This is an updated post. I’ve just added notes on Psalm 32:1-11 and Ruth 2:1-16.

Genesis 1:1-2:3

Before the creation, there is the Creator.

* He is the chief focus of attention in the Bible’s first chapter. Wherever we look in Genesis 1, we see the word, God. This is about Him. Genesis 1 speaks about us. It tells us where we have come from. We have come from God. He is our Creator. Take away God, and our life has no meaning, no purpose, no direction.

* Move on from the Bible’s first chapter. Read the rest of Genesis, the rest of the Old Testament,the rest of the Bible. What do you find? The Bible is a Book about God. It’s not only a Book about God. It’s a Book that has been given to us by God. It’s His Word.

* What about our faith and our life? Our faith comes to us from God. Our life has been given to us by God. We are to put our faith in God. We are to live our life for God.

* “God said, Let there be light, and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). The light of God’s love and holiness. “He created us in His own image” (Genesis 1:27). Created by God – love. Created for God – called to holiness. The light of His love – a sure foundation for our faith. The light of His holiness – The Lord is calling us to walk with him in the light of His holy Word.

* “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). This was before our sin spoiled the world. We must not blame God for our sin. We are the ones who have spoiled His good creation.

* “God completed His work” (Genesis 2:2). This was the end of the beginning. When we come to Genesis 3, it seems like we’re reading about the beginning of the end. It’s not. It’s the start of a new beginning – God’s rescue plan (Genesis 3:15).

Genesis 2:4-25

Do what God tells us to do. This leads to blessing. Do what God tells us not to do. This leads to trouble. It’s been trouble ever since.

Here, on earth, things can be turned around. We can be set in the right direction. We are not yet at our final destination, but we’re travelling towards it.

When Adam and Eve sinned, they “died” spiritually. Immediately, we see conflict. The devil has won a battle. He has won many more battles. He will win many more battles. He will not win the war.

In Genesis 3:15, we catch a glimpse of God’s eternal Kingdom, in which “there will no longer be any curse” (Revelation 22:3).

Genesis 3:1-7

The tragedy of Adam and Eve: their fall into sin. We compare this with the triumph of Jesus – His victory over Satan.

What made the difference?- standing on the Word of God.

Adam and Eve believed the lie of the devil.

Jesus took His stand on the Word of God.

What about us? Do we stand? or Do we fall? Will we listen to Satan? or Will we listen to God?

We cannot be facing in two directions at the same time. We must make our choice.

Will our life be self-centred? or Will it be God-centred?

God is calling us out of the old life (the Adam life). He’s calling us into the new life (the Jesus life). When we choose to walk with Jesus, He walks with us.

Genesis 3:8-24

Here, we focus on three verses.

* Genesis 3:9 – “Where are you?” This is the voice of love: “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

* Genesis 3:15 – A prophecy concerning our Saviour and His mighty triumph over Satan

For Christ, there was suffering. For us, there is salvation.

* Genesis 3:22 – Salvation is not something we can reach out and take.

It must be given to us by the Lord. We must receive salvation from the Lord. It is always His gift.

Genesis 4:1-16

We read about Cain and Abel. We look beyond them to Christ. He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin. He is “the Passover Lamb.” He “has been sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

We read here about the parting of the ways. Cain went one way – away from God. Abel went the other way – towards God. When we come to the Cross of Jesus Christ, we must make our choice. Our  life can never be the same again.

Will we be like Cain? – “He went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of wandering” (Genesis 4:16). What does God say to those who are wandering away from Him? He says, “Awake, sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14).

We read about Abel, and we look beyond him to Christ. Let us walk with Christ on the way of faith and obedience, the way of His salvation, the way of holiness. When we read about Abel’s offering being accepted by God, we must remember this – It’s Christ who makes the difference. It’s “His blood” which “cleanses us from our sins” (1 John 1:7).

Genesis 9:8-17

We look at the rainbow. We see the love of God. We look beyond the rainbow. We look to the Cross. There, we see the supreme demonstration of the love of God. There, we see Jesus, suffering for us. His suffering is the suffering of love. It wasn’t the nails that held Him to the Cross. It was His love for us that sent Him to the Cross. It was His love for us that kept Him on the Cross.

Genesis 12:1-9

This was a major step for Abraham – and for God. Abraham would never be the same again. For him, this was the beginning of a journey. It was more than a journey into a new land. It was a journey into God’s blessing. Notice that Abraham was “75 years old” (Genesis 12:4) when he set out on this great journey of faith and blessing. 75 years old – we don’t normally expect big changes at this age. Big change – this was what God expected of Abraham. Can we ever say, “It’s too late to make a new beginning with God?” No! We must never say this. Whatever age we are, we must be ready to say “Yes” to God, to move forward with Him. Pray that God will give you a new hunger for Himself, for His Word, for prayer. As we get older, are we getting colder or bolder? Do we say, “My best days are behind me? or Do we rise to new challenges?

