Monday, 20 October 2014

Search The Scriptures: John's Gospel

This is an updated post. I've added notes on John 2. I will add more notes.
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"The Light shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it" (John 1:5).
Jesus is the Light of the world. We are to be like John, who said, "Make the way for the Lord straight" (John 1:23). Like John, we are to say, "Look! This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). When we are faithful, we will see others being brought to the Saviour. At the beginning of their faith, they will be filled with the joy of the Lord. Like Jesus, we must teach them that there is greater joy, still to come: "You will see the sky open and God's angels going up and coming down to the Son of Man" (John 1:51).

There's a contrast between the two parts of John 2 - the joy of water being turned into wine (John 2:1-12), the seriousness of the money changers being thrown out of the temple courtyard (John 2:13-17). We need both - joy and seriousness; the joy that comes from knowing Jesus, the seriousness of commitment to following Jesus. The rebuilding of our lives comes from the resurrection of Jesus (John 2:18-22). This rebuilding comes to us when we seek to know the reality of the Lord in our lives. This reality comes to us when we seek to be real with God (John 2:23-25).

Search The Scriptures: Luke's Gospel

This is an uodated post. I've added notes on Luke 1:39-80. I will add more notes.
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“You will know that what you have been told is true” (Luke 1:4). Historical truth underlies the spiritual truth through which the Spirit brings home to our hearts the meaning of the Gospel. Without the historical truth, there is no Gospel. The Gospel is not based on myth. It is God’s testimony to His truth: truth - unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. The historical truth of the gospel is not something that we can set aside, as we search for some deep meaning, which is independent of historical truth.

“He will prepare the people for their Lord” (Luke 1:17). Before the people could come to Jesus, they needed to come to John. The role of the witness is to lead people to Jesus. They come to us with the question, “What do you have to say?” As they listen, they become less interested in what we have to say and more concerned with hearing the Word of the Lord. What is it that leads people beyond the words of man to the Word of God? “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:16).

We tend to think of Jesus’ birth as supernatural, and the birth of John the Baptist as natural. It should be noted that it’s in connection with John’s birth that the angel of the Lord says that “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). John wasn’t born of a virgin - but his birth did have a supernatural dimension. In both births - Jesus and John, God was at work. He was carrying forward His plan of salvation.

The birth of Jesus and the birth of John are closely connected. God was sending His Son. He was also sending His prophet. The prophet should not be exalted too highly. His purpose is to exalt the Saviour. As we read about Elizabeth, Mary and zechariah, we see that each of them gave glory to the Lord. "Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit" (Luke 1:41). "Mary said, My soul praises the Lord's greatness" (Luke 1:46).  "Zechariah began to praise God... Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied" (Luke 1:64,67).

Search The Scriptures: Mark's Gospel

This is an updated post. I've added notes on Mark 2:18-28. I will add more notes.
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“Good News” - “the forgiveness of sins” and “baptism with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:1,4,8). This Good News is centred on Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son (Mark 1:11). Jesus was empowered by “the Spirit” (Mark 1:12). He comes to us with “the Good news of God” (Mark 1:14). He calls for our response - “Change the way you think and act, and believe the Good News” (Mark 1:15). Where does this change come from? It comes from the Good News. This is what changes us. By becoming Christ-centred (following Jesus), we become less self-centred and more other-centred. Jesus teaches us “how to catch people instead of fish” (Mark 1:17).

“He taught them with authority” (Mark 1:22). We need both - the teaching and the authority. It is the teaching that gives the authority. We are taught by the Lord. We speak with the authority that comes from this: God’s Word is truth. When we know that the revelation has come to us from the Lord, we are able to understand and communicate God’s Word of truth. This is not about our level of understanding or our ability to communicate. It’s about the Lord, making Himself known to us and enabling us to share His Word with others. What do we have to share with others? We have “Good News” (Mark 1:38-39). “People kept coming to Him from everywhere” (Mark 1:45). Lord, give us such blessing in our day.   

Jesus brings us salvation - “Friend, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5) - and He calls us to discipleship - “Follow Me” (Mark 2:14). We cannot be His disciples without, first, coming to Him for salvation. We must emphasize that salvation leads to discipleship. Our discipleship demonstrates the reality of our salvation. We must hear the words, “I’ve come to call sinners” (Mark 2:17) before we can respond to the call to live as “saints” (God’s people). By nature, we are not God’s people. Through His redemption, we become His people. We are redeemed through the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). We are called to live in the strength of the Lord, walking with Him in the pathway of victory, “more than conquerors” through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

 "New wine is to be poured into fresh skins" (Mark 2:22).New, fresh - This os the work of God. This isn't something that we can do for ourselves or give to ourselves. This must be done for us. It must be given to us. All the glory belongs to the Lord! "The Son of Man has authority over the day of worship" (Mark 2:28). It's not so much the activity of worship that's important. It's the Saviour whom we worship. It's Jesus who makes worship important. We worship Him.

