Tuesday, 21 February 2017

22nd-25th February: Worship - This must always lie at the heart of the life of God’s people ... (Ezra)

22nd February
Following the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, after their captivity in Babylon and prior to the beginning of the rebuilding of the Temple, there was the resumption of worship at the Temple site (Ezra 3:1-6). Worship - This must always lie at the heart of the life of God’s people. Once the foundation had been laid at the Temple, there was joyful thanksgiving - “They prayed and gave thanks to the Lord ... He is good; His mercy toward Israel endures forever ... Praise the Lord” (Ezra 3:11).
23rd February
In Ezra 4, we read of opposition to God’s work. This opposition led to a temporary hold in God’s work (Ezra 4:24). Inspired by the ministry of Haggai and Zechariah, Zerubbabel resumed the rebuilding of God’s Temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 5:1-2). The work was completed (Ezra 6:15) and dedicated to the Lord (Ezra 6:16). At the heart of the dedication of the Temple, there was worship - joyful worship (Ezra 6:19-22).
24th February
Ezra was a man of God. His life was grounded in the word of God. He brought the Word of God to others, teaching them to build their lives on the word of God. In Ezra 8:22, we have a Old Testament statement of the spiritual principle, taught by Paul in Romans 8:28 - “Our God works things out for the good of everyone who dedicates his life to serving him.”
25th February
In His Word, God calls us to make a total commitment of our lives to Him. Where we have failed Him, we must make confession of our sin and pray that He will give us the strength to live a life that is pleasing to Him and brings glory to Him.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Do You Love God?


Jesus was speaking to men who practised a a very high-brow kind of religion. As far as they were concerned, they did all the right things. They regarded themselves as the people of God. From this high vantage-point of religious observance, these men became proud and arrogant. They looked down on others. Rather than looking deeply into their own sinful hearts and confessing their own sin to God, these men were preoccupied with outward appearances and insisted on passing judgment on the lives of others. Although these men had plenty of religion, Jesus hit the nail on the head when He said to them: "But I know that you have not the love of God within you" (John 5:42).
Jesus' words, in John 5:42, begin with the word, "But." Jesus is saying to these proud, religious men, "I know all about your religion, all about your religious traditions, all about the power and the glory of your religion, all about your knowledge of the Scriptures, but there is something else I know about you - "I know that you have not the love the love of God within you."
How did Jesus know this - because He sees what is in the heart. He sees what is in our hearts!
We really need to hear Jesus' words as a personal challenge. They put before us a serious question: Do I love God or do I not love God?
The Lord Jesus Christ knows all about our church membership and church attendance.He knows about our outward profession of the Christian religion. He knows how often we have sat at the Lord's Table. He knows how often we have heard God's Word. Yet, the Lord, who looks not at outward appearances but at the heart, persists in asking us a most disturbing and extremely challenging question; Do you love God or do you not love God?
Let's think together about this most important question. Let's look deeply into our own hearts, examining ourselves closely in the presence of God, who searches our hearts with the all-seeing eye of His holy Word. Let's think about our attitudes - attitudes towards the creation of God, the blessing of God, the people of God , the Word of God and, above all, the Son of God. We're not speaking here about outward appearances, which can be very deceiving. God looks at the heart. What does He see? Does He see that He is not in all our thoughts, or does He see a real hungering and thirsting for God and righteousness? does He see an attitude which says, "I'm content with a self-centred life, or does He see a God-centred commitment which is determined "to be the best that I can be for truth and righteousness and God"? These are very personal questions. I cannot answer them for you. You cannot answer them for me. Each one of us must answer them for ourselves. we must give our answer to God.
(1) The creation of God
Do we take the created world for granted - hardly ever thinking of God the Creator? When we look at the created world with our own eyes, we see nothing but the things which are seen, the things which are temporal. When we look at God's creation with the eyes of faith, our hearts go out to God in praise and worship, giving thanks to Him that He, the God who created all that we see before us, should come to us in love, giving His Son to be our Saviour.
A modern song, entitled, "I can't wait to get to heaven", expresses well what it means to look at the created world with believing eyes: "Seaside, sunset, silver lining round the clouds; Birds fly, singing, making such a joyful sound. Thoughts of heaven somehow seem to fill my mind. I can't wait to get to heaven. Deep green forest, mountains reaching for the sky; Grasslands and deserts, Your creation fills my eyes. Thank You, thank You, Jesus! though this beauty is just a taste of all Your glory I'll see when I pass through these gates - I can't wait to get to heaven" (Keith Green).
The Lord Jesus Christ is preparing a place for all who love Him. Don't let the earthbound thinking of this present world keep you from loving, trusting, thanking, praising and following Jesus.
(2) The blessings of God
There's an old song which says, "Count your blessings; name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done" (Johnson Oatman Jr,). How often do you think of the many good things the Lord has done for you? How often do you give thanks to Him? The Lord's blessings are so many and varied that we could never manage to count them all. One thing we can say is this: Thank You for Jesus.
When you hear Jesus' words: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My words who sent Me has eternal life", is your heart filled with joyful thanksgiving? Don't let the "take it for granted" attitude of today's society keep you from thanking God for the greatest blessing of all - Jesus.
(3) The people of God
Before Jesus the Saviour, there was John the Baptist. Jesus gives us a great description of John: "He was a burning and shining lamp." John was a man of God, a man on fire for God. How did the proud, religious men of Jesus' day respond to the preaching of John? Jesus tells us that "they were willing to rejoice for a while in his light" (John 5:35). The important words here are the three words: "for a while."They rejoiced in his light for a while, but now they had given up on rejoicing in the preaching of this faithful and fearless man of God. The proud, religious men of Jesus' day were willing to give a hearing to a new preacher. No doubt, they said, "Great preacher! Great sermon!" They said this for a while - but, when the initial enthusiasm wore off, it really wore off, and, then, there was nothing left but an arrogant rejection. Wherever we see that there is a faithful and fearless stand taken for Christ, we must say, "Yes, I will stand with you, I will encourage you. Together, we will serve the Lord."
Remember, commitment to the Lord and to His Church belong together. We cannot live in a wee world of our own, We must be faithful in encouraging others to serve the Lord.
(4) The Word of God
It is the Bible - God's Word - which teaches us the truth of God
We began by asking about our love for God. As we think about our love for Him, we must never forget that our love for Him is grounded in His love for us. We love Him because He has first loved us. All who truly love God will love His Word and will spend time reading His Word. If we neglect the Bible, this is a sure sign that we are neglecting God. When God is truly at work in a someone's life, there will be a real love for the Word of God. Look at your life in the light of the Bible. What do you see? Do you see how much you have failed God, how often you have let Him down? Do you not see how little you love God, how little praise and thanksgiving there is in your heart? Do you not see your weakness? Do you not see your sinfulness and disobedience? Yes! we see all of these things, but - and this is absolutely amazing - in the midst of all this, we see Someone who loves us. As we think about our love for God, we must never forget that our love for Him is always grounded in His love for us. We love Him because He first loved us.
(5) The Son of God
Jesus says, "He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent Him" (John 5:23). How can there be love for God where there is no love for Jesus? we should be humbled and alarmed by our lack of love for Jesus. we must rejoice that Jesus is "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6).
You have heard God's Word. Make sure that you don't refuse to come to Christ who alone can give you eternal life. he invites you to come. He promises you eternal life. He loves you. He died for you.

Friday, 17 February 2017

18th-21st February: "If My people ... " (2 Chronicles)

18th February
The continuation of God’s blessing is conditional on the continuation of Israel’s obedience. The Temple does not guarantee the continuation of God’s blessing: “If you and your descendants turn away from Me ... I will reject this Temple that I declared holy for My Name. I will make it an example and an object of ridicule for all the people of the world” (2 Chronicles 7:19-20). These are God’s words of warning. He also gives His promise of blessing to those who turn to Him - “If My people ...” (2 Chronicles 7:14-16).
19th February
The grandeur of Solomon was most impressive. After reading about all of his glory, we come to the point where he dies. This is a reminder that we cannot take our riches with us. It’s a reminder of Jesus’ words: “Do not lay up treasures on earth.Lay up treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20), We must never lose sight of the eternal dimension of our life.
20th February
In the history of Israel, there were low points - “all Israel abandoned the Lord’s teaching” (2 Chronicles 12:1) - as well as high points - “Asa did what the Lord his God considered right and good” (2 Chronicles 14:2). Even Asa was not consistently faithful to the Lord. Despite the statement, “Asa remained committed to the Lord his entire life” (2 Chronicles 15:17), there are signs that, at the end of his life, his faith was not as strong as it should have been. God is calling us to move forward in faith and obedience. He is calling us to walk in His ways all the days of our life.
21st February
The reign of Jehoshaphat was a good reign. He was the “king of Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:31). He was very different from “King Ahab of Israel” (2 Chronicles 18:3). Good kings, bad kings - Each has his influence on the people: a good influence, a bad influence. Reading about these things makes us think about ourselves and the influence we have on other people. Is it good or bad? What about our own commitment to the Lord? Is it real? Is it changing us - and others?

