Monday, 30 December 2019
For he himself is our peace, he has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to one God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. Eph. 2. 14-16
Jesus is peace. He also brings peace to all who look to Him. The reference here to two becoming one, I take to refer to the Jew and the Christian. Christ was a Jew. He was also the Christ. He destroyed the barrier that was between the two groups of people. He removed the dividing wall. He also overcame the regulations that caused separation between the two peoples and God. He brought them together as one, the united body of Christ. Through Christ and the cross, the two separate entities were reconciled and united. In God there is no separation. How sad it is that separation still exists in reality.
I move now from the separate entities of the Jewish and Christian peoples to the divisions that exist within the community of Christian denominations. The differences and barriers are, surely, the most ungodly manifestations of religious practices. Where is the unity of which the psalmist spoke (psalm 133)? where is the peace that Jesus made available to all who would receive it? Paul reminds us of our true identity. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. ( 1 Cor. 12.27) There are many parts, but only one body. If only the church, in its various guises, would come together as the one, true body of Christ! Christ’s mission fails through the divisions of humanity. One day we will be called to account. I pray I can answer in the affirmative, and the positive, and with integrity and truth.
Most Loving God,
I feel for the ways in which Your body dishonours You. I repent on behalf of all who profess to be Christian believers, yet who do not follow Your ways and do not live and practice as You would have us do.I pray that You will rise us up in a revived body. Let us know, and become, true Christians obedient to all Your ways, and giving ourselves fully into Your will. Amen.
Sunday, 29 December 2019
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” - (that done in the body by the hands of men) - remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in your world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. Eph. 2.11-14
This is quite a lengthy quote but it so beautifully describes the entry of the Gentile into faith. Excluded by the Jews and separated by them through the human and “man practiced” rite of circumcision, the barrier is removed by Christ, and the way opened up for ALL to enter into relationship with the one, true, powerful and loving God.
Jesus Christ is the hope of all. By His sinless death He conquered sin, and this is for everyone; no one is excluded, except by their own decision. Circumcision separated the Gentiles from the Jews. No such separation exists in the Christian faith. Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11.28)
Jesus stands ready to take our burdens and bring us to a place of peace. I know I can rest in Him. I will know the rest and the safety that only He can give. I am assured by Him; I am complete in Him. I was once lost, separated from Him by my own choosing. But He took hold of me and drew me into the sweetest of relationships. I will not let go. He is my Saviour, my friend, my all. And He is there for any who will come to Him. Hallelujah!
I thank You for this reminder that ALL are welcome in You and by You. Salvation is a reality for all who desire it and turn to the One who is the way.
I pray Your blessing on those who know You and live in You. I cry out for the salvation of those who are not yet with You. May Your grace extend and Your love cover all. Hallelujah! Amen.
Friday, 27 December 2019
For it is by grace we have been saved, through faith – and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph. 2. 8 -10
It’s all about grace, something we can do nothing about. Grace is purely, simply and totally a gift from God. We cannot fabricate or manufacture grace. We cannot earn it. All we can do is wait on God and be ready to receive the gift of grace from Him together with other gifts He may choose to bestow upon us.
Faith is also a gift from God. It is a free gift, like grace, which cannot be brought into reality by human endeavour. With these gifts emanating from God, there is no place for human boasting. We have nothing to do with the origin or distribution of them. It is all God’s work.
The gifts of grace and faith have many functions, a primary one of which is to do with good works. I believe that God will help us with these. He created us to live in relationship with Himself. Through the generosity and love of God we receive grace and faith. As we exercise these gifts, we will grow in God and prosper in the work He would have us do.
As God’s creation and children all the attributes and gifts of God are available to us, including grace and faith. We may think and feel that we do not have these gifts. Jesus very clearly says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find,” (Matt. 7.7) I believe these promises are conditioned by what we ask for, which I see as those things that are pleasing to God. The gifts of grace and faith will certainly please God, and it is good that we are able to ask for them.