Exodus 2:23-25

The Exodus is more than a departure. It’s a deliverance. It’s more than a protest against Egypt. It’s an answer to prayer. It’s more than a social revolution. It’s a spiritual revelation of God’s love.

 

Exodus 3:1-22

Moses may have been content to remain in the background. God was calling him to step into the foreground – for God’s people.

This is more than the story of Moses. It’s the story of Israel. It points forward to God’s purpose for all nations. When we read the Old Testament story, we find that God is saying to us, ‘This is just the beginning. There is more than this.’ From Exodus to the Gospels, to Acts, to the book of Revelation: We’re not at the final triumph yet. Like those who have come before us – Moses, the Psalmist, the prophets, Jesus, Peter, Paul, we must face conflict. There will be glimpses of glory, but the full glory is still to come.

In Exodus, we see God’s people on a journey. It’s a journey with God. It’s a journey of faith. We see the same thing in Acts.In the work of God, there are people who are very significant – Moses and Peter. The work of God is always bigger than such individuals. Let us never forget the people who remain in the background. They’re not just making up the numbers. They’re important – loved by God and valued by God.

* What does God have to say to each and every one of us concerning His purpose for our lives?

Exodus 3 and Acts 2 – God’s holiness (burning bush, holy ground, Holy Spirit); God’s love (the redemption of Israel, the salvation of three thousand sinners.)

His holiness and His love: This is what God wants to reproduce in our lives. This is not only for big names, like Moses and Peter. From the Father, the Son and the Spirit – new life, abundant life, eternal life.

Exodus 20:1-21

Before the Ten Commandments, there is love (Exodus 20:2). There is more than law. . There us more than the exodus. There is Jesus, our Saviour. He does for us what the law can never do for us. He saves us.

The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17) – What effect do they have on us? Read Exodus 20:18-21 – “thunder and lightning”, “the mountain surrounded by smoke”, “the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance”, “don’t let God speak to us, or we will die”, “the people remained standing at a distance as Moses approached the thick darkness where God was”.

Distance, darkness – This is where the law leaves us.

If we are to move from distance to nearness, from darkness to light, we need more than the law. We need Jesus, our Saviour.

Numbers 6:22-27 

These are more than words spoken about God. They are words spoken by God. They are spoken to Moses before they are spoken by him. They are not spoken in the name of Moses. They are spoken in the Name of the Lord. He is the One who speaks His Word to us. This is real blessing, God’s blessing.

Deuteronomy 6:1-9

We don’t begin with the call to love God. We begin with His plan to bless us – “the land” (Deuteronomy 6:1,3): “There is a happy land, far, far away, where saints in glory stand, bright, bright as day.”

* “far, far away” – “Your Kingdom come”: What a great future!

* “saints” – That’s what we are: by the grace of God.

* “stand” – Yes! We’ll be standing. We have fallen, but we shall stand!

* “bright” – Darkness will be a thing of the past. In God’s light, there will be no darkness.

Thinking about God’s future changes our present. We see how much He loves us, and we want to love Him more, and more …

Joshua 1:1-9

The Word of God is spoken to Joshua for his encouragement. Before we can speak the Word of God to others, the Word of God must be spoken to us.

“Do not turn from it to the right or to the left” (Joshua 1:5). We are pulled this way and that way. We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. “This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth … carefully observe everything written in it” (Joshua 1:8).

In the strength of the Lord (Joshua 1:6,9) – We must never forget this. without His strength, we are nothing. With His strength, everything changes. Life becomes new. The Holy Spirit is leading us on into God’s future. We don’t stay where we are. We move on to where God wants us to be.

“Joshua” = “salvation” – This points us forward to Jesus.

The land was given and had to be claimed – a picture of salvation: by grace through faith for good works (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Ruth 1:1-22

This is the story of an older woman – Naomi – and a younger woman – Ruth. The great words of Ruth 1:16-17 stand  out – “But Ruth answered, “Don’t force me to leave you. Don’t make me turn back from following you. Wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and I will be buried there with you. May the Lord strike me down if anything but death separates you and me!””