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Lord, there are so many people who have stopped following You ...

Lord, there are so many people who have stopped following You. They think that they can go it alone – without You. Often, we are tempted to join them. We see the way things are in today’s world – and our heads go down. We feel like giving up. When we feel like this, help us to lift our eyes, to catch a glimpse of Jesus, to see Him as the Lord of glory, to be filled with the joy that comes from knowing that Jesus is coming again  – to take us home, into the eternal presence of Your victorious love.

Friday, 10 February 2017

11th-17th February - Peace comes from the Lord ... (1 and 2 Chronicles)

1 Chronicles
11th February - The name, “Solomon” means “peace” - “in his time I will give Israel peace and quiet” (1 Chronicles 22:9). The peace came from the Lord. It came from the presence of the Lord with Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:18). When we think of all that the Lord has done for us and all that He has given to us, we must give our hearts and lives to Him, to live as His faithful people - “So dedicate your hearts and lives to serving the Lord your God. Start building the holy place of the Lord your God” (1 Chronicles 22:19).
12th February - The work of God is to be carried out by many people, working together as a team - God’s team. The importance of teamwork must be recognized if God’s work is to be moved forward in God’s way. Reading over the many names and numbers in 1 Chronicles 23 - 27, we are reminded of Paul’s words concerning the body of Christ: “the body is one unit and yet has many parts. As all the parts form one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12).
13th February - The Lord’s work requires the generous and wholehearted support of God’s people (1 Chronicles 29:9). It needs more than human enthusiasm. We need the presence of the Lord. This is what the Lord promises to us: “The Lord God, my God, will be with you. He will not abandon you before all the work on the Lord’s temple is finished.” This promise of God gives God’s courage to God’s servants: “Be strong and courageous, and do the work.” God’s promise gives us victory over fear: “Don’t be afraid or terrified” (1 Chronicles 28:20). In the service of the Lord, we need both hard work and worship. Without worship, hard work amounts to nothing. It will be service that is offered to God in the flesh - and it will accomplish nothing which brings glory to God. God is glorified only when His servants do all things in the Spirit of worship. This is the lesson that we learn from the song of praise in 1 Chronicles 29:10-15. Everything comes from God. He gives us what we need to do His work. He equips us for His service. He enables us to carry His work forward. At the heart of the life of God’s people, we have the continuation of the scene, described in 1 Chronicles 29:20 - “Then David said to the whole assembly, ‘Praise the Lord your God!’” The worship of God is to be a joyful celebration (1 Chronicles 29:22).
2 Chronicles
14th February - “Give me wisdom and knowledge so that I may lead these people ... This great people of Yours” (2 Chronicles 1:10). Wisdom is not given to us for our own benefit, It is given to us for the benefit of others - so that we might lead them to the Lord. We are to follow in the footsteps of our Lord. He “came not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45).
15th February - “I want to build the Temple for the Lord my God. I want to dedicate it to Him” (2 Chronicles 2:4). Everything that we do is to be done for God. Everything that we do is to be dedicated to Him. This is the lesson that we learn from Solomon and the building of the Temple. We are to do all things for the glory of God. He alone is worthy of our praise. We are not only to worship Him in the place of worship and at the time set aside for worship. We are to worship Him all of the time, wherever we are. We are to praise Him in His House. We are to continue to praise Him, as we go out from His House to the world.
16th February -The building of the Temple - It was “the Lord’s Temple” (2 Chronicles 3:1). It was being built “for the Lord’s Name” (2 Chronicles 2:1). The glory of the Lord - This must never be forgotten. There is nothing more important than this. God is to be glorified. This was the reason for the building of the Temple.This must be the driving force in our lives - in everything we do. Let God be glorified in all things. Blessing will only come to us when we give the glory to God. We must not seek glory for ourselves.
17th February - “The Lord’s glory filled the Lord’s Temple” (2 Chronicles 5:14), The emphasis is not on Solomon. It is the Lord who must be the focus of our attention. It is the Lord who is to receive glory. Solomon emphasizes this: “I’ve built the Temple for the Name of the Lord God of Israel” (2 Chronicles 6:11). In his prayer (2 Chronicles 6:14-42), Solomon prays for “salvation” (2 Chronicles 6:41). He does not only pray for himself. He prays for others. He prays that they will come to God, praying for “salvation”. He asks God to hear and answer these prayers.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

4th-10th February - Wonderful Words Of Love ... (1 Chronicles)

1 Chronicles
4th February - In 1 Chronicles 1 - 9, there are lots of names. Each one of us is known, by name, to the Lord. This is a very precious truth. It is summed up, for us, in the wonderful words of love, spoken by the Good Shepherd, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
5th February - “So Saul died because of his unfaithfulness to the Lord. He did not obey the Word of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 10:13). Here, we read of Saul’s sin, shame and sadness. This was more than a personal thing. It had a profound effect on the whole nation. God looked at the effect Saul was having on His people. The Lord decided that it was time for a change, a new beginning:“So the Lord killed him, and turned the kingship over to David, Jesse’s son” (1 Chronicles 10:14).
6th February - David becomes king (1 Chronicles 11:3). David is helped by his supporters. He has more than the help of other people. His help comes from the Lord (1 Chronicles 12:18). The work, done by David, was, first and foremost, the work of God - the restoration of God to His proper place among His people (1 Chronicles 13:3): “The Lord is enthroned on the praises of His people ... David and all Israel were celebrating in God’s presence with all their might ... “ (1 Chronicles 13:6,8).
7th February - The defeat of the Philistines was God’s doing: “God has gone ahead of you to defeat the Philistine army” (1 Chronicles 14:15). Along with this victory over the Philistines, there was the bringing to Jerusalem of “the ark of the Lord’s promise.” This was an occasion of joyful worship (1 Chronicles 15:28). In worship, there is “singing songs of thanks to the Lord” (1 Chronicles 16:7) - “Give thanks to the Lord” (1 Chronicles 16:8,34).
8th February - “I will place him in My royal House forever, and his throne will be established forever” (1 Chronicles 17:14). This is a word of prophecy concerning Jesus Christ, the King of kings. It is a prophecy, which highlights the eternal purpose of God - the eternal Kingdom of the eternal God. “You made the people of Israel to be Your people forever. And You, Lord, became their God ... Your Name will endure and be respected forever ... Almighty Lord ... You were please to bless my house, so that it may continue in Your presence forever. Indeed, You, Lord, have blessed it. It will be blessed forever” (1 Chronicles 17:22,24,26-27). This is the eternal perspective within which we must read these Old Testament stories. God is the eternal God. His Kingdom is eternal. It will stand forever.
9th February - As we read of David and his many exploits, we must remember that this is part of the great story of the mighty works of the Lord. To God’s people, there is the command, “Be strong.” From God’s people, there is the commitment: “Let’s prove ourselves strong for our people and the cities of our God” (1 Chronicles 19:13). This commitment is not only a commitment to the people. It’s a commitment to the Lord. From the Lord, there is His promise: “The Lord will do what He considers right” (1 Chronicles 19:13). This is something we must never forget. God is in control. Without Him, there can be no salvation and no victory. These blessings come from Him.
10th February - “Satan stood up against Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:1). This is ominous. Satan spells trouble - trouble for God’s people. Later on, we read of God’s judgment upon Israel (1 Chronicles 21:14). Beyond God’s judgment, there is God’s mercy (1 Chronicles 21:15). In 21:30-22:1, we read about the fear of the Lord - “David was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 21:30) - and the grace of God - “this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel” (1 Chronicles 22:1). Here, we learn that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7). The burnt offering points us forward to to Jesus Christ, laying down His life as a sacrifice for our sins. When we are afraid to come into God’s presence, because of our sin, God speaks to us of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for us, and we sing, from the heart, “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.”

Friday, 3 February 2017

An oasis in the middle of a desert of so many godless kings

“Hezekiah trusted the Lord God of Israel. No king among all the kings of Judah was like Hezekiah. He was loyal to the Lord and never turned away from Him. He obeyed the commands the Lord had given through Moses, so the Lord was with him. He succeeded in everything he tried” (2 Kings 18:5-7). This description of Hezekiah is so encouraging. It’s an oasis in the middle of a desert of so many godless kings.

Daily Devotional Readings: 29th-31st January

For more of these Daily Devotional Readings, visit God's Word For Every Day.

