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

Showing posts with label Matthew. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Matthew. Show all posts

Monday, 3 December 2018

God's Will - Not My Will

“Every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
This sad situation is with us still. May God give us grace to pray, “Not my will, but Thine be done” (Matthew 26:42).

Monday, 19 November 2018

Praying Through God's Word: Matthew's Gospel

Lord, we’ve only just begun – to experience Your love and enjoy Your blessing. We’ve started out on the journey of faith – but we haven’t reached our destination. We’re still travelling. We dare not stand still. We must keep on going forward – with You and for You. Sometimes, we can forget where we’re going – and we can forget how to get there. Help us to keep our eyes on Jesus – He will lead us on to the glory of heaven.
We thank You, Lord, that Jesus is “Emmanuel … God with us” (Matthew 1:23). “He walked where we walk. He stood where we stand, He felt what we feel. He understands. He knows our frailty. He shared our humanity. He was tempted in every way – yet without sin. He is God with us. he is so close to us. He died in our place that we might live” (Graham Kendrick). As we think of Jesus, Your perfect Son, our perfect Saviour, may our hearts be filled with worship. May our songs of praise give glory to Your great Name, the Name of our salvation.
Lord, help us to stand upon the truth of Your Word – not to collapse under the lies of the devil. When Your Word says, ‘This is what the Lord has done’, who are we to say, ‘Is this really what You have done?’ Talk like that doesn’t come from You, Lord. It comes from our enemy, Your enemy – the devil. When the devil attacks us – sowing seeds of unbelief, help us to take our stand against him. Help us to triumph over him by the power of Your Word.
We thank You, Lord, that Jesus – “the king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2) – is the “King of kings” (Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16). Help us to “worship Him” (Matthew 2:3). Help us to “kneel before the King”, to “sing His praise”, to sing “Hallelujah to the King … our King of salvation, Master of the universe, King of all creation” (Gary McSpadden).
Lord, give us wisdom. How do we receive wisdom? – We receive Jesus. He is ‘our wisdom’ (1 Corinthians 1:30). What is the wisdom we receive from Jesus? – It is ‘salvation’ (2 Timothy 3:15). Jesus is our Saviour. Lord, give us more wisdom. Give us more of Jesus. Help us to get to know Him more-and-more each day. Give to us the knowledge of Jesus, which is our salvation – knowing Him as our Saviour, knowing His power to save, His power to bring us out of our darkness and into His light.
Lord, help us to worship You – not just to make big promises – ‘We will worship You’, and then forget all about these big promises! Worship is about putting You first. It’s about keeping You at the centre of our life. It’s about more than ‘going to church’ – more than ‘an hour on a Sunday.’ It’s about giving ourselves to You. It’s about living for You – our whole life becoming a song of praise to You. Lord, help us to worship You.
Matthew 2:13-23
Lord, we thank You for Jesus – risen from the dead, and living in us! We remember Jesus’ resurrection – and we give thanks with great joy. We think of Jesus, living in us – and we’re learning to live each day in His power. Through Your power, Jesus came from death to life. Through His risen power, we leave behind what we once where and we become what You call us to be.
Matthew 3:1-12
Lord, You are more important than we are. We serve You. You save us. We preach – but we cannot save! It’s only You who can save. May we never forget that, without You, we are nothing and we can do nothing – nothing of any lasting value, nothing that will really count for eternity. If we are to achieve anything in Your service, it will only be when You are working in us and through us.
Matthew 3:13-17
Lord, we thank You for your perfect plan of salvation. We thank You for the perfect obedience Jesus offered to You. We thank You for the perfect sacrifice Jesus made for us. Perfect – That’s the last word we would use to describe ourselves. We’re anything but perfect. We’re very far from being perfect. We thank You, lord, that You’re so very different from us: You’re the perfect God, Your Son is the perfect Saviour and Your salvation is the perfect salvation.
Matthew 4:1-11
Lord, when we are tempted, help us to remember Jesus. He was tempted – but He was not defeated. He was not defeated – He was victorious. How did Jesus win the victory? How can we win the victory? Jesus took His stand upon Your Word. This is the way Jesus went. This is the way we must go. It’s the way of Your Word. It’s the way of victory. Thank You, Lord, for Jesus. In Him, we have the victory.
Matthew 4:12-17
Lord, help us not to lower our guard. There are times when it seems like Satan is leaving us alone. Soon, it will change – He’ll be back again, and he’ll be more determined than ever. When Satan seems to be such a determined enemy, help us to remind him that he’s also a defeated enemy. When Satan comes to us, help us to be ready for him. Help us to face him in the all-victorious name and the all-conquering power of Jesus.
