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Showing posts from October, 2017

Second Sunday of Lent: Genesis 12:1-4; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9

God's Blessing - Given,  Accepted And Enjoyed (Genesis 12 & 13)
The “land” was given to Abraham by God. It was to be the land of His “blessing” (Genesis 12:1-3).  God’s gift of grace calls forth our response – “Abraham went, as the Lord had spoken to him” (Genesis 12:4). God had spoken. Abraham had acted upon God’s Word. Was it all plain sailing after that? No! There were trying times ahead of Abraham, times when he had to keep his eyes on the Lord. Receiving God’s gift of salvation does not guarantee that we will always walk with the Lord. We fall into sin – when we take our eyes off the Lord. “Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land” (Genesis 12:10). What are we make of this? What was going on here? Here are two different ways of looking at this situation – “Even when we are where God wants us to be, all will not necessarily go well for us materially – no matter what the prosperity g…

First Sunday of Lent: Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Created by God, Created for God
Genesis 2:7 "the breath of life"
Everything changes when the Lord breathes His breath of life into us.
* Until God comes to us in power, our situation is desperate - "I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry" (Ezekiel 37:2).
Genesis 2:8 "garden"
To those who put their trust in Him, the Lord gives His very precious promises - "You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail" (Isaiah 58:11); "They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more" (Jeremiah 31:12). Looking to the Lord as we move towards the great future He has planned for us, we look beyond the Old Testament prophets. We look forward to the glorious fulfilment of God's wonderful purpose of eternal salvation - "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the m…

Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Deuteronomy 11:18,26-28; Romans 3:21-25,28; Matthew 7:21-27

Obedience and Blessing
God is at work among His people, teaching them many lessons.  Through His precious promises and strong warnings, He leads us in the way of obedience and blessing (Deuteronomy 11:31-32).  If we are to enjoy the Lord’s blessing, we need the whole Word of God – the warnings as well as the promises.  Obedience to God – This is the most important thing in the life of faith.  Obedience demonstrates the reality of faith.  By our obedience, we show our ‘love’ for the Lord.  We rejoice in ‘all the great work of the Lord’.  By ‘His mighty hand’, He has provided for us a great salvation.  Our enjoyment of His salvation increases as we live in obedience to Him (Deuteronomy 11:8-15).  Without obedience, there can be no blessing (Deuteronomy 11:16-17).  Teach others to obey God – especially the ‘children’ (Deuteronomy 11:18-21).  God is good.  He loves us (Deuteronomy 11:22-25).  Obey Him.  Choose blessing (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).

We bring our sin to Jesus. He gives…

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 49:14-15; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34

"But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” 15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!" (Isaiah 49:14-15). What "joy" there is in the Lord's "comfort" and "compassion" (Isaiah 49:13). He reaches out to us in compassion. He reaches out to us with His comfort. We rejoice in Him - the God of compassion, the God of comfort. "The Almighty Lord helps me" (Isaiah 50:7,9). What help there is in the Lord! The Maker of heaven and earth is our Helper. "The people ransomed by the Lord will return. They will come to Zion, singing with joy" (Isaiah 51:11). How does the Lord help us? He has "ransomed" us. We have been "bought with a price" (1 Corinthians 6:20). We have been "redeemed with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Pleasing God - this is the most impor…

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time: Leviticus 19:1-2,17-18; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23; Matthew 5:38-48

Holiness and Love
Holiness and love – the two belong together (Leviticus 19:1,18,34).  God calls us to live a life of holiness, a life of love.  Through His Spirit – the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love – , He enables us to live this life.  We need His promises.  We need His commands.  Take them both together – not one without the other!  Promises without commands – We take God for granted, we presume on His blessing.  Commands without promises – Our ‘obedience’ becomes a legalistic thing which has nothing to do with the Gospel of grace.  We are to ‘be holy… before Him in love‘ (Ephesians 1:4).  ‘The holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14) is to be accompanied by the ‘love’ without which we are ‘nothing’ (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).  The Lord has redeemed us: By His grace, we shall ‘be holy… in love’ (Leviticus 19:34,36).