29th January: Matthew 4:12-17
Having overcome His enemy, Jesus begins His ministry. Satan will be back - Luke ends his account of Jesus' temptations with these ominous words, 'When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left until an opportune time' (4:12). Satan will try again, but - for now - he has failed to stop Jesus setting out on His ministry, a ministry which brings light into the darkness. The light is shining brightly - 'the Kingdom of heaven is near' (17). Jesus' ministry is viewed as a fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy (15-16; Isaiah 9:1-2). The prophecy had been given: Death will be overcome, men and women will be delivered from 'the shadow of death'. Now, in Christ, the prophecy has been fulfilled: by His death, Christ has destroyed 'him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil' and He has set 'free' those who live in 'fear of death' (Hebrews 2:14-15).
30th January: Matthew 4:18-25
Christ's victory over the world was won for us (1 John 3:8: 5:4-5). Jesus was not a loner. He was a team leader: 'From victory to victory His army He will lead' (Church Hymnary, 481). At the very outset of His ministry, He set about putting together His ministry team. Peter, Andrew, James and John were the first four disciples. He called them to follow Him. His call was both gracious and demanding. It is gracious because it is the Saviour who calls us: 'Follow Me'. It is demanding because He calls us to follow, to submit to His Lordship: 'Follow Me'. These men were called to a new kind of 'fishing' (19). Jesus' ministry reached 'great crowds' through His 'teaching ...preaching ...and healing' (23-25). This chapter sets the scene for Jesus' ministry. We see the Word of the Lord triumphant over Satan, fulfilled in Christ, and effective in the lives of the disciples and the crowds.
31st January: Proverbs 1:1-7
Scripture speaks of different kinds of 'wisdom'. In Proverbs, wisdom is closely associated with godliness. In Ecclesiastes, wisdom - viewed as mere human intelligence - is described as 'meaningless, a chasing after the wind' (1:12-18). This contrast is continued in the New Testament, where Paul describes Christ as our 'Wisdom', contrasting this Wisdom with 'the wisdom of the world' (1 Corinthians 1:18-25,30). The purpose of Proverbs is set out in its opening verses. Notice the vital connection between 'understanding' and 'doing' (2-3). We are to be 'doers' as well as 'hearers' of God's Word (James 1:22). We are to 'keep what is written' in God's Word (Revelation 1:3). The great theme of Proverbs is stated in verse 7: 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge'. Christ is our Wisdom. We will never be wise unless we build our lives on Him (Matthew 7: 24-27).

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Who will you serve - God or the gods?

The great decision is always the same. Who will you serve - God or the gods? God’s Word is clear - “Never  worship other gods. Instead, worship the Lord your God” (2 Kings 17:38-39). Our response is not always so clear - “The people of Israel had refused to listen and made up their own rules ... These other nations worshipped the Lord, but also served their own idols” (2 Kings 17:40-41).

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

So many kings, so little submission to the real King, the Lord

There were so many kings, and so little submission to the real King, the Lord. Over many generations, the Lord’s purpose for His people seemed to be at a low ebb. Behind all the depressing details of so many disobedient kings, we must learn to see God’s determination to fulfil His promise of blessing. Even in the hard times, God is there. He is ready to revive His work. He waits for His people to call upon in his Name in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Learning from God's Word: Genesis

Genesis 1:1-2:3
There is, here, a real sense of the majesty of God. He is "beyond description." We cannot comprehend Him. We can hardly put into words this sense of God's greatness. We are transported into an eternal dimension, which is so different from our earthly existence. We read, "In the beginning, God ... " (1:1). Many live as if God was absent, as if humanity was the only reality. Here, it is we who are absent from view. Here, we see God only. Humanity only comes into view when God chooses (1:26-27). Everything about this is God-centred rather than man-centred. The light comes when God says, "Let there be light" (1:3). Prior to God's Word of command, in 1:3, we see "the Spirit of God hovering" (1:2). The Spirit is on the alert, ready to move into action, ready for the Word of God to be spoken, ready to empower the Word so that it becomes mightily effective. All that follows - described as "very good" - comes from God, from His Word and His Spirit. Only good can come from God. The reality of evil has not yet come into view. When it does, everything changes except one thing - the love of God for His creation.

Genesis 2:4-25
Here, we see the privilege and responsibility of being human. As well as the privilege - created in the image of God (1:26-27), there is also the responsibility - in relation to (a) the creation: "farm the land and ... take care of it " (15); (b) the Creator: "you must never eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (17). Human life is lived within two horizons - (i) the temporal or earthly horizon: we have relationships with one another: "It is not good for the man to be alone" (18); (ii) the eternal or heavenly horizon: we are related to God. Human relationships do not fully satisfy us. There is a longing for God our Creator: "He has put a sense of eternity in people's minds" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He has given us good things to be enjoyed (1 Timothy 4:4). He has also created us to be "inwardly ... renewed" by feeding on the "things" that "last forever" (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Genesis 3:1-24
From the majestic perfection of God and the privileged responsibility of humanity, we now move to the evil subtlety of Satan. An intruder has sneaked into the privileged place between God the Creator and mankind. His creation. Chapter 2 ends with the absence of shame. Chapter 3 begins with the presence of Satan. The work of Satan, successfully executed, ensures that chapter 3 ends rather differently from chapter 2 - "the Lord God sent the man out of the Garden of Eden" (23). This was "Paradise Lost." Was there a way to "Paradise Regained"? There are two answers to this question: 'No' and 'Yes.' Taking ourselves as the starting-point, the answer is 'No' - God will not permit us to take salvation into our own hands (24). Starting with God, we answer, 'Yes' - this is the answer of verse 15: Christ (the woman's descendant) will be crucified (the bruising of His heel), but the outcome of this will be the defeat of Satan (the crushing of his head).

Genesis 4:1-26
This chapter tells the story of the progression of humanity, the increase of sin and, in it final sentence, the development of worship. There are interesting snippets of cultural information (20-22). There may be progress in the horizontal dimension - agriculture, music, industry, but history reveals, again and again, that all is not well in our relationship with God. Sin was on the increase (1-16). Things were getting out of control. Could they be turned around again? A strongly positive answer to this question is not spelled out in detail in this chapter. There is, however, a hint of God at the end of the chapter. He is still at work, calling sinners to worship Him, and people are beginning to respond. This is the note on which the chapter ends - "At that time people began to worship the Lord" (26). At the end of a chapter which is, at best, informative - the progression of culture, and, at worst, depressing - the increase of sin, this is the ray of hope, the word of encouragement.

Genesis 5:1-32
"Enoch walked with God" (22-23). Following this striking statement about Enoch's remarkable walk with God, we are introduced to Noah (28-32). Like Enoch, "Noah walked with God" (6:9). "Noah" means "Relief" - "Out of the ground which the Lord has cursed this child shall bring us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands" (29). This seems to be a rather mundane statement. The deeper signicance of this "relief" becomes clearer as we look more closely, chapters 6-9, at the place of Noah within the purpose of God. By building the ark, Noah brought relief from the storm of God's judgment. What an awesome judgment of God the flood was. In the midst of this judgment, there was relief (salvation). The ark is a picture of Christ. Those who are in Him are saved. Those who are outside of Him are lost. Christ is the "child" of our salvation. He takes salvation into His hands, taking it out of "the painful labour of our hands." Now, looking to Christ and what He has done for us, we can say, with confidence, that we are "safe in the arms of Jesus." 

Genesis 6:1-22
As we read the story of Noah, we learn of the place of Noah within the divine revelation of the Gospel of grace. "Noah found grace" (8) might be turned around to read, "Grace found Noah." "Amazing grace ... I once was lost but now am found." The significance of Noah, highlighted in 5:29, is expressed in the words, "Not the labour of my hands can fulfil Thy law's demands ... All for sin could not atone, Thou must save, and Thou alone. Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling." To think of the flood exclusively in terms of judgment is to see only one side of what God was doing. As well as judging, He was also saving - "In this ship a few people - eight in all - were saved by water" (1 Peter 3:20). The ark points forward to Christ, "who came back from death to life", Christ who "saves" us (1 Peter 3:21).

Genesis 7:1-24
What was going on outside of the ark is contrasted with the haven of salvation inside the ark. We read that, once all were in the ark, "the Lord closed the door behind them" (16). What was it that made the ark a place of salvation? - The Lord. What is it that makes Jesus Christ the Source of our salvation? - God has given Him the Name that is above every name, the Name of our salvation (Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 4:12). "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9): This is the spiritual significance of what we read in Genesis concerning the flood. Christ is the Door. Those who enter through Him will be saved (John 10:9). We must listen to what God says concerning salvation. If we listen to what the world says, we will conclude that all will be saved. If we listen to the Lord, we will come to Christ and find salvation in Him alone.

Genesis 8:1-22
At the end of the flood, God said to Noah, "Come out of the ship" (15). We are "in Christ". He is the Source of our salvation. God has brought us into Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). He does not bring us into Christ only for our own benefit. He sends us out into the world to bring others to Christ. Noah and the remnant of faith had been preserved so that they might be fruitful (17). This is still God's way. In love, He lays claim to our lives so that we can be fruitful for Him (John 15:16). This fruit comes to us as we abide in Christ (John 15:4-5). We are not sent out alone into the world. We are sent out as those who are in Christ. From a position of strength, we go forth, resting on our Shield and our Defender, to bring strength to others. Strengthened in "the ship", we step out with Christ and for Him.

Genesis 9:1-28
'When you see a rainbow, remember God is love.' The love of God is revealed in the rainbow. It is more fully revealed in the Cross: 'We sing the praise of Him who died ... Upon the cross we see, in shining letters, "God is love." He bears our sins upon the tree. He brings us mercy from above." When we read the Old Testament stories - such as the story of Noah, we must learn to look beyond the story itself, seeing its place within the fuller Story, the Story of God's salvation: 'I will sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me.' This is the greatest story of all - "the Story ... of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love ... the story of wonderful redemption, God's remedy for sin.' 'This is our story. This is our song, praising our Saviour all the day long.' This is the 'story to tell to the nations, the song to be sung to the nations, the message to give to the nations, the Saviour to show to the nations.'

