Charles’s quotes


"It is surely ours to combine these elements of mourning for sin and joy in our salvation in one complex and composite experience which keeps us perpetually humble and yet perpetually joyful too."— Rev William Still

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Help us, Lord, to be caring people.

Deuteronomy 22:1-30
Help us, Lord, to be caring people. Where does this love for one another come from? It comes from Your love for us. Where there is a growing appreciation of Your love for us, there will be an increasing commitment to sharing Your love with others. Help us to love people without loving the ways of those who "live as enemies of the Cross of Christ" (Philippians 3:18). May our love for them be a true expression of Your love for them. May it call them to return to You, to be forgiven by You, to make a new beginning with You.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

At The Lord's Table, We Remember Him - And We Respond To Him.

John 6:1-59
In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus stands before us as the One who calls for our decision. There is no automatic guarantee that all who hear the preaching of God’s Word do, in fact, receive the blessing of which God’s Word speaks. There is no automatic guarantee that all who receive the blessing to which these symbols point. Jesus stands before us, saying to us, “What is your response to Me?”

Cleansing

“Jesus answered, ‘Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.’” (John 13:10).
* “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son cleanses us all from sin” (1 John 1:7).
When we come in faith to Jesus Christ, our Saviour, we receive complete cleansing – “The vilest offender who truly believes that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.” ”Every sin had to go ‘neath the cleansing flow.”  * “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, keeps on cleansing us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Coming to Christ and receiving the forgiveness of our sins is just the beginning of our walk in God.
Through faith in our Saviour, we become God’s children. Becoming God’s children through faith in Christ is the beginning of our new life in Christ. God is calling us to grow in Christ. He is calling us to become mature believers.
How are we to grow in Christ? How are to become mature believers? Often, sin will come between us and the holy God. When this happens, we must remember that He is our loving Father. In His great love for us, He has provided for us the way of continual cleansing in the blood of Christ, our Saviour.
When we fail the Lord, He does not leave us. He does not disown us. We are still His children, saved by His wonderful grace. He does, however, call us to come back to Him. He calls us to make progress in the way of holiness.
If we are to a life that brings glory to the Lord, we must come to Him – not once only but many times – and be cleansed in the blood of Christ. This is the continual cleansing which we require if we are to grow in Christ and become mature in Him.
The cleansing of our heart begins with conversion. God gives us a new heart. The cleansing of our life involves lifelong learning – learning to live in the power of the new nature given to us by God at the time of our conversion.
May God help us never to forget our complete cleansing. May we always give thanks to Him for this great blessing. May God help us to come to Him, again and again, for the continual cleansing we need if we are to grow in Christ and bring glory to Him.

Monday, 28 March 2016

God's Love - Reaching Out To Us

"God's love endures for ever" (Psalm 136:1).
God loves us. He’s always reaching out to us. He’s calling us to return to Him. He’s inviting us to come and be blessed by Him. When we resist His call and rebel against Him, we miss out on His blessings – the forgiveness of our sins and new life in Christ. We receive these blessings through faith in Christ. Our rebellion against God doesn’t mean that God stops loving us – He keeps on reaching out to us. He keeps on calling us to return to Him – but it does mean that we miss out on the enjoyment of the blessings He’s calling us to receive through faith in Christ.

The Suffering and Glory of Christ (Psalm 22)

 * The suffering of Christ - "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Psalm 22:1).
These words lie at the heart of Christ's suffering. He suffered for us. He died for our salvation. He is our Substitute and our Saviour: "He died that we might go to heaven, saved by His precious blood." He went in obedience to the Cross so that we might be called to obedience from the Cross. He was forsaken by God so that we might be forgiven by God.
 * The glory of Christ - "I will declare Your name to My brothers; in the congregation I will praise You" (Psalm 21:22).
Christ's prayer was answered. God raised Him from the dead. Apparent defeat was turned into glorious victory. The cloud of darkness was removed. The glorious light shone through. death is a defeated enemy. Resurrection to eternal life - this is our glorious hope.
As we look at the death and resurrection of Christ, let us give all the glory to God for all that He has done for us.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

The search for wisdom

The search for wisdom may begin for us with the question, “What does the book of Proverbs teach us about wisdom?”, but it must not end there. While it is important to learn what the Old Testament has to say to us, we should not allow ourselves to get trapped in the Old Testament so that we fail to look beyond the first stage of God’s revelation and see the fullness of God’s revelation – our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
The book of Proverbs encourages us to search for wisdom. In our search for wisdom, we find that we are led beyond the book of Proverbs. We read what the New Testament says to us – “you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). We are to led to “Christ” who is “the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). Christ leads us beyond “man’s wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:25). Whatever else may be said about wisdom, there is one thing that we must always say, “Christ Jesus … has become for us wisdom from God” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
We do learn about wisdom as we read the book of Proverbs – but there is more to learn than the book of Proverbs, on its own, is able to teach us. In the book of Proverbs, we read of “Wisdom” calling out to us (Proverbs 1:20-21). In the Gospels, Jesus speaks to us. He tells us that He is “the Truth” (John 14:6). He tells us that He is “the Light” (John 8:12). We seek understanding. We seek enlightenment. We find these things in Jesus. We are truly wise when we build our life on Christ (Matthew 7:24-27).
When, in the book of Proverbs, we read the words, “Get wisdom” (Proverbs 4:7), we must follow where our search for wisdom leads us. For us, “Get wisdom” means more than it meant for the writer of the book of Proverbs. It means, “Come to Christ and receive salvation.”
Whatever we may learn about wisdom from the book of Proverbs, this is only the beginning of our search. From there, we look to Jesus and we see that in Him are “‘all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Colossians 2:3) – all that we need for salvation, sanctification and service.

Worship The Lord ... (Psalm 18)

Psalm 18:1-24
The first three verses set the tone: Worship. What a great start to this Psalm. Our attention is directed away from ourselves to the Lord: ‘my strength...my rock, my fortress and my deliverer...my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold’ (1-2). The great testimony of verse 3 - ‘I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies’ - did not come easily (4-5). The enemies of the Lord will be brought to judgment (13-14). ‘The cord of death encompassed me...He delivered me from my strong enemy...’ (4-5,17-19) - Rejoice in the risen Christ through whom we have the ‘victory’ over ‘the last enemy...death’ (1 Corinthians 15:20,26,54). God is leading us into ‘a broad place’ (19). Step into the future with Him. Don’t hold back! ‘Let go and let God have His wonderful way’.

Psalm 18:25-50
‘This God’ is ‘our God’. He is ‘the Rock’. He is ‘my Rock’. No one can compare with the Lord our God. He is the living God, the God of our salvation (30-31,46). In the Lord, we have salvation: ‘You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty’. In our God, we have victory: ‘You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet’ (27,39). Do you want to enjoy God’s blessing - His salvation and His victory? God says, ‘Clothe yourselves with humility’. Together with His command, we have God’s warning - ‘God opposes the proud’ - and God’s promise - He ‘gives grace to the humble’ (1 Peter 5:5). There is a question which each of us must answer: ‘Who is on the Lord’s side? There is an answer which of us must give: ‘We are on the Lord’s side’ (Church Hymnary, 479).

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Great Is The Lord ...

"I will sing a new song to You, O God ... the One who gives salvation ... Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving. Sing praises ... to our God" (Psalm 144:9-10; Psalm 147:7).
"Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised" (Psalm 145:1-3).
The God whom we worship is so much greater than the worship we bring to Him.

