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

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Lord, we are called to fear You - and to love You.

Deuteronomy 6:1-25
Lord, we are called to fear You - and to love You. We tend to think that fear and love are opposites. You teach us something else, something very different. Fear and love belong together. You are the holy God, the God who cannot look upon our sin (Habakkuk 1:13). We fear You. You show us our sin so that we might be brought to Jesus, our Saviour. We come to Jesus. We learn how much You love us - and we begin to love You.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Great Boldness And Great Blessing - From Our Great Saviour

Peter preached Christ with great boldness: ‘There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’(Acts 4:12).
This boldness came from the Holy Spirit. Peter was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’(Acts 4:8). Don’t say, ‘I‘m no Peter’. Peter failed his Lord and had to be restored (Matthew 26:69-75; John 21:15-17). Peter drew great strength from ‘the company of those who believed’. They ‘gathered together’ for prayer. They ‘were of one heart and soul’…’(Acts 4:31-33). Why did God deal so severely with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11)? This was the start of something great. God refused to let His work be spoiled! There is a warning for us: Don’t pretend to be more holy than you really are. God sees what you’re really like. ‘Search me, O God…’(Psalm 139:23-24). There was great blessing: ‘More than ever believers were added to the Lord’(Acts 5:14). There was persecution (Acts 5:17-18). This did not hinder the advance of the Gospel (Acts 5:42). Satan was not going to give up easily. He came right back at the apostles (Acts 6:1). Satan was defeated. Through the Spirit of God and the Word of God, the victory was won. The apostles ‘devoted themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word’. They were supported by ‘seven men… known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom’(Acts 6:3-4). Armed with ‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God’, let us be ‘be strong in the Lord’- ‘filled with the Spirit’- as we ‘let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly’(Ephesians 6:17,10; 5:18; Colossians 3:16). Filled with His Spirit and obedient to His Word, let us look to God for His blessing (Acts 6:7).

Lord, You are the God of love. You are also the God of holiness.

Deuteronomy 13:1-14:21
Lord, You are the God of love. You are also the God of holiness. We like to hear about Your love. It makes us feel good. We're not so keen on hearing about Your holiness. You are the holy God. You are the God who calls us to be holy. Help us, Lord, not to be content with the half-truth, contained in the words, "All you need is love." We do need love - but we also need holiness. Help us to "strive ... for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).

So often, Lord, we get preoccupied with ourselves.

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.

The Holy Spirit Comes From God - And Changes Us.

(i) The Holy Spirit comes from God.

- The new birth (John 3:3, 7).

- “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16).

(ii) The Holy Spirit changes us.
– “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-4).
– “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8).

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Treasures On Earth? or Treasures In Heaven?

“King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift – articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules.” (1 Kings 10:23-25).
” Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.” (1 Kings 10:9).
We read about King Solomon. We read about His great riches. We read about  his great wisdom. We learn that he had been greatly blessed by God. What are  we to say about Solomon?
We could focus on the spiritual side – “the wisdom God had put in his heart”, “the Lord your God … has delighted in you.”
We should also note the temptation that comes to those who have great riches. Things can become more important to us than they should be. We must pray that the Lord will always be more  important to us than the things of this world.
“I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.”

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The Great Conflict Between God And Satan - Never Doubt The Final Outcome!

“Now the Lord has put a lying spirit into the mouths of all these prophets” (1 Kings 22:23).
While we believe that God is working out His good purpose – “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28), we must remember that history tells the story of our sin as well as God’s salvation. Where there is sin, there is also judgment. We see this in John 3:17-18 where the great words of salvation – “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through Christ” (verse 17) – are followed by these very serious words of warning – “Whoever believes in Christ is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s only Son ” (verse 18). “Because he has not believed …", there will be condemnation.
Scripture says that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). This is the fulfilment of God’s wonderful promise: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21). If we miss out the words, “who calls on the name of the Lord”, we would be left with the statement, “Everyone will be saved.” This might be what we would like to hear, but it’s not what God’s Word says. It says that the way of receiving God’s salvation is the way of calling on the name of the Lord we receive God’s salvation, we must call on the name of the Lord.
How does this help us to understand the words of 1 Kings 22:23 – “now the Lord has put a lying spirit into the mouths of all these prophets”? The NIV Study Bible offers this comment: “The Lord had given 400 prophets over to the power of the lie because they did not love the truth and had chosen to speak out of their own hearts.” We may say that the Lord’s action as an act of judgment. He says to those who follow the way of disobedience, “If that’s the way you have chosen to go, I will not stop you.” He doesn’t stop them in their tracks and turn them around. He allows them to continue on in the way they have chosen.
Here, we see the great conflict between God and Satan. We must remember that Satan is “the father of lies” (John 8:44). In its comment on 1 Kings 22:23, the NIV Study Bible says, “see also note on 2 Samuel 24:1). Commenting on 2 Samuel 24:1, it points out two things – (1) “God does not cause anyone to sin” – “When tempted to sin, no-one should say, 'God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed, Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin … ” (James 1:13-15). (2) “Satan’s evil acts are under God’s sovereign control” – “The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.'” (Job 1:12).
When we consider the ongoing conflict between God and Satan, we must never forget that the final outcome is certain: “the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur” (Revelation 20:10). Along with God’s judgment on “the devil”, there is also His judgment on “the false prophet” (Revelation 20:10).
It is this judgment of God that we must see in the words of Proverbs 16:1 – To man belongs the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue.” While we are still on this earth, God speaks to us His Word of warning – “See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven?” (Hebrews 12:25). God is calling us to stop turning away from Him and start turning to Him. If, however, we persist in turning away from Him, the word of warning will become the word of judgment: “I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:23).
There is a better way than the word of warning becoming the word of judgment. When there is “a violent earthquake” in our life – the shaking of our whole life (which makes us think about the direction in which our life is heading), we can turn to the Lord with the question, “What must I do to be saved?” When we ask this question, God will speak to us with His wonderful answer: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:26-31).