Genesis 10:1-32
Names are important to God. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, "calls His sheep by name' (John 10:3). Among the many names, there is an interesting reference to "Nimrod, the first mighty warrior on the earth ... a mighty hunter whom the Lord blessed" (8-9). When we note that the first amiong the "cities in his kingdom" is "Babylon" (10), alarm bells ring. Yes, we are told that "the  Lord blessed" Nimrod, but, when we read of the development of the city of Babylon, we are not reading of God's blessing so much as Babylon's rebellion. With the privilege of God's blessing comes the responsibility of maintaining His blessing. There are mighty warriors according to the flesh, and there are mighty warriors according to the Spirit. There is something we must never forget - "The weapons we use in our fight are not made  by humans. Rather, they are powerful weapons from God" (2 Corinthians 10:4).

Genesis 11:1-32
Between the list of names in chapter 10 and 11:10-32, there is the story of what happens when we make ourselves the focus of attention rather than God - "Let's make a name for ourselves" (4). What a contrast there is between the tower of Babel, with the human builders trying to make a name for themselves, and the great declaration of Proverbs 18:10 - "The Name of the Lord is a strong tower." In the one case, there is scattering - "From that place the Lord scattered them all over the face of the earth" (9). In the other, there is safety - "A righteous man runs to it and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10). Following on from Proverbs 18:10, we read, "A rich person's wealth is his strong city and is like a high wall in his imagination" (Proverbs 18:11). "God chose what the world considers weak to put what is strong to shame" (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Genesis 12:1-20
The blessing promised to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) takes us right on to the book of Revelation, to "the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven" (Revelation 21:10). The story of Abraham is more than a human story. It is part of God's eternal purpose which will find its ultimate fulfilment in the coming of God's eternal Kingdom. From the outset, we see this as a Divine Story. It has human elements (Genesis 12:10-20), but, in its deepest meaning, it is God's Story. Recognizing this divine dimension, we use the God-given name - Abraham (Genesis 17:5). The name 'Abram' (exalted father) draws attention to the man. The name 'Abraham' (father of many) points to God's purpose. With Abraham, we worship the Lord (Genesis 12:7-8). We say, 'He is exalted' - Christ must increase, and we must decrease (John 3:30). We read of Abraham, and we look beyond him to Christ.  Looking to Christ, we say, 'Christ triumphant, ever reigning, Saviour, Master, King." To Him, we say, "Yours the glory and the crown.'

Genesis 13:1-18
The life of God's people - those who worship Him (Genesis 13:4) - is always set in the context of wickedness. There are always choices to be made. Like Abraham, we can choose to worship God, or we can be like Lot and choose to go the way of wickedness. The choices we make reveal the people that we are. Those who choose the way upon which the Lord's blessing rests show that their hearts belong to the Lord. Those who choose the way upon which the Lord's judgment rests show that their hearts belong to the world. the worldly man, Lot, thought only of himself. The spiritual man, Abraham, concerned himself with doing the Lord's will. There is a great difference between Lot and Abraham - "Lot chose the whole Jordan plain for himself"; "The Lord said to Abraham ... 'I will give you all the land you see to you'" (Genesis 13:11,15). The worldly man takes for himself. The spiritual man waits to receive from God.

Genesis 14:1-24
Following the conflict in Genesis 14:1-16, there is a great sense of the peace of God in Genesis 14:17-24. Here, we have a glimpse of Jeus Christ, the King of love and Prince of peace, the Great High Priest, who comes to us with bread and wine (Genesis 14:18). He comes to us with blessing. He comes in the Name of God Most High. In  His Name, the Name of our Creator, we have the victory (Genesis 14:19-20). He gives us so much. We are to give ourselves to Him (Genesis 14:20). There is another king who lays claim to our lives - "the king of Sodom." This king does not speak in the Name of the Lord. He comes from Satan, and he is to be resisted (Genesis 14:21-24). Our strength comes from the Lord, and not from anything which Satan can offer to us. In our hearts, we must learn to say with real delight in the Saviour: 'I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold ... than riches untold.'

Genesis 15:1-21
In Genesis 15:2,8, Abraham asks two questions: " ...what will you give me?" " ... how can I be certain ... ?" For us, these rae the questions of salvation and the assurance of salvation - God has given us His salvation, and we have the assurance that this salvation has been given and received. Where are we to look for answers to these questions? We are to look to the "Almighty Lord" (Genesis 15:2,8). How are we to receive God's answers? - By faith: "Abraham believed the Lord" (Genesis 15:6). Through Christ: When we read Genesis 15:10, our concern is not with thse animals. It is with the fact that they were sacrificed, and that this sacrifice points forward to "Christ, our Passover Lamb (who) has been sacrificed" for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). In Him, we have both salvation and the assurance of salvation (John 20:31; 1 John 5:13).

Genesis 16:1-16
We move from salvation and the assurance of salvation to Satan and the activity of Satan. Sarai came with temptation - "Why don't you sleep with my slave? Maybe I can build a family through her." Abram gave in to temptation -"Abram agreed with Sarai (Genesis 16:2). The evil influence of Sarai continued: "Sarai mistreated Hagar so much that she ran away" (Genesis 16:6). When we read of Satan and his activity, we must not imagine, for a moment, that Satan wins the victory over the Lord and His purpose of salvation. This becomes clear as the story develops. The Lord's purpose will not be thwarted by the activity of Satan. The "Almighty Lord" will be victorious. This chapter ends with the birth of Ishmael. It is not a high- point in the purpose of God. It is a sign that Satan is trying to overthrow God and His gracious purpose. This leads to a 13-year gap in God's speaking to Abraham (Genesis 16:16-17:1), but that is only a hiccup, after which God continues to carry forward His great purpose of salvation.

Genesis 17:1-27
The contrast between Sarai (Genesis 16) and Sarah (Genesis 17) is striking. It is the contrast between human sin and divine grace: "Don't call your wife by the name Sarai anymore. Instead, her name is Sarah (princess). I will bless her ... " (Genesis 17:15-16). What she was is a thing of the past. What she will become is the work of God's grace. The Lord intends to bless her and make her a blessing - "she will become a mothe rof nations and kings will come from her" (Genesis 17:16). Human experience can always be viewed from two very different perspectives - the perspective of sin and the perspective of grace. We must learn to look at our lives and say, "Sin shall not have dominion. Grace is victorious" (Romans 6:14).

Genesis 18:1-33
"Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14). God was intent on doing something great - "through him (Abraham) all the nations of the earth will be blessed" (Genesis 18:18) - and nothing was going to stop Him. Even if a great many people - Sodom and Gomorrah - refused to honour God, His purpose would not be hindered. He would find a remnant for Himself. the remnant may have seemed impossibly small, but it was to be the beginning of blessing for all the nations. the smallness of the beginnings serves to emphasize the greatness of the blessings. This is not man's doing. It is the work of God, and all the glory belongs to Him, the god of salvation, the God of grace, the god of glory.

Genesis 19:1-38
In a rather forgettable chapter, we find these gracious words - "God ... remembered Abraham"; "Lot was allowed to escape from the destruction that came to the cities where he was living" (Genesis 19:29). What a great thing it is to be "remembered" by God. What a great thing it is to have God's salvation - "everything we need for life and for godliness" - by which we are able to "escape the corruption that sinful desires cause in the world" (2 Peter 1:3-4). While we have this provision of God for godliness, we need to be constantly on our guard. The sad episode, recorded in Genesis 19:30-38, makes it so clear that we must be careful. Even those, whom we hoped would be a help to us, can turn out to be a hindrance. Devotion to the Lord needs to be renewed day-by-day. If we fail to maintain our devotion to the Lord, we leave ourselves vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy and we will be overcome by him.  

Genesis 20:1-18
We do not see Abraham in a good light here. There is, in this incident, a reminder of the deceitfulness of the human heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Our only hope of real change is in the Lord who says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stubborn hearts and give you obedient hearts" (Ezekiel 36:26). In the human heart, there is conflict - the flesh and the Spirit wrestling with each other (Galatians 5:17). If the Spirit is to display the victory of Christ in our lives, we must "put on the whole armour of God", receiving "power from the Lord and from His mighty strength" (Ephesians 6:10-11). This strength comes in this way: "take salvation as your helmet and the Word of God as the sword that the Spirit supplies" (Ephesians 6:17).

Genesis 21:1-34
There are two very different kinds of laughter in the story of Sarah. there is the laughing in Genesis 18:13-15. This is the laughter of unbelief, laughing at the Lord, with the proud attitude that God's Word cannot be taken seriously. There is the laughter of faith, the laughter which rejoices in the Lord - "God has brought me laughter and everyone who hears about me will laugh with me" (Genesis 21:6). This is the rejoicing of Sarah at the birth of Isaac. Hagar and Ishmael are not forgotten - God's sun shines on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). The final section - Genesis 21:22-34 - sees Abraham acting more nobly than he did in Genesis 21. It ends with Abraham worshipping the Lord, the everlasting God (Genesis 21:33).

