Thursday, 30 October 2014

Preaching The Word Of The Lord: Romans

Romans 1:1-17
The Gospel according to Paul  - more than that: "the Gospel of God" (Romans 1:1)
Good News, promised in the Old Testament, centred on the risen Christ (Romans 1:3-4)
Paul speaks as "a slave of Christ, called as an apostle, singled out for God's Good News" (Romans 1:1).
In love, God has given us Jesus, the Gospel, the Scriptures.
He shows us our sin. He shows us our Saviour. He leads us into a new life of salvation, holiness, service and eternal life. At the heart of all this, there is faith in Christ.
How do we come to faith in Christ? How do we find this new life in Him? We read the Scriptures, beginning with the Old Testament and reading on into the New Testament. In the Scriptures, we find the Gospel. It's Good News - not good advice. Christ is the Good News. "We have heard a joyful sound - Jesus saves." 
This is for today. It's for us. The Saviour came for us. He died for us. He rose for us. He lives in us - He's more than our example. He will come again for us. This Gospel has power - to save us, now and for eternity. This is for everyone - everyone who believes. Each of us must make our personal response - faith in Christ.

Romans 5:1-11
We live in the present. We are shaped by the past. We plan for the future. The Gospel speaks to us in the whole of our life - past, present and future. It speaks of peace, grace and glory (Romans 5:1-2).
Each of these blessings are given to us through our Saviour.
 * Peace comes with forgiveness.
 * Standing in grace - Jesus' words about the wise man (Matthew 7:24); standing against Satan, with the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-11,17).
 * Glory - eternal life (in Romans 6:23 - note the contrast between "wages" and "gift." It's not so mush 'glory for me.' It's sharing in the glory of God. It's giving glory to God.
At the heart of this Gospel of peace, grace and glory, there is God's love and Christ's death (Romans 5:8). This is Good News!

Romans 8:31-39
The Gospel tells us about the triumph of Christ for us. Here, we must not go straight to His resurrection. we must also speak of His crucifixion. Without his crucifixion, His resurrection has no meaning.
The Gospel also tells us about His triumph in us. This is the ongoing work of the Lord in our hearts and lives. This work continues throughout our life.
What will it mean to be "more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Romans 8:37)?
 * First, it means that the victory is Christ's, and He gives it to us.
 * Second, His victory is complete, but we need to grow into His victory.
 * Third, we need to learn to stand upon the fact of His victory, and not our changeable feelings.
In Romans 8:38-39, we read about many enemies. They will always be with us, they will not go away -  but there is something else that will always be with us: "the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." We must never forget this.

Romans 10:1-21
God's way of salvation is so different from man's attempt to put himself right with God (Romans 10:3). 
Christ is our Saviour (Romans 10:4). What is "the message" (Romans 10:8)? - Christ. Everything is centred on Him. Without him, there is no Gospel.
 * Confess Him as Lord - He is Lord, He's my Lord.
 * Believe in your heart - The resurrection: the heart of our faith. Without the resurrection, we may have admiration for Jesus - the man, the example, the teacher, but we'll never have anything more than that. Jesus is more than our example and our teacher. He's our Saviour and Lord.
"How welcome..." (Romans 10:15) - We should give thanks to God for those who have preached the Gospel to us. When God's Word is preached, God is at work (Romans 10:17). There is power in God's Word. It's the power of the Holy Spirit. 
God's Word and God's Spirit - This is what creates our response, our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:1-21
Jesus died for us. We must live for Him - "this is your spiritual worship" (Romans 12:1).
The changing of our way of  living begins with the changing of our way of thinking (Romans 12:2). this changing of our way of living isn't something that we do by ourselves. It's the "mercy" and "grace" of God that changes us (Romans 12:1,3). 
How does He change us?
 * He brings us into fellowship with other believers - "one body in Christ" (Romans 12:4-5).
 * He gives us opportunities to serve Him (Romans 12:6-8).
How are we to serve the Lord?
We don't begin with the things that we do. We begin with the people that we are (Romans 12:9). 
We're reminded of the Sermon on the Mount. This is more than Jesus' teaching. It's a description of Jesus. we are to become more like Jesus. It's Jesus living in us and through us. We look beyond Jesus' life - to His death and resurrection.
 * Romans 12:19-20 - Jesus didn't defend Himself. He stood in the place of sinners.  
 * Romans 12:21 - Evil did not triumph over good. Jesus rose from the dead.

Preaching The Word Of The Lord: Acts

This is an updated post. I had only posted notes on Acts 1:1-3. I've added notes on Acts 1:4 - 2:47.
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Acts 1:1-3
The four Gospels tell us what "Jesus did" (Acts 1:1). That was just the beginning. Acts tells us that there is more.
Acts is at the heart of the New Testament. It's between the Gospel as and the Letters. It was written to Theophilus (lover of God).
Do you and I love God? Let us learn from Him. Let us live for Him.
The story continues. We are part of it. It will never end. It's for today. It's for tomorrow.
Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me" (Luke 4:18). This was for doing as well as teaching.
We continue this work in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is Jesus, the risen Lord, working in us and through us.
The resurrection really happened. This is the central theme of the apostles' preaching.
The Kingdom of God: Past - Old Testament, Jesus, Acts; Present - now; Future - eternal life

Acts 1:4-8
The promise (Acts 1:4-5,8) led to the prayer (Acts 1:12-14) and the power (Acts 2).
Prayer is standing on the promise. Power is the fulfilment of the promise.
Waiting on the Lord comes before and leads to witnessing for Him.
On Acts 1:8, see Ezekiel 47:3-5.

Acts 1:9-11
"cloud" (Acts 1:9) - "the glory of the Lord" (Exodus 40:34)
"Listen to Jesus" (Mark 9:7).
Jesus has not left us. He is Lord, love, life and light. Get ready for His Return.
Acts 1:12-14
Gathered together
 * Communion (Matthew 26:26-30)
 * Great Commission - Preach the Gospel (Mark 16:15), make disciples, teach them (Matthew 28:18-20).
 * Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-38)
 * Commitment - We see this here.

Acts 1:15-20
The Gospels tell us about Peter amd Judas. Peter denied the Lord. Judas betrayed the Lord.
On the Day of Pentecost, Judas could, would and should have been there - but he wasn't. Life is full of what ifs - what might have been.
On the Day of Pentecost, Peter was there. He preached.
This is grace. It reached Peter - and the other disciples who fled for cover. It could have reached Judas.
Sadly, Judas made his choice. Betrayal set the direction. Suicide confirmed that, for Judas, there was no reversal, no repentance.
There could have been - but there wasn't.

Acts 1:21-26
We never hear any more about Matthias. We do hear a great deal more about Peter. From chapter 1 to chapter 2, from Matthias to Peter, from the background to the foreground - on to Pentecost. It's for all of us.

Acts 2:1-13
When the Spirit comes - not just when He came
Being "filled with the Spirit" (Acts 2:4) means more than preaching the Christian message. It also means living the Christian life. It means being filled with Christ - in our message and our  life.
Acts - from Jerusalem to Rome, just the beginning of Christ being taken to the whole world.
Here, we're at the start of a new age - not a new age of anything goes, a Biblical new age.
We see this in the preaching of Peter. We also see it in the preaching of Paul (Acts 17).