"How Long, O Lord?"(Psalm 13)

The ‘how long’ questions are questions asked by a man who feels that God is far away. These questions must, however, be reversed, if we are to move beyond these feelings into the reality of knowing God. God says, ‘How long?’ The Lord is saying to us, “It doesn’t matter how long. Now is the time for a new beginning.” v.1a: “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?” – Now is the time for forgetting the Lord no longer: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead” (2 Timothy 2:8). v. 1b: ” How long will You hide Your face from me?” – Now is the time for hiding from the Lord no longer: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). These blessings are hidden from those who, in proud arrogance, refuse to come to the Lord – “You have hidden these things from the wise and learned” (Matthew 11:25). They are “revealed” to those who “come” to the Lord with the sincerity and humility of ‘little children” (Matthew 11:25, 28). v. 2a: “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts … ? ” – Now is the time for wrestling with the Lord no longer: “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be … ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ’since I am a virgin?’ … ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’” (Luke 1:29, 34, 38). v. 2b: “How long must I … every day have sorrow in my heart?“- Now is the time for sorrowing no longer: “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 10:25-27). Christ points us to the future. v. 2c: “How long will my enemy triumph over me?” – Now is the time for being defeated no longer: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death … Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:14-15, 18). Now is the time for believing God’s promises. Now is the time for receiving His blessings. Now is the time for coming to the Saviour. vs. 3-4: “Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.” Without God, we are overcome. vs. 5-6: “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.” With God, there is trusting, rejoicing and singing – trusting in His unfailing love, rejoicing in His salvation, singing of His goodness. From verse 1 to verse 6, the Psalmist’s mood has changed dramatically. He wishes to lead us on this movement from life without God to life with God. God has come near to us in Christ. He is Emmanuel – God with us. God invites us to come near to Him. We come to Him through Christ. Through Him, we have this great testimony: “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Praying Through God’s Word: Exodus

Exodus 1:1-2:10
Lord, what are we to do when we’re going through a hard time? Hard times can be the breaking of us – or the making of us. We can blame You – or we can trust You. Help us to trust You – to know that You are near, even when it feels like You are far away.
Exodus 2:11-3:22
We thank You, Lord, that You have blessed us. We have come to You with our sin – and You have forgiven us. We thank You, Lord, that You call us to bring Your blessing to others. We have received Your blessing. Help us to share it with others.
Exodus 4:1-31
Often, Lord, we fail You – and we wonder why You bother with us. We thank You, Lord,that You never fail us. When we let You down, You lift us up. Help us, Lord, not to be shaped by our failure. Help us to be transformed by Your love and power. Help us to respond to Your call to “attempt great things for You and expect great things from You” (William Carey).
Exodus 5:1-6:13
Lord, what are we to do when we face determined opposition from people who refuse to listen to what Your Word is saying to them? Lord, teach us to pray. Teach us to take our problems to You – and help us to leave them with You. When troubles come our way, help us to “wait upon You and renew our strength” (Isaiah 40:31).
Exodus 6:14-7:24
Lord, we come to You in our weakness. We receive Your strength. In our weakness, we fail. Through Your strength, we shall triumph. When we’re stumbling along in weakness, help us to say, with ever-increasing faith, “Our God is marching on to glorious victory.”
Exodus 7:25-8:32
Lord, show us our pride – and teach us to humble ourselves before You. Show us Your power and teach us to trust You to do great things in and through us.
Exodus 9:1-32
Lord, help us not to rest content with going through the motions of religion. Beyond religion, there is redemption. Beyond ritual, there is reality. May our faith in Jesus, our Saviour, be a real faith, a living faith, a faith that changes us, a faith that brings glory to You.
Exodus 10:1-29
Touch our hearts, Lord, with Your love. So often, our hearts are hard. How can this hardness be broken down? You must do it. We can’t do this for ourselves. We can’t do this by ourselves. It’s Your love that changes us. It’s Your love that makes us new. Open our hearts to Your love. Fill our hearts with Your love.
Exodus 11:1-12:28
Help us, Lord, to receive Your forgiveness – and to respond to Your call to holy living. You give to us Your peace. It comes to us with Your gift of forgiveness. You give to us Your power – the power to live for Your glory. May Your peace and Your power equip us for living as Your people.
Exodus 12:29-13:16
Often, Lord, we feel trapped – trapped by our sin. We try to break free – but we can’t make it happen. Our sin has such a strong hold on us. We wonder, “Is there a way to freedom?” Jesus says, “Yes. There is.” He says to us, “I am the Way to freedom.” Set us free, Lord, from our self-centredness. May there be less of self and more of You in our lives.
Exodus 13:17-14:31
Lord, we are surrounded by so many temptations. We cannot avoid this. There’s no getting away from it. It’s part-and-parcel of our life in this world. What are we to do when temptation comes our way? What are we to do when we feel the powerful pull of the world, drawing us away from You? Lord, help us to turn to You. Help us to renew our strength – in You.
Exodus 15:1-21
We think, Lord, of Your redemption, and our hearts are filled with thanksgiving – and hope. We think – and we thank. we look back on all that You have done for us, and we say, “Thank You, Lord.” Give us the spirit of thanksgiving, the attitude of gratitude – and, with it, give us the confidence to face the future, knowing that it is more than our future. It is Your future for us.
Exodus 15:22-16:36
Lord, You love us so much. Help us never to forget this. Help us to remember Jesus – to remember that His body was broken for us, and His blood was shed for us. Help us to feed on Jesus, and to be strong in Him. Lord, when the going gets tough, help us to remember that Your love keeps going and going and going  …It is a love that never comes to an end. It’s everlasting love – the only everlasting love.
Exodus 17:1-18:27
Lord, we come to You with questions. You give us victory. Sometimes, our questions are not answered. Always, You give us the strength that we need to keep on walking with You. Lord, when our life gets busy, help us to take time to pray. When we have so many things to do, help us to find time for listening to what Your Word has to say to us. If we’re too busy to pray, we’re too busy! Help us, Lord, not to be “worried and upset about many things.” Help us not to forget this: “only one thing is needed” – “listening to what Jesus is saying” to us (Luke 10:38-42).
Exodus 19:1-25
Lord, You have done so much for us. What are we doing for You? You tell us about Your redemption. You call for our response. Our response is inspired by Your redemption. Thank You for the grace of Your redemption – “By grace you have been saved.” Give us the grace to make our response – “Saved through faith for good works” (Ephesians 2:8-10). Lord, help us to have less self-confidence and more confidence in You. Self-confidence is all about us. It has nothing to do with You. Confidence in You is so different. It comes from faith – not from pride. Help us to find our true strength. It’s not our strength. It’s Your strength.
Exodus 20:1-20
Less of our sin, more of Your love – Lord, this is our prayer. Our sin does us nothing but harm. Your love always does us good – nothing but good. We’re sinners, Lord. Why do You keep on loving us? We don’t know why – but we’re glad that You do! We rejoice in this: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Exodus 20:21-21:32
Your redemption, Lord, is more than rules and regulations. It’s not about the things that we do for You. It’s about all that You have done for us. Jesus died for us – This is what inspires us to live for Him. What a great thing Jesus has done for us! Help us, Lord, to do great things for Him. Help us, Lord, to receive Your great salvation – and to give all the glory to You.
Exodus 21:33-22:31
Lord, we’re on a journey. We’re travelling from grace. We’re travelling to glory. Everything comes to us from Your grace. Everything is leading us to Your glory. You have given us all that we need – all that we need to bring us into Your salvation, all that we need to take us on into Your glory. This is not our journey. It’s Your journey. You’re our Travel Guide. You’re with us every step of the way. Thank You, Lord.
Exodus 23:1-33
We rejoice in Your love. Help us, Lord, not to forget Your holiness. You fill us with Your love. You call us to be holy. Lead us, O Lord, in Your way of love. Lead us in Your way of holiness. It won’t be easy – walking with You on Your pathway of holiness. When the going gets tough, help us to remember that we’re not on our own. You are with us every day. You are with us – all the way.
Exodus 24:1-18
Lord, You call us to speak Your Word – but, first, You call us to listen to Your Word. How can we speak for You if we’re not listening to You? Help us to come to the Cross of Christ. Help us to hear the voice of Your love. Send us from the that holy place – the place of His crucifixion, the place of our salvation – back into the world. May we return to the world as people who’ve been changed – changed by the love of Christ.
Exodus 25:1-40
Lord, we thank You for Your Son, Jesus. What a wonderful Saviour He is. There is no-one like Him. None can compare with Jesus. He is greater than all the prophets. He is greater than all the apostles. The prophets cannot save us. The apostles cannot save us. They can only point away from themselves. They point us to Jesus. They are only servants. Jesus is the Saviour. We thank You that He was able to do what the prophets and apostles could never do for us – He “came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Exodus 26:1-37
Open our eyes, Lord. Help us to see Jesus – to see Him in His holiness and confess our sin, to see Him in His love and receive His forgiveness, to see Him in His power and be changed by Him, to see Him in His glory and worship Him.
Exodus 27:1-19
Sometimes, Lord, we don’t feel like the sun is shining upon us. When we feel like this, help us to know that the light and love of Your Son is always shining upon us. When we’re feeling down, help us to remember that You raised Jesus up – “Up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph o’er His foes.” This is what we need to hear. This is what lifts us up: up – into Your presence, up – out of our sin, up – into Your salvation’ upwards and onwards – to Your eternal glory.
Exodus 27:20-29:9
Sometimes, Lord, our lights are switched off. Sometimes, they’re switched on. The light of Your love is never switched off. It’s always switched on. Your love is ‘all the time’ love. There is no love like Your love for us. It’s the only ‘always and forever’ love. Thank You, Lord, for the light that never stops shining – the light of Your undying love. This is the only light that is always shining.
Exodus 29:10-46
Often, Lord, we come to Your House with so little expectation of Your blessing. Where does this attitude come from? – It doesn’t come from You. You are the great God. You fill our hearts with ‘great expectations.’ When Satan comes to us, filling our hearts with apathy – the ‘couldn’t-care-less’ attitude, help us to tell him that You are the great God (Psalm 135:5) – great in holiness, power and love, the faithful God who comes to us with great promises of blessing. When, Lord, we are blessed by You, help us to give all the glory to You.
Exodus 30:1-38
So often, Lord, we get preoccupied with ourselves. Our words say that You are more important than anyone else. Often, our lives tell a very different story – ‘It’s all about us. It’s all about what pleases us.’ How can we be changed? Lead us to the Cross of Your Son, Jesus. Show us Jesus – dying for us. Teach us to live for Him. Lift us out of our weakness and failure into Your strength and victory – and help us to praise You with hearts that are becoming more God-centred and less self-centred.
Exodus 31:1-32:14
Lord, You call us to serve You. How are we to serve You? How can we serve You? – Our sin keeps on getting in the way. We start off well – and then, we take our eyes off Jesus, and things start to go badly. Lord, we need Your Spirit. He is the Holy Spirit. How can we possibly serve You – if we are not learning to walk with You in the way of holiness. Before we pray, “Help us to serve You better”, help us to pray, “Lead us in the way of holiness.”
Exodus 32:15-33:23
Lord, You are the God of holiness. You are the God of love. Your holiness is loving holiness. Your love is holy love. Help us to see that Your holiness and Your love belong together. It’s not one without the other. It’s not holiness without love. It’s not love without holiness. We need both – Your holiness and Your love. Your holiness shows us our sin. Your love forgives our sin. You love us. Help us to love You – and be changed by Your holy love.
Exodus 34:1-35
Lord, You are the faithful God. You give us Your promises. You keep Your promises. You never go back on Your Word. You always stand by the Word that You have spoken. Your promises come to us from the past. They lead us on into Your future. What a wonderful future You are planning for us. We thank You for Jesus’ great promise: “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). Help us to receive His Word, to rejoice in His promise, yo be renewed by His love.
Exodus 35:1-36:7
Help us, Lord, never to think that we have nothing to offer to You. We can never save ourselves. That is something that You must do for us. We have been saved by Your grace. Now, we must serve You in Your strength. You gave Your Son for us. Help us to give ourselves to You. May we never be half-hearted in our devotion to You. Help us to be whole-hearted in all that we do for You.
Exodus 36:8-38
Teach us, Lord, that it’s not all about us. It’s not about getting ourselves noticed. It’s all about You. It’s about giving all the glory to You.
Exodus 37:1-29
We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, is “pure gold.” There’s nothing better than Jesus. there’s no-one better than Him. He’s the very best. What Jesus has done for us – this is “pure gold.” He died for us. He was raised to life for us. This is Good News. It’s the best news we could ever hear. Lord, help us not to get bogged down in the bad news of our sin. Lord, lift us up with the Good News of our Saviour.
Exodus 38:1-31
Lord, there is work to be done. It’s Your work. Help us all to play our part. We leave it to someone else – and it never gets done. Change us, Lord. Spectators can become workers. Help us not to hang back – on the sidelines. You’re calling us to come into the centre of Your will and Your work. When we’re tempted to stand back and watch, help us to come forward and work. Help us to remember this: “There’s a work of Jesus none but we can do.”
Exodus 39:1-43
Lord, we want blessing – but we’re not so keen on obedience. Help us to learn from Jesus. For Him, obedience was everything. He was fully obedient. For Him, it meant the Cross (Philippians 2:8). Lord, help us not to be thinking, “What are we going to get out of this?” Help us to be praying, “How can we do Your will? How can we bring glory to You?”
Exodus 40:1-38
Lord, help us to listen to Your Word, walk in Your way and “worship You in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). These are the things that matter most. Are they our priorities? We know, Lord, that they should be our priorities – but we are often distracted. We lose our focus. Other things become more important to us. “Restore our souls and lead us in the paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).