Search The Scriptures: Matthew's Gospel

This is an updated post. I have added notes on Matthew 4. I will add more notes.
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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 wise men did want to worship Jesus (Matthew 2:2). Herod said that he wanted to worship Jesus (Matthew 2:8). What a difference there is between saying that we want to worship Jesus and really wanting to worship Him. This highlights the conflict between false religion and true worship. Religion may say the right things, but, if we don’t really mean what we say, our words will not make any difference to the way we live. This kind of religion is worthless. What does God say to us about this kind of religion? - “God warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod” (Matthew 2:12). God is still warning His people to steer clear of empty religion. When we come to the Lord, we must not come with empty words - words that we don’t really mean. Our worship is to shape our life. How is our worship to change our way of living? Real worship arises out of salvation. This is very different from religion. Religion says more about ourselves than it says than it says about our Saviour. Salvation is not about us. It’s about Jesus, our Saviour. When He is the focus of our attention, we will learn to worship Him and live for Him.

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).

Jesus' victory over Satan must be seen in the broader context of His work of salvation. This was more than just a personal victory - a victory for Jesus. It was a victory for us. Jesus won the victory for us. He walked in the way of victory so that we might live in the power of His victory. After Jesus had won the victory over Satan, He called His disciples to Him - "Come, follow Me!" - and He sent them out from Him, empowered by Him to be witnesses ("fishers of men" - Matthew 4:19) for Him. His victory was not only a victory for His first disciples. It was a victory for all who would become believers through their witness. This includes all of us.Each one of us has come to faith in Christ through the testimony of His apostles. When Jesus sent them out, He did more than send them. He showed them what they were to do (Matthew 4:23-25),
    

Search The Scriptures: Habakkuk

This is an updated post. I’ve added notes on Habakkuk 2. I will add more notes.
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“The divine revelation that the prophet Habakkuk saw” (Habakkuk 1:1) – This is a Word from the Lord. It is given to Habakkuk. It is given to God’s people, Israel. It is given to His Church in every nation and every generation. God’s Word is to be received by God’s people. God’s Word is to be passed on to God’s people. “Didn’t You exist before time began, O Lord my God, my Holy One?” (Habakkuk 1:12). God does not speak to us from the standpoint of a human observer. He’s more than someone who belongs to time alone. He is the eternal God. When we listen to the voice of God, we are listening to the voice of the One who is eternal, the One who is calling us on to eternal life.

“I will stand at my guard  post. I will station myself on the wall. I will watch to see what He will say to me…” (Habakkuk 2:1). When we speak about God’s revelation, we’re emphasizing that God speaks to us. Here, we’re emphasizing our response to God’s revelation. God’s Word is heard by us when we listen to Him. “Write the vision. Make it clear on tablets so that anyone can read it quickly” (Habakkuk 2:2). When we have heard the Word of the Lord, we are to share it with others, We are to pray that they will be changed by it. “The vision… will certainly happen…” (Habakkuk 2:3). When the vision comes from the Lord, it will be a true vision, a vision that will be fulfilled. “The righteous person will live because of his faithfulness” (Habakkuk 2:4). These great words are quoted by Paul in Romans 1:17. When Martin Luther read these great words, his life was changed by the power of God. Luther’s conversion led to the Reformation of the Church. “The Lord is in His holy temple. All the earth should be silent in His presence” (Habakkuk 2:20). When the Lord speaks to us, in power, from His Word, what are we to do? The first thing we must do is this: Bow before Him in worship – “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Search The Scriptures: Jonah

This is an updated post. I’ve added notes on Jonah 2. I will add more notes.
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Jonah tried to run away from the Lord. The Lord protected Jonah (Jonah 1:17). The Lord hadn’t given up on Jonah. God had a purpose for Jonah. What a great purpose it was! The call of God (Jonah 1:1-2) wasn’t obeyed by Jonah – but the call of God remained. God was still planning to use Jonah to bring great blessing to the people of Nineveh. Jonah’s attempt to go to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3) was a detour – but God had not forgotten His plan for Jonah. The “big fish” was the beginning of God’s way of getting Jonah to the place where He wanted him to be. The “three days and three nights” were God’s way of getting Jonah ready for being His faithful and fruitful servant. In this time of preparation for service, there is prayer (Jonah 2:1-10). Jonah’s prayer was preparing the way for revival in Nineveh.

“From inside the fish…” – Not a great place to be; Jonah prayed to the Lord our God” – Can prayer change things? – Yes! “I called to the lor in my distress, and He answered me” (Jonah 2:1-2). Humanly speaking, Jonah’s situation was hopeless: “The deep sea covered me completely… I sank to the bottom, where bars held me forever…” Humanly speaking – Is this all that there is? – No! There is more than this. There is God: “But You brought me back from the pit, O Lord my God” (Jonah 2:5-6).

