Thursday, 29 August 2019
For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation. Psalm 149.4
There is no greater gift than salvation. We may talk of extreme generosity as “giving the earth”. Salvation is much, much more that giving the earth. Salvation is the gift of eternal life. It is the giving of heaven and all that is in it. And that wonderful life begins the moment that salvation is received. As I presently live in eternal life, as heaven is mine, things of the earth will follow suit. I declare that I shall be in want for nothing, for the Lord of all heaven and earth is my provider. He will give me all that I need.
The humble are “crowned” with salvation by the Lord. Those who see themselves without resources in this life are indeed covered in the splendour of God’s salvation. The present assurance of eternal life lifts the individual into the delight of God. How can I be downcast when I know the delight of the Holy and Loving One is upon me?
I will praise the Lord. I will sing a new song to Him. I will join the heavenly host and the great cloud of witnesses, and rejoice this day in the Lord my God.
I sing to You today. I bring praise to You. I shout “Hallelujah”. You are good; You are great; You are mighty.
You are pleased to crown me with salvation. I delight to receive this crown from You. Let me live all of my days on this earth wearing the crown of eternal salvation and knowing that the splendour of Almighty God is upon me.
Let us go forth together into this day, living in eternity. My glorious life in You is already underway. I rejoice and sing wonderful songs to You. Lead me forward, to Your praise and glory, in Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.
Wednesday, 28 August 2019
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth. Isa.53.7
How did Jesus fare when He lived, and died, on earth? We make much glorious celebration of Christmas, and so we should at the birth of the Saviour who would offer salvation to the whole world. Yet He was born in circumstances which were far from comfortable.
He grew up in a family that was not well off. I imagine them as a happy family, but I believe their living arrangements would have been without embellishment.
When He began His ministry, Jesus became a nomad. He wandered from place to place. He had no permanent abode to “rest His head.” His earthly, everyday life would have been Spartan rather than lavish.
Whilst many received Him and the gifts of healing and release that He brought, He was despised by the authorities of the day. His acceptance by the people varied between adulation and rejoicing to despising and rejection. By popular demand He suffered the most appalling death, preceded by degradation and the torments of the most cruel and torturous treatment. He was treated with scorn, and ingloriously and cruelly nailed to a cross to die. On the cross He was lifted high for all to deride and mock. The final insult and crushing rejection came as He hung, weighed down by the sins of all humanity, and His beloved and adored Father turned from Him. A difficult life ended in the most degrading way possible.
In all of this He did not complain. He said nothing. This was the life and death of the divine Lamb who rescued me.
My Lord Jesus, I can fool myself by thinking that Your time here on this earth was sweet and quite wonderful, but the reality is so different. Please forgive me if I overlook the truth of Your whole earthly experience. I humbly and sincerely thank You for the life and death that You endured for me. I love You. Amen.
Monday, 26 August 2019
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121.2
The Lord God, the one true God is supreme. He is the Creator of all things. Nothing exists that has not been brought into being by Him.
This is the power that helps me. I wonder if I can truly take this in. I have many opportunities to experience and marvel at the wonder of creation. I live in a most beautiful part of the world, in a country that is breathtaking in natural beauty. Now, can I fully take in the power and wonder, majesty and awe of the Creator of all that I see?
And it is this Creator who helps me. He watches over me at all times. He does not sleep or ever take His focus from me. He will not let my foot slip. He is my shade in the heat of the day and my protection during the night. He keeps me from all harm. He watches over the whole of my life. He blesses me as I come in and He blesses me as I go out. I am in awe at what this great and wonderful God does for me. He calls me son, and delights when I call Him Father.
I am wrapped up in this mixture of who You are. You are the omnipotent, awesome God, the Creator of everything that is, the most powerful force of all. You are also Abba, my loving heavenly Dad. You love me in the sweetest, most tender relationship, the depth and intimacy of which I may never fully understand, or even realise. But I know these things. I know them and I declare them. My prayer is that they will become fully real to me.
I give You this prayer and ask You to bring me into the fullness of relationship with You. I declare and acknowledge You as the one true God, supreme. I receive You as my heavenly Dad. I delight in You. I ask You to draw me closer. Let me feel Your heartbeat. Let me share in it, and share You with others, in Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.
Friday, 23 August 2019
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed. Isa. 53.5
I really need to take in these words and understand the significance and relevance to me. Isaiah is talking about “The Servant”. To me, this, means Jesus.