Christ is greater than Paul, Apollos and Cephas (1 Corinthians 3:22-23).
We come to know God when ‘the Spirit’ leads us to ‘Jesus Christ…

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time: 1 Corinthians 2:6-10; Matthew 5:17-37

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
How does the Lord keep us walking in His way? – He keeps on bringing to our attention the glorious future which He is preparing for us. He keeps on reminding us that we are being prepared for His eternal glory. How is He preparing us for ”praise,  glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed”? – He is teaching us to “love Him. ” The more we are learning to love Him, the more we will look forward, “with an inexpressible and glorious joy” to  ”the end result of our faith, the salvation of our souls” (1 Peter 1:7-9).

Salt and Light ...
We're called to be "salt for the earth" and "light for the world" (Matthew 5:13-14). How can we be "salt" and "light" in a world that has turned its back on the things that matter most in life? Can we do this by "setting aside Moses' teachin…

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 58:7-10; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Matthew 5:13-16

"Then you will call, and the Lord will answer ... He will say: Here am I." (Isaiah 58:9)
God’s Word invites us to ‘call upon the Name of the Lord and be saved’ (Acts 2:21). To each and every one of us, the call of God comes. He's calling us to come to Him. This is the call of our loving, heavenly Father. It's the call of our Saviour. It's the call of the Spirit. Before we say, "Here am I" (Isaiah 6:8), God says, "Here am I." Before we call on the Lord, He calls out to us. This is the God of love, the God of grace, the God of mercy. He comes to give us His "peace" - "Peace, peace to those far and near" (Isaiah 57:19). He comes to give us His "joy" - "you will find joy in the Lord" (Isaiah 58:14). We rejoice in Jesus Christ. He is "the High and Exalted One." He has come from His "high and holy place." He has become "Emmanuel" , "God with us." He is our peace and …

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 5:1-12a

The Lord is calling us back to Himself - from sin and sadness to salvation and gladness.
‘The great Day of the Lord is near - near and coming quickly... That Day will be a Day of wrath... I will bring distress upon the people... because they have sinned against the Lord’ (Zephaniah 1:14-17). This is God’s Word of warning. He is calling us back to Himself: ‘Seek the Lord - before the fierce anger of the Lord comes upon you, before the Day of the Lord’s wrath comes upon you’. We are to seek the Lord in ‘righteousness’ and ‘humility’. This is the way of being ‘sheltered on the Day of the Lord’s anger’ (Zephaniah 2:2-3). God is calling us to ‘worship Him in Spirit and in truth’: ‘Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him. This is the true worship that you should offer’ (John 4:24; Romans 12:1).
In Zephaniah, we have a story of sin - Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled! She has not obeyed His voice. She has not …

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 8:23-9:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17; Matthew 4:12-23

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:2).
The prophecy has been spoken - ‘To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given...’. The prophecy has been fulfilled - ‘Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you: He is Christ the Lord’. Jesus Christ is our great Saviour. He is our ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6: Luke 2:11). Jesus Christ has brought to us a great salvation. Through faith in Him, we enter God’s heavenly and eternal ‘Kingdom’ (Isaiah 9:7: Luke 1:30-33). This is ‘Good News of great joy’ - for ‘all the people’, for ‘all generations’. Let us rejoice in the Lord, as Mary, the mother of Jesus, did - ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour... for the Mighty One has done great things for me...’. Let us join with the angels in saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest...’ (Luke 2:10; Luke 1:46-50; Luke 2:14).