They speak to us of more than Ruth’s commitment to Naomi. They call us to be, more truly and more fully, committed to Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. “I have decided to follow Jesus, No turning  back; The world before me, the cross before me; Tho’ none go with me, still I will follow. Will you decide now to follow Jesus.” “I want to walk with Jesus Christ, all the days of this life on earth; To give to Him complete control of body and soul.”

Life is a journey. Ruth and Naomi travelled together. Ruth could have chosen to go her own way, to say Goodbye to Naomi. We can do that with Jesus. Many people do this. They come so far with Jesus and, then, they say, “That’s far enough.” How sad! It doesn’t need to be like this. We can go on with Jesus. We can say ‘No’ to the world and ‘Yes’ to Jesus.

Ruth 2:1-16

It wasn’t always harvest. Remember Ruth 1:1 – “There was a famine in the land.” In today’s world – for some, there is harvest. For others, there is famine. At the time of the harvest, we give thanks to God and we share with people in need. Do not forget the Lord (Ruth 2:4,12) – and don’t forget other people. The harvest is not to be kept to ourselves. It’s to be shared with others.  “She ate and was satisfied and had some left over” (Ruth 2:14). We must not look after ourselves. We must look after people in need. They are waiting for us to share.

 

2 Chronicles 7:12-22

The gathering together of God’s people – “I … have chosen this place for Myself” (2 Chronicles 7:12). Note also 2 Chronicles 7:15-16 – “… this place… this temple.”

The key verse is 2 Chronicles 7:14. Taking this verse together with Acts 1:12-14, we may say, ‘This is the kind of prayer that leads to Pentecost.’

What we have here is humility, prayer, longing for God and repentance.

When say, “Pray”, we must ask, ‘How are we to pray?’

* We are to pray with humility. Remember the parable of the Pharisee and the publican (Luke 18:9-14).

* We are to pray with longing for God. Prayer is more than just words. There is to be intensity and persistence. The parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8): She kept on praying until she received an answer. We are to “cry out to God day and night” (Luke 18:7).

* We are to pray with repentance. Our words are to be backed up by our life.

When God hears this kind of prayer, arising from our hearts and lives as well as our lips, He says, “I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

Can there be a new Pentecost? Will we commit ourselves to pray, like the first apostles prayed?

Psalm 19:1-14

The glory of God in creation – general revelation

The glory of God in Christ – special revelation

The link between the two is the glory of God, shining through the written Word of God.

Creation shows us the greatness of God’s power. Christ shows us the greatness of God’s love.

In creation, we see the beauty of nature. In Christ, we see the beauty of holiness.

How are we to move beyond appreciating the beauty of nature to living the life of holiness? We need to turn, again and again, to the written Word of God. Read God’s Word. Listen to what the Lord is saying to you. The main thing that God says to us is this – He points us to Jesus, His Son; Jesus, our Saviour; Jesus – “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). As we read the Scriptures, we learn that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), and we rejoice in the Lord. We give thanks for His love and His salvation, and we give all the glory to Him.

Psalm 23:1-6

“The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1).

He speaks to us. He calls us to Himself. He leads us on with Himself (John 10:3).

He is all that we need for walking the walk as well as talking the talk.

He works in us through the “oil” of the Holy Spirit and the “table” and “cup” of Christ (Psalm 23:5).

The completion of God’s work in us is beyond this life. It’s more than “as long as I live.” It’s “forever” (Psalm 23:6).

Psalm 24:1-10

“The one who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3) – That’s Jesus. “He will receive a blessing from the Lord” (Psalm 24:5).

How do we receive this blessing? We must receive it through Jesus. We must open our hearts to “the King of glory” (Psalm 24:7,9). He will lead us on to “the mountain of the Lord”, to “His holy place” (Psalm 24:3).

Psalm 27:1-14

The Lord brings light and salvation to us. He is our light and our salvation (Psalm 27:1).

“The Lord is my light and my salvation” (Psalm 27:1).

Whenever we confess our faith in the Lord, we must never forget what we were without the Lord. We were in darkness. We were lost. He has brought us out of our darkness and into His light. He has found us. He has saved us.

When the Lord saves us, He gives us a great desire to worship Him (Psalm 27:4).

We are on a journey – a lifelong journey, an eternal journey (Psalm 27:13-14) – “all the days of my life, “forever” (Psalm 23:6).

“Wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). We need to hear this for both our lifelong journey and our eternal journey.

Psalm 32:1-11 

The forgiveness of sins (Psalm 32:1-2); Confess and be forgiven (Psalm 32:5). Once we have begun our journey with the Lord, we are to seek instruction from His Word (Psalm 32:8). To receive instruction from the Lord, we need to have the right attitude (Psalm 32:9). When the Lord has saved us and we are learning to walk with Him in the light of His Word, we will rejoice in the Lord and His faithful love for us (Psalm 32:10-11). When we say that God’s love is faithful, we mean this: it’s forever love.