Lord God,We know the generosity You extend to Uour children. We know and are grateful. As Your child I come in humble petition that You grant faith and grace to those who believe and earnestly seek these and other gifts, from You. Lead us forward in Your way and Your will for is, in Jesus’ name we ask. Amen
Saturday, 14 December 2019
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, and the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Eph. 1.18, 19a
What are “the eyes of my heart”? My eyes are those amazing organs through which I see. I am most grateful for my eyes. If I were to reflect on my life without seeing, I think I would be troubled. I have much admiration and respect for those who live, and cope, and thrive without the facility of physical sight. I look, and I see, but I do not always understand. I think this is where my heart helps me. To a degree my mind and thinking also become involved but, I believe, to a minor degree. My thinking is often, hopefully, logical and orderly. This is extremely helpful in navigating through the challenges of a life of worldly thought and action.
However, when we align ourselves with God, worldly thinking and doing are not always helpful. God has told us host clearly, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18.36) Equally clearly, He said, “As it is, you do not belong to the world.” (John 15.19) The ways of the world have limited application in the thinking and the behaviour of the true believer. We are called to follow a different way of thinking, a way that is alien and often incomprehensible to “the world”: For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.” (1 Cor. 3.19)
God sees the foolishness of worldly wisdom. Does the world consider the mind to be more important that the heart? Maybe! But God sees the heart as the source of all life and living: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Prov. 4.23) There is an inbuilt stress in these words: Above all else. We are to put the heart before anything else. I also believe that we need to surrender our hearts to God, to let Him have His way in our heart-led doings and behaviour. How I long to know God’s heart and to live in harmony with it. May the eyes of my heart be clear and focused on Him. I truly believe that what I focus on becomes a part of me. With the “eyes of my heart” focused on God, I come closer to Him, I experience more of His ways, and I grow into the being He created me to be.
Through all of this will grow in me the hope to which He has called me. My hope is on Him, and He will not let me down. It is a hope of riches in Him. To them (the saints, the believers) God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1.27) Part of “God’s riches” is the great power, given to those who truly believe in Him. In God, all the might and power of heaven is made available to me. Hallelujah!
Most Mighty and Loving God,I quote the words of a Christian chorus: Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I pray for a full opening of the eyes of my heart to the glory and riches that are in You. Let me see You, if You will, in the splendour of Your being, Your might and power, Your grace, mercy and love. I love You Lord. I can’t get enough of You. Open my eyes and fill my heart, in Jesus’ wonderful name I ask. Amen.
Dear Friends, next week I undergo further surgery. I don't know if the blog will continue with regularity. I will endeavour to post when I can.
Meanwhile, I thank you for your company during this journey with Jesus, and I pray every blessing in your ongoing adventure with Him.
Monday, 9 December 2019
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. Eph. 1. 15 - 17
Paul does not say what “this reason” is but, if we refer to previous verses, it could mean the seal of the Spirit which marks believers and guarantees their inheritance as God’s possession to the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1.14b)
Paul has heard of the faith of the Ephesians in Jesus. He gives thanks for them and remembers them in his prayers. He further requests the gift of the Spirit for them, especially the gifts of wisdom and revelation. His main reason for requesting these gifts is so that the believers may come to know God better. By “God” I am believing that Paul is embracing the three-fold deity: Father, Son and Spirit.
The three persons of the Trinity act as one. They may engage in different acts at different times, gut there is always consistency in all that they do. There will never be differences or disputes between the members of the Triune God.
This is part of the wisdom and revelation that I believe Paul is requesting in his payer. We are not told whether the people of faith whom Paul is praying for are new or mature Christians. I don’t believe this matters, for believers need the wisdom and revelation that God gives by His Spirit. In addition, we need all of the gifts of the Spirit that God chooses to bless us with.
Paul sees the consequence of this giving of the Spirit as being a “better knowing” of our wonderful, great and loving God. I deliberately use the word “knowing” and not “knowledge of” because knowing about God, or mere knowledge of Him is not enough. We need to know Him in the reality of relationship, a sweet, honest, strong and true relationship of love.
I am reminded that my relationship with You is real, personal, and loving. I receive, and thank You for, every gift You bless me with. May I use them and live them to Your praise and glory. Amen.
