Saturday, 29 June 2019
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Heb.4.10
God has made a Sabbath rest. He rested Himself and He invites man to rest also. But not everyone will realise this rest. The writer has said earlier (v3) that only those who believe will rest. Those who heard but did not combine it with faith (v2) will not experience this rest.
The Sabbath rest of God is a topic that could take a lot of enquiry and research. But, for now, I record just a few things that come to mind.
The ultimate rest, and perhaps the ultimate Sabbath, will come in eternity and, of course, it will last forever. Meanwhile there is a rest that is available to me now. We are told that God enacted all His creative work in six days and then rested. We are invited by God to also rest. The rest is His, and we are called to share with Him in His rest. This seems to me to require little of me beyond my complete surrender to Him. As I write these words I have a real sense of His arms, open and outstretched toward me, inviting me to come to Him, to relax in His comforting and strengthening hold, and to simply rest – and rest simply – in Him.
There may be times when I will cease all that I’m doing and surrender into His rest. I see this as the ultimate earthly experience of the Sabbath rest. It is also possible for me, however, to “rest in Him” as I go. As I allow myself to do this and still enjoy times of total Sabbath rest in Him, I will find myself always in Him, and always at rest.
I see You beckoning me to join You in rest, in a God-given, God-blessed Sabbath rest. I come to You. Setting aside all else, I release myself to You now. I am still. I sense peace. Indeed the atmosphere is filled with Your gentle presence. Draw me close, Precious One. I come to rest in and with You. I praise You. Amen.
Wednesday, 26 June 2019
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word... Heb.1.3
The Son is God. He is one with God, inseparable. The glory of the deity radiates forth from the Son. God the Father has not been seen on earth but the Son has walked this earth, He has related to people and situations.
He has communed with us. And this Son, whom we have received and with whom we fellowship, is the exact representation of God. To see the Son is to see God. To be touched by the Son is to be touched by God. The Son sustains all things. It is as though all life and being were in Him, by Him and through Him. The Son has saved me. He has brought me to the Father. He speaks to me. I hear His powerful word, and I receive it. I connect to the whole Godhead through the Son. Hallelujah!
I give You thanks and praise for the Son. I rejoice in knowing the Son and in the relationship He has led me into with the Triune Godhead.
I exult that Jesus is, truly, real to me and I live in a tangible and meaningful relationship with Him.
Through the Son I have come to the Father. I have received the most precious love covering of the Father. I know true love – unstinting and ever-flowing. I am so well blessed.
The Son has bestowed upon me the presence and power of the Spirit, His Spirit, the Holy Spirit. Through the Son, who strengthens me by His Spirit, I can do anything. I’m still coming to a fuller understanding. I ask You to lead me in further understanding of this, Lord. I ask You to lead me in more revelation and truth.
I rejoice in the gift of relationship I have with Father, Son and Spirit. I ask that You would deepen this relationship even further, and lead me to share it with others. I thank You. I thank You, gracious Lord. Amen.
Monday, 24 June 2019
Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. Philemon 8.9a
Paul sees his authority in Christ enabling him to “order” Philemon to certain actions. But he chooses not to exert his authority. Instead he makes an appeal of love to Philemon. As I read the rest of this short letter it seems to me that Paul’s appeal has quite a measure of persuasion.
Albeit, I see Christ in this appeal. And isn’t this the way of Jesus? God (Christ) is all-powerful. God can command, order, decree, enact. Instead He chooses the way of love. He appeals, He woos us. His rescue of us is mounted in love. His rescue gives the world the greatest demonstration of love that has ever been seen, or ever will be.
Paul demonstrates his commitment to Christ as a disciple in his choosing to appeal to Philemon on the basis of love and not by ordering him through ecclesiastical authority.
I thank You for the sweet and simple lesson and illustration that comes from this Scripture. Paul is adopting the way of Jesus. This is wonderful. I pray for the present earthly leaders of Your people. I pray that they also will minister and lead out of love and not out of ordained or assumed authority.
Our Lord walked this earth as a servant. Let His people do likewise. Show us the way, Lord. Show us also any distinction between servant and slave. I wish to serve my fellow beings, but I don’t think this means enslaving myself to all and sundry.
Again, Lord, I seek Your way. Show me Your way, and lead me in it. May I, like Paul, witness for Jesus on the basis of love and not through ordering and control.
Take me forward into this day. Have Your way, in Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.
Saturday, 22 June 2019
You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Titus 2.1
Paul is writing to Titus and encouraging him in regard to responsible preaching and teaching. Titus is in Crete where, as in many places where the Gospel has been presented, false teachers sought to sway believers with their own ideas of God’s Word.
