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Lord, help us to love You ...

Lord, help us to love You – and help us to love one another. How can we say that we love You if we are not learning to love one another? How can we learn to love one another if we are not opening our hearts to the greatest love of all – Your love for us. Fill us with Your love. Change us by Your love. May our whole life shine with the glory of Your love.

The Holy Spirit - Learning from 1 Samuel

Everyone was so happy - ‘Long live the king! (1 Samuel 10:24). Everything seemed to be so promising - ‘The Spirit of God came mightily upon Saul’ (1 Samuel 11:6). God’s people were victorious (1 Samuel 11:11). God’s people ‘rejoiced greatly’ (1 Samuel 11:15). This is not, however, the whole story. Things were to get worse, much worse - ‘You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from Him who calls you’ (Galatians 5:7-8). Remember the parable of the sower: ‘Satan immediately comes and takes away the Word... When tribulation or persecution arises on account of the Word, immediately they fall away... The cares of the world and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the Word, and it proves unfruitful’ (Mark 4:15,17,19). Pray - ‘Deliver us from evil’ (Matthew 6:13). ‘Samuel did what the Lord commanded’ (1 Samuel 16:4). Real obedience comes from ‘the heart’. It is more than just ‘keeping up appearances’…

Lord, what is it that keeps us walking with You in the way of faith?

Lord, what is it that keeps us walking with You in the way of faith? It’s Your grace – Your amazing grace. Without Your grace, we could not even begin to trust in You. Without Your grace, we cannot keep on trusting You. It’s Your grace that has brought us to faith in Christ. It’s Your grace that keeps us walking with You in the way of faith.

Lord, we thank You for Your great love.

Lord, we thank You for Your great love. It is not a love that we can take for granted. We dare not say, ‘God loves us. we can do what we like.’ Your love calls for our response. It’s a love that calls to trust in the Saviour. It’s a love which calls us to receive Your forgiveness. It’s a love which calls us to begin a new life with You. Help us, Lord, to live our lives in the light of Your great love – “Loving Him who first loved me.”

Lord, help us not to keep You at a distance.

Lord, help us not to keep You at a distance. Help us to get closer to You. So many of our problems come from this: We’re too far away from You. Even when we’re keeping you at a distance, help us to know that You still love us. Help us to know that You’ll never stop loving us.

Jesus is the King - not just a king.

Zechariah 9:9-10
This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus entered Jerusalem.
Jesus is the King - not just a king.
* What kind of King is He? - “righteous and victorious”, “humble” (Zechariah 9:9)., “to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:10).
* How are we to respond to Him? - “Rejoice greatly... Shout in triumph” (Zechariah 9:9).

God’s Blessing – Given, Accepted And Enjoyed (Genesis 12 - 13)

The “land” was given to Abraham by God. It was to be the land of His “blessing” (Genesis 12:1-3).  God’s gift of grace calls forth our response – “Abraham went, as the Lord had spoken to him” (Genesis 12:4). God had spoken. Abraham had acted upon God’s Word. Was it all plain sailing after that? No! There were trying times ahead of Abraham, times when he had to keep his eyes on the Lord. Receiving God’s gift of salvation does not guarantee that we will always walk with the Lord. We fall into sin – when we take our eyes off the Lord. “Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land” (Genesis 12:10). What are we make of this? What was going on here? Here are two different ways of looking at this situation – “Even when we are where God wants us to be, all will not necessarily go well for us materially – no matter what the prosperity gospel teaches. Abram was in the land God had sent him to, but that land…

Opening Up God’s Word: Genesis 1 - 2

“In the beginning, God”  – The first four words of the Bible take us back to the point where we can go no further, back to the eternity of God.
What do we find when we are taken back – into the heart of the eternal God?
We find love. We discover that “God is love.”
Creation is love because God is love. Before God made us, He loved us.
The love which we find in the opening chapters of Genesis is the love that is proclaimed throughout God’s Word – from Genesis to Revelation.
It’s the great love of God for us. It’s the love that never ends. It’s the love that goes on and on.
* How do we get to know God the Creator? How do we come to know that His heart is full of love for us?
In Genesis 1, three words are repeated over and over again: “And God said”.
These words emphasize the creative power of the Word of God.
God created through His Word. He proclaims His love to us through Jesus Christ, the living Word of God. He declares His love for us in the Scriptures, the written Word …

Real change comes from the Lord.

Genesis 20:1-18
We do not see Abraham in a good light here. There is, in this incident, a reminder of the deceitfulness of the human heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Our only hope of real change is in the Lord who says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stubborn hearts and give you obedient hearts" (Ezekiel 36:26). In the human heart, there is conflict - the flesh and the Spirit wrestling with each other (Galatians 5:17). If the Spirit is to display the victory of Christ in our lives, we must "put on the whole armour of God", receiving "power from the Lord and from His mighty strength" (Ephesians 6:10-11). This strength comes in this way: "take salvation as your helmet and the Word of God as the sword that the Spirit supplies" (Ephesians 6:17).

God continues to carry forward His great purpose of salvation.