Genesis 22:1-24
Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac - "You did not refuse to give Me your son, your only son" (Genesis 22:12). God did give His only Son for us - "God did not spare His only Son but handed Him over to death for us all" (Romans 8:32). While there may be comparisons made between the sacrifice of Isaac and the sacrifice of Jesus, we must emphasize the great difference - the sacrifice of Isaac did not happen, the sacrifice of Jesus did. For Isaac, there was a way out. For Jesus, there was no other way. Abraham's faith was proved genuine without the sacrifice of Isaac. Our faith only becomes a reality through the sacrifice of Christ (Galatians 2:20-21; Galatians 3:13-14).

Genesis 23:1-20
Genesis is known as "the book of beginnings." We can also learn from the endings. here, we read of the death of Sarah. As we read of the generations coming and going, we come to rest in the truth that only God is eternal. This is the great truth, proclaimed in Psalm 90. He alone is "God, from everlasting to everlasting" (Psalm 90:2). From Psalm 90, we learn the lesson: "Teach us to number each of our days so that we may grow in wisdom" (Psalm 90:120. The experience of bereavement is very distressing - "Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to cry about her death" (Genesis 23:2). Nevertheless, we look beyond the things that are temporal to the things that are eternal, and we know that our suffering is light and temporary while our eternal glory is greater than we can imagine" (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).

Genesis 24:1-67
The story of how Isaac and Rebekah came to be married is told in vivid detail. It is a touching story. There is  a real sense of God being in control of the events - God working out His perfect plan for Isaac and Rebekah. "The Lord knows what he is doing with us. We must hold on to this truth when it seems that our circumstances have become a tangled web, a long and winding road which appears to be leading nowhere. Whatever our feelings may sometimes suggest, we must affirm our faith - "As for the Lord, His way is perfect." There is no better place to be than in the centre of God's will. We must pray for the Lord's leading so that we can truly testify, "The Lord led me in the right direction" (Genesis 24:48).

Genesis 25:1-34
Following the accounts of Abraham's second marriage and his death (Genesis 25:1-11) and the twelve tribes of Ishmael (Genesis 25:12-18), we move on to the story of Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25:19-34). Esau was born first - yet, in line with God's purpose of grace, "the older will serve the younger" (Genesis 25:23). God's grace does not operate according to human standards. Salvation is by grace so that it may be seen that it is not by works. Jacob was born holding on to Esau's heel - "so he was named Jacob (Heel)." He was well-named, but God made something of him! Esau showed "contempt for his rights as firstborn" (Genesis 25:34). He missed out on God's blessing because he did not treasure it highly.Jacob was not superior. Esau was not inferior. Grace lifted Jacob and the glory belongs to God. Grace could have lifted Esau, but he refused to come, to submit. The fault lies with Esau.

Genesis 26:1-35
The promise to Isaac was to be fulfilled in Christ - "Through your descendant all the nations of the earth will be blessed" (Genesis 26:4). There were to be "numerous descendants", but there was only one descendant through whom God's great salvation was to come to the world: Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the true and living Way - the Way to God. In Genesis 26:19-22, there's the story of the three wells - 'Argument', 'Accusation', 'Roomy.' Progress is made after things seemed to go from bad to worse. Isaac "worshipped the Lord" (Genesis 26:25). Abimelech recognized that Isaac was a man of God - "We have seen that the Lord is with you" (Genesis 26:28). The quality of our life is to be such that others will recognize that we belong to the Lord. At the end of the chapter - Genesis 26:34, there is a warning: even those who love the Lord can make mistakes!

Genesis 27:1-46
This is the story of deception. It ia very human. It is difficult for us to see how God works out His perfect plan through all of us. By faith, we believe that God is in control, working out His purpose of salvation, even where self-centred men and women (here, it is Rebekah and Jacob) are plotting to get their own way. 'My will be done' - this is what we are hearing from  Rebekah and Jacob. Behind it all, there is God, and He is saying, 'My will be done.' From the fact that God was working out His purpose here, we must not conclude that He condones the devious way in which Rebekah and Jacob acted.  Rather, we are to believe that God's purpose does not depend on us. Though we fail Him often, He will not fail us. He can turn things around for His glory, so that it may be seen that is His doing, and not ours.

Genesis 28:1-22
Into a story, full of deception, comes grace - superabundant grace. Jacob was just looking for a good night's rest (Genesis 28:11), but he got more than he bargained for. This was a night to to be remembered - a night he would never forget as long as he lived. This was the beginning of a new Jacob. There were to be further experiences of divine grace. The most striking of these spiritual experiences is described in Genesis 32:22-32. When we look at Jacob's deceit, we might expect that he had disqualified himself from being useful in the purpose of God. To think like this is to forget the grace of God and the God of grace. God comes to Jacob (and to us) not once but many times. He comes with His precious promises: "I am with you ... I will not leave you ... " (Genesis 28:15).

Genesis 29:1-35
Jacob receives his heart's desire - Rachel, but not in the way he intended. God was teaching Jacob patience. Doing God's will is more important than getting our own way. We may receive our heart's desire, but it will be as a side-effect of doing God's will and not as the be-all and end-all of our lives. The sons of Leah (Genesis 29:31-35) are given names with meanings. There is, in Leah, a progression towards a more spiritual attitude. (a) Reuben ('Here's my son') - "Now my husband will love me" (Genesis 29:32). (b) Simeon ('Hearing') - "The Lord has heard that I'm unloved, and He has also given me this son" (Genesis 29:33). (c) Levi ('Attached') - "My husband will become attached to me' (Genesis 29:34). (d) Judah ('Praise') - "This time I will praise the Lord" (Genesis 29:35). Her earlier concerns [(a) - (c)] are valid, but her response to the fourth birth highlights a progression beyond her own feelings to a deeper commitment to praising the Lord.

Genesis 30:1-43
Jacob was prospering. His family and his flocks were increasing. In Jacob's prospering, we must see more than human factors. God was in this. This is the teaching of the Scriptures. We are to see the Lord in the whole of life, and not only in a carefully demarcated area labelled 'spirituality.' The most significant event in this chapter is the birth of Joseph, the son of Jacob, upon whom the remainder of the book of Genesis is centred. It is easy to lose sight of the most important thing when so many other things are happening. This is what we must not do. We must learn to see what is most important. We must learn to centre our lives around the most important priority. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted into a life with many interests and no real centre.

Genesis 31:1-55
Stories like this are so human - with all the complications of relationships between people. there is, however, a depth-dimension. If we read these stories on the surface without digging deeply for spiritual truth, we will miss their point. What we must see is this - God was with Jacob (Genesis 31:42). This is the truth we must never forget in all the complexities of our own very ordinary experiences. He is there, even when we are least aware of His presence. He will never leave us. He is the faithful God, who graciously accompanies along all the pathways of life's long and winding road.

Genesis 32:1-32
In Genesis 32:1-21, we read about Jacob's relationship with Esau. It seems to be a very ordinary story - until something extraordinary happens (Genesis 32:22-32). What an amazing experience of divine grace there was for Jacob at Peniel ('Face of God)! - "I have seen God face to face, but my life was saved" (Genesis 32:30). When we hear of God's perfect holiness, we imagine that there is no way we could possibly stand in His presence - "O Lord, who would be able to stand if you kept a record of sins?"(Psalm 130:3). In the presence of the God of perfect holiness, we discover - through divine revelation - something else: perfect love. "O perfect love, all human thought transcending" - How are we to respond to such amazing love? - "Lowly, we kneel in prayer before Thy throne" (Genesis 32:31).

Genesis 33:1-20
So often, life can be looked at from the purely human point of view - events involving people. So often, God is left out on the sidelines. It is important that we do not do this. We must learn to see the deeper significance of the things that are going on in our lives. This is brought out well in this chapter: "He set up an altar there and named it 'God is the God of Israel'" (Genesis 33:20). Life is full of incidents which can be viewed on the surface level. Here, we have the meeting of two brothers. There is more than that here. God is there. He is not obtrusive. He waits for us to recognize His presence. He waits for us to acknowledge Him as our God.

Genesis 34:1-31
The Name of the Lord is missing from this chapter. Sin - this is the stroty of human life. We do not, however, have to go any further that the first word of Genesis 35 to discover that God is there. He has been waiting in the wings, ready to speak His Word into the human situation. Often, God appears to be absent, but He is not. He is both the god of judgment and the God of grace. Sin is an offence to God, yet sinners are forgiven by God. There is a 'rollercoaster' feel about the progress of the stories in Genesis. Genesis is such a low. In Genesis 35, God Himself picks it up again. Life is like that. there can be deep valleys and high mountain-top experiences. In the valley, let us not imagine that the Lord cannot lift us. On the mountain-top, don't forget the Lord. He brought us there.