Matthew 4:18-25
Lord, we thank You for Jesus, our Team Leader. Before the call to leadership, there’s the call to be lead by the greatest Team Leader of all – Jesus. Jesus calls us to follow Him – to walk in His footsteps. It’s not about saying, “Jesus is our Team leader”, and then doing our own thing. It’s about following Him. It’s about praying, ‘Your will be done.’ Lord, help us to follow Jesus. Help us to look at how He lived – and to become more like Him.
Lord, give us Your strength. Help us not only to be strong in ourselves. Help us to be strong for others. Give to us teaching from Your Word – and help us not to keep it to ourselves. May Your Word give us strength – the strength that we need to pass Your Word on to others.
Lord, help us to live for You. Help us to become more like Jesus. We look at Jesus – and we see that He is so far ahead of us on the pathway of holiness. We look at Him – and we see how much He loves us. We see how much He is committed to leading us to walk more closely with You on the pathway of holiness.
Lord, help us to bring Your light into our dark world. How are we to do this? We begin by letting Your light shine upon ourselves. The light that shines into our own hearts is the light which will shine out from us to others. Lord, let Your light shine.
Lord, help us to be true. We are surrounded by so much that is false – and we see it in ourselves as well. Lord, deliver us from hypocrisy. When it keeps on rearing its ugly head – even in very subtle ways! – , help us to renew our commitment to living a life that is being shaped by Your truth, a life of following Jesus.
Lord, help us to open our hearts to You. We look into ourselves – and we are not pleased with what we see. We need a new heart – a heart filled with Your holiness and Your love. We need Christ, living in us. We need Christ, changing us, making us like Himself.
Lord, fill us with Your love. Our love is always less than it should be. Your love for us is always the greatest love of all. There is no love like Your love for us. Help us, Lord, to appreciate Your love for us. Help us to be changed by Your love for us.
Lift us, O Lord, out of our hypocrisy and into Your holiness. Help us to be real – people who are wholehearted in our love for You, people whose lives are centred on Christ, people who are learning to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Lord, we feel the pressure of the world bearing down upon us – “the world is ever near me … around me and within.” When we feel like this, help us to pray, “Jesus, draw Thou nearer, and shield my soul from sin.” In all of our testing and trying times, may we know that we are “kept by the power of God.” Help us, when we are sorely tempted, to know that You are leading us on to Your full “salvation. Help us to see that our sufferings are nothing compared with Your salvation. Help us to “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:5-9).
Lord, teach us to pray. Help us not to say one thing and do another. Help us not only to pray, “Your will be done.” Help us to do Your will.
Lord, help us to build our lives on Christ. All around us, there is shifting sand. It’s not only shifting sand. It’s sinking sand. Without Christ, we will sink without trace. He alone is the Solid Rock. He’s the Rock of our salvation. Help us to build on Him.
Lord, make us clean. In ourselves, we are not clean. In ourselves, we will never be clean. We are never any more than sinners. We need to be cleansed – and You alone can do this for us. May the precious blood of Jesus cleanse us from all sin.
Lord, help us to follow Jesus. How are we to follow Jesus – when we face so many temptations to wander away from You, to wander off into a life of sin and shame? Lord, You alone can keep us from falling away from You. You alone can keep us walking with You. Help us to keep our eyes on Jesus. Help us to keep on following Him.
Matthew 9:18-38
Lord, help us to become more like Jesus – “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me … ” (Luke 4:18-19). Without Your Spirit, we can do nothing for You. We try and try and try … but we achieve nothing. It’s not by our trying that Your work is done. It’s by Your power that Your work moves forward. Lead us forward with You and for You. Lead us forward in Your power.
Matthew 10:1-20
Lord, give us Your Word. May it be the Word of Your Spirit, speaking through us. Fill us with Your Word. Fill us with Your Spirit. Lead us out of the emptiness of life without You. Lead us into the fullness of life which comes to us when we receive the love of Jesus, when we rejoice in His victory, when we are renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 10:21-42
Lord, teach us Your way. Walking in Your way is never easy. There are so many obstacles. They stop us in our tracks. They make us feel like giving up – until Jesus comes alongside us. He comes to us and He says to us, “You’re not alone. I am with you – now and always.” Lord, help us to look beyond our many problems and difficulties. Help us to look to Jesus. Help us to hear His Word of encouragement. Help us to exchange our weakness for His strength (Isaiah 40:31).