Genesis 16:1-16
We move from salvation and the assurance of salvation to Satan and the activity of Satan. Sarai came with temptation - "Why don't you sleep with my slave? Maybe I can build a family through her." Abram gave in to temptation -"Abram agreed with Sarai (Genesis 16:2). The evil influence of Sarai continued: "Sarai mistreated Hagar so much that she ran away" (Genesis 16:6). When we read of Satan and his activity, we must not imagine, for a moment, that Satan wins the victory over the Lord and His purpose of salvation. This becomes clear as the story develops. The Lord's purpose will not be thwarted by the activity of Satan. The "Almighty Lord" will be victorious. This chapter ends with the birth of Ishmael. It is not a high- point in the purpose of God. It is a sign that Satan is trying to overthrow God and His gracious purpose. This leads to a 13-year gap in God's speaking to Abraham (Genesis 16:16-17:1), but that…

Jesus Christ, the King of love and Prince of peace ...

Genesis 14:1-24
Following the conflict in Genesis 14:1-16, there is a great sense of the peace of God in Genesis 14:17-24. Here, we have a glimpse of Jesus Christ, the King of love and Prince of peace, the Great High Priest, who comes to us with bread and wine (Genesis 14:18). He comes to us with blessing. He comes in the Name of God Most High. In  His Name, the Name of our Creator, we have the victory (Genesis 14:19-20). He gives us so much. We are to give ourselves to Him (Genesis 14:20). There is another king who lays claim to our lives - "the king of Sodom." This king does not speak in the Name of the Lord. He comes from Satan, and he is to be resisted (Genesis 14:21-24). Our strength comes from the Lord, and not from anything which Satan can offer to us. In our hearts, we must learn to say with real delight in the Saviour: 'I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold ... than riches untold.'

More than a human story ...

Genesis 12:1-20
The blessing promised to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) takes us right on to the book of Revelation, to "the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven" (Revelation 21:10). The story of Abraham is more than a human story. It is part of God's eternal purpose which will find its ultimate fulfilment in the coming of God's eternal Kingdom. From the outset, we see this as a Divine Story. It has human elements (Genesis 12:10-20), but, in its deepest meaning, it is God's Story. Recognizing this divine dimension, we use the God-given name - Abraham (Genesis 17:5). The name 'Abram' (exalted father) draws attention to the man. The name 'Abraham' (father of many) points to God's purpose. With Abraham, we worship the Lord (Genesis 12:7-8). We say, 'He is exalted' - Christ must increase, and we must decrease (John 3:30). We read of Abraham, and we look beyond him to Christ.  Looking to Christ, we say, 'Christ…

The Name that really matters ...

Genesis 11:1-32
Between the list of names in chapter 10 and 11:10-32, there is the story of what happens when we make ourselves the focus of attention rather than God - "Let's make a name for ourselves" (4). What a contrast there is between the tower of Babel, with the human builders trying to make a name for themselves, and the great declaration of Proverbs 18:10 - "The Name of the Lord is a strong tower." In the one case, there is scattering - "From that place the Lord scattered them all over the face of the earth" (9). In the other, there is safety - "A righteous man runs to it and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10). Following on from Proverbs 18:10, we read, "A rich person's wealth is his strong city and is like a high wall in his imagination" (Proverbs 18:11). "God chose what the world considers weak to put what is strong to shame" (1 Corinthians 1:27).

What does the Lord require of us?

Micah 6:8
In Micah 6:8, the question is asked, “What does the Lord require of us?”
Micah 6:8 gives us an Old Testament answer to the question, “What is holiness?”
As well as Micah’s answer, there is a New Testament answer to this question.
* “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin” (Hebrews 9:22).
God calls us to come to the Cross. That’s where the life of faith and obedience begins.
* “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).
God calls us to put our faith in Christ. It’s personal faith. Each one of us must come to Jesus - “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.” Faith is God’s gift. Each one of us must receive His gift.
* “Without holiness, no-one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
God is calling us to become more like Jesus. Our life is to be less of self and more of Christ - and we’re to give all the glory to God.

Salvation is from the Lord.

Jonah 2:1-10 
"Salvation is from the Lord" (Jonah 2:9). Salvation comes first, then there is service. Before his prayer "from inside the fish" (Jonah 2:1), Jonah was running away from God. He wasn't serving God. Before we can do something for God - serving Him, He must do something for us: He must save us. Jonah's prayer comes from "out of the depths" (Psalm 130:1). In the depths, he finds that "there is forgiveness with God" (Psalm 130:4). With God's forgiveness comes hope for the future (Psalm 130:5,7). This hope comes from God's "faithful love" and His "abundant redemption" (Psalm 130:7).
Jonah's experience was a physical deliverance. He should have been dead. He remained alive. There was more than that. The man who came out of the fish was different from the man who was swallowed by the fish. He had been disobedient. Now, he was obedient - and blessed.

Give thanks to the Lord.

Joel 2:21-32
Give thanks to the Lord (Joel 2:21).
Joel 2:22-24 - Harvest is a special time for giving thanks to the Lord.
* We look back from the harvest, and we see the character of God (Joel 2:13).
* We look forward from the harvest - to greater blessing: spiritual as well as material (Joel 2:28-29).
Note the way of salvation - “Call on the Name of the Lord, and be saved” (Joel 2:32).

There is hope.

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

Let us return to the Lord ...

