Friday, 16 August 2019

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 fish -  "From En Gedi to En Eglaim people will be standing on the shore of the sea with their fishing nets spread out. As many kinds of fish will be there as there are in the Mediterranean Sea" (Ezekiel 47:10) - and God speaks to us about becoming "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). When we respond to Jesus' call, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19), we become new men and women - "the Dead Sea" becomes "fresh" (Ezekiel 47:9). This is where fruitfulness begins. God begins with us. He changes us. Before we can become fishers of men, we must become followers of Jesus. Before we can follow Jesus into the place of witness, we must follow Him into the place of worship - "All kinds of fruit trees will grow on both sides of the river. Their leaves won’t wither, and they won’t fail to produce fruit. Each month they will produce fresh fruit because this water flows from the holy place. The fruit will be good food, and the leaves will be used for healing” (Ezekiel 47:12). "All kinds of fruit trees" - Bearing fruit for the Lord - this is for all of us! We don't begin with bearing fruit. We begin with the water that flows from the holy place. We begin with worship. When we're learning to worship the Lord, He will teach us the way of fruitfulness. We receive blessing from the Lord. We share His blessing with others. We are blessed, and they are blessed. As we experience God's blessing in the place of worship, we will find that the Lord turns our hearts towards other people, and we will long for them to join with us in worshipping the Lord: "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together" (Psalm 34:3). True worship will always be more than our own worship. It will be worship that longs for other people to join with us in worship. It will be worship that leads to witness. Lord. send Your blessing, and may Your blessing reach out to more and more people.

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).

The Word of God encourages us to look beyond the here and now.

Isaiah 2:1-5
The Word of God encourages us to look beyond the here and now. It gives us a glimpse of "the last days" (Isaiah 2:2). God knows the end as well as the beginning - and He show it to us (Isaiah 2:2). We say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord ... He will teach us about His ways so that we may walk in His paths ... Come and let us walk in the Lord's light" (Isaiah 2:3,5). Our world would be a very different world if more people were looking to the Lord and learning from Him, turning to the Lord and travelling with Him. What about you? Are you looking to the Lord? Are you learning from Him? Are you turning to the Lord? Are you travelling with Him? These are the questions that the Word of God puts to every one of us. Will we give the answer of faith and obedience? I cannot answer this question for you. You cannot answer it for me. Each one of us must answer for ourselves. What will your answer be?

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear.

We are not to be afraid of those who oppose God and His Word (Jeremiah 42:11). We are to trust God. We are to stand on the promises that He has given to us in His Word – “I will have compassion on you” (Jeremiah 42:12).

The Highway

Jeremiah 31:21-30

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

God says to us, “I love you with an everlasting love.”

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).

God’s everlasting love

Jeremiah 31:1-6

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

Out of depression and defeat, into vigour and victory

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.

What People Want To Hear? or What They Need To Hear?

Jeremiah was not a popular prophet. He didn’t tell the people what they wanted to hear. He wasn’t concerned with gaining their approval. He was determined to keep on speaking God’s Word – whatever the people thought about him, said about him or did to him. The first priority is faithfulness. We must not make relevance the be-all and end-all. Relevance must be built on faithfulness. The two are to be held together – faithfulness and relevance. If we do not remain faithful to God’s Word, our words will be irrelevant. They will not be God’s Word for the people. “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17) – This must be at the heart of both our preaching and our living.

Called into the service of the eternal God

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).

A sad story - with a happy ending

"And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves (Joseph's brothers) for selling me (Joseph) here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you" (Genesis 45:5).
Isn't it wonderful how the Lord can turn things around - to serve His purpose, to bring glory to His Name? Who would have thought that the story of Joseph and his brothers would have turned out like this? It looked like a sad story, but it had a happy ending. This was because God was in the story. Every step of the way, God was there.  

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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...