Charles’s quotes


"It is surely ours to combine these elements of mourning for sin and joy in our salvation in one complex and composite experience which keeps us perpetually humble and yet perpetually joyful too."— Rev William Still

Saturday, 30 September 2017

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.

Friday, 29 September 2017

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).

Thursday, 28 September 2017

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 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.”

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

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.'

Monday, 25 September 2017

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).

Sunday, 24 September 2017

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 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.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

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 all the glory to Him.

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.

Psalm 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 comes to us through the death of Christ (Psalm 34:20; John 19:33,36). He died that we might live.

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 what He created us to be.

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. This is the Good News of God's love. What are we to say to all of this? "Praise the Lord" (Psalm 103:1-2, 20-22). "To God be the glory!" Hallelujah!

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 collector (Luke 18:9-14). This is true praise. It pleases God.

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 ‘future generations’(Psalm 22:22,27,30). Jesus Christ, ‘the same yesterday, today and for ever’, proclaims salvation to the great ‘congregation’, drawn from ‘every tribe and language and people and nation’(Hebrews 13:8; Hebrews 2:12; Revelation 5:9). Jesus Christ has passed ‘through the valley of the shadow of death’ for us (Psalm 23:4). Now, we rejoice in Him, our Shepherd of love - (a) the Good Shepherd who died for us (John 10:11); (b) the Great Shepherd who was raised for us (Hebrews 13:20-21); (c) The Chief Shepherd who is coming again for us (1 Peter 5:4). He restores us. He keeps us from ’straying like sheep’. He leads us ‘in paths of righteousness’(Psalm 23:3; 1 Peter 2:25).

For God’s people, there is a glorious eternal destiny: ‘I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever’(Psalm 23:6). We ‘receive this blessing from the Lord,...the God of our salvation’(Psalm 24:5). There is only one answer to the question, ‘Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?: Jesus Christ ‘shall stand in His holy place’. No one else has ‘clean hands and a pure heart’- no one else but Jesus. He is the One who receives ‘blessing’ from the Lord - and He gives it to us (Psalm 24:3-5)! How do we receive His blessing? - We must open our hearts ‘that the King of glory may come in’(Psalm 24:7,9). How can ‘the Lord, strong and mighty’ live in me? How can I receive His resurrection power? Jesus says, ‘I stand at the door and knock, if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in’(Psalm 24:8; Ephesians 1:19-20; Revelation 3:20).

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 all who return to Him, fleeing from "the wrath to come."

Numbers 17:1-18:30
Moses, the priests, the people - All of them were to honour the Lord in everything. (i) "Moses did exactly what the Lord commanded him to do" (Numbers 17:11). (ii) The priests were "a gift, given by the Lord, to do whatever work is necessary at the tent of meeting" (Numbers 18:6). (iii) The people were to "contribute the best and holiest parts to the Lord" ("out of all the gifts they had received" (Numbers 18:29). Whoever we are, whatever our place in God's Work, we are to be dedicated to the Lord, committed to doing His will and being faithful in the work He has given to us to do for Him.

Numbers 19:1-22
When we read about being made clean, we must look beyond what we read in the Old Testament. From the sprinkling of the blood of "a red cow that is perfect, with no defects", we must look on to the New Testament, where we read of "the blood of Jesus Christ which cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Jesus Christ is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

Numbers 20:1-29 
Neither Moses nor Aaron were to enter the land, promised by God to His people (Numbers 20:12,24). This is a reminder to us that we dare not presume on God's continued blessing. The fact that He has blessed us in the past does not mean that He will always bless us. We can lose out on His blessing. The blessing of God is to be treasured. It is not be taken lightly. It must never be taken for granted.

Numbers 21:1-35
The Israelites are journeying with the Lord. He is leading them from victory to victory. Salvation fro Israel, salvation from the God of Israel, the true and living God, meant "destruction" (Numbers 21:3) for those who opposed God and His people - "How horrible it is for you, Moab! You are destroyed, you people of the god Chemosh" (Numbers 21:29). If there is to be real blessing among God's people, we must face conflict and overcome opposition from God's enemies.

Numbers 22:1-24:25
The story of Balaam concerns the challenge of speaking God's Word in truth. God is the God of truth (Numbers 23:19). His messengers must speak the Word of truth.. Before we can speak God's Word in truth, there needs to be a confession of sin, an acknowledgment of how far we have deviated from the way of truth. This confession of sin is to be accompanied by a fresh commitment to walking in the way of truth (Numbers 22:340. Speaking the Word of truth involves looking beyond ourselves to the One who is the Word of truth - our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (Numbers 24:17).

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 an extremely elaborate and detailed description of the sacrifices they were to bring to God. We no longer need to to bring such sacrifices to God. God Himself has provided the perfect Sacrifice. The Son of God has given Himself for us. He has put away our sin by the Sacrifice of Himself. We must focus our exclusive attention on Him.

Numbers 30:1-32:42
In the various areas of life - -personal faithfulness (chapter 30), our relationship with the world (chapter 31), our relationship with the Lord's people (chapter 32), there is one thing which is of the utmost importance: "we will do as the Lord has said" (Numbers 32:31). This is the most important thing: obedience to God.