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

What a future God has planned for His people.

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

Daniel;s Deliverance And Christ's Resurrection

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

Fire!

Daniel 3:1-30
Fire - danger, heat
There is, in God’s Word, a word of warning and a word of promise.
This is the way we are not to go. This is the way we are to go.
* “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).
* “The bush was not consumed” (Exodus 3:2).
* “Our God is an awesome God” (Rich Mullins) - we must never forget this.
Fire is to be respected. Our God is a holy fire. He burns away our dross.
* “Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire is to be holy, set apart for You, Lord; I choose to be holy, set apart for You, my Master, ready to do Your will” (Brian Doerksen).
* “O God of burning, cleansing flame, send the fire! Your blood-bought gift today we claim: send the fire today!... We need another Pentecost! Send the fire today!” (William Booth).
This is the inspiring and empowering fire: the Holy Spirit. “Give me oil in my lamp. Keep me burning” - burning for God.
* Isaiah 43:2 - “You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.”
Ther…

God's Kingdom Endures Forever.

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

The river of God is filled with blessing.

"The river of God is filled with water" (Psalm 65:9).
What a superabundance of blessing there is in the river of God! We read more about the river of God in Ezekiel 47. We read about the amazing increase of God's blessing - "The water came up to my ankles ...The water came up to my knees ... The water came up to my waist ... the water had risen so much that it became a river which I couldn’t cross. The river was too deep to cross except by swimming" (Ezekiel 47:3-5). When God gave this vision to Ezekiel, He asked him, "Son of man, do you see this?" (Ezekiel 47:6). This is the question that the Lord puts to each one of us: 'Do you see what I'm showing you?' What happens when we're learning to swim in the river of God? -   "Wherever the river flows, there will be many fish and animals. The river will make the water in the Dead Sea fresh. Wherever the river flows, it will bring life" (Ezekiel 47:9). We read about fis…

Something For "A Cloudy And Dark Day"

" ... so will I seek out My sheep ... on a cloudy and dark day" (Ezekiel 34:12). Our life on earth is " a cloudy and dark day." Left to ourselves, we always lose our way. We cannot find our way back on to the way of the Lord without the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus does not leave us to stumble around on a "cloudy and dark day." He has come "to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). He is "the Light of the world" (John 8:12). His Light is still shining brightly. The darkness can't put it out (John 1:5). We look to Jesus, and we see beyond "the cloudy and dark day." We look to Him, and we say, "The Lord is my light and my salvation" (Psalm 27:1).

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

Samaria and Jerusalem behaved like prostitutes. In graphic language, the sin of turning from the Lord is compared to sexual immorality. Why does God expose their sin with such plainness of speech? He wants to show them the full extent of their rebellion, so that they may see the folly of continuing in sin and may be moved to return to the Lord - “Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 23:49). In Ezekiel 24, we learn about God’s holiness and His love. If we are to appreciate the wonderful love God has for sinners, we need to become more deeply aware of the awesome holiness of God’s hatred of sin. We look at our sin. We look at God’s holiness. We learn about ourselves. We see how far we have fallen short of God’s glory. We learn about God. We come to know that He is the Lord. Deeply aware of God’s holiness and our own sin, we are led, by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures, to see Jesus, crucified for us. We hear about God’s holiness. This is the Word of His…

We Need More Than Other People. We Need Jesus.

"Your wounds are as deep as the sea. Who can heal you?" (Ezekiel 2:13).
There's only one answer to this question - the Lord. Other people can help us - if they point away from themselves to the Lord, if they say to us, 'You need more than the help I can give to you. You need Jesus.'

Visions From God ... Speaking His Word In The Power Of The Spirit

“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).

Learning From God's Word: 2 Samuel

2 Samuel 1:1-2:32 Here, we read here about the end of Saul's reign and the beginning of David's reign. For Saul, the end was tragic: "See how the mighty have fallen!" (2 Samuel 1:19,25,27). David's reign marked a new beginning. God is gracious. He gives us a new beginning when we have made a mess of things. He is the God of hope. He leads us out of our failure and into His victory.
2 Samuel 3:1-5:25 In 2 Samuel 2:1-7, we read of David becoming the king of Judah. In 2 Samuel 5:1-5, we  read of him becoming the king of Israel. Behind the story of David, there is the story of God at work: "The Lord was with David." "The Lord had established him as king of Israel and made his kingdom famous for the sake of Israel, the Lord's people" (2 Samuel 5:10,12).
2 Samuel 6:1-8:18 David worships God - "I will celebrate in the Lord's presence", "You are great, Lord God. There is no-one like You, and there is no other god ex…

Our Rebellion, God's Redemption

Speaking through the prophet, God uses very colourful sexual imagery to describe Israel’s relationship with Himself and her revolt against Him. The last word, in Ezekiel 16, is not, however, a word concerning the rebellion of Israel against the Lord. It is the message of redemption - the forgiveness of sins (Ezekiel 16:63). “I am the Lord ... I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it” (Ezekiel 17:24). In His Word, God tells us who He is and what He has done for us. He is the God who loves us. He has shown us His love in the death of His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. What a contrast there is between God’s salvation and man’s sin. God brought His people out of Egypt and into the promised land. They rebelled against Him and refused to listen to Him (Ezekiel 20:6-8). God had not given up on His people. He would draw them to Himself. He would make them His instrument of blessing to the nations (Ezekiel 20:40-44). In Ezekiel 21 - 22, words concerning God’s holy judgment ag…

How are we to pray?