Friday, 25 March 2016

From Revelation To Revival

Ezekiel 37:1-14

God calls us to speak His Word. First, we must receive His Gospel. We must see ourselves as sinners. We must see Jesus as our Saviour. The Word of the Lord is to be encouraging, challenging and life-changing. We will not always be on the mountain-top. Often, we will be down in the valley. We will need to be lifted up by the Lord.
As we move from the world of the Bible to the world of today, we must ask the question, “Can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3), and we must listen to God’s answer to this question. Humanly speaking, the answer is “No.” God gives us a different answer. He says, “Yes.” God’s answer is given by grace. It is to be spoken in faith. It is the answer that comes to us when the Spirit of the Lord is at work in us (Ezekiel 37:1). It is the answer that comes from revelation. It is the answer that leads to revival.


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Lord, we thank You for Your “amazing grace” ...

Lord, we thank You for Your “amazing grace” – “I once was lost but now am found” (John Newton). We think about our life. Did we find our way back to You?  - No! You found us! You came looking for us – and You found us. We think about this – and we say, “Hallelujah!” We say, “Praise the Lord!” Do we say, “Hallelujah! We have found Him”? We do say this – but there is something more than this: “Hallelujah! He has saved me.” Thank You, Lord, for Your amazing grace.

Problems Among God's People

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

Monday, 21 March 2016

Speaking The Word Of Truth, Walking In The Way Of Truth

Numbers 22:1-24:25
The story of Balaam concerns the challenge of speaking God’s Word in truth. God is the God of truth (Numbers 23:19). His messengers must speak the Word of truth.. Before we can speak God’s Word in truth, there needs to be a confession of sin, an acknowledgment of how far we have deviated from the way of truth. This confession of sin is to be accompanied by a fresh commitment to walking in the way of truth (Numbers 22:34). Speaking the Word of truth involves looking beyond ourselves to the One who is the Word of truth – our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (Numbers 24:17).