Friday, 6 December 2019
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.
Eph. 1. 13,14
The Holy Scriptures contain so much encouragement and honest truth about the reality of living in Christ, the essence of which is the wonderful gift of salvation, release and eternal life that we receive through our Lord and Saviour.
Having heard the gospel of salvation, how Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins which allows us restitution into the love of God, we respond in belief. This is followed by the “mark” of the Holy Spirit on us, a holy deposit that guarantees our redemption into the fullness of a life of love in God. We are God’s children, we belong to no one else, not even ourselves. We are God’s alone.
Our release into God is the most wonderful mew birth. All of any ugly past is swept away as He touches us and releases us by His Holy Spirit. Jesus said to Nicodemus, and to us: “You must be born again.” (John 2.7)
This is a second birth, a birth in the Holy Spirit. We are connected to God in this present life by the power of the Holy Spirit. Just like Jesus did when He lived on this earth, we need to look to the Spirit in all things. The Spirit guides us; the Spirit prepares and equips us; the Spirit provides opportunities for us to witness to Jesus (Acts 1.8); the Spirit brings fulfilment to our life and to our ministry. All that we do for our Lord and Saviour, we need to do to the praise and glory of our most wonderful Lord, our Saviour, our Father, our Friend and our Lover.
Most Loving Father,
I am reminded of the fullness of Your Spirit equipping me. I open myself anew to receive all that Your Spirit will bless me with. Let me live in the Spirit in obedience to Your command, and the outworking of Your plans and purposes for me. I see wonders being displayed and worked out in Your Spirit. I delight that You have chosen me to be part of this adventure. I give You praise and glory for all that You are, and all that You do. Amen.
Tuesday, 3 December 2019
In him we were chosen. Chosen, being predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. Eph. 1. 11,12
Again I am reminded that I have been chosen. My God has chosen me, and He predestined me from the beginning to live in accordance with the plan He has for me. His plan works everything out in accordance with His will, His purposeful will. His purpose for me, through hope in Christ is to live for His glory and praise.
Moses knew the glory of God (Exod. 33.18-23), and His face was radiant so much so that the Israelites were afraid to come near him when they saw him. Exod. 34.30) Here is something of the glory of God. Moses saw this glory when the Lord passed by him. He was not allowed to see the face of God For no one may see me and live. (V20)
The Lord’s “psssing-by” presence was enough to bring the face of His servant to the most glorious radiance. I have seen glimpses of God’s glory in the faces of those who are so in love with their maker that His presence shines in them and through them.
The world needs to see and know the glory of God. They will not see His face for to do so would bring death. However, they can see reflections of Him, of course not with the intensity that comes directly from Him, but through the countenance of His believers and lovers.
I have seen the faces of those in whom God shines something of His glory. Sadly they are few, but the light shines brightly in them and through them. I pray that this number will increase, that out loving God will continue to draw others to Him in increasing numbers.
I can inly imagine how Moses felt when Your presence passed by him. With his face in the radiance of Your glory, He would have been a powerful witness to the people.I pray for more believers to see the glory and radiance that emanates through You. May their radiance in You reveal Your radiance to others. I ask this in Jesus name.
Monday, 2 December 2019
He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, Jesus Christ. Eph. 1. 9,10
Paul talks of a “mystery” in God. He may well be referring to things formerly hidden or obscure that are now revealed by God for the knowledge and understanding of those chosen.
Jesus spoke in parables. A certain understanding was gained by many who heard Him. But there was further understanding and the most amazing revelations beneath the surface of the basic message. This deeper understanding was only revealed to those of God’s choosing: Jesus replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of heaven are given to you, nut not to them.” (Matt. 13.11)
Why are the deeper meanings of the parables revealed to some, but not to all? The real answer belongs, I think, in the category of “secrets of heaven.” They likely form part of the mystery that Paul refers to. Maybe Jesus opens the secrets only to those who are genuinely seeking them. He had many followers, but not all of them were looking for a deeper experience of God and a closer relationship with Jesus.