Genesis 35:1-29
What great plans God had for Jacob! This was grace. It had nothing to do with Jacob. It was grounded in God's goodness. In Genesis 35:7, we read of a place called El Bethel (God of the House of God). The house of God is important. God is even more important. It is His presence which makes our worship truly live. It is His preence which fills our worship with His blessing. God is good. He has so much to give to us, so much to say to us, so much to do for us. When we come to the house of God, let us come with expectaation of His blessing. Let us not only come to the House of God. Let us come to the God of the House of God.

Genesis 36:1-43
"This is the account of Esau and his descendants. There are so many names. there is so little of any real note. What a contrast between this and the story of Jacob, leading on to Joseph and then, on from there, to the Exodus and, beyond that, to Christ. There are routes which are full of the blessing of God. They take us on the continuing story, which runs from Genesis to Revelation, the story of God's salvation. There are also dead-end streets which are going nowhere. The direction of our life is determined by the choices which we make. We can choose to go our own way. There is a better choice, a better way. We can choose to go God's way.
 
Genesis 37:1-36
At first, the story of Joseph looks like it's going to end up in a dead-end street. Joseph is sold as a slave. He is taken down into Egypt. Humanly speaking, Joseph was being rejected by his brothers. God, however, had other ideas. He had a great purpose for Joseph. His purpose was revealed in a dream. This was no ordinary dream. This was a revelation of God's plan. The remaining chapters of Genesis tell the great story of the unfolding of God's plan - in Egypt.

Genesis 38:1-30
This is a sinful and shameful chapter. As we read it, we must hear and heed the warning. Do not let things drift. Keep close to God.  "I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear, my foes are ever near, around me and within, but Jesus, draw nearer and shield my soul from sin." "Day-by-day, O dear Lord, three things I pray - to see thee more clearly, to love thee more dearly, to follow more nearly, day-by-day." - This should be our prayer.

Genesis 39:1-23
What a change there was in Joseph's circumstances. He was in charge of Potiphar's household (Genesis 39:4). He was in prison (Genesis 39:20). There was one thing that did not change: the love of God - "His unchanging love" (Genesis 39:21). Whatever happens, we can depend on this: God's love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable - "All may change, but Jesus never. Glory to His Name!"

Genesis 40:1-23
Dreams can be interpreted by Joseph, but the glory is given to God (Genesis 40:8). When we bring God's message to the people, we must remember this: it is God Himself who gives the Word. We cannot create the Word. We can only receive it from God , and then we are are to pass it on to others. We must take care that we hear and speak only what God Himself says to us. We must not allow our own ideas to drown out the Word of the Lord. God is to be glorified in our hearing and our speaking.

Genesis 41:1-57
Joseph's exaltation is a great picture of Christ's exaltation. Joseph was sent to prison. Christ was sent to the Cross. Joseph was exalted to a place of honour. Christ was raised to the place of highest honour. When Joseph came, people said, "Make way " (Genesis 41:43). We say of Jesus, "Make way, make way for the King of kings." "The whole world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain" (Genesis 41:57). Before Jesus Christ, every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord  - to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).

Genesis 42:1-38
Joseph is putting his brothers to the test - to see if they will truly repent of their sin against him. God does this with us . He speaks to us through our circumstances concerning our need of repentance. we look at ourselves. We look at the events of our life. We wonder about our actions, "Did I do right, or do I need to repent?" In all of this, Joseph never ceased to love his brothers. God never ceases to love us. In love, He calls us to repentance.

Genesis 43:1-34
It appears that Joseph is being devious. There is, however, a deeper sense in which Joseph believes that the purpose of God is being fulfilled in these events. He affirms his faith in God (Genesis 43:23). He emphasizes the need for God's blessing (Genesis 43:29). Whenever life seems to weave a complex web, we must hold on to this: God is in control. No-one else may seem to believe this, but we must not lose sight of the sovereign God, the God who is working out His perfect plan.

Genesis 44:1-34
The story of Joseph and the brothers continues. It's such  a human story. It would be very easy to miss the hand of God in all of this. Life is like this. One thing leads to another. There seems to be no obvious threa, holding the whole sequence of events together. In this chapter, there is only one reference to God (Genesis 44:16). Sometimes, He seems to be hidden away. He may be hidden, but He's not absent. He is there. He is 'the God who is there.' However much He may retreat to the wings, He does not leave the stage altogether. He never abandons us.

Genesis 45:1-28
Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers. An invitation is given by Pharaoh. Jacob is to bring the whole family to Egypt. As the story develops, it becomes clear that God is in it. There is much more direct reference to God now. Joseph seeaks openly of his faith in the Lord: "God sent me ahead of you ... God sent me ahead of you ... It wasn't you who sent me here, but God ... God has made me lord of Egypt" (Genesis 45:5,7-9). Joseph and his brothers had parted company. It looked like their paths would never cross again. God can bring people together again, people who appear to be living in different worlds. he is the God of reconciliation. He is the God of new beginnings.

Genesis 46:1-34
Behind the re-uniting of the family, there was God. This is made clear in Genesis 46:1-4. When God is at work, His purpose cannot be thwarted. He is fulfilling His plan of salvation - "I will make you a great nation." God's saving purpose is more than a purely national thing. This is only the early stages of what God is doing. He has His eye on the whole world.

Genesis 47:1-31
Jacob's life is nearing its end. God's work moves forward by stages. One man slips into the background. Another emerges. It is not the man who is important. It is the Lord. All of our attention is to be directed towards Him.

Genesis 48:1-22
The best thing we can leave behind us is the blessing of God. There is nothing better than this. If our influence has been of God, then our life has been useful. It has been beneficial to others. It has been pleasing to God.   

Genesis 49:1-33
This must have been a very moving scene. Jacob speaks to each of his sons. He speaks to them about the future. He says to them, 'I am the past. You are the future.' - "Come here, and let me tell you what will happen to you in the days to come." Our future - whether it will be blessing or curse - is shaped by our response to God in the present. Reuben was "out of control" (Genesis 49:4). Simeon and Levi were "men of violence" (Genesis 49:5). They were not to receive and enjoy God's blessing. Joseph is the greatest example of a man who was being blessed by God (Genesis 49:22-26). Here, we see the hand of God at work in the most wonderful way.

Genesis 50:1-26
Time moves on relentlessly. God has been at work in Joseph's life (Genesis 50:20). Now, the time has come for Joseph's life to reach its end (Genesis 50:26). In Scripture, we read the stories of people who loved God, and people who had no real love for Him. We read about them. we must also learn from them. We must make up our mind: What is important to us? Will we plan evil? or Will we submit ourselves to God's good plan (Genesis 50:20)? This is the great question which the stories of Genesis - and the whole of Scripture - put to every one of us. It is a question which demands an answer. It is a question which keeps on coming back to us. It comes to us with persistence. It breaks through our complacency. It calls us to decision. It is this decision which will shape our future for good or for evil. When we commit ourselves to walking in the Lord's way, we can move forward confidently in the sure knowledge that God is with us. Beyond the care of man (Joseph) - "Don't be afraid! I will provide for you and your children", there is the care of God - Joseph says, "I'm about to die. God will definitely take care of you ... "(Genesis 50:21,24). As our life moves on, it is very reassuring to know that God is in control.

The history of God’s people is like a rollercoaster.

The history of God’s people, under their various kings, is like a rollercoaster. There are high-points - “They would be the Lord’s people” (2 Kings 11:17). These high-points are often followed by low-points - “Joash did what the Lord considered right ...but the illegal places of worship weren’t torn down” (2 Kings 12:2-3). The reign of Jehoahaz was one of decline - “He did what the Lord considered evil” (2 Kings 13:2). The decline continued under the reign of Jehoash - “He did what the Lord considered evil” (2 Kings 13:11). Despite all the sins of the kings, there was still hope. This hope did not come from the kings. It came from the Lord: “The Lord was kind and merciful to the Israelites because of His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (2 Kings 13:23).

Monday, 30 January 2017

Royalty without loyalty

Royalty and loyalty - The two things are different. Jehu was regarded as royalty, but he wasn’t fully loyal to the Lord. Jehu did some good things, with which the Lord was pleased - “Jehu got rid of Baal worship throughout Israel ... The Lord said to Jehu, ‘You did what I consider right’” (2 Kings 10:28,30). Jehu’s good actions were not the full story of his life. There was also much that was displeasing to the Lord - “Jehu did not turn away from the sins that Jeroboam led Israel to commit - the worship of the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan ... Jehu didn’t wholeheartedly obey the teachings of the Lord God of Israel” (2 Kings 10:29,31).

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Daily Devotional Readings: 29th January - 4th February

These readings are also being posted, day-by-day, at God's Word For Every Day.

29th January: Matthew 4:12-17
Having overcome His enemy, Jesus begins His ministry. Satan will be back - Luke ends his account of Jesus' temptations with these ominous words, 'When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left until an opportune time' (4:12). Satan will try again, but - for now - he has failed to stop Jesus setting out on His ministry, a ministry which brings light into the darkness. The light is shining brightly - 'the Kingdom of heaven is near' (17). Jesus' ministry is viewed as a fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy (15-16; Isaiah 9:1-2). The prophecy had been given: Death will be overcome, men and women will be delivered from 'the shadow of death'. Now, in Christ, the prophecy has been fulfilled: by His death, Christ has destroyed 'him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil' and He has set 'free' those who live in 'fear of death' (Hebrews 2:14-15).