2 Chronicles 7:12-22
The gathering together of God’s people - “I ... have chosen this place for Myself” (2 Chronicles 7:12). Note also 2 Chronicles 7:15-16 - “... this place... this temple.”
The key verse is 2 Chronicles 7:14. Taking this verse together with Acts 1:12-14, we may say, ‘This is the kind of prayer that leads to Pentecost.’
What we have here is humility, prayer, longing for God and repentance.
We must ask, ‘How are we to pray?’
* We are to pray with humility. Remember the parable of the Pharisee and the publican (Luke 18:9-14).
* We are to pray with longing for God. Prayer is more than just words. There is to be intensity and persistence. The parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8): She kept on praying until she received an answer. We are to “cry out to God day and night” (Luke 18:7).
* We are to pray with repentance. Our words are to be backed up by our life.
When God hears this kind of prayer, arising from our hearts and lives as well as our lips, He sa…

The glory of God - in creation and in Christ

Psalm 19:1-14
The glory of God in creation - general revelation
The glory of God in Christ - special revelation
The link between the two is the glory of God, shining through the written Word of God.
Creation shows us the greatness of God's power. Christ shows us the greatness of God's love.
In creation, we see the beauty of nature. In Christ, we see the beauty of holiness.
How are we to move beyond appreciating the beauty of nature to living the life of holiness? We need to turn, again and again, to the written Word of God. Read God's Word. Listen to what the Lord is saying to you. The main thing that God says to us is this - He points us to Jesus, His Son; Jesus, our Saviour; Jesus - "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). As we read the Scriptures, we learn that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15), and we rejoice in the Lord. We give thanks for His love and His salvation, and we give …

Psalm 23

“The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1).
He speaks to us. He calls us to Himself. He leads us on with Himself (John 10:3).
He is all that we need for walking the walk as well as talking the talk.
He works in us through the “oil” of the Holy Spirit and the “table” and “cup” of Christ (Psalm 23:5).
The completion of God’s work in us is beyond this life. It’s more than “as long as I live.” It’s “forever” (Psalm 23:6).

Psalm 24

“The one who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3) - That’s Jesus. “He will receive a blessing from the Lord” (Psalm 24:5).
How do we receive this blessing? We must receive it through Jesus. We must open our hearts to “the King of glory” (Psalm 24:7,9). He will lead us on to “the mountain of the Lord”, to “His holy place” (Psalm 24:3).

Psalm 27

The Lord brings light and salvation to us. He is our light and our salvation (Psalm 27:1).
"The Lord is my light and my salvation" (Psalm 27:1).
Whenever we confess our faith in the Lord, we must never forget what we were without the Lord. We were in darkness. We were lost. He has brought us out of our darkness and into His light. He has found us. He has saved us.
When the Lord saves us, He gives us a great desire to worship Him (Psalm 27:4).
We are on a journey - a lifelong journey, an eternal journey (Psalm 27:13-14) - “all the days of my life, “forever” (Psalm 23:6).
“Wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). We need to hear this for both our lifelong journey and our eternal journey.

Psalm 32

The forgiveness of sins (Psalm 32:1-2); Confess and be forgiven (Psalm 32:5). Once we have begun our journey with the Lord, we are to seek instruction from His Word (Psalm 32:8). To receive instruction from the Lord, we need to have the right attitude (Psalm 32:9). When the Lord has saved us and we are learning to walk with Him in the light of His Word, we will rejoice in the Lord and His faithful love for us (Psalm 32:10-11). When we say that God's love is faithful, we mean this: it's forever love.

salm 33

Worship the Lord with joy (Psalm 33:1,3). We give thanks for the Word of the Lord and the work of the Lord. They show us His love. They assure us that He can be trusted (Psalm 33:4-5). We learn that He is the 'forever' God. He opens His "heart" to us (Psalm 33:11). He shows us the way to happiness (Psalm 33:12).

Psalm 34

"I will praise the Lord at all times" (Psalm 34:1) - in the bad times as well as the good times. "Rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4:4). "His praise will always be on my lips" (and in my heart) (Psalm 34:1). This Psalm begins with "I" (see also Psalm 34:2 - "I will boast in the Lord"), but it move on, from there, to "Proclaim with me the Lord, let us exalt His Name together" (Psalm 34:3). Note also "I" (Psalm 34:4) and "Taste and see" (Psalm 34:8).
The way to happiness - true and lasting joy (Psalm 34:5,8): True joy goes hand in hand with the fear of the Lord (Psalm 34:11-12).
The Lord sees us in our need, and He has compassion on us. He is near to us - "Emmanuel." He saves us - "Jesus" (Psalm 34:18; Matthew 1:23,21).
What the Lord does for us is summed up in Psalm 34:22 - He redeems us. This is more than changing our life here-and-now. This is eternal life. This co…

Psalm 40

The sinner becomes the singer and the servant.
* “a desolate pit”, “the muddy clay” - This is our sin. We bring our sin to the Saviour.
* “a new song” - This is our song of salvation. This is the song that our Saviour has given to us.
* “Many will see...” We do not sing for ourselves. We do not live for ourselves. We live for the Lord. We are to win people for Him.
Before a song can be a song of praise, it must be a song of salvation. We praise God because He has saved us.