I believe those to whom the secrets, or some of them, are revealed are truly blessed. I like to think that God has included me in this blessing. Ultimately the secrets will be revealed, the times will be fulfilled, God will bring together all things in heaven and on earth under the headship of Jesus Christ. God’s purposes for the earth and humanity will have been realised. Heaven will be fully opened up. What wonderful jewels will be further revealed as we pass into another realm?
Most Wonderful God and Lord,I thrill at the thought of further revelation from You. I receive with full gratitude those things that You have already revealed to me, but I ask for more. May I know more of Your secrets of heaven? May I gain further understanding of the “mystery” of the Holy One, the Trinity of the Triune God, and the joy of relationship that is mine in You? I wait on Your further revelations, in joy and eager expectation. Amen.
Friday, 29 November 2019
For he chose us in him (Jesus) before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In his love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Eph. 1. 4-6
There is much to receive and ponder in these few verses. The first reality that is reinforced to me here is that I have been chosen. I was chosen before the creation of the world. I was chosen by Him to be holy and blameless in His sight. This cannot be achieved by me. This is the Father’s work through the Son, my Lord Jesus Christ. I am chosen to be holy and blameless in His sight. This becomes truth for me when I see God looking down on me from heaven and seeing, not me but Jesus, the vicarious sacrifice.
I am not chosen alone. Though His choice of me is individual and personal (let me not forget this), I am chosen in company with many others: You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2.9)
Believers have been called, separately and individually, but also collectively, to come as one into the Body of Christ. We have been adopted as sons and daughters of God. We are united through Christ. He is pleased to receive us. We are called to praise Him and the glorious grace through which He unites us to Himself, the Holy Godhead, and to each other. His grace is freely given. It comes in the fullness of His love. What love, what power, what blessing is freely given to me by my wonderful Lord and maker.
Mighty and Loving God,
I see the reality of creation and the beauty of Your love in these verses. I was created to worship You and join with You in sweet relationship. I am unable to achieve this in myself because the sins if men have contaminated me. However, Your plan was not to be thwarted and, through Your love and grace You have brought about my salvation and restoration. You chose me to be brought, in wholesome purity, into relationship with You and the whole Body of Christ. I am humbled. I am overwhelmed in gratitude. I give my obedience and love to You. Amen.
Wednesday, 27 November 2019
“See, it stands written before me:
I will not keep silent but will pay back in full;
I will pay it into their laps –
both your sins and the sins of your fathers,”
says the LORD.
“Because they burned sacrifices on the
mountains and defiled me on the hills,
I will measure into their laps
the full payment for their former deeds.” Isa. 65. 6,7
Payback will come. In this context it appears to be a future event (I…will pay back). It will also be full payback for all the sins of humanity. God’s action will be for all people. It will address the present sins of people at whatever time God chooses, and it will include the sins of people past. No one will be exempt.
God has been dishonoured. He is still being dishonoured. We, all, burn sacrifices on the mountains and defile Him on the hills. I see the mountains in two lights. Firstly, these are the high places in the land, the elevated points at which people worshipped that which was precious and significant to them. And, these high places were prominent. The worship of the people was not carried out in dark corners or in the cover of night where it could not be seen. The worship was open and blatant.
Leaders (kings) encouraged such worship. A number of kings specifically dedicated these “high places” to pagan gods, and they led the people in unseemly, often licentious behaviour. This is not acceptable to the Righteous One. All who have dishonoured Him will be punished.
In the previous chapter of Isaiah’s writing, the people questioned God, “will you keep silent?” God will not keep silent. He broke the silence with the Israelites, and He will break the silence with everyone.
I believe punishment is to come, but my hope is that it will be followed by forgiveness and restoration. I lay myself before You in confession and repentance. Amen.
Monday, 25 November 2019
Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD;
do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look upon us, we pray,
for we are your people. Isa. 64.8,9
The Israelites are crying out to God in their despair and desperation of His possible punishment of them. They call Him “Father”, reminding Him of the fact. Do they think that He needs reminding? I believe His disappointment with them would not have been so severe if He did not see them as His children.