Numbers 33:1-34:29
Much of what we have here is geographical. There is also, however, a spiritual dimension. God is leading His people to their new land, the land He had promised to them. In all the names of the places, we must see the hand of God directing His people according to His perfect plan. In God's "place", the "place" of His blessing, there must be nothing that hinders true worship of the Lord (Numbers 33:52).

Numbers 35:1-36:13
The whole of life is to be arranged according to God's perfect plan. This principle underlies all the detailed instructions given here. We see it, first, in Numbers 35:1 - "The Lord spoke to Moses ... " It is repeated in Numbers 35:9 - "The Lord said to Moses ... " It is emphasized in Numbers 36:5-6 - "So Moses gave the Israelites a command from the Lord ... This is what the Lord commands ... " It is seen in the response of "Zelophedad's daugthers" who "did as the Lord commanded Moses." It is found in the concluding verse of the book of Numbers: "These are the commands and rules the Lord gave the Israelites ... " (Numbers 36:13). Life may be very different today. Still, the spiritual principle remains the same: Our life is to be lived according to the teaching of God's Word. 

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 another. It was a spiritual event, a work of God. The meaning of this event would bring blessing to God’s people down through the years: “The Lord did this so that everyone in the world would know His mighty power and that you would fear the Lord your God every day of your life” (Joshua 4:24). The past affects the present. It shapes the future. We remember the Lord so that we might learn to fear Him, now and always.
The victory over Jericho came immediately after the appearance of “the Commander of the Lord’s army.” It was God who told His people how they were to approach the city of Jericho. Everything about this victory marked it out as the work of God: “So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land” (Joshua 6:27). The Lord accomplishes His work when His people obey His instructions. We must never forget this. All glory must be given to the Lord. It’s not our obedience which earns His blessing. It’s His power and His love, which sends His blessing down from heaven. His blessing is sent to those who are obedient. It’s always the gift of His grace. It’s never the reward for our good works.
The victory over Ai (Joshua 7 & 8) could not take place until the sin of Achan had been dealt with. There needs to be the tearing down of sin before there can be the building up with salvation. This is a spiritual principle of the greatest importance. God withholds His blessing from us when we withhold our obedience from Him. It is to an obedient people that God sends His blessing. We must,in repentance, remove the barriers to God’s blessing. When we do this, we can, then, reach out, by faith, and receive the blessing that He is so eager to give to us.
“The Lord fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:14). This is what we must see in all the conflicts between Israel and the other nations. God is working out His purpose. He is fulfilling His promises. Without this spiritual dimension, the events recorded in the book of Joshua are of no real significance for us today. Keeping this spiritual purpose at the centre, we will learn this great lesson: The Lord fights for us.
“Don’t be afraid of them because I am going to give them to Israel” (Joshua 11:6). This is the Word of the Lord that lies at the heart of Joshua’s account of Israel’s victories. The victory comes from the Lord. He gives His people the victory. This is still God’s Word to us. As we face our enemies - everything that stands in the way of our spiritual progress, we must stand on the Word of the Lord - His promise of victory.
In the book of Joshua , there’s plenty of geography - lots of place names. There is also the spiritual emphasis on the direct connection between obedience and blessing. We see this in the life of Caleb (Joshua 14:6-9,13-14). There’s something remarkable about Caleb - “I am 85 years old” and “still as fit to go to war as I was when Moses sent me out.” He was still saying, “If the Lord is with me, I can drive them out, as He promised” (Joshua 14;10-12).
The division of the land among the tribes (Joshua 15-19) seems to be so mundane, yet it’s part of the Word of God. This reminds us that even the mundane aspects of our life are lived out “in the presence of the Lord” (Joshua 18:10; 19:51).
The cities of refuge (Joshua 20) and the cities that were given to the tribes (Joshua 21) - This isn’t particularly interesting. We should never lose sight of the spiritual dimension, with which Joshua 21 ends: “The Lord gave Israel the whole land ... The Lord allowed them to have peace on every side ... The Lord handed all their enemies over to them. Every single promise that the Lord had given the nation of Israel came true” (Joshua 21:43-45).
“The Lord is the only true God” (Joshua 22:22,34).
In this new land, the Israelites faced conflict. This was more than a conflict between nations. It was a conflict between the one God and the many gods. It was a conflict  between the true God and the false gods. God’s Word to His people was clear - “You must be loyal to the Lord your God” (Joshua 23:8). God is still speaking to His people. He is still saying, “Get rid of the gods ... Serve only the Lord” (Joshua 24:14). The choice must be made - “Choose today whom you will serve.” God is calling us to make our response: “I will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). After reading many chapters, full of names, we must remember that there is one Name which is more important than all the other names. It’s the Name of the Lord our God. After reading so much about military exploits, we must remember that it is in the Name of the Lord that we are called to do battle. There’s a spiritual battle to be fought. In this battle, we fight for the Lord. We fight in His strength. In this battle, there’s one thing that matters more than anything else. It’s the glory of God.

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 love, we have the fulfilment of Naomi's words: "May the Lord bless him" (Ruth 2:20). It is a story which prompts the response: "Praise the Lord" (Ruth 4:14). It is a  story which points beyond itself to the story of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: the story of the greatest blessing of all - salvation; the story which inspires our worship, causing us to say, with heart and voice, "Praise the Lord." In this short story, we learn an important lesson: As we read the many stories told in Scripture, we must learn to see, in each of them, the story of our Saviour.