Providence And Redemption

God is the God of providence. He is the God of redemption. He provides food - “All of them look to You to give them their food at the right time” (Psalm 104:27). He has provided salvation for His people - “... He brought His people out with joy...” (Psalm 105:42-45). We think of all that the Lord has done for us, and we say, from the heart, “Thanks be to the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, Amen. Hallelujah!” (Psalm 106:48).

Monday, 18 July 2016

Open our eyes, Lord.

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.

Realism And Hope, Suffering And Glory

There’s realism in the ministry of Jeremiah. He prophesies the Babylonian captivity. There is also hope. He looks beyond the Babylonian captivity: “They will be taken to Babylon and stay there.I come for them, declares the Lord. I will take them from there and bring them back to this place” (Jeremiah 27:22). The way we are led may not be easy. The destination will be glorious. When things are going badly, we must never lose sight of the final goal of God’s working in us and through us. Beyond the suffering, there is the glory.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Lord Is My Light ...

“The Lord is my light and my salvation” (Psalm 27:1).
“They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light” (Revelation 22:5).
No fear of a power cut! This is brighter than the Eurovision Song Contest!
“The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).
The “light” that brightens up our life is the light of God’s “salvation.” It’s the Saviour who brings us out of darkness. He brings us into His light. This light gives us strength. God’s salvation is more than forgiveness for the past. It is strength for every day.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Lord, You call us to speak Your Word - but, first, You call us to listen to Your Word.

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. 

Quiet trust and loud praise

‘Be still, and know that I am God… Shout to God with loud songs of joy’(Psalm 46:10; Psalm 47:2).
In our worship, there is to be both quiet trust and loud praise.


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

We thank You, Lord, for Your salvation and Your victory.

Psalm 18:25-50
We thank You, Lord, for Your salvation and Your victory. Help us to walk with You in salvation and victory, obeying Your command – “Clothe yourselves in humility”, heeding Your warning – “God opposes the proud”, and trusting Your promise – He “gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

Lord, we long for a closer walk with You.

Psalm 17:1-15
Lord, we long for a closer walk with You. Sometimes, Lord, we take our eyes off Jesus, our Saviour – and we wander far away from You. Always, You are calling us back to Yourself. In love, You wait for us to return to You. You call us to make a new beginning with You.

When our faith is being sorely tested, help us, Lord, to turn to You.

Psalms 14:1-15:5
When our faith is being sorely tested, help us, Lord, to turn to You. Help us to know that, through it all, You are there with us – suffering with us, leading us into Your joy. Teach us, in our suffering, to wait for the day when You will “restore our fortunes”, when You will answer our prayer: “O that salvation … would come”, when we will, again, “rejoice” and be “glad” in You (Psalm 14:7).

Show us, Lord, that we’re not forgotten. We’re remembered.

Psalm 10:1-18
Lord, when it feels like You’ve forgotten us, help us to see the truth as it really is. We have forgotten You. We’ve taken our eyes off You – and now everything’s out of focus. There’s a blurring of our vision. Lord, take us to the Cross of Jesus. Show us that we’re not forgotten. We’re remembered.

We think – and we thank.

Psalm 9:1-20
“I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart …My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you . The Lord reigns forever … The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:1,3,7,9).
We give thanks to You, Lord. Where does our thanksgiving begin? It begins with thinking. We think – and we thank. We think about what You have done for us. We thank You for what You have done for us.
We thank You, Lord, that we have the victory in Christ. When Satan attacks us, help us to remind him that Jesus is Lord. Help us to tell him, “Jesus is my Saviour – and He’s a lot stronger than you are!” We thank You, Lord, that Satan – our determined enemy – is also our defeated enemy. He’s been defeated by Jesus – and Jesus gives His victory to us! When Satan to us, “I’m stronger than you are”, help us to answer him with Your Word: “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Sometimes, Lord, we feel like we’re in a deep, dark hole.

Psalm 7:1-17
Sometimes, Lord, we feel like we’re in a deep, dark hole. We don’t want to be in this place – but we are! Help us to know that You’re there with us. You’re not there to blame us for getting into this mess. You’re there to assure us that there is hope.

Victory Comes From The Lord.