The subject pronoun is emphatic. Paul is, in fact, saying, “Titus, do not be swayed by what other teachers seek to put forward. Make sure you speak out a pure and sound gospel.”
In some respects nothing has changed in the last two thousand years. Still today preachers and teachers speak out of their own bias and perspective with a possible distortion of sound doctrine, but often with great conviction.
I look on this matter personally and I take Paul’s emphatic pronoun to refer to myself. I want to be sure that I speak only in accord with sound doctrine – that is, God’s sound doctrine and no one else’s. I can share from my own experiences for this gives credibility to my witness. But I need to exercise care that I do not stray from the Word nor give a slant to the Gospel that is unhealthy and ungodly.
I thank You for Your Word. It is my desire to speak and to share Your Word clearly and with God-ordained meaning. I want to present the Gospel as You would have it presented. I ask You to lead me in this. I pray for wisdom and Holy Spirit led insight to understand Your focus, to present it clearly and share with those You call to hear it.
In teaching, I need to know myself. I ask You, precious Lord, to be my number one teacher. Show me the secrets in Your Word. Share with me the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.
Let me speak in truth for Jesus. I ask this in His precious name. Amen.
Friday, 21 June 2019
Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 2 Tim.1.14
The meaning of the Greek word for “guard” comes from the verb “to be”. Expanded meanings include: to hold, possess, eat, enjoy, fear, need, and use. I am delighted at this variety of meanings.
The deposit mentioned in the verse quoted is the Gospel and here Paul is encouraging me to do all these wonderful things with the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.
All the various meanings there are of this verb lead me to a similar conclusion. If I possess the gospel, if I eat it and thereby take it into my being, if I enjoy it, or fear it with a godly fear, if I need it – and I most certainly do, and if I use it, all these point me to the same end – to be the Gospel.
I hear God speaking to me today through Paul’s words. I hear God encouraging me to be the Gospel of Jesus Christ – to exude the good news of the Kingdom of God through every fibre of my being. I can do this. I know I can, through the Holy Spirit who lives in me.
I thank You for this precious revelation. I need and enjoy the Gospel, the goodness of Jesus. It is alive in me. I live in it. I ask You to strengthen this in me. Empower me through the presence of Your Holy Spirit in me. May I, every day, become more and more alive in Your gospel story. Give me confidence in You, and boldness to live out the Gospel and freely share it wherever I go. I feel I want to echo Isaiah and say, “Here am I. Send me.”
I love You and I want to share this love. I seek to do this in harmony with Your Holy Spirit. Hear my prayer, that I might live the Gospel until it consumes me. Help me, in Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.
Wednesday, 19 June 2019
Beyond all question, the mystery of God is great:
he appeared in a body,
Was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory. 1 Tim. 3.16
What is the mystery of godliness? What is it that produces piety in people? The mystery, the secret, is Jesus. His whole life is the source of genuine piety. All He did encapsulates godliness. He was truly God with us, God in human form.
His conception came by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit was the force that motivated, guided and enabled Him throughout the course of His earthly life.
I want to know piety. What is piety? To me, it is a life of godliness. I want to live a life of godliness. I want to become more and more Christ-like in my living. The Holy Spirit is there to help me. Jesus Himself promised the Spirit, and the Spirit has come.
I know of Jesus, the mystery of godliness. And, in small measure, I can say that I know Him. But I want to know Him more. I want to draw closer to Him in personal relationship. I want to exhibit more of Him in my life. This is my prayer.
I acknowledge Your Holy Spirit. I believe I have been touched and filled by Your Holy Spirit. I thank You for this. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will continue to touch me, to fill me and lead me in the fullness of Christ.
I ask for more. More of You in me. More of me doing what You want me to do, whatever that might be. Your mysteries are many and wonderful. But the greatest mystery is the love You poured forth in Jesus. Let me know this love, Lord. Let me receive it and share it, in Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.
Monday, 17 June 2019
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 2 Thess.3.3
There are times when I seem caught up with worldly influences. Subtly my focus is shifted from God. I feel disappointed in myself that the carnal nature comes to the fore, and I feel less close to God. This is relatively minor activity yet it has the power to be so destructive. My thoughts are consumed with issues of the fallen world around me. I am not pressing in to God with the same desire and intensity because a host of “fleshly issues” distracts me. I know full well that this is the work of the enemy and it is sometimes difficult for me to re-focus on God.