They remind Him they are the work of His hand, made in His own image. I feel it’s rather late to remember this when they have behaved so badly. Only a deeply loving Father could receive them back after such atrocious behaviour.
In crying out to God as their Father what, I wonder, do the Israelites think of their own behaviour? They now re-assert their relationship to Him as Father and hope they might persuade Him to be lenient with them. But what of them? If they had remembered who they were (children of God) when tempted to act contrary to His ways, would they not have brought themselves in to line?
It is so convenient to seek to give God responsibility for our actions. He has given us free will. We need to take up the responsibility that is ours, and not pass it onto the supreme and pure Being who calls us His children.
The Israelites prayed that God would not remember their sins forever. Fortunately, He is our most loving Father and we can look to Him for forgiveness.
Holy and forgiving Father,
I realise and acknowledge how blessed I am to be Your child. Like the Israelites, I do not always do what is right. Please forgive me. May I also seek encouragement from You and ask for Your leading and guiding? Amen.
Sunday, 24 November 2019
No one calls on your name
or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and made us waste away because of our sins. Isa. 64. 7
These words make it sound as if God is at fault. Calling on the name of the Lord invokes an image of urgent prayer when in distress. This is not happening. Nobody, it seems, cries out to God or tries to lay hold of Him.
The people excuse this omission by accusing God of having hidden His face from them and causing them to waste away because of their own sin. What a pathetic abdication of their covenant undertaking this appears to be.
Surely, when they have sinned, and seem to be most aware of it, this is the time to confess and repent. Now is the time to press into God, to call on His name, and to strive to lay hold of Him. Don’t the people see this? If they took the right action, I firmly believe that God would respond, and respond positively.
Paul makes the action quite clear” “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom. 10.13) The non-believer who gains some knowledge of the presence and love of God, and who calls out to Him in earnest, will be saved. So will the long-standing Christian who might find him/herself in need of His help. As we call out, He will hear and He will respond. We may think He’s not there, not listening and not caring. I cannot subscribe to this thinking. I believe that our non-recognition of God’s presence does not mean that He is not there. This, surely, is a time to believe, even though we do not see.
At this moment I can say with confidence that You are there. However, there may be times when I do not have the assurance what You are with me. I pray for faith in such situations, for a belief, a knowing that You are with me. I hold to Your promise that You will never leave me nor forsake me. I trust You, and I thank You. Amen.
Thursday, 21 November 2019
You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
you were angry.
How then can we be saved? Isa. 64. 5
I see further reference to the Covenant in this verse. God will protect His people and lead them into salvation, but there is a part for the people to play. We are called to do right by God, and to do it gladly. We must remember His ways and abide by them.
But what happens if we continue to sin, to ignore the ways of God, do our own thing, and incur His anger? Will we then be saved? The words cry out in seeking a way: how can we be saved?
Salvation comes from God. He alone can save us. He will do so if we gladly do right in Him.
However, we are born into a fallen world, people who have fallen from the grace of God. Is there any way of restoration? Yes, there is! Jesus showed clearly the way when He said: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matt. 4.17) Peter affirmed and clarified this statement. When asked by the crowd what they should do, Peter replied “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2.38)
We can try to do what is right in God, and to do it gladly, but we will not fully succeed. Yet, by confession and repentance in Jesus’ name, we are forgiven and released into the fullness of salvation. There is a way, Jesus is that way!
I say “Hallelujah” for the saving grace that is found in You. I thank You for the gift of life, of eternal life that we gain through Jesus. We are undeserving, I know this too well. But Your love and forgiveness rescue us. We are saved by grace. We are undeserving yet blessed. Thank You. Amen.
Tuesday, 19 November 2019
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains would tremble before you!
As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
and cause the nations to quake before you! Isa. 64. 1,2
These words call out to God to show His power and sovereignty to the whole earth. As I understand the plight of the Israelites, they could well have been daunted and cowed by the treatment they had received from neighbouring peoples who were hostile to them.
Of course, they had done wrong by the Lord God. They knew they were deserving of punishment, but they cried out to God nevertheless. As well as His His pure and just nature, they were aware of His mercy, His grace, and His love. They appealed to these qualities of His, hoping that He would respond favourably.