Deuteronomy 3:1-29 

The promised land was near. For Moses, it was ‘so near and yet so far’. He was excluded. Together with the sadness of Moses’ exclusion, there was the joy of the people’s entrance (27-28). When we consider Moses’ sadness and the people’s joy, we must remember this: Nobody deserved to go into the land! The land was God’s gift. Without His strength, the people of Israel would fail. With Him, they would be victorious: ‘You shall not fear them; for it is the Lord your God who fights for you’(22). There is here a basic principle of Christian living: ‘not by might , nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts’(Zechariah 4:6). ‘In heavenly armour we’ll enter the land. The battle belongs to the Lord. No weapon that’s fashioned against us will stand. The battle belongs to the Lord’(Mission Praise, 639).

Social concern and spiritual worship

“Blessed is the one who has concern for helpless people … Thank the Lord God of Israel through all eternity” (Psalm 41:1,3).
Social concern and spiritual worship – Both are important. There’s an earthly situation which we cannot turn our back on. There’s an eternal dimension we dare not lose sight of.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

We Need The Power Of The Holy Spirit.

“The Spirit of God came upon him” (Numbers 24:2).
There needs to be empowering by the Spirit of God. Without His power, our words will never speak to people as the Word of the living God. With His power, everything changes. It is His power that carries home His Word to the hearts of our hearers.

I Will Always Love You.

“proclaiming Your love in the morning and Your faithfulness at night” (Psalm 92:2).
What blessing there is in these few words! Our God is with us in the morning. He is with us at night. He is with us always. He loves us in the morning. He is faithful at night. He says to us, “I will always love you.”
What a God – a God of perfect love, a God of absolute faithfulness!
"You, O Lord, are exalted for ever" (Psalm 92:8).
God is not exalted because we exalt Him. We exalt Him because He is exalted.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Lord, Give Us Your Joy.

"Zion hears about this and rejoices" (Psalm 97:8).
God's Word brings joy. True joy is not something that we can give to ourselves. It must be given to us by the Lord. This joy - the joy of the Lord - gets stronger and stronger as we listen to the Word  of the Lord and receive its message with faith and obedience.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Times change - but our God doesn't change.

Times change - but our God doesn't change. He's unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable - in His great love for us. His love doesn't come and go - sometimes up, sometimes down. His love remains forever. This is Good News for sinners. We have wandered far from HIm - but He hasn't stopped loving us. He keeps on loving us. He's calling us to return to Him. He's calling us to make a new beginning with Him. This is love - and it gives us great hope for the future. Without His love, a New Year is just another year - more wandering around in the wilderness without really knowing where we're going. With His love, everything changes. His love changes everything. We move forward into the future with confidence in this: the Lord remains forever - and His love remains forever. Thank You, Lord, for Your great love. We don't deserve to be loved by You - but You keep on loving us. This fills our hearts with gladness - and with much hope for the future into which You are leading us.

Lord, You are the King. There is no king like You.

1 Samuel 8:1-9:10
Lord, You are the King. There is no king like You. No human king can even begin to compare with You - the divine King, the "King of kings" (Revelation 19:16). We lift to You our song of praise: "O worship the King, all glorious above. O gratefully sing, His power and His love."

What will heaven be like? and How do I get to heaven?

In Scripture, we catch glimpses of what heaven will be like. When we attempt to say too much about exactly what heaven will be like, we can very quickly get the feeling that we are out of our depth and that we are attempting to describe things that are are far beyond our present understanding.
As well as the question, “What will heaven be like?”, the Bible also addresses another question – “How do I get to heaven?”
What are we to say about these two questions?
Both questions are very important. We don’t, however, need to give a precise description of heaven, anticipating every question which could possibly be asked about it. We do need to know the way to heaven.
I suspect that, sometimes, people, who ask all sorts of imaginative questions about what heaven will be like, are not always so interested in making a personal commitment of their lives to Jesus Christ.
In Deuteronomy 29:29, we read, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”
I think that this verse is relevant to the way in which we approach the two questions, “What will heaven be like? and “How do I get to heaven?”
* When we ask the question, “What will heaven be like?”, we should always remember that “the secret things belong to God. We know enough about heaven to create in us a desire to be there. When, however, the question is pressed, “What will be heaven be like?”, we become aware of how little we know.
* One thing we do know is this: Jesus Christ is our Saviour. This has been “revealed to us”. The heart of our message must always be to point to Jesus Christ as “the Way” to heaven (John 14:6).
* Notice also, in Deuteronomy 29:29, the emphasis on the call to obedience.
Thinking about heaven should change the way we live here-and-now. This is very much more practical than just wondering what it will be like.
We don’t know everything about heaven. We do know all that we need to know about the way to get to heaven – Jesus is the Way (John 14:6) – and that’s enough for now! It’s enough to get us on the way to heaven and to keep us walking in the way that leads to our heavenly destination – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Biblical and Theological Links

Books

Those who fear You, Lord, have no need to live in fear of man.