This is where God Himself becomes involved. God is faithful. When my faith is tested and is sometimes shown to be lacking, or at the very least diminished, I can look to God. I can turn fully to the One who is full of faith. He is full of faith and He is true to His Word. He says, “I will never leave you. I will not forsake you.” He says this and He means it. His word comes also through Paul today. He promises to strengthen me and protect me from the evil one.
What must I do? I think I need to claim His promises, and surrender myself into His hands.
You remind us that we are in the world but not of the world. Sometimes I feel as if the attack of the world, and of the evil one, will overwhelm me and draw me down. I do not want this. My heart wants to walk with You, closely, at all times. My thoughts sometimes distract and side track me. In this I call out to You, Lord. I surrender my thoughts and behaviour, indeed all of me, to You. I place myself firmly in your hands. I claim Your Word that You are with me always; You are for me, You will strengthen me and protect me from the evil one. In You I am assured of victory over sin. I claim these promises. I ask You to work in my life, taking me on in the process of sanctification. I thank You and rejoice in Your faithfulness. Blessed is Your name. Amen.
Sunday, 16 June 2019
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfil every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. 2 Thess. 1.11
Paul has been talking about the coming of Christ in glory and His punishment of unbelievers. Against this he prays constantly for believers, and his prayer is essentially that God will honour and complete His work in them.
God calls the believer; He draws the unbeliever to Jesus. God endows the gift of faith. God initiates every good purpose. He controls every act prompted by faith. Paul’s prayer is simply that God will bring all to fulfilment.
Where does this leave me? If the initiative and fulfilment lies with God, what is there for me to do? I believe there are two positive actions I can take. The first is to show God my willingness to be led by Him and used for the fulfilment of whatever He desires of me. The second task is to request God’s action. I realise the timing is His, and I would not wish to move out of His timing, but I feel that I would not be doing what I am able to do if I take these steps myself. All is with God.
I love You. I receive the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I endeavour to live by it. My desire is to walk closely with You, to live in intimate relationship with You, and to lead others into such relationship.
There are times when I feel impatient to be doing more for You. I repent of my impatience and I lay it before You. I realise the timing is Yours. I simply want to tell You again of my desires, my desire for deepening relationship with You and my desire to work with and for You, leading others into their own knowing of, and relating with, You.
This is it Lord. I want to know You more and I want to share freely. I give these desires to You and ask that You do in me and with me what You want, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Monday, 10 June 2019
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.” Isa. 43.18, 19
God has spoken again of His sovereignty and His supremacy. He tells how He is going to bring down and crush the forces of Babylon. They will become fugitives. He says:
“I am the LORD, your Holy One,
Israel’s Creator, your King.” (v 15)
He continues with the words I have quoted above. I truly believe that God’s words to the Israelites of so long ago apply equally to His people today. We are to forget what is passed; even what today’s circumstances and situations present. We are not to dwell on what has been, nor on what presently is. God commands us to do this.
We are to look forward to a “new thing”. This “new thing” is most wonderful. It springs up – maybe suddenly – and I am encouraged to look for it, and to receive it when it comes. It will be nurturing, nourishing and fruitful. God will make a way in the desert, and streams of living water will flow.
I am presently in a place where I am expectant of “new things”. I also believe that I am ready. I am ready for God to bring forth something new and exciting in my ministry work. I wait on Him because I believe I am not qualified to bring change myself. I wait and I keep myself alert, ready, and expectant.
Am I right to take today’s word as a Word from You to me? I feel ready to move on in You, to embrace a “new thing” in ministry. I respectfully ask for a sign from You regarding what You would have me do, and where. I ask You to lead me forward, and prepare me if I am not as ready for change as I think I am. I place myself in Your keeping. I seek only Your will for me. Amen.
Saturday, 8 June 2019
Be joyful always. 1 Thess. 12.22
This is a simple but a vital phrase. We have no control, and often no foreknowledge, of much of what happens to us. We cannot choose the things we experience, nor can we bypass unpleasant experiences. But we can input into the way we respond.
Joy is a different emotion to happiness. Happiness seems to relate to, and depend upon, the direct circumstances of my experience. If all is well, I may be happy.
Joy is not happiness. I see joy as a deeper trait. Joy comes from security in Jesus. Joy is an expression of my relationship with Him. And the security I have in Him, the relationship He offers me, is constant. It is not shifting and fickle. It is steady and enduring. I may not always “feel” this. At times I might need to remind myself that God’s gift to me through Jesus, and my security and confidence in that gift, does not depend upon my emotional state, on “how I feel”. The joy I have in salvation and sanctification is God-generated and not me-generated.