The world needs to be reminded of the all-powerful God. This applies today as much as it ever did. The Israelites “went their own way”, and this certainly is happening in this present time. Often God is little more than an expression of derision, even of cursing. Respect is minimal, if at all. Worldly powers and the decisions they make do not improve society nor do they preserve any code of decent behaviour among the people.
The world so needs to see the power and sovereignty of the Mighty One. Some say we are in the last days. When, I wonder, will His return come? Of course, we do not know but, just like the Israelites before us, we can make our plea to Him.
Most Mighty God,
I see the disarray that the world is in. In some parts I see hopeless desolation. I cry out for Your rule to be re-established in strength and security. Will You return soon? I hope so, and I cry out for it accordingly. I know the timing is Yours alone. I simply bring this plea before You, in Jesus’ loving name. Amen.
Monday, 18 November 2019
Why, O LORD, do you make us
wander from your ways
and harden our hearts so we do not revere you?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes that are your inheritance. Isa 63. 3-17
The people appear to be “bleating”. They are blaming God for their own omissions and misdeeds. When they went astray in the wilderness, God certainly allowed them to do so, not seeking to rescue them but, still, it was the act of the people to stray.
They had hardened their hearts yet, again, they sought to blame the Lord (Isa. 6.10). Then comes a plea for restoration. The people claim the “servants” of God as a reason for His recalling of the people and their restoration into relationship with Him. The “servants” here could well be the: servants of the LORD whom the LORD has declared as vindicated. (Isa. 54.17)
How often do we blame God for our feelings? I think far too often! Instead of owning our own misdemeanours and sins, we readily find excuses to blame Him. If God seeks to ignore us, reject us, or even punish us, we need to look into our misdoings and see the extent to which we are to blame. God will not be manipulated. Despite the truth of this, people attempt to pass blame on to Him, not willing to own up to their own inadequacies.
I have found from experience that I am set free when I honestly declare my faults I am set free and I am able to re-enter and resume my wonderful, blessed relationship with my maker. I am so grateful.
Again I come to You in thanksgiving. I thank You for this insight. Lead me, please, into an examination of my own thoughts, words and actions when I might be tempted to turn to You in criticism or blame. I seek to take responsibility for those things I do that displease You. Let me be willing to acknowledge and admit my insufficiencies. Lead me forward, please, in release and restitution. Amen.
Saturday, 16 November 2019
But you are our Father,
though Abraham does not know us
or Israel acknowledge us;
you, O LORD, are our Father,
our Redeeemer from of old is your name. Isa. 63. 16
The Israelites appear to be calling out to God. They declare Him to be their Father, even though they have disobeyed Him and virtually disowned Him. They recall His deeds of the former days when He led them out of Egypt through the Red Sea. He divided the waters before them and they passed through in safety. He led them such that they did not stumble. He gave them rest in His wonderful Spirit.
They then appeal to Him. They acknowledge His tenderness and compassion which they claim are now withheld from them. Again, they declare Him to be Lord, Father and Redeemer. He has been with them and for them since of old.
But now He makes then wander from His ways. They claim that He has hardened their hearts such that they do not revere Him. It would seem that, in their eyes, it is all His fault.
Why, O why, do people blame God for their own failings? It happened with the Israelites, and it has happened down through the ages. It happens still today. Do we truly think that we can do our own thing, indulge in sin and ignore the ways of our holy God, and then blame Him for the consequences?
Most assuredly God is loving, merciful, gracious and forgiving. But He is also pure, unblemished and holy. He cannot allow our impurities to pass without justice, judgment and, may be punishment.
Let us stop blaming God for those things that are our responsibility. Let us remember we are in covenant relationship. Let us seek to fulfil our obligation under the covenant.
Lord God,I thank You for this reminder of our covenant relationship. May we, may I, remember that I have responsibilities to You. I give my effort to fulfilling what is required of me. I ask for Your help. Amen.
