Monday, 28 October 2019

Sing with joy ...

Jeremiah 31:7-14

“Sing with joy” (Jeremiah 31:7,12-13).
This is to be our response to the Gospel. It’s more than a singalong. It’s “praise.” This praise continues after we leave the place of worship.
“Shout” - “I am not ashamed” (Romans 1:16).
“Proclaim” - Make the message known: “for the Good News” (Romans 1:1,5-6).
This for everyone (Jeremiah 31:8,10).
We come as we are - “blind” and “lame” (Jeremiah 31:8). We come to our “Shepherd” (Jeremiah 31:10). He has “ransomed” us. He has “redeemed” us from the “power” of Satan, Our enemy is stronger than we are, but he is not stronger than Jesus - “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:40.
With Christ in our life, everything changes - “new wine, fresh oil... Their life will be... They will be no longer...” (Jeremiah 31:12). It is “abundant” life, a “satisfied” life (Jeremiah 31:14). We have received new life in Christ - “This is the Lord’s declaration concerning us (Jeremiah 31:14).

More Than A Morning Prayer: Psalm 5

“Morning by morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; morning by morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation” (v. 3). These are the words which have led to Psalm 5 being described as “a morning prayer.” It should, however, be noted that this is the only mention of “morning” in this Psalm. This Psalm is not only for the “morning”! Psalm 5 leads us to the Lord. It gives us a profound understanding of His character, It speaks to us about His holiness. In the first ten verses of this twelve-verse Psalm, we see two contrasting pictures. We see the believer before God. We see the unbeliever before God. We see the faithful. We see the faithless, We see the righteous. We see the wicked. We see ourselves standing in the presence of the holy God. Here’s a summary of the Psalm. * vs. 1-3, vs. 7-8 - a picture of the believer * vs. 4-6, vs. 9-10 – a picture of the unbeliever. * vs. 11-12 – a statement of confident expectancy concerning the rich blessing of God which alone can bring joy to the hearts of God’s people. vs. 1-3, 7-8 Here, we see the believer as a man of prayer. In prayer, we see the believer’s true relationship with God. (a) It is a relationship of dependency. The believer depends on God. He depends on God because he needs God. We see this need for God and dependency on God in the intensity of the Psalmist’s prayer. He unburdens his heart to God. He speaks of his “groaning” (v. 1) and his “cry” (v. 2). This is not the comfortable prayer of a man who hardly cares whether or not his prayer is answered. This is “the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man” (James 5:16). This is the kind of prayer that God hears and answers. This is the kind of prayer that has “great power in its effects” (James 5:16). (b) It is a relationship of submission. It couldn’t be said that the Psalmist’s God was too small. It couldn’t be said that he took God for granted. It couldn’t be said that he brought God down to his own level. Look at how the Psalmist speaks of God – “my King and my God” (v. 2). He worships God. He praises God. He bows down before His God and King. Do we worship God like this? (c) It is a relationship that is personal. The Psalmist is aware that the Lord is God. He knows that the Lord is King. He doesn’t think of God as the unknown God. He doesn’t think of God as a dictatorial and tyrannical king. He speaks of my God and my King. Do we know God like this? (d) It is a relationship marked by regularity. The Psalmist didn’t regard his relationship with God take or leave. He didn’t just come to God when he felt like. He prayed regukarly. Being a man of faith was a full-tine commitment. “Morning by morning”, he came to God in prayer. “Morning by morning”, he waited on the Lord. Dop we seek God like this? (e) It is a relationship of grace. This is the most important thing that we can say about our relationship with God. The Psalmist knew that he had this relationship with God only “through the abundance of God’s steadfast love” (v. 7). Because of this grace, he had learned to fear the Lord. “‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.” In John Newton’s hymn, we hear an echo of the words of Psalm 130:4 – “there is forgiveness with Thee that Thou mayest be feared”. The Psalmist seeks to live his life in (i) the assuranc of forgiveness (his fears are relieved); and (ii) the fear of God (with a true humility of heart and reverence towards God). Do we know the true fear of God which relieves false fears? vs. 4-6, 9-10 Here, we see the unbeliever. More than that, we see the God of perfect holiness, and we learn that He is also the God of perfect love. God is holy. He is opposed to all that is evil. God is the Holy One. He is the enemy of all wickedness. We are not only concerned with the unbeliever. We learn about God’s verdict concerning sin. The words of verse 9 – “Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue they speak deceit” – are quoted by Paul in Romans 3. These words are applied to every one of us. Concerning all of us, God’s verdict is “guilty.” We dare not allow ourselves to be swept along by the worldly attitude, which doesn’t take seriously. We must learn to see our sin in the light of God’s holiness. At the Cross of Christ, we see the anger of God in the service of the love of God. We look at Christ, crucified for us, and we learn that “God is not willing that any should perish. He wills that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). We learn of God’s judgment upon sin and His love for sinners. God speaks to us about the seriousness of our sin. Why does He do this? Does He want to drive us to despair? No! He wants us to see the seriousness of our sin so that we will turn from our sin to Him. He wants us to see how much He loves us. He calls us to “turn our eyes upon Jesus.” He wants us to look at Jesus Christ, crucified for us. He wants us to see that His love is the greatest love of all. He wants us to begin a new life with Christ at the centre. He wants us to turn from all earthbound thinking and living. He wants us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” vs.11-12 “But let all who take refuge in Thee rejoice. Let them ever sing for joy.” We turn from our sin. We turn to God. In Him, we find true joy, true love and true blessing. What the world cannot give to us, we find in Christ. We come to Him in our emptiness. He fills us with His fullness. Christ is our great Saviour. The Name of Jesus is the Name that is above every name. In Him, we have received “every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3). His love is the greatest love of all. He fills our hearts with true and lasting joy. In Psalm 5, we have a more than a morning prayer which we offer to God. We catch a glimpse of something that is far wonderful than that. We catch a glimpse of the eternal salvation which God has provided for us, through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of sinners.