Psalms 111:1-112:10 
'Praise the Lord... To Him belong eternal praise... Blessed is the man who fears the Lord... His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes...'(Psalm 111:1,10; Psalm 112:1,8). Those who 'fear' You, Lord, have no need to live in fear of man. Those who know that ‘eternal praise’ belongs to You, Lord, can face their enemies with confidence. Our confidence is not in ourselves. Our confidence is You. We know how good You have been to us - ‘He provided redemption for His people’. We thank You that we have heard and believed the Good News of Christ. We need not ‘fear’ any ‘bad news’ which the devil sends our way. We 'trust' in You, Lord, confident that the ‘light ‘will triumph over the ‘darkness’. We thank You that the Good News of Christ will triumph over the devil’s bad news (Psalm 111:9; Psalm 112:4,7).

Lord, our situation seems to be utterly hopeless. How can we possibly win the victory?

Psalm 108:1-13 
‘With God we shall gain the victory. He will trample down our enemies’(Psalm 108:13). In ourselves, Lord, there is only defeat. We are no match for ‘our enemies’- the world, the flesh and the devil. We are surrounded by the world - ‘The world is ever near. I see the sights that dazzle. The tempting sounds I hear’. We live with the constant problem of the flesh - ‘the storms of passion, the murmurs of self-will.’ Behind the world and the flesh, there is an even stronger enemy - the devil: ‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against... the spiritual forces of evil...’(Ephesians 6:12). Lord, our situation seems to be utterly hopeless. How can we possibly win the victory? The simple truth is: We cannot. There is, however, a deeper truth: You, Lord, are with us - and ‘with God we shall win the victory’!

A History Of Sin - And A History Of Salvation

Psalm106:1-48
Lord, we read about Israel’s sin - ‘They soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for His counsel... They despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His promise... They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord... They rebelled against the Spirit of God’(Psalm 106:13,24-25,33). This is not only ancient history. It’s the story of our life! We read this, and we must join in Israel’s confession of sin: ‘We have sinned, even as our fathers did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly’(Psalm 106:6). We thank You, Lord, that the history of Israel is not only a history of sin. It's also a history of salvation: ‘He saved them...’(Psalm 106:8,10). When, Lord, we read of Your salvation, may we echo the prayer of Your people - ‘Save us, O Lord our God...’ May we join with them in praising You - ‘Praise be to the Lord...’(Psalm 106:47-48).

How, Lord, do we receive Your strength?

Psalm 105:1-22
‘Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonderful works that He has done...’(Psalm 105:4-5). Lord, You give strength to those who put their trust in You. Trusting in Christ, we have this great testimony: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’(Philippians 4:13). How, Lord, do we receive Your strength? We must '‘seek Your face always'. We must not think we can face difficult circumstances in our strength. Without Your strength, we will be defeated. You have helped us in the past. Help us never to forget this. Help us to give thanks to You for every victory won. As we face temptation, help us to remember Your promise of victory: ‘God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength. With the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape...’(1 Corinthians 10:13).

Worshipping the Lord - not just on a Sunday, not only when I feel like it, not only ‘when there’s nothing better to do’!

Psalm 104:1-35
‘I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live’(Psalm 104:33). Sometimes, Lord, we feel like giving up. Other things become more important to us. Worshipping You gets pushed out to the edge of your life. Wrong attitudes creep in. It starts with the idea, ‘Worship’s just an hour on a Sunday’. Then, it becomes, ‘I’ll worship the Lord when I feel like it’. It soon becomes, ‘I’ll worship the Lord when I’ve nothing better to do’. Before long, all desire for worshipping You Lord has gone! Little-by-little, we drift away from the Lord. It’s time, for us, to start thinking about what’s happening. It’s time for a new beginning. It’s time for an ‘all my life’ commitment to worshipping You, Lord - not just on a Sunday, not only when I feel like it, not only ‘when there’s nothing better to do’!

Are Things Really So Different?

Psalms 101:1-102:28 
‘I will sing of Your love... I will walk with integrity of heart...’(Psalm 101:1-2). Lord, we read these words, from many centuries ago, and, too quickly, we say, ‘Things are very different now.’ Are they really so different? Are worshipping You and walking with You out-of-date now? Are they to be forgotten? So many people have no time for You, Lord. They feel that they can do without You. They refuse to worship You. They do not walk with You. In our ever-changing world, You keep on speaking to us about something we must never forget: You, Lord, are ‘enthroned for ever’. Your ‘Name endures to all generations’. In all the changes of life, You, Lord, ‘remain the same’. Your ‘years go on through all generations’. Your ‘years will never end’(Psalm 102:12,24,27). Lord, we read Your Word, and we say, "These words were ‘written for a future generation’". They were written for us. Help us never to forget to ‘praise You’(Psalm 102:18)!

Lord, You are the King - ‘the King all-glorious above’, ‘the King of love.’

Psalms 96:1-97:12 
‘The Lord reigns’(Psalm 96:10; Psalm 97:1). Lord, You are the King. You are not only ‘the King all-glorious above’. You are ‘the King of love’. You are ‘our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend!’ You are not only ‘the King of heaven’. You are ‘the God of grace’. You are ‘the King of mercy.’ Your reign is not to be restricted to some faraway heaven. It is not to be a reign that is far removed from the practicalities of our everyday life. You want to reign in our hearts. You want to reign in every part of our life. May Your reign of love begin. May Your grace and mercy control all that we do.