Acts 2:14-36
Powerful and effective preaching
We could move straight on to the effect of the preaching - good preaching is preaching that does its hearers good. Are you being blessed as you hear the Word of God?
We need, first, to go back to the preacher and the message.
There needs to be humility - This is not from me. There needs to be confidence - This is from the Lord.
The message is centred on the Saviour. It is grounded in the Scriptures.
When we read the Scriptures, we learn of Christ.
There are lessons for today's Church and world. This is not "We're open to every idea wherever it comes from." It's not "We make things up as we go along."
The work of the Spirit - opening up the Scriptures and pointing to the Saviour

Acts 2:37-47
"pierced to the heart" (Acts 2:37): the work of the Holy Spirit
"Repent" (Acts 2:38)- We don't earn God's blessing. We respond to His promise of blessing.
"baptized in the Name of Jesus" (Acts 2:38) - not what we do, what Jesus has done for us

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Preaching The Word Of The Lord: John's Gospel


John 8:30-47
In Genesis, we read about "the father of lies." Here, we read about Jesus Christ, the living Truth.
To understand why we need to be set free, we need to go back to Genesis 3. Sin brings us into bondage. We become slaves of Satan (John 8:34). He controls our life. This is the bad news concerning every one of us. There is Good News - see 1 John 3:8. Jesus has taken on Satan. Jesus has defeated Satan. Jesus is stronger than Satan. Jesus is the Son (John 8:36). He's the Truth (John 8:32). This is more than the truth about Him. He is the Truth. It's more than the Truth who came into the world a long time ago. He's the Truth who comes to us today. He comes to us. He changes us. He comes to us through the Scriptures. He comes to us by the Spirit. Come to Him. Be changed by Him.

Preaching The Word Of The Lord: Matthew's Gospel

Updated post – added notes from Matthew 21:28-46 to Matthew 28:1-20.
Matthew 3:13-17
The Saviour; The Scriptures; The Spirit
* The Saviour has come for us. He takes the sinner’s place – in His baptism, in His death.
* The Scriptures – God has spoken to us. He still speaks to us – here and now.
* The Spirit has been given to us – for holiness and witness.
Matthew 4:1-11
Jesus was led by the Spirit, but the temptation came from the devil (Matthew 4:1).
The wilderness was the place of danger. It was the place of promise.
We can lose ourselves. We can find ourselves. We can lose God.We can find God.
Satan says, “If…” (Matthew 4:3,6). Jesus says, “It is written” (Matthew 4:4,7).
Satan offered Jesus the world (Matthew 4:8-9). Jesus said, ‘The Lord is all that matters to Me.’
People speak to us about living in the real world. They talk about looking after No. 1.
‘”Go away, Satan! Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him” (Matthew 4:10).
Matthew 4:12-25
“John had been arrested.” Jesus knew what lay ahead of Him!
His message was similar to John’s – but different: Jesus had come.
The Kingdom of God had come (Matthew 4:17). This was the shining of “a great light” (Matthew 4:16; John 8:12). This was the dawn – a new beginning.
Repentance is a new beginning, turning towards the light, turning away from everything that stops the light shining.
The first four disciples turned towards the light (Matthew 4:18-22). They will never be the same again. The fishermen became fishers of men. They became disciples of Jesus. Later, they became apostles for Him.
Preaching, teaching, healing (Matthew 4:23). Healing of the body is always a mystery, until the Lord returns. Healing of the whole life – This always happens when the preaching and teaching are received with obedient faith.
An overview of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
* We do not begin with our love for God or  our love for another. We begin with God’s love (John 3:16).
* Jesus speaks about “the Kingdom of heaven” – it “is theirs” (Matthew 5:3,10). “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul when, at the Cross, the Saviour made me whole” – Before we go up to heaven, heaven comes down to us.
* The Be-Attitudes – What kind of people are we to be? We’re to be like Jesus (Galatians 2:20; John 3:30).
* We are to live for the glory of God (Matthew 5:16). We are not all called to preach God’s Word. We’re all called to praise His Name.
Love (Matthew 5); Prayer (Matthew 6); Wisdom (Matthew 7)
* Love (Matthew 5:43-44) – There is nothing more important than this (1 Corinthians 13:13). It’s not something that comes from within ourselves. Love is given to us. It’s God’s love – reaching us, changing us.
* Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) – The Lord creates in us a desire to pray: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).”Teach us”, “Our Father” – This is more than private prayer. This is praying together. We see more of this in Acts.
* Wisdom (Matthew 7:24-27) – This is more than knowledge (1 Corinthians 8:1). This is life-changing. It changes us – and others: “it builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). We are “your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).
Matthew 9:9-13
The conversion of Levi, the call to become Matthew (Mark 2:13-14)
* The opening of our eyes – to see ourselves as we really are, to see Jesus as He really is. We are sinners. He is our Saviour.
* The stirring of our hearts – This could be for me, the possibility of a new beginning: “Love lifted me. When no-one but Christ could help, love lifted me.”
* The opening of our ears – the power of Jesus’ words, “Follow Me.” He’s looking for an immediate response from us.
* The changing of our lives – new direction: “No longer I but Christ” (Galatians 2:20)
* The loosening of our tongues – Speaking for Jesus: Matthew became a Gospel writer. He became a witness for Christ.
Matthew 12:1-21
The controversy over the Sabbath comes immediately after “Come to Me…” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Our true rest is in the Lord. He is “Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8).
Let us not emphasize the sacrifice that we make for Him. Let us emphasize the mercy that He shows to us (Mathew 12:7).
What is so special about Jesus? – This is the question that the four Gospels answer for us.
Jesus is God’s Servant. Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus is our Saviour.
We rejoice in Jesus – God’s Servant and God’s Son. Above all, we rejoice in this: Jesus is our Saviour.
There is nothing more wonderful than this. This is Good News.
Here, we read about Jesus – God’s Servant – chosen by God; beloved of God; God delights in Him.
This is a wonderful description of our salvation.
* Chosen – “This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23).
* Beloved – “O man, greatly beloved” (Daniel 10:11)
* God delights in us – there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7,10,32).
Matthew 13:1-23
Jesus tells stories. Jesus is the Story.
We are to make up our minds about Jesus. This is the message of the parable of the sower.
“The Word about the Kingdom” (Matthew 13:19) – This is about more than words. This is about Jesus. Our response to Jesus is more than words. It is the response of our whole life. It’s about bearing fruit for Him (Matthew 13:23).
This message may be compared to the message of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) – Use it or lose it.
We’re all different. We’re all called to serve the Lord – in different ways.
We don’t have the same gifts. We don’t have the same potential.
The contrast is not between the hundred, the sixty and the thirty. It’s between those who bear fruit and those who don’t bear fruit.
In the parable of the talents, the contrast is not between the two becoming four and the five becoming ten. The contrast is between those who use the gifts that have been given to them and those who don’t use their gifts.
* How will we serve the Lord? – That is for the Lord to say (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:7,11-12).
* Will we serve the Lord?- This is a different question. This is the first question. This is the question that each of us must answer.
If our answer is ‘Yes’, we move on to the next question. It’s a question we ask the Lord: What do You want me to do?
If our answer is ‘No’, the Lord will not force Himself upon us. Use it or lose it.
Matthew 16:13-17:13
Who is Jesus? – “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16); God’s beloved Son (Matthew 17:5)
Where does this faith come from? – It has been revealed to us by our Father in heaven (Matthew 16:17)
How are we to grow in faith? The first question concerns God’s revelation.the second question concerns our response to God’s revelation: “Listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5).
How are we to listen to Him? – “When they looked up, they saw no one except Him – Jesus alone” (Matthew 17:8).
When we listen to Jesus – forgetting about ourselves and concentrating on Him, what does He say to us? – He speaks to us of His revelation to us and our response to Him. He speaks of His death anon (Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:9,12). He speaks of our dying to self and living for Him.
His revelation and our response – The two are very closely connected.
Jesus is our Saviour. He is to be our Lord. We are not only to believe what God says to us. We are to live the life of a believer. Our life is to be shaped by our faith in Jesus, who died for us and rose again for us – Jesus, our Saviour and Lord.
Matthew 21:1-27
A welcome party – How do we welcome Jesus? He’s riding into Jerusalem? Is He riding into our hearts – as King of kings?
‘Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.’
What happens next. After celebration, there is crucifixion. After crucifixion, there is resurrection.
Jesus is praised – Hosanna! Hallelujah! Between the Hosanna (the triumphal entry) and the Hallelujah (the resurrection), there is the Cross – “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Joyful praise, then everything went quiet for a while, then the praise started again. There was hope, then everything seemed to be hopeless, then there was even more hope than there had been before.
Our life has its ups and downs, its high-points and its low-points. God is there in the high-points. He is there in the low-points.
* There are times when we need to hear His Word of rebuke and correction – What are you doing? “My House will be called a House of prayer” (Matthew 21:13).
* There are times when we need to be called out of our barrenness and into the Lord’s fruitfulness (Matthew 21:18-21).
How are we to receive this Word of rebuke and correction? – This is from the Lord. It’s His Word to us.
Matthew 21:28-46
Jesus speaks to us about the servants of God – and He speaks about Himself: the Son of God. Jesus is telling us that He will be crucified for us – and He will be raised from the dead for us. The coming of Jesus, the death of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus – This is the Gospel story. This is the GoodNews of God’s love. How are we to respond to God’s love? For each of us, there is a choice we must make. Will we enter into God’s blessing and continue in the way of His blessing? Will we miss out on God’s blessing because we draw back from following the Lord? Here, we read about two men. One started badly, and ended well. The other started well, and ended badly.
(1) The first began with sin – “I don’t want to” (Matthew 21:29), but he recognized his sin, he confessed it, and he was forgiven.
(2) The second said he would follow the Lord, but he didn’t keep going – “I will, sir, but he didn’t go” (Matthew 21:30).
Are you travelling towards the Lord – or away from Him? Is it faith leading to good works or “faith without works is dead”?
Matthew 25:31-46
This is not all that God’s Word says to us about our eternal salvation, but it is part of what is said. We need to hear what Jesus is saying to us here. We hear his voice, along with the voices of Paul and James. We need to hear all that God’s Word says to us about faith and works. We are to help people in simple, practical ways. We’re not to look for a reward. We’re not to think, “What will I get out of this?” We’re to think, “How can I help this person?”
Matthew 26:1-16
We begin with the Passover and the crucifixion (Matthew 26:2). This is the context within which we worship God. We look back. We remember. We give thanks.
The woman poured very expensive fragrant oil on Jesus’ head (Matthew 26:7). The disciples asked, “Why this waste?” (Matthew 26:8). They weren’t just asking the way of the Cross means, “It’s no longer I who live, but Christ who,long a question. They were stating a point of view. When Jesus answered their question, He countered their point of view. He said, Worship is never a waste of time. He said this in the most emphatic way (Matthew 26:13).
What was so important about this woman’s action? She worshipped the Lord. That’s what this is all about. It’s telling us that worshipping the Lord is important. How can we serve Him if we’re not learning to worship Him?
What about us? Are we, like this woman, true worshippers of the Lord? or Are we like Judas Iscariot – “looking for a good opportunity to betray Him?” (Matthew 26:14-16).
Matthew 26:17-35
All was not well with the disciples. Judas had too low an opinion of Jesus. All of them had too high an opinion of themselves (Matthew 26:35). Could things be turned around? Yes! – but there can be no resurrection (Matthew 26:32) without crucifixion (Matthew 26:28).
Matthew 26:26-56
“I did it my way.” When we’re comparing ourselves to other people, we can say, “I did it my way – not your way, not your way, not their way.” When we’re looking at our life in the light of God, we must never say, “I did it my way.” It must always be, “I did it God’s way.” Going God’s way is always better than getting our own way. For Jesus, going God’s way meant going the way  of the Cross.
What is the way of the Cross? It’s putting a line through the letter I. Going the way of the Cross means, “It’s no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Going the way of the Cross is to be our daily choice. We are to deny ourselves. We are to take up our cross daily. This is what it means to follow Christ. We are to say “No” to the way of Judas. We’re to say “Yes” to the way of Jesus.
Matthew 26:57-75
“But I tell you … ” (Matthew 26:64). The future – We’re to be people who are pressing on towards God’s future – Jesus Christ and God’s everlasting Kingdom. These words are a fulfilment of Daniel 7:13-14.
Jesus is not the King who has come. He’s the King who will come. He’s not only the King of Israel. He’s the King of “every people, nation and language” (Daniel 7:14). His Kingdom does not rise and fall. His Kingdom is forever. “And our eyes shall see Him … Not in that poor lowly stable…”
Peter – following Jesus at a distance (Matthew 26:58), denying Jesus and weeping bitterly” (Matthew 26:75). Our Saviour is great, but we are not great. Was there a future for Peter? Yes. This was not because of Peter’s great love for Jesus. It was because of Jesus’ great love for Peter. We often fail Jesus. He never fails us. He keeps on calling us on to His future – glorious, heavenly and eternal.
Matthew 27:1-31
This is not only the story of Jesus. It’s also the story of two other men – Judas and Barabbas.
The two men were very different. Judas started off so well – and ended very badly. Barabbas made a mess of his life – and was given the opportunity of making a new beginning.
Judas had been a disciple of Jesus for three years. After all of this, he betrayed Jesus, and took his own life. Judas was lost.
Barabbas was “a notorious prisoner” (Matthew 27:16). “Barabbas was in prison with rebels who had committed murder during the rebellion” (Mark 15:7). “He had been thrown into a prison for a rebellion that had taken place in the city, and for murder” (Luke 23:19). “Barabbas was a revolutionary” (John 18:40). Barabbas was saved from crucifixion. What became of Barabbas? We don’t know. What we do know is this: Barabbas lived because Jesus died.
In the story of Barabbas, there is the Good News of what Christ has done for us and can do for us. In the story of  Judas, there is the bad news of what sin has done to us and can do to us. In the story of Barabbas, there is grace received. In the story of Judas, there is grace rejected.
What about us? What will our story be? Will it be grace which gives us a new beginning? or Will it be sin which leads to a tragic ending? At the Cross of Christ, each of us must make our choice.
Matthew 27:32-66
“This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37).
Let’s go back to Matthew 2- “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him … Herod is about to search for the Child to destroy Him” (Matthew 2:2,13).
From the very beginning, Jesus lived under the threat of death. For Jesus, there would be a violent death – but it would happen in God’s time, not man’s time. In God’s time, it was made clear that Jesus’ death was a special death. He took our place. He died for us. This is the meaning of His words, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus took our sin upon Himself. When God looked upon Jesus, He saw our sin, and He turned away. When “Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit” (Matthew 27:50), something amazing happened – “the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51), “the tombs also were opened and many bodies of the saints who had gone to their rest were raised” (Matthew 27:52), “And they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:53).
Jesus’ death was not a tragedy. It was a triumph – over sin, death and hell. It was a triumph for forgiveness and cleansing, for new life and eternal life.
Matthew 28:1-20
Who moved the stone? There is no human explanation – “an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. he rolled back the stone” (Matthew 28:2). The resurrection was more than a great change for Jesus. It was a great change for His disciples – first, the women (Matthew 28:5) and, then, the men (Matthew 28:8).
What was it that changed them? – “He is not here! He has risen” (Matthew 28:6). “Jesus met them and said, Good morning” (Matthew 28:9). “Jesus came near and said to them, All authority…” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Our response – “fear and great joy” (Matthew 28:8), worship (Matthew 28:9, obedience (Matthew 28:19-20).
God’s promise – “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Preaching The Word Of The Lord: Jeremiah