Search The Scriptures: Amos

This is an updated post. I've added notes on Amos 2. I will add more notes.
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Amos begins with a humble description of himself - "one of the sheep farmers" (Amos 1:1). Being a prophet of God has nothing to do with  what we are in ourselves. It's all about God. It's all about His grace and His call. Looking after sheep - This is such an apt description of the ministry of a pastor. "The Lord roarsfrom Zion" (Amos 1:2). These words make us think of a lion. This could be terrifying for sheep. Think of the lion - Aslan - from "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (C S Lewis). It's a picture of Christ. His voice is more than a roar. It's the voice of love. The "roar" speaks of authority. The greatest authority is the authority of love. How does the Lord command our respect? He loves us. As we learn to appreciate His love, we learn to love Him. Our love for Him is inspired by His love for us. As we learn to love Him, our obedience to Him increases in strength. "The Lord has said this" (Amos 1:15). The prophet's voice is to be an echo of the Lord's voice. We speak because God has spoken.

"I brought you out of Egypt..." (Amos 2:10-11). God had done great things for His people. Sadly, this is followed by "You made the Nazirites drink wine. You commanded the prophets to stop prophesying." God has been good to us. How are we reacting to His love? Are we being changed by His love? His love is not only a gift to be received. It's apower to make us more like Him.  

Friday, 17 October 2014

Search The Scriptures: Ezekiel

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

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

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

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

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

In Ezekiel 8, we have a description of sin - “very disgusting things”, even more disgusting things” (Ezekiel 8:6,9,13,17). When we read such “bad news”, we wonder, “Is there good news?” The answer of God’s Word is “Yes”! God does not leave us in our sin. He sends His Son to be our Saviour. This is the good news, for which the prophets paved the way. Their ministry exposed sin, so that sinners might see their need of the Saviour.

If holiness is to be preserved, there must be a divine judgment upon sin. We cannot grow in our love for God, if we continue to have love, in our hearts, for the ways of the world. “Abba, Father, let me be Yours and Yours alone” (Dave Bilbrough, Mission Praise, 3).

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

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

Speaking through the prophet, God uses very colourful sexual imagery to describe Israel’s relationship with Himself and her revolt against Him. The last word, in Ezekiel 16, is not, however, a word concerning the revolt of Israel against the Lord. It is the message of redemption - the forgiveness of sins (Ezekiel 16:63).

“I am the Lord ... I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it” (Ezekiel 17:24). In His Word, God tells us who He is and what He has done for us. He is the God who loves us. He has shown us His love in the death of His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

What a contrast there is between God’s salvation and man’s sin. God brought His people out of Egypt and into the promised land. They rebelled against Him and refused to listen to Him (Ezekiel 20:6-8). God had not given up on His people. He would draw them to Himself. He would make them His instrument of blessing to the nations (Ezekiel 20:40-44).

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

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

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

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

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

This is a continuation of the Word of judgment, which began in Ezekiel 26. How final are the words at the end of Ezekiel 27: “You have come to a terrible end, and you will never exist again” (Ezekiel 27:36). This is the bad news concerning all of us. We are sinners. We are under God’s judgment. Our only hope is the God of grace and mercy. He has made Himself known to us as the One, who can turn everything around for us. He does through His Son, Jesus Christ.

God’s judgment on Tyre - This theme continues on from Ezekiel 26 - 27. The emphasis is on His judgment on the king - “the ruler of Tyre” (Ezekiel 28:1). Here, we look beyond “the ruler of Tyre.” We may look on from him to Satan. Like the king of Tyre, Satan will also “come to a terrible end” (Ezekiel 28:19). In Ezekiel 28:20-24, we have a prophecy of judgment on Sidon. In Ezekiel 28:25-26, we have a message of hope for God’s people, Israel - “they will know that I am the Lord their God” (Ezekiel 28:26).       

Search The Scriptures: Jeremiah

This is an updated version. I've added notes on Jeremiah 30-33. I will add more notes. 
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Jeremiah was called into the service of the eternal God - “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for My holy purpose.I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). Jeremiah called the people back to the Lord, “the fountain of living (life-giving) water” (Jeremiah 2:13). He called them to be converted - to turn around. They were turning their backs on the Lord. They were replacing Him with something else, something useless, something that would never bring them real satisfaction (Jeremiah 2:13). Now, they were to turn their faces to Him (Jeremiah 2:27). To a returning people, God promises his mercy - “Come back, unfaithful Israel. It is the Lord speaking. I will no longer frown on you because I’m merciful, declares the Lord, I will no longer be angry with you.” returning to the Lord means confessing our sins - “Admit that you’ve done wrong! You have rebelled against the Lord your God ...” The message of Jeremiah is summed up in the words, “Come back, you rebellious people” (Jeremiah 3:12-14).

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

God speaks to His people about their sin. He is not pleased with them. He is calling them to return to Him. The life of Israel is “like the desert” (Jeremiah 9:12). This moral and spiritual desert is described in Jeremiah 9:13-14 - “The Lord answered, They’ve abandoned My teachings that I placed in front of them. They didn’t obey Me, and they didn’t follow them, They followed their own stubborn ways and other gods ...” This was a serious situation. These words are very relevant to today’s Church and world. God is not being taken seriously. His Word  is being ignored. The situation goes from bad to worse. God is speaking. Few people are listening. He speaks through His Word. Few people are reading His Word. We must listen to what God says and do what He tells us to do.