Monday, 11 November 2019
“… but those who harvest it will eat it
and praise the LORD,
and those who gather the grapes
will drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.” Isa. 62.9
The enemies have been denied any food or drink. But the people of God will be blessed with the harvest. They will eat aplenty and will enjoy the juice of the grapes. They will praise the Lord.
The Israelites suffered much, but they also brought it upon themselves. They disobeyed the Lord; they denied Him; they followed pagan ways, marrying alien partners. God was not pleased, and so He punished them. But after the punishment came restitution and provision.
The sequence is clear: sin, punishment, then return to the Father. God is pure and just, but He is forgiving and loving as well. He is also unchanging. He is the same today as He was in days long ago. He is likely to treat God-followers today as He did the Israelites of old. The same applies to those “enemies” who seek to undermine Him and subject His people to ridicule and discrimination.
The world may go its own way, thinking it knows best, and doing what it pleases. But God will not be ignored. His reign will come to the earth, and the world will be held to account.
What applies to the world applies to each individual and, of course, to me. I endeavour to live in a way that is pleasing to God. I do not always succeed and so, I must rely on His mercy, His grace and His forgiveness. I cannot forget either His faithfulness. He is faithful and true. I willingly give myself to whatever he has for me.
Most Just God and Loving Father,
I give myself wholeheartedly to You. I ask You to have Your way in me. Let me go where You would have me go and do that which pleases You. Thank You. Amen.
Saturday, 9 November 2019
The LORD has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm:
“Never again will I give your grain
as food for your enemies,
and never again will foreigners drink the
new wine for which you have toiled.” Isa. 62.8
Moses warned the Israelites of God’s punishment on them for disobedience: “I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain your life. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it.” (Lev. 26.16)
God’s punishment might seem harsh, but it is just. As I give myself in covenant relationship with Him, so I must obey, as best I can, His requirements of me. As I do my best, I believe He will forgive any trespass or omissions on my part. He is a good God, and His desire and intent is for my well-being.
Isaiah relates how the Lord now tells the Israelites that the punishment is over, and He will never again give food and drink that is rightfully theirs to their enemies. God has sworn this by his right hand and by his mighty arm. These are symbols of God’s power.
I serve the mightiest force of all. As I give myself to Him, I am protected and empowered, I am strengthened by the forces of all heaven, I am led by the wisest and loved by Him who is love itself.
When I stray or begin to falter, I pray He will bring me back. My true desire is to live fully in His presence and His will. The world would seek to draw me from Him, but Jesus saved me when He overcame the world. (John 16.33)
Mighty Lord Jesus,
You rescued me and I will be eternally grateful. I do not wish to incur the Father’s wrath. I know I do not always do what is right and acceptable to Him, but I certainly wish to please Him. I seek forgiveness for my errant behaviour. I humbly ask for the fullness of relationship with the Godhead. Amen.
Friday, 8 November 2019
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make
righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations. Isa 61. 11
I like the comparison between God’s work in His people and His work in the creation of nature.
The soil, rich in nutrients, brings growth in the vegetation. The seeds
grow and life will sprout up from the soil. We have come to see this dynamic as perfectly natural. We accept this as we can the air in our lungs which brings us breath.
The work of God in human lives – personal and collectively – ought to be received just as openly and easily as His work in the world of nature. Sadly, this is not always the case, and so many miss out on life – the very rich life they could receive through a deep and lasting relationship with God.
From our life with the Father, and out openness with and to Him, we will be blessed. He will bring to pass righteousness and praise to all nations. He will bring these things to each country, to people groups, and to individuals.
God will bring righteousness and peace to me. I see righteousness grow in the process of sanctification. As I allow Jesus to lead me, as I give myself to Him, so He will draw me closer and I will become more like Him.
I hope to minister out of righteousness and peace, and all the other gifts and qualities that God gives me. As I do so, I believe I will grow more like Him, but also draw others to Him. My vision is to do just this: to know Him in intimate relationship and to lead others into a good place in Him.
Unashamedly I want more of You, and so I ask. I want to get close and go deep with You, to know You to the greatest degree while I am on this earth. I ask for more, and I will willingly share it with those who need to know You, who You direct me to. Hear my prayer, in Your precious name. Amen.