Sing with joy ...

Jeremiah 31:7-14

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

Don't trust 'Egypt'. Trust the Lord.

Isaiah speaks of both God’s judgment (Isaiah 34:2) and His salvation (Isaiah 35:2). What a privilege it is to be called “the redeemed of the Lord” (Isaiah 35:9-10). We're not to "trust Egypt" (Isaiah 36:6) - That's what we've been delivered from. We're to "trust the Lord our God" (Isaiah 36:7) - It's the Lord who has delivered us from "Egypt." The redemption of God - This is the source of true happiness, real joy and lasting gladness.

Monday, 4 July 2016

More Than A Morning Prayer: Psalm 5

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

Strong In The Lord

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).
Our strength comes from the Lord. In ourselves, we are weak. In Him, we are strong.

What Are You Saying To Us, Lord, Here-And-Now?

"You have heard that it was said ... But I say to you ... " (Matthew 5:21-22,27-28,31-32,33-34, 38-39,43-44). When we see the great contrast between what has been said in the past and what Jesus says to His generation and our generation, we must remember Jesus' words, "Don't ever think that I came to set aside Moses; teachings or the Prophets" (Matthew 5:17). What does Jesus mean? Clearly, He doesn't just repeat what's already been said. Jesus says, "I didn't come to set them aside but to make them come true" (Matthew 5:17). Jesus doesn't contradict the Old Testament. He brings out its deeper meaning. He reveals its fuller meaning. Jesus is expounding the Word of God. He enables His hearers to see things in a new light - but He doesn't do this by setting aside God's Word. The Word of God stands - for every generation. It is not to be tampered with. It's to be upheld. At the heart of upholding God's Word, there's a very real question we must ask, "What are you saying to us, Lord, here-and-now?"

Praying Through God’s Word: Philemon

Often, Lord, we feel so useless. Make us useful – Your faithful and fruitful servants.

Praying Through God’s Word: Lamentations

Lamentations 1:1-22
Jerusalem had fallen into hard times – ‘she who once was great among the nations… has now become a slave’ (Lamentations 1:1). Lord, we wonder why this happened. The explanation for this sad situation was not hard to find – ‘Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean…’ (Lamentations 8-9). We wonder, “Could things be turned around? Could there once again be blessing?” We thank You, Lord, that there was a way back to You – the way of being honest before You. They needed to look seriously at their way of life and think seriously about their attitude towards You, Lord. They were not to adopt an arrogant attitude – ‘There’s really nothing wrong with us. We’re doing all right.’ They were to come to You with a real confession of sin: ‘The Lord is righteous, yet I rebelled against His command… O Lord,… I have been most rebellious’ (Lamentations 1:18,20). We thank You, Lord, that Your blessing will begin again when we confess our sin.
Lamentations 2:1-22
We think, Lord, about Jerusalem’s fall into hard times. This was n’t ‘just one of those things that happens.’ Your people brought it on themselves. They didn’t take You seriously – but You continued to take them seriously. They ignored You, Lord, but You didn’t ignore their disobedience to You. They sinned against You – and You were angry with them: ‘How the Lord in His anger has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud!’ (Lamentations 2:1). This was not just a case of glibly saying, ‘The good times will come again.’ They needed to recognize why the bad times had come: ‘The Lord has… carried out His threat’ (Lamentations 2:17). Lord, You had warned Your sinful people. Judgment was on its way – if they refused to listen to You. Now, in the time of You judgment, You are still calling us back to Yourself: ‘Cry aloud to the Lord!…’ (Lamentations 2:18-19). Help us, Lor, to return to You?
Lamentations 3:1-24
Lord, there are times when it seems nothing is going right for us: ‘I am the man who has seen affliction…’ (Lamentations 3:1-3). In such times, Help us to remember this: ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end.’ When we find ourselves in circumstances of great distress, may we learn to look beyond the things that are happening to us. Teach us, Lord, to look You, and say, ‘Great is Your faithfulness.’ We don’t find it easy to see You at work in our lives when everything seems to be going wrong. Teach us to be patient, as we wait for Your blessing return to our lives. May we put all our hope in You, Lord. Teach us to trust in Your precious promise: ‘The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord’ (Lamentations 3:22-26).
Lamentations 3:25-42
Teach us, Lord, In our ‘grief’, not to forget Your ‘compassion’ (Lamentations 3:32). You understand us. You care for us. How, Lord, do we know that You love us? ‘Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8). This is the greatest demonstration of Your love for us. How can we doubt Your love for us when we think of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, dying on the Cross for us as our Saviour? When we think of Your love for us, may we remember that You call us to love You. Teach us not to take Your love for granted – ‘God loves me. I can do what I like.’ Help us to appreciate Your love – ‘God loves me. I will love Him.’ You love us. Christ died for us. How can we say, ‘I’ll do what I like’? How can we refuse to be changed by Your love?‘ Teach us, Lord, to examine our ways and turn back to You. Teach us to open our hearts to You’ (Lamentations 3:40-41).
Lamentations 3:43-66
‘You came near when I called You… O Lord… You redeemed my life’ (Lamentations 3:57-58). We wonder, Lord, ‘Will You answer our prayer for salvation?’ Yes! At the Cross of Christ, we learn that You love us and answers our prayer. ‘You did not wait for me to draw near to You, but You clothed yourself in frail humanity. You did not wait for me to cry out to You, but You let me hear Your voice calling me. And I’m forever grateful to You, I’m forever grateful for the Cross; I’m forever grateful to You that You came to seek and save the lost.’ ‘Thank You for the Cross, the price You paid for us, how You gave Yourself so completely, precious Lord, precious Lord. Now our sins are gone, all forgiven, covered by Your blood, all forgotten, thank You Lord, thank You Lord’ (Songs of Fellowship, 631; Mission Praise, 632).
Lamentations 4:1-22
We thank You, Lord, that no human king can even begin to compare with our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘the King of kings’ (Revelation 19:16). The people of Jerusalem were full of confidence. They ‘trusted their king to protect them from every invader.’ They thought Jerusalem was invincible: ‘No one anywhere, not even rulers of foreign nations, believed that any invader could enter Jerusalem’s gates.’ They were wrong. They thought it would never happen – but it did! The unthinkable happened! ‘They captured the source of our life, the king the Lord had chosen.’ Why, Lord, did it happen? Your Word gives us the reason: ‘It happened because of the sins of her prophets and… priests’. The king – ‘the Lord’s anointed’ – was unable to prevent Jerusalem’s defeat (Lamentations 4:12-13,20). We praise You, Lord – We have a greater King: our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ!
Lamentations 5:1-22
‘You, O Lord, reign for ever; Your throne endures from generation to generation’. Help us to remember this when we feel like You have ‘forgotten’ us. When we feel like You have ‘abandoned’ us, may we remember this: ‘You, O Lord, are King for ever, and will rule to the end of time’ (Lamentations 5:19-20). Teach us not only to pay lip-service to You, our Lord and our King. May we crown You as King of our hearts and our lives. How, Lord, are we to do this? Teach us to pray, ‘Bring us back to You, Lord!’ (Lamentations 5:21). Lord, You’re looking for a real return to You and a real difference in our lives. ‘In your hearts enthrone Him. There let Him subdue all that is not holy, all that is not true…’; ‘So let us learn how to serve and in our lives enthrone Him, each other’s needs to prefer, for it is Christ we’re serving’ (Church Hymnary, 300; Mission Praise, 162).

