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

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Ezekiel 29

In Ezekiel 29, we read about God's judgment upon Egypt, that proud nation, which caused so much distress to His people, Israel. Egypt's time of power had come to an end. Their position of power had been taken by Babylon. The Lord is looking beyond the day of Babylon's power. He is doing a work that is eternal. His work centres upon His people, Israel - "On that day, I will make the people of Israel strong again ..." (Ezekiel 29:21).

Monday, 30 October 2017

Do not trust in deceptive words ...

"Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord,  the temple of the Lord!”... Has this house, which bears My Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord" (Jeremiah 7:4,11).
Jeremiah spoke to the people of his own day. He speaks to us as well. Don't let the place where you worship become more important than it really is. This is what he says to us. These are not only the words of Jeremiah. This is the Word of the Lord. What's happening in our hearts when we are gathered together in the House of the Lord? Are we thinking to ourselves, "I never miss a church service - not like those who've stopped coming to church"? What kind of "worship" is this? Lord, take us to the heart of worship. Give us a worshipping heart.

A New Song - A Song Of Salvation

The world sings its songs. They do not sing the song of the Lord. There is a song which can only be sung by those who have been saved by the Lord. It is "a new song." It is the song of "salvation." Saved by the Lord, we sing to Him our song of "thanksgiving." We think of what the Lord has done for us and we say, "Praise the Lord!" (Psalm 149:1).

Peace With God? or No Peace?

The proclamation of peace with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1) must be carefully dissociated from a proclamation which says, "'Peace, peace', when there is no peace" (Jeremiah 6:14; Jeremiah 8:11).

Serving the Lord arises out of worshipping Him.

Isaiah 6:1-13 

Serving the Lord arises out of worshipping Him.
 * We proclaim His holiness: "Holy, holy, holy... " (Isaiah 6:3).  
 * We confess our sin: "Woe is me" (Isaiah 6:5) - a personal confession.
Before we can speak the words, "Here am I. Send me" (Isaiah 6:8), we must hear the words, "Your sin has been forgiven" (Isaiah 6:7).
We are to be faithful in speaking God's Word. This involves our lips (Isaiah 6:7). It also involves our lives. Serving the Lord means more than paying lip-service to Him. We are to serve Him with our lives.
Is there any guarantee that we will bear much fruit?
The parable of the sower says that our fruit may be 100, 60 or 30 times what was sown (Matthew 13:23). The parable of the talents says that one talent could become two; two could become four; five could become ten (Matthew 21:14-30).
What does Isaiah 6 say to us about bearing fruit for the Lord?
There is a word of realism. Many people will pay no attention to us and to our Lord (Isaiah 6:9-10). 
There is a word of faith, a word of hope - "the holy seed is the stump" (Isaiah 6:13).
We may say, Lord, we're looking for more than a "stump."
God says to us, Even  when "the land is ruined and desolate", even when "the people" are "far away", even when there is "great emptiness in the land" (Isaiah 6:11-12), there is still hope, and we must keep on working for the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).

New Strength

God’s Word for hard times: “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31).

Godliness And Wisdom

“…you have to be godly to be wise …” (Derek Kidner, Proverbs, p. 32).

Everlasting Love

"I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3).
God loves us. This isn’t for some perfect people who’ve never fallen into sin. There’s nobody who’s like that. All of us have made a mess of things – but God still says to us, “I love you.” He says, “My Son, Jesus, died for you.” This is what gives us the strength to choose His way rather than our own way. This is what keeps us from sin. This is what convinces us that there’s a better way than the way of sin. There’s a way of blessing. It comes to us when we’re learning how much God loves us. He doesn’t give up on us when we let Him down. He keeps on loving us. He keeps on lifting us up. He sets us on our feet. He changes the direction of our life. It becomes less about ourselves, and more about Him (Galatians 2:20).

So often, we have been like ‘the prodigal son’(Luke 15:11-24). We have walked away from our Father’s House. We have wandered off into ‘the far country’. We feel that we are far from God, yet still He draws near to us.
The Lord is at work in our hearts. He is bringing us ‘to our senses’. He is reminding us of His love. He is drawing us back to Himself. In love, He is calling us home again. He is speaking to our hearts. He is saying to us, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’ (Jeremiah 31:3).
As His love reaches our hearts, ‘the prodigal son’ becomes ‘the returning son’: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son’. ‘Bring me back, let me come back, for you are the Lord my God!’(Jeremiah 31:18).
Where do God’s peace and joy come from? They come from His love. It’s the greatest love of all (Ephesians 3:18). There’s nothing like the love of God. His peace is great. His joy is great. His love is even greater. This is where His blessing comes from. He loves us. He loves us with “an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). It’s a love that will not let us go. It’s a love that goes on forever. When we say, “May God’s blessing surround you each day”, what we’re saying is this: May you know that God loves you; may you know that He’s never going to stop loving you; may you know the blessing of His love.

We thank You, Lord, that You are our God - the God of our salvation.

Numbers 15:1-41 
We thank You, Lord, that You are our God - the God of our salvation. You have called us to be Your people. we have been saved by Your grace. Help us to live for Your glory. May we always be learning to walk with You. May we never forget to say of Jesus, Your Son: "Hallelujah! What a Saviour!"

Ezekiel 27-28

This is a continuation of the Word of judgment, which began in Ezekiel 26. How final are the words at the end of Ezekiel 27: “You have come to a terrible end, and you will never exist again” (Ezekiel 27:36). This is the bad news concerning all of us. We are sinners. We are under God’s judgment. Our only hope is the God of grace and mercy. He has made Himself known to us as the One, who can turn everything around for us. He does through His Son, Jesus Christ.
God’s judgment on Tyre - This theme continues on from Ezekiel 26 - 27. The emphasis is on His judgment on the king - “the ruler of Tyre” (Ezekiel 28:1). Here, we look beyond “the ruler of Tyre.” We may look on from him to Satan. Like the king of Tyre, Satan will also “come to a terrible end” (Ezekiel 28:19). In Ezekiel 28:20-24, we have a prophecy of judgment on Sidon. In Ezekiel 28:25-26, we have a message of hope for God’s people, Israel - “they will know that I am the Lord their God” (Ezekiel 28:26).

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Ezekiel 26

In Ezekiel 26, we find an awesome Word of judgment, spoken against the city of Tyre. The Word, spoken by God through His prophet, is uncompromising - “Tyre, you famous city, you have been destroyed” (Ezekiel 26:17). The effect of Tyre’s fall is described: “Your defeat will make the people, who live by the coast, tremble. Your end will terrify the islands in the sea” (Ezekiel 26:18). This is the fear of the Lord. We become aware that it’s a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. The Gospel tells us about the hands that were nailed to the Cross for us, so that we might pass from judgment to salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Yes, Lord.

“The Lord is the only God. He is the living God and eternal King” (Jeremiah 10:10). The contrast between God and the gods is simple. God made us. We made the gods. In the Lord our God, there is majesty and mystery - the majesty of the “eternal King”, the mystery that He is always beyond our understanding. Before this majesty and mystery, we bow down in worship. We acknowledge his greatness. We give Him glory. He is worthy of our worship. When God speaks His Word to us, “Obey Me, and do everything that I have told you to do. Then you will be My people, and I will be your God. I will keep the oath I made to your ancestors and give them a land flowing with milk and honey, the land you still have today.” We are to give our answer, “Yes, Lord” (Jeremiah 11:4-5). There will be many times when our "devotion" to the Lord will be put to the "test" (Jeremiah 12:3). These will be times of temptation - times when our 'Yes, Lord' could so easily become 'No, Lord.' When this happens, may God help us to return to Him and hear, again, His wonderful Word of amazing grace: "I will have compassion on them again ..." (Jeremiah 12:15).

“Whoever calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.”

There is to be prayer from “every one who lives in the land” (Joel 1:14). It is to be personal prayer - “O Lord, I cry to You for help!” (Joel 1:19). These two belong together - prayer for the nation and personal prayer. This is expressed so well in the words: “O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee. Send a revival. Start the work in me.”
We hear the words, “Return to the Lord, your God” (Joel 2:13). They are followed by some wonderful words about the character of God - “He is merciful and compassionate, patient and always ready to forgive and to change His plans about disaster” (Joel 2:13). How do we know that God is like this? We look at what He has done for us - “Be glad and rejoice. The Lord has done great things!” (Joel 2:21). Looking at all that the Lord has done for us, we trust His promise: “Whoever calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32). This salvation is more than forgiveness for past sins. It’s more than the future glory of being in God’s everlasting Kingdom - “Mount Zion” (Joel 2:32). It’s also the power of the Spirit, here and now: “I will pour out My Spirit on everyone” (Joel 2:28).
“The Lord will be a Refuge for His people. He will be a Stronghold for the people of Israel. You will know that I am the Lord, your God” (Joel 3:16-17). The Lord is reaching out to us. He’s speaking to us His Word of salvation. As we learn to trust the Lord, we will find that God shows Himself to be the faithful God. May the Lord keep us close to Himself.