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 - "forgiveness" and "peace with the Lord." Reading about this, our thoughts turn towards Jesus Christ, our Saviour, who died that we might be forgiven. Out of love for us, He gave Himself for our sins so that we might have peace with God (Romans 5:8,1). 


Leviticus 5:1-7:38
In the descriptions of different offerings, we catch a glimpse of our need and Christ's salvation. There is the "offering for sin" (Leviticus 5:6), the "fellowship offering of thanksgiving" (Leviticus 7:15), the "guilt offering" (Leviticus 7:34), the "ordination offering" (Leviticus 7:37). There is teaching here which we must build on in our understanding of our Christian experience. Christ died for our sins to remove our guilt and bring us into fellowship with God. Grateful to Him, we give ourselves to Him, confident that He has ordained that we should bear fruit for Him (1 Peter 3:18; John 15:16). All of this arises from the Old Testament details: - "the burnt offering, the grain offering" (Leviticus 7:37). We must always look beyond the Old Testament sacrifices to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.


Leviticus 8:1-9:24
Aaron was anointed with "the anointing oil", set apart or "dedicated" to the Lord for "holy duties" (Leviticus 8:12,30). Anointed by the Lord and dedicated to Him, "Aaron and his sons did everything the Lord commanded, through Moses" (Leviticus 8:36). Concerning the Lord's commands, "Moses said, 'The Lord has commanded you to offer these sacrifices so that you may see the Lord's glory'" (Leviticus 9:6). Together with Moses, Aaron was obedient to God, bringing the blessing of God to the people - "Then the Lord's glory appeared to all the people" (Leviticus 9:23). The principles of God's blessing are still the same. We need the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He calls us to obedience. This is the way of receiving God's blessing. This is the way in which the glory of God comes down upon the people of God. We receive God's blessing when the Holy Spirit comes down upon us in His mighty power.


Leviticus 10:1-11:47
It is vital that we know "the difference between what is holy and what is unholy" (Leviticus 10:10). God calls us to "be holy", to "live holy lives" (Leviticus 11:44). This is the central point we must see in all the many unfamiliar details of ancient Jewish worship. This is the "permanent law" (Leviticus 10:9,15). This is the teaching which must be passed on to "generations to come."

Leviticus 12:1-13:59
Again and again, we read the word, "clean." Looking beyond the teaching "regarding health", we may recall that "the blood of Jesus Christ - God's Son - cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). This is the cleansing which everyone needs. No matter how healthy we may be in our bodies, we are spiritually diseased because of sin, and we need Christ's cleansing.


Leviticus 14:1-57
We read here of our need of cleansing and of the sacrifice of a lamb as a way of removing our guilt and bringing us into peace with God (Leviticus 14:21). Spiritually, we are "poor." What we have to bring to God is not "that much." It is not enough to provide for our cleansing. What we need has been provided for us - "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us what we could never do for ourselves - "There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin. He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in." All glory to God!

Leviticus 15 - 27

Leviticus 15:1-16:34 
Each of us is unclean before God. Each of us needs Christ, who has given Himself as "a sin offering" to "make atonement" for us (Leviticus 16:16). Christ is the perfect Saviour, who "bears all our iniquities" (Leviticus 16:22). Concerning His great sacrifice for us, the Word of God says, "On this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the Lord" (Leviticus 16:30).

Leviticus 17:1-18:30
Through the shed blood of Christ, we have peace with God and eternal life (Leviticus 17:11; Romans 5:1-2,8-10). We have received new life in Christ. Now, we are to leave the way of the behind us. We are to live e a new life as those who belong to the Christ (Leviticus 18:1-5; Romans 6:12-14; Romans 12:1-2).

Leviticus 19:1-37
Again and again, we read the words, "I am the Lord your God", or, more simply, "I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:3-4,10,12,14,16,18,25,28,30-32,34,36-37). The whole point of this is that our moral practice is grounded in our spiritual worship (Romans 12:1).

Leviticus 20:1-21:24
The Lord calls us to be holy - because He is holy (Leviticus 20:26). We are to be like Him. He has set us apart as holy (Leviticus 21:8). We are "dedicated with the anointing oil of our God" (Leviticus 21:12). We may take this "anointing oil" as symbolic of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. We are to "eat the food of our God - what is holy and what is very holy" (Leviticus 21:22). Here, our attention is directed towards Christ, who is our spiritual food - "the Bread of Life" (John 6).

Leviticus 22:1-23:44
Our careful obedience to God's Word is not to be a purely legalistic thing. We must never forget that God is the God of redemption. Our holiness is grounded in Him: He is holy, and He sets us apart as holy (Leviticus 22:31-33). Holy living involves both worship and service. We are to worship God (Leviticus 23:1-4), but we must not forget the "poor people" (Leviticus 23:22).

Leviticus 24:1-23
If our light is to be keep on burning continually, we need pure oil (Leviticus 24:2). The emphasis here is on keeping close to God. It is only through closeness to God that our light will be kept burning. In Leviticus 24:15, we read, "Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin." This is followed, in Leviticus 24:16, by some words of explanation of what bearing his sin meant: "He who blasphemes the Name shall be put to death." As we read these words, our thoughts move to Christ, the sinless Saviour who bore the sins of many - "He died that we might be forgiven. He died to make us good, that we might go at last to heaven, saved by His precious blood." Through Him, we are brought close to God. Through Him, we are darkness and into light.