Praying Through God’s Word: Zechariah

ZECHARIAH

1:1-2:13
We thank You, Lord, that You promise to bless Your faithful people: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there My House will be rebuilt’ (Zechariah 1:16). You looks upon Your House, and You see Your glory – ‘I will be the glory within it’ (Zechariah 2:5). You see the glory of Your presence – ‘I will live among you’ (Zechariah 2:10). We read about the Temple at Jerusalem. We read about its glory. Your Word speaks about another ‘temple’ and another ‘glory.’ Through ‘faith’ in ‘Christ’, we have become ‘a holy temple in the Lord’ – ‘a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit’ (Ephesians 2:21-22; Ephesians 3:16-17). To every believer, God says, ‘Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you… Glorify God in your body’ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Help us, Lord, to bring glory to You.
3:1-4:14
“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit”, says the Lord Almighty’ (Zechariah 4:6). Teach us, Lord, that there is only one Power by which Your work can be done. It is the power of the Holy Spirit. Help us not to try to do Your work in our own strength. May we exchange our weakness for Your strength. Teach us, Father, to ‘wait for Your promise’ – ‘You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.’ We thank You, Lord that great things happen when Your people are ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ – ‘About three thousand were added to their number that day… The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved’! Let us pray that God will ‘pour out’ His Spirit upon us (Acts 1:4,8; Acts 2:4,17-18,41,47).
5:1-6:15
‘Here is the Man whose Name is the Branch… It is He who will build the Temple of the Lord…’ (Zechariah 6:12-13). We thank You, Lord, for these great words of prophecy. They point us to our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ (Matthew 16:18). How does Christ build His Church? He sends His blessing when His people are obedient to Him: ‘Those who are far away will come and help to build the Temple of the Lord… This will happen if you diligently obey the Lord your God’ (Zechariah 6:15). We thank You, Lord, that You’re ‘building a people of power.’ You’re calling us to ‘move through this land by Your Spirit and glorify Your precious Name’. Teach us to pray, ‘Here I am, wholly available – as for me, I will serve the Lord’ (Mission Praise, 151,229).
7:1-8:23
Lord, when people stop listening to Your Word, their life becomes ‘a desolate wasteland’ (Zechariah 7:11-14). What are we to do when we see this happening? – ‘Do not be afraid… Be strong.’ Help us, Lord, to keep on believing Your promise: ‘I will save you, and you will be a blessing.’ Help us to keep on praying that our faithful witness will bring others to You: ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you’ (Zechariah 8:13,23). Teach us to pray that ‘the Spirit will be poured upon us from on high and the desert will become a fertile field.’ ‘Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father’ (Isaiah 32:15; Matthew 5:15-16). Lord, shine Your light on us, and shine Your light through us.
9:1-10:12
‘…See your King comes to you… gentle and riding on a donkey…’ (Zechariah 9:9). We thank You, Lord, for these wonderful words of prophecy. They point us to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Jesus is our King. He comes to us. How are we to welcome our King? We are to welcome Him with joyful praise – ‘Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord’ (Matthew 21:1-9; John 12:12-16). We thank You, our Father, that Jesus our King has come to us from You: ‘When the time had fully come, God sent His Son…’. We thank You that Jesus our King has come to us to be our Saviour: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ (Galatians 4:4; 1 Timothy 1:15). We thank You that He will come again – ‘with power and great glory.’ ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ (Matthew 24:30; Revelation 22:20).
11:1-12:14