Matthew 11:1-19
Lord, everywhere we look, we see so much unbelief. So few people have any real interest in listening to what Your Word has to say to them. This isn’t just a problem for other people. It’s a problem for us. We’re shaped by the world far more than we admit to ourselves. We say, ‘Of course, we’re sinners, every one of us’ – but do we realize how true this is? Lord, we thank You that, at every stage of our life of faith, You speak to us Your Gospel of love: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Matthew 11:20-30
Lord, we thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit. He leads us out of own way – the way of sin and judgment. He leads us into Your way – the way of salvation and holiness. The Holy Spirit shows us what we really are – sinners who need to be saved by Your love and power. He leads us to Jesus, the Saviour of sinners. He gives us the strength we need to live to Your praise and glory.
Matthew 12:1-21
Lord, we want to have more than religion. We want to have Jesus at the very centre of our lives. Religion without Jesus is empty. It may be saying the right words – but it’s not living the right way. Give us more than religion. Give us Jesus – changing us, making us what You want us to become.
Matthew 12:22-37
Lord, we thank You for the strong words Jesus speaks to us. Sometimes, His words aren’t very ‘nice’ words. Sometimes, His words are very disturbing. He tears down our defences. He shows us what we’re really like. Why does Jesus speak such strong words to us? He wants to lead us out of our hypocrisy and into His holiness. Lord, help us to get real with You. Bring us to an end of ourselves. Bring us into a new beginning with You.
Matthew 12:38-50
Lord, help us to value the things that are really important. Sometimes, we make too much of things that don’t really matter very much. You are speaking to us. You’re trying to get our attention, but we’re too busy with other things – things that are much less important than we think they are. Lord, help us not to lose our way. Help us to remember that Jesus is the real “Very Important Person.” What matters to Him – That’s the most important thing!
Matthew 13:1-23
Lord, help us to learn from everyday life. Help us to look around us – and learn the lessons that You are teaching us. We miss so much of what You are saying to us. We’re thinking so much about ourselves. We don’t see what You’re showing us. Lord, help us to open our eyes and our ears. Help us to open our minds and our hearts. Help us to open our lives to You – to learn more about the greatness of Your love for us.
Matthew 13:24-43
Lord, You’re speaking to us all the time. You never stop speaking to us. We don’t always hear what You’re saying to us. We look out at the wonderful world You’ve created for us – and we take it all for granted. We see this wonderful world all day, every day – but are we really looking for You, are we really listening to You, are we really learning from You? Lord, help us to look, listen and learn.
Matthew 13:44-58
Lord, help us to appreciate Your Gospel – more truly and more fully. Help us not to say, “I know all that. I’ve heard it all before.” Help us to see that we can never take the ‘L-plates’ off. There’s always something more for us to learn: more about Jesus, more of Your love, more of Your power, more of Your blessing.
Matthew 14:1-14
Lord, help us to be Your faithful servants. Faithfulness doesn’t come easily to us. We start well – and then we lose our way. Faithfulness is Your gift to us. We come to You with our confession of failure. We have failed You over and over again. We thank You, Lord, that, even in our repeated failure, we hear Your Word of promise: “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31).
Matthew 14:15-36
Lord, we thank You for Jesus – His body was broken for us, His blood was shed for us. We thank You that Jesus took our sin upon Himself so that we might be forgiven by You. We thank You that Jesus gave His life for us so that we might receive eternal life from You. Help us, Lord, to look at Jesus, dying on the Cross for us. May each one of us say, “Thank You, Lord Jesus, for being my Saviour.”
Matthew 15:1-20
Lord, we need the cleansing that only You can give to us. Without this cleansing of our hearts, we have nothing but empty religion. Help us not to be content with saying the right words. Help us to be the right people – people who are being cleansed, people who are being changed, people who are bringing glory to You, our Lord.
Matthew 15:21-16:4
Lord, we thank You that Your Son, Jesus, has risen from the dead. His enemies tried to get rid of Him. they failed. He succeeded. On the Cross, He fulfilled Your perfect plan of salvation. After His death on the Cross, You raised Him from the dead. This was Your way of showing us that death has been defeated. Thank You, Lord, for the triumph of Your Son, Jesus.
Matthew 16:5-23