Leviticus 25:1-55
This chapter is full of the Lord's instructions concerning the Jubilee to be celebrated by Israel. Why was it so important for Israel to hear and obey the Word of the Lord? - "The Israelites belong to Me as servants. They are My servants. I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord" (Leviticus 25:55). This is still the foundation of our call to obedience. The Lord, who calls us to obedience, has first called us to belong to Him through redemption. He has redeemed us. We belong to Him. We will serve Him.

Leviticus 26:1-46
There is blessing for those who learn to obey the Lord (Leviticus 26:3-13). There is judgment for those who persist in sinning against the Lord (Leviticus 26:14-33). The opportunity of blessing remains even for those who are in despair and are wasting away because of sin (Leviticus 26:36,39) - God says, "I will remember My promise" (Leviticus 26:42). Those who have sinned against the Lord "must accept their guilt." This is the way of coming to know the blessing of the Lord who says, "I will not reject them of look at them with disgust" (Leviticus 26:43).

Leviticus 27:1-34
The underlying theme of this final chapter is giving ourselves to the Lord to belong to Him, to be dedicated to Him, to be set apart for Him, to be holy. Such dedication to the Lord is to affect the whole of our life. We learn this from the variety of details in this chapter. There must be no turning back from following the Lord. Those who turn back do so at great cost. They become spiritually dead through their disobedience to the Lord. Let us keep up our dedication to the Lord.

Numbers 1 - 14

Numbers 1:1-4:49
God spoke, Israel obeyed (Numbers 1:1,54). This is the constant pattern of the life of faith - hearing and obeying the Word of God. The names of God's people differ from place to place. The pattern of their life remains the same. This pattern is also emphasized in Numbers 2, which begins with God speaking (Numbers 2:1) and ends with the people obeying (Numbers 2:34). This pattern is repeated in Numbers 3-4, which begin with God's Word (Numbers 3:1; Numbers 4:1) and end with our obedience (Numbers 3:51; Numbers 4:49). In Numbers, we read so much that is unfamiliar to us. We must learn to look for the Word that comes to us, in our time, as a Word from the Lord who is "the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). Hear and obey. Listen to what God is saying. Do what He has said.

Numbers  5:1-6:27
We must take sin seriously. It can lead to a withdrawal of God's blessing. This is the important and challenging message of Numbers 5. We must not lose sight of God's purpose for our lives. We are to be "dedicated to the Lord" (Numbers 6:6). It is God's intention to bless. In His love for us, He continues to speak to us His Word. His promise of blessing is still His Word to us. It is a Word which never ceases to be relevant to His people: "The Lord will bless you and watch over you. The Lord will smile on you and be kind to you. The Lord will look on you with favour and give you peace" (Numbers 6:24-26).

Numbers 6:22-27 
These are more than words spoken about God. They are words spoken by God. They are spoken to Moses before they are spoken by him. They are not spoken in the name of Moses. The are spoken in the Name of the Lord. He is the One who speaks His Word to us. This is real blessing, God's blessing.

Numbers 7:1-8:26 
From each tribe, the gifts came. The Levites had a special ministry. For this ministry, they needed to be made "clean" (Numbers 8:5). Through cleansing, they were made "ready to do the Lord's work" (Numbers 8:11). In a very special sense, God said of them, "the Levites will be Mine" (Numbers 8:14). Between the gifts from the tribes (Numbers 7) and the preparation of the Levites (Numbers 8:5-26), there are the seven lamps on the lampstand, giving "light in front of the lampstand" (Numbers 8:1-4). The lamp stand was made of "gold."  This is the precious light of God's Word, shining like gold, which is greater than all the other metals. God's Word is the light which inspires the giving of the tribes and the ministry of the Levites. Without God's Word at the centre, everything else means nothing.

Numbers 9:1-10:36
The Israelites were travelling towards the promised land. As they travelled, they were to celebrate the Passover (Numbers 9:1-14). In their journey, they were being led by the Lord (Numbers 9:15-23). In the course of their journey, they faced opposition from their enemies, the enemies of the Lord. In this situation, they looked to the Lord for victory: "the Lord your God will remember you and rescue you from your enemies", "Arise, O Lord! Scatter Your enemies! Make those who hate You, run away from You!" (Numbers 10:9,35). Our journey is from the past (for which we give thanks to God), through the present (in which we look to the Lord for victory), to the future (towards which we are being led by the Lord.) In every part of our journey, we are journeying with God.

Numbers 11:1-35
There were problems among God's people. The spirit of complaint had spread among them. This brought the "fire" of judgment (Numbers 11:1). The spirit spirit of complaint comes when people don't like what God is doing among His people.We see this in Numbers 11:26-28. The words of prophecy are described as the result of the working of "the Spirit" (Numbers 11:26), yet Joshua said, "Stop them, sir!" (Numbers 11:28). Note Moses' response - "I wish all the Lord's people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit on them" (Numbers 11:29). What we need is not the quenching of the Spirit, but the release of God's Spirit among God's people.