Psalm 33:1-12 

Worship the Lord with joy (Psalm 33:1,3). We give thanks for the Word of the Lord and the work of the Lord. They show us His love. They assure us that He can be trusted (Psalm 33:4-5). We learn that He is the ‘forever’ God. He opens His “heart” to us (Psalm 33:11). He shows us the way to happiness (Psalm 33:12).

Psalm 34:1-22

“I will praise the Lord at all times” (Psalm 34:1) – in the bad times as well as the good times. “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). “His praise will always be on my lips” (and in my heart) (Psalm 34:1). This Psalm begins with “I” (see also Psalm 34:2 – “I will boast in the Lord”), but it move on, from there, to “Proclaim with me the Lord, let us exalt His Name together” (Psalm 34:3). Note also “I” (Psalm 34:4) and “Taste and see” (Psalm 34:8).

The way to happiness – true and lasting joy (Psalm 34:5,8): True joy goes hand in hand with the fear of the Lord (Psalm 34:11-12).

The Lord sees us in our need, and He has compassion on us. He is near to us – “Emmanuel.” He saves us – “Jesus” (Psalm 34:18; Matthew 1:23,21).

What the Lord does for us is summed up in Psalm 34:22 – He redeems us. This is more than changing our life here-and-now. This is eternal life. This comes to us through the death of Christ (Psalm 34:20; John 19:33,36). He died that we might live.

Psalm 40:1-3

The sinner becomes the singer and the servant.

* “a desolate pit”, “the muddy clay” – This is our sin. We bring our sin to the Saviour.

* “a new song” – This is our song of salvation. This is the song that our Saviour has given to us.

* “Many will see…” We do not sing for ourselves. We do not live for ourselves. We live for the Lord. We are to win people for Him.

Before a song can be a song of praise, it must be a song of salvation. We praise God because He has saved us.

Psalm 46:1-11

“God is our refuge and our strength …” (Psalm 46;1). “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). First, the truth about God; Then, our feelings are brought into line with the truth about God,

Facts; Faith; Feelings

* Facts – Christ’s death and resurrection for us

* Faith – I believe the facts. My faith is built on the sure foundation – Christ, the rock of my salvation.

* Feelings – Never start with feelings. They will lead you astray.

Safety; Certainty; Enjoyment

* Safety – We have been saved by the Lord. It’s His doing – not ours.

* Certainty – We believe His Word. We stand upon His promises.

* Enjoyment – We enjoy His blessing.

Psalm 78:12-25

“He worked wonders” (Psalm 78:12), “He gave them drink as abundant as the depths” (Psalm 78:15), “He brought streams out of the stone and made water flow down like rivers” (Psalm 78:16), “They spoke against God – Is God able to provide food in the wilderness?” (Psalm 78:19), “waters gushed out, torrents overflowed” (Psalm 78:20), “He opened the doors of heaven” (Psalm 78:23), “He gave them grain from heaven” (Psalm 78:24), “the bread of angels, an abundant supply of food”(Psalm 78:25).

This is about more than food. In Psalm 78:22, we read about “salvation.” Whatever words we use to describe God’s salvation, we can never say all that needs to be said. It’s always more than we can put into words.

Psalm 81:1-16

“Listen” (Psalm 81:8,13).

* Why should we listen?

(a) We should listen because there’s something worth hearing.

(b) We should listen because there’s something we need to hear.

(c) We should listen because there’s something we need to hear.

* The call to listen – “My people” (Psalm 81:8,13); “I will admonish you” (Psalm 81:8); (c) “Following the Lord’s ways” (Psalm 81:13).

* What do we hear when we listen?

(a) We hear about God’s love. He loves us, and He has saved us. This is Good News.

(b) We hear about our sin. This is what we need to hear, even if we don’t want to hear it. If we don’t listen to the bad news concerning our sin, we won’t appreciate the Good News of God’s love.

(c) We hear about holiness. This is our wholeness. It comes to us from the Lord. It is the gift of his love. It is also our calling. In love, God is calling us to be holy. He’s calling us to receive our wholeness – to become what He created us to be.

Psalm 93:1-5

“The Lord reigns” – “majesty”, “strength” (Psalm 93:1). He is the eternal God (Psalm 93:2). He speaks to us. His Word is true, holy and eternal (Psalm 93:5).