Lord, You give us more than religion – You give us salvation. We cannot, through our religion, bring ourselves back to You. Every attempt to bring ourselves back to You is doomed to failure. The problem is our sin. No matter what we do, we cannot get rid of our sin. You must do this for us. You have done this for us. Your Son has taken our place – He has died for us. He brings to us the forgiveness of our sins. This is salvation. It’s not what we do for You. It’s what You have done for us. Thank You, Lord.
Matthew 16:24-17:13
Lord, we thank You for the mountain-tops – but we’re not always up there! Often, we’re down in the valleys. When everything’s going well for us, help us to remember to say, “Thank You, Lord.” When things aren’t going so well, help us to keep on looking to You, to keep on receiving strength from You.
Matthew 17:14-27
So often, we fail You, Lord – but You never fail us. You are the faithful God. We often let You down – but You never let us down. You don’t let us down. You lift us up. Help us, Lord, to grown in faith – the faith that is learning to say, “Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22).
Matthew 18:1-14
Lord, You alone are great. When we start thinking that we are great, we set ourselves up for a a great fall – the greater we think we are, the greater will be our fall! Teach us, O Lord, to see ourselves as we really are – and help us to see the greatness of Your love for us (Psalm 57:10).
Matthew 18:15-19:2
Lord, show us Your holiness – and show us Your love. In Your holiness, we see our sin. In Your love, we see our salvation. Lead us, O Lord, to confess our sin and receive Your salvation.
Matthew 19:3-30
Lord, what we cannot do for ourselves, You do for us. Before we can be exalted by You – exalted to the glory of eternal life with You, we need to be humbled by You. You alone can show us our need. You come to us in holiness. You show us how far we have fallen short of Your glory. You come to us in love. You lift us up into Your presence. In Your presence – the presence of Your love, we receive blessing upon blessing. For all Your many blessings, given to us through Your Son , Jesus, we give thanks. May we, in the spirit of true thanksgiving, move forward in You and for You, bringing more and more glory to Your great Name, the Name of our salvation.
Matthew 20:1-28
We thank You, Lord, that You have saved us by Your grace. Where would we be without Your grace? – We would be wandering far from You. Our thoughts would be far from You. Where are we now? Are we beginning to love You, as You have loved us? Whatever may be said about our progress in the life of faith, one thing is certain – we still have a long, long way to go! Thank You, Lord, that we’re not travelling on this road alone. We’re travelling with You. You are our travel guide. You take us by way of the Cross of Christ. Again and again, You bring us to the Cross. You lead us on to the empty tomb. You assure us that Jesus has risen. He is alive forevermore – and He is with us now.
Matthew 20:29-21:17
Lord, take away from us the spirit of pride and give to us the spirit of praise. Help us to stop looking for glory for ourselves. Help us to start giving all the glory to You. Who are we to take glory for ourselves – when all the glory belongs to You? To ask the question is to give the answer. You have answered this question. Your answer is the Cross of Christ. At the Cross, there is no room for boasting. All we can say is, “To God be the glory! Great things He hath done! So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, who yielded His life an atonement for sin, and opened the life-gate that all may go in. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”
Matthew 21:18-46
Lord, our life is lived in different places. Sometimes, we’re in the place of worship. Sometimes, we’re out in the world – the place of witness. Always, You are there. Wherever we are There, You are there. You strengthen our faith when we’re gathered for worship. You help us to share our faith when we go back into the world. Sometimes, we speak about ‘the big, bad world.’ Help us, in our everyday life, never to forget that You are the big, good God. With You as our big, good God, even ‘the big, bad world’ can become a world filled with Your blessing, as we learn to trust You to lead us in our journey – through this ‘big, bad world’, on to the better and brighter world of Your eternal Kingdom where Your love shines so brightly, where Your love never comes to an end.
Matthew 22:1-14
Lord, we think about ourselves, about the way we have lived. We are ashamed of ourselves. There is nothing about us that makes us worthy of coming into Your holy presence – and yet, in Your amazing grace, Your undeserved mercy and Your wonderful love, You are always reaching out to us and calling us to make a new beginning with You. Help us, Lord, to begin again with You. May our past be forgiven by You. May we face the with the renewed confidence which comes from trusting in Your great love.
Matthew 22:15-33