Jesus was pierced, most assuredly, by the nails in His feet and the wound in His side. Whilst He took this on Himself for the whole world – at least for those who would receive Him, I take these words, and His action, for myself. Jesus died for me. He gave His earthly life that I might live.
The ultimate promise to me is eternal life, but I can also live in Him in this present, earthly life. He is with me now, at this present moment. He will be with me tomorrow, and every day to follow. This comes to me through the suffering He endured for me. He was pierced and crushed. As He did this for me, as He gave His earthly life vicariously in place of me, let me try and place myself in His position. It is too painful to bear. I know I could not have endured the vicious actions of ruthless people.
Jesus suffered for me. Now He is beyond suffering. He lives in glory, seated in majesty and splendour with the Father in the heavenly realm. And I am still in His thoughts and His prayers. I know His peace most wonderfully. I receive healing through the wounds that He bore for me. I am assured of eternal life in glory. I owe Him so much, which I know I will never be able to repay. All I can do is to thank Him.
I give You thanks from the entirety of my heart and my being. I gratefully and humbly receive all that You have done for me.
I know I can never repay You, but I aim to devote my life to You. Receive me, please, and lead me forward in witness to You. Amen.
Wednesday, 21 August 2019
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. Isa.53.4
The whole chapter 53 of Isaiah is poignant yet, at the same time, strangely beautiful It speaks to the depths of my being. It tells me of the amazing love that God has for me, and how this love was demonstrated through Christ.
Isaiah talks of the suffering and glory of “the Servant”. Jesus is the ultimate servant. His life, death and suffering cove the extent of His service to humanity. He redeems us; He sets us free, and He leads us into glory.
Jesus gave Himself for me and for all who receive Him. He took my woes and sins upon Himself “surely”. This tells me that there is no uncertainty over what He has done for me. It is sure; it is certain; it is done, and will not be undone.
Yet we considered him stricken by God. It sounds as if God placed a horrible disease upon His Son. But the disease was ours and not God’s. The Son placed the disease on Himself. We could say that God did it, for the Son is indeed God. The disease was sin, the sin of all people, of all time. The sin is mine. This wonderful servant took my sin upon Himself, thereby not only releasing me from the burden sin but, wonderfully taking away all dreadful consequences.
The Son has set me free for all time. I am immensely and inexpressibly grateful. I am no longer bound, but free. I desire to use my freedom by being a solid and true witness for Jesus. I hope I can live out this desire.
Jesus, my most precious Lord,
Words cannot begin to express my gratitude to You. I am humbly filled with wonderful thanks and praise.
I give myself to You, and I desire to live my life in witness to You. I ask You to endorse me in this desire. I will experience failings in my own efforts, but You can, once again, rescue me. I pray that You will show me clearly when I stray or err in my witness. I ask that Your Holy Spirit will convict me. May I come before You in confession and repentance. Would You please forgive me, and lead me forward in the right way?
I know that You are with me, and I believe that You will never leave me. I thank You. Amen.
Monday, 19 August 2019
May the glory of the LORD endure for ever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works –
he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke. Ps. 104.31,32
God’s glory is displayed in all of creation and this psalm is a wonderful song of celebration, a prayer to God in beautiful poetic form.
But God Himself is much greater than creation. He could undo so much with a simple look or a touch.
I exalt this wonderful God, my Lord and my Saviour. I join with the psalmist in lifting up praise to my wonderful Creator, clothed in splendour and majesty.
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. (Psalm 104.33)
Praise the Lord, O my soul.
Praise the Lord.
Great Creator, Heavenly Father, wonderful Saviour and Precious Friend,
I lift Your name up to the highest heavens. I glorify You for the almighty being that You are. I bow in humble adoration before You. I join with the psalmist and pray that my meditation will be pleasing to You as I rejoice in You.
Glorious Lord, my heart sings out to You. I rejoice in You with all of my being. I seek You in all things.
I bring myself before You, repentant of all my sins. Father, forgive me, and strengthen me in Your Words and Your Spirit to resist sinful thoughts and actions. I ask You to lead me away from temptation into the fullness of Your holy ways. Deliver me from all evil. Let me live in the joy of Your presence. I rejoice in You. Receive my praise. Draw me to You. Lead me through his day in Your blessed and wonderful company, in Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.
Sunday, 18 August 2019
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” John 10.9
The gate is the entry point, the place at which we enter into what is before us. Jesus is the gate to salvation. He is the entry point to eternal life, and He is the only way.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”(John 14.6)
Inside this place there is welcome, safety and belonging. And from this place, the security of salvation, one can go forth and find pasture, and the satisfying of all needs.