“The Lord is the only God. He is the living God and eternal King” (Jeremiah 10:10). The contrast between God and the gods is simple. God made us. We made the gods. In the Lord our God, there is majesty and mystery - the majesty of the “eternal King”, the mystery that He is always beyond our understanding. Before this majesty and mystery, we bow down in worship. We acknowledge his greatness. We give Him glory. He is worthy of our worship.

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

“Where is the Word of the Lord? Let it come!” (Jeremiah 17:15). The Word of the Lord comes. It comes from above. It comes from the Lord. The Word of the Lord - This is God at work. He is speaking to us. He is working in us. We cannot create the Word of the Lord. We must let it come to us. The Word is His. It is not ours. We must pray, “Let the Word of the Lord come to us.” Let the Word of the Lord be God among us, God speaking to us, God working in us, God working through us.

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

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

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

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

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

Search The Scriptures: Isaiah

This is an updated version. I have added notes on Isaiah 34 – 39. 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).

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.”

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 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.  

Search The Scriptures: Psalms

This is an updated version. I’ve added notes on Psalms 55 – 60. 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.

Search The Scriptures: Exodus

Exodus 1:1-2:25
The stage is set for a mighty work of God. The Lord's people face a crisis situation. they are being oppressed by the Egyptians. God sees what is happening. He is making His plans - to give His people a better future. It may have seemed like God was doing nothing about Israel's problems - "a  long time passed " (Exodus 2:23). God was not standing back, paying no attention to what was going on. He was busy - preparing Moses to be the leader of His people. He was taking steps towards the great event of the deliverance from the oppressors. God was looking ahead to the Exodus and the movement from the land of bondage to the land of promise - "He remembered His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" (Exodus 2:24), and He was about to fulfil this promise with a mighty demonstration of His saving power.

Exodus 3:1-22
Moses was called to be a servant of God's people. He was to be the leader who would play an important part in bringing the blessing of God to the people of Israel. He was not to be a 'lone ranger.' He was to "assemble the leaders of Israel" (Exodus 3:16). He was to share with them the Lord's vision for His people's future. God was taking them away from "misery." He was leading them on to blessing - " a land flowing with milk and honey." Moses was not to go to the Pharaoh as a 'lone ranger' - "you and the leaders must go to the King of Egypt" (Exodus 3:18). There are important lessons here for God's servants today. We move forward together - as "one body in Christ."

Exodus 4:1-31
In Moses, there is great weakness. In the Lord, there is great strength. By himself, Moses was completely out of his depth. With God, Moses would go from strength to strength. He had God's promise as well as God's command: "Now go, and I will help you speak and will teach you what to say" (Exodus 4:12). Moses was not to be left on his own. As well as having the help of the Lord, he would also have the help of Aaron, his brother: "I will help both of you speak, and I will teach you what to do" (Exodus 4:15). Moses and Aaron were not to work in isolation from the other "leaders of the people of Israel." They were to share with them "everything the Lord had said" (Exodus 4:29-30). God's Word to Israel was a Word of power - He "did miraculous signs for the people" (Exodus 4:30) - and love - "The Lord was concerned about the people of Israel" (Exodus 4:31).

Exodus 5:1-8:31
It gets worse before it gets better. Things seemed to be going from bad to worse for God's people. They become "discouraged" (Exodus 6:9). They were unable to look beyond their present difficulties. They needed the Lord's Word of encouragement - "The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I use My power against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of there" (Exodus 7:5). Before there was salvation for Israel, there needed to be judgment for Egypt. The judgments on Egypt (the "plagues") were a call to repentance. If there had been a willingness to listen to God's Word at the beginning, these "plagues" would not have happened. Each "plague" was a call to repentance as well as a judgment on disobedience. Each "plague" could have been the last - if Pharaoh had said 'Yes' to the Lord. Pharaoh said 'No', and the "plagues" continued.

In the bad times as well as the good times
“Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw” (Exodus 5:14).
When everything seems to be going from bad to worse, we must pray that God will give us the strength that we need to keep on loving Him, trusting Him and serving Him. Our circumstances may have changed. Nothing seems to be going right. We didn’t think it would turn out this way. Has our Saviour changed? Has He gone away and left us? No! He hasn’t. He’s still with us. Are we still with Him? or Do we opt out when the going gets tough? Lord, You are faithful to us. Keep us faithful to You.

Exodus 9:1-11:10
More plagues, more opportunities for repentance - God was appealing to Pharaoh to change his mind about God and the people of God. The call to repentance was ignored. Pharaoh put on a show of repentance (Exodus 9:27-28; Exodus 10:16-17). - but he didn't mean it: "Pharaoh was stubborn", "the Lord made him stubborn" (Exodus 9:35; Exodus 10:20). He was a man of unbelief. God confirmed him in his unbelief. the final plague - the death of the firstborn - represented the end of the road for Pharaoh - "the Lord made Pharaoh stubborn" (Exodus 11:10). God was saying, 'Enough is enough.' God was going to bring His people out of Egypt - with or without Pharaoh's permission. there were good things happening - "the Lord made the Egyptians kind to the people. And Moses was highly respected by Pharaoh's officials and all the Egyptians" (Exodus 11:3) - but this didn't change the fact that Pharaoh was resistant to God. This resistance did not hinder God in the outworking of His great purpose of salvation.

