Sunday, 30 October 2011

Turn to...

...The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.                            2 Chron. 15.2b

These words were spoken by the Spirit of the LORD through Azariah to Asa. Asa was a good king who reigned over Judah for forty one years. However, in the thirty-sixth year of his reign, Baasha, king of Israel sought to wage war on Asa. Asa turned to Ben-Hadad king of Aram who had a treaty with Baasha. Asa sought a treaty for himself with Ben-Hadad, asking him to break his arrangement with Baasha. This occurred and Israel was put down. Asa enjoyed temporary triumph but the word of the LORD came harshly to him through Hanani the seer: “Because you relied on the King of Aram and not on the LORD your God, the army of the King of Aram has escaped from your hand. Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the LORD, he delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.” (vv 7-9).

Asa’s reign changed from that time. He oppressed the people and himself suffered illness and affliction.

For thirty six years he had prospered. Then he turned to man instead of God and his life, and fortune, changed.

God requires total commitment from us, the fullness of our hearts. Over the past little while He has been reminding me that 95% of my trust in not enough. He requires 100%.

Lord God,

I love You and I want to give You my full commitment. I ask for Your help in this. I believe Your Holy Spirit can strengthen me.

I ask You to convict me , by the power of Your Holy Spirit, when I am tempted to follow a course other than the one You set for me. I give You 100% of my devotion. I bind my will to Your will. Have Your way in my life.      Amen.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Doubt and mercy

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.          Jude 22.23

People may not be totally convinced on hearing the message. And people may be led into doubt by false prophets even after they have been walking with the Lord. Those who do not doubt are asked to show mercy to the doubters.

Doubt and, of course, sheer disbelief lead people on the road to hell where the destination is the fire. Believers are encouraged to snatch unbelievers from the fire. I believe we can do this by faith for salvation, in prayer and supplication as well as through practical loving.

There are yet others whose very clothing bears the stain of corruption – and all clothing is stained. I would choose to wear clothing stained with the imprint of an aroma pleasing to God. Those whose stain is the stain of sin we are told to treat mercifully, but with a mercy mixed with fear. We are all vulnerable to this stain. We must remember always that sin is abhorrent. The sinner we may love and show mercy to, but there is no place for mercy in respect to the sin. All sin is condemned in the eyes of the Lord, and our task is to seek the release of the sinner from the sin, release into life-giving relationship with Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

Lord God,

I bring before You family, friends and acquaintances who do not walk with You daily in a love relationship of salvation. They do not acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

I cry out for them, Lord. I seek Your mercy for them. I pray that they will be snatched from the fire. I ask boldly for salvation for them.

I pray also for those of us who do know You and have received Jesus, yet we continue to fall foul of sin.

Lord God, hear my prayer. Reach out to us all and set us free. Draw us to Jesus. Free us to Him, in His precious name I ask.                  Amen.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Religion or Relationship

After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”                                                           Job 42.7

NIV Study note (pp 779, 780): Despite Job’s mistakes in word and attitude while he suffered, he is now commended and the counsellors are rebuked. Why? Because even in his rage, even when he challenged God, he was determined to speak honestly before him. The counsellors, on the other hand, mouthed many correct and often beautiful creedal statements, but without living knowledge of the God they claimed to honour. Job spoke to God; they only spoke about God. Even worse, their spiritual arrogance caused them to claim knowledge they did not possess. They presumed to know why Job was suffering.

This note succinctly gives us the significant differences between religion and relationship with God. Religion will cause people to mouth creedal statements – often correct and maybe very beautiful, but of no real worth. Religion is often exercised without living knowledge of God. Religious zealots often claim knowledge that they do not possess.

Relationship with God will give us the truth. It will guide us in all truth for we know the truth – Jesus. Relationship gives us living, loving knowledge of God. In relationship with God we can say, as Job did:

            “I know that you can do all things;
              no plan of yours can be thwarted.”  (42.2)

Lord God,

I cry out for relationship with You. My true and earnest desire is to get closer to You, to go deeper with You, to enter into the sweetest, awesome, intimacy with You. And to share this with others.

I pray that You would hear this petition and be willing to bring it to pass. I look to You in love and adoration. I rejoice in You, Wonderful God.          Amen.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The narrow road

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.                                                                     Matt. 7.13,14

There are choices. This is obvious in these words of Jesus to me. Yes, He was speaking to a crowd of people two thousand years ago but He is also speaking today, to as many as will heed Him. I want to listen and I truly hope I can obey.

What are the choices? Jesus describes then as gates leading into roads. The wide gate leads into a broad road, but this ends in destruction. This is the way of self-life. In this way I live to please myself. I do what I want, when I want to. I can easily fall into lawlessness. I will certainly end in destruction.

There is another option. Jesus describes this as a small gate that leads to a narrow road, but a road that brings life. I believe this way is the way of surrender to Jesus. It’s not doing what I want, but rather waiting upon Him, seeking Him in all things, looking for His ways, and walking in them.

Jesus says only a few find this way. I’m not concerned here with just how many this ‘few’ might be. Nor, indeed, with whom they might be. I am concerned, however, to be one of them. I want to find this way – His way, and to walk in it.

Lord Jesus,

I hear Your words and I heed them. I desire the small gate and the narrow way. I want to walk in Your way. I ask You to lead and direct me. I am not stationary. I will move in the way in which I think You want me to go. But I earnestly ask that You guide me.

Dear Lord, how I long to feel Your guiding presence. I desire a relationship in which I might almost tangibly feel You with me. I know You are with me, I just want more. Forgive me my selfishness. I so want to know You that my living – the whole of my living – will reflect the reality of You. Indeed, I don’t think this is selfish. Certainly, I expect to experience joy and peace, and great hope. But I sense also that much will be passed on to others who will be encouraged and strengthened and who, hopefully, will seek that small gate and narrow road.

Lord, I don’t want to live with You in isolation from others. I want to live with You, fully in You, whilst showing others true life in You.

I offer myself. I realise the work of sanctification is a work of grace manifested through the presence and power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray that You would bless me with this gift. Again, I express my love for You. I feel You near me and I am glad. I rejoice to know these wonderful moments. I ask for more, and I seek more opportunities to share this joy.

Help me, Lord, in Your powerful name I ask.                                     Amen.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Strong and Courageous

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.                   Deut. 31.6

These words are given to the Israelites as they are about to enter the Promised Land. After forty arduous years of wandering in the desert they are about to receive their reward. Yet I feel any excitement might be tempered with extreme apprehension, for they had previously received reports that the land was inhabited by giants. Certainly Caleb and Joshua gave a good report but they were outnumbered by the spies who gave a bad report. And now the Israelites were about to enter this land. I wonder just how they felt.

I can translate their situation into similar type circumstances that I experience. It’s not, perhaps, that I’m entering a ‘new land’ yet I may be entering upon territory (physical or psychological) that I might find threatening, confronting or intimidating. I may just be downright nervous.

This is when I need to remember these strong words of encouragement to the Israelites, and claim them for myself. I can be strong and courageous. My Lord is God of all. I need never fear, for my Lord, my mighty God, has told me He is always with me. He will not leave me. He won’t forsake me.

Lord, Mighty God,

I do not know how the Israelites felt at the time they received these words of assurance and strength from You. I do know there are times when I am hesitant, uncertain, unknowing, scared even or extremely nervous.

Yet You are with me. You are always with me. You go with me. This is active and not passive. You do not leave me. You will not forsake me. And with You, all things are possible.

Lord God, I thank You for these words of strength. I thank You for Your continued presence with me. I look forward to the journey, through today and tomorrow, in You. I praise Your Name.                Amen.