30th January: Matthew 4:18-25 
Christ's victory over the world was won for us (1 John 3:8: 5:4-5). Jesus was not a loner. He was a team leader: 'From victory to victory His army He will lead' (Church Hymnary, 481). At the very outset of His ministry, He set about putting together His ministry team. Peter, Andrew, James and John were the first four disciples. He called them to follow Him. His call was both gracious and demanding. It is gracious because it is the Saviour who calls us: 'Follow Me'. It is demanding because He calls us to follow, to submit to His Lordship: 'Follow Me'. These men were called to a new kind of 'fishing' (19). Jesus' ministry reached 'great crowds' through His 'teaching ...preaching ...and healing' (23-25). This chapter sets the scene for Jesus' ministry. We see the Word of the Lord triumphant over Satan, fulfilled in Christ, and effective in the lives of the disciples and the crowds.

31st January: Proverbs 1:1-7
Scripture speaks of different kinds of 'wisdom'. In Proverbs, wisdom is closely associated with godliness. In Ecclesiastes, wisdom - viewed as mere human intelligence - is described as 'meaningless, a chasing after the wind' (1:12-18). This contrast is continued in the New Testament, where Paul describes Christ as our 'Wisdom', contrasting this Wisdom with 'the wisdom of the world' (1 Corinthians 1:18-25,30). The purpose of Proverbs is set out in its opening verses. Notice the vital connection between 'understanding' and 'doing' (2-3). We are to be 'doers' as well as 'hearers' of God's Word (James 1:22). We are to 'keep what is written' in God's Word (Revelation 1:3). The great theme of Proverbs is stated in verse 7: 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge'. Christ is our Wisdom. We will never be wise unless we build our lives on Him (Matthew 7: 24-27).

1st February : Genesis 6:1-8
The story of Noah is the story of God's grace - 'Noah found grace' (8). Noah lived in very difficult times (5-7), yet 'Grace found Noah'. His testimony could be summed up: 'Amazing grace...I once was lost but now am found' (Mission Praise, 31). Expanding on the thought of 5:29 - 'this one (Noah) shall bring relief from our work and from the toil of our hands' - we may allow our thoughts to turn to Christ and say to Him: 'Not the labour of my hands can fulfil Thy law's demands...All for sin could not atone, Thou must save, and Thou alone. Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy Cross I cling' (Church Hymnary, 83). In these two statements - 'Noah found grace' and 'this one will bring...', we see both salvation and service. We are saved to serve. Once we ourselves have been found by grace, we are to seek to bring others to Christ that they also may be saved by Him and become His servants.

2nd February: Genesis 6:9-22
To view the flood exclusively in terms of judgment is to see only one side of what God was doing. As well as judging, He was also saving - 'In this ship a few people - eight in all - were saved by water' (1 Peter 3:20). The ark points forward to Christ 'who came back from death to life', Christ who 'saves' us (1 Peter 3:21). God was working out His purpose of salvation. In Noah's day, the remnant of faith was very small, yet the promise of God's love was given to them - 'I will establish My covenant with you' (18). Even when wickedness threatens to overwhelm us, we still have God's promise of love, 'the new covenant in Christ's blood' (1 Corinthians 11:25). 'The blood of Jesus, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin' (1 John 1:7). Knowing that Christ loved us and died for us, we are to be like Noah (22). We are to walk with the Lord and serve Him.

3rd February: Genesis 7:1-24
Here, we pick up on the words of verse 16 - 'the Lord closed the door behind them'. What was going on outside of the ark is contrasted with the haven of salvation inside the ark. What was it that made the ark a place of salvation? - The Lord. What is it that makes Jesus Christ the Source of our salvation? - God has given Him the Name that is above every name, the Name of our salvation (Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 4:12). From the ark, we learn of (a) the one way of salvation - The ark had only one door. Jesus is 'the Door' which leads to salvation (John 10:9); (b) the eternal security of salvation - All were safe inside the ark. In Christ there is eternal security (John 10:28); (c) the absolute necessity of salvation - Outside of the ark, there was certain death. Refusal to come to Christ for salvation leads to judgment: 'How shall we escape...?' (Hebrews 2:3).

4th February: Genesis 8:1-22
Following the flood, we have this simple yet striking declaration: 'the ground was dry' (13). Safe from judgment! This is the message which comes to us from the Cross: 'Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world' (John 1:29). The judgment has fallen upon Christ. We are no longer swept away in the judgment. We can stand on solid ground: 'On Christ the solid Rock I stand' (Church Hymnary, 411). He is our Support in 'the whelming flood'. God said to Noah, 'Come out of the ship' (15). We are in Christ. He is the Source of our salvation. God has brought us into Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). He does not bring us into Christ solely for our own benefit. We are sent out to be fruitful (17: John 15: 16). We are to 'abide in Christ'. This is the way of fruitfulness (John 15: 4-5). We are not sent out alone. Strengthened in 'the ship' (in Christ), we step out with Christ and for Him.

Sow a thought, reap an action ...

Reading about those who do what the Lord considers evil is not happy reading. Reading about God’s judgment upon such people is serious reading. It brings the challenge of God’s Word - “Be not deceived. God is not mocked. What a man sows, he shall also reap” (Galatians 6:7). This challenge is stated clearly in the words, “Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a destiny.”

Saturday, 28 January 2017

The victory comes from the Lord.

“Don’t be afraid. We have more forces on our side than they have on theirs.” We need our eyes opened to see “the mountain ... Full of fiery horses and chariots” (2 Kings 6:16-17). The victory comes from “the Lord” (2 Kings 7:6). “This is a day of good news” (2 Kings 7:9). In the Lord, we have the victory, Strengthened by Him, we triumph over our enemies.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Before we can speak and work for God, we must belong to Him.

The ministry of Elisha was filled with the power of God. Elisha was “the prophet”, “the man of God” (2 Kings 5:3,8). Before we can speak and work for God, we must belong to Him. We must be the people of God before we can be prophets for God. The power of God changes us. We become “a new creation in Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The power of God equips us for service - “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8).

Thursday, 26 January 2017

The names of the prophets change from one generation to the next. The Name of the Lord remains constant.

Near to the end of his life on earth, Elijah remained faithful to God. He stands up for God against “Baalzebub, the god of Ekron” (2 Kings 1:6,16). He spoke the Word that had been given to him by God (2 Kings 1:3-4). When Elijah was taken by God “to heaven in a windstorm” (2 Kings 2:11), the question was asked by Elisha, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” (2 Kings 2:14). The answer to this question is given in 2 Kings 2:15: “Elijah’s spirit rests on Elisha.” The names of the prophets change from one generation to the next. The Name of the Lord remains constant. It is in the Name of the Lord that God’s servants speak and act.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

26th January - 1st February: The Lord is King ... (1 and 2 Kings)

1 Kings
26th January - As we read about various king, there is something that we must never forget - the Lord is King. He is King of all kings. Over all kings, there is One who reigns supreme. The Lord reigns. His reign is greater than any earthly king. He is the King of heaven. There is no other king like the Lord. He is the One who sits on the heavenly throne. His throne is established forever.
27th January - We read about Elijah in his high-points of strength - the triumph over the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:36-39) - and his low-points of weakness - he is ready to give up: “I’ve had enough now, Lord” (1 Kings 19:4). How did Elijah get into such a mess? He forgot this: “The Lord’s power was on Elijah” (1 Kings 18:46). In all life’s ups and downs, we must hold on to this: The Lord has sent His Spirit of power to live in us (2 Timothy 1:7). How are we to live in the power of the Spirit? We need to feed on the Word of God and drink in the Word of God (1 Kings 17:4). We need to pray that the Lord will send His showers of blessing (1 Kings 17:14). We are to live our life “according to the Word of the Lord” (1 Kings 17:16). For our life of faith to be strong in the Lord, we need to listen attentively to the preaching of God’s Word (1 Kings 17:24).
28th January - Following the death of the evil king, Ahab, things changed. The new king, Jehoshaphat, was a different kind of man - “Jehoshaphat did what the Lord considered right” (1 Kings 22:43). Sadly, things took a turn for the worse after Jehoshaphat died: “Ahaziah ... Did what the Lord considered evil .... Ahaziah served Baal, worshipped him, and made the Lord God of Israel furious ...” (1 Kings 22:51-53). In all the changing circumstances of our lives, we must remember that the Lord is King. We are not to put our trust in kings. There are good kings. There are bad kings. There is only one true King. There is only One who is King over all. The Lord is the King of kings. This is the thought which we must take with us as we move on from 1 Kings to 2 Kings. The Lord is King. No human king can even begin to compare with the Lord, who is King over all.