31:1-6
God’s everlasting love: His love for us comes before our love for Him.
We’re living in a wilderness - spiritual and moral. We’re always searching, but never finding. We’re never sure which way to turn. 
Into this situation, comes God - from “far away” (heaven). He speaks of His love, and putting our life together again (Jeremiah 31:3-4).
We can’t do this for ourselves. He must do this for us. It’s not a self-improvement programme. It’s a new birth into a life of praise (Jeremiah 31:40, service (Jeremiah 31:5) and calling others to come and worship the Lord (Jeremiah 31:6).

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

31:15-20
The human situation, the divine solution
 * “She refuses to be comforted” (Jeremiah 31:15). Often, we dig a hole for ourselves.
 * “Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears” - This is what “the Lord” says to us (Jeremiah 31:16).
If anyone else says this to us, we might well say, “It’s all right for you to say that. You’re not suffering like I am.”
God gave His only Son - to die for us. He knows what we’re going through. He’s been there, and He hasn’t forgotten it,
He came out the other side for us - the resurrection.
 * “They shall come back from the land of the enemy; there is hope for your future” (Jeremiah 31:16-17) - “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
How are we to understand our times of suffering?
 * “You disciplined me” (Jeremiah 31:18) - There is a purpose of God in our suffering. “Bring me back, let me come back, for You are the Lord my God” (Jeremiah 31:18) - the story of the prodigal son, your story, my story.
 * “After I had turned away, I repented” - two stages of life.
 * Jeremiah 31:20 - God puts a question to us, and He answers it for us. It is the answer of His love. Don’t stop believing in His love. He’ll never stop loving you. Believe in His Son. Believe in His promises.