Opening Up God's Word: Old Testament

Genesis 1 – 2
“In the beginning, God”  – The first four words of the Bible take us back to the point where we can go no further, back to the eternity of God.
What do we find when we are taken back – into the heart of the eternal God?
We find love. We discover that “God is love.”
Creation is love because God is love. Before God made us, He loved us.
The love which we find in the opening chapters of Genesis is the love that is proclaimed throughout God’s Word – from Genesis to Revelation.
It’s the great love of God for us. It’s the love that never ends. It’s the love that goes on and on.
* How do we get to know God the Creator? How do we come to know that His heart is full of love for us?
In Genesis 1, three words are repeated over and over again: “And God said”.
These words emphasize the creative power of the Word of God.
God created through His Word. He proclaims His love to us through Jesus Christ, the living Word of God. He declares His love for us in the Scriptures, the written Word of God. We come to a true knowledge of god as our loving Creator when we come, in faith, to Jesus Christ, our Saviour.  As the Scriptures proclaim the Saviour to us, we learn that we need to be re-created in Christ, if we are to discover the  purpose of God’s love when He created us in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27). In Jesus Christ, we learn that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). Through Christ, we read Genesis with new eyes, the renewed eyes of “a new creation in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Through this new creation in Christ, we come to a real understanding of what it means to say, “Lord God, You created me. You are my Creator.”
* When we see creation from the standpoint of Jesus Christ, it is no longer merely a matter of ‘long, long ago.’ When we see God, our Creator, through the eyes of Jesus, our Saviour, we no longer have the feeling of something ‘far, far away’, something which is so distant and remote from our lives that it does not really concern us very much at all. In Jesus Christ, God, our Creator, has come to us. In Jesus Christ, God, our Creator, has declared his love to us.  When you read the story of the Garden of Eden, let your thoughts move beyond that garden to another garden, the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed to His Father, “Not My will, but Yours be done (Luke 22:42). As you come, in faith, to the Christ of Calvary, you will see creation from the vantage-point of the cross. You will read what God’s Word says about creation with the eyes of one who has become a new creation in Christ. You will read of God, breathing the breath of life into man (Genesis 2:7), and you will rejoice in the gift of God – the Holy Spirit: God’s gift to every believer in the lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:14). When you read of God’s command to man to do His will, you will, by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, make it your delight to do the will of God. This is what it means to be re-created in the image of God. It is a life of learning to pray, with Jesus, “Not my will but yours be done.” To believe in God as our Creator is to obey Him as our Lord. Faith in God, the creator, is a living faith, when we know that Jesus is “God with us” and acknowledge Him as Lord.
We make our confession of faith  – “Jesus is Lord”, and we give thanks that “creation’s voice proclaims” that He is Lord.
Genesis 3
“Behold, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought many devices” (Ecclesiastes 7:29).
* Following the glory and majesty of the Creator and His creation in Genesis 1 & 2, the third chapter of Genesis begins with the enemy of God, the enemy of our souls, the devil, Satan (Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2). He is “subtle” – sly, cunning, crafty. He is evil.He sows seeds of doubt: “Did God say?” (Genesis 3:1). From his very first words, it is clear that he is the enemy of God. “Did God say? Did God really say?” One can almost hear the wicked, unbelieving tone of voice with which Satan spoke.
* When the woman heard the voice of Satan, she ought to have turned away from him. She ought to have said, “Get behind me, Satan. I don’t want to have anything to do with you.” She ought to have said this, but she didn’t. She discussed the matter with the enemy. She had no right to do this. There was one answer she ought to have given to the devil: God has spoken, God has stated His will, God has given His Word.  This is what she ought to have said to Satan, but she didn’t.
* As Satan spoke to Eve and she listened to him, he made her doubt God’s Word and question His command. Eve started to talk things over with Satan. This is where she made her big mistake. She should have told Satan that God’s command is for our good. She should have told him that God’s law is good and pure and holy. She should have said this to the devil, but she didn’t. The more Eve spoke with Satan and listened to him, the less she delighted in God’s holy Word; She was seduced by the devil’s subtlety. She was led astray by the deceiver. By this time, Satan had moved beyond questioning God’s Word. He was contradicting it. He was saying the exact opposite of what God had said. He was saying “You will not die” (Genesis 3:4). By this time, Eve was taken in by the tempter. When she looked at the tree, she saw only what Satan wanted her to see (Genesis 3:6). She had cast aside the Word of God and listened, instead, to the voice of the devil. She no longer allowed God’s Word to be the last word on the matter. Now, she thought that she had the right to decide whether or not God’s way was the best way. She made herself the judge of what was good and evil, right and wrong. She had stopped listening to the Word of God. She was no longer committed to obeying the Word of God. The story of Genesis 3:6  continues down to the present day – Adam’s sons are still “rushing helter skelter to destruction with their fingers in their ears” (Don Francisco).
* The immediate effect of sin was shame. Note the contrast between Genesis 2:25 and Genesis 3:7. Sin and shame go together. Sin is not something of which should be proud. Sin is something of which we should be ashamed. Refusing to listen to god’s word is a matter of great shame. Refusing to do god’s will is a shameful thing. The shamefulness of sin is bound up with the undeniable fact that sin makes us guilty – utterly and completely guilty before God. The innocence of Genesis 1 & 2 was lost. Like, Adam and Eve, we are guilty – unquestionably guilty before the God of perfect holiness. The judgment of God is upon us. Like Adam and Eve, we may resort to finger-pointing. Adam blamed the woman (Genesis 3:12). Eve blamed the serpent (Genesis 3:13). There can be no passing the buck. We must acknowledge our sin before God. We must confess our sin to Him. as we come to God, seeking His forgiveness, we will discover the wonder of His love for us.
When we come, acknowledging the holiness of God and our own sin and guilt – “God made man upright, but they have sought many devices”, we discover that the God of great holiness is also the God of great love. The God, who pronounces His judgment upon sin, is also the God who demonstrates His love for sinners.
When God says, “What is this that you have done?” (Genesis 3:13), this is not only a Word of judgment on sin. It’s also the Word that speaks of God’s love for sinners. God is declaring His love for sinners. He is saying, ‘I have loved you so much. There is absolutely no reason why you should have done this.’ God is declaring His love for us. In love, He’s appealing to us not to turn our backs on Him and lose out on the blessing that He wants so much to give to us. He’s saying to us, ‘I love you. Why are you turning away from Me? Will you not return to Me, and discover how much I love you?’
When God says, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9), this is not only a Word of God’s holiness, from which we have been separated by our sin. It’s also a Word of His love, This is God’s seeking love. This is the God of love, seeking the lost sinner. He is saying, ‘I love you, and I am seeking to save you.’
The God of love, the God who seeks to save sinners, gives the first promise of a Saviour, as early as Genesis 3:15. These words, spoken to the enemy. promise that there will be One who will triumph over the enemy: “I will put enmity between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Jesus, our Saviour, fulfils this promise of love. He was “bruised” for our sins, and, through His death, He has triumphed over Satan for us. So, even here in Genesis 3, with its message of sin and guilt, there is, for us, a message of hope – triumphant hope, glorious hope, eternal hope.
Genesis 12:1-3
Our concern is not so much with Abraham. Our chief focus of attention is on “the God of Abraham.” The story of Abraham is both the story of Abraham and the story of God’s grace and power. We see the grace of God, revealed in the promises of God. We see the power of God, revealed in the fulfilment of His promises: “God can do anything; God can do anything; god can do anything but fail; He can save. He can keep. He can cleanse, and He will. God can do anything but fail.”
God’s promise to Abraham has three parts: (a) personal – “I will bless you; (b) national – “I will make of you a great nation”; (c) universal – “by you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” As the fulfilment of God’s promise moves forward from Abraham to Israel to Christ, we hear God’s Word speaking to us: “I will bless you” – saved, kept, cleansed.
As we receive the blessing of God’s salvation, we discover how faithful God is, in His love towards us. “God can do anything but fail” – God cannot fail, because He is the everlasting God. He is Lord. He is carrying out His purpose, the purpose of His unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable love. This purpose of love is expressed in His promises. His promises have been fulfilled in Christ. His promises are offered to us today. These promises are summed up in the simple yet rich words, “I will bless you.” His promises express “the unchangeable character of His purpose” (Hebrews 6:17). We know that God will not fail us. He will not let us down. He will not forsake us. He will not leave us. We know this not only because of the promise given to Abraham. We know that God is faithful, in His love, because of the Cross of Christ – “the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19).
As we learn about the faithfulness of God, we discover that the God of Abraham is our  God, and the God of Jesus Christ is our God. We find ourselves drawn to Him. This isn’t a superficial and shallow attraction. It’s a deep devotion. It’s a heartfelt, loving loyalty. As we think about God’s faithfulness, our hearts are filled with hope for the future. This hope is summed up for us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our Saviour. we think of Him, and we say, “Hallelujah! What a Saviour!”