2 Kings

29th January - Near to the end of his life on earth, Elijah remained faithful to God. He stands up for God against “Baalzebub, the god of Ekron” (2 Kings 1:6,16). He spoke the Word that had been given to him by God (2 Kings 1:3-4). When Elijah was taken by God “to heaven in a windstorm” (2 Kings 2:11), the question was asked by Elisha, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” (2 Kings 2:14). The answer to this question is given in 2 Kings 2:15: “Elijah’s spirit rests on Elisha.” The names of the prophets change from generation to the next. The Name of the Lord remains constant. It is in the Name of the Lord that God’s servants speak and act.
30th January - The power of God was upon Elisha. God was at work in mighty power. When we red about Elisha, we say, in our hearts, ‘This is not about Elisha. This is about God - - God working through Elisha.’ We must always remember to give all the glory to the Lord. The praise does not belong to the servant. It belongs to the Lord. He alone is worthy of praise.
31st January - The ministry of Elisha was filled with the power of God. Elisha was “the prophet”, “the man of God” (2 Kings 5:3,8). Before we can speak and work for God, we must belong to Him. We must be the people of God before we can be prophets for God. The power of God changes us. We become “a new creation in Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The power of God equips us for service - “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8).
1st February - “Don’t be afraid. We have more forces on our side than they have on theirs.” We need our eyes opened to see “the mountain ... Full of fiery horses and chariots” (2 Kings 6:16-17), The victory comes from “the Lord” (2 Kings 7:6). “This is a day of good news” (2 Kings 7:9). In the Lord, we have the victory, Strengthened by Him, we triumph over our enemies.

We must always remember to give all the glory to the Lord.

The power of God was upon Elisha. God was at work in mighty power. When we red about Elisha, we say, in our hearts, ‘This is not about Elisha. This is about God - God working through Elisha.’ We must always remember to give all the glory to the Lord. The praise does not belong to the servant. It belongs to the Lord. He alone is worthy of praise.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

No human king can even begin to compare with the Lord.

Following the death of the evil king, Ahab, things changed. The new king, Jehoshaphat, was a different kind of man - “Jehoshaphat did what the Lord considered right” (1 Kings 22:43). Sadly, things took a turn for the worse after Jehoshaphat died: “Ahaziah ... Did what the Lord considered evil .... Ahaziah served Baal, worshipped him, and made the Lord God of Israel furious ...” (1 Kings 22:51-53). In all the changing circumstances of our lives, we must remember that the Lord is King. We are not to put our trust in kings. There are good kings. There are bad kings. There is only one true King. There is only One who is King over all. The Lord is the King of kings. This is the thought which we must take with us as we move on from 1 Kings to 2 Kings. The Lord is King. No human king can even begin to compare with the Lord, who is King over all.

Monday, 23 January 2017

The Lord has sent His Spirit of power to live in us.

We read about Elijah in his high-points of strength - the triumph over the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:36-39) - and his low-points of weakness - he is ready to give up: “I’ve had enough now, Lord” (1 Kings 19:4). How did Elijah get into such a mess? He forgot this: “The Lord’s power was on Elijah” (1 Kings 18:46). In all life’s ups and downs, we must hold on to this: The Lord has sent His Spirit of power to live in us (2 Timothy 1:7). How are we to live in the power of the Spirit? We need to feed on the Word of God and drink in the Word of God (1 Kings 17:4). We need to pray that the Lord will send His showers of blessing (1 Kings 17:14). We are to live our life “according to the Word of the Lord” (1 Kings 17:16). For our life of faith to be strong in the Lord, we need to listen attentively to the preaching of God’s Word (1 Kings 17:24).

The Lord is King.

As we read about various kings, there is something that we must never forget - the Lord is King. He is King of all kings. Over all kings, there is One who reigns supreme. The Lord reigns. His reign is greater than any earthly king. He is the King of heaven. There is no other king like the Lord. He is the One who sits on the heavenly throne. His throne is established forever.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Daily Devotional Readings: 22nd-28th January

These readings are also being posted, day-by-day, at God's Word For Every Day.
22nd January: Genesis 4:6-16.
In the story of Cain, we see the development of sin. Jealousy leads to anger, and anger leads to murder. In this story, we see ourselves in the 'mirror' of God's Word. Here, God emphasizes our exceeding sinfulness - 'The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt' (Jeremiah 17:9). Our sinfulness leads us away from 'the presence of the Lord' to 'the land of wandering (Nod)' (16). This is the work of Satan in our lives - Genesis 4 is an extension of Genesis 3. Even in the land of wandering, the hand of God is upon us. This is the meaning of 'the mark of Cain' - 'so that no one who found him would kill him' (15). Even in our wanderings, God is waiting in mercy for us to make our way back to Him by coming in faith to Jesus Christ our Saviour. Even when 'sin' is a good bit more than 'crouching at the door', it can be 'mastered' through Christ (6; Hebrews 7:25).
23rd January: Genesis 4:17-26
The story of Cain and Abel is a continuing story. Abel died, yet 'by faith still speaks, even though he is dead' (Hebrews 11:4). Cain 'went out from the presence of the Lord'. He became 'a restless wanderer' (14,16). What a contrast there is between these two brothers! For Abel, there was glory in the presence of the Lord - 'By faith he was commended as a righteous man' (Hebrews 11:4), he was 'justified by faith' (Romans 5:1). Cain was quite different. Far from God, he had no peace. He was haunted by his sins. What does God's Word say to us about Cain? - 'Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother...because his own actions were evil and his brothers were righteous' (1 John 3:12). Cain's sinful influence continues. We must be on our guard. The chapter ends with hope: 'At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord' ( 26).
24th January: Genesis 5:1-17
From the story of Cain - taking God for granted (the opposite of grace), approaching God proudly (the opposite of faith), rebelling against God (the opposite of obedience) - , we come to a list of names and numbers. In this first part of the chapter, there is nothing of any note. Perhaps, this is the significant feature of this long list of names. There is nothing considered to be worthy of special note, except the length of their lives. What a sad reflection on the value of a life when all that can be said is this: He lived, and he died! What we must remember is this: the quantity of our years is less important than the quality of our living. How long we live is less important than how well we live. We have been 'created...in the likeness of God' (1), yet so often we miss out on this spiritual dimension. We have been 'blessed' by God (2) - 'Count your blessings.'
25th January: Genesis 5:18-32
In this second part of the list, two names get a special mention - Enoch and Noah (22,24,29). The reference to Enoch is the more memorable of the two. Enoch's life was characterized by grace, faith and obedience. The life-story of so many others could be told without reference to God. Enoch's story was the story of God at work in his life. So many life-stories end with the words, 'he died'. Enoch's life on earth points beyond itself (24). Enoch had 'walked with God' (22, 24 ). Building his life upon the God of grace, Enoch had, by faith, stepped out of this present world and into 'what we hope for', 'what we do not see' (Hebrews 11:5,1). What a testimony Enoch left behind him! Not much is said about him, but what power of the Spirit of God there is in these few words! The reference to 'the Lord' in Noah's life (29) prepares us for what is to come (chs. 6-9).
26th January: Matthew 3:1-12
This chapter begins with 'John the Baptist' (1). It ends with our Lord Jesus Christ concerning whom the Voice from heaven says, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased' (17). Once John had served his purpose, once he has pointed away from himself to the Lord Jesus Christ, he retreats into the background. This is how it must always be. We point to One who is 'more powerful' than ourselves (11; Romans 1:16). With John, we must learn to say, 'Christ must increase, I must decrease' (John 3:30). The contrast between John and Jesus is highlighted in verse 11 - ' I baptize with water... He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire'. This is still the contrast between the preacher and the Saviour - We preach the Word. He sends the power. Still He says, 'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses' (Acts 1:8).
27th January: Matthew 3:13-17
Considering the contrast between Jesus and John - John is not fit to carry Christ's sandals (11) - , it is quite remarkable that Jesus submits Himself to baptism by John. Why does He do this? Jesus gives us the reason in verse 15: 'it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness'. When Jesus uses the word 'proper' (or fitting), does He use it to mean 'according to convention'? No - He means that 'it is fitting' into God's perfect plan of salvation. It is part of His perfect obedience to the Father. It is part of what is involved in His giving Himself for us as 'the Righteous for the unrighteous to bring us to God' (1 Peter 3:18). As well as directing us to the Cross, Jesus' baptism directs to Pentecost - the descent of the Spirit (16; Acts 2:1-4). Christ died for us. The Spirit lives in us. Jesus 'fits' our need perfectly!
28th January: Matthew 4:1-11
God the Father has declared Jesus to be His Son (3:17). Now, the devil challenges God's Word: 'If you are the Son of God...' (3). The Spirit has descended upon Jesus (3:16). Now, the devil uses his power in an attempt to defeat Jesus. The devil sows seeds of doubt; the 'if you are...' approach is just the same as his 'Did God really say?' method used in Genesis 3:1. The devil is 'crafty' (Genesis 3:1). He comes to Jesus, quoting from the Bible (6; Psalm 91:11-12). His real goal becomes clear in verse 9 - he wants Jesus to 'bow down and worship' him. In Jesus' victory over the devil, we see the importance of Scripture - 'It is written' (4, 7, 10). We learn that true life comes from God (4), true safety is found in God (7); and true worship is given to God (10). When the tempter comes, we must stand on God's Word: 'every Word that comes from...God' ( 4).