Lord, we need Your Word – and we need Your Spirit. We need Your Word to guide us. We need Your Spirit to empower us. Without Your Word, we are lost. We cannot find our way back to You. Without Your Spirit, we cannot even take the first step in returning to You. By Your Spirit and Your Word, lead us to Yourself – and help us to give all the glory to You.
Matthew 22:34-46
Lord, help us to love You – and help us to love one another. How can we say that we love You if we are not learning to love one another? How can we learn to love one another if we are not opening our hearts to the greatest love of all – Your love for us. Fill us with Your love. Change us by Your love. May our whole life shine with the glory of Your love.
Matthew 23:1-39
We thank You, Lord, that Your love is always reaching out to us, calling us back from wandering away from You. Whatever our past has been, help us to make a new beginning with You. In Your great love, give us the hope for the future which comes from knowing that the sin of the past has been forgiven and forgotten.
Matthew 24:1-31
Lord, there are so many people who have stopped following You. They think that they can go it alone – without You. Often, we are tempted to join them. We see the way things are in today’s world – and our heads go down. We feel like giving up. When we feel like this, help us to lift our eyes, to catch a glimpse of Jesus, to see Him as the Lord of glory, to be filled with the joy that comes from knowing that Jesus is coming again  – to take us home, into the eternal presence of Your victorious love.
Matthew 24:32-25:13
In our world, Lord, we hear many voices. They’re calling out to us. They’re demanding our attention. Everything can be so confusing. What are we to do? Help us to do the one thing that we must do, the one thing that we, so often, fail to do. Help us to listen to You. Help us to look into Your Word – and to learn the lessons that You are teaching us.
Matthew 25:14-46
Lord, so often, we’re thinking, “What am I going to get out of this? – when we should be thinking, “What can I do for others?” Help us, Lord, when we read Your Word, to take a right good look at ourselves – and to start praying, “Lord, may it be less about what we want – and more about becoming what You want us to be.”
Matthew 26:1-13
Lord, thank You for Your love. Help us to love You. Is there anything better than Your love for us? No!. There is nothing better than Your love. May Your love – the greatest love of all – fill our hearts  – and inspire in us a greater love for You.
Matthew 26:14-35
Lord, we often fail You – but You never fail is. Your love is unfailing love. Lift us up, Lord. Lift us out of our failure. Lift us into the bright shining light of Your love – the bright shining light that gives us the strength to grow in our love for You.
Matthew 26:36-56
Lord, You call us Your friends. How amazing is this? You keep on calling us Your friends – even when we let You down over and over again. Lord, there is no more faithful friend than You. You are the best Friend of all.
Matthew 26:57-75
Lord, help us not to keep You at a distance. Help us to get closer to You. So many of our problems come from this: We’re too far away from You. Even when we’re keeping you at a distance, help us to know that You still love us. Help us to know that You’ll never stop loving us.
Matthew 27:1-26
Lord, we thank You that Your Son, Jesus, went to the Cross for us. It was our sin that sent Him to the Cross. He took our sin upon Himself. He took our place. We were the ones who should have died – but He was the One who died for us. We look at ourselves, and we see nothing but bad news – “The wages of sin is death.” We look at Jesus, dying on the Cross for us, and we hear the Good News of Your great love for us: “The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Matthew 27:27-54
Lord, we thank You for Your great love. It is not a love that we can take for granted. we dare not say, ‘God loves us. we can do what we like.’ Your love calls for our response. It’s a love that calls to trust in the Saviour. It’s a love which calls us to receive Your forgiveness. It’s a love which calls us to begin a new life with You. Help us, Lord, to live our lives in the light of Your great love – “Loving Him who first loved me.”
Matthew 27:55-66
Lord, what is it that keeps us walking with You in the way of faith? It’s Your grace – Your amazing grace. Without Your grace, we could not even begin to trust in You. Without Your grace, we cannot keep on trusting You. It’s Your grace that has brought us to faith in Christ. It’s Your grace that keeps us walking with You in the way of faith.
Matthew 28:1-10
Lord, we thank You that Jesus has risen from the dead. Death has been defeated. Jesus is Lord. As we think of Jesus’ mighty resurrection, help us to worship You. Fill our hearts with a joyful song of praise. Help us to share the Good News that Jesus has risen.
Matthew 28:11-20
Lord, we take our stand upon Jesus’ resurrection – and Satan comes along to knock us down and undermine our faith. What are we to do when Satan keeps on sowing his seeds of unbelief? When our faith is being attacked by Satan, help us to remember that our faith is not based on our changeable feelings. It’s based on Your unchangeable truth – “He has risen” (Matthew 28:6-7).

