Tuesday, 29 January 2019
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him –
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD –
and he will delight in the fear of the LORD Isa. 11.2,3a
Isaiah is speaking of the coming Messiah. He describes Him thus: A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.(v1)
This description can readily apply to Jesus. He descended from the line of David, from the stump of Jesse. Certainly He bore fruit, as did His disciples.
Jesus was filled with the Spirit of God. He had in Him all the qualities defined by the Spirit: wisdom and understanding; counsel and power; knowledge and fear of the Lord.
Fear of the Lord is not a threatening or frightening sensation. It is a loving reverence for God, and it embraces submission to His lordship, and conformance with the commands of His Word. Fear of the Lord releases me to knowledge of Him. (Prov. 1.7) This knowledge is further revealed to me as I move forward in loving reverence of Him.
The Spirit fills every part of Jesus. The Spirit is present in all of His doings. The Spirit is very life to Jesus. The Spirit that filled Jesus – the Holy Spirit of God and the Spirit of Jesus, also lives in me! (Rom. 8.11)
There is an obligation on me not to live according to the sinful nature or I will die. I am called to live by the Spirit. In doing so, I will put to death the misdeeds of the body and I will live, and be led by, the Spirit of God. (Rom. 8.13,14)
I want to live by the Spirit.
Most reverent and revered God,
I bow before You in holy fear of Your person, and in gratitude for Your presence in my life. I am still sometimes seduced by the sinful nature. I confess and repent of this, and I seek Your forgiveness. I desire to know, and be filled with, the Spirit of Jesus. Lord, let Your Holy Spirit fill me and be the drawing force in my life. As I live by the Spirit, let me die to the ways of the flesh. I ask this, believing, as I ask it in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Sunday, 27 January 2019
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge. Psalm 62.8
The psalmist makes this great exhortation after proclaiming the most wonderful truths:
My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (vv 1,2)
This psalm has long been special to me. God is all these things to me. I will truly find rest only in Him. He alone is the author of my salvation and I praise Him for this most wonderful gift.
He is the rock upon which I stand and, as I allow Him, He places Himself around me like a strong fortress wherein I will never be shaken.
It is with the assurance of all these things that the psalmist encourages the people to trust in God at all times. There is never a single moment when I cannot place my absolute trust in Him. He is ever there – and always ready – as my refuge.
I can trust Him such as to pour out my heart to Him. Indeed, if I do not do this I am missing out on the greatest ever source of comfort and strength.
I thank my God for all He is to me.
I thank You that You have made the words of this psalm so special to me. I thank You that You are always there for me. I thank You that I can pour out my heart to You.
I declare You my rock and my fortress. I know that my salvation comes from You and I thank You. I rest in You. I ask You to strengthen me and draw me close to You. I seek more of You. I am jealous for deeper relationship, not simply for myself, but that I might freely share the good news.
Thank You, Lord, that You are there for me, and You have shown me so. Amen.
Friday, 25 January 2019
So the LORD will cut off from Israel both head and tail, both palm branch and reed in a single day; the elders and prominent men are the head, the prophets who teach lies are the tail.
Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray. Isa. 9. 14-16
God is not pleased with His people. Isaiah continues his screed with a description of the people: … for everyone is ungodly and wicked, every mouth speaks vileness.(v17)
God is displeased and He will take action. The head and the tail, the palm branch and the reed are expressions that apparently derive from the Egyptian leadership. In regard to the Israelites, God is talking of the elders and prominent men who lead the country, together with those prophets who teach lies. Certainly there are true prophets who speak forth God’s word as He gives it to them. But this word is too harsh for the people, who deny it and spurn God.
God will punish the errant leaders. They will be “cut off” from the nation. It is not clear to me what this means, but there is a sense of finality about it.
I think of the situation today. We have the non-believers, who parallel the pagans of old. The body of believers equate with the people of God in Isaiah’s time. And Christian leaders compare with the elders, prominent men and the “false” prophets of the former age.
These latter, including myself, have a responsibility to proclaim, teach, and live the Word of God as He would have us do. I desire to do this, but I wonder if I do so as He would have me! I pray for myself and all others appointed by Him to live by His Word, and show it to the world.