Exodus 2:23-25
The mercy of God, revealed in the Exodus, is connected with the ongoing purpose of God – “God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24).
From Exodus 1:13 to Exodus 2:23-25, there were 80 years (Acts 7:23,30). These 80 years are referred to as “the course of those many days” (Exodus 2:23). Egypt is “the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 5:6). The people of God were in bondage for many years. Year after year passed, and the people remained in bondage. Where in the world was God in all this? Was He absent? Has He left His people? Had God forgotten His promises? No! Not at all! God was there all the time. In mercy, He was waiting patiently for His people to call upon Him, to cry to Him for mercy.
Is there not here a lesson for our Church and our community? Don’t give up. God hasn’t given up on us. He is still waiting for us to call upon Him. In mercy, He is waiting for us to cry to Him for mercy.
In Exodus 2:23-25, we read about the time when the people of God are brought to an end of themselves, the time when they cry out to the Lord for mercy, the time when God’s plan of salvation is set in motion.
Notice that, if the Lord’s blessing is to come to us, we must be brought to an end of ourselves, and we must learn to cry to the Lord for mercy.
We must note the contrast between Israel’s past in “the house of bondage” and the future that was opened up for them by God’s mighty act of redemption, the Exodus. Is there not here a picture of the future could be for our congregation and community? Before start thinking about what the future may hold, we must think about the past from which we need to be delivered. Have we, like the people of Israel, lived in “the house of bondage”? Have we been in bondage to a self-centred and godless lack of spiritual priorities? Have we been in bondage to prayerlessness? Has this bondage, like the people of Israel’s bondage, continued for many years? Have we been in bondage to fear which holds us back from being faithful and loyal witnesses to Jesus Christ? Our future can be very different. We can leave “the house of bondage.” We can leave it in the past. We can follow the Lord into the future He has planned for us. We can set out on a new journey of faith, a journey that will lead us to a new, bright, Christ-centred future – a future which will be blessed by the Lord.
What will our future be? Will it be a life of continuing in “the house of bondage”? or Will it be a new life – a life that has Christ at its very centre? Will we rise to the challenge of being the people of God – people who are serious about living for the Lord, even when it would be so easy to settle for something less than God’s very best?
What will your choice be? Will you stop saying ‘No’ to God, and start saying ‘Yes’ to Him? Will you dare to start being honest with God and with yourself? If you and I dare to be honest with God and with ourselves, we will be deeply humbled before Him, we will acknowledge our need of God’s mercy, and we will make a new beginning with Him.
As we think about the future, we will be tempted to ask, “Have things gone too far?” This is the voice of the devil, speaking to us. God is saying something else to us. He’s speaking to us of His mercy. If we forget the mercy of God, we will be pessimistic about the future. If we look to the God of mercy, we will grow strong in the faith that things can be turned out – by God.
If things are turned around, we must make outr response to the God of mercy. We must receive His mercy, which brings to us the forgiveness of our sins. We must receive, from Him, the power that we need to rise up and live as His faithful servants, who learning day-by-day what it means to be set free from our self-centred way of life, set free for a life of serving the Lord and bringing glory to His Name, the Name of our salvation.
There is an alternative to being real with God. It’s the way of hypocrisy. We can ‘go through the motions’ of religion – but we must not forget what Jesus says about that way of life – “I never knew you, Away from Me, you evildoers” (Matthew 7:23).
May God help us to open our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord – and we’ll see the difference that He makes, when we give Him life-service, and not just lip-service.
Leviticus
We need to study Leviticus – not just read it.
Leviticus follows on from Genesis and Exodus. In Genesis, we see man ruined. In Exodus, we see man redeemed. In Leviticus, we see man worshipping. This is a book of worship. It is a book for redeemed people. It shows them how to worship God. What is true worship? We do not begin with the worshipper. We begin with the God who is worshipped: ‘The Lord called Moses’ (1:1). Before worship, there is revelation.
God reveals Himself to us. (a) He shows us who He is. (b) He speaks His Word to us.
(a) He says to us, ‘I am the Lord’ (22:2-3, 8-9, 16, 30-33). He says to us, ‘I am your God’ (23:14, 22, 28, 40, 43). We say to Him, ‘You are our God’ (23:14).
(b) ‘The Lord spoke.’
‘The Lord said.’ ‘The Lord commanded.’
Leviticus contains many direct messages from the Lord.
In Leviticus – the book of holiness and atonement – , God reveals Himself as the God of holiness and love.
(i) Leviticus speaks much about God’s holiness. It also speaks of our call to live a holy life (11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 26). In Leviticus, we are given instruction concerning approaching the holy God and maintaining fellowship with the holy God.
(ii) Leviticus speaks about atonement. The shedding of blood is emphasized. This points forward to salvation through the shed blood of Christ.
Holiness and atonement – these two themes belong together in a true understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
* The holy God cannot stand sin. He has said, ‘Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14).
* The God of holiness is also the God of love. When we say, ‘God is holy’, we must never forget that ‘God is love.’ He is holy love. He is loving holiness. In Christ, God has provided a way for sin to be forgiven. In Christ, God Himself has become the Sacrifice for sin. He has taken upon Himself the punishment for sin. He has met the requirements of both His own holiness and our need for forgiveness.
Through the death of Christ for us, God has provided for our justification and our sanctification.
He imputes holiness to the believer. This is our justification. In Christ, we have received the forgiveness of our sins (Romans 3:24). He implants holiness in the believer’s heart. This is our
sanctification. In Christ, we have received new life (Romans 6:1-6).
The command – ‘Be holy’ – is also a promise
– ‘You shall be holy’ (11:45; 19:2). Why is the command also a promise? It is because the command is based on God’s gift to us. In Christ, God has given us a holy nature. Our holiness is not an inherent holiness. We are not holy by nature. Our own nature is sinful. Our holiness is a derived holiness. It is derived
from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
* Leviticus, the book of atonement, points us to Christ. Through Him, we are cleansed from all our sins. In Him, we are clean before the Lord (16:30).
* Leviticus, the book of holiness, calls us to live a holy life. The life is a life of redemption and glory.
Where does the glory of the Lord come from this? It comes from this – the Lord is working out in us His great plan of redemption.
Redemption
Every Sabbath day – in the context of worship – the people are reminded of God’s covenant (24:8). This is a continuing reminder of all that God has done (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob … redemption from Egypt). It speaks to us also of all that God will do. As well as salvation from Egypt, there is also the life of sanctification in Canaan (25:3; 20:24 – ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ – and the life of service
(25:35). We are saved for sanctification. We are saved to serve. The Christian life is to be a life of holiness (sanctification) and love (service). Both arise from our experience of God’s salvation, an ongoing experience of the glory of God.
* In chapter 27, great emphasis is placed on holiness
(vs. 9-10, 14, 21, 23, 28, 30, 32-33). We are called to live a holy
life – ‘every devoted thing (person) is holy to the Lord’ (v.28). We are to surrender ourselves to the Lord – all our possessions are ‘holy to the Lord’ (v. 30). In giving ourselves to the Lord, we must seek to maintain the attitude of gratitude (Genesis 28:22).
* As well as holiness, there is to be love in our lives. We are to love our neighbour (19:18). We are to love the stranger (19:33-34). We are to be like the Good Samaritan. The stranger is our neighbour (Luke 10:25-37). What is our motive for loving the
stranger? It is redemption. God has redeemed us. We must not withhold His love from the stranger.
Glory
We must seek to be like Christ. Like Him, we are to live a life of holiness and love. This life of obedience is a life of entering into the glory of God (9:6; John 14:21). Sin robs us of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Salvation restores to us the glory of God
(2 Corinthians 3:18).
The contrast between the life of sin and the life of salvation is highlighted in chapter 26.
In vs. 1-13, we have God’s promises. He promises to give His
blessing to those who live in obedience to Him. In vs. 14-46, we have God’s warnings. There will be punishment for those who refuse to obey Him.
The essential character of the saved life is described in verses 1-13. We see this, especially, in verse 12 – ‘I will be your God and you shall be My people.’ In this relationship with God, we have His great promise – ‘I will make My abode among you, and my soul shall not abhor you’ (v. 11). When the Lord makes His abode in us, His glory is revealed through us (John 14:21). This glory is seen as we walk with the Lord in the ongoing experience of His salvation. We are ‘not … slaves.’ We ‘walk erect’ (v.13).
God’s purpose is for men and women to leave the life of sin and enter the life of salvation. He chastises the disobedient with a view to their returning to Him (26:18; 23). For those who return, there is the promise of grace (vs. 40-46).
The pathway to holiness begins at the gateway of grace. We travel from grace to glory. The words, ‘by grace through faith’ (Ephesians 2:8), are written over the whole course of the Christian life. At the beginning, it is ‘by grace through faith.’ At every point of the journey to glory, the message remains the same – ‘by grace through faith.’ In glory – ‘in the coming ages’ when God reveals ‘the immeasurable riches of His kindness towards us in Christ Jesus’ (Ephesians 2:7) – our joyful confession remains the same for all eternity: ‘by grace through faith.’