Numbers 12:1-13:33 
In his leadership of God's people, Moses faced problems. It was not an easy pathway towards the promised land. There was opposition from Miriam and Aaron (Numbers 12:1). There was an unbelieving report, brought back from the land of Canaan by most of the spies (Numbers 13:31). Alongside these problems, there was the encouragement, which came from Caleb's words of faith: "Let's go now and take possession of the land. We should be more than able to conquer it" (Numbers 13:30). By faith, we shall overcome the problems.

Numbers 14:1-45
The problems continue. The problems increase (Numbers 14:1-4). Again, there is the Word of encouragement - "this time from Joshua, as well as Caleb" (Numbers 14:5-9). The people bring judgment upon themselves. They will not enter the promised land. Of the older generation, only faithful Caleb and Joshua were to enter the land. They would lead the next generation into the land of promise, thus fulfilling the Lord's promise of grace, which is always free grace - but it's never cheap grace. Grace is freely given by the Lord - but it can never be taken for granted by us. This point - not taking God's grace for granted - becomes clear in Numbers 14:39-45.

Genesis 30-35

Genesis 30:1-43
Jacob was prospering. His family and his flocks were increasing. In Jacob's prospering, we must see more than human factors. God was in this. This is the teaching of the Scriptures. We are to see the Lord in the whole of life, and not only in a carefully demarcated area labelled 'spirituality.' The most significant event in this chapter is the birth of Joseph, the son of Jacob, upon whom the remainder of the book of Genesis is centred. It is easy to lose sight of the most important thing when so many other things are happening. This is what we must not do. We must learn to see what is most important. We must learn to centre our lives around the most important priority. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted into a life with many interests and no real centre.

Genesis 31:1-55
Stories like this are so human - with all the complications of relationships between people. there is, however, a depth-dimension. If we read these stories on the surface without digging deeply for spiritual truth, we will miss their point. What we must see is this - God was with Jacob (Genesis 31:42). This is the truth we must never forget in all the complexities of our own very ordinary experiences. He is there, even when we are least aware of His presence. He will never leave us. He is the faithful God, who graciously accompanies along all the pathways of life's long and winding road.

Genesis 32:1-32
In Genesis 32:1-21, we read about Jacob's relationship with Esau. It seems to be a very ordinary story - until something extraordinary happens (Genesis 32:22-32). What an amazing experience of divine grace there was for Jacob at Peniel ('Face of God)! - "I have seen God face to face, but my life was saved" (Genesis 32:30). When we hear of God's perfect holiness, we imagine that there is no way we could possibly stand in His presence - "O Lord, who would be able to stand if you kept a record of sins?"(Psalm 130:3). In the presence of the God of perfect holiness, we discover - through divine revelation - something else: perfect love. "O perfect love, all human thought transcending" - How are we to respond to such amazing love? - "Lowly, we kneel in prayer before Thy throne" (Genesis 32:31).

Genesis 33:1-20
So often, life can be looked at from the purely human point of view - events involving people. So often, God is left out on the sidelines. It is important that we do not do this. We must learn to see the deeper significance of the things that are going on in our lives. This is brought out well in this chapter: "He set up an altar there and named it 'God is the God of Israel'" (Genesis 33:20). Life is full of incidents which can be viewed on the surface level. Here, we have the meeting of two brothers. There is more than that here. God is there. He is not obtrusive. He waits for us to recognize His presence. He waits for us to acknowledge Him as our God.

Genesis 34:1-31
The Name of the Lord is missing from this chapter. Sin - this is the stroty of human life. We do not, however, have to go any further that the first word of Genesis 35 to discover that God is there. He has been waiting in the wings, ready to speak His Word into the human situation. Often, God appears to be absent, but He is not. He is both the god of judgment and the God of grace. Sin is an offence to God, yet sinners are forgiven by God. There is a 'rollercoaster' feel about the progress of the stories in Genesis. Genesis is such a low. In Genesis 35, God Himself picks it up again. Life is like that. there can be deep valleys and high mountain-top experiences. In the valley, let us not imagine that the Lord cannot lift us. On the mountain-top, don't forget the Lord. He brought us there.

Genesis 35:1-29
What great plans God had for Jacob! This was grace. It had nothing to do with Jacob. It was grounded in God's goodness. In Genesis 35:7, we read of a place called El Bethel (God of the House of God). The house of God is important. God is even more important. It is His presence which makes our worship truly live. It is His presence which fills our worship with His blessing. God is good. He has so much to give to us, so much to say to us, so much to do for us. When we come to the house of God, let us come with expectation of His blessing. Let us not only come to the House of God. Let us come to the God of the House of God.

Genesis 36:1-43
"This is the account of Esau and his descendants. There are so many names. there is so little of any real note. What a contrast between this and the story of Jacob, leading on to Joseph and then, on from there, to the Exodus and, beyond that, to Christ. There are routes which are full of the blessing of God. They take us on the continuing story, which runs from Genesis to Revelation, the story of God's salvation. There are also dead-end streets which are going nowhere. The direction of our life is determined by the choices which we make. We can choose to go our own way. There is a better choice, a better way. We can choose to go God's way.