I am conscious of the responsibility I have in You. I pray for myself and all others with an equal calling. May we be open and alert to Your Word. May we share it and live it as You would have us do. May You strengthen and support us every step of the way. Thank you. Amen.
Wednesday, 23 January 2019
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you. Psalm 73.25
In heaven or on earth, God is everything. The psalmist has talked of the apparent success of the unrighteous, but it is only this – apparent! There is nothing real about their wellbeing for it is without God. Conversely, many of the righteous have endured severe difficulty, indeed persecution, yet peace and blessing have attended them because they have known their righteous God.
Desire, if misdirected, can be a curse. Desire rightly placed in a great and glorious God is a most wonderful thing. With all that earth has to offer, among all the temptations of the carnal life there is nothing, truly, to compare with the delight and wonder of the pursuit of God.
I join with the psalmist in declaring that You are all I need. I am in love with You and there is nothing else I desire.
Certainly I have needs and sometimes wants. I look to You for the satisfaction of these. You are my source and provider. You are my life and my living. You are my everything.
Precious Lord, lead me today. Join with me and guide me through his journey of life. I seek You as my constant companion and my sure guide.
I look to You, Lord, in heaven and on earth. You are everything to me.
Receive me and walk with me,
in Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.
Saturday, 19 January 2019
For as in the day of Midian's defeat,
you have shattered the yoke that burdens them;
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressors. Isa. 9.4
The Israelites did evil in God's sight, and so He gave them into the hands of the Midianites. The Midianites exerted the utmost oppressive power over the Israelites : Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help. (Judges 6.6)
In response to their cry, God sent a prophet who reminded the Israelites how God had saved them out of the hands of the Egyptians. God led the Israelites into the promised land, instructing them not to worship the gods of the Amorites, whose land it had been. But the Israelites ignored God.
However, God is gracious and forgiving. He sent an angel to commission Gideon to save Israel out of Midian's hand. Gideon remonstrated, saying he was too weak. But God called him a mighty warrior. There is a lesson here. We may see ourselves as weak, but, in God, we can be mighty. Through God's grace and power, Gideon defeated the Midianites, and saved the Israelites from great suffering and oppression.
At the time of Isaiah's writing, the Israelites were again in oppressive captivity, to the Babylonians. Again, this was due to their disobedient nature. However, through Isaiah, God promised delivery of the Israelites from captivity. God followed through on His promise and released the Israelites. He shattered the yoke that burdens them.
Today, many people live under a yoke caused by a variety of circumstances. I believe, just like the disobedient Israelites, God's love for us does not wish us to suffer, but yearns to release us from oppression of any kind. Again, I believe that all we need is to come before God in repentance and confession - and we will be released.
I believe You can rescue and save those living under oppression today just as You released the Israelites of old on several occasions.
I pray that You hear the pleas, confession and repentance of these people who come to You in humility and sincerity. I pray You bring sweet release to them. I thank You. Amen.
Thursday, 17 January 2019
The LORD spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of these people. He said:
"Do not call conspiracy
everything that these people call conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.
The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread,
and he will be a sanctuary; Isaiah 8.11-14a
God's ways are different to the ways of the world. The world may have definitions and practices that do not agree with the way of Christ. The believer is called to follow Christ and the ways of God are to be followed by the true believer.
God instructs us not to fear or dread what the world fears. The believer is to regard God - and Him alone - as pure. God is to be feared. God is the one to dread. Why would this be so? I think it is because God is all-powerful and Almighty. But He is also loving and understanding. He loves me and, just as when He spoke to Isaiah, His strong hand is upon me. This hand can crush me, but it can also support and strengthen, and fight for me. The choice is mine.
During my "adventure" with the brain tumour last year,certain truths arising out of these words became apparent through my experience.
Firstly, I felt God's strong hand upon me from the very start. Whilst the treatment is now finished, full healing has not yet been confirmed. But God is with me. He always has been, and always will be.