Psalm 95:1-11

A call to worship God (Psalm 95:1-2,6): “The Lord is a great God” (Psalm 95:3). “He is our God” (Psalm 95:7). He is the God of creation (Psalm 95:4-5). He is the God of salvation (Psalm 95:7).

When we are gathered together for worship, we are to listen to the voice of the Lord. We are to listen with open hearts that long to hear what He has to say to us, hearts that are ready to be changed by what He has to say to us.

Psalm 96:1-13

A call to worship: Our song of praise is a song of salvation (Psalm 96:2). We are to “proclaim His salvation from day to day” (Psalm 96:2). Every day, we are to praise the Lord. God is calling us to worship Him with joy (Psalm 96:11-12).

Sometimes, this isn’t easy. we must ask the Lord to lift us up when it feels like we’re being dragged down.

Psalm 98:1-9 

“Be jubilant, shout for joy and sing to the Lord … ” (Psalm 98:4-5). Our joyful worship goes to the Lord. First, it comes from Him (Psalm 98:1-3).

Israel looked back to the Exodus. We look back to Jesus – His death and resurrection. We do more than look back. We look forward – “He is coming” (Psalm 98:9).

Psalm 100:1-5

“all the earth” (Psalm 100:1), “through all generations” (Psalm 100:5) – It wasn’t just for there and then. It’s for here and now. “Every person in every nation in each succeeding generation has the right to hear the news that Christ can save.”

The Good News of Christ is a message of triumph (Psalm 100:1). It’s a message of gladness and joy. It leads to worship and service (Psalm 100:2). It’s a message of love – eternal love (Psalm 100:5).

Psalm 103:1-22

What kind of person are you? Are you a forgiven man / woman? The God of love (Psalm 103:8) is reaching out to each and every one of us (Psalm 103:9-10). God’s love is greater than we can put into words or even imagine (Psalm 103:11-12). Before there can be forgiven people, there needs to be the forgiving God.

The God of love is reaching out to us. How will we respond to Him? Will we keep our distance from him when He is drawing near to us? or Will we open our hearts to His love? Will we bring our sins to Him and receive His forgiveness? Will we come to Him in our weakness and receive his strength? Will we come to Him, deeply aware that our life on this earth is moving on towards its end? Will we come and receive from Him eternal life?

God’s love is everlasting love. It is faithful love – the love of our heavenly Father (Psalm 103:13,17). The love of God can change everything. Our sins can be forgiven. We can receive God’s strength. We can receive eternal life. This is the Good News of God’s love. What are we to say to all of this? “Praise the Lord” (Psalm 103:1-2, 20-22). “To God be the glory!” Hallelujah!

Psalm 104:1

“Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 104:1).

We have come here to praise the Lord. Why do we praise the Lord? “Lord my God, You are very great.” God is great in power. His power can impress us, but it will not save us until we are touched by a special power – the power of His love. God is great in holiness. His holiness (Isaiah 6:3) shows us our sin (Isaiah 6:5). It’s His love that brings us salvation (Isaiah 6:7). When we see the greatness of His love, we can truly say, “Praise the Lord.”

Psalm 111:1-10

Hallelujah! Jesus Christ is risen today – a celebration for Easter, and every Lord’s Day.

* At the start of the Psalm – “I will praise the Lord” (Psalm 111:1).

* At the end of the Psalm – “His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10).

In our worship, there is to be both “the fear of the Lord” (Psalm 111:10) and trust in the Lord – “the Lord is gracious and compassionate… He has sent redemption to His people” (Psalm 111:4,9).

We give thanks to the Lord for His love, but we must never forget that “His Name is holy and awe-inspiring” (Psalm 111:9).

* The character of God: He is holy, He is love.

* The message of the Gospel: In love for us, the holy God has provided a way for our sins to be forgiven.

These are the truths of God’s Word which are to shape our lives, making us more holy and more loving.

Psalm 115:1-18 

“Not to us … ” (Psalm 115:1). We worship the Lord. He has saved us. The God of grace comes to us. He calls us to “trust in the Lord” (Psalm 115:9-11). The Lord blesses those who fear Him (Psalm 115:12-13). He’s teaching us to live in a way that will bring praise and glory to Him. Our whole life is to say, “Praise the Lord … Hallelujah! (Psalm 115:18)

Psalm 118:1-9

Some things are worth repeating (Psalm 118:1-4). Emphasis – This is important.

We’re speaking about God’s love for us – not our love for God. Our love for God is changeable – sometimes strong, sometimes weak. His love for us is always is unchangeable – always strong, never weak.

Psalm 118:10-18

“The Lord is my strength, my song and my salvation” (Psalm 118:14).