Psalm 46

"God is our refuge and our strength ..." (Psalm 46;1). "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). First, the truth about God; Then, our feelings are brought into line with the truth about God,
Facts; Faith; Feelings
* Facts - Christ's death and resurrection for us
* Faith - I believe the facts. My faith is built on the sure foundation - Christ, the rock of my salvation.
* Feelings - Never start with feelings. They will lead you astray.
Safety; Certainty; Enjoyment
* Safety - We have been saved by the Lord. It's His doing - not ours.
* Certainty - We believe His Word. We stand upon His promises.
* Enjoyment - We enjoy His blessing.

Psalm 78:12-25

"He worked wonders" (Psalm 78:12), "He gave them drink as abundant as the depths" (Psalm 78:15), "He brought streams out of the stone and made water flow down like rivers" (Psalm 78:16), "They spoke against God - Is God able to provide food in the wilderness?" (Psalm 78:19), "waters gushed out, torrents overflowed" (Psalm 78:20), "He opened the doors of heaven" (Psalm 78:23), "He gave them grain from heaven" (Psalm 78:24), "the bread of angels, an abundant supply of food"(Psalm 78:25).
This is about more than food. In Psalm 78:22, we read about "salvation." Whatever words we use to describe God's salvation, we can never say all that needs to be said. It's always more than we can put into words.

Psalm 81

"Listen" (Psalm 81:8,13).
* Why should we listen?
(a) We should listen because there's something worth hearing.
(b) We should listen because there's something we need to hear.
(c) We should listen because there's something we need to hear.
* The call to listen - "My people" (Psalm 81:8,13); "I will admonish you" (Psalm 81:8); (c) "Following the Lord's ways" (Psalm 81:13).
* What do we hear when we listen?
(a) We hear about God's love. He loves us, and He has saved us. This is Good News.
(b) We hear about our sin. This is what we need to hear, even if we don't want to hear it. If we don't listen to the bad news concerning our sin, we won't appreciate the Good News of God's love.
(c) We hear about holiness. This is our wholeness. It comes to us from the Lord. It is the gift of his love. It is also our calling. In love, God is calling us to be holy. He's calling us to receive our wholeness - to become…

Psalm 93

“The Lord reigns” - “majesty”, “strength” (Psalm 93:1). He is the eternal God (Psalm 93:2). He speaks to us. His Word is true, holy and eternal (Psalm 93:5).

Psalm 98

"Be jubilant, shout for joy and sing to the Lord ... " (Psalm 98:4-5). Our joyful worship goes to the Lord. First, it comes from Him (Psalm 98:1-3).
Israel looked back to the Exodus. We look back to Jesus - His death and resurrection. We do more than look back. We look forward - "He is coming" (Psalm 98:9).

Psalm 100

"all the earth" (Psalm 100:1), "through all generations" (Psalm 100:5) - It wasn't just for there and then. It's for here and now. "Every person in every nation in each succeeding generation has the right to hear the news that Christ can save."
The Good News of Christ is a message of triumph (Psalm 100:1). It's a message of gladness and joy. It leads to worship and service (Psalm 100:2). It's a message of love - eternal love (Psalm 100:5).

Psalm 103

What kind of person are you? Are you a forgiven man / woman? The God of love (Psalm 103:8) is reaching out to each and every one of us (Psalm 103:9-10). God's love is greater than we can put into words or even imagine (Psalm 103:11-12). Before there can be forgiven people, there needs to be the forgiving God.
The God of love is reaching out to us. How will we respond to Him? Will we keep our distance from him when He is drawing near to us? or Will we open our hearts to His love? Will we bring our sins to Him and receive His forgiveness? Will we come to Him in our weakness and receive his strength? Will we come to Him, deeply aware that our life on this earth is moving on towards its end? Will we come and receive from Him eternal life?
God's love is everlasting love. It is faithful love - the love of our heavenly Father (Psalm 103:13,17). The love of God can change everything. Our sins can be forgiven. We can receive God's strength. We can receive eternal life…

"Praise the Lord!" (Psalm 104:1).

We have come here to praise the Lord. Why do we praise the Lord? "Lord my God, You are very great." God is great in power. His power can impress us, but it will not save us until we are touched by a special power - the power of His love. God is great in holiness. His holiness (Isaiah 6:3) shows us our sin (Isaiah 6:5). It's His love that brings us salvation (Isaiah 6:7). When we see the greatness of His love, we can truly say, "Praise the Lord."

Psalm 111

Hallelujah! Jesus Christ is risen today - a celebration for Easter, and every Lord’s Day.
* At the start of the Psalm - “I will praise the Lord” (Psalm 111:1).
* At the end of the Psalm - “His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10).
In our worship, there is to be both “the fear of the Lord” (Psalm 111:10) and trust in the Lord - “the Lord is gracious and compassionate... He has sent redemption to His people” (Psalm 111:4,9).
We give thanks to the Lord for His love, but we must never forget that “His Name is holy and awe-inspiring” (Psalm 111:9).
* The character of God: He is holy, He is love.
* The message of the Gospel: In love for us, the holy God has provided a way for our sins to be forgiven.
These are the truths of God’s Word which are to shape our lives, making us more holy and more loving.