‘They will look on Him whom they have pierced…’ (Zechariah 12:10). We thank You, Lord, for these great words of prophecy. They point us to Christ’s crucifixion. In Psalm 22:1, we read Christ’s prayer from the Cross: ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?’ (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). In the same Psalm, we read these words: ‘They have pierced My hands and My feet’ (Psalm 22:16). In Isaiah 53:5, we learn that Christ ‘was pierced for our sins.’ In Revelation 1:7, the words of Zechariah 12:10 form part of a prophecy concerning Christ’s Return: ‘Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him …’. In His heavenly glory, Christ will always be ‘the Lamb’ who was ‘slain’ (Revelation 5:6,9). Thank You, Lord, for our great Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
13:1-14:21
Lord, we ‘call on Your Name’. You ‘answer’ our prayer – ‘I will say, “They are My people”, and they will say, “The Lord is our God’ (Zechariah 13:9). We confess our faith in ‘You, Lord.’ You are the ‘Lord of lords.’ You are the ‘King of kings’. Your Name is ‘the only Name’ of our salvation. Your Name is ‘the Name that is above every name’ (Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 19:16; Acts 4:12; Philippians 2:9-11). We ‘worship the King, the Lord Almighty.’ We sing ‘Holy to the Lord’: ‘Holy is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come! Worthy is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come! Glory to the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come!’ (Zechariah 14:16,20; Mission Praise, 239).

Praying Through God’s Word: Malachi

MALACHI

1:1-2:17
Lord, You look upon us in our sin. What do You see? You see ‘the Wicked Land. You see ‘a people always under the wrath of the Lord’ (Malachi 1:4). You look at what Christ has done for us – ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’; ‘While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’; ‘Christ died for our sins’ (1 Timothy 1:15; Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3). You look upon us in Christ – and everything is so very different: ‘God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). We thank You, Lord, that, at the Cross of Christ, we hear Your Word of love – ‘I have loved you’; ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’ (Malachi 1:2; Jeremiah 31:3).
3:1-4:6
Lord, You’re calling us to be Your faithful people. You say to us, ‘Return to Me.’ You promise to bless those who return to You: ‘I will return to you.’ You call us to honour You with our ‘tithes and offerings: ‘Bring the whole tithe (tenth) into the storehouse…’ When we honour You, Lord, You have promised that You will honour us: ‘Those who honour Me, I will honour.’ When we honour You with our obedience, You promise that You will honour us with Your blessing. You promise to ‘open the windows of heaven and pour down for us an overflowing blessing’. Satan – ‘the devourer’ – will be defeated. We will ‘serve God’. He will take ‘delight’ in us. We will be Your ‘treasured possession’ (Malachi 3:8-12,17-19; 1 Samuel 2:30).

Praying Through God’s Word: Ephesians

Ephesians 1:1-2:10
Lord, You call us to live a holy life. We cannot do this in our own strength. True holiness does not come from ourselves. It comes from You. It comes from Your love. Your love reaches us. Your love changes us. Your love is stronger than our sin. May Your love inspire us to live a holy life. May Your love enable us to live a holy life – a life that brings glory to You, the God of our salvation.
Ephesians 2:11-4:6
When You, Lord, are at work in us, everything changes. You save us. You sanctify us. You strengthen us. Help us to serve You.
Ephesians 4:7-5:14
Lord, You want us to “grow up in every way into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). You want us to “walk in love” (Ephesians 5:2). You want us to live a life that is “pleasing to You” (Ephesians 5:10). Why do we settle for something less than Your very best? Help us, Lord, not to “grieve Your Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:14). When we hear Your wake-up call – “Awake, O sleeper … ” (Ephesians 5:14), help us to open the door of our heart to Jesus, our great Saviour” (Revelation 3:20).
Ephesians 5:15-6:24
“Be very careful how you live” (Ephesians 5:16). When, Lord, You say this to us, we wonder, “How are we to do this?” You say to us, “Be filled with the Spirit”, have “reverence for Christ”, “love our Lord Jesus Christ with love undying” (Ephesians 5:18,21 & 6:24). Help us, Lord, to love Jesus – and help us to live for Him.

