Thursday, 26 July 2012
The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” Judges 6.16
I see deep truth and much encouragement in this verse. Gideon has all the strength he needs. God clearly tells him that He is with him. Therefore the strength of the Lord is in Gideon and this is all he needs.
What does this tell me? Firstly to be sure when I go that God is sending me. When I know this I know that I go in the strength of the Lord.
I don’t ever want to go without God leading me, but I need to be sure this is the case, and that I’m not heading off in my own will and strength.
As I go forward in God’s will, I will know the strength of the Lord. Hallelujah!
I come to You and lay myself before You. I join with my Lord Jesus and say, “Yet not my will but yours be done.”
I want to go where You would send me. I want to live, and work, and have my being in You. I seek to operate only in Your strength. I wait on You, Lord. I look to You to lead me forward.
I pray for the fullness of strength, Your strength. Nothing is impossible for You. Lord, let me know Your strength and direction.
Take me through this day, and through my life, in Your will and in Your strength, in Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.
Monday, 23 July 2012
Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. Acts 28.24
There have always been mixed responses to the gospel message. Perhaps this will always be the case. Is this the outworking of Jesus’ words “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6.44)? This is God’s prevenient grace in action. God is God. He prepares the way for all who come to Him. He calls and He draws.
There are many I would dearly like to see join the body of Christ with the guarantee of the eternal kingdom. If they can’t come until the Father draws them, then the best gift I can give them is to call out to the Father in prayer on their behalf, and ask for His action to be extended to them.
Dear and Wonderful Father,
I thank You for my salvation. I marvel as I remember the journey that You have led me on, a journey that continues. But I think of others. I bring to mind family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances. They do not know You and, further, often respond in the negative when mention is made of You.
I realise, precious Father, that the bringing of these people to You lies, very likely, in the act of You drawing them. My action is to pray for them. I bring them before You and lift each one of them to You. Hear my cry for them, Lord. I cry out for their salvation. I pray for a divine reaching out to them and a rightful response on their part.
Hear my prayer for the lost. I start with those I know. I bring to mind the names of those close to me but there are many more, many whose names elude me. You know them all, the ones familiar to me, and all the others. Touch them Lord. Draw them to You, let them be convinced and receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Hear my prayer, in Jesus’ name I ask.
Thursday, 19 July 2012
“Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?” Acts 26.8
Paul has been speaking to Agrippa, but these words suggest that he now addresses the others present such as Festus and the commanders. They did not believe in the resurrection. Agrippa was allied with the Sadducees. He appointed them high priests. He would be familiar with their non-belief in resurrection, and likely rejected it also himself.
In natural and scientific eyes resurrection is indeed incredible; it is unbelievable. But God rises above the ways and thinking of humanity, the supernatural transcends the natural. God raised Jesus from the dead, the first fruits for all who would follow Him. Man was created to enjoy deep and lasting relationship with God. The resurrection of Jesus opens the way for man to return to God and to recover the original promise.
I thank You for this reminder from Paul. In You there is fullness and permanence of life. Thank You. My mind cannot grasp the concept of eternal life, but my heart rejoices at the prospect.
I thank You that Jesus made the way. I accept the way of Jesus. I receive Christ anew into my heart today. I confess my sins before You. I ask Your forgiveness and Your help to overcome.
I pray for others especially those known to me who do not walk with You. I ask for that special revelation for them that will show them the way, and lead them in the way.
I thank You for this way. May I walk with You? Please guide me, speak with me, and enjoy me, allowing me to enjoy You.
In Jesus’ name I ask these things. Amen.
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. Heb. 6.7
There is much for me to ponder in these words. I think of the rain falling on the land that is me, and that might lead me to produce a useful crop. This rain can easily appear to me with an extremely negative impact. At best it can be a nuisance, at worst it takes on the form of the most miserable, soul-destroying experience, that begs the question, “Why me?”
I can be tempted to see the effects of this rain as totally destructive to me and achieving nothing whatsoever for God or for anyone else. And this is where I am in danger of giving in to delusion.
The first words of this verse Land that drinks in the rain... suggest to me that the land has the option of receiving the rain or rejecting it. In the literal example of land, I see how a hard crust on the earth’s surface can cause the rain to run off and drain away rather than sink into the subsoil and impart nutrients and goodness.