Numbers 
“In the wilderness (or the wild country)” (Numbers 1:1).
“Stage by stage” (Numbers 33:2) – Moses kept a record of Israel’s journey.
“In the wilderness”, “stage by stage” – When we read these two phrases, and think about our own journey through life, we are invited to think about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.
Have we been in the wild country for far too long? Will we leave the wild country in the past?
There’s more to life than being in the wild county. This is the message of Numbers for us today.
When we’re in the wilderness, what we must remember is this – There’s a way out of the wilderness.
Where will we find the way out of the wilderness? The book of Numbers gives us God’s answer.
When we read about life “in the wilderness”, we must remember this – We are not alone in the wilderness.
God is there with us. He’s with us all of the time – not just some of the time.
This is what we need to hear and know, when we feel like God’s gone away and left us.
Numbers isn’t just about wilderness wanderings. It’s about the guiding, delivering, sustaining and protecting hand of God.
God brought His people out of Egypt, and He was leading them to the Promised Land.
We must not forget this, when we’re reading the book of Numbers.
When we’re reading Numbers, it’s easy to get bogged down. It’s a tragic record of sad failure. That’s what we see when we only see the human side of this story.
When we look beyond the human situation, we see something more. We see God – and we begin to see something else. We see another story – a story of glorious victory.
Numbers invites us to think about past, our present and our future. We read about the old generation, the transition era, and the new generation – and we wonder, ‘Where do we fit in?’
This isn’t just about old age and youth. It’s about the old life and the new life – the life without Christ and the life that’s being transformed by Him. It’s about the struggle to put the old life behind us. It’s about the call of God. He’s calling us to walk with Him in new life.
In Numbers, there’s a strong emphasis on divine revelation (Numbers 1:1; Numbers 2:1). More than eighty times, in Numbers, we read the words, “The Lord spoke to Moses.”
What does God say to us about our life?
 – Without Him, our life is in ruins.That’s the message of our fall into sin (Genesis 3).
 – With Him, we are redeemed. This is the message of the Exodus.
 – Once we’ve been redeemed by the Lord, we’re to worship Him. That’s our calling. We learn much about worship in Leviticus.
 – Worshipping the Lord involves more than what happens when we’re in the Lord’s House. We’re to serve the Lord while we’re travelling through life’s wilderness. This is the challenge of Numbers. Find God in the wilderness. Follow Him as He leads you out of the wilderness and on to the Promised Land.
How are we to serve the Lord? We must begin with this – We have been saved by the Lord. Salvation comes before service. We’ve been saved by grace. Now, we must grow in grace. “Stage by stage”, we must put the wilderness behind us, and press on to a life of faithful and fruitful service.
 – Serving the Lord is a privilege that is given to us by the God of grace (Numbers 3-4).
 – We are to serve the Lord – according to His will (Numbers 7).
How are we to become God’s faithful and fruitful servants? What we must learn is this – The way of service is the way of consecration (Numbers 6:1-8) and blessing (Numbers 6:24-26). Blessing comes from the Lord. It comes to us when we are consecrated to Him.
What does it mean to be consecrated to the Lord? It means this – We are to follow Him in the way that He leads us. When we take our eyes off Him, we will drift away from Him, and we will be pulled more deeply into the wilderness. When we keep our eyes on Him, He will lead us towards the Promised Land.
Numbers challenges us – What will we be? Will be faithful? Will we be failures? In Numbers 13, we read about the unbelieving ten and the faithful two. God is saying to us, ‘Let there be less unbelief, and more faith.’ Numbers 13:30 is particularly challenging – “Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’”
In these words of Caleb, we learn about faith.
 – Our faith is based on facts – the promise of God.
 – Standing on the facts – God’s promise, we believe that God is faithful. We believe that He will fulfil His promise. This is faith.
 – This brings us on to feelings. We don’t start with feelings. We begin with facts. We build on facts. God’s promise gives the firm foundation for our faith. When our faith is securely based on God’s facts, our feelings will follow the lead given to them by God’s facts and our faith.
Without the God-given foundation for our faith, our feelings will take us all over the place. That’s what happened to the people of Israel. The majority of the people lost sight of God’s saving purpose – and they wandered around in the wilderness for forty years – “Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of those who were twenty years old or more when they came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly” (Numbers 32:11-12). When we read about failure of the majority, we must not forget faithful Caleb and Joshua. What a great example and wonderful inspiration they are to all of us.
In Numbers 27:18-23, we learn that Joshua had been chosen by God to succeed Moses as the leader of His people.
So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership,and lay your hand on him. Make him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence … At his command the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.’ Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and made him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord instructed through Moses.”
Reading about those who failed the Lord and those who were faithful – This challenges us: What will we  do? What will we be? Will we fail the Lord? Will we be faithful to Him?
To those who are unfaithful, the Lord says, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
To those who are faithful, He gives His promise – “Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess” (Numbers 33:53).
Looking beyond the promised land, we see the promised Saviour.
In Numbers 19:9, we read about “cleansing … purification from sin.” This is what Jesus came to do for us. He’s “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
In Numbers 28, we read about the feasts of Israel. they’re full of prophetic significance. They point forward to our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the promised Saviour. Let us learn to look beyond all the details – to catch a glimpse of Jesus, our great Saviour.
Deuteronomy 4:32-40; 6:1-7 and 8:3
As we seek to build our Church and our lives on Jesus Christ, we turn to the book of Deuteronomy. Here, we are following our Lord Jesus Christ. When He was being tempted by Satan, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3 – “Man does not live by bread alone … Man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.”
This is the lesson which comes through, again and again, in Deuteronomy: We need to hear the Word of the Lord, We need to build our lives on the Word of the Lord.
The teaching of Deuteronomy has been summed up in this way: (i) Looking back; (ii) Looking up; (iii) Looking forward.
  (i) Looking back – God’s people were to look back to the past. They were to remember what the Lord had done for them. This is what we must do. Look back and remember. Why are we to look back to the past? We look back to the past so that we might learn to look up to the Lord and look out into the future with faith (Deuteronomy 4:32, 40).
  (ii) Looking up – The people of God were called to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and might (Deuteronomy 6:5). Love for the Lord is not to be a half-hearted thing. The Lord stands before us with a call to decision. He calls us to choose. Jesus says to us, “You cannot serve two masters.” He says to us, ‘There are two alternative ways of living. You can love the Lord, or you can love the world.’ He asks us, ‘Which will it be – the Lord or the world?’ Think about how much the Lord has loved you, and let your response be the love for the Lord. Look back and remember what the Lord has done for you. Look up to Lord and let him be the centre of your life.
  (iii) Looking forward – Life in Christ, life as the redeemed people of God, is always life with a future. As God’s people, Israel looked out. They saw “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Deuteronomy 6:3). This is, for us, a picture of the life into which the Lord is calling us. It is a life “sustained by God and helpful to men” (Hans Kung, On Being a Christian, p. 602). Israel looked out to the land God was giving to them. We look forward to all that He has planned for us, as we learn to walk with Him. Let us move forward with faith. Let us pray, ‘Lord, bless me, and make me a blessing.’ We must not keep the blessing of the Lord to ourselves. We, who receive  blessing from the Lord, must share his blessing with others. We, who have heard the Word of the Lord, must share His Word with others (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Look out from where you are. Look forward to what God is going to do. Say to God, “Here I am, wholly available” – and let Him work in you and through you. Israel advanced, with God, into the promised land. Let us step forward, in faith, with God and for God/ Let us step forward into the blessing He’s going to give to us – the blessing that reaches out to us, the blessing that reaches out, through us, to others.
_____________
After I had posted these notes on Deuteronomy, I came across this quotation – “I avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward” (Charlotte Bronte). This made me think about what I had written. We cannot live our life without looking back and looking forward. There are, however, dangers in both looking back and looking forward.
When we look back, we may see only our sin and fail to see the grace of God. This will fill us with guilt and regret. This can overwhelm us. What we need to do is this – look upward. On the other hand, we may look back and see only our own achievements. this will fill us with pride in ourselves. There will be no giving glory to God. What are we to do when we look back? We must look up to the Lord. This will take our attention away from our sin and failure. This will fix our attention on our Saviour and His salvation. We will learn to say, “To God be the glory! Great things He has done … ”
When we look forward, we will filled with fear. This can fill us with dread, constantly wondering what bad thing is going to happen next. We may think about the future in a very different way, “I’m going to achieve this, that and the next thing.” Really?! What’s this all about? It’s not about God. It’s about me – This is what I’m going to achieve. What are we to do when we start thinking like this? We must look up to the Lord – and ask Him to help to keep on looking up to Him.
Life includes the backward look and the forward look – but it must also include the upward look. Without the upward look, our life is in a mess. We may be painfully aware of the mess we’re in. We may be blissfully unaware of the mess we’re getting ourselves into. Whatever kind of mess we’re in, we need to look up to the Lord. We need to say, “Lord, we need you every day and every hour – all the time.” We need to say, “Everything good comes from You, Lord – especially our Saviour, Jesus. Thank You, Lord, that you keep on loving us – even when we’ve forgotten You. When we forget to look up to You, show us Your love – and teach us to love You.”
Deuteronomy 8:7-8 and 8:17-19 
Deuteronomy emphasizes the importance of responding to the Lord right now.
 – We are reminded of the past, but we must not live in the past.
 – We are pointed to the future, but we must not daydream about the future.
  (1) One of Deuteronomy’s main themes is the love of God.
God’s love points us back to the past, to the death of Christ for our sins (Romans 5:8). It also points us forward, to the heavenly place that the Lord is preparing for His people (John 14:1-3).
God’s love is not, however, something that belongs to the past – and it is not something that is kept for the future.
God loves us now. He loved us in the past – and He loves us now. God has not forgotten us – and He will not forget us.
We can face the future with the assurance that God loves us. He loves us with a love that will not let us go. He loves us with a love that will not let us down. He loves us with a purpose. He plans to bless us. His purpose of blessing is a purpose of love. He says to us, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).
  (2) Another major theme of Deuteronomy is the land of promise.
In John 3:16, we learn that God’s promise is given in love – and His “land” is “everlasting life.”
For those who are trusting in Christ, “the land of promise” is not something in the distant future. We are in “the land of promise.” Eternal life has begun It has begun – and now, we press on toward its fulfilment.
  (3) Deuteronomy stresses that the love of God and the land of promise are not to be taken for granted.
In Deuteronomy 7:7-8 and Deuteronomy 8:17-18, there are very clear warnings against the sin of spiritual pride.
 – How easy it is to forget how much God has loved us!
 – How easy it to forget the promises that God has given to us!
When we are tempted to forget the Lord – His love and His promises, we need to hear God’s Word – “You shall remember the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 8:18).
When we are tempted to forget the Lord and become preoccupied with ourselves, the Word of God comes to us with this warning: “if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you this day that you shall surely perish” (Deuteronomy 8:19).
The Gospel is a message of joy and gladness – but not to those who have forgotten the Saviour, not to those who think only of their own good works.
The Good News of salvation does not begin with the word, “I” – ‘I have done this. I have done that. I have done the other – therefore I will be saved.’
The Gospel cuts right across our human pride, and says, “Jesus saves.”
This message brings joy and gladness – but only when truly believe it, only when we receive its truth into our hearts and minds, saying, with the hymnwriter, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; No merit of my own, I claim, But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name. On Christ, the solid rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand.”
Deuteronomy 26
 * Our offerings are brought to the Lord in the spirit of thanksgiving. When we bring our offerings, we must recognize that, before we give to the Lord, He has given to us. The people, who are learning to give to the Lord, are, firstly, are people, who have learned to receive from the Lord with thanksgiving. There is a vital connection between receiving and giving - "Freely, freely, you have received, freely, freely give" (Mission Praise, 181).
Our giving is a response to God - "you shall make response before the Lord your God" (Deuteronomy 26:5).  It is a response to what the Lord has done for us: "the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm ..." (Deuteronomy 26:8); "He brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey" (Deuteronomy 26:9).
What has the Lord done for us? He has brought us out of the old life and into the new life of salvation.
Israel's response - "Now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which Thou, O Lord, hast given me" (Deuteronomy 26:10). This response to God is an act  of joyful worship - "You shall set it down before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God; and you shall rejoice ..." (Deuteronomy 26:10-11). Do we give our offerings as an act of joyful worship?
 * Our offerings are brought to the Lord with a sense of responsibility, for both the work of the Lord and the poor and needy of our world: "I have given it to the Levite (who serves in the house of the Lord), the sojourner, the fatherless and the widow" (Deuteronomy 26:13).
Love for God and love for our neighbour - This is "according to all Thy commandment." Worshipping God and concern for our neighbour - This is "according to all Thy commandment." The two belong together. They're not to be separated. If we love God, our Creator, we should also love our neighbour, who has been created in God's image. Our love for our neighbour will be deepened as we learn to see other people as men and women who have been created by God. As we worship Christ, our Saviour, we must lern to love men and women with the love of Christ.
 * Our offerings are  brought to the Lord as a sign of generosity. People sometimes say, "It's not what you give that matters. It's how you give." There's some truth in this. The Pharisee gave much, but he had no real love for God. The widow gave very little, yet she had great love for God (Luke 18:9-14; Mark 12:41-44). Nevertheless, it is highly misleading to contrast the 'what' of giving and the 'how' of giving. What we give can be a sign of generosity. On the other hand, it can also be a sign that we are unwilling to give to God with the kind of generosity, with which He has blessed us.    
When God's Word speaks here of giving the tithe (the tenth) to the Lord, it speaks not  only of the 'how' of giving but also of the 'what' of giving. The firstfruits are to be brought to the Lord (Deuteronomy 26:2). The "sacred portion" is to be given to the Lord (Deuteronomy 26:13).
Why does God's Word call for the giving of the tithe?
Tithing limits our selfish excess. It would be easy for us to spend all our money on ourselves. God's Word reminds us that the "sacred portion" must be given to the Lord before we even begin to think of ourselves.
As we  become more God-centred