Secondly, I realise that my reaction was not as the world would react. I was not fearful or in dread. I knew God was with me, and I trusted Him completely. If He chose to take me home, that would be alright. He seems have spared me; I sense there is still work for me to do. I give myself to be held in His arms, and I look for the full outworking of His will in my life. Hallelujah!
I am aware of Your love for me. I receive Your love in humility and thanksgiving. I trust You completely. I look forward to the ongoing journey with You. I am excited about the future. I thank You. Amen.
Tuesday, 15 January 2019
Now the house of David was told, "Aram has allied itself with Ephraim"; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.
King Rezin of the heathen country of Aram joined with Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel to fight against Jerusalem. Fortunately they could overpower it.
When Ahaz king of Judah heard of this, he and his people were devastated.
However, God spoke to Isaiah telling him to go and meet Ahaz and say to him, "Be careful, keep calm and don't be afraid. Do not lose heart." (v4) God called Rezin and Pekah "two smouldering stubs of firewood." They had dared to plot to ruin Ahaz saying, "Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it." (v6) Their arrogance and ambition were considerable.
God, however, is greater. Through Isaiah he spoke to Ahaz saying, "It will not take place, it will not happen ...If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all." (vv 7,9)
God spoke yet again to Ahaz: "Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights." (v11) Ahaz refused to ask for a sign, saying he would not put God to the test. In response, Isaiah challenged Ahaz with trying the patience of God. He further said that God Himself would give the sign - and the sign that God gave was almost beyond belief. He promised the birth of a Saviour: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (v14)
There is so much I gain from this reading. Whatever the earthly situation threatens, God is greater. And God's response can leave me speechless because of its power and impact for the good - for my good. I have nothing to fear from the world or from worldly circumstances.
You are for me, and You are with me. How blessed I am. I stand firm in my faith, remembering that, however bleak and threatening the world and its actions might be, You are greater. You will lead me to overcome, and to do so with the power of the mightiest, the greatest. Thank You. Amen.
Friday, 11 January 2019
When I read through psalm 119 I connect with the words of Paul:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Rom. 7.15)
This is how I feel as I read psalm 119 – what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Paul says he does not understand what he does. I think I do understand what I do. I give in to the flesh. I live in the worldly me and not in God’s ways and ultimately His will.
As I read psalm 119 I determine not to be put off by the seeming sanctity of the psalmist. This person appears to have achieved so much of what I desire to reach but, as yet, is still beyond me.
But, praise God, as I journey further with Him I am gaining insight and confidence that I can come before Him with all my concerns and lay them at His feet. For the key is, as always, who He is and not who I am.
And so, I come now. I will use the words of the psalmist – verbatim where this is appropriate, but modified where I feel the psalmist is already expressing something that I have no yet attained, but which I see.
I thank You again that I can come to You just as I am. I ask for mercy. Have mercy on me Lord for I am a humble sinner. I so want to be different, but know that I cannot change in my own strength.
But You are the great God and all things are possible with You. So I come before You with the words of the psalmist and with my own words and seek Your input and action in my life.
I long for Your Righteousness O Lord, and that Your law is my delight. Let me live that I may praise You. And may your laws sustain me.
I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek and help Your servant please, for I have not forgotten Your commands. Amen.
Wednesday, 9 January 2019
Wait for the LORD and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are cut off, you will see it. Psalm 37.34
I wonder which is the more difficult – to keep the way of the Lord, or to wait for Him!
Often to keep his way requires waiting on Him. Here patience is needed, great patience. Am I able at this? Sometimes I wonder! There are times when I feel I have exhausted my resources in waiting, there is no more “waiting” left in me. And then, of course, God has me to wait even longer. I can readily, now at least, see the reality of the situation, which is that I have no option but to wait. Patience will come, it has to. I do not need to ask for it!
As I wait on the Lord, I believe His way will become clear to me and I may be encouraged to keep His way. There is always a choice, but I’m tending more, as I get older, to want to keep his way rather than to wander.
I am not sure if the second part of this verse is presented as a reward for the first part, but it is not what motivates me. Certainly, I don’t want to see the wicked prosper, but my reason for waiting on the Lord and keeping his way is simply because I want to.