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).

31:31-40
God forgives and forgets (Jeremiah 31:34). It’s not “God cannot remember.” It’s “God chooses not to remember.” The rebuilding of our life - we are to be “holy to the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:38-40).

Preaching The Word Of The Lord: Ezekiel

37:1-14  

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

47:1-12

“ankle-deep, knee-deep, up to the waist, deep enough to swim in, a river than could not be crossed on foot” (Ezekiel 47:3-5).
Jerusalem - ankle-deep, all Judaea - knee deep, Samaria - up to the waist, the ends of the earth - deep enough to swim in (Acts 1:8)
Before there can be witness, there needs to be worship: from a trickle to a river - John 7:37-39.
The rivers of living water must flow into us before they can flow out from us. “There will be life everywhere the river goes” (Ezekiel 47:9).

Preaching The Word Of The Lord: Daniel

2:44-47
God’s Kingdom “will never be destroyed.” It “endures forever.”
“The dream is true, and the interpretation is certain.”
Through the resurrection of Jesus, this is more than a dream. He has triumphed over death.
How are we to respond to Jesus? - “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28); “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16); “revealer of mysteries” (Daniel 2:47).
Worship the Lord. Submit to Him. Learn from Him. Live for Him.

3:1-30
Fire - danger, heat
There is, in God’s Word, a word of warning and a word of promise.
This is the way we are not to go. This is the way we are to go.
 * “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).
 * “The bush was not consumed” (Exodus 3:2).
 * “Our God is an awesome God” (Rich Mullins) - we must never forget this.
Fire is to be respected. Our God is a holy fire. He burns away our dross.
 * “Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire is to be holy, set apart for You, Lord; I choose to be holy, set apart for You, my Master, ready to do Your will” (Brian Doerksen).
 * “O God of burning, cleansing flame, send the fire! Your blood-bought gift today we claim: send the fire today!... We need another Pentecost! Send the fire today!” (William Booth).
This is the inspiring and empowering fire: the Holy Spirit. “Give me oil in my lamp. Keep me burning” - burning for God.  
 * Isaiah 43:2 - “You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.”
There were four men in the furnace of blazing fire - Jesus was there: “the fourth was like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25),
We go through many testing times, but we are not alone. Jesus is with us. He’s there with His grace: “My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). He calls us to put our faith in Him.
 * In the fiery furnace, the men were burning for God. They weren’t being consumed by the fire. They were shining for God. Their light was calling out to others.
Come to the light. Come to the Lord.
When we look at these men, we must look beyond them to the Son of God. Jesus passed through the “fire” for us. He was forsaken by God so that we might be welcomed by God.

6:1-28
The deliverance of Daniel from the mouths of the lions - What a great miracle this is! It points forward to an even greater miracle - the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Why is the resurrection a greater miracle? - It seemed almost inevitable that Daniel would be killed, but he didn’t actually die. Jesus did die. The shadow of death hung over Daniel, but death did not take him. Jesus was raised from death. He was “crucified, dead and buried” - and, after all that, He was raised to life.
The message of Daniel’s deliverance from the mouths of the lions - “For He is the living God, and He endures forever; His Kingdom will never be destroyed, and His dominion has no end” (Daniel 6:26). This is the message of Jesus’ resurrection.
Daniel’s deliverance gives us a glimpse of God’s glory. Jesus’ resurrection is a marvellous and mighty revelation of the eternal God and eternal life (see 1 John 5:20 - “Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”) Daniel was a great man. Jesus is our great Saviour.
Like Daniel, we will face “lions” - Satan goes about “like a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8). Like Daniel, we must “resist” the devil, firm in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9). Christ delivers us - and He will raise us.

7:13-14
What a future God has planned for His people. What a great future He is planning for His people. Coronation - What a day of celebration.This is better than any human coronation. It’s better than any human celebration.
When Christ comes, this will go beyond our ability to describe or even imagine: the great Kingdom - full of the glory of God; the great Saviour - full of the grace of God. Christ takes us from grace to glory.
In Matthew 26:75, we see what Peter was. In Acts 2, we see what He became. This is grace, calling us on to glory.

Preaching The Word Of 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).

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.

Preaching The Word Of The Lord: Isaiah

1:16-20
Each of us must make choices - not just, What suit, shirt and tie will I put on?
Will I worship the Lord? or Will I stay at home?
What attitude will I bring with me to church? - ‘This is just a religious habit” or “This a meeting with God. It will change my way of thinking and living.”
In Isaiah 1:18-20, we read about two very different responses to God - returning to Him or rebelling against Him. When we return to the Lord, this will change the way we relate to other people (Isaiah 1:16-17.
We’re not to be like Judas Iscariot - making money for himself, but paying the ultimate price: “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? (Matthew 16:26).

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).
11:1-9
When we read God’s Word, we ask, What can I learn about Jesus, about believing in him and living for Him?“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him... ” (Isaiah 11:2) - This is about Jesus. It’s about Peter on the Day of Pentecost. It’s about us.
“Wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge” - All of these suggest something we know with our minds. Strength speaks to us about acting on what we know.
Where do all these blessings come from? - They come from “the Spirit of the Lord.” Everything that God gives to us is summed up in this: “the Spirit of the Lord.”
Life in the spirit includes both “the fear of the Lord” and trust in the Lord. Life in the Spirit includes both divine revelation and human response.There’s a vital connection between what we say and what we do and what we are. There will be powerful and effective preaching when what we say is backed up by what we do and what we are. 

40:12-31
The greatness of God
 * He is great in Himself. Before the world was created, God is great: “In the beginning, God....” (Genesis 1:1).
 * He is great for us. This is the great message that comes to us from Isaiah 40:28-31.
God is great in love. God is great in power. God is great in holiness. God is great in faithfulness. God is great in glory.
 * Love - “God is love” (1 John 4:16); “God so loved the world...” (John 3:16); “God showed His love for us...” (Romans 5:8).
 * Power - the power of God’s love - “kept by the power of God” (1 Peter 1:5); “He is able to keep us from falling” (Jude 24).
 * Holiness - God is holy. Through his love and His power, He is working to make us holy. As well as the command - “Be holy”, there is the promise - “You shall be holy.”
 * Faithfulness - “Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22). God is faithful. He will accomplish His purpose in us (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
 * Glory - Jude 24-25 and Revelation 1:5-6. God shares His glory with us.

42:1-9
Through Jesus Christ, God’s Servant, God’s Son, our Saviour, God calls us to be saved by Him and to become His servants. We’re to be “a light to the nations” (Isaiah 42:60.
All the glory belongs to Him (Isaiah 42:8).
He will lead us forward into great blessing: “new events” (Isaiah 42:9). This directs our attention to Jesus.
We now look back to Jesus - but we also look forward from Him to the glorious future He is preparing for us. Here, on earth, we have “a foretaste of glory divine.” In heaven, it will be the real thing.

52:13-53:12
Jesus spoke about His death and resurrection (Matthew 16:210. This is prophecy. What we have here is even more remarkable. We read this, and we think that this must have been written after Jesus’ death. This is the work of the Spirit of God. He sees what lies ahead. He describes these events, as if they had already happened. This is more than a description of what was going to happen. It’s an explanation of the meaning of the death of Christ.
Is there a look beyond His death to His resurrection? Yes! “He will see His seed, He will prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will succeed by His hand” (Isaiah 53:10).
When these words were first spoken, people must have wondered, “What does all this mean?” They must have wondered about Jesus, when He started talking about His resurrection - “What is He talking about?”
When Jesus died for us, and then rose from the dead, everything fell into place. This was what Isaiah and Jesus had been speaking about.