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Help us, Lord, to give ourselves, whole-heartedly, to You.

2 Kings 6:24-7:20
We read, Lord, about “windows in heaven” – and we read about “a day of good news” (2 Kings 7:2,9). What a wonderful day of good news it was when You opened the windows of heaven and sent Your Son, Jesus, to this earth (Luke 2:10-11). Help us, Lord, to give ourselves, whole-heartedly, to You – as Jesus gave Himself, completely, for us. May we see You at work among us, “opening the windows of heaven and pouring down an overflowing blessing” (Malachi 3:10).

God is calling us to praise Him.

Psalm 118:19-29 

God is calling us to praise Him.
 * “I will praise the Lord” (Psalm 118:20).
 * “I will praise You” (Psalm 118:21).
 * “You are my God, and I will praise You” (Psalm 118:28).
Praise is more than words that we sing in church. Our whole life is to be full of praise to God.
We come to the Lord’s Table to receive forgiveness from Him. We go from the Lord’s Table to share His forgiveness with others.
 * “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12),
 * “Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive” (Colossians 3:13).
 * How many times should I forgive my brother? - “As many as seven?” “Seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22). If we’re still counting, we’ve missed the point!
 * “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they’re doing” (Luke 23:34).
Thank God that Jesus prayed this prayer for every one of us. Let it shape our attitudes and actions towards one another.
May God help us to be less like the Pharisee, and more like the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). This is true praise. It pleases God.

The Blood Of The Offering For Sin

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

Friday, 18 March 2016

Lord, we thank You for Your great love.

Lord, we thank You for Your great love. There is no love like Your love. We think of Your Son giving Himself, in death, for us. We think of His suffering for us and we say, “Saviour of the world, what have You done to deserve this?” We look at the Cross, and we see more than suffering. We see love, and we say, “Saviour of the world … what have we done to deserve You?” Beyond “the mystery of undeserved suffering”, we catch a glimpse of something else – something very, very wonderful: “the deeper mystery of unmerited love” (Common Order, Prayer for Good Friday).

The Perfect Sacrifice

Numbers 28:1-29:40
The people of Israel were given an extremely elaborate and detailed description of the sacrifices they were to bring to God. We no longer need to to bring such sacrifices to God. God Himself has provided the perfect Sacrifice. The Son of God has given Himself for us. He has put away our sin by the Sacrifice of Himself. We must focus our exclusive attention on Him.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Lord, help us to be faithful ...

2 Kings 8:1-29
Lord, help us to be faithful in hearing Your Word, reading Your Word, obeying Your Word and sharing Your Word.

Lord, we thank You for the rainbow – It tells us that You love us!

Lord, we thank You for the rainbow – It tells us that You love us!
Sometimes, we see a rainbow. Do we wonder about it? Does it have a message for us? We look at the rainbow. Help us to look beyond the rainbow – to the Cross. There’s a great children’s song about the rainbow (it’s sung to the tune, “Early one morning just as the sun was rising … ). It’s a song about God’s love. “When you see a rainbow, remember God is love. When you see a rainbow, remember God is love. Yes, God is love. Yes, God is love. When you see a rainbow, remember God is love.” When the sun is rising … when the rainbow is in the sky … at all times of the day, help us to remember that You love us. Help us to look beyond the rising sun to the risen Son. Help us to look beyond the rainbow to the Cross: “upon the Cross we see, in shining letters, ‘God is love.’” Help us, when there’s no rainbow and there’s no sunshine, to keep on “singing the praise of Him who died, of Him who died upon the Cross” (Thomas Kelly).

The Names Change. The Lord Remains The Same.

Numbers 27:1-23
Joshua was to lead the  people beyond the point to which Moses had led them. Joshua was chosen and empowered by God. Reading the story of God’s people, from one generation to another, we find that the names change – but the Lord remains the same. Moses played his part. Joshua played his part. At every point in the story, God is there, upholding His servants in every generation.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Help us, Lord, to give ourselves to You.

2 Kings 11:1-12:21
Help us, Lord, to give ourselves to You. May there be less Grudge-Giving – “I have to”, less Duty-Giving – “I ought to”, and more Thanksgiving – “I want to.”

No-one else can ever be more important and more wonderful than Jesus.

Knowing the Lord Jesus Christ is more important and more wonderful than everything else (Philippians 3:8).