I so want to be near You and do what will delight You. Yes, my Father, I want to please You. I so love You, and I want to draw close to You and follow Your way. I do not always do this. I ask Your forgiveness. I ask You to forgive me and also to lead me in the right paths. I pray Your protection upon me, and Your enabling within me.
I wait for You, Lord. I wait on you.
I ask You to show me Your way and strengthen me to walk in it, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sunday, 6 January 2019
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever. Psalm 125.1
The theme of the solid and steadfast rock recurs for me. My God is dependable, totally reliable. As I trust in Him, I am secure. I will not be shaken. I may be sorely tested and tempted. I may experience hardship, even disaster. But I can hold on to my God in the secure knowledge that He will lead me through, if I will allow Him.
His strength is ever there for me – “forever”!
Today is part of forever. Tomorrow will fall into forever. As long as I live, and beyond, God’s firm strength and gentle presence are there for me to rest in, and to grow in. I would indeed be foolish to reject such strong support and life.
I repeat my trust in You. The theme continues, Lord, that You are my refuge and my strength. I can trust You. I may rest and shelter under Your covering and You will uphold me.
Today, Lord, I am relaxed and it is not difficult to come to You in this way. I pray for those times when it might be harder for me to see You in the very midst of my life. I do not wish for such times but, should they occur, I ask for reassurance from You of Your eternal presence. It is during difficult and hard times that I really need to know my security in You and, at such times, I believe You will hear and answer this prayer.
Lord God, it is a joy to meet with You. I lay this day before You and ask that You lead me through it into all the experience and fulfilment You have for me.
Come with me. Lord, into the adventure of today. Let me know and feel Your presence. Let us enjoy our time together. Hallelujah! Amen.
Friday, 4 January 2019
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.” Psalm 122.6,7
Jerusalem is the earthly city of God. Mount Zion is the holy place of God chosen by Him for His habitation.
Today, as in many periods throughout human history, Jerusalem is not at peace. It is a divided city, divided – men say – in the name of God. This is not God’s desire.
His presence upon Mount Zion would sponsor peace and unity. What has happened? Have men in their bickering driven God from his holy dwelling place? Is Jerusalem in need of a new visitation by Almighty God? Must God, indeed, return to His holy habitation?
I follow the psalmist in praying for the peace of Jerusalem. I abhor the atrocities that have become part of the life of that city. I pray for peace within the walls of the Holy City, and security – Godly security – within each of its citadels. I pray the presence of God to be evidenced upon Mount Zion.
I pray for the leaders of modern Israel. Lord God, would You please show them Your way? Please prepare Your way for them, and lead them in it.
I pray for Godly, God-fearing men to inhabit this ancient city. I pray for a resurgence of faith and holiness in strong, solid measure. I ask You to reclaim the holy places. Let Your name only resound from the highest places.
Lord God, I cry out for Jerusalem. Protect every part of this precious place; inhabit every corner, each nook and cranny. Eliminate division and fighting. Restore love, in Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.
Wednesday, 2 January 2019
Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow. Psalm 144.4
Man is transient in the wonder of creation and eternity. Yet man is so important to God that He gave of Himself to secure man as His own. How wonderful is this great God and His love for us! I could, many times, consider my individual life to be unimportant and insignificant. But against the knowledge of God’s love and sacrifice for me, I see significance and meaning for my life in Him.
The paradigm of seeing my life in God’s plan is the essential perspective for me to adopt. He tells me His ways are not my ways, and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. Why do I not simply accept this, and release myself to Him daily, in humble obedience?
I may struggle and falter if I seek to pick my own way through. Surely, my way is in Him.
The psalmist cries:
“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.” Psalm 39.4
I would rather say,
I thank You that I am significant to You. I thank You that You have a purpose for my life and I yield myself to You for that purpose.
I ask that You show me the way where I need to see the way. Please strengthen me to follow Your way as sometimes I am very aware of my own weaknesses.
However many may be the days of my life I do not aspire to know. My desire is simply to serve You all my days.
Hear my prayer, and answer it I pray, in Jesus' name. Amen.