More Than A Prophet?

“A great prophet … Are you the one who is coming?” (Luke 7:16,19-20).
“A great prophet” – This may be the beginning of our faith, but it’s not the end of our faith.
“A great prophet” – This is the first stage of our faith. We sense that there’s something different about Jesus. Then, we begin to ask the question, “How different is Jesus?” We start to wonder, “Is Jesus more than a prophet?”
“Are you the one who is  coming?” Where does this question come from? It comes to us, when we start thinking, “There’s something different about Jesus.”
We ask the question. God gives His answer. It is an answer that arises in our hearts, as we think about Jesus, as we think, “This is more than a prophet. This is my Saviour.”

God's Word Brings Blessing.

"… the seed shall sprout and grow, he himself does not know how …" (Mark 4:27).
God has given us a great promise – “my word that goes out from my mouth … will not return to me empty” (Isaiah 55:11). When we feel that God’s Word is returning to us empty, we have this Word of encouragement: God’s Word will not return to Him empty. God gives us His great promise “my word … will accomplishwhat I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” We do not see all that God’s Word is doing as the Spirit of God brings Christ to the people. God sees the full impact of His Word. That is why He says that His Word will not return to Him empty. When we have preached the Word, we must say, with the hymnwriter, “I know not how the Spirit moves, convincing men of sin; revealing Jesus through the word, creating faith in Him.” We don’t understand all that God is doing as His Word is preached. We do know that He is at work. How do we know this? – We know Him – “I know whom I have believed.” We know that we can trust His promise – His Word will achieve the purpose for which He sends it. When the “seed” of God’s Word is sown in the hearts of men and women, it will “sprout and grow” – even if we are barely aware of all that is happening. The salvation of sinners – it may be beyond our understanding, but it’s not beyond God’s power: “the gospel … is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

New Life

New life for Levi (Mark 3:1-4)
* His name was LEVI.
* He was EVIL.
He was a tax collector, making a fortune for himself at the expense of other people.
* He began to LIVE when he followed Jesus.
What a wonderful message there is in the conversion of Levi.
Our Saviour still calls sinners to make a new beginning with Him (Mark 3:17).
Let’s be like the new Levi – “He arose and followed Jesus” (Mark 3:15).

A Very Important Question

Matthew 25:1-13
Will we be ready, when the Lord returns? This is the question the Lord is putting to us here. It’s the most important question. It’s the question that we cannot evade. It’s the question that won’t go away. It’s the question of our life. What is our life all about? What is most important to us? Who is most important to us – Jesus or ourselves?

Ezekiel 25

“Then you will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 25:4,7,11). “Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 25:17). God is in control. This is the message of the prophet. The events on earth express the purpose of God. It is so important that we do not lose sight of this spiritual dimension. People say, ‘Everything is politics.’ God’s Word tells us, ‘Politics isn’t everything.’ We must not imagine that we can leave God out of the reckoning. He will remind us of His presence - “That you may know that I am the Lord.”

Friday, 27 October 2017

Ezekiel 24

In Ezekiel 24, we learn about God’s holiness and His love. If we are to appreciate the wonderful love God has for sinners, we need to become more deeply aware of the awesome holiness of God’s hatred of sin. We look at our sin. We look at God’s holiness. We learn about ourselves. We see how far we have fallen short of God’s glory. We learn about God. We come to know that He is the Lord. Deeply aware of God’s holiness and our own sin, we are led, by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures, to see Jesus, crucified for us. We hear about God’s holiness. This is the Word of His judgment upon our sin. This is not, however, the final Word that He speaks to us. He speaks His Word of love - His Word of forgiveness, peace and hope.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Singing A New Song

The singers will come “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). 

Not just some nations! All nations! Not just this generation! Not just the “now” generation! Every generation will be there. They will come from the past. They will come from the future. This is bigger than the Eurovision Song Contest!

“They sang a new song” (Revelation 5:9). 

When does a “new song” become an old song? – People stop singing it. They forget about it. It becomes last year’s song.
What about God’s “new song”? Does it ever become yesterday’s song? Will there ever be a time when there is no-one to sing the song of salvation? Will the song of praise ever be silenced? Will it ever be thrown into the dustbin of the ancient past?
No! The song of joyful worship is always the song of the eternal future. We’re looking forward to something that’s far bigger, brighter and better than the Eurovision Song Contest!

"Look, I'm standing at the door ... " (Revelation 3:20).

Are you ‘looking for a better country - a heavenly one’ (Hebrews 11:16)? ‘God has put eternity into man’s mind’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In every human heart, there’s ‘a God-shaped blank’. Jesus came to give us ‘life’ - ‘abundant life’, ‘eternal life’ (John 10:10; John 17:3; 1 John 5:11). Without Jesus, our lives are empty. The ‘longing for a better country’ can only be satisfied by Him. He is God’s ‘foretaste of glory divine’ (Mission Praise, 59). Jesus stands at the door of every human heart. He knocks. He waits for our answer. He says, ‘Look, I’m standing at the door and knocking. If anyone listens to My voice and opens the door, I’ll come in...’ (Revelation 3:20). Don’t ‘shrink back’ (Hebrews 10:39). Invite Him into your heart now.

A call to pray, a call to seek God's glory


“You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2) - This is a call to prayer.
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3) - This is a call to seek God's glory.

Encourage One Another ...

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good works, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25).

It's great that we are able to encourage one another in the Lord. Hebrews 10:25 speaks about "the assembling of ourselves together" and "exhorting one another." Each of us has a particular ministry of encouragement to those with whom we are gathered together to worship the Lord. It is a privilege to be able to share something of this ministry of encouragement with other people. We encourage one another in the Lord when we gather together for worship (Hebrews 10:25). The preaching of Christ strengthens our faith (Romans 10:17). What a great encouragement it is to know that "God is pleased through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe" (1 Corinthians 1:21). What happens in the place of worship is important - but it's not the be-all and end-all. There's more than worship in the Lord's House. There's life outside of the place of worship. In the world - That's where we're to live a life of "love and good works" (Hebrews 10:24). If, when we're in the place of worship, we start thinking that this is all that there is - an hour on a Sunday, we've got it all wrong. When our worship ends, our witness begins. Our witness is more than words. It's living the life of a believer. In the world - This is where we see how real our worship is.

"Always be joyful in the Lord ... I know how to live in poverty or prosperity" (Philippians 4:4,12).

In the Lord - This is the important thing. Poverty with the Lord is better than prosperity without Him.

Saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8)

Sinners become singers. We never cease to be sinners. We are not superior to those who do not sing the song of the Lord. We have been saved by His grace. All the glory belongs to Him. May our whole life be a song of praise to Him (Ephesians 2:8-10). In our battle against Satan, we must never forget that our victory is grounded in His salvation: “At the Name of Jesus, Satan’s legions flee; on then, Christian soldiers, on to victory.” “The Church of God” is called to move forward as “a mighty army.”  The Lord has loved us so much. He has saved us. May we always give to others a friendly invitation and a warm welcome: “Onward then, you people, join our happy throng, blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.” Sinners will become singers – when we, who have begun to sing the Lord’s song, always remember that we are never any more than this: sinners who have been saved by God’s grace.

The Mercy Of God And The Ministry Of His Word

In the work of ministry, we are often discouraged by the lack of response. May God help us to remember that “we have received this ministry by the mercy of God” (2 Corinthians 4:1). May He give us the wonderful privilege of seeing more people responding to the Word of God which, by the power of the Holy Spirit, “gives the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Here are some great words from Jim Elliot, an American missionary who died at the hands of Auca Indians in Ecuador in the 1950s – “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
 * "To gain what he cannot lose" - Eternal life has lasting value.
 * "what he cannot keep" - The things of this world don’t have lasting value.
After Jim Elliot and four other American missionaries were killed, there was great blessing among the Aucas.
 * Think of these faithful martyrs. Think of the blessing which followed. 
In 2 Corinthians 4:15, we have a great comment on the wonderful blessing which followed the killing of the American missionaries by the Aucas - “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” The American missionaries laid down their lives. The Aucas found eternal life. It was for their benefit. Grace reached more and more people. There was an overflow of giving glory to God.
* Think of own times of suffering.
We must remember this  - we’re not alone. God is there with us. We see this in the sufferings of Job. What suffering Job endured. He knew that he was not alone. He knew that God was with him. In the middle of the most intense suffering, Job gives us a great testimony of faith: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25).
 * Think of the eternal glory towards which the Lord is calling us.