Praying Through God's Word - Deuteronomy 31:14-Joshua 5:15

You can find more of this series of prayers at A Prayer For Every Day and  
Praying Through God's Word.

Deuteronomy 31:14-32:18
We sing to You, Lord. We sing our song of praise. It's the song of Your salvation. It's the song that gives glory to You. May our song of praise be more than words. May it be the song that arises from our hearts. May it be the song that comes from lives that are being transformed by Your grace.

Deuteronomy 32:19-33:17
Lord, You speak to us the Word of condemnation. You tell us that we are "a perverse generation" You tell us that "You will hide Your face from us" (Deuteronomy 32:20). You also speak to us the Word of compassion - "The Lord will ... have compassion on His servants, when He sees their power is gone" (Deuteronomy 32:26). Help us, Lord, to hear the Word of condemnation - to know that "our power has gone", so that we can hear the Word of compassion, the Word that comes to us in our weakness, the Word that brings us into Your strength - "a new creation in Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Deuteronomy 33:18-34:12
We thank You, Lord, that You are "the eternal God." You are "our Refuge." You hold us in Your "everlasting arms" (Deuteronomy 33:27). This doesn't mean that life will be easy for us - but it does mean that You will be with us - whatever happens, and You'll never let us down. You'll always be there for us. You are "for us" - whatever problems we may have to face, may we learn to say, with triumphant faith, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).

Joshua 1:1-18
We thank You, Lord, that we have Your wonderful promise - "The Lord your God is with you" - as well as Your clear command - "Be strong" (Joshua 1:9). Without Your promise, the command is no use. Again and again, we fail to keep Your commands. Again and again, we need to be reassured. You are still with us.This is what we need to hear. This is where our strength comes from. It comes from Your promise. It comes from knowing that You never fail us. You have never failed us. You never will fail us.

Joshua 2:1-24
Help us, Lord, to "give a friendly welcome" (Hebrews 11:31). What a difference the friendly welcome makes! It's the word of encouragement that makes us feel loved. It's the act of kindness that lets us know that love is more than words. Lord, You are our Father. Help us to be like You - "when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him" (Luke 15:20). What amazing grace! Before the confession of sin - "Father, I have sinned... " (Luke 15:21), there is the friendly welcome. It's Your grace that inspires our confession of sin. It's Your grace that leads us into the joy of Your forgiveness. It's not only joy for us. It's joy for You - "my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to celebrate" (Luke 15:24).

Joshua 3:1-17
Help us, Lord, to be active for You - "the people who know their God will be strong and take action" (Daniel 11:32) -  and to wait upon You - "those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31). We need both - prayer and action, seeking Your will and doing Your will. Give us wisdom to know Your will, and courage to do Your will.

Joshua 4:1-24
Lord, You have blessed us so much. Help us never to forget this. We look at the world You have made for us - and we say, "Thank You, Lord." We look at the Saviour You have sent to us - and we say, "Thank You, Lord." Why must we keep on remembering You? - We "remember" so that we might learn to fear You (Joshua 4:23-24). We remember so that we may have hope for the future - "times of refreshing" (Acts 3:19).

Joshua 5:1-15
Lord, we thank You that Your Son, Jesus, comes to us as more than our personal Saviour. He comes to us as the "commander of the army of the Lord" (Joshua 5:14). We thank You that "Christ, the Royal Master, leads against the foe." We thank You that He leads us "on to victory." Help us to be His faithful followers on His pathway of victory.

Genesis 36-42

Genesis 36:1-43
"This is the account of Esau and his descendants. There are so many names. there is so little of any real note. What a contrast between this and the story of Jacob, leading on to Joseph and then, on from there, to the Exodus and, beyond that, to Christ. There are routes which are full of the blessing of God. They take us on the continuing story, which runs from Genesis to Revelation, the story of God's salvation. There are also dead-end streets which are going nowhere. The direction of our life is determined by the choices which we make. We can choose to go our own way. There is a better choice, a better way. We can choose to go God's way.
 
Genesis 37:1-36
At first, the story of Joseph looks like it's going to end up in a dead-end street. Joseph is sold as a slave. He is taken down into Egypt. Humanly speaking, Joseph was being rejected by his brothers. God, however, had other ideas. He had a great purpose for Joseph. His purpose was revealed in a dream. This was no ordinary dream. This was a revelation of God's plan. The remaining chapters of Genesis tell the great story of the unfolding of God's plan - in Egypt.

Genesis 38:1-30
This is a sinful and shameful chapter. As we read it, we must hear and heed the warning. Do not let things drift. Keep close to God.  "I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear, my foes are ever near, around me and within, but Jesus, draw nearer and shield my soul from sin." "Day-by-day, O dear Lord, three things I pray - to see thee more clearly, to love thee more dearly, to follow more nearly, day-by-day." - This should be our prayer.

Genesis 39:1-23
What a change there was in Joseph's circumstances. He was in charge of Potiphar's household (Genesis 39:4). He was in prison (Genesis 39:20). There was one thing that did not change: the love of God - "His unchanging love" (Genesis 39:21). Whatever happens, we can depend on this: God's love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable - "All may change, but Jesus never. Glory to His Name!"