Lip-Service? or Life-Service?

The choices that we make while we are here on earth will decide whether we we will spend eternity with him or apart from Him. This is the message of Matthew 7:13-14. "False prophets ... vicious wolves" will seek to lead us away from the Lord (Matthew 7:15-16). We must pray that the Lord will deliver us from paying lip-service to Him without living our whole life for Him (Matthew 7:21-23). How are we to live for the Lord? - We must hear His Word and obey it (Matthew 7:24). Obedience to God's Word begins with hearing His Word. Hearing God's Word leads to obeying His Word. May God help us to build on Christ, always receiving His Word as the Word that speaks to us with His authority.

Take Your Stand - In The Name Of Christ And The Power Of Christ.

In Matthew 8:1-17, we see Jesus' healing ministry. There are three miracles - healing people who were suffering from "a skin disease" (Matthew 8:1-4), paralysis (Matthew 8:5-13) and "a fever" (Matthew 8:14-15). After these three miracles, we have a more general statement about the ministry of casting out demons (Matthew 8:16-17). This is followed by Matthew 8:18 - "Now, when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He ordered His disciples to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee." Jesus was moving from place to place, taking His ministry to more people.
In Matthew 8:19-34, we learn about discipleship (Matthew 8:19-22), peace (Matthew 8:23-27) and deliverance (Matthew 8:28-34). How sad it is that this chapter ends with these words: "Everyone from the city went to meet Jesus. When they saw Him, they begged him to leave their territory" (Matthew 8:34). If it had ended with the words, "Everyone went out to meet Jesus", we would say, "Wonderful! We want more of this." When this is followed by the sentence, "When they saw Him, they begged Him to leave their territory", we sense that we are in the presence of something solemn, even something sinister. What we have here is the activity of Satan. Even when the Lord is working powerfully, Satan is also at work, seeking to hinder the work of God, creating resistance in the hearts of those who have begun to show an initial interest in Jesus. Satan gets worried. He does everything he can to prevent people moving from seeking to finding. Let us take our stand against Satan. Let us take our stand in the Name of Christ. Let us take our stand in the power of Christ.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

When The Going Gets Tough ...