I believe it’s important that the going forth, into the world to satisfy earthly needs, is grounded and saturated in the knowledge and experience that we have entered through the gate, and live in salvation in Christ, and the assurance of eternal life.
I thank You for the gate to salvation, eternal life, and You, that is provided in Jesus. I thank You also that You have called me and allowed me to pass through the Jesus gate. I thank You that I am able to “come in” and know the security of being in Your Kingdom, experiencing and living daily in the reality of Your love.
I thank You that I can also “go out”, into this world to gather what I might need to sustain my life here. I want this “going out” to be firmly based upon the “coming in”. I believe this to be so. I ask You to affirm and consolidate this in me.
I pray for opportunities to lead others through the Jesus gate. I ask You to prepare them such that they will be ready to receive Jesus. I pray for God-ordained meetings with these people. I ask that You lead the whole process through Your Holy Spirit.
I commit this day to You. Lead me in the fulfilment of Your plans for me today, that Your purposes might be achieved in my life. I ask this is Jesus’ name. Amen.
Thursday, 15 August 2019
The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” John 8.13
Jesus has been challenged in His testimony. He has appeared as His own witness. The Pharisees were insisting upon the letter of the Jewish law (Deut. 19.15) which required two witnesses to attest to any matter. Ironically, they have totally ignored His specific revelation : I am the light of the world”, and side-tracked the dialogue with distracting legalism.
Jesus answers their challenge by nominating two witnesses – Himself and the Father (v 18). He then proceeds to challenge them about who their father is. After some mention of the fatherhood of Abraham, He accuses them of being children of the devil and not children of God.
What has spoken to me as I have read and reflected on this passage and this verse in particular, is the strength, visibility and validity of my witness to Jesus. How effective am I as a witness to Jesus and His Gospel? He has done wonderful and amazing things in my life, but do I share His impact on me as freely and as willingly as I might?
Jesus named two witnesses – Himself and the Father. I, likewise, can name two witnesses – myself and the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew this before He left this earth, and He spoke it into being:“… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…”(Acts 1.8)
I have been commissioned to go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel of Love. I am empowered by the Holy Spirit of the Mighty God, the Spirit of Jesus the Christ. I am assured that I will bear fruit (John 15.5). I can do this by remaining in Jesus, and allowing Him, with His Spirit, to inhabit me.
I have been called to be a witness for my Lord Jesus. I come.
I have been endued with power from on high by the presence and in-dwelling of Your Holy Spirit. I receive this.
I have been commissioned to go forth, journeying to the ends of the earth if needed, to proclaim the Gospel of Christ, to baptise, and to make disciples. I offer my obedience.
I speak as Samuel spoke in answer to Your call: “Here I am, Lord. Speak for your servant is listening.” I echo the words of Isaiah, saying, “Here I am. Send me!”
I repeat the words of the psalmist, “Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour.”
Show me your ways, Lord, and lead me in them. Lead me in the way You have appointed specifically for me. Strengthen me for the journey. I know You will never leave me. Let me be a true witness to my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Wednesday, 14 August 2019
How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Isa.52.7
Mountains are generally high places. In the days of Isaiah the non-God-fearing kings of Israel and Judah set up altars and idols on the high places for worship to alien gods.
In respect to the verse above, it is quite possible that the declaration of beautiful feet refers to messengers returning from a war zone to bring good news of victory to their king and his people. They would bring the good tidings of victory which would usher in peace for the kingdom and its peoples. The victory would bring salvation to the people – salvation from the hands and the wrath of the offensive enemy.
I think of the high places, but the high places I think of are inhabited by my God, the Lord God Almighty. In these places the beautiful feet of the saints bring forth the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Salvation is found in God alone. It comes to us by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ for our sins. As we receive this, and follow through with confession and repentance, so we receive the beauty of salvation. Salvation leads to the fullness of God’s gifts lavished on us. Significant among these is that of peace. Jesus gives us (gifts to us) His own peace (John 14.27). How wonderful is this!
I am blessed with so much from God. I know without doubt that He is my provider and protector. He is my strength and my comfort. Indeed, He is everything to me. I can truly say, “My God reigns.”
I embrace You as a most grateful son. I acknowledge You to be my heavenly Father, but also my sovereign God, my Master, my Redeemer, my Friend and my Lover. Thank You. Amen.