In the Lord, we have the “victory.” This fills our hearts with “joy” (Psalm 118:15).

“In the tents of the righteous” (Psalm 118:15) – The Lord has made us “righteous”, and He calls us to be “righteous.” Let us “give thanks to the Lord” (Psalm 118:19).

Psalm 118:19-29

God is calling us to praise Him.

* “I will praise the Lord” (Psalm 118:20).

* “I will praise You” (Psalm 118:21).

* “You are my God, and I will praise You” (Psalm 118:28).

Praise is more than words that we sing in church. Our whole life is to be full of praise to God.

We come to the Lord’s Table to receive forgiveness from Him. We go from the Lord’s Table to share His forgiveness with others.

* “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12),

* “Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive” (Colossians 3:13).

* How many times should I forgive my brother? – “As many as seven?” “Seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22). If we’re still counting, we’ve missed the point!

* “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they’re doing” (Luke 23:34).

Thank God that Jesus prayed this prayer for every one of us. Let it shape our attitudes and actions towards one another.

May God help us to be less like the Pharisee, and more like the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). This is true praise. It pleases God.

Psalm 119:41-48 

“Let Your faithful love come to me, Lord, Your salvation … ” (Psalm 119:41). God’s faithful love comes to us as His salvation. God’s salvation is revealed to us in His Word (Psalm 119:42), His Word of “truth” (Psalm 119:43), the Word of His “forever and ever” love (Psalm 119:44). His Word changes us. It creates in us “love” (Psalm 119:47-48) for the Lord and His Word. It empowers our walk with the Lord and our witness for Him (Psalm 119:45-46).

Psalm 119:105-112

God’s Word is a bright shining light. It shines upon our life, and everything changes. Nothing can remain the same when the light of God shines on us. In His light, we see what we are – and what we can become. His Word brings light (Psalm 119:107). In His Word, there is light and life – and there is love, the best love, the love of God.

Psalm 122:1-9

Going to the House of the Lord with joy: “The joy of the Lord is our strength. Your strength comes from rejoicing in the Lord” (Nehemiah 8:10). Joyful worship changes our way of thinking and our way of living.

The city of Jerusalem is important. Giving thanks to God is more important than just being in the city.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem”, and may there be “peace with you” (Psalm 122:3,4,6,8).

Psalm 126:1-6

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3). The Lord has done … and will keep on doing great things for us.

Psalm 126:5-6 – The Lord will do great things through us – reaching out to others, bringing them to Jesus, our Saviour.

Isaiah 1:16-20

Each of us must make choices – not just, What suit, shirt and tie will I put on?

Will I worship the Lord? Or Will I stay at home?

What attitude will I bring with me to church? – “This is just a religious habit” or “This a meeting with God. It will change my way of thinking and living.”

In Isaiah 1:18-20, we read about two very different responses to God – returning to Him or rebelling against Him. When we return to the Lord, this will change the way we relate to other people (Isaiah 1:16-17).

We’re not to be like Judas Iscariot – making money for himself, but paying the ultimate price: “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? (Matthew 16:26).

Isaiah 2:1-5

The Word of God encourages us to look beyond the here and now. It gives us a glimpse of “the last days” (Isaiah 2:2). God knows the end as well as the beginning – and He show it to us (Isaiah 2:2). We say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord … He will teach us about His ways so that we may walk in His paths … Come and let us walk in the Lord’s light” (Isaiah 2:3,5). Our world would be a very different world if more people were looking to the Lord and learning from Him, turning to the Lord and travelling with Him. What about you? Are you looking to the Lord? Are you learning from Him? Are you turning to the Lord? Are you travelling with Him? These are the questions that the Word of God puts to every one of us. Will we give the answer of faith and obedience? I cannot answer this question for you. You cannot answer it for me. Each one of us must answer for ourselves. What will your answer be?

Isaiah 6:1-13

Serving the Lord arises out of worshipping Him.

* We proclaim His holiness: “Holy, holy, holy… ” (Isaiah 6:3).

* We confess our sin: “Woe is me” (Isaiah 6:5) – a personal confession.

Before we can speak the words, “Here am I. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8), we must hear the words, “Your sin has been forgiven” (Isaiah 6:7).

We are to be faithful in speaking God’s Word. This involves our lips (Isaiah 6:7). It also involves our lives. Serving the Lord means more than paying lip-service to Him. We are to serve Him with our lives.

Is there any guarantee that we will bear much fruit?

The parable of the sower says that our fruit may be 100, 60 or 30 times what was sown (Matthew 13:23). The parable of the talents says that one talent could become two; two could become four; five could become ten (Matthew 21:14-30).

