hasn’t. He’s still with us. Are we still with Him? or Do we opt out when the going gets tough? Lord, You are faithful to us. Keep us faithful to You.

Friday, 16 September 2016

It gets worse before it gets better ...

Exodus 5:1-8:31
It gets worse before it gets better. Things seemed to be going from bad to worse for God's people. They become "discouraged" (Exodus 6:9). They were unable to look beyond their present difficulties. They needed the Lord's Word of encouragement - "The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I use My power against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of there" (Exodus 7:5). Before there was salvation for Israel, there needed to be judgment for Egypt. The judgments on Egypt (the "plagues") were a call to repentance. If there had been a willingness to listen to God's Word at the beginning, these "plagues" would not have happened. Each "plague" was a call to repentance as well as a judgment on disobedience. Each "plague" could have been the last - if Pharaoh had said 'Yes' to the Lord. Pharaoh said 'No', and the "plagues" continued.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

In Moses, there is great weakness. In the Lord, there is great strength.

Exodus 4:1-31
In Moses, there is great weakness. In the Lord, there is great strength. By himself, Moses was completely out of his depth. With God, Moses would go from strength to strength. He had God's promise as well as God's command: "Now go, and I will help you speak and will teach you what to say" (Exodus 4:12). Moses was not to be left on his own. As well as having the help of the Lord, he would also have the help of Aaron, his brother: "I will help both of you speak, and I will teach you what to do" (Exodus 4:15). Moses and Aaron were not to work in isolation from the other "leaders of the people of Israel." They were to share with them "everything the Lord had said" (Exodus 4:29-30). God's Word to Israel was a Word of power - He "did miraculous signs for the people" (Exodus 4:30) - and love - "The Lord was concerned about the people of Israel" (Exodus 4:31).

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Moses was called to be a servant of God's people.

Exodus 3:1-22
Moses was called to be a servant of God's people. He was to be the leader who would play an important part in bringing the blessing of God to the people of Israel. He was not to be a 'lone ranger.' He was to "assemble the leaders of Israel" (Exodus 3:16). He was to share with them the Lord's vision for His people's future. God was taking them away from "misery." He was leading them on to blessing - " a land flowing with milk and honey." Moses was not to go to the Pharaoh as a 'lone ranger' - "you and the leaders must go to the King of Egypt" (Exodus 3:18). There are important lessons here for God's servants today. We move forward together - as "one body in Christ."

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The stage is set for a mighty work of God ...

Exodus 1:1-2:25
The stage is set for a mighty work of God. The Lord's people face a crisis situation. they are being oppressed by the Egyptians. God sees what is happening. He is making His plans - to give His people a better future. It may have seemed like God was doing nothing about Israel's problems - "a  long time passed " (Exodus 2:23). God was not standing back, paying no attention to what was going on. He was busy - preparing Moses to be the leader of His people. He was taking steps towards the great event of the deliverance from the oppressors. God was looking ahead to the Exodus and the movement from the land of bondage to the land of promise - "He remembered His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" (Exodus 2:24), and He was about to fulfil this promise with a mighty demonstration of His saving power.

Monday, 12 September 2016

"God meant it for good" (Genesis 50:20).

"God meant it for good" (Genesis 50:20).
Sometimes, when we're going through the mill, it can be difficult to see God in the things that are happening to us - but that doesn't mean that He isn't there. It just means that we can't see Him. We're looking for Him, but we can't find Him. Is He hiding from us? Is He trying to confuse us? No! He's waiting in the background - "From a distance, God is watching us." When we see nothing but clouds in our sky, we must keep on believing that the sun is waiting to shine. God is there. His Son is there. His Spirit is giving the strength that we need. There is light at the end of the tunnel. God is leading us out of our dark times. He's leading us to the place, where we will see that He never left us. He was there all the time, leading us to the place where we will say, "God meant it for good."

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Sent To Bring Life

Sent To Bring Life
"God sent me before you to preserve life" (Genesis 45:5).
We are to bring life. That's why God has sent us. We are to bring the Saviour. We are to bring the Scriptures. We are to bring the Spirit. People coming to the Saviour, people learning from the Scriptures, people walking in the Spirit - this is what we're praying for and working for.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

The Power Of God And The Blessing Of God

The Power Of God And The Blessing Of God
"It is not in me. God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace" (Genesis 41:16).
Can any of us speak the Word of God - and bring blessing to others? - "It is not in me." Our words will never bring blessing to anyone, unless God is in our words. The real power comes from God. The real blessing comes from Him.

Friday, 9 September 2016

The Word Of The Lord And The Spirit Of The Lord

The Word Of The Lord And The Spirit Of The Lord
"Do not interpretations belong to God?" (Genesis 40:8).
It's a great blessing to have the Word of the Lord. There's another great blessing. God has given to us the Holy Spirit. Through the working of the Holy Spirit in us, the Word of God comes alive. It is more than just a book. It is the Word of God to me. It is the Word of God to you. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes. He shows us Jesus. he leads us to Jesus. He gives us love for Jesus. Thank God for His written Word. Thank Him for the Holy Spirit. We read the Word, and the Holy Spirit says to us, "This is for you."