My part is to receive His grace, to accept all that He has done for me and to remind myself of the joy I have in Him. I might be tempted to feel miserable, unhappy or disappointed in myself and some of the circumstances I find myself in, yet I cannot level any of these responses at God. He is worthy only of a joyful state. So, in any situation, I remind myself of His love and sacrifice for me, and I let joy express my gratitude to Him.
You have shown me the miracle and beauty of Your love for me. I receive and embrace it all.
I cannot allow unhappiness with any personal situation to contaminate the joy that Your saving grace, the intimacy of relationship with You, and the promise of eternal life, bring.
May I always express Your joy in my life. Swamp me with it. Let it overflow from me, in Jesus’ precious name I ask. Amen.
Thursday, 6 June 2019
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; … For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 1 Thess. 4.3,7
The basic intention of holiness is being “set apart” for God. Sanctification is a process. God sanctifies us as He leads us forward in cleansing, in freeing us from bonds and bondages of unhealthy living, and in fitting us and filling us with His presence in holiness and righteousness.
While sanctification comes from God, I believe I have a part to play. Paul clearly places the action on me to avoid sexual immorality. I can define “avoid” in various ways: to shun or stay clear of, to keep from happening. These are very active interpretations; they require something positive from me. As I apply myself to the avoidance of all that is impure or ungodly, God can lead me forward in the process of sanctification.
Whilst sanctification may be a sovereign work of Yours, I believe I have a choice regarding the degree to which I offer myself to You.
I can choose to avoid those things (and sexual immorality seems to me to be just one of them) that lead to impurity. I can keep clear of such things and release myself to You.
I commit to do this. My earnest desire is to walk closely with You, to enjoy the deepest intimacy of relationship.
I ask also for Your help. Please strengthen me to shun those things I need to shun and ignore. Show me Your ways and lead me in them. I am desperate for You. Help me to find You in the fullest measure, in Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.
Tuesday, 4 June 2019
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Col. 4.6
Where would I be without the grace of God? All the wonderful work of God emanates from His love expressed through grace. Jesus exhorts me to follow Him. Grace, therefore, is a quality that I need in my life.
My conversation conveys so much about me – who I am and how I see, care for, and respond to others. Consistency is important for me. If I am to extend grace to others I need to be consistent in it. I can affect and influence others by what I say to them. Grace is ever important in my conversation.
Together with grace, my talk needs to be seasoned with salt. Salt has two principal qualities. It is a preservative and it also adds taste. As I consider my conversation seasoned, as it were, with salt, I would see it to be wholesome in content and encouraging and edifying in effect.
Words can destroy or words can create. I pray that my conversation may always be full of grace and may ever be seasoned with salt, feeding those I dialogue with in the essence of Christ, demonstrating His love and His grace in the fullest measure I can.
I pray and ask for a large measure of Your grace to operate in and through me. May I speak with wisdom, words of encouragement and edification to others. May I do this whilst founded, well and truly, in the grace and knowledge that You have poured into my life. My prayer is that this may always be the case. I pray for good measure of Godly salt in my words and in my thoughts.
I pray also that I may receive much from You, some for myself and some to be passed on.
May Your people, the salt of the earth, be led by You in grace-filled conversations with seekers and non-believers, bringing to them a clear message of Christ in whose name I ask all these things. Amen.
Monday, 3 June 2019
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach one another and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Col. 3.16
The word of Christ is a life force which equips the believer in daily living. The Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments are full of Christ. His word may be received through personal study and meditation. His word may also be gained in corporate activity, by teaching and admonishing. This is always combined with the exercise of much wisdom.
Christ’s word can be found in the singing of psalms, songs composed for Christian worship. It may be found in hymns and songs of praise used especially in celebration. And it will be found in songs which recount the acts of God, and praise Him for all that He has done. When I realise all that God has done for me, how can I fail to sing to Him with gratitude. The word of Christ is a life force. Let me diligently seek it and apply it in my life. Let me know it in every act of daily living.
I thank You for Jesus and for all that He has done for me. I thank You for His word and the many reminders of it that occur for me.
I ask You for wisdom and insight when reading Your Holy Scriptures that I might receive and understand the utmost from what I read. I ask for wisdom also as I share with the body of Christ in teaching or admonishing. Whether I am giving or receiving let me be aware of all wisdom applying throughout.
Lord, I enjoy singing. May I always sing to You – whether psalms or hymns or spiritual songs – with a heart full of gratitude, teeming over and encouraging others to turn to You with gladness and rejoicing.
Lord, I love You. I want to live in the fullness of You and share it with all I meet. Be with me in this, in Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.