What does Isaiah 6 say to us about bearing fruit for the Lord?

There is a word of realism. Many people will pay no attention to us and to our Lord (Isaiah 6:9-10).

There is a word of faith, a word of hope – “the holy seed is the stump” (Isaiah 6:13).

We may say, Lord, we’re looking for more than a “stump.”

God says to us, Even  when “the land is ruined and desolate”, even when “the people” are “far away”, even when there is “great emptiness in the land” (Isaiah 6:11-12), there is still hope. We must keep on working for the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Isaiah 11:1-9

When we read God’s Word, we ask, What can I learn about Jesus, about believing in him and living for Him?

“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him… ” (Isaiah 11:2) – This is about Jesus.It’s about Peter on the Day of Pentecost. It’s about us.

“Wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge” – All of these suggest something we know with our minds. Strength speaks to us about acting on what we know.

Where do all these blessings come from? – They come from “the Spirit of the Lord.” Everything that God gives to us is summed up in this: “the Spirit of the Lord.”

Life in the spirit includes both “the fear of the Lord” and trust in the Lord. Life in the Spirit includes both divine revelation and human response.There’s a vital connection between what we say and what we do and what we are. There will be powerful and effective preaching when what we say is backed up by what we do and what we are.

Isaiah 12:1-6

“God is my salvation … He has become my salvation … You will joyfully draw water from the springs of salvation” (Isaiah 12:2-3).

To understand the full meaning of salvation, we must look beyond Isaiah, the prophet, to Jesus, the Saviour. The prophets can take us so far – and no further. When they have said all that they have to say, there is more to be said and done. There is One who must come, after all the prophets have spoken all their words. There is Jesus, our Saviour. He is our Saviour. He becomes our Saviour. We drink His living water – His salvation.

Isaiah 25:6-9

Prophecy looking forward to Christ’s resurrection and His return. We look back to His resurrection – and we look forward to his return. We have “the foretaste of glory divine” – but we still look forward to the complete fulfilment of God’s promises: “He will destroy” (Isaiah 25:7-8), “On that day, it will be said … ” (Isaiah 25:9).

Isaiah 26:1-4

“Trust in the Lord forever …. the Lord is an everlasting rock!” (Isaiah 26:4). Forever, everlasting – We must never lose sight of this eternal perspective.

Isaiah 35:1-10

Isaiah looks forward to the future. He says that there will be blessing from the Lord. He looks forward to a time of “joy and singing.” He says that it will be a night of “the glory of the Lord” (Isaiah 35:2). Isaiah brings Good News to the people – “He will save you” (Isaiah 35:4). This is the Good News: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Those who are saved by the Lord are described by Isaiah as “the redeemed.” Once we are “redeemed” or saved by the Lord, we are called to “walk in the Holy Way” (Isaiah 35:8-9). Isaiah’s prophecy speaks to us of being saved by the Lord. It speaks of walking with the Lord. It speaks of being with the Lord forevermore. This is the great message of Isaiah 35:10. This is “unending joy.” There will be no more “sorrow.” This is the completion of our salvation.

Isaiah 40:1-11 

Comfort (Isaiah 40:1) – This comes from God’s great faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23).

In our past, present and future, we see the faithfulness of God – “His mercies never end. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Think of God’s faithfulness, and “count your blessings.” Think of this, that and the other blessing (good things in your life) – and don’t forget to thank Him for the greatest blessing of all: Jesus.

– The faithfulness if God is summed up in this: “The Word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

– There’s a New Testament way of saying this: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

As we move from one year to another year, let’s think about the old and the new.

On His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus speaks about the old and the new.

– He tells us that He didn’t come to destroy the Law and Prophets. He came to fulfil them (Matthew 5:17-20). He wasn’t setting aside the Old Testament. He was building on it.

– He doesn’t just repeat what others have said. He brings something new, something fresh. He said, “You have heard that it was said, but I say to you” (Matthew 5:21,27,31,33,38,43).

Build on the past. Move on into the future.

Isaiah 40:12-31

The greatness of God

* He is great in Himself. Before the world was created, God is great: “In the beginning, God….” (Genesis 1:1).

* He is great for us. This is the great message that comes to us from Isaiah 40:28-31.

God is great in love. God is great in power. God is great in holiness. God is great in faithfulness.

* Love – “God is love” (1 John 4:16); “God so loved the world…” (John 3:16); “God showed His love for us…” (Romans 5:8).

* Power – the power of God’s love – “kept by the power of God” (1 Peter 1:5); “He is able to keep us from falling” (Jude 24).