Monday, 12 August 2019
“Awake, awake, O Zion,
clothe yourself with strength.
Put on your garments of splendour,
O Jerusalem, the holy city.
The uncircumcised and defiled
will not enter you again. Isa.52.1
This sounds to me like a wake-up call. Zion has been “asleep”. The people have ignored the Lord God. They have neglected, abused and disowned Him. God has punished them with exile and captivity.
But now the time has come for reinstatement. God is speaking to His people. His promise is that He will renew them. They will no longer be enslaved by others and they will be protected and saved from future threats.
God encourages His people to boldness. He tells them to put on strength and to wear garments of splendour. I see this as the true placement and being of the people of a sovereign and supreme God.
As I read the Scriptural accounts of God’s dealings with His people, I see much that can be applied to myself and to society today. If only God’s people would awake, truly awake and clothe themselves with garments of splendour, they would become a force for good and right living in the world.
The body of Christ has slumbered for too long. It has created its own ideas to the detriment of God’s plans, purposes and ways. People “preach” the message but do not live it. How different the world would be if Christians practiced and lived in the ways of their leader.
Most Holy Father,
I grieve over how Your people have lost their way. Surely it is time to wake up, to clothe ourselves with strength and wear garments of splendour. May we show the truth of You to a world that has largely spurned You, where people mock, deride and fully deny You.
Let us know that we have been set apart by You. Protect us from “the uncircumcised and defiled”. Bring us to fullness in You, and lead us forward in Your truth and Your ways. Amen.
Saturday, 10 August 2019
For I am the LORD your God,
who churns up the sea so that its waves roar –
the Lord Almighty is his name.
I have put my words in your mouth
and covered you with the shadow of my hand –
I who set the heavens in place,
who laid the foundations of the earth,
and who said to Zion, “You are my people.” Isa. 51. 15,16
Through Isaiah, God is constantly reminding us of who He is. His power is without limit. His love defies all boundaries, and He is ever mindful of His people. He scorns those who set themselves up above Him. He is constantly encouraging His people not to be intimidated by these mere mortal “bullies”. His words are “Fear not”. He assures us of His presence with us at all times. We have nothing to fear. Yet, somehow we manage to get ourselves into a fearful state.
There are so many times in the Scriptures when God tells us not to fear nor be fretful. Through Paul, He tells us to “be anxious for nothing.” An early response of mine to these Godly encouragements is to see us as grossly disobedient. God tells us not to, yet this is often the very thing that we do.
Are we, perhaps, not getting the reality of who God is? He is the beginning and the end – and all things between. He challenges me to realise, and live in the reality that nothing is impossible to him. He reminds me that I can do all things in Him for he gives me strength. I live in this. I fully believe that God can do anything, but I also realise that it is He who decides what He will do, and when.
When I am faced with a challenge of any kind, I am not going to be anxious or fearful. I shall look to Him, for I know I will receive strength in Him to get through victoriously. I also know that He will be with me in all circumstances.
Lord, Mighty God,
I thank you for the protection and the strength that I receive in You. I look to go forward with You. I am excited. Hallelujah! Amen.
Wednesday, 7 August 2019
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3.8
Peter’s exhortation is to everyone, to live in harmony with each other. He gives three encouragements in words I’d like to examine further.
Be sympathetic: the Greek word sympatheo meansto feel sympathy with and, perhaps, to share sufferings with. This is significant. Can I feel sympathy for someone to the point of actually sharing in their sufferings? This word encourages me to look deeper into what my fellow being might be experiencing.
Be compassionate: eusplagkhnos is tender-hearted, kind.
Be humble: tapeinothron is humble-minded or humble. The suffix phren connects the state of humility with the mind. The root signifies “low-lying”, “of low degree, brought low." In its application by Peter it can mean “be courteous”.
So, for me to live in harmony with my fellows requires me, at least, to put myself into their situation as much as I am able so that I might understand their experience, I might “share in their sufferings”. I need to do this with a tender heart, with feelings of kindness and not of judgment or retribution. Furthermore, my mind must work in full accord with my heart, and both need to be lowly rather than haughty, and overall courteous.
If I achieve all of this I am merely living as Jesus wants me to live. I’m sure there is more beyond this, but I see this as a good foundation to work on. God, as always, will help me as I ask Him.
I want to live in harmony with my fellow beings in the love that I know in You. This may not always be through full agreement with them. I ask for your help and Your input into all of my relationships.