All The Grace Comes From God, And All Th…

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 49:3,5-6; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:29-34

Don't Keep God's Great Salvation To Yourself.
"The Lord said to me: You are my servant, Israel, through whom I show My glory ... I will make you a light to the nations, that My salvation may reach to the ends of the earth" (Isaiah 49:1,7).
We are not to keep the Lord's salvation to ourselves. God wants ‘all mankind’ to ‘know.’ (Isaiah 49:26). ‘Jesus, the Name to sinners dear, the Name to sinners given, it scatters all their guilty fear, it turns their hell to heaven’ - This is not something to keep to ourselves. We must make Christ known to others - ‘Oh, that the world might taste and see the riches of His grace! The arms of love that compass me, would all mankind embrace. His only righteousness I show, His saving truth proclaim: ‘tis all my business here below to cry: “Behold the Lamb!”. Happy, if with my latest breath I may but gasp His Name: preach Him to all, and cry in death: “Behold, behold the Lamb!”’ (Mission Praise, 385). ‘Go into all the world an…

Baptism of the Lord (First Sunday in Ordinary Time): Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7; Acts 10:34-38; Matthew 3:13-17

Let us bring Christ to the nations. Let us serve the Lord in the power of the Spirit.
‘Here is My Servant, whom I uphold, my Chosen One in whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will bring justice to the nations’ (Isaiah 42:1). These words turn our thoughts towards the Lord Jesus Christ. At His baptism, we hear the voice of the Father - ‘This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased’. At His baptism, we see ‘the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting on Him’.  Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s Word of prophecy: ‘All mankind shall see the Saviour sent from God’. After His resurrection, we hear Jesus Himself speaking. He says, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit...’ (Matthew 12:15-21; 3:16-17; 28:18-20; Luke 3:6). Let us bring Christ to the nations. Let us serve the Lord in the power of the Spirit.

Every person in every nation in each succeeding generation ...
‘When the H…

Epiphany of the Lord: Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3a,5-6; Matthew 2:1-12

Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
‘Arise, shine; for your Light has come... the Lord will be your everlasting Light’ (Isaiah 60:1,19-20). Jesus Christ is ‘the Light of the world’. When we ‘follow Him’, we ‘will not walk in darkness’. We ‘will have the light of life’ (John 8:12). We are living in difficult times. We are surrounded by much darkness. We must not be discouraged - ‘the lamp of God has not yet gone out’ (1 Samuel 3:3).  When the darkness threatens to overcome the Light, we must take encouragement from God’s Word - ‘The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’ (John 1:5). When the darkness seems to be everywhere, put your trust in the Lord - The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?’ - and let ‘His Word’ be ‘a lamp to your feet and a light to your path’ (Psalm 27:1; Psalm 119:105).

What we cannot do for ourselves, God does for us.
"The mystery was made known to me by revelation" (Ephe…

Feast of the Holy Family: Colossians 3:12-21; Matthew 2:13-15,19-23

In Christ, there is so much blessing.Let's enjoy it!
Be what you already are. Be what God has made you in Christ. This is what God is saying to us here. ‘You have been raised with Christ... You died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3:1,3). Paul is describing the new birth. Christ has made His home in us. New life has begun. Now thatChrist lives in us - what are we to do about it? How are we to live? - ‘Set your hearts and minds on things above’ (Colossians 3:1-2). This is how we are to live. We are to live out the life which God has put into our hearts. The new life begins when Christ comes to live in us. It does not end there. That is only the beginning. We are to go on, ‘being renewed in knowledge after the image of our Creator’ (Colossians 3:10). Christ wants to reign in us. He wants to enrich our lives (Colossians 3:15-16). In Him, there is so much blessing. Let’s enjoy it!

Herod dies. Jesus lives. The purpose of man is defeated. The purpo…

The Nativity of the Lord, Midnight: Isaiah 9:1-8; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14

Good News of great joy for all nations and all generations
The prophecy has been spoken - ‘To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given...’. The prophecy has been fulfilled - ‘Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you: He is Christ the Lord’. Jesus Christ is our great Saviour. He is our ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6: Luke 2:11). Jesus Christ has brought to us a great salvation. Through faith in Him, we enter God’s heavenly and eternal ‘Kingdom’ (Isaiah 9:7: Luke 1:30-33). This is ‘Good News of great joy’ - for ‘all the people’, for ‘all generations’. Let us rejoice in the Lord, as Mary, the mother of Jesus, did - ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour... for the Mighty One has done great things for me...’. Let us join with the angels in saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest...’ (Luke 2:10; 1:46-50; 2:14).