54:1-17
Singing with joy (Isaiah 54:1) - Our song comes from the Lord. Our joy comes from the Lord. From ourselves, there is sin. From the Lord, there is salvation. “Through the love of God our Saviour, all will be well ... All is well ... All must be well.” So much blessing is ours, because Jesus is crucified, risen and exalted.
On the Cross, Jesus was forsaken by God so that we might be forgiven by God. At the Cross, He was brought low so that we might be lifted up. From the Cross, Jesus calls out to us.
In love, He speaks to us. His love is the greatest love of all. His love is “everlasting love” (Isaiah 54:8).
This is where our song of joy comes from. It comes from His everlasting love.
In the Old Testament, we see the rainbow (Isaiah 54:9). It’s a reminder of God’s great love for us.
In the New Testament, we have bread and wine - God’s way of reminding us that He loves us so much that He gave his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us.
Through Jesus, we have “peace with God” (Isaiah 54:10), we are “taught by the Lord” (Isaiah 54:13), we will be given His victory over Satan - “No weapon formed against you will succeed” (Isaiah 54:17), we will be led on to His everlasting Kingdom - “poor Jerusalem” (Isaiah 54:11) will become “new Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:2).

55:1-13 
“Without money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1) - “The best things in life are free. Money can’t buy me love” (The Beatles).
We read, in Matthew 26:7, about a woman who anointed Jesus with “very expensive fragrant oil.”
What are we to say about all of this? - It’s not about repaying the Lord for His love for us. It’s about expressing our love for Him. It’s about worship.
Where does worship begin? - “Seek the Lord... He will freely forgive” (Isaiah 55:7).
How does the love of Christ reach us and change us? You feel like you’re lost. The love of Christ says, “You can be found,” This is the message of Jesus’ parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son (Luke 15) - three parables, one message.
It’s not so much about us - our seeking the Lord and finding Him. It’s about the Lord. He seeks us and finds us.
In Matthew 26, we read about a woman who worshipped the Lord, and a man who betrayed Him.
Worship or betrayal? Which will it be?
 * How do we worship the Lord? - We worship Him, when we make Him the top priority in our lives.
 * How do we betray the Lord? - We betray him when we fill our lives with other things, and leave no place for Him.
The woman is to be remembered for the right reason. She worshipped the Lord. Judas Iscariot is remembered for the wrong reason. He betrayed the Lord.
We remember them. We remember Jesus, the Passover Lamb, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Some Thoughts for Remembrance Sunday

In our remembering, let us not forget the Lord our God, the God of our salvation, the God whose “steadfast love endures for ever” (2 Chronicles 20:21).

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Before we can understand what it means to be a peacemaker, we must understand what peace is and what it is not. There is a ‘peace’ that is ‘no peace. We speak of keeping the peace and not disturbing the peace. There is, however, a ‘peace’ which needs to be disturbed if we are to find true peace.

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“What do these stones mean?” (Joshua 4:21). The people of Israel were called to remember what God had done for them. They were called to give glory to God. The stones were to serve as a reminder to future generations. There are many things that we might wish to forget. There are some things that we must make sure that we keep on remembering.

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The Book of Deuteronomy teaches us much about remembering. “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you” (Deuteronomy 32:7). —– “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you" (Deuteronomy 5:15).

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Search The Scriptures: Isaiah

This is an updated version. I have added notes on Isaiah 40 – 54. I will add more notes.
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The Word of God speaks to us of God, who is both holy and loving. This God calls for our response to His Word. In love, He calls us to come to Him and receive His forgiveness. In holiness, He warns us that rebellion leads to judgment (Isaiah 1:18-20). His Word gives us a glimpse of His love and His holiness. The God of perfect love and perfect holiness invites us to say, from the heart, “Let’s go to the mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob” (Isaiah 2:3). God’s blessing is promised to those who will honour Him as their God - “Tell the righteous that blessings will come to them” (Isaiah 3:10). Alongside this promise, there is also the warning: “How horrible it will be for the wicked! Disaster will strike them” (Isaiah 3:11).

“The Lord will wash away the filth of Zion’s people ... His glory will cover everything” (Isaiah 4:4-5). The restoration of the divine glory is the goal of the divine cleansing. What God does for us and in us is the reversal of what sin does - “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God’s people are His “vineyard”, “the garden of His delight” (Isaiah 5:7). Our response to the Lord is to love Him and worship Him: “Let me sing a love song to my Beloved” (Isaiah 5:1). We rejoice in the Lord because He has forgiven our sin (Isaiah 6:7). We sing praise to Him because all glory belongs to Him (Isaiah 6:3). Our sin, which is great (Isaiah 6:5), has been forgiven - All glory to God! This is the Lord’s doing. It is marvellous in our eyes. “The King” is among us. He reveals Himself as the King of love. Out of love for the Lord, we make our response - Here am I. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). As we obey God’s command, “Go and tell the people” (Isaiah 6:9), we may find that there is much that causes us to be discouraged - “the cities lie in ruins ... The land is completely desolate ... A large area in the middle of the land will be abandoned” (Isaiah 6:11-12). We will also have some encouragement - “a stump is left - The holy seed will be the land’s stump” (Isaiah 6:13). When we are tempted to give up, when discouragement threatens to overwhelm us, we must remember that God is still on the throne. He is the King - and He still loves us. He is the King of love.

Isaiah speaks, prophetically, of the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who is also known as “Immanuel” (“God is with us”) (Isaiah 7:14).  “God is with us” - These words are spoken to God’s people in every situation of our life (Isaiah 8:10). Isaiah’s prophetic message concerns the transformation which brings “glory”, where there is “gloom”: “But there will be no more gloom ... But in the future He will bring glory” (Isaiah 9:1). This “glory” comes through our “Wonderful” Saviour, who is the “Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6). In Him, we have “peace”, “wise counsel” and “everlasting” life. Praise God! To Him be the glory! He has brought us to know Himself, as our Father, through Christ, His Beloved Son. What will it mean, for us , to know God? It will mean being changed by Him. He is teaching us to walk with Him. He is teaching us to follow Jesus. He is teaching us “to refuse the evil, and choose the good” (Isaiah 7:15). Standing upon the promise - “God is with us” - does not mean that we will take God’s presence for granted. God is not only comforting us. He’s also challenging us. We’re not to be conformed to the world’s way of living (Isaiah 8:11). We’re to be transformed. We’re to live the Lord’s way (Isaiah 8:13).

Isaiah 10 speaks of a divine judgment, in which the only “survivors” will be those who “depend on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 10:20). Isaiah 11 contains a Messianic prophecy. These are words, which point forward to our Saviour, Jesus Christ. They are word of the coming Kingdom (Isaiah 11:1-10). Isaiah 12 contains a hymn of praise to God: “I will praise You, O Lord” (Isaiah 12:1), which is followed by a call to praise God - “Praise the Lord ...” (Isaiah 12:4-6). This is a short chapter. It only has six verses. Its words are very precious. We can come to these words, again and again, and experience the fulfilment of the Lord’s precious promise: “With joy you will draw water from the springs of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3). This is the “living water”, which is Christ Himself.       

“The day of the Lord is near ... The day of the Lord is going to come. It will be a cruel day with fury and fierce anger. He will make the earth desolate. He will destroy its sinners. Its time has almost come. Its days will not be extended” (Isaiah 13:6,9,22) - what  solemn words of warning regarding divine judgment! Is there hope for anyone? Isaiah 14 speaks of the fall of Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-17). Lucifer, also known as Satan or the devil, has fallen, and He’s determined to take us down with him. He has caused havoc on earth. In the face of his evil attacks,God’s people need this Word of encouragement: “The Lord has laid Zion’s foundation ... His humble people will find refuge in it” (Isaiah 14:32). This dual perspective - judgment and salvation - is also found in Isaiah 15. There will be “wailing”, but there will also be “survivors” (Isaiah 15:8-9).