A Word Of Encouragement

How do we react when things don’t seem to be going very well? We all need the encouragement of God’s Word: ‘Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph’ (2 Corinthians 2:14).

God's Temple ...

"Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple" (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

God has given us a great privilege - "you yourselves are God's temple... God's Spirit dwells in your midst."  He's given us a great responsibility - we must take care of "God's temple." When God's Spirit comes into our hearts, what does He do? Does He give us a feeling of superiority - we're better than they are? No! He calls upon us to search our hearts more deeply: "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24).

Strong words ...

“… watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned … By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people” (Romans 16:17-18).

These are very strong words. They are words which have a great deal to say to the Church at a time when it seems that the voice of permissive society is threatening to drown out completely the voice of Holy Scripture. When Paul addresses the problem of divisions among God’s people, He calls us to be faithful “to the teaching you have learned.” Behind Paul’s words concerning “the teaching you have learned”, there is something else: “according to the Scriptures.” We see this in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Paul begins by speaking about “the gospel which I preached to you” (1 Corinthians 15:1). As we look on to 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, it becomes clear that he is not concerned with drawing attention to himself. What he is concerned about is this: “according to the Scriptures” – “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Ezekiel 23

Samaria and Jerusalem behaved like prostitutes. In graphic language, the sin of turning from the Lord is compared to sexual immorality. Why does God expose their sin with such plainness of speech? He wants to show them the full extent of their rebellion, so that they may see the folly of continuing in sin and may be moved to return to the Lord - “Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 23:49).

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Ezekiel 21-22

In Ezekiel 21 - 22, words concerning God’s holy judgment against sin are awesome. He does not take sin lightly. He takes sin very seriously. As we realize the seriousness with which He looks upon sin, we are called to repentance. We are called to return to the Lord, in sincerity and truth.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Prophecy That Has Been Fulfilled, Prophecy That Will Be Fulfilled

"They will look on Me, the One they have pierced" (Zechariah 12:10).
"These things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled ... ‘They will look on the One they have pierced’" (John 19:36-37).
"They will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son" (Zechariah 12:10).
"‘Look, He is coming with the clouds,’ and ‘every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him’; and all peoples on earth ‘will mourn because of Him.’ So shall it be! Amen" (Revelation 1:7).
There is prophecy that has been fulfilled. There is prophecy that will be fulfilled. From the words of the prophet, we look to events that have already taken place - the crucifixion of Christ. We also look forward to an event that still lies in the future - the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God for the fulfilment of prophecy. We trust in God for the fulfilment of prophecy.

Don't Let God's Word Go In One Ear And Out The Other Ear!

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Let your hands be strong, you who have been hearing in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, who spoke ... '" (Zechariah 8:9). 
We hear the Word of the Lord so that we might become strong in the Lord. God's Word is not to go in one ear and out the other hand. When that happens, Satan is winning a great victory over us - "When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts" (Mark 4:15). When we "hear the Word of God", let us pray that we will "accept it and bear fruit" (Mark 4:20).

There is hope.

Hosea 14:1-9

There is hope. There is a future. Hosea 14:9 - Conclusion: This is for us. The only way to live is the Lord’s way.
Repentance (Hosea 14:2) - It’s returning to the Lord (Hosea 14:1). It’s more than “words” (Hosea 14:2). It’s a way of life. As we walk with the Lord, we learn about repentance.
God speaks to us about forgiveness (Hosea 14:2). In love, He’s speaking to us. He speaks to us from the cross of Christ. The Spirit makes God’s love real to us. He brings Jesus to us. God’s love inspires our thinking and our living.
Our whole life is to be an expression of our love for the Lord, a heartfelt response to His love for us - a way of saying, “Thank You, Lord”, a way of offering to the Lord the praise and worship that arises from our hearts.
As we worship God, we must remember that He is not only love. He is also holiness.
This is to be seen in our “return to the Lord” (Hosea 14:1), our conversion. It’s not to be a partial conversion - paying lip-service to the Lord. It’s to be a full conversion - our hearts and our lives: the stirring of our hearts and the changing of our lives.

Return To The Lord ...

Hosea 6:1-3

 * “Let us return to the Lord” (Hosea 6:1). There are many blessings, waiting for us. We must come to the Lord and receive these blessings from Him.
 * “He will revive us” (Hosea 6:2). This is new life in Christ. It’s new life in the Spirit. We were dead. Now, we are alive, Glory to God!
 * “He will raise us up” (Hosea 6:2) - resurrection, not just a pick-me-up. God must do it. He alone can do it - and He does!
 * “He will come to us like the rain” (Hosea 6:3) - “the spring showers that water the land”: This will put a spring in our step. It will send us out, with joy and strength, to serve the Lord and bring others to Him (Psalm 126:5-6).

The Highway

Jeremiah 31:21-30

“Set your hearts toward the highway; keep the highway in mind” (Jeremiah 31:21) - “the highway of holiness” (Isaiah 35:8):
A call to the “backsliding daughter” (Jeremiah 31:22). “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied” (Proverbs 14:14).
Here’s a breath prayer (breathe in for the first part, breathe out for the second part). It’s based on John 3:30 - “More of You, Lord, less of me.”
“The Lord bless you... mountain of holiness” (Jeremiah 31:23), “the days are coming” (Jeremiah 31:27,31,38): God is looking towards what we will become.
Taking apart the self-centred life; putting together the God-centred life (Jeremiah 31:28).

God's Way Is The Best Way.

“As for God, His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30).
The Lord knows what He has planned for each one of us. There are no surprises for Him. The Lord doesn’t leave us to travel on our own. He’s with us every step of the way. When we wonder about what’s happening in our lives, He is there, teaching us to say from the heart, “As for God, His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30; 2 Samuel 22:31). He’s leading us to His Son, Jesus. He’s showing us our suffering Saviour. He’s showing us our risen Lord. He’s showing us that there is a way of peace, joy and love. It’s the way of Jesus. It’s the way of trusting Him. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He will lead you in His way. God’s blessing will surround you each day.

The Light Of God's Love, Truth And Holiness

“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light” (Psalm 18:28).
Without You, Lord, we’re stumbling around in the dark. With You, we’re walking in the light – the light of Your love, the light of Your truth, the light of Your holiness.

Loved By The Lord - And Saved By Him

“Show Your marvellous lovingkindness …  O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 17:7; Psalm 19:14).
The lessons that we discover in the Word of God are lessons that are given to us by revelation. God shows us His “marvellous lovingkindness.” He shows us His salvation. Learning about God’s love and His salvation – There is nothing more wonderful than this. To know that we are loved by the Lord and have been saved by Him – This is what gives us strength to keep on loving and praising Him as we travel with Him towards His glorious Kingdom.

We stand in the strength of the Lord.

The Psalmist speaks of his enemies – “my foes” (Psalm 3:1). They are not only his enemies. They are the Lord’s enemies (Psalm 2:2).
What an encouragement it is to know that we do not stand against our enemies on our own. The Lord is standing with us. We do not stand in our own weakness. We stand in the strength of the Lord. He is with us. Many times, we will fail Him. He will never fail us. Often, we will let Him down. He will never let us down. What does God say to us, in our weakness? – He assures us that He holds on to us with a love which is much stronger than our weak love for Him – “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). When, in our battle against strong a nd determined enemies, we like giving up, let’s remember this: God is faithful – and He is much stronger than Satan. “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

If I Perish ...

“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?’ … I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.’” (Esther 4:14,16).
God has a plan for us. Are we willing to pay the price?

Sin and Salvation (Ezekiel 16:63 ... 20:40-44)

Speaking through the prophet, God uses very colourful sexual imagery to describe Israel’s relationship with Himself and her revolt against Him. The last word, in Ezekiel 16, is not, however, a word concerning the rebellion of Israel against the Lord. It is the message of redemption - the forgiveness of sins (Ezekiel 16:63).
“I am the Lord ... I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it” (Ezekiel 17:24). In His Word, God tells us who He is and what He has done for us. He is the God who loves us. He has shown us His love in the death of His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
What a contrast there is between God’s salvation and man’s sin. God brought His people out of Egypt and into the promised land. They rebelled against Him and refused to listen to Him (Ezekiel 20:6-8). God had not given up on His people. He would draw them to Himself. He would make them His instrument of blessing to the nations (Ezekiel 20:40-44).