Cain, Abel - And Christ

Genesis 4:1-16
We read about Cain and Abel. We look beyond them to Christ. He offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin. He is "the Passover Lamb." He "has been sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
We read here about the parting of the ways. Cain went one way - away from God. Abel went the other way - towards God. When we come to the Cross of Jesus Christ, we must make our choice. Our  life can never be the same again.
Will we be like Cain? - "He went out from the Lord's presence and lived in the land of wandering" (Genesis 4:16). What does God say to those who are wandering away from Him? He says, "Awake, sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you" (Ephesians 5:14).
We read about Abel, and we look beyond him to Christ. Let us walk with Christ on the way of faith and obedience, the way of His salvation, the way of holiness. When we read about Abel's offering being accepted by God, we must remember this - It's Christ who makes the difference. It's "His blood" which "cleanses us from our sins" (1 John 1:7).

Sing To The Lord ...

May God help each of us to “sing to the Lord.” May we “sing praise to Him.” May we “glory in His holy Name.” May we “rejoice” in Him. May we come to Him in our weakness and find our new “strength” in Him (Psalm 105:2-4).

God's Wisdom? or Our Wisdom?

In Job 11, we hear from Zophar. So far, so good - That’s what we can say about the basic principles of his message: “God’s wisdom is higher than heaven” (Job 11:8); “If you want to set your heart right, then pray to Him. If you’re holding on to sin, put it far away” (Job 11:13). There’s a problem with Zophar’s message. He applies these basic principles to Job. He allows the idea that Job has sinned to dominate his thinking rather than allowing for the possibility that God, in His perfect wisdom, may have another reason, a very different reason, for permitting Job to suffer. When we have two important principles - God’s wisdom and God’s forgiveness, we must not assume that we know exactly how the two relate to each other. If we act on the basis of our own wisdom rather than God’s wisdom, we may end up showing ourselves to be fools.
In Job 12 - 14, Job speaks. He emphasizes that wisdom comes from God (Job 12:13). He charges his so-called ‘comforters’ with speaking foolishly, without the wisdom which comes from God: “Will you talk wickedly for God and talk deceitfully on His behalf? ... Doesn’t His Majesty terrify you? Doesn’t the fear of Him fall upon you?” (Job 13:7,11). Job is still unclear about what is happening to him. He is still wishing that he was dead: “I wish You would hide me in Sheol” (Job 14:13). He still insists on his innocence: “I know that I will be declared righteous” (Job 13:18).

Lord, You are God.