“There will be famines” (Matthew 24:7).
What are we to do when there’s “a famine of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11)?
Pray that God will give you the grace to keep on following Jesus, even when so many show no interest in following Him:
“He who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).
* This is a Word for ourselves – “Be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10).
* It is also a Word for others – “Let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

Friday, 9 November 2018

God is waiting for us to make our way back to Him ...

More of these Bible reading notes can be found at God's Word For Every Day.

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

From my Daily Devotional Readings

Out of the darkness and into the light ...

More of these Bible readings notes can be found at God's Word For Every Day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From my Daily Devotional Readings

Look To Jesus - And Learn From Him.

In Matthew 9:18-38, we read about Jesus' healing ministry. At the end of Matthew 9, there's a reminder to us that the Lord's work is to be carried on by His followers - "The harvest is large, but the workers are few. So ask the Lord who gives this harvest to send workers to harvest His crops" (Matthew 9:37-38). Jesus wasn't saying, 'Look at what I am doing and see how great I am." He was saying, 'Look at what I am doing and learn from Me - learn how to see the crowds with compassion, to see them in their trouble, to see how helpless they are - "like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). we are to be looking at Jesus and learning from Him. We are to be looking at the world and seeing how we can serve the world for Jesus' sake (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Emmanuel - God with us / Jesus - Saviour

Jesus was also called Emmanuel (Matthew 1:23). Emmanuel means ‘God with us.’ This is the great message that comes to us from the first chapter of the New Testament. God has not remained in heaven. He has come to earth. Along with the Name, Emmanuel, there is the better - known Name - Jesus. The Name of Jesus means “He saves” (Matthew 1:21,25). In the two Names - Emmanuel and Jesus, we have the Good News of our salvation. God has come to earth - that’s the meaning of the Name, Emmanuel. He has come to save us - that’s the meaning of the Name, Jesus.

The Lamb Of God

As the story of Christ’s becoming one of us - His birth - moves on towards the story of His dying in our place - His crucifixion, the story of His baptism is a significant step forward. Jesus identifies with us. He stands in the place of the sinner. John the Baptist said to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by You. Why are You coming to me?” (Matthew 3:14). Jesus was doing everything that God required of Him - everything that needed to be done for sinners to be saved. The chief focus is on His death for us - “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). We do, however, need to look back from His crucifixion to His birth and His baptism. In His birth, we see the sovereign purpose of God. In His baptism, we see the definite choice made by Jesus. In salvation, there is the work of God, and there is our response. God reveals Himself to us through His Son: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). We respond to God’s revelation and redemption when we put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, when we look away from ourselves - sinners - to Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

All Of God's Word - Not Just Some Of It!

Jesus' words, known as "the Sermon  on the Mount" (Matthew 5-7), need to be taken as a whole. We're not to pick out the bits that we like, and ignore the bits that we don't like so much. We're not to come, looking for "comfort" (Matthew 5:4), if we're not also seeking for "righteousness" (Matthew 5:6). We're not to look for peace, if we're not preparing ourselves for persecution (Matthew 5:9-10). We're not to read one verse, and say, "This is great", and then skim over the next verse, as if it wasn't even there.

The light is shining brightly ...

Daily Devotional Readings: 29th-31st January
For more of these Daily Devotional Readings, visit God's Word For Every Day.