Much of what we read in Isaiah 16 - 18 concerns divine judgment on the disobedient - Moab - chapter 16, Damascus and Israel - chapter 17, Sudan - chapter 18. In the face of God’s holy judgment upon sin, we must never forget that “He is the God of our salvation, our Rock, our Stronghold” (Isaiah 17:10). God does not wish to pass judgment upon us. He calls us to Himself, that He may be gracious to us (2 Peter 3:9; John 3:17). This is the love of God. His love is everlasting. He reaches out to us, in love, so that we, loving Him, might rejoice in the fact that we are His beloved - “loved with everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).

In Isaiah 19-21, there are words of judgment and words of grace: “The Lord will strike Egypt with a plague. When He strikes them, He will also heal them. They will come back to the Lord. And He will respond to their prayers and heal them” (Isaiah 19:22). The question is asked, “How can we escape?” (Isaiah 20:6). To this question, the Lord gives His answer: “When the people cry to the Lord because of those who oppress them, He will send a Saviour and Defender to rescue them” (Isaiah 20:20). From the words of Isaiah 21:9 - “Babylon has fallen! It has fallen! All the idols they worship He shattered on the ground”, we look on to Revelation 18:18 - “Fallen! Babylon the  Great has fallen! She has become a home for demons” and Revelation 18:4 - “Come out of Babylon, My  people.” God is calling His people turn from worldly ways “Come out of Babylon, My people.” He’s calling His people to turn to Him - “When the people cry to the Lord ...” He’s calling us to trust Him. He’s calling us to obey Him. He’s calling us to sing the song of salvation: “Hallelujah! Salvation, glory and power belong to our God” (Revelation 19:11).

In Isaiah 22 - 23, we read about God’s judgment on Judah, Shebna and Tyre. We read of “a day of confusion and trampling” (Isaiah 22:5). We read the words of judgment on “Shebna, the man in charge of the palace” - “Look, mighty man! The Lord will throw you out” (Isaiah 22:15,17). There is judgment on Tyre “for seventy years” (Isaiah 23:14). There is also hope for the future - “At the end of seventy years, the Lord will come to help Tyre” (Isaiah 23:17). Sadly, His help was not appreciated - “Then she will go back to earning money as a prostitute for all the world’s kingdoms” (Isaiah 23:17). The message of God’s judgment continues in Isaiah 24. This is hard for us to hear. There is, however, something else that we must never overlook: “In all these things, it is said of the Lord, He will be glorious” (Isaiah 24:23).

“The Lord will save us” (Isaiah 25:9). This is our hope, as we await the “Day” of the Lord. This our cause for joy and gladness. Death shall not triumph over us. Our hope is in the Lord - “He will swallow up death in victory” (Isaiah 25:8). The message of the Gospel comes to us as a declaration of God’s saving power - “The Lord, the Lord alone, is an everlasting Rock.” It comes to us as a call to put our faith in the Lord - “Trust in the Lord always.” In the Lord, there is “everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26:4).In our “pain”, we receive strength from the Lord. It is the strength which comes from knowing that, beyond our present suffering, there is eternal life (Isaiah 26:18-19). As we consider how great our God is and how much He has loved us and done for us, we “will come and worship” Him, giving all the praise and glory to Him (Isaiah 27:13). 

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).

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 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). This is the source of true happiness, real joy and lasting gladness - the redemption of God. 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 saved spoken is good” (Isaiah 39:8).

 "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 praisenI 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.

"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 righeteous 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 noother" (Isaiah 45:21-22). In these verses, we learn of the unique, incomparable greatness of God in His gracious and mighty work of salvation.

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 bles sthem, 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).  

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).


"Clothe yourself with strength" (Isaiah 52:1). Our strength comes for 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).

Search The Scriptures: Proverbs

This is an updated version. I have added notes on Proverbs 19 – 24. I will add more notes.
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“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). The Lord calls to us as the voice of wisdom, ‘Turn to Me when I warn you. I will generously pour out My Spirit for you. I will make My words known to you” (Proverbs 1:23). “The Lord gives wisdom ... Wisdom will come into your heart ... Wisdom will save you  from the way of evil ... So walk in the way of good people and stay on the paths of righteous people” (Proverbs 2:6,10,12,20). Trusting the Lord and fearing the Lord belong together: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart ... Fear the Lord, and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3;5,7). Wisdom brings great blessing into our lives: “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom and the one who obtains understanding. The profit gained from wisdom is greater than the profit gained from silver. Its yield is better than fine gold. Wisdom is more precious than jewels” (Proverbs 3:13-14). 

The call to “acquire wisdom” (Proverbs 4:5) is a call to”walk away from evil” (Proverbs 4:27). The importance of walking away from evil is grounded in the fact that “Each person’s ways are clearly seen by the Lord” (Proverbs 5:21). We are not to give the appearance of living a godly life while remaining far from God in our hearts. There is to be a true commitment to living to please God in all things - in the places which are seen only by Him as well as the places that are seen by other people. Living to please will involve clearly identifying the ways that do not please God, so that we can avoid such ways and seek the better way of doing the Lord’s will. 

In Proverbs 7, we are warned against the foolishness of going the way of the world. In Proverbs 8, we hear the voice of wisdom, calling to us; “Now, sons, listen to Me. Blessed are those who follow My ways” (Proverbs 8:32). The call of wisdom continues in Proverbs 9. The call of wisdom comes to us as the call of the Lord, who, from His Table, calls us to His Supper: “Come, eat My bread, and drink the wine I have mixed” (Proverbs 9:5).

The contrast between wisdom and foolishness corresponds to the contrast between righteousness and wickedness (Proverbs 10:1,7). God calls us to be “the wise in heart.” He calls us to show forth “the fruit of a righteous person.” He calls us to be “a winner of souls” (Proverbs 11:19-30). If there are to be the fruits of righteousness, there needs to be the roots of righteousness. In words of warning and promise, we hear of the contrast between a life based on wickedness and a life based on righteousness: “A person cannot stand firm on a foundation of wickedness, and the roots of righteous people cannot be moved” (Proverbs 12:3). The connection between righteous roots and righteous fruits is emphasized in Proverbs 12:12 - “The roots of righteous people produce fruit.” The final outcome of righteousness is stated in Proverbs 12:28 - “Everlasting life is on the way of righteousness.” The Gospel brings hope for the future as well as guidance for the present. We look beyond our present life to the glorious blessing of everlasting life. We move in the direction of this great future, as, in our present life, we reaffirm our choice to walk “on the way of righteousness” with Christ, our great Saviour and Lord, leading us in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. As we walk with the Lord, we look forward to our ultimate goal - We will “dwell in the House of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).

“Whoever despises God’s words will pay the penalty, but the one who fears God’s commands will be rewarded” (Proverbs13:13). This principle applies to the nations - “Righteousness lifts up a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any society” (Proverbs 14:34). “A
joyful heart makes a cheerful face” (Proverbs 15:13) - True happiness comes from within. It is more than an outward thing. It does not depend on the things that we have. It comes from the Lord. In Him, we have true and lasting joy.

“Whoever gives attention to the Lord’s Word prospers, and blessed is the person who trusts the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20). Here, we are reminded of the most important thing in life - keeping the Lord at the very centre of our life. “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower. A righteous person runs to it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10). God’s Word teaches us that the Lord is faithful. He will never fail us. We can entrust ourselves into His loving care, confident that He will fulfil His promises to us.

“Wait for the Lord, and He will save you... The Lord is the One who directs a person’s steps” (Proverbs 20:22,24). The Lord saves and keeps: “The victory belongs to the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31). Saving and keeping us, as He leads along the pathway of discipleship, the Lord brings us to our final victory. This is the great triumph, described in the jubilant words of 1 Corinthians 15:58 - “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In Proverbs 22 - 24, we learn about promise and danger. At every stage in our journey through life, there is both promise and danger - the promise of God’s blessing to those who keep Him at the centre of their life, the danger of coming under God’s judgment when we ignore His way and go the way of the world. This kind of instruction, combining both promise and warning, is important. It teaches us about both the way we are to take and the way we  are to avoid, what we are to be and what we are not to be, how we are to live and how we are not to live. 