Psalm 115

"Not to us ... " (Psalm 115:1). We worship the Lord. He has saved us. The God of grace comes to us. He calls us to "trust in the Lord" (Psalm 115:9-11). The Lord blesses those who fear Him (Psalm 115:12-13). He's teaching us to live in a way that will bring praise and glory to Him. Our whole life is to say, "Praise the Lord ... Hallelujah! (Psalm 115:18).

Psalm 118:1-9

Some things are worth repeating (Psalm 118:1-4). Emphasis - This is important.
We're speaking about God's love for us - not our love for God. Our love for God is changeable - sometimes strong, sometimes weak. His love for us is always is unchangeable - always strong, never weak.

Psalm 118:10-18

"The Lord is my strength, my song and my salvation" (Psalm 118:14).
In the Lord, we have the "victory." This fills our hearts with "joy" (Psalm 118:15).
"In the tents of the righteous" (Psalm 118:15) - The Lord has made us "righteous", and He calls us to be "righteous." Let us "give thanks to the Lord" (Psalm 118:19).

Psalm 118:19-29

God is calling us to praise Him.
* “I will praise the Lord” (Psalm 118:20).
* “I will praise You” (Psalm 118:21).
* “You are my God, and I will praise You” (Psalm 118:28).
Praise is more than words that we sing in church. Our whole life is to be full of praise to God.
We come to the Lord’s Table to receive forgiveness from Him. We go from the Lord’s Table to share His forgiveness with others.
* “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12),
* “Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive” (Colossians 3:13).
* How many times should I forgive my brother? - “As many as seven?” “Seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22). If we’re still counting, we’ve missed the point!
* “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they’re doing” (Luke 23:34).
Thank God that Jesus prayed this prayer for every one of us. Let it shape our attitudes and actions towards one another.
May God help us to be less like the Pharisee, and more like the tax collect…

Psalm 119:41-48

"Let Your faithful love come to me, Lord, Your salvation ... " (Psalm 119:41). God's faithful love comes to us as His salvation. God's salvation is revealed to us in His Word (Psalm 119:42), His Word of "truth" (Psalm 119:43), the Word of His "forever and ever" love (Psalm 119:44). His Word changes us. It creates in us "love" (Psalm 119:47-48) for the Lord and His Word. It empowers our walk with the Lord and our witness for Him (Psalm 119:45-46).

Psalm 119:105-112

God's Word is a bright shining light. It shines upon our life, and everything changes. Nothing can remain the same when the light of God shines on us. In His light, we see what we are - and what we can become. His Word brings light (Psalm 119:107). In His Word, there is light and life - and there is love, the best love, the love of God.

The Lord does great things - for us and through us.

"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy" (Psalm 119:3). The Lord has done ... and will keep on doing great things for us.
Psalm 126:5-6 - The Lord will do great things through us - reaching out to others, bringing them to Jesus, our Saviour.

To whet your appetite for the Psalms ...

To whet your appetite for the Psalms, here are some early lessons:
stability in the Lord (Psalm 1:1-2);
service for the Lord (Psalm 2:11);
salvation of the Lord (Psalm 3:8);
sanctification from the Lord (4:4-5);
singing to the Lord (Psalm 8:4);
strength in the Lord (Psalm 9:9).
These are some of the blessings promised to those who 'delight in the law of the Lord' (Psalm 1:1-2). With a God like this - full of so much blessing for us - what else can we do but rejoice in Him?

Psalm 5

Psalm 5 is a morning prayer: ‘morning by morning’, we are to come before the Lord ‘in expectation’ of His blessing (Psalm 5:3). The Psalmist prays with great earnestness. His prayer is a ‘sighing’ before God, a ‘cry for help’(Psalm 5:1-2). He acknowledges the holiness of God: ‘You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil, with you the wicked cannot dwell’(Psalm 5:4). The words of Psalm 5:9 apply to every one of us. Paul quotes this verse in support of the conclusion that ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’(Romans 3:13, 23). There is, however, a way of coming to God. It is ‘by His mercy’(Psalm 5:7). Each of us has been declared guilty by God (Psalm 5:10; Romans 3:19-20). For the fallen, God has provided a way of forgiveness. For the guilty, He has provided a way to gladness (Psalm 5:11; Luke 2:10-11). ‘Hallelujah! What a Saviour!’(Church Hymnary, 380).