Likewise I have the option, when it rains, to raise my protective covering and steel myself against the precipitation. This, of course would deny me receiving any goodness from it. In dire moments even a light shower can appear as the most dangerous storm. This intensifies my self-protective instinct to resist with all my being.
How then can I receive, and drink in the rain, enabling it to produce a crop useful to others? I see the way as that of surrender. I do not resist the rainfall, whether it comes as a brief shower or a sustained downpour. Neither do I surrender to the rain. Rather I yield and surrender myself and the wet weather to God. If I allow it, He will enable me to receive the rain, to drink it in such that goodness can come to me from it. God may then use this good crop to “feed”, to encourage, others. As this happens they will be blessed. So, also will I be blessed.
Returning to the literal illustration, as the land absorbs the rain, the rain disappears. It’s the land that benefits not the rain. As I give myself and my situation to God in trials and tribulations, the antagonistic element will, in time, be dealt with by God. And I will have been further formed by Him, and possibly released from bondages as He works in me. As in my every involvement with God, the choice is mine to make.
I thank You for this revelation of the good crop that can come from stormy weather. I surrender to You in all of my living, on fine days and foul. I particularly seek Your protection and leading when the weather turns bad. In these times give me the courage to come to You and trust You for the right outcome. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sunday, 15 July 2012
The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Mark 1.22
The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching – and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” Mark 1.27
Something new came with Jesus. He taught “beyond” the scope of the law contained in the Scriptures which was revered by all devout Jews and unchallenged as the Word of God. Yet Jesus didn’t contradict or contravene the law, at least not the essentials of it. But, somehow, He enlarged it. He expanded it and in so doing He made it real to the people He taught and ministered to. He showed them the love that was behind the law, a love that hitherto had been hidden in the teaching of the Jewish leaders, if not altogether forgotten.
Jesus Himself said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.” (Matt. 5.17)
The Law said “You shall not murder.” Jesus took this further, saying, “...anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” (Matt.5.22) The Law said “You shall not commit adultery”, but Jesus said “...anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5.28)
Jesus’ teaching was challenging and threatening to the leaders and teachers of His time. So much so that eventually they plotted against Him and secured His downfall under the very law that He challenged. Yes, by His teaching He was almost saying, “Don’t worry about committing murder and don’t think of yourself as righteous because you’re not guilty of such an act, but rather consider – have I been angry with my brother? Or, whilst I may not have engaged in the act of adultery, have I looked lustfully at a woman?”
The challenge that Jesus presented, with an acknowledged authority, to the people of His day is the challenge that faces us today. Instead of smugly satisfying myself in declaring “I have not transgressed the ten commandments”, I should be asking myself if I have been Christ-like in all of my thinking, speaking and doing.
The final word is with Jesus. He was hunted down, condemned and crucified for His challenge to the people of his day. But He overcame. He rose from the dead, illustrating His mastery over the final affliction, and His total victory over sin.
So it is for us. In Him we have forgiveness of all that would seek to keep us from right relationship with the Father. By His life on earth we have the most excellent example to follow. And through Him we are assured of eternal life filled with love unlimited.
I pray that I might grow more Christ-like every day. I ask You to lead me in the victory You have won for me. I commit every detail of my life to Your leadership.
I thank You for upending the religious institutions of your day. Thank You for bringing truth and hope into the lives of ordinary people. I pray that You might equip and use me to do something similar in my day. I make myself available to You.
Lead me forward, Precious Lord, in Your powerful name I ask. Amen.
Friday, 13 July 2012
The Lord said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” Exod. 4.11,12
There is just one source. Whatever natural features we have and whatever attributes and talents are given us to develop they originate in our divine maker. And His first aim is to love us.
God committed to give Moses the very words to speak. He assured him of His presence: “I will be with you” (3.12). He is strength and enabling. Moses did the greatest feats, and his source was God. At an age when he could so easily have thought that life had passed him by, that he had “missed his calling”, he was wonderfully called, and led into his life’s work.