Genesis 40:1-23
Dreams can be interpreted by Joseph, but the glory is given to God (Genesis 40:8). When we bring God's message to the people, we must remember this: it is God Himself who gives the Word. We cannot create the Word. We can only receive it from God , and then we are are to pass it on to others. We must take care that we hear and speak only what God Himself says to us. We must not allow our own ideas to drown out the Word of the Lord. God is to be glorified in our hearing and our speaking.

Genesis 41:1-57
Joseph's exaltation is a great picture of Christ's exaltation. Joseph was sent to prison. Christ was sent to the Cross. Joseph was exalted to a place of honour. Christ was raised to the place of highest honour. When Joseph came, people said, "Make way " (Genesis 41:43). We say of Jesus, "Make way, make way for the King of kings." "The whole world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain" (Genesis 41:57). Before Jesus Christ, every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord  - to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).

Genesis 42:1-38
Joseph is putting his brothers to the test - to see if they will truly repent of their sin against him. God does this with us . He speaks to us through our circumstances concerning our need of repentance. we look at ourselves. We look at the events of our life. We wonder about our actions, "Did I do right, or do I need to repent?" In all of this, Joseph never ceased to love his brothers. God never ceases to love us. In love, He calls us to repentance.

Genesis 43-50

Genesis 43:1-34
It appears that Joseph is being devious. There is, however, a deeper sense in which Joseph believes that the purpose of God is being fulfilled in these events. He affirms his faith in God (Genesis 43:23). He emphasizes the need for God's blessing (Genesis 43:29). Whenever life seems to weave a complex web, we must hold on to this: God is in control. No-one else may seem to believe this, but we must not lose sight of the sovereign God, the God who is working out His perfect plan.

Genesis 44:1-34
The story of Joseph and the brothers continues. It's such  a human story. It would be very easy to miss the hand of God in all of this. Life is like this. One thing leads to another. There seems to be no obvious thread, holding the whole sequence of events together. In this chapter, there is only one reference to God (Genesis 44:16). Sometimes, He seems to be hidden away. He may be hidden, but He's not absent. He is there. He is 'the God who is there.' However much He may retreat to the wings, He does not leave the stage altogether. He never abandons us.

Genesis 45:1-28
Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers. An invitation is given by Pharaoh. Jacob is to bring the whole family to Egypt. As the story develops, it becomes clear that God is in it. There is much more direct reference to God now. Joseph speaks openly of his faith in the Lord: "God sent me ahead of you ... God sent me ahead of you ... It wasn't you who sent me here, but God ... God has made me lord of Egypt" (Genesis 45:5,7-9). Joseph and his brothers had parted company. It looked like their paths would never cross again. God can bring people together again, people who appear to be living in different worlds. he is the God of reconciliation. He is the God of new beginnings.

Genesis 46:1-34
Behind the re-uniting of the family, there was God. This is made clear in Genesis 46:1-4. When God is at work, His purpose cannot be thwarted. He is fulfilling His plan of salvation - "I will make you a great nation." God's saving purpose is more than a purely national thing. This is only the early stages of what God is doing. He has His eye on the whole world.

Genesis 47:1-31
Jacob's life is nearing its end. God's work moves forward by stages. One man slips into the background. Another emerges. It is not the man who is important. It is the Lord. All of our attention is to be directed towards Him.

Genesis 48:1-22
The best thing we can leave behind us is the blessing of God. There is nothing better than this. If our influence has been of God, then our life has been useful. It has been beneficial to others. It has been pleasing to God.   

Genesis 49:1-33
This must have been a very moving scene. Jacob speaks to each of his sons. He speaks to them about the future. He says to them, 'I am the past. You are the future.' - "Come here, and let me tell you what will happen to you in the days to come." Our future - whether it will be blessing or curse - is shaped by our response to God in the present. Reuben was "out of control" (Genesis 49:4). Simeon and Levi were "men of violence" (Genesis 49:5). They were not to receive and enjoy God's blessing. Joseph is the greatest example of a man who was being blessed by God (Genesis 49:22-26). Here, we see the hand of God at work in the most wonderful way.

Genesis 50:1-26
Time moves on relentlessly. God has been at work in Joseph's life (Genesis 50:20). Now, the time has come for Joseph's life to reach its end (Genesis 50:26). In Scripture, we read the stories of people who loved God, and people who had no real love for Him. We read about them. we must also learn from them. We must make up our mind: What is important to us? Will we plan evil? or Will we submit ourselves to God's good plan (Genesis 50:20)? This is the great question which the stories of Genesis - and the whole of Scripture - put to every one of us. It is a question which demands an answer. It is a question which keeps on coming back to us. It comes to us with persistence. It breaks through our complacency. It calls us to decision. It is this decision which will shape our future for good or for evil. When we commit ourselves to walking in the Lord's way, we can move forward confidently in the sure knowledge that God is with us. Beyond the care of man (Joseph) - "Don't be afraid! I will provide for you and your children", there is the care of God - Joseph says, "I'm about to die. God will definitely take care of you ... "(Genesis 50:21,24). As our life moves on, it is very reassuring to know that God is in control.