Exodus 12:1-13:22
The purpose of the Passover was to build a bridge between the past, the present and the future: "Remember this day - the day when you left Egypt, the land of slavery. The Lord used His mighty hand to bring you out of there" (Exodus 13:3), "In the future, when your children ask you what this means, tell them, " 'The Lord used His mighty hand to bring us out of slavery in Egypt'" (Exodus 13:14). What must be remembered about these events is this: the Lord was in control. Once they had come out of Egypt, God continued to be in control of their journey. In Exodus 13:17-18, we read that God closed one door - £the shortest route" - and opened another door. God's perfect way may not always be "the shortest route" - but it is His way, and it'es the best way.

"God will surely visit you" (Exodus 13:19).
Sometimes, when we’re reading the Scriptures, there are some words that just jump out at us. We say to ourselves, “That was just what I needed to read.” We say to God, “Thank You, Lord for that Word. You’ve spoken Your Word to me. It was just the right Word – for me, for right now.” Here’s a great word of encouragement – “God will surely visit you” (Exodus 13:19). What a great privilege this is – God visits us! Are we ready for His visit? Do we pretend that we’re not in when He comes knocking on our door? or Are we so pleased to get a visit from Him? Often, we’re so busy with small things – things that don’t really matter that much in the light of eternity – that we fail to give the Lord an enthusiastic welcome.
As I thought about these words of encouragement – “God will surely visit you”, I looked at the rest of the verse and read these words, “the bones of Joseph”! Here, we see the realism of God’s Word. It lifts us up to the eternal God, but it also keeps our feet on the ground – with a reminder of our mortality! Do we need to hear about “the bones of Joseph”? – Of course, we do! We’re not going to go on forever. “The bones of Joseph” – there’s more than this. There are the heavenly “mansions” (John 14:2). Then, we’ll be going to “visit” the Lord. We’ll be more than visitors. We’ll “dwell in the House of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). That’s our glorious future. This is what we have to look forward to!
Here-and-now, we must settle for something less than that. We’re not quite ready for the fullness of His glory. He’s preparing us for glory. He’s giving us His visitations. He’s giving us ” a foretaste of glory divine.” How well prepared will be for the full revelation of God’s glory? We’ll never be fully prepared. We’ll always be sinners. We can, however, draw encouragement from God’s precious promise – “God will surely visit you.” Here-and-now, we must learn to appreciate God’s visitations. They’re preparing us for something better – “Eye has not seen. Ear has not heard. Neither has it entered into the heart what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Exodus 14:1-15:27
Here, we see "the great power of the Lord" (Exodus 14:31). This leads to worship - "I will sing to the Lord. He has won a glorious victory ... The Lord is my strength and my song. He is my Saviour. This is my God and I will praise Him ... " (Exodus 15:1-2). In the work of God's redemption, we see His love and power - "Lovingly You will lead the people You have saved. Powerfully, You will guide them to Your holy dwelling" (Exodus 15:13). This is the greatness of God's power - it is power which serves the purpose of His love. The Lord is King - "The Lord will rule as King forever and ever" (Exodus 15:18). He is not a tyrant. He is not a dictator. He is the King of love. He loves us. we are to love Him, living for Him and looking to Him to fulfil His promises in our lives.


Exodus 16:1-17:16
The Lord provides. Through the provision of manna and water, the Lord sustains His people. Strong in Him, they press on to victory. This is a picture of the Christian life. Before we can be soldiers of Christ, we must receive our strength from the Lord. We come to Him, looking to Him for strength - His strength. Jesus is the Bread of Life. He is the Living Water (John 6:51: John 4:14). Strengthened by Him, we will not be defeated. We will be victorious - "more than conquerors through Him who loved us." His love will give us the victory. "Nothing will be able to separate us from His love" (Romans 8:37-39). In the provision of manna and water, we see love. In the victory over the Amalekites, we see the victory of love: "Love has the victory forever." The God who loved His people - revealing His love in the Exodus, maintaining His love in the wilderness - gave them the victory.