And what of me? I have God’s assurance that He is with me. He will always be with me (Heb.13.5). I know that He can do anything (Matt. 19.26). In Him I, also, can do all things (Phil. 4.13). And I know that there can be no real opposition: If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8.31)
I am never alone, and never lacking for any resource that I might need. God is my strength and enabler. All the resources I need can come from Him. He is my shield, my protector. He is my refuge and my comfort. He is my rest and my restoration.
I want Him with me. I need Him to prepare me and lead me. I so want to please Him, to do His divine will and to achieve, in love, the wonders that He has ordained for me to do in the unique and special plan that He has formulated for my life.
I am greatly encouraged by the story of Moses. I still remember Your words to me when I was apprehensive at entering Bible college at an advanced age. “Remember Moses” was encouraging to me then and it is so now. Today I can believe that there is still much for me to do in the plan that You have for me.
I want to be nothing other than Yours, fully Yours. Take me, O Divine Master. Mould me and make me. Use me and enjoy me. I delight in the life I have in You. Whatever time I have left on earth I ask be filled with Your love and grace, mercy and blessing, that I be fitted in You and become a faithful and loving witness to Jesus.
I dare to ask for Your favour. Take me forward into the rest of my life. Let me see and hear, think and speak, in You. Lead me on, in Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ Rom. 1.17
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. Rom. 3.21,22
It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. Rom. 4.13
What do these readings tell me? Firstly, that the gospel reveals a righteousness from God. This righteousness, through and through, is by faith. The righteous will live by faith. If I am righteous, my faith will sustain me, I will live by faith. And if I have faith, I may know righteousness.
What is righteousness? I see it simply as living in right relationship with God. Work will not achieve righteousness for me, but trust in God may generate both faith and righteousness.
God’s righteousness comes apart from the Law yet it is attested to both by the Law and by the Prophets. The righteousness of God is received through faith in Jesus and is available to all who believe in Him.
Abraham and his offspring, of whom I count myself one, received the promise of heirship through righteousness which was reckoned by faith and not by the Law.
I know that I trust God, but I want to trust Him more. I believe I have faith, yet I yearn for more. I do not dare to describe myself as righteous, but I most certainly aspire to be. God, who is good, hears all prayers. May He hear my fervent prayer and may it please Him to answer me.
I come to You in thankfulness, humility and petition. I thank You for Your exceeding goodness and faithfulness to me.
I humbly ask for more. I see the example of Abraham and also of Moses and David. I would seek to follow them. Yet I am not them, but me, and so I ask for what they had but in the measure that it would please You to apportion to me.
I ask for a greater faith. O that I might follow Abraham in the demonstration of faith. His faith brought him into a state of righteousness. Lord God, I humbly seek for myself a gift of faith from You such as will lead me into a richness of righteousness.
Lord, I know too well that it is not who I am but who You are. I am saved by Your grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I do believe. I rejoice in the lordship of Jesus over my life. I praise You for all You are doing in me and I dare to ask for more.
I pray that I might, just like Moses, know You and be known by You as a friend. And my hope is that, like David, I might become a man after Your own heart.
Lord God, Precious Saviour, My Dearest Father, I give my heart to You. Take it please;
touch it with You own heart. Deposit within me a measure of the love that You have for this confused and hurting world and use me, if You would, to Your praise and glory in service to all humanity.
This I ask in Jesus’ powerful and precious name. Amen.
Monday, 9 July 2012
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Luke 5.12
The final words in this verse have great impact for me. Jesus can make me clean. Jesus can cleanse the dirtiest, foulest sinner. It is interesting to note that the man who came to Jesus was covered with leprosy. This tells me that he was in the advanced rather than preliminary stages of the disease.
Jesus’ response speaks loudly and lastingly: “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. (v13)
And so it is with the sinful. The person who is enmeshed in the deepest sin can be set free by Jesus. Nothing, but nothing, is too great for Jesus to bring deliverance from. I rejoice in this wonderful truth.
I rejoice in the health and freedom that is in You. You healed the leper and made him clean. You take the most abject sinner and release them from their sins and bring wholeness and health into their beings. I thank You for this.
I release to You those dear to me who need to know relationship with You. I ask You to draw them to You, release them from uncleanness and lead them into wholeness. I extend my plea to all who need the release that the leper experienced. I appeal to your willingness. I thank You. Amen.