I seek to be sympathetic, compassionate and humble, and in the full sense as I have begun to uncover in my exploration above.
I know that nothing is impossible for You. I also firmly believe that I can do all things through the strength and enabling of Jesus in me. I ask You to help me. Help me to be sympathetic, compassionate and humble in each encounter I have with Your created beings. Let me see people, more and more, as You see them. Show me what You would have me connect with, and possibly minister to, in them.
And, as I walk this way, I ask You to lead me on to other things. Grow me, Lord. I want to follow Jesus. I give my life to You. I ask You to lead me, as You want me to go.
Receive my love and praise, my worship and loyalty, my adoration and commitment, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Tuesday, 6 August 2019
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation. 1 Peter.2.2
The milk that Peter refers to here is not the milk of 1 Cor. 3.2 or Heb. 5.12-14, which is presented as unfavourable in contrast with solid food.
This milk is seen as appropriate nourishment. I pray that at every stage of my spiritual walk I will crave appropriate nourishment just as a new born babe craves milk.
My growth in salvation, in which I see the process of sanctification, is fuelled by the spiritual milk I drink.
The God I crave feeding from is good, loving and generous. He will not withhold the right amount and grade of spiritual milk from me as I crave and request it.
I believe I will continue to need spiritual milk – or appropriate nourishment – throughout my life. I also believe that, as I ask for it, I will receive. The grace of God surpasses all human understanding. I am a child of grace. I thank God for this, and I entreat Him for continual feeding for my spiritual nourishment, growth and witness.
I thank You that I can call to You, and expect to receive appropriate spiritual nourishment at every stage of my journey.
Your Word feeds me and I thank You for it. Study feeds me and I am grateful that You allow me to do this. Godly relationships feed me and I appreciate each and every relationship You lead me into.
I crave nourishment from You. I come before You in simple request – that You feed me. Let me know You more. Please, build me up in You, not simply for myself but that I might encourage others.
Give me, please, the nourishment I need and use me, if You will, to nourish and nurture others. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sunday, 4 August 2019
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1.23
Initial birth comes from human sperm, which is corruptible and leads to a corruptible life. But there follows a new birth – being born again. This birth comes through the direct action of the Holy Spirit and the word of God.
All of creation, and the intention of humanity’s perfect life with God in the garden of Eden, come into being through the word of God. God spoke, and it was! (Gen. 1) And new birth comes also from the word of God. The call to salvation, or rebirth by the Spirit into true relationship with God, is contained in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And this is conveyed to us through the New Testament Scriptures – the Word of God.
The word of God, which originally brought all of creation into perfect existence, now regenerates the fallen individual, restoring them to a state of original love with God.
The word of God is the truth, but the Spirit of God is often the key to unlocking the truth. The Spirit can “illuminate” the word – to a particular individual at a particular time or in a particular situation. God’s word is constant, firm, immutable. But the Spirit brings a dynamic to it, causing it to speak in God’s due season. I rejoice in the word and the ministry of the Spirit in making alive God’s word to the individual.
I thank You for Your word. I also thank You for the wonder of Your Holy Spirit and the way in which You move upon the hearts of the lost to draw them to You.
I pray today for my family members, friends, neighbours and acquaintances who don’t know You. I ask You to make Your Word real to them, bringing them into the wonder of rebirth. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Friday, 2 August 2019
As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. Jas.5.11
Job presents a good example for all times. He was tested by God. I note that the Lord put the idea into Satan to afflict Job. God knew Job and He knew his committed heart. He described Job as blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. (Job 1.8)
Satan took everything external away from Job. He even imposed physical suffering on him. Yet Job did not spurn God. He persevered. Job persevered saying “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” God rewarded Job by blessing the latter part of his life more than the first (Job 42.12), but Job had no awareness of this as he persevered through difficult times. He simply persevered out of his love and commitment to God.
Trials come to me. Is God testing me? I don’t know if He deliberately puts me to a test and, somehow, I don’t need to know. If my love for, and commitment to, God is strong then I will simply persevere, unmindful of the reason for the struggle, and not focussing on its reward other than to get closer to Jesus through perseverance in struggle.
I get the idea, but I’m not sure how well I can action it. I want to persevere, and I note well the example of Job.
As in all things, I need Your help. I ask You to remind me of Job and the need to persevere when things really get tough. Let me remember also the most excellent example of all in Jesus, who persevered and gave His life that I might keep mine – eternally. Thank You, Lord. I bless You. Amen.