Monday, 23 October 2017

Ezekiel 13-15

“Listen to the Word of the Lord” (Ezekiel 13:2). We must not “follow our own ideas” (Ezekiel 13:3). “Change the way you think and act” (Ezekiel 14:6). We are changed, as we pay attention to what the Lord has to say to us. What is the alternative to turning to the Lord, listening to Him and being changed by Him? We turn from Him, and our lives become a “wasteland” (Ezekiel 15:8). The message of the prophet, Ezekiel, comes as a call to choose - Turn to the Lord and be saved, or turn from Him and be lost.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Ezekiel 10-12

“The Lord’s glory rose from the angels” (Ezekiel 10:4); “The Spirit lifted me” (Ezekiel 11:1 - These prophecies of Ezekiel bring us into the presence of God. “The sound of the Almighty God when He speaks” (Ezekiel 10:5); “The Lord’s Spirit came to me and told me to say” (Ezekiel 11:5) - When we are in the Lord’s presence, He speaks His Word to us. He speaks to us, so that we might speak for Him. “The Spirit lifted me up” (Ezekiel 11:24); “The Lord spoke His Word to me” (Ezekiel 12:1) - The Word and the Spirit belong together. The Spirit inspires the Word. The Word expresses the mind of the Spirit. “This is the divine revelation” (Ezekiel 12:10); “This is what the Almighty Lord says, Everything that I say will no longer be delayed. Whatever I say will happen, declares the Almighty Lord” (Ezekiel 12:28). Through His Word and His Spirit, the Almighty Lord is leading us on to His future. He is lifting us up to glory - His heavenly and eternal glory.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

We Ask Our Question. God Gives His Answer.

Our Question And God’s Answer (Acts 2:37-38)
The question is our question: “Brothers, what shall we do?”
The answer is God’s answer: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Where Does Our Question Come From? (Acts 2:37)
Where does our question come from? – It comes from God.
His Word is preached. His Spirit is at work.
Following on from the preaching of God’s Word in the power of God’s Spirit, we read this, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart”. This is where the question comes from. God has put it into our heart. Through His Word and His Spirit, he leads us to ask the question of salvation: “What must I do to be saved?”
God’s Answer To Our Question (Acts 2:37-38)
The question is our question. The answer must always be God’s answer. We ask the question. We cannot give the answer. In ourselves, there is no answer. We are “far off” (Acts 2:39).
We know about our sin, but we cannot give to ourselves the forgiveness of sin.
We know about the emptiness in our lives, but we cannot fill our own hearts with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
We can only come to God in our sin and our emptiness.
We come in our sin, praying for God’s forgiveness. We come in our emptiness, praying that God will fill us with His Spirit.
When we come in our sin and emptiness, God speaks His answer.
God’s Answer Comes To Us In The Name Of Jesus Christ.
“What are we to do?” – Before we think of what we are to do, we must think about what Jesus Christ has done for us. This is the Good News. Jesus Christ has taken our sins upon Himself. He has died for us so that we might be forgiven by Him. 
We must never begin with the call for repentance and baptism. We must always begin with Jesus Christ – “the Son of God loved us and gave Himself for us” (Galatians 2:20). 
“What are we to do?” – The first thing we must do is this: we must look away from ourselves to Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
When we turn our eyes on Jesus and keep our eyes fixed on Him, we will never think of our repentance and baptism as ‘good works’ we have done, ‘good works’ by which we make ourselves acceptable to God. 
The Name of Jesus Christ is the Name of our salvation. It is in Him that we are called to repentance and baptism. It is through the power of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord, that we are able to put the old life behind us and begin the new life of the Spirit. 
At the heart of God’s answer to our question, there is “the Name of Jesus Christ.”
In His answer to our question, God speaks to us of repentance and baptism. He speaks of the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Above all else, He speaks to us of His Son, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s Answer Is For Every One Of Us (Acts 2:38).
To every one of us, God says, “Repent and be baptized”. To every one of us, He says, “Leave your old life behind. Step out into the new life with Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord.”
God’s answer is for every one of us. He doesn’t say to some of us, “You need to repent” and then turn to others, saying, “You won’t need to repent. You’re good enough already.”
Let God’s Answer Change You. (Acts 2:38).
The question is asked, “What are we to do?” God’s answer begins with a call for repentance and baptism – “Repent and be baptized.”
If we were to read no further than the words, “Repent and be baptized”, we would miss a great deal of what God is saying to us here.“Repent and be baptized” is only the beginning of God’s answer. We must go on from there. As we read the remainder of verse 38, we learn that
* God’s answer is addressed to every one of us.
* God’s answer comes to us in the Name of Jesus Christ.
* God’s answer comes to us with the promise of the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We ask the question, “What are we to do?” (Acts 2:37), God gives the answer – “Repent and be baptized.” (Acts 2:38).
We lay our old life before the Lord. We invite Him to come and change us.
He comes in forgiving love. He comes in transforming power.
Once we have put our faith in Christ, everything changes.
“If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation.
Old things have passed away. Everything has become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
“It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Three Great Gifts

Three Great Gifts – Jesus, Forgiveness, And The Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)
Through faith in Christ, we put the old life behind us. Our sins are forgiven. We receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Through faith in Christ, we receive the strength we need to live as men and women who love God.
Through faith in Christ, we receive the strength we need to maintain our confession of faith – “Jesus Christ is Lord.”
In Jesus Christ, God’s answer comes to us with the promise of the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Set Free By The Lord, Set Free For The Lord

Before we come to “the Ten Commandments”, we have these great words, “ I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Exodus 20:2).  Grace comes first. Holiness follows on from grace. We see the same pattern in the New Testament – in the teaching of Jesus, in the letters of Paul.
From the ministry of Jesus, we have the words, “Neither do I condemn you … Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). “Neither do I condemn you” – This is grace. “Go and sin no more” – This is holiness. It’s not grace without holiness. It’s not holiness without grace. It’s grace and holiness together. It’s grace leading on to holiness.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians begins with grace – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Paul emphasizes that we have been saved by grace and we are called to holiness –  “By grace you have been saved, through faith … to do good works … ” (Ephesians 2:8-10). To those who have been saved by God’s grace, the Apostle Paul writes, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1).
In his letter to the Romans, Paul gives us a great description of ”the Gospel.” He says that “it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). To those who have saved by the grace of God, Paul says this: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).
We cannot save ourselves. We cannot make ourselves holy. From beginning to end, salvation is the work of God’s grace. He brings us to Himself. He forgives our sins. He comes to live in our hearts. He gives us the strength to live for Him. He will bring us to His glorious and eternal Kingdom. All glory to His great Name!

A Great Salvation - And A Grave Warning

Refusal to come to Christ for salvation leads to judgment: ‘How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?’ (Hebrews 2:3).

Ezekiel 8-9

In Ezekiel 8, we have a description of sin - “very disgusting things”, even more disgusting things” (Ezekiel 8:6,9,13,17). When we read such “bad news”, we wonder, “Is there good news?” The answer of God’s Word is “Yes”! God does not leave us in our sin. He sends His Son to be our Saviour. This is the Good News, for which the prophets paved the way. Their ministry exposed sin, so that sinners might see their need of the Saviour.
 If holiness is to be preserved, there must be a divine judgment upon sin (Ezekiel 9. We cannot grow in our love for God, if we continue to have love, in our hearts, for the ways of the world. “Abba, Father, let me be Yours and Yours alone” (Dave Bilbrough, Mission Praise, 3).

Friday, 20 October 2017

Ezekiel 7

“The end is coming” - We read these words five times in Ezekiel 7:1-6. These are words of judgment. Ezekiel 7 ends with the words, “Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 7:27). In His judgment, the Lord is known as the holy God. If the people refuse to return to the Lord, there will be judgment. This is the word of warning. It comes as a call to repentance, a call to walk with God in obedience.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Teach Us, Lord, To Live For You.

"I am filled with the power of the Lord's Spirit" (Micah 3:8). This is what makes true ministry of God's Word so different from 'prophecy' that doesn't come from the Lord. Without the power of the Lord, there can be no Word from the Lord. We need the Word, and we need the power.
"Let's go to the mountain of the Lord ...He will teach us His ways so that we may live by them" (Micah 4:2). We are taught by the Lord so that we might live for Him. Teaching and living - they belong together. We do not learn from God's Word so that we can amass more head-knowledge. We pray for a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ - a life-changing knowledge that gives us the strength that we need to live for the glory of God.