Exodus 18:1-20:26
The Word of God tells us what God has done for His people: "the Lord saved them" (Exodus 18:8). The Word of God teaches us that being saved by the Lord places us under responsibility to be obedient to Him (Exodus 19:4-5). the vital connection between salvation and obedience is brought out clearly in the giving of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Before speaking to His people about what they must do if they are to live as His obedient people, God reminds them of what He has done for them: "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of slavery in Egypt" (Exodus 20:2). We must never forget how much the Lord has done for us. If we lose sight of His love, His grace and His mercy, so wonderfully revealed to us in our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, our 'obedience' will be nothing but legalism. Real obedience comes from real salvation. It comes to us from the God of our salvation.
"showing mercy to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Exodus 20:6).
In there, among the Ten Commandments, there's the word, "mercy" - what a wonderful word! What a wonderful thought - God is merciful. He does not look upon us in our sin. He looks upon us in His Son, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He looks at Jesus - dying on the Cross. He sees Jesus, bearing our sin - and He sees us, receiving Jesus' salvation. "In my place, condemned He stood. Hallelujah! What a Saviour!" - This is mercy, and it's right here in the Ten Commandments. How wonderful is this!
God's Word speaks here of our love for the Lord and our obedience to His commandments. Where does this come from? It comes from the Lord - from the God of love, grace and mercy. Before we come to the Ten Commandments, we have the great declaration of God's salvation: "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" (Exodus 20:2). Real love for the Lord and true obedience to his Word can never be reduced to legalism. It's always much more than that. His love for us inspires our love for Him. Our obedience to His Word is grounded in gratitude for His love.
Thousands came out of Egypt. They had been redeemed by the Lord. They weren't taken straight into the Promised Land. They had to spend many years in the wilderness. Is that not the story of our life? We want to love Him more truly and obey Him more fully - but our sin keeps on holding us back. We're not the finished article. We're a work in progress. Thousands - this is not just about the spiritual leaders, people like Moses and Joshua. This is about ordinary people, people with a story tell: "This is what the Lord has done for me." My story is not your story. Your story is not my story. Each one tells their own story - in their own way. All of us tell the same story - "Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me ... " This is mercy - and it's reached so many different people: different names, different faces, different places, one Saviour - Jesus.
How does God's mercy lead us in the pathway of loving him more truly and obeying Him more fully?
"May your Spirit make us look at the commandments not as a set of observances. May they move us to serve you not in a slavish way but as your sons and daughters who love you and whom you have set free. May we thus fulfil more than the law and serve you as your sons and daughters, in whom you recognize Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord forever."
"As grateful children of God, let us put our hearts into seeking in the commandments not our will but the will of God, so that we do not ask what God orders us to do but simply how we can respond to his love and show that love to the people around us."
"Commandments are not just observances that guarantee our salvation. they are a response to all God has given us. We ask God not what we are obliged to do, but what He expects us to do to respond to his love."
"May we learn from Jesus that love is the heart of the law and that true love knows how to serve" (Camilo J. Marivoet, "Liturgy Alive - Models of Celebration: Weekdays", pp. 314-316)
We've read about "thousands", receiving God's mercy, "thousands", learning to love God and obey Him. God's Word describes, for us, the glory of heaven. It says that there will be "a great multitude, which no man could number" (Revelation 7:9). How amazing is this! We'll come from different nations, different languages, different cultures and different centuries. Each of us will come with a different story to tell - our own unique story of what the Lord has done for us. There will be so many differences, but they will mean nothing to us. We will all be singing the same song. We'll be singing, "Salvation to our God, who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb" (Revelation 7:10). As we think of where we have come from - the depths of sin - and where we have been brought to - the heights of glory, we will sing to the Lord: "Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might be to our God for ever and ever" (Revelation 7:12).

Exodus 21:1-23:33
Our obedience to God is to take shape within the varied circumstances of everyday life. At the heart of our obedience, there is to be compassion, an expression of God's compassion (Exodus 22:21,28; Exodus 23:9). At the heart of our obedience, there is to be worship (Exodus 23:14). taking compassion and worship together, we come to the very heart of our obedience to God. It is not compassion without worship. It is not worship without compassion. The spiritual and the social belong together. We need spiritual foundations, leading to social changes. The social does not stand on its own. There needs to be spiritual depth. The 'spiritual' does not stand on its own. It is empty formality, if it does not lead to a change in our way of living from day-to-day.

"If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing” (Exodus 21:2).
In the seventh year, the slave could choose to leave his master. The slave was no longer under a legal requirement to remain in the service of his master. In the service of Christ, we are bound to Him by His everlasting love. There is never a point at which we should ever choose to turn back from following Him. Jesus redeemed us by the shedding of His precious blood. Let us serve Him all the days of our life.