Psalm 4

In Psalm 4, there is a great message of the Gospel. By ourselves, we are sinners, turning God’s glory to shame, loving delusions and seeking false gods (Psalm 4:2). By grace, God has done something about this - ‘the Lord has set apart the godly for Himself’ (Psalm 4:3). When we pray, ‘Answer me’ (Psalm 4:1), we have this confidence: ‘the Lord will hear when I call to Him’ (Psalm 4:3). The Lord hears the sinner’s prayer, ‘Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer’ (Psalm 4:1). Jesus Christ is God’s Answer to this prayer. Christ brings relief (salvation). This salvation arises from the mercy of God. In Christ, we have a ‘joy’ and ‘peace’ which the world can neither give nor take away (Psalm 4:7-8). When the seeking sinner comes with question, ‘Who can show us any good?’ (Psalm 4:6), the Gospel Answer is always the same - Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Psalm 16

‘Thou wilt show me the path of life; in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore’(Psalm 16:11). In this earthly life, there are many difficulties. For all of God’s people, there is something better still to come. We must look not only at the things which are happening now. We must look also to the glory which is yet to come. Our hope of eternal glory is based on Christ’s resurrection. David’s words (Psalm 16:8-11) are quoted by Peter in connection with ‘the resurrection of the Christ’(Acts 2:24-33). ‘Christ has been raised from the dead...at His coming those who belong to Christ...will be raised imperishable’(1 Corinthians 15:20-23, 52). ‘The Lord is my chosen portion...Therefore my heart is glad’(Psalm 16:5,9). Is this your testimony? Choose Christ and be glad.

Psalms 22-24

Read of the Psalmist’s sufferings. Think of the Saviour, suffering for you (Psalm 22:7-8,18; Matthew 27:39,43,35). We highlight two statements: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’, ‘They have pierced my hands and my feet’(Psalm 22:1,16). Jesus Christ was ‘crucified and killed by the hands of the lawless men’(Acts 2:23). There is, however, more to His story than this: ‘The Lord has laid all our sins on Him’(Isaiah 53:6). When we read of Jesus Christ, ‘pierced for our transgressions’, we see Him ‘pierced’ by men and forsaken by God (Isaiah 53:5; Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34; Matthew 27:46). Looking on to Jesus Christ, risen, exalted and returning, we see Him still bearing the marks of His suffering - ‘the mark of the nails’, ‘a Lamb standing as though it had been slain’, ‘pierced’(John 20:25; Revelation 5:6; 1:7).
Jesus Christ has ‘tasted death for everyone’(Hebrews 2:9). Now, through Him, salvation is proclaimed to ‘the congregation’, to ‘the ends of the earth’ to …

Psalms 26-27

God’s love for us inspires our loyalty to Him: ‘Your love is ever before me, and I will walk continually in Your truth’(Psalm 26:3). Loyalty to the Lord involves worshipping Him and walking with Him (Psalm 26:11-12). Walking with God is not easy. There are ‘enemies round about’ us (Psalm 26:4-5, 9-10; Psalm 27:2-3,6,11-12). What are we to do? We are to worship God: ‘One thing have I asked of the Lord…that I may dwell in the House of the Lord…’(Psalm 27:4). What are we doing when we gather in the Lord’s House for worship? This is what we are doing - ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage’(Psalm 27:14). Where does our strength come from? It comes from God: ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation… The Lord is the stronghold of my life’. Strong in Him, we say, ‘My heart will not fear… I will be confident’(Psalm 27:1,3).

Psalm 30

‘I will exalt You, O Lord’(Psalm 30:1). God is not exalted because we exalt Him. We exalt Him because He is exalted: ‘He is exalted, for ever exalted, and I will praise His Name’(Mission Praise,217). How do we come to the point where we say, ‘I will exalt You, O Lord’? We realize our need of Him - ‘when You hid Your face, I was dismayed’(Psalm 30:7). We look to Him for mercy - ‘To You, O Lord, I called; to the Lord, I cried for mercy’(Psalm 30:8). God hears and answers our prayer - ‘You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy’(Psalm 30:11). God calls us to worship Him - ‘Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy Name’(Psalm 30:4). ‘The joy of the Lord’, His ‘unutterable and exalted joy’, gives us ‘strength’(Nehemiah 8:10; 1 Peter 1:8). We worship God: ‘O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever’(Psalm 30:12).

Psalm 34

Looking to the Lord, we are ‘radiant’ He has ‘delivered’ us. He has ‘saved’ us (Psalm 34:4-6). Rejoicing in God’s salvation, we say, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times’(Psalm 34:1). We call upon others to worship the Lord with us - ‘O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!’(Psalm 34:3). We invite them to trust in the Lord and come to know the joy of His salvation - ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!’(Psalm 34:8). We encourage them to keep on hearing the Word of the Lord so that they may learn to walk with God - ‘Come, O sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord’(Psalm 34:11). We seek to lead people on to spiritual maturity. We say to them, ‘Depart from evil, and do good’, praying that they will become ‘mature’, ‘trained by practice to know the difference between good and evil’(Psalm 34:14; Hebrews 5:14).

Psalms 66-67

‘Come and see what God has done’(Psalm 66:5). God invites us to look into His Word, to read His Story, the Story of all that He has done for us. ‘Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He has done for me’(Psalm 66:16). God invites us to listen to the preaching of His Word, to let His Story become our story, to let His salvation become real in our lives. We read God’s Word. We hear His Word. This is our journey of discovery. We discover what the Lord has done for us. We discover how much He wants to bless us. He waits to hear our prayer - ‘May God be gracious to us and bless us...’. He answers our prayer - ‘God has blessed us’(Psalm 67:1,6-7). He wants us to ‘be glad and sing for joy’. He wants us to call ‘all the ends of the earth’ to ‘worship Him’(Psalm 67:4,7).