God's Word Of Love - For The Preacher And The People

"The Lord spoke the Word to Micah" (Micah 1:1).  The Word is given to the prophet. This is where true prophecy begins. It begins with God. It does not come from the mind of the prophet. It is given to him by the Lord. In this revelation, given by God to the prophet, there is "the Word" and "the vision." God speaks to us. He draws near to us. Jesus is God's "Word" to us. He is more than the words spoken to us. He is "the Word made flesh" (John 1:1,14). To "all" people, God says, "Listen ... Pay attention" (Micah 1:2). What does God say to us? He speaks "against" us (Micah 1:2). Do we need to hear this? Yes! We do. The Word that is spoken against us prepares us for the Good News of God's love. The more seriously we take the Word that is spoken against us, the more we will give thanks to God for His love. We will rejoice in this - His love reaches us in our sin and triumphs over our sin.
"The Lord will lead the people" (Micah 2:13). These are precious words. Whatever happens in our life, we must hold on to this: "The Lord will lead the people." Whatever happens to us - good things or bad things, we must not lose sight of the Lord. In the good times, let us trust Him to keep us, walking in His way, praising Him, even when we don't understand what's going on in our lives. He is there with us, every step of the way. He loves us - always and forever.

God speaks His Word of love - His Word of forgiveness, peace and hope.

Samaria and Jerusalem behaved like prostitutes. In graphic language, the sin of turning from the Lord is compared to sexual immorality. Why does God expose their sin with such plainness of speech? He wants to show them the full extent of their rebellion, so that they may see the folly of continuing in sin and may be moved to return to the Lord - “Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 23:49).
In Ezekiel 24, we learn about God’s holiness and His love. If we are to appreciate the wonderful love God has for sinners, we need to become more deeply aware of the awesome holiness of God’s hatred of sin. We look at our sin. We look at God’s holiness. We learn about ourselves. We see how far we have fallen short of God’s glory. We learn about God. We come to know that He is the Lord. Deeply aware of God’s holiness and our own sin, we are led, by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures, to see Jesus, crucified for us. We hear about God’s holiness. This is the Word of His judgment upon our sin. This is not, however, the final Word that He speaks to us. He speaks His Word of love - His Word of forgiveness, peace and hope.
“Then you will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 25:4,7,11). “Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 25:17). God is in control. This is the message of the prophet. The events on earth express the purpose of God. It is so important that we do not lose sight of this spiritual dimension. People say, ‘Everything is politics.’ God’s Word tells us, ‘Politics isn’t everything.’ We must not imagine that we can leave God out of the reckoning. He will remind us of His presence - “That you may know that I am the Lord.”

Is There Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

In Job 3, we see Job in a state of deep depression. At this stage, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. He is in desperate need of the Lord’s sustaining strength. Where will the Lord’s help come from? When will his time of suffering come to an end? Job has many questions. He doesn’t have any answers. This “the dark night of the soul.”
In Job 4 - 5, we have the first speech of Eliphaz. On the pretext of bringing comfort to Job, Eliphaz brings a message of accusation. However much Eliphaz claims to be bringing God’s Word to Job, we can be sure that he is not God’s messenger. Why? - It’s because his message conflicts with God’s understanding of Job’s situation (Job 1:8).
In Job 6 - 7, Job replies. There is real pain in Job’s words. He speaks of his “grief” and “misery” (Job 6:2). There is a real longing for God to answer his prayer. Sadly, his prayer has become a cry of despair: “that God would finally be willing to crush me, that He would reach out to cut me off” (Job 6:9). Even though he is in great distress, Job retains sufficient clarity of thought to know that his so-called ‘friends’ have got it wrong - “Please change your mind ... Change your mind because I am still right about this! ...or is my mouth unable to tell the difference between right and wrong?” (Job 6:29-30). There is sadness here - “As a cloud fades away and disappears, so a person goes into the grave and doesn’t come back again” (Job 7:9). Job hasn’t broken through this sense of hopelessness to the triumphant faith, expressed in his confession of confidence in God: “I know that my Redeemer lives ...” (Job 19:25-26), a tremendous declaration of Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection in Him. It’s so wonderful that in a book, filled with so much suffering, there is this marvellous glimpse of an eternal glory, in which all suffering will be banished forever.

Attacked And Accused

With God’s permission, “Satan, the accuser” attacks Job (Job 1:8). The attack is ferocious, May the Name of the Lord be praised! Through all this, Job did not sin or blame God for doing anything wrong” (Job 1:21-22). Satan’s attack on Job is really a challenge to God. The Lord is in control of the situation. Satan can only do what God permits him to do (Job 2:6).
Job’s so-called ‘friends’ were watching the situation. They intended to sympathize with him and comfort him (Job 2:11). When they saw the “great pain” he was in, they did not say anything to him (Job 2:13). They were thinking about what was happening to him, and their thoughts moved from comfort to blame. They started off with the intention of being comforters. They ended up doing the work of accusers.

More Than A Human Story!

Queen Vashti is removed from her position. She is replaced by Esther. There is no direct mention of God in connection with these events. That fact that the book of Esther has been included in the Word of God indicates that these events were interpreted as evidence of God’s activity among His people. It is important that we read the book of Esther as part of Scripture, and not only in terms of what is written in the book itself. Reading Esther in this way, we see it as part of God’s Story, and not only as a human story.
Although the Name of God does not appear in this book, we have here an inspiring story of the triumph of good over evil. This is a book about God and Satan. They are opposites. The victory belongs to God. He is Lord. Before the victory, there is the conflict. The people of God are in great jeopardy. Their life is in danger. The evil man, Haman, “planned to wipe out ... All the Jews in the entire kingdom of Xerxes” (Esther 3:6). Esther played a vital part in the defeat of Haman. She was willing to die for the sake of her people. She was protecting her people, even at the risk of losing her own life: “I will go to the king, even if it is against a royal decree. If I die, I die” (Esther 4:16).
Esther’s bold request - “Spare my life ... Spare the life of my people” (Esther 7:3) - was followed by an even bolder accusation of Haman - “Our vicious enemy is this wicked man, Haman!” (Esther 7:6). God honoured His servant, Esther. God’s people were spared. God’s enemy, Haman, was killed. Here, we see salvation and judgment. The Lord is the Saviour of all who put their trust in Him. He is also the Judge of those who oppose Him.
Esther showed great courage in standing up for her people - “I cannot bear to see my people suffer such evil” (Esther 8:6). The outcome of her stand for her people was wonderful - “So the Jews were cheerful, happy, joyful, and successful” (Esther 8:16). What celebration there was among God’s people - “Their grief turned to joy.” In their joy, they did not forget “the poor” (Esther 9:22).

The Rebuilding Of The Walls

The book of Nehemiah begins with distressing news - “The wall of Jerusalem has been broken down, and its gates have been destroyed by fire” (Nehemiah 1:3). Nehemiah takes this situation to the Lord in prayer (Nehemiah 1:4-11). With the help of God, the work of rebuilding begins. This work was pleasing to the Lord (Nehemiah 2:18). This work would not be easy. There was opposition: They “mocked and ridiculed us, ‘What is this you are doing?’” (Nehemiah 2;19). The opponents would not succeed. Why? - “The God of heaven” would give “success” to His people (Nehemiah 2:20). God’s work is done by many people, working together. Nehemiah 3 gives us a list of all the people who played their part in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls.
Nehemiah and his fellow-builders face determined opposition from their enemies: “What they are building - if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” (Nehemiah 4:3). When the enemies “heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it” (Nehemiah 4:7-8). What did God’s people do when they were faced with this opposition? - “We prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat” (Nehemiah 4:10). They were watching out for their enemies - and they were looking to the Lord. Nehemiah urged the workers to keep looking to the Lord: “Remember how great and awe-inspiring the Lord is ... Our God will fight for us!” (Nehemiah 4:14,20). This is what we must do. We must keep our eyes on the Lord. He is the great God. He is a great help to His people in their many times of testing.
Nehemiah works, with the help of God, for the poor of the people (Nehemiah 5:19). The enemies of Nehemiah continued to oppose the work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. When they came with their criticisms, Nehemiah refused to be distracted. He kept on working (Nehemiah 6:3). Work on the city walls was completed. The critics were silenced - “When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence.” God was glorified - “They realized we had done this work with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:19). The situation of God’s people today is still the same as it was in Nehemiah’s day. To rebuild the “walls” of God’s work, we must overcome determined opposition.
Following the list of those who returned to the city of Jerusalem from exile (Nehemiah 7), we see the people of God, hearing the Word of God, read and explained to them (Nehemiah 8:7-8). The preaching of God’s Word took the place within the context of thanksgiving and worship (Nehemiah 8:6). The ministry of the Word of God was grounded in the study of the Word of God (Nehemiah 8:13).
“Stand up and thank the Lord your God” (Nehemiah 9:5). This is a call to worship. We worship God, our Creator: “You alone are the Lord. You made heaven ... You made the earth” (Nehemiah 9:6). The God of Abraham is our God - the faithful God: “You made a promise ... You kept Your promise” (Nehemiah 9:8). Our God is the God of redemption. He’s the God who redeemed His people, Israel, from their bondage in Egypt (Nehemiah 9:9-11). He is the God who has given us “commandments, laws and teachings” (Nehemiah 9:14). He gives us “bread” and “water”, as we stumble through life’s wilderness, on our way to His promised land (Nehemiah 9:15). Our God is great: “You are a forgiving God, One who is compassionate, merciful,patient, and always ready to forgive” (Nehemiah 9:17). He is the God of “endless compassion” (Nehemiah 9:19). He has given us “His good Spirit” to teach us (Nehemiah 9:20). He blesses us, with His “vast supply of good things” (Nehemiah 9:25). “Our God” is “the great, mighty, and awe-inspiring God.” He is the “merciful and compassionate God” (Nehemiah 9:31-32).
The “separation of God’s people from the inhabitants of the land” was “for the sake of God’s teachings” (Nehemiah 10:28). There is an important principle here. We are separated from the world so that we might be separate to God. Everything revolves around this - giving glory to God by giving Him His rightful place in our hearts and lives: “We won’t neglect God’s Temple” (Nehemiah 10:39).
The walls had been rebuilt. Now, they were “dedicated” to God (Nehemiah 12:27). Was a time of great joy (Nehemiah 12:27,43). The people of God sand “songs of praise and thanksgiving to God” (Nehemiah 12:46). As well as singing praise to God, the Lord’s people listened to His Word (Nehemiah 13:1). Sometimes, after happy times among God’s people, there can be a time of decline - “Why is God’s Temple being neglected?” (Nehemiah 13:11). We must not live in the past. Our walk with God must continue. There must be an ongoing fellowship with the Lord. If there is to be a closer walk with God, we must always remember that this is not our own doing. It is the loving kindness of God, reaching out to us: “Remember Me ... My God ... Since You are very kind” (Nehemiah 13:22). His kindness brings blessing into our lives: “Remember me, my God, for my benefit” (Nehemiah 13:31).