Praying Through God's Word: Philippians

Philippians 1:1-2:11
Lord, there are times when we feel like we can’t go on, times when we feel like giving up. When we feel like this, speak to us Your Word of encouragement: “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the Day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Philippians 2:12-3:11
Lord, we have Your command – “Work out your salvation.” We also have Your promise – “God is at work in you” (Philippians 2:12-13). Help us to obey Your command, and trust Your promise.
Philippians 3:12-4:23
“Christ Jesus has made me His own” (Philippians 3:12). How wonderful this is, Lord! In these words of Paul, we hear an echo of Jesus’ great words: “You did not choose Me … I chose you” (John 15:16). Your love for us is so much stronger than our love for You. May Your love – the greatest love of all – inspire us to love You more.

Praying Through God’s Word: Jude

“Certain men whose condemnation was written long ago have secretly slipped in among you … godless men … ” (Jude 4). What are we to do when this happens? Your Word tells us: “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21). How are we to do this when the pull toward evil seems to be getting stronger all the time? There is something we must never forget: You, Lord, are “able to keep us from falling” (Jude 24).

Praying Through God’s Word: 2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 1:1-2:11
Lord, You “comfort us in all our affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). You turn our times of trouble into times of great blessing. When bad things are happening to us, You keep on loving us. You don’t leave us on our own when the going gets tough. You’re with us in the good times – and You’re with us in the bad times. How do we know that You love us? – Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8). Thank You, Lord, for Your love. It’s the only love that keeps on going when we feel like giving up. It’s the love that keeps us going, the love that assures us that You have not forgotten us. Your promise is still true: “I will never leave you. I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5).
2 Corinthians 2:12-3:18
“In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). “Thanks be to God, who, in Christ, always leads us in triumph” (2 Corinthians 2:14). We thank You, Lord, for Your words of encouragement. where would we be without Your Word which brings such strength into our lives? In ourselves, we are so weak. Again and again, we fail You – but that, Lord, isn’t the full story of our lives. Alongside the story of our sin, there’s another story – the story of Your amazing grace. Your glory is shining upon us. We’re being “changed into Christ’s likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18). In life’s many hard times, help us, Lord, to see what You’re doing in our lives.
2 Corinthians 4:1-5:10
Lord, You’ve called us to salvation – “God has shone in our hearts … ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). You’ve called us to service – “having this ministry by the mercy of God” (2 Corinthians 4:1). Where do our experience of salvation and our empowering for service come from? – They come from Your great gift, the gift of Your Spirit: “God has given us the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 5:5). we fail You so often. Our faith is weak, our witness seems so ineffective – but there is more than our faith and our witness. There is Your Spirit. Thank You, Lord, for the great encouragement that comes to us from knowing that You have given us Your Spirit – the Spirit of grace, the Spirit of power, the Spirit who will lead us on to Your eternal glory.
2 Corinthians 5:11-7:1
Lord, You have saved us. Help us to serve You. Help us to begin with worship. We cannot work for You if we’re not learning to worship You. Help us also to live for You. We cannot serve You if we’re not learning to live for You. When life, worship and service are brought together, our words and our actions will proclaim Your greatness. We will be “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Every part of us will say, “To God be the glory! Great things He has done.”
2 Corinthians 7:2-8:7
Before, Lord, we can give to You, we must receive from You. Our giving is always a response to Your grace. We begin with Your grace (2 Corinthians 8:2) – and, then, we move on from there to our giving (2 Corinthians 8:7). How could it ever be any other  way? Our giving cannot even begin to compare with Your giving. The gift of Your Son, Jesus, is the greatest gift of all. Anything we give to You can never be any more than our way of saying, “Thank You, Lord.”
2 Corinthians 8:8-9:15
“You know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ … Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 8:9; 9:15). Love begins with You. It doesn’t begin with us. You loved us so much that You gave Your only Son, Jesus – He is our Saviour (John 3:16). Our love for You comes from Your love for us. We look at Jesus. We see what love is. We ask You to help us to love You, as You love us.
2 Corinthians 10:1-11:15
We know, Lord, that Satan is a determined enemy. He reminds us of this, day-after-day. We thank You, Lord, that Satan is also a defeated enemy. May we remind him of this, day-after-day.
2 Corinthians 11:16-12:10
“My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9). These, Lord, were the wonderful words You spoke to Paul. These are the wonderful words that You’re speaking to us. Many years have come and gone since Paul came to You with his ‘thorn in the flesh’ (2 Corinthians 12:7-8). We come to You with our troubles, problems and difficulties. What do You do about all of this? – You say to us, “My grace is sufficient for You.”
2 Corinthians 12:11-13:14
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). Lord, these are not only words to be spoken at the end of a service of worship. They’re much more than that. They’re life-changing words. They speak to us of Your blessing. They point us to Jesus, our Saviour. They remind us that Your love is an ‘always and forever’ love. They remind us that “the Spirit is poured upon us from on high” (Isaiah 32:15). Help us, Lord, to live as people who are loved, saved and empowered.

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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 ...