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

Thursday, 25 October 2018

O little town of Bethlehem

Bethlehem was a 'little town'. Humanly speaking, it did not have any great importance. Its importance is derived from the fact that it was the birth place of our Saviour. when we think of Bethlehem, we do not think so much of the place as the Saviour who was born there. Herod says that he wants to go to Bethlehem to worship Jesus (Matthew 2:8). Satan was speaking through Herod. Satan 'comes only to steal and kill and destroy'. Christ comes to give 'life...to the full' (John 10:10). As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Herod was not a worshipper of Christ but a servant of Satan. The wise men worship Jesus, then they return to their own country. Their whole purpose was to point away from themselves to Jesus.

Jesus Christ - King of kings

'King of the Jews' (Matthew 2:2). Jesus came from the Jews. He came for 'all nations' (Matthew 28:19). He is the 'King of kings' (Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16). Here on earth, we are learning 'to worship Him' (Matthew 2:2). We are being prepared for heavenly worship (Revelation 7:9-12): 'Kings and queens and beggarmen, presidents and servants, the people of all nations, will gather on that day. We will kneel before the King. None will be observers. We will lift our voices. Together, we will say, "He is the King and He will reign forever. He is the King and we will sing His praise. The King of kings and Lord of lords forever, Jesus, He is the King. Hallelujah to the King, He is our salvation. Master of the universe, King of all creation"!' Let 'Jesus...take the highest honour'. Let us 'glorify the King of kings' (Songs of Fellowship, 302, 590).

Jesus Chrisr - our Saviour and Lord

'A Saviour, who is Christ the Lord' (Luke 2:11). The Name, 'Jesus', means 'Saviour' (Matthew 1:21). Focus your thoughts on Him: The Lord Jesus Christ. Here is a prayer to help you make your response to Him: 'Lord Jesus Christ, You have come to us, You are one with us, Mary's Son. Cleansing our souls from all their sin, pouring your love and goodness in; Jesus, our love for You we sing, Living Lord. Lord Jesus Christ, You have come to us, born as one of us, Mary's Son. Led out to die on Calvary, risen from death to set us free, Living Lord Jesus, help us see You are Lord. Lord Jesus Christ, we would come to You, live our lives for You, Son of God. All Your commands we know are true, Your many gifts will make us new, into our lives Your power breaks through, Living Lord' (Mission Praise, 435).

Monday, 24 September 2018

Temptation And Victory

When the tempter comes, we must stand on God’s Word: ‘every Word that comes from…God’ (Matthew 4: 4).

From religion to revival

Standing upon divine revelation – “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), Jesus received God-given strength for challenging the “bread alone” of human religion – the religion of “the hypocrites” (Matthew 6:2,5,16). Their religion was centred upon themselves. Jesus had this to say about their religion – “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them” (Matthew 6:1). The “hypocrites” added their own ideas to the Word of God – and the power of God’s Word was lost. Jesus shows us the better way – looking to the Lord, listening to the Lord and learning from the Lord. He calls to live a God-centred life: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). He calls us to put God first: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). The difference between Jesus and “the hypocrites” was clear for all to see: “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, because He taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (Matthew 7:28-29).
May God raise up, more people, in this generation, whose lives will be centred on God and grounded in His Word – rebels who will protest against the shallowness of superficial religion, prophets whose lives will point beyond religion to revival.

Christ - Our Wisdom

Christ is our Wisdom. We will never be wise unless we build our lives on Him (Matthew 7:24-27).

New Treasures

“Jesus said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old” (Matthew 13:52).
We are travelling towards “the kingdom of heaven.” As we journey towards God’s Kingdom, He is teaching us many lessons. We are to treasure the lessons which come to us from the Word of God in the power of the Spirit of God. There is nothing more precious than this: “We have received … the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).

Don't Build On Shifting Sand. Build on Christ.

As well as Peter’s three denials, we have three wonderful statements which point us away from Peter, in his failure, to Christ, who is the Rock of our salvation.
(a) “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
(b) “This Jesus, God has raised up and “made both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:32, 36).
(c) “Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone. To you who believe, He is precious” (1 Peter 2:4-7).
Praise God – Our faith is not built on shifting sand. It is built on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the risen Lord, the wonderful Saviour.

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