Numbers 15-24

Numbers 15:1-41
God's work among His people was directed toward the future - "Once you're settled in the land I'm giving you" - and it was grounded in the past - "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God" (Numbers 15:2,41). Our present obedience draws strength from our past redemption - "It is finished" - and our future hope - It is still to come.
Numbers 16:1-50 In this chapter, we read about the judgment of God upon those who sinned against Him. God is perfectly holy. He calls us to be holy. This is not to be a pretence. It is to be real. Those who came under God's judgment claimed to be holy (Numbers 16:3). God saw what they were really like. This very challenging. It's a reminder that we must not take God lightly: "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Alongside this, we should also remember that Christ's hands were pierced for us. He waits to welcome al…

Numbers 25 - 36

Numbers 25:1-26:65 God's people are being called on to maturity. This is the significance of the phrase, "at least twenty years old" (Numbers 26:2,4). There are, however, many dangers. We are easily sidetracked - putting other "gods" before the Lord our God (Numbers 25:3). This turning away from the Lord is a serious matter, leading to the withdrawal of God's blessing. We can, however, continue to enjoy the Lord's blessing if, like Caleb and Joshua, we are men and women of faith (Numbers 26:64-65).
Numbers 27:1-23 Joshua was to lead the  people beyond the point to which Moses had led them. Joshua was chosen and empowered by God. Reading the story of God's people, from one generation to another, we find that the names change - but the Lord remains the same. Moses played his part. Joshua played his part. At every point in the story, God is there, upholding His servants in every generation.
Numbers 28:1-29:40 The people of Israel were given a…

Be Strong And Courageous! ... (Joshua)

This is the story of what God was doing with His people. He was giving them the land he had promised to them. Joshua was to be the leader of God's people. Joshua’s strength came from the Lord: “Be strong and courageous! ...The Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). The report of the spies - “The Lord has given us the whole country” (Joshua 2:24) - emphasizes that God is in control. God is working out His purpose, His perfect purpose, His purpose of love. It is important to remember this. Without this understanding of the events recorded in the book of Joshua, we will lose our way and fail to see what relevance these events have for us. From these events, we learn that our strength comes from the Lord, who does great things for us because he loves us with a perfect love. The crossing of the River Jordan was a significant event. It was an event to be remembered. It wasn’t just a geographical event. It was more than a movement from one place to anothe…

Learning From God's Word: Ruth

Ruth 1:1-22 Following the triple tragedy of the deaths of Elimelech, Mahlon and Chilion (Ruth 1:3-5) and the departure of Orpah (Ruth 1:14), there was a new beginning for Naomi and Ruth. This new beginning came to them when "they came to Bethlehem" (Ruth 1:19). The town of Bethlehem marked a new beginning for them. It marks a new beginning for us. This was the place where our Saviour was born. "They happened to to enter Bethlehem just when the barley harvest began." The timing of their arrival turns our thoughts towards fruitfulness. We come to our Saviour - born at Bethlehem, and He makes us fruitful in His service. Without His help, we cannot even begin to see a harvest gathered in for Him. If we are to see the Lord's blessing on the work we do for Him, we must look to Him, putting our trust in Him.
Ruth 2:1-4:22 This is the story of Ruth and Boaz. It is a story which leads on to David (Ruth 4:22) - and, beyond him, to Christ. In this story of lo…

The Exodus is more than a departure. It's a deliverance ...

Exodus 2:23-25
The Exodus is more than a departure. It's a deliverance. It's more than a protest against Egypt. It's an answer to prayer. It's more than a social revolution. It's a spiritual revelation of God's love.


Exodus 3:1-22
Moses may have been content to remain in the background. God was calling him to step into the foreground - for God’s people.
This is more than the story of Moses. It’s the story of Israel. It points forward to God’s purpose for all nations. When we read the Old Testament story, we find that God is saying to us, ‘This is just the beginning. There is more than this.’ From Exodus to the Gospels, to Acts, to the book of Revelation: We’re not at the final triumph yet. Like those who have come before us - Moses, the Psalmist, the prophets, Jesus, Peter, Paul, we must face conflict. There will be glimpses of glory, but the full glory is still to come.
In Exodus, we see God’s people on a journey. It’s a journey with God. It’s a jou…

Leviticus 1 - 14

Leviticus 1:1-3:17 We may note the frequent recurrence of the phrase, "a soothing aroma to the Lord" (Leviticus 1:9,13,17: Leviticus 2:2,9,12; Leviticus 3:5,16). The presence of the Lord is "like a fragrance that fills the air." Not all people welcome the presence of the Lord. To some, it is "the aroma of Christ", " a life-giving fragrance." To others, it is "a deadly fragrance" (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). We are to pray that our life - in every part - will be pleasing to the Lord, bringing glory to Him. This will involve our worship in the holy place. It will also involve our living for the Lord in the many and varied situations of everyday life.
Leviticus 4:1-35 The word, "blood, appears often here. We may note, in particular, the phrase, in Leviticus 4:25, "the blood of the offering for sin." In the final verse (Leviticus 4:35), we may note why "the blood of the offering for sin" was shed - "forg…