Lord, You are God. Who are we to tell You what to do? Who are we to say, “We’ll do what we like” - when You’re saying to us, “I know what’s best for you.” Help us to choose Your way - and stop insisting on getting our own way. How are we to do this? Jesus tells us, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). How, we wonder, does Jesus make us free?
He shows us “the truth” - the truth about ourselves, the truth about Jesus.
We are sinners. Jesus is our Saviour. This is the truth. It’s “the truth that sets us free” (
John 8:32). We are sinners. Jesus is our Saviour. This is the truth that brings us out of the prison cell of our own making. This, Lord, is the truth which brings us on to the pathway of Your blessing, the pathway of true and lasting joy, the pathway to Your eternal glory.

Lord, we look at ourselves ...

Lord, we look at ourselves, and we say, “This is my life. This is the way I’ve always been. I’ll never change. I’ll never be any different.” Is this all that we can say about ourselves? Is this what You’re saying about us? We’re always thinking about what we are. You’re always saying to us, “This is what you can become. This is what I am going to make you.” Help us to listen to what You’re saying to us. Help us to make a new “beginning” with You - as we believe and receive “the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1).

‘Devote yourselves to prayer.’

God calls us to pray - ‘Devote yourselves to prayer’. We are to pray with concern - ‘watchful’. We are to pray with gratitude - ‘thankful’ (Colossians 4:2). We are to pray for those who preach God’s Word. Thank God for the past. Trust Him for the future. Remember - the important thing is the ‘message’ (Colossians 4:3). The messengers are just ‘jars of clay’. The message is the ‘treasure’ (2 Corinthians 4:7). The messengers must not draw attention to themselves. They must direct attention away from themselves to Jesus Christ - ‘We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord’ (2 Corinthians 4:5). We are to pray that the message will be ‘clear’ (Colossians 4:4). Pray for good preaching - preaching which does you good, giving you good cause to say in your heart, ‘For me it is good to be near God’ (Psalm 73:28). Pray for preaching which glorifies God.

When You're Down ...

When you’re down, look to the Lord. He loves You. He will lift you up.
Life is full of ups and downs. For Elijah, there was a very high point. He prayed. ‘The fire of the Lord fell’. ‘All the people said, ‘The Lord, He is God’’(1 Kings 18:37-39). This was followed by a very low point: ‘O Lord, take away my life’(1 Kings 19:4). We are so changeable. Often, we feel like we are being torn apart. Our emotions pull us in different directions. Sometimes, we are full of joy. At other times, we are at the point of despair. We find ourselves in a turmoil of confused emotions. What are we to do? Are we to ‘pull ourselves together’? This seems to be the very thing we can’t manage to do. Are we to ‘hope for the best’- ‘Some day, some way, things will get better’? We think about this, and we wonder, ‘What happens if things get worse?’! Look to the Lord. His love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable.

Outstanding Love, Overwhelming Victory and Overflowing Peace

"… so outstanding is His love …”(Psalm 103:11)
"… overwhelming victory is ours …” (Romans 8:37).
“The peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). This is the overflowing peace of God – The peace of God in our hearts is an overflow from the God of peace, who, in Jesus Christ, has come to live in our hearts.
 * The overflowing peace of God comes to us from the outstanding love of God.
 * The overflowing peace of God comes to us from the overwhelming victory of God.
 – Let us receive the outstanding love of God.
 – Let us rejoice in the overwhelming victory of God.
 – Let us rest in the overflowing peace of God.

"Now Is The Day Of Salvation."

In our thinking about the Lord’s Return, it is very important that we do not forget that the decision between salvation and judgment is one which must be made here and now. The Bible speaks of the Day of the Lord’s Return as a Day of salvation for the Lord’s believing people. The Lord’s Return will also bring a Day of judgment for all who turn their backs on the Saviour. The Bible also speaks of another day of salvation, another day of judgment. That day is today. This is precisely what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:2 - “Now is the day of salvation.” Now is the time for making your decision for Christ. Now is the time for faith in the Saviour. Jesus underlines the importance of our present response to Him. He does this, in John 3:18, when He speaks of those who are already under judgment because of their unbelief: “he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God.” The Lord awaits for our response now. May God help us to put our trust in His Son, Jesus Christ. May God help us to await Christ’s Return with joyful expectation.

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