"The Feast of Ingathering" (Exodus 23:16).
We are gathered into Christ. Jesus came "to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). This is Good News - but it's not to be kept to ourselves. Good News is for sharing. We're to gather others into Christ. As I thought about this phrase, "the feast of ingathering", my thoughts turned to the words of Psalm 126:5-6 - "Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy." We are to take the "precious seed" with us. We are to sow the "precious seed." We are to trust in the Lord's promise: We "will surely come back with shouts of joy, bringing our sheaves with" us. Our salvation is a tremendous privilege - and so is the service that we offer to our Lord. The Lord has saved us, and we say, "Glory to You, Lord." He has called us to be His servants, and, again, we say, "Glory to You, Lord." We look at our life in Christ - being gathered into Him and gathering others into Him, and we say, "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23). In the New Testament, we read about a man called Levi (Mark 2:13-14). He was to become Matthew (Matthew 9:9-13). Spiritually, it looked like his life was going nowhere - until Jesus came along, and everything changed. He was never the same again. What a big part Matthew has had in the ingathering of men and women for Christ. He was no longer Levi, a despised and forgotten tax collector. He was Matthew, the Gospel-writer. In Matthew's story, we learn about being gathered into Jesus and gathering in others for Jesus. His story is a story of both conversion and call. His life was turned around. It was turned outward towards others. He had a new purpose in life - winning people for his Saviour. * We see the opening of his eyes. Before Jesus spoke the two life-changing words, "Follow Me", was Levi watching Jesus? Was he seeing something different in Jesus? Was he beginning to see himself differently? Was the Spirit of the Lord working in him, preparing him for these life-transforming words, "Follow Me"? His immediate response - "he got up and followed Jesus" - suggests to us that the Lord was already working in his heart, preparing him for that moment when his new life, his life of discipleship, his life of mission would begin. On the day that Jesus came along, Levi saw himself as he really was - a sinner. He also saw Jesus as He really is - the Saviour of sinners, his Saviour. He was gathered in to Jesus - but this was just the beginning of gathering many others into Jesus. * We see the stirring of his heart. Had Levi noticed Jesus? Had he sensed something of the love of Jesus? Was he already beginning to hope that Jesus might do something special for him? Was the love of Jesus already reaching out to him before Jesus spoke the words, "Follow Me"? One thing we can say is this: Levi's conversion was a conversion of the heart. He gave his whole heart to the Lord Jesus - and, when he speaks to us in his Gospel, he speaks to us from his heart, and he speaks to our hearts. * We see the opening of his ears. As we read Matthew's account of his conversion, we are struck by the power of Jesus' words, "Follow Me." Whatever we may think about what could have been happening in Levi's life prior to that moment, we must say this: The moment that Jesus spoke the words, "Follow Me" was the moment that life began again for Levi. It was the moment that he was saved by the Lord - saved from a life of serving his own interests, saved for a life of serving his Saviour. * We see the changing of his life. Levi, the tax collector, became Matthew, the Gospel-writer - a new name and a new mission. He was not only gathered into Jesus. He began a new life of gathering others into Jesus. * We see the loosening of his tongue. We don't know a lot about Matthew. In Acts, we read of Peter and Paul. They were faithful and fruitful preachers of the Gospel. We don't read about Matthew being a preacher. We do know that, in his Gospel, he was speaking for his Lord. He was letting the world know how much Jesus meant to him. He was playing his part - a very important part - in gathering in men and women for the Saviour. * What about us? Will we play our part in the great "ingathering"? "Return to the Lord ... He will revive us ... He will raise us up ... He will come to us like the rain ... " (Hosea 6:1-3). * Return to the Lord. This is where it begins. A life of faithful and fruitful service to the Lord begins when we return to the Lord, when, like Levi, we say to Jesus, "Yes, Lord. I will follow You." * He will revive us. We pray for revival - a great ingathering of many people to our Saviour. Where does it begin? It begins with ourselves: "He will revive us." * He will raise us up. This is not just a little pick-me-up. This is resurrection. In ourselves, we are spiritually dead. In Christ, our risen Saviour, we are made alive. * He will come to us like the rain. "The spring showers water the land" - This is what we must pray for: a spiritual harvest which will bring many people to the Saviour and much glory to God.

Exodus 24:1-27:21
"The glory of the Lord" (Exodus 24:16-17) - God is to be glorified in all that we do. Symbolic of God's glory is the frequent reference to "gold" or "pure gold." God's glory is to shine brightly among God's people. If God is to be glorified among us, if our lives are to be like "pure gold", we must be like "pure virgin olive oil", keeping our "lamps" burning for Him(Exodus 27:20-21). God will not be glorified if we are not looking to Him to keep our lamps burning for Him - "Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning", "Shine, Jesus, shine. Fill this land with the Father's glory. Blaze, Spirit, blaze. Set our hearts on fire ... " The blessing we read about here is not simply for those who are already God's people. It is also for those who will be reached for Christ and won for Him, as the Lord's people rise to the challenge of carrying Christ to "this land" and to "the nations."

Exodus 28:1-30:38
In all our worship and in all of life, we are to be "holy to the Lord" (Exodus 28:36). Holiness lies at the heart of God's instructions to His people. God speaks of the special blessing of His "presence" at "the tent of meeting - "My glory will make this place holy" (Exodus 29:42-43). The holiness of God is full of love. He lives among His people as the God of redemption: "I brought them out of Egypt so that I might live among them" (Exodus 29:45-46). In the Lord's presence, there is grace - "in the Lord's presence ... the sins in their lives are removed" (Exodus 30:16). This redemption, given to us by the grace of God, is to be an ongoing experience through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Our salvation is never to be taken for granted in an arrogant way. Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we do receive assurance of God's salvation - but we must never forget this: "Holy to the Lord" (Exodus 30:37).

Exodus 31:1-33:23
The history of Israel is like a rollercoaster ride. It's full of highs and lows. We read of the Lord giving His Word to Moses (Exodus 31:18). This is followed by the people rebelling against God (Exodus 32:1). The sin of the people is very greater. The mercy of God is even greater. He shows mercy to those whop have rebelled against Him. He continues to speak His Word of grace - "My presence will go with you, and I will give you peace" (Exodus 33:14). Often, we feel like God won't want to have anything more to do with us. God is the God of grace. He is also the God of glory. He reveals His glory to us (Exodus 33:18-22. His full glory is too much for us. He gives us a glimpse of His glory. He gives us enough to create in us a thirst for more of His glory. He doesn't give us so much that we are overwhelmed by His glory.  What we have is grace and glory together. When His glory seems too much for us, His grace breaks in and assures us that we belong to Him. He shows us that His glory is the glory of His love, the greatest love of all.