Praying Through God's Word - Deuteronomy 23-31

You can more of this series of prayers at A Prayer For Every Day


Deuteronomy 23:1-25
Show us, Lord, what we really are - without You. Make us, more truly and more fully, what You want us to become - by Your saving grace. Fill us with Your holiness - and fill us with Your love. You've lifted us out of our sin and into Your salvation. This is Your doing. It's not our own achievement. we're called to be Your holy people - but we dare not imagine that we're better than everyone else. We're set apart for You - but we must never forget that we'll never be anything more than sinners, saved by Your grace. Your love has reached. Your love changes us. Make us more like Jesus - walking with You on the pathway of holiness and reaching out, in love, to others, inviting them to receive the Saviour's love and respond to His call: "Follow Me" (Matthew 4:19).  

Deuteronomy 24:1-25:29
We thank You, Lord, that You love us. We thank You that You have done great things for us. We think of Your great love. We think of all that You have done for us - and we say, "To God be the glory."

Deuteronomy 26:1-27:10
Lord, You have saved us. You call us, now, to live in obedience to Your Word. Teach us Your way, Lord, and help us to walk in it. May the light of Your love shine upon us. May Your love for us fill us with more love for You.

Deuteronomy 27:11-28:24
Lord, You speak to us Your Word of warning - and Your promise of blessing. You call us back from the way of disobedience - and on to the pathway of obedience and blessing. Where does the blessing come from? Does it come from our obedience? No! It comes from Your love. It comes from Your promise. Your love reaches us in our sin. Your blessing increases in us as we learn to turn from our sin and give You first place in our lives.

Deuteronomy 28:25-68
Why, Lord, do You speak to us the Word of warning and the promise of blessing? There is a good way to which we must turn - and there's also a bad way from which we turn. How can we really appreciate and embrace the good way if we do not see the clear contrast between the good way and the bad way? Help us, Lord, to choose the good way - to choose Jesus, who is "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6).

Deuteronomy 29:1-29
Lord, Your Word speaks to us about the "secret things" and "the things that are revealed" (Deuteronomy 29:29). There are some "things" that we will never understand. These "things" belong to You, Lord. Help us to focus our attention on "the things that are revealed", the teaching that comes to us from "the holy Scriptures", the Gospel which brings us to Jesus, our Saviour - calling us to put our faith in Him and live in obedience to Him (2 Timothy 3:14-17). 

Deuteronomy 30:1-31:13
Lord, You are not a god who keeps his distance from us. You are not a god who keeps his silence. You come near to us. You speak Your Word to us (Deuteronomy 30:11-14). How do we know that You are near to us? How do we know that You speak Your Word to us? Jesus is "God with us" (Matthew 1:23). He is "the Word made flesh" (John 1:14). Thank You for Jesus - He comes near to us and He speaks to us. Help us, Lord, to treasure His presence and to respond to His Word.

Praying Through God's Word - Deuteronomy 13-22

You can found more of this series of prayers at A Prayer For Every Day.  

Deuteronomy 13:1-14:21
Lord, You are the God of love. You are also the God of holiness. We like to hear about Your love. It makes us feel good. We're not so keen on hearing about Your holiness. You are the holy God. You are the God who calls us to be holy. Help us, Lord, not to be content with the half-truth, contained in the words, "All you need is love." We do need love - but we also need holiness. Help us to "strive ... for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).

Deuteronomy 14:22-15:23
Lord, You call us to belong to You. This is wonderful. It makes our hearts glad. You also call us to serve You. We're not to remain what we were before we became Your redeemed people. We're to be renewed - "beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Deuteronomy 16:1-17:13
Lord, we celebrate Your love. We rejoice in Your salvation. Your love is a dying love. We see Your love in the death of Jesus, our Saviour. It's also an undying love. It's the only love that never dies. It never comes to an end. It's eternal love, shown to us in the sacrificial death of "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

Deuteronomy 17:14-18:22
Help us, Lord, to be obedient to Your Word. Help us, in our obedience, to remain humble. How can we possibly bring glory yo You if we're thinking about how obedient we are when we should be rejoicing in the great love by which You have saved us and the great power by which You keep us walking in the way of faith? Even when we're pressing on to a closer walk with You, help us never to forget this: "Who is a God like You, forgiving sin ... " (Micah 7:18-20).

Deuteronomy 19:1-20:9
By Your grace, Lord, You call us to be Your soldiers and servants. Help us not to be "fearful and fainthearted" (Deuteronomy 19:19). Help us to be "good soldiers of Jesus Christ" (2 Timothy 2:3). When we hear your challenging question: "Who is on the Lord's side?", may we give our committed answer: "By Thy call of mercy, by Thy grace divine, we are on the Lord's side; Saviour, we are Thine."

Deuteronomy 20:10-21:23
We thank You, Lord, for Your amazing love - "while we were Your enemies we were reconciled to You by the death of Your Son" (Romans 5:10);  "Once we were no people but now we are Your people; once we had not received mercy but now we have received mercy" (1 Peter 2:10).

Deuteronomy 22:1-30
Help us, Lord, to be caring people. Where does this love for one another come from? It comes from Your love for us. Where there is a growing appreciation of Your love for us, there will be an increasing commitment to sharing Your love with others. Help us to love people without loving the ways of those who "live as enemies of the Cross of Christ" (Philippians 3:18). May our love for them be a true expression of Your love for them. May it call them to return to You, to be forgiven by You, to make a new beginning with You.

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