Practical wisdom, wisdom for living  - this is what we have in Proverbs. The teaching of Proverbs is base on the principle: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 1:7). This does not mean that God is mentioned frequently. In Proverbs 25 - 27, there is only one mention of God (Proverbs 25:2). The concern is with life on earth, our reltionships with our fellow human beings. These relationships are to be lived out from the godly perspective which comes from "the fear of the Lord."

Again and again, Proverbs calls to make a decision. We must choose - righteousness or wickedness. The way of righteousness is the way upon which God sends His blessing. The way of wickedness is the way upon which there can be no blessing from the Lord. The situation is well summed up in Proverbs 29:18 - "Without prophetic vision people run wild, but blessed are those who follow God's teachings." We are to come to God with humility: "I'm weary and worn out, O God... I don't have knowledge of the Holy One" (Proverbs 30:1,3). When God hears this prayer, He answers, giving us this confidence in Him: "Every word of God has proven to be true. He is a shield to those who come to Him for protection" (Proverbs 30:5). The book of Proverbs ends by reminding us that "the fear of the Lord" is the most important thing in life, if we are to be praised - not only be men, but by God.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Search The Scriptures: Psalms

This is an updated version. I’ve added notes on Psalms 61 – 67. I will add more notes.
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God calls us to follow “the way of righteous people” (Psalm 1:6). He directs our attention to His “Son”, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (Psalm 2:7). He promises blessing to those who “take refuge ... In Him” (Psalm 2:12). There is much opposition: “O Lord, look how my enemies have increased! Many are attacking me. Many are saying about me, ‘Even with God on his side, he won’t be victorious’” (Psalm 3:1-2). We need not be afraid of these enemies - “Victory belongs to the Lord! ... You, O Lord, are a shield that surrounds me” (Psalm 3:8,3).

The Psalmist is experiencing great pain. His honour is being insulted; his enemies are spying on him; he is being harassed by troublemakers (Psalm 4:2; Psalm 5:8; Psalm 6:8). As well as pain, there is prayer, protection and peace. He prays with confidence in God - “The Lord has heard my plea for mercy. The Lord accepts my prayer” (Psalm 6:9). He stands upon God’s promise - “The Lord protects those who take refuge in Him” (Psalm 5:11). He rests in the peace of God (Psalm 4:8).

In Psalms 7 - 10, there is a real sense of the greatness of God. He is “majestic” (Psalm 8:1). He is “enthroned forever” (Psalm 9:7,11). He is “King forever and ever” (Psalm 10:16). He is our “Judge” (Psalm 7:8). The Psalmist teaches us to see our life in the light of God. His light shines brightly upon us. His light exposes our darkness. He’s calling us to walk in His light. He calls us to take refuge in Him: “O Lord my God, I have taken refuge in You” (Psalm 7:1). He calls us to rejoice in Him: “I will be glad and rejoice in You” (Psalm 9:2). He calls us to seek His help: “Those who know Your Name trust You, O Lord, because You have never deserted those who seek your help” (Psalm 9:10). If we are to answer God’s call - take refuge in Him, rejoice in Him and seek His help, we must leave behind the way of the wicked: “In his pride the wicked does not seek Him; in all His thoughts there is no room for God” (Psalm 10:4). When we answer God’s call, He starts changing us - our way of thinking and our way of living. He is the caring and sharing God: “You have heard the desire of oppressed people, O Lord. You encourage them. You pay close attention to them in order to provide justice for orphans, and oppressed people, so that no mere mortal terrify them again” (Psalm 10:17-18). He’s calling us to be like Him. Let’s not keep His love and His blessing to ourselves. Let’s show His love. Let’s share His love.

The Lord is the sovereign God - “The Lord is in His holy temple. The Lord’s throne is in heaven” (Psalm 11:4). The Lord is the God of salvation - “But I trust Your mercy. My heart finds joy in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because He has been good to me” (Psalm 13:5-6). The sovereign God, the God of salvation is our Helper - when we feel alone, forgotten and oppressed (Psalm 12:1; Psalm 13:1; Psalm 14:3-4). His salvation is not to be kept to ourselves. His joy is not only for ourselves. We are to pray that others will receive His salvation and His joy: “Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!When the Lord restores the fortunes of His people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!” (Psalm 14:7). In the face of all that opposes God, exalting itself against Him, God is calling us to keep close to Him and to walk with Him: “O Lord, who may stay in Your tent? Who may live on Your holy mountain? The one who walks with integrity, does what is righteous, and speaks the truth within his heart, the one who does not slander with his tongue, do evil to friend, or bring disgrace on his neighbour ... He who does these things will never be shaken” (Psalm 15).

Our complete joy, pleasure and satisfaction is found in the Lord. We say, with the Psalmist, “Complete joy is in Your presence. Pleasures are by Your side forever ... I will be satisfied with seeing You” (Psalm 16:11; Psalm 17:15). We join, with the hymnwriter, in singing praise to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: “O Christ, in Thee my soul hath found, And found in Thee alone, The peace, the joy I sought so long, the bliss till now unknown. Now none but Christ can satisfy, None other Name for me. There’s love and life, and lasting joy, Lord Jesus, found in Thee.”

In Psalm 18, the Psalmist praises God, who delivered him from his enemies. It begins and ends with the thought of God as the Rock upon which our faith is built. He is the rock of our salvation: “I love you, O Lord, my Strength. The Lord is my Rock and my Fortress and my Saviour, my God in whom I take refuge, my Shield and the Strength of my Salvation, my Stronghold” (Psalm 18:1-2). “The Lord lives! Thanks be to my Rock! May God, my Saviour, be honoured!” (Psalm 18:46).

“The heavens declare the glory of God ...” (Psalm 19:1). In God’s creation, we see His glory. “The teachings of the Lord are perfect. They renew the soul” (Psalm 19:7). He reveals Himself to us through His Word. We make our response to Him, as we worship Him - “We will joyfully sing about Your victory ... The Lord will give victory to His anointed king ...We will boast in the Name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:5-7). “Arise, O Lord, in Your strength. We will sing and make music to praise Your power” (Psalm 21:13). “Through the mercy of the Most High, we will not be moved” (Psalm 22:7).

“The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1). He is “my Saviour”(Psalm 25:5). He is also “the King of glory” (Psalm 24:8-10). He has promised to “lead us in the paths of righteousness for the sake of His Name” (Psalm 23:3). This promise is fulfilled, as we open our  hearts to Him - “Be lifted,you ancient doors, so that the King of glory may come in” (Psalm 24:9), when we pray for His leading in our lives: “Make Your ways known to me, O Lord, and teach me Your paths.Lead me in Your truth, and teach me because You are God, my Saviour” (Psalm 25:5). The Lord fulfils His promise to us: “The Lord advises those who fear Him. He reveals to them the intent of His promise” (Psalm 25:14). 

The Psalmist loved to worship God in the company of God’s people: “O Lord, I love the House where You live, the place where Your glory dwells... I will praise the Lord with the choirs in worship” (Psalm 26:8,12). “I have asked one thing from the Lord. This I will seek - to remain in the Lord’s House all the days of my life in order to gaze at the Lord’s beauty and to search for an answer in His Temple” (Psalm 27:4).”Hear my prayer for mercy when i call to You for help, when I lift my hands towards Your most holy place... Thank the Lord! He has heard my prayer for mercy! The Lord is the strength of His people and a fortress for the victory of His Messiah. Save Your people, and bless those who belong to You. Be their Shepherd and carry them forever” (Psalm 28:6-9).

“Give to the Lord glory and power” (Psalm 29:1) - God is calling us to worship Him.
“O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever” (Psalm 30:12) - We respond to His call. “Thank the Lord!... Love the Lord, all you godly ones!... Be strong, all who wait with hope for the Lord, and let your heart be courageous!” (Psalm 31:21,23-24). We, who have heard God’s call to worship and are learning to worship Him, are to call upon others to join with us in worshipping the Lord. Worship is to lead to witness, which will bring others to worship.