Exodus 34:1-35
Moses received the Word from the Lord. He brought God's Word to the people. With God's Word of grace - "the Lord, a compassionate and merciful God ...", there is also His Word of warning - "He never lets the guilty go unpunished ... " (Exodus 34:6-7). Hearing God's Word of warning, together with His Word of grace, Moses pleads with God for mercy - "Lord, please go with us ... " (Exodus 34:9). The Lord promises to give His blessing - "I'm making My promise again." This promise of His blessing is accompanied by His call to obedience - "Do everything that I command today" (Exodus 34:11). When Moses came, from God's presence, to the people, his "face was shining" (Exodus 34:30,35). This was a sign of the power of the Spirit - filling Him, giving Him strength, equipping Him for the work of ministry,

"The skin of Moses' face shone" (Exodus 34:35).
What glory there is in the presence of the Lord! The glory of the Lord was shining upon Moses. The glory of the Lord was shining out from Moses. In the Lord's presence, there is light. When we come into His presence, we come out of the darkness, and we come into the light. It is the light of His glory. It is the light of His love. It is the glory of His love. This is what changes us. This is what makes us new men and women. How can we remain the same when we have been in the presence of the Lord? Was there something special about Moses? No! There was something special about God. Is there something special about us? No! There's something special about God. In His presence, everything changes. The things that seemed so important to us are seen in a new light - the light of eternity. They are seen for what they really are. Do these things really matter as much as we thought they did? or Have we been shaped too much by the world's way of thinking? In the Lord's presence, everything seems so different. Light is shining upon us. It is the light of God's Word. It is the light of the Gospel. His light is a great light. It shines brightly. It will not be overcome by the darkness. Often, we feel that the darkness is so powerful. It seems like we're struggling to get into the light - and the darkness keeps on pulling us back in. What do we learn when we come into the Lord's presence? What do we learn when we read His Word? What do we learn when His Gospel reaches us? We learn that it's not all about us - our struggle to break free from the darkness. It's all about Him - His power to set us free. "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."

Exodus 35:1-36:38
The work of God requires the work of a large number of people, who pool their resources together to see that God's work is done. When there is this willing spirit among God's people, God's work moves forward. This willing spirit comes from the Lord Himself - "The Lord has filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God." Through the Spirit of God, we receive gifts which are put to good use in the service of God (Exodus 35:31). When God's work is done in God's way - "as the Lord has commanded" (Exodus 36:1), there will be God's blessing: "The people are bringing much more than we need for doing the work the Lord has commanded us to do" (Exodus 36:5).

Exodus 37:1-29
Many times over, we read the word, "gold." We look beyond the furnishings of the place of worship to the God whom we worship. In our hearts, we say, "My God, how wonderful You are." All that we read of here is pointing us to the great God, the God of glory, the god who is worthy of all praise. Many people place great value on "gold", but they do not worship God and give glory to Him. How sad it is that so many people place such high value on the things of this world  - and place such little value on the God who created our world. In our world, we must learn to look beyond this world. We must learn to say, "I'd rather have Jesus than riches untold." The Lord must always be more important to us than anyone or anything else. We must not let "gold" become our "god." We must look beyond the "gold" to our God.

Exodus 38:1-40:38
All of this may seem so strange to us. Among all the many details, there is one thing which we must not miss. They "made everything that the Lord commanded." They "followed the Lord's instructions" (Exodus 38:22; Exodus 39:1,5,7,21,26,29,31-32,42-43). God's people are called to be obedient to Him. We are not to do what we want We are to what He commands. We are to follow His instructions. There can be no "anointing" (Exodus 40:9-15), if there is no obedience. The two go together - obedience and anointing. We are to do everything the Lord commands us. We are to follow His instructions (Exodus 40:16,19). Such obedience to God will involve putting His Word at the centre of our lives. His Word is not so much a Word of demand as a Word of "promise." It is not so much a Word of law as a Word of "mercy" (Exodus 40:20). Our obedience to God is grounded in our experience of God's "promise" of "mercy." Having received this "mercy" of God, promised to us in Jesus Christ, we follow the Lord's instructions (Exodus 40:21,23,27,29,32). When we have "finished the work" God has given us to do, we must look to Him to send the blessing - "the glory of the Lord filled the tent" (Exodus 40:34-35). In all the strangeness of the world of Old Testament worship, there are deep spiritual lessons for us, lessons which enable us to go on with the Lord - receiving His mercy, obeying His Word, experiencing His glory. God is good to us. He shows His mercy to us. He puts a new Spirit within us - the Spirit of obedience. He sends His glory so that we might rejoice in His presence and be strengthened by His presence.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Preaching The Word Of The Lord: Matthew's Gospel

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.