The Lord's Mercy Endures Forever ...

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

Give Me Wisdom ...

“Give me wisdom and knowledge so that I may lead these people ... This great people of Yours” (2 Chronicles 1:10). Wisdom is not given to us for our own benefit, It is given to us for the benefit of others - so that we might lead them to the Lord. We are to follow in the footsteps of our Lord. He “came not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45).
“I want to build the Temple for the Lord my God. I want to dedicate it to Him” (2 Chronicles 2:4). Everything that we do is to be done for God. Everything that we do is to be dedicated to Him. This is the lesson that we learn from Solomon and the building of the Temple. We are to do all things for the glory of God. He alone is worthy of our praise. We are not only to worship Him in the place of worship and at the time set aside for worship. We are to worship Him all of the time, wherever we are. We are to praise Him in His House. We are to continue to praise Him, as we go out from His House to the world.
The building of the Temple - It was “the Lord’s Temple” (2 Chronicles 3:1). It was being built “for the Lord’s Name” (2 Chronicles 2:1). The glory of the Lord - This must never be forgotten. There is nothing more important than this. God is to be glorified. This was the reason for the building of the Temple.This must be the driving force in our lives - in everything we do. Let God be glorified in all things. Blessing will only come to us when we give the glory to God. We must not seek glory for ourselves.
“The Lord’s glory filled the Lord’s Temple” (2 Chronicles 5:14), The emphasis is not on Solomon. It is the Lord who must be the focus of our attention. It is the Lord who is to receive glory. Solomon emphasizes this: “I’ve built the Temple for the Name of the Lord God of Israel” (2 Chronicles 6:11). In his prayer (2 Chronicles 6:14-42), Solomon prays for “salvation” (2 Chronicles 6:41). He does not only pray for himself. He prays for others. He prays that they will come to God, praying for “salvation”. He asks God to hear and answer these prayers.
The continuation of God’s blessing is conditional on the continuation of Israel’s obedience. The Temple does not guarantee the continuation of God’s blessing: “If you and your descendants turn away from Me ... I will reject this Temple that I declared holy for My Name. I will make it an example and an object of ridicule for all the people of the world” (2 Chronicles 7:19-20). These are God’s words of warning. He also gives His promise of blessing to those who turn to Him - “If My people ...” (2 Chronicles 7:14-16).
The grandeur of Solomon was most impressive. After reading about all of his glory, we come to the point where he dies. This is a reminder that we cannot take our riches with us. It’s a reminder of Jesus’ words: “Do not lay up treasures on earth.Lay up treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20), We must never lose sight of the eternal dimension of our life.
In the history of Israel, there were low points - “all Israel abandoned the Lord’s teaching” (2 Chronicles 12:1) - as well as high points - “Asa did what the Lord his God considered right and good” (2 Chronicles 14:2). Even Asa was not consistently faithful to the Lord. Despite the statement, “Asa remained committed to the Lord his entire life” (2 Chronicles 15:17), there are signs that, at the end of his life, his faith was not as strong as it should have been. God is calling us to move forward in faith and obedience. He is calling us to walk in His ways all the days of our life.
The reign of Jehoshaphat was a good reign. He was the “king of Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:31). He was very different from “King Ahab of Israel” (2 Chronicles 18:3). Good kings, bad kings - Each has his influence on the people: a good influence, a bad influence. Reading about these things makes us think about ourselves and the influence we have on other people. Is it good or bad? What about our own commitment to the Lord? Is it real? Is it changing us - and others?

Ezekiel 6

In Ezekiel 6, we have a message concerning divine judgment. Note the emphasis - “you (they) will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 6:7,13-14). If we are to appreciate the greatness of God’s salvation, we must see the greatness of our sin and the greatness of the judgment from which we are delivered through God’s mighty work of salvation.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Our Sin, God's Judgment (Ezekiel 5:13-14) ... And God's Love

God takes sin very seriously. He sends his judgment upon sin. The unleashing of His fury turns the sinful nation into a wasteland (Ezekiel 5:13-14). When we read of such things, we wonder, “Is there any hope?” When we are reading so much about sin and judgment, we must not lose sight of the love of God. In love, He calls men and women to return to Him.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Ezekiel 2-3

In true ministry, there is both the Word of God and the Spirit of God. God’s Word is spoken to us in the power of the Spirit, so that we might speak His Word in the power of the Spirit (Ezekiel 2:1-4). Ezekiel is described as “a watchman over the people of Israel.” He was to speak the word of warning (Ezekiel 3:17). This is the kind of preaching which calls its hearers back from the wages of sin - death. The hearers are called to “change their wicked ways in order to save their lives” (Ezekiel 3:18).

Monday, 16 October 2017

Ezekiel 1

“Visions from God” (Ezekiel 1:1); “The power of the Lord came over Ezekiel” (Ezekiel 1:3); “A bright light” (Ezekiel 1:27); “A rainbow in the clouds” , “The Lord’s glory”, “Bowed down”, “I heard someone speaking” (Ezekiel 1:28). In these phrases, we have some suggestion of the kind of lines we must follow, as we think about the various elements of divine revelation.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

False Religion And True Worship

The wise men did want to worship Jesus (Matthew 2:2). Herod said that he wanted to worship Jesus (Matthew 2:8). What a difference there is between saying that we want to worship Jesus and really wanting to worship Him. This highlights the conflict between false religion and true worship. Religion may say the right things, but, if we don’t really mean what we say, our words will not make any difference to the way we live. This kind of religion is worthless. What does God say to us about this kind of religion? - “God warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod” (Matthew 2:12). God is still warning His people to steer clear of empty religion. When we come to the Lord, we must not come with empty words - words that we don’t really mean. Our worship is to shape our life. How is our worship to change our way of living? Real worship arises out of salvation. This is very different from religion. Religion says more about ourselves than it says about our Saviour. Salvation is not about us. It’s about Jesus, our Saviour. When He is the focus of our attention, we will learn to worship Him and live for Him.

Beyond the suffering, there is the 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.