We live by the grace of God. We look forward to the glory of God.
We read, i…

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 7:10-14; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-24

Let us pray that our love for Jesus will not grow cold.
Isaiah looked ahead to the coming of ‘Immanuel’ - ‘God with us’ (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). We look forward to the Second Coming of Immanuel: ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God’ (Revelation 21:3). The Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ presents us with a challenge: ‘When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?’ (Luke 18:8). He calls us to ‘stand firm in our faith’. We must not ‘shrink back ‘ from Him. We must ‘believe and be saved’ (Isaiah 7:9; Hebrews 10:37-39). Jesus says, ‘I am coming soon’. Let us pray, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’. Let us pray that our ‘love’ for Him will not ‘grow cold’. Let us pray for strength to ‘stand firm to the end and be saved’ (Revelation 22:7,12,20; Matthew 24:12-13). 

Words of blessing, words of encouragement
"Good will and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Chri…

Third Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 35:1-6a,10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11

What blessings are given to those who draw near to God!
What blessings are given to those who draw near to God - ‘Your God... will come and save you’ (Isaiah 35:4). The Good News of Christ comes to us as a call to faith - ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ (Acts 16:31). We have been saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot remain the same. We are called to live a new life. We must travel on the Lord’s ‘highway’ - ‘the Way of Holiness’ (Isaiah 35:8). This is ‘the Way’ which leads to ‘everlasting joy’ (Isaiah 35:10). This ‘Way’ is so different from the world’s way. The world has no time for those who seek to live a holy life. This is what Jesus says about the world’s way of life: ‘the gate is wide and the way is wide that leads to destruction’ (Matthew 7:13). Whatever the world may say, we must never forget this: ‘Without holiness, no-one will see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14). 

Let us look forward to the great Day of our salvation, always praying th…

Second Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12

Christ calls all nations to turn to Him.
The family tree of ‘Jesse, the father of King David’ has a very special ‘Branch’ - Jesus Christ (Isaiah 11:1; Matthew 1:1,6,16). Jesus Christ has raised ‘a banner for the nations’. He is ‘the Saviour of the world’. He has died ‘for the sins of the whole world’. The ‘Good News’ is to be preached to ‘all the world’. Christ calls ‘all nations’ to ‘turn to Him’. He calls ‘all nations’ to receive the ‘forgiveness of sins’. He calls ‘all nations’ to become His ‘disciples’ (Isaiah 11:12; John 4:42; 1 John 2:2; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Matthew 28:19). May our personal faith - ‘I will praise You, O Lord... God is my Salvation... The Lord is my Strength and my Song...’ - become our public testimony - making Christ ‘known among the nations’, telling ‘all the world’ what the Lord has done for us (Isaiah 12:1-2,4-5).

Let us love one another - and may the love of Christ reach out to more and more people.
With Christ’s example, ‘the encouragement of …

First Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44

God calls us to worship Him.
God calls us to worship Him - ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord...’ - and walk in His ways - ‘Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord’ (Isaiah 2:3,5). We are moving towards the Day when ‘the pride of men shall be humbled and brought low’, the Day when ‘the Lord alone will be exalted’ (Isaiah 2:11,12,17). How are we to get ready for the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ? God calls us to keep on worshipping Him. We are to encourage one another to keep on walking with God. ‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching’ (Hebrews 10:25). Let our pride be humbled and let the Lord be exalted as we await Christ’s Return in ‘faith’, looking to Him alone for our ‘salvation’ (1 Peter 1:7-9).

We learn how much Jesus loves us and He teaches us to love Him.
As I read, in Romans 13, Paul's words about "the government", I re…

From The Old Year To The New Year

January 1: The Naming of Jesus – Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 8; Galatians 4:4-7 (or Philippians 2:5-11); Luke 2:15-21
His Name was called JESUS (Luke 2:21).
Christmas is over – but let’s not forget Jesus. He is still here. He is still with us. He is for New Year’s Day as well as Christmas Day. He is for every day. The New Year has begun. Let there be more than a new year. Let there be new life – the new life that Jesus brings. We have celebrated His birth. It is similar to the birth of any other child. It is a time for joyful thanksgiving. It is different from the celebration of any other child. This is the special Child. This is God’s Son. He is Jesus. He is the Saviour. He brings new life to the world. On the first Christmas Day, the announcement was made: There is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). We move on from the first Christmas. We move on to today. We do not leave Jesus behind. He is with us still. On this day, any day, ever…