“Be glad and find joy in the Lord, you righteous people” (Psalm 32:11). “Joyfully sing to the Lord, you righteous people” (Psalm 33:1). Our joy is in the Lord. It is from Him that our “joyous songs of salvation” come (Psalm 32:7). It is “in Him” that “our hearts find joy” (Psalm 33:21). We “look to Him”, and we are “radiant” (Psalm 34:5). Even thought there are many obstacles to our spiritual growth, we are able to face all who oppose us in our walk with God. We are able to say, with confidence in the God who helps us to be strong in Him and victorious through His power, “Mt soul will find joy in the Lord and be joyful about His salvation” (Psalm 35:9).

In Psalms 36 and 37, we see the conflict between the righteous and the wicked, the godly and the ungodly. By drawing this radical contrast between these two types of people, God’s Word calls us to make our choice. What kind of people will we be? How will we live? There is no more important than the question of character. Will our lives be shaped by the character of God? or Will thy be shaped by a very different character - Satan, the evil one?

In Psalms 38-40, we have the Psalmist’s prayer and his testimony that God had heard and answered his prayer. “Do not abandon me, O Lord. O my God, do not be so distant from me. Come quickly to help me, O Lord, my Saviour... Listen to my prayer, O Lord. Open Your ear to my cry for help... I waited patiently for the Lord. He turned to me and heard my cry for help. He pulled me out of a horrible pit, out of the mud and clay. He set my feet on a rock and made my steps secure” (Psalm 38:21-22; Psalm 39:12; Psalm 40:1-2).

In Psalms 41-43, we see the Psalmist encountering great difficulties. He is not, however, overwhelmed by his problems. Each of these Psalms ends on the triumphant note of praise: “Thank the Lord God of Israel through all eternity!” (Psalm 41:13); “Put your hope in God, because I will still praise Him. He is my Saviour and my God” (Psalm 42:11; Psalm 43:5).

The people of God faced many obstacles, but the Lord gave them His victory and they praised Him - “All day long we praise our God. We give thanks to You forever” (Psalm 44:8). The words of Psalm 45 point forward to Jesus Christ, who is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16). Concerning Him, the Word of God says to us, “He is your Lord. Worship Him” (Psalm 45:11). Let our response be, “I will cause Your Name to be remembered throughout every generation. That is why the nations will give thanks to You forever” (Psalm 45:17).

The Lord, our God, is “King of the whole earth. He rules the nations” (Psalm 46:10; Psalm 47:7-9). The Lord is great. He is “the great King” (Psalm 48:14). The Lord does not remain detached from us in isolated heavenly glory. He comes to us as the God of our salvation - “God will buy me back from the power of hell” (Psalm 49:15). By His Word, spoken to us and acted out on our behalf, God involves Himself with us as our Saviour. He is not a God who keeps His distance from us - “Our God will come.” He is not a God who keeps His silence - “and will not be silent” (Psalm 50:3). This God comes to us with His promise of salvation - “Call on Me in times of trouble. I will rescue you, and you will honour Me” (Psalm 50:15). Along with this promise of salvation comes God’s call to live in faith and obedience: “Bring your thanks to God as a sacrifice, and keep your vows to the Most High” (Psalm 50:15). To those who walk in His way, the Lord promises His blessing: “Whoever offers thanks as a sacrifice honours Me. I will let everyone, who continues in My way, see the salvation that comes from God” (Psalm 50:23).

We must trust in God’s “mercy”, which “lasts all day long” (Psalm 51:1; Psalm 52:1). We need God’s mercy, because we are sinners - “Everyone has fallen away. Together, they have become rotten to the core. No one, not even one person, does good things” (Psalm 53:3). When we come, as sinners, to the Lord, we find that He is our Saviour. We pray to Him, “O God, save me by Your Name” (Psalm 54:1). He hears ans answers this prayer for salvation. We say, “God is my helper! The Lord is the provider for my life... Your Name rescues me from trouble” (Psalm 54:4,7). Knowing the Lord as our Saviour, we are filled with a spirit of praise to Him. We say, from the heart, “I will give thanks to Your good Name, O Lord” (Psalm 54:6).          

“I call on God, and the Lord saves me” (Psalm 55:16) - This is the Psalmist’s testimony. It is followed by his call to others to turn to the Lord and discover how good He is: “Turn your burdens over to the Lord and He will take care of you” (Psalm 55:22). “I praise the Word of God, I trust God, I am not afraid. What can mere flesh and blood (mortals) do to me?” (Psalm 56:4,10-11). “My heart is confident, O God, I want to sing and make music... I want to give thanks to You among the people, O Lord, I want to make music to praise ou among the nations because Your mercy is as high as the heavens. Our truth reaches the skies. May You be honoured above the heavens, O God. Let Your glory extend over the whole earth” (Psalm 57:7,9-11). As we praise God, He leads us forward in His triumph.

When the Lord’s people face hostile persecution, their only hope is in the Lord: “God is my Stronghold, my merciful God” (Psalm 59:9,17). Looking to the Lord, we pray, “Give us help against the enemy because human assistance is worthless” (Psalm 60:11). Trusting in the Lord, we have this confidence: “With God, we will display great strength. He will trample our enemies” (Psalm 60:12). Knowing that god is with us as the God of our salvation, we can say, with glad assurance of faith, “I will triumph!” (Psalm 60:6). We are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Whatever Satan does, he will not succeed. We have the victory in Christ.

"Listen to my cry for help, O Lord" (Psalm 61:1). God is the God of power and mercy: "Power belongs to God. Mercy belongs to You, O Lord" (Psalm 62:11-12), "I look to You in the holy place to see Your power and Your glory. My lips will praise You because Your mercy is better than life itself" (Psalm 63:3). When we consider how great God is - great in power, great in mercy, we are filled with thanksgiving, praise and joy - "I will thank You as long as I live ... My mouth will sing Your praise with joyful lips" (Psalm 63:4-5).

"Righteous people will find joy in the Lord and take refuge in Him" (Psalm 64:10). "You are the One who hears prayers ... You are the One who forgives our rebellious acts ... You answer us with awe-inspiring acts done in righteousness" (Psalm 65:2-3,5). In the Lord, there is true happiness. This blessing comes to us as we bring our sins to Him and receive His forgiveness. The blessing of forgiveness is a wonderful work of divine grace for which we give thanks to God - "All of them shout triumphantly. Indeed they sing" (Psalm 65:13).

The Psalmist  calls upon all of us to offer our praise and thanksgiving to God - "Shout happily to God, all the earth! Make music to praise the glory of His Name. Make His praise glorious" (Psalm 66:1-2). "Let everyone give thanks to You. Let the nations be glad and sing joyfully ... Let the people give thanks to You, O God. Let all the people give thanks to You" (Psalm 67:3,5). 

Prophecy And Fulfilment

"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.
 

Eternal Blessings

"The Lord gives victory to His anointed" (Psalm 20:6).

Jesus is the Christ (the anointed). Through His death and resurrection, Jesus has won the victory over Satan. He won the victory for us. He gives His victory to us. 

"Surely You have granted him eternal blessings" (Psalm 21:6). 
Through the mighty victory of Jesus Christ (God's Anointed), there are "eternal blessings" - for us. 


"My God, God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Psalm 22:1).
How do eternal blessings come to us through Christ? When we see Christ, suffering on the Cross, we must give thanks to God that His suffering was for us. For Him, there was suffering. For us, there is salvation.
"'Tis mystery all! The Immortal dies ... Amazing love! how can it be that Thou, my God shouldst die for me! ... No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!"

"Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and  I will dwell in the House of the Lord for ever" (Psalm 23:6).
For us, God's salvation begins while we are here on earth. They continue for "all the days of our life." His  blessings do not come to an end when we leave this world. His blessings are eternal - "I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever."

"Your love, Lord reaches to the heavens ... How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God!" (Psalm 36:5,7).
Where do God's eternal blessings come from? They come from His love, His eternal love, His love which endures forever (Psalm 136).

"Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered" (Psalm 32:1).
God's eternal blessings begin with the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus was forsaken by God so that we might be forgiven by God.

"We wait in hope for the Lord" (Psalm 33:20).
The forgiveness of our sins is just the beginning of God's eternal blessings. There is more to come. We look forward to being with the Lord forevermore.