A Hopeless Situation? ... And The Faithfulness Of God (Lamentations)

For Jerusalem, the situation seemed to be hopeless. Humanly speaking, everything looked very gloomy. This was the situation into which the Word of the Lord came. Often, our feelings may tell us, “My enemies have triumphed” (Lamentations 1:9). These are the times when we must learn to look beyond our feelings, believing that God has His Word for us, and it is a Word of victory.
There is so much, in Lamentations 2, about God’s judgment. It is, however, encouraging to read the words of Lamentations 2:13 - God’s people are described as the “beloved people of Zion.” Beloved - This is a great word. God used this word to describe Jesus - His Beloved Son. We are in Christ. We are in the Beloved. We are God’s Beloved. We are loved with an everlasting love.
At the heart of this book, in which there is much lamentation, we find words of great encouragement - “Great is Thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23). The Lord is assuring us that, whatever may happen to us, here is something that never changes: the faithfulness of God.
We hear what Lamentations says to us about God’s judgment. We also hear what it says about His faithfulness. Through our sin, we have brought God’s judgment upon ourselves - This is the bad news concerning ourselves. Through His faithful love, we receive the forgiveness of our sins - This is the Good News of God’s love for sinners.
In Lamentations 5, we have a prayer of the prophet. As he prays for a return to the Lord - “O Lord, bring us back to You ...” (Lamentations 5:21), he affirms that the Lord is King - “You, O Lord, sit enthroned for ever” (Lamentations 5:19).

Saturday, 14 October 2017

"Run away from Babylon! ... Babylon will suddenly fall and be shattered” (Jeremiah 51:6,8).

God’s Word speaks against us so that we might learn not to speak against God’s Word. God calls us to holiness - “Run away from Babylon! Run for your lives!” (Jeremiah 51:6). The final outcome is described in Jeremiah 51:8 - “Babylon will suddenly fall and be shattered.” God is warning us. It is folly to live the world’s way rather than the Lord’s way. In the light of the Lord’s Word, preached so faithfully by Jeremiah, we must learn to pray, “Your will be done, Lord.”

A Call To Listen To The Word Of The Lord (Jeremiah 44:24)

Jeremiah’s ministry was a call from God to the people - a call to “listen to the Word of the Lord” (Jeremiah 44:24). Listening to what the Lord has to say to us will mean being ready to revise our own ideas. Our thoughts, without the guiding Word from the Lord, will be very different from thoughts which have been shaped by the Word of the Lord.
Jeremiah was fearless in his preaching of God’s Word. He spoke the truth. He spoke the Word which had been given to him by the Lord. When God speaks the Word of His holiness, the Word which exposes sin for what it really is, there is no place to hide. When we read Jeremiah’s words about Israel’s enemies, we must recognize that the Word of God concerning sin must be spoken clearly. It is only when there is conviction of sin that there can be conversion to the Saviour.

Disasters and Forgiveness; Faithfulness, Relevance and Compassion (Jeremiah 36:3 ... 42:11-12)

“Maybe the nation of Judah will hear about all the disasters that I plan to bring on them, and they will turn from their wicked ways. Then I will forgive their wickedness and their sins” (Jeremiah 36:3). Even in all life’s disasters, we must never lose sight of God’s love. He sends disasters. This is not because He hates us. He loves us. Through these disasters, He’s calling us back to Himself. He’s calling us to receive His forgiveness.
Jeremiah was not a popular prophet. He didn’t tell the people what they wanted to hear. He wasn’t concerned with gaining their approval. He was determined to keep on speaking God’s Word - whatever the people thought about him, said about him or did to him. The first priority is faithfulness. We must not make relevance the be-all and end-all. Relevance must be built on faithfulness. The two are to be held together - faithfulness and relevance. If we do not remain faithful to God’s Word, our words will be irrelevant. They will not be God’s Word for the people. “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17) - This must be at the heart of both our preaching and our living.
We are not to be afraid of those who oppose God and His Word (Jeremiah 42:11). We are to trust God. We are to stand on the promises that He has given to us in His Word - “I will have compassion on you” (Jeremiah 42:12).

God loves us. We see His love in Jesus (Jeremiah 31:3 ... 33:15-16).

God says to us, “I love you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). Through His love, we have “a happy song” to sing (Jeremiah 31:7). Through His love, we are “changed.” Our life is “turned around” (Jeremiah 31:18). The love of God for us is revealed most powerfully in His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. He is the fulfilment of the prophecy in Jeremiah 31:31-34. When we consider Him - how wonderful He is - and all He has done for us, we will “give thanks to the Lord”, rejoicing in His goodness and praising Him for “His love which endures for ever.” We see His love - supremely - in “the righteous branch” - Jesus: “The Lord our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 33:15-16).

Jeremiah 30

“The days are coming”: These words introduce a prophecy concerning the land (Jeremiah 30:3). The greatest blessing is not being in the land. It is belonging to the Lord. This is the blessing, spoken of by Jeremiah. When, speaking God’s Word, he writes, “You will be My people, and I will be your God” (Jeremiah 30:22).

To Babylon - and beyond (Jeremiah 27:22)

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.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Jeremiah 22-23

The Word of God, spoken by Jeremiah, still needs to be heard today - “O land, land, land! Listen to the Word of the Lord!” (Jeremiah 22:29). God has much to say to this land and every land. Are we listening to His Word? or Have we closed our ears? Jeremiah speaks of our Saviour, Jesus Christ - “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will grow a righteous Branch for David” (Jeremiah 23:5). Like Jeremiah, we must direct attention to the Saviour. Speaking God’s Word, Jeremiah said, “I am a God who is near. I am also a God who is far away” (Jeremiah 23:23). We must maintain these two emphases in our preaching. God is greater than we can imagine, yet He has come near to us in Christ.

"Sing to the Lord! Praise the Lord!” (Jeremiah 20:13).

Jeremiah’s message had been ignored. His faith was sorely tested. Despite all of this, he was able to say, “Sing to the Lord! Praise the Lord!” (Jeremiah 20:13). This was not his constant theme. In the very next verse, he says, “Cursed is the day that I was born.” We are pulled this way and that way by a turmoil of confused and confusing emotions. Our heart is a battleground. May the Lord lift us out of depression and defeat. May He lift us into vigour and victory.

"Listen and pay attention! ... Where is the Word of the Lord? Let it come!" (Jeremiah 13:5 ... 17:15)

“Listen and pay attention! Don’t be arrogant. The Lord has spoken” (Jeremiah 13:5). “Do something, Lord, for the sake of Your Name, even though our sins testify against us” (Jeremiah 14:7). We listen to God, and we call upon Him - “If you return, I will take you back ... I am with you, and I will save you and rescue you, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 15:19-20). Along with the great promise, “I am with you and I will save you”, there is also the call to return to the Lord. God knows what we are like - “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9). God knows that we cannot change ourselves. We can only be changed by Him. He calls us back from the way of the “fool” (Jeremiah 17:11). He calls us to Himself. The Word, given to the prophet, is also the Word, spoken to the people. It is the Word of salvation. “Where is the Word of the Lord? Let it come!” (Jeremiah 17:15). The Word of the Lord comes. It comes from above. It comes from the Lord. We cannot create the Word of the Lord. We must let it come to us. The Word is His. It’s not ours. We must pray, “Let the Word of the Lord come to us.” Let the Word of the Lord be God among us, God speaking to us, God working in us and through us.
“Where is the Word of the Lord? Let it come!” (Jeremiah 17:15). The Word of the Lord comes. It comes from above. It comes from the Lord. The Word of the Lord - This is God at work. He is speaking to us. He is working in us. We cannot create the Word of the Lord. We must let it come to us. The Word is His. It is not ours. We must pray, “Let the Word of the Lord come to us.” Let the Word of the Lord be God among us, God speaking to us, God working in us, God working through us.

Jeremiah 4-6

Jeremiah speaks of God’s judgment - “I’m bringing disaster and widespread destruction ...” (Jeremiah 4:6). This message comes to us as a word of warning, a plea to the people to return to the Lord and find His mercy - “So put on sackcloth, mourn and cry because the Lord’s burning anger hasn’t turned away from us” (Jeremiah 4:8). This is the call to repentance. We read of God’s burning anger, and we wonder,”Is there still the hope of God’s blessing?” God is speaking of His judgment - “Nation of Israel, I’m going to bring a nation from far away to attack you,declares the Lord, I won’t destroy all of you” (Jeremiah 5:15,18). God’s Word  concerning the threat of judgment is a call to the people to honour Him as God: “Pay attention to My warning, Jerusalem, or I will turn away from you. I will make your land desolate ...” (Jeremiah 6:8). The ministry of Jeremiah differs from the ministry of the false prophets. They say, “Everything is alright!” He says, “It’s not alright! (Jeremiah 6:14). Jeremiah calls upon the people to make a new beginning with God - “Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask which paths are the old reliable paths. Ask which way leads to blessings. Live that way, and find a resting place for yourselves” (Jeremiah 6:16).