Christmas Day - Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12); John 1:1-14

Season of Christmas: Nativity of the Lord (Christmas Day) III – Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12); John 1:1-14  -  The same Bible Readings are suggested for Year B and Year C. Good News ‘Good News’- Let us ‘shout for joy’. ‘Good News’- Let us sing ‘songs of joy’. There is the Good News of God’s reign - ‘Your God reigns’. There is the Good News of our redemption - ‘The Lord has redeemed’ us. We are not to keep the Good News to ourselves. This ‘news of happiness’ is to be shared with everyone. We must let ‘all the ends of the earth see the salvation of our God’. ‘Christ died for our sins’- This is Good News. Christ was ‘raised on the third day’- This is Good News. ‘Jesus is Lord’- This is Good News. This is the Good News we must ‘pass on’ to others. In our world, there is so much bad news. We must not let the Good News be drowned out by the bad news. We must make sure that the people hear the Good News - loud and clear (Isaiah 52:7-10; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Miss…

Christmas Day - Isaiah 62:6-12; Psalm 97; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2: (1-7), 8-20

Season of Christmas: Nativity of the Lord (Christmas Day) II – Isaiah 62:6-12; Psalm 97; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2: (1-7), 8-20  -  The same readings are suggested for Year B and Year C. God has given us ‘a new Name’. It is ‘the Name which is above every name’, the Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (Isaiah 62:2; Philippians 2:9-11). Christ loves us. He has given Himself for us. He calls us His ‘Bride’ (Ephesians 5:25-27; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 21:2, 9). Through faith in Christ, we have become ‘the Holy People’. Through Him, we are ‘the Redeemed of the Lord’. We have been ‘Sought After’ by the Lord. In Him, we are ‘the City No Longer Deserted’ (Isaiah 62:12; 1 Peter 2:9-9-10; 1:18-19; Luke 19:10; John 14:18). ‘There is a Name I love to hear... It tells me of a Saviour’s love, who died to set me free. It tells me of His precious blood, the sinner’s perfect plea... Jesus, the Name I love so well, the Name I love to hear! ... O how I love the Saviour’s Name…

Christmas Day - Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14, (15-20)

Season of Christmas: Nativity of the Lord (Christmas Day) I – Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14, (15-20)  - The same readings are suggested for Years B and C.
Glory to God in the highest – our Saviour has come. The prophecy has been spoken - ‘To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given...’. The prophecy has been fulfilled - ‘Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you: He is Christ the Lord’. Jesus Christ is our great Saviour. He is our ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6: Luke 2:11). Jesus Christ has brought to us a great salvation. Through faith in Him, we enter God’s heavenly and eternal ‘Kingdom’ (Isaiah 9:7: Luke 1:30-33). This is ‘Good News of great joy’- for ‘all the people’, for ‘all generations’. Let us rejoice in the Lord, as Mary, the mother of Jesus, did - ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour... for the Mighty One has done great things for me..…

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 7:10-16; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25

Christ has come. Christ is coming again. Isaiah looked ahead to the coming of ‘Immanuel’- ‘God with us’ (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). We look forward to the Second Coming of Immanuel: ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God’ (Revelation 21:3). The Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ presents us with a challenge: ‘When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?’(Luke 18:8). He calls us to ‘stand firm in our faith’. We must not ‘shrink back ‘from Him. We must ‘believe and be saved’ (Isaiah 7:9; Hebrews 10:37-39). Jesus says, ‘I am coming soon’. Let us pray, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’. Let us pray that our ‘love’ for Him will not ‘grow cold’. Let us pray for strength to ‘stand firm to the end and be saved’ (Revelation 22:7, 12, 20; Matthew 24:12-13).
Christ has come as our Saviour. Let Him be your Saviour. ‘Restore us, O God, make Your face shine upon us, that we may be saved’ (Ps…