Paul's testimony lifts us above the shallow superficiality of the worldly way of thinking. Too often, we attach too much importance to the things that aren't really that important. We need to be reminded that Jesus is the most important Person of all. No-one else can ever be more important and more wonderful than Jesus.

On To Maturity

Numbers 25:1-26:65
God’s people are being called on to maturity. This is the significance of the phrase, “at least twenty years old” (Numbers 26:2,4). There are, however, many dangers. We are easily sidetracked – putting other “gods” before the Lord our God (Numbers 25:3). This turning away from the Lord is a serious matter, leading to the withdrawal of God’s blessing. We can, however, continue to enjoy the Lord’s blessing if, like Caleb and Joshua, we are men and women of faith (Numbers 26:64-65).

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Lord, You want to lead us in the way of victory.

1 Chronicles 4:24-5:26 
Lord, You want to lead us in the way of victory (1 Chronicles 5:22). You don't want us to be disobedient and defeated. You want us to be obedient and victorious. Why do we draw back from the kind of commitment that will bring blessing into our lives? Do we think You're going to 'lead us up the garden path?' Do we think You're 'taking us on a wild goose chase?' Do we think that You're going to take us so far along Your way, and, then, leave us to go it alone? Teach us, Lord, that Your way is better than the world's way. Show us that you're always with us, supporting us and giving us the strength that we need to keep on walking in Your way. 

The Downward Slope!

The book of Joshua speaks of a high-point in the history of God’s people, Israel. By faith, they took possession of the land which the Lord had provided for them. The book of Judges tells of the downward slope - “ ... The people of Israel did what the Lord considered evil ... “ (Judges 2:10-15). Although this was a bad time in the history of Israel, there was also some encouragement - “Then the Lord would send judges to rescue them from those who robbed them” (Judges 2:16). Sadly, the people wouldn’t listen to the judges (Judges 2:17-19). There were difficult times ahead for the people of Israel. The Lord allowed the nations to remain in the land. This was His way of testing His people (Judges 2:20-23).
In the book of Judges, we see both sin and salvation - “The people of Israel did what the Lord considered evil” (Judges 3:7,12); “Then the people of Israel dried out to the Lord for help” (Judges 3:9,15); “The Lord sent a saviour to rescue them” (Judges 3:9,15). Viewed from the point of view of human sin, this was a bad time in the history of Israel. They were a wayward people. They were prone to wandering away from the Lord. Viewed from the point of view of divine grace, there is the great encouragement that God continues to love His people.He puts into their hearts a desire to return to Him. He responds to their cry from the heart. He sends His blessing. This is His way of showing us that His love for us remains constant, even when our love for Him has grown very weak.
As we read of Israel’s military exploits, we must recognize the spiritual dimension. This is brought out well in the song of victory in Judges 5. It begins with the words, “Praise the Lord!” (Judges 5:2). It is a song of praise to God - “I will sing a song to the Lord. I will make music to the Lord God of Israel” (Judges 5:3). The victories gained by Israel were “the victories of the Lord” (Judges 5:11). When we worship the Lord, we are strengthened to go on, living for Him - “I must march on with strength!” (Judges 5:21).
The story of Gideon is the story of the Lord at work. This is summed up in (a) Gideon’s call - “The Lord is with you, brave man ... You will rescue Israel from Midian with the strength you have. I am sending you” (Judges 6:12,14). (b) Gideon’s victory over the Midianites - “Attack! The Lord will hand Midian’s camp over to you” (Judges 7:15). There is also a warning for us. Even those who have been used by the Lord can fall into Satan’s trap. Gideon made a gold idol, and “it became a trap for Gideon and his family” (Judges 8:27).
“The people of Israel again did what the Lord considered evil ... The Lord became angry with the people of Israel ... Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help” (Judges 10:6-7,10). We don’t deserve to be blessed by the Lord. In mercy, He blesses us, far more than we could ever deserve. The time of the judges was not a time of the greatest blessing. In life’s low points, we must hold on to our conviction that God is there with us, even when He seems to be far away. We must keep on believing that God is with us at all times.
In the story of Jephthah (Judges 11 & 12), we learn that we need wisdom as well as sincerity. We need to have knowledge of God’s will as well as a desire to do His will.
Samson was to “dedicated to God from his birth” (Judges 13:5). His early life is described in terms of God’s blessing - “The boy grew up,and the Lord blessed him” (Judges 13:24). Samson’s adult life can be viewed  at two levels - (a) Samson’s selfishness - “Get her for me! She’s the one I want!”; and (b) God’s sovereignty - “the Lord was behind” this (Judges 14:3-4). We see this pattern continuing throughout Samson’s life. There is victory: “he called out to the Lord, and said, ‘You have given me this great victory.’” There is defeat: “he saw a prostitute and slept with her” (Judges 15:18; 16:1). This combination of defeat and victory continues all the way through to the time of Samson’s death. He was a prisoner of the Philistines (Judges 16:21,23-24). He was used by God to bring the Philistines down (Judges 16:28-30). The story of Samson is a story of divine grace, triumphing over human sin.
In Judges 17 & 18, the chief character is Micah. This was not the prophet, Micah. This man was a worshipper of idols! He did what he wanted - not what God wanted (Judges 17:6). What a contrast to the prophet, Micah (Micah 6:8)! This worshipper of idols tried to keep on the right side of God: “Now I know that the Lord will be good to me. I have a Levite as a priest” (Judges 17:13). This is ‘salvation by works’ - trying to earn one’s own salvation. The message of the prophet, Micah is very different. Salvation is by grace (Micah 7:18-20). The idolater, Micah, had a bad influence on others (Judges 18:30-31). The voice of the prophet, Micah, was very different: “The voice of the Lord calls out to the city. The fear of Your Name is wisdom” (Micah 6:9).
The sinful and shameful times, described in the book of Judges, are summed up in the book’s final verses of chapters 19, 20 & 21. “Never has such a thing happened or been seen from the time the people of Israel came out of Egypt until today” (Judges 19:30). “Then the men of Israel went back to attack the rest of the territory of Benjamin ... “ (Judges 20:48). “Everyone did what he considered right” (Judges 21:25). It was an ‘anything goes’ situation/ Left to our own resources, we will go from bad to worse - further and further into sin,further and further away from God. There is only one thing that can be done in a situation like this. We must repent. We must return to the Lord with our whole heart. When there is a true return to the Lord, even the most sinful people can be mightily transformed. We do not see this at the end of the book of Judges. We see the reverse of this - ‘where grace abounded, sin did much more abound.’ As we see the same thing happening in our own day, we must pray for the triumph of God’s grace over human sin.

Monday, 14 March 2016

What kind of people are we becoming?

1 Chronicles 8:1-40 
Lord, some of the names, in Your Word, make us think about ourselves: What kind of people are we? What kind of people are we becoming? "Esh-Baal" (1 Chronicles 8:33) means "man of Baal" or "man of shame." "Merib-Baal" started off as "opponent of Baal", then it became "loved by Baal" or "my Lord is Baal." We wonder, Lord, how does Baal, the god worshipped by the Canaanites, get among Your people? The answer is not hard to find. We let him in. We give him the chance to wreck our lives. Forgive us, Lord. We have taken our eyes off Jesus. Help us not to be "double-minded" (James 1:8) - trying to listen to both You and Satan at the same time. Help us to be single-minded in our devotion to Jesus (Matthew 6:22). 

God's Perfect Plan

Numbers 35:1-36:13
The whole of life is to be arranged according to God’s perfect plan. This principle underlies all the detailed instructions given here. We see it, first, in Numbers 35:1 – “The Lord spoke to Moses … ” It is repeated in Numbers 35:9 – “The Lord said to Moses … ” It is emphasized in Numbers 36:5-6 – “So Moses gave the Israelites a command from the Lord … This is what the Lord commands … ” It is seen in the response of “Zelophedad’s daugthers” who “did as the Lord commanded Moses.” It is found in the concluding verse of the book of Numbers: “These are the commands and rules the Lord gave the Israelites … ” (Numbers 36:13). Life may be very different today. Still, the spiritual principle remains the same: Our life is to be lived according to the teaching of God’s Word.

Don't Forget The Spiritual Dimension.

Numbers 33:1-34:29
Much of what we have here is geographical. There is also, however, a spiritual dimension. God is leading His people to their new land, the land He had promised to them. In all the names of the places, we must see the hand of God directing His people according to His perfect plan. In God’s “place”, the “place” of His blessing, there must be nothing that hinders true worship of the Lord (Numbers 33:52).

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