Jeremiah 1-3

Jeremiah was called into the service of the eternal God - “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for My holy purpose. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). Jeremiah called the people back to the Lord, “the fountain of living (life-giving) water” (Jeremiah 2:13). He called them to be converted - to turn around. They were turning their backs on the Lord. They were replacing Him with something else, something useless, something that would never bring them real satisfaction (Jeremiah 2:13). Now, they were to turn their faces to Him (Jeremiah 2:27). To a returning people, God promises his mercy - “Come back, unfaithful Israel. It is the Lord speaking. I will no longer frown on you because I’m merciful, declares the Lord, I will no longer be angry with you.” returning to the Lord means confessing our sins - “Admit that you’ve done wrong! You have rebelled against the Lord your God ...” The message of Jeremiah is summed up in the words, “Come back, you rebellious people” (Jeremiah 3:12-14).

Isaiah 64-66

God is “our Father” (Isaiah 64:8). He says to us, “Here I am” (Isaiah 65:2). He waits, in love, for us to come to Him and receive the blessing He has promised: “Whoever asks for a blessing in the land will be blessed by the God of Truth” (Isaiah 65:16). He sets before us this glorious future: “I will create a new heaven and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17). The Lord’s blessing is like “an overflowing stream” (Isaiah 66:12). The more we experience His blessing, the more we come to realize that this is just the beginning. God has much more blessing for us. There is no end to His love. His love is eternal. This eternal love is the source of His blessing. This is the basis of our eternal hope - “The new heaven and earth that I am about to make will continue in My presence” (Isaiah 66:22).

Isaiah 61-63

In the Lord, we have joy - the joy of His salvation: “I will find joy in the Lord. I will delight in my God. He has dressed me in the clothes of salvation. He has wrapped me in the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). This joy of salvation comes to us through our Saviour, Jesus Christ. God has fulfilled His gracious promise: “The Lord has announced to the ends of the earth: Tell My people Zion,Your Saviour is coming” (Isaiah 62:11). In the Lord, we have victory. We rejoice in Him. He gives us the victory. He announces His victory - “It is I, the Lord, I am coming to announce my victory. I am powerful enough to save you” (Isaiah 63:1).

Isaiah 58-60

“Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the foundations of past generations. You will be called the Rebuilder of Broken Walls and the Restorer of Streets where people live” (Isaiah 58:12). How important it is that we build on a solid foundation, and not shifting sand. We are to build on Christ, who is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). If the broken walls are to be rebuilt and the streets are to be restored, we need to recognize our great need of this work of rebuilding and restoration - “Truth has fallen in the street, and honest can’t come in” (Isaiah 59:14). We need to rediscover truth. We need more than a respect for human honesty. We need faith in, appreciation of and love for divine truth - Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). When there is rebuilding and restoration, based on the truth of God, it will be said of God’s people: “You will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.”It will be said of their God: “the Lord will be your everlasting light. Your God will be your glory” (Isaiah 60:18-19).

Isaiah 55-57

When God sends out His Word, He sends it with a promise; "My Word... will not come back to Me without results, but it will accomplish whatever I want and achieve whatever I send it to do" (Isaiah 55:11). The Lord is looking out. He's looking beyond those who are already worshipping Him. He says, "I will gather still others besides those I have already gathered” (Isaiah 56:8). When we find, in our hearts, a desire to praise God, where does this spirit of praise come from? God says this, “I’ll create praise on their lips” (Isaiah 57:19).

Isaiah 52-54

"Clothe yourself with strength" (Isaiah 52:1). Our strength comes from our Saviour. In ourselves, there is sin. In Him, there is salvation (Isaiah 53:6,10-12). We look to our Saviour's sacrifice for our sin. From the Cross, we hear His Word of love: "My kindness will never depart from you. My promise of peace will never change, says the Lord, who has compassion on you" (Isaiah 54:10). This Word from the Lord brings strength into our lives. The Lord leads us in His way of victory. He says to us, "Their victory comes from Me" (Isaiah 54:17).

Isaiah 49-51

What "joy" there is in the Lord's "comfort" and "compassion" (Isaiah 49:13). He reaches out to us in compassion. He reaches out to us with His comfort. We rejoice in Him - the God of compassion, the God of comfort. "The Almighty Lord helps me" (Isaiah 50:7,9). What help there is in the Lord! The Maker of heaven and earth is our Helper. "The people ransomed by the Lord will return. They will come to Zion, singing with joy" (Isaiah 51:11). How does the Lord help us? He has "ransomed" us. We have been "bought with a price" (1 Corinthians 6:20). We have been "redeemed with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Isaiah 46-48

In Isaiah 46 - 48, we read about Israel's conflict with Babylon and God's verdict on Babylon. We also have the precious promise which God gave to His people: "Our Defender is the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 47:4). Along with the divine promise, there is also the divine call to obedience. God sees that His redeemed people are not living in obedience to Him. He calls them back to a life of honesty and sincerity. He is calling them to walk in His perfect way: I am the Lord your God. I teach you what is best for you. I lead you where you should go" (Isaiah 48:17). He promises to bless them, if they will follow His leading: "If only you had listened to My commands! Your peace would be like a river that never runs dry. Your righteousness would be like waves on the sea" (Isaiah 48:18).

Isaiah 43-45

"I alone am the Lord, and there is no saviour except Me" (Isaiah 43:11). "I alone am the One who is going to wipe away your rebellious actions for My own sake, I will not remember your sins any more" (Isaiah 43:25)."Come back to Me, because I have reclaimed you. Sing with joy... Rejoice..." (Isaiah 44:22-23). "I am the Lord, and there is no other, I haven't spoken privately or in some dark corner of the world, I didn't say to Jacob's descendants, 'Search for Me in vain.' I, the Lord, speak what is fair and say what is right" (Isaiah 45:19). "There is no other God except Me. There is no other righteous God and Saviour besides Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all who live at the ends of the earth, because I am God, and there is no other" (Isaiah 45:21-22). In these verses, we learn of the unique, incomparable greatness of God in His gracious and mighty work of salvation.

Isaiah 40-42

"Tell the good news! ... Here is your God" (Isaiah 40:9). "I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will support you with My victorious right hand"  (Isaiah 41:10)."I am the Lord, that is My Name. I will not give glory to anyone else or the praise I deserve to idols" (Isaiah 42:8). The preacher of the Good News is called to proclaim salvation, bringing glory to God alone - zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of sinners.

Isaiah 37-39

As we read of what is happening among the nations, both in the Bible and today’s news, we must never forget this - the Lord our God is “enthroned over the angels.” He alone is the God of the kingdoms of the world.” He “made heaven and earth” (Isaiah 37:16). As we rejoice in this truth concerning God, we must pray that “all the kingdoms on earth will know that He is the Lord” (Isaiah 37:20).
As we read about kings - Sennacherib (Isaiah 37) and Hezekiah (Isaiah 38-39), we must remember that God’s Word concerns all of us. We are called to speak the Word of God with boldness - “Hear the Word of the Lord” (Isaiah 39:5) - and to receive the Word of God with humility - “The Lord’s Word that you have spoken is good” (Isaiah 39:8).

Isaiah 34-36

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.

Isaiah 31-33

There is a great contrast between the true God and false gods (Isaiah 31). God brings great blessing into our lives. He does this through the gift of the Holy Spirit - “the Spirit is poured upon us from on high” (Isaiah 32:14). In Him, we receive “peace” (Isaiah 32:18). In Him, we receive “the riches of salvation”, which “are wisdom and knowledge” (Isaiah 33:6). We look away from ourselves in “the fear of the Lord.” We find our “treasure” in “the Lord” - “our Judge, our Lawgiver, our King, our Saviour” (Isaiah 33:6,22).

Isaiah 28-30

Isaiah speaks words of prophecy concerning Jesus Christ, the “Rock of our salvation”, the “precious Cornerstone”, the “solid Foundation” (Isaiah 28:16). Jesus Christ gives us the blessings of God’s salvation - “the deaf will hear the words, written in the book. The blind will see out of their gloom and darkness. Humble people again will find joy in the Lord” (Isaiah 29:18-19). With the Gospel proclamation - in Christ, there is full salvation - comes an appeal to come to Him and receive the blessings, promised to us by the God of love: “This is what the Almighty Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says, You can be saved by returning to Me. You can have rest. You can be strong by being quiet and by trusting Me” (Isaiah 30:15). The Lord is looking for our response. He longs to pour out His blessing on those who put their trust in Him: “The Lord is waiting to be kind to you. He rises to have compassion on you. The Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all those who wait for Him” (Isaiah 30:18). To those who put their trust in Him,the Lord gives His promise. He will lead them in the pathway of obedience, which is the highway of holiness - “You will hear a voice behind you, saying, This is the way. Follow it” (Isaiah 30:21).

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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 ...