* Holiness – God is holy. Through his love and His power, He is working to make us holy. As well as the command – “Be holy”, there is the promise – “You shall be holy.”

* Faithfulness – “Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22). God is faithful. He will accomplish His purpose in us (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

* Glory – Jude 24-25 and Revelation 1:5-6. God shares His glory with us.

Isaiah 42:1-9

Through Jesus Christ, God’s Servant, God’s Son, our Saviour, God calls us to be saved by Him and to become His servants. We’re to be “a light to the nations” (Isaiah 42:60.

All the glory belongs to Him (Isaiah 42:8).

He will lead us forward into great blessing: “new events” (Isaiah 42:9). This directs our attention to Jesus.

We now look back to Jesus – but we also look forward from Him to the glorious future He is preparing for us. Here, on earth, we have “a foretaste of glory divine.” In heaven, it will be the real thing.

Isaiah 49:1-13 

God is calling us to listen to Him, and to pay attention to what He says to us (Isaiah 49:1). He’s calling us to be His torches. We’re to shine for Him – “I will also make you a light to the nations” (Isaiah 49:6).

What kind of light are we to be? We’re to be His light. We don’t make ourselves a light to the nations. It’s the Lord who makes us a light to the nations.

God’s light is the light of His “salvation.” We’re “to be His salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6).

What does God say to us bout His salvation? – “This is what the Lord says, I will answer you in a time of favour, and I will help you in the day of salvation” (Isaiah 49:8). “Now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Today, God speaks to us of His Son. Today, God speaks to us of our Saviour. Today and every day  – God has something new to say to us about our Saviour.

His great message of love is not to be kept to ourselves. We’re to bring the light of His love “to those who are in darkness” (Isaiah 49:9).

We’re to pray for the restoration of our land – God says, “I will answer you, and I will appoint you … ” (Isaiah 49:8).

This Word from the Lord gives us the encouragement that we need to work for the Lord.

“These will come from far away” (Isaiah 49:12) – “their compassionate One will guide them, and lead them to springs of water” (Isaiah 49:10).

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Jesus spoke about His death and resurrection (Matthew 16:21). This is prophecy. What we have here is even more remarkable. We read this, and we think that this must have been written after Jesus’ death. This is the work of the Spirit of God. He sees what lies ahead. He describes these events, as if they had already happened. This is more than a description of what was going to happen. It’s an explanation of the meaning of the death of Christ.

Is there a look beyond His death to His resurrection? Yes! “He will see His seed, He will prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will succeed by His hand” (Isaiah 53:10).

When these words were first spoken, people must have wondered, “What does all this mean?” They must have wondered about Jesus, when He started talking about His resurrection – “What is He talking about?”

When Jesus died for us, and then rose from the dead, everything fell into place. This was what Isaiah and Jesus had been speaking about.

Isaiah 54:1-17

Singing with joy (Isaiah 54:1) – Our song comes from the Lord. Our joy comes from the Lord. From ourselves, there is sin. From the Lord, there is salvation. “Through the love of God our Saviour, all will be well … All is well … All must be well.” So much blessing is ours, because Jesus is crucified, risen and exalted.

On the Cross, Jesus was forsaken by God so that we might be forgiven by God. At the Cross, He was brought low so that we might be lifted up. From the Cross, Jesus calls out to us.

In love, He speaks to us. His love is the greatest love of all. His love is “everlasting love” (Isaiah 54:8).

This is where our song of joy comes from. It comes from His everlasting love.

In the Old Testament, we see the rainbow (Isaiah 54:9). It’s a reminder of God’s great love for us.

In the New Testament, we have bread and wine – God’s way of reminding us that He loves us so much that He gave his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us.

Through Jesus, we have “peace with God” (Isaiah 54:10), we are “taught by the Lord” (Isaiah 54:13), we will be given His victory over Satan – “No weapon formed against you will succeed” (Isaiah 54:17), we will be led on to His everlasting Kingdom – “poor Jerusalem” (Isaiah 54:11) will become “new Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:2).

Isaiah 55:1-13

“Without money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1) – “The best things in life are free. Money can’t buy me love” (The Beatles).

We read, in Matthew 26:7, about a woman who anointed Jesus with “very expensive fragrant oil.”

What are we to say about all of this? – It’s not about repaying the Lord for His love for us. It’s about expressing our love for Him. It’s about worship.

Where does worship begin? – “Seek the Lord… He will freely forgive” (Isaiah 55:7).

How does the love of Christ reach us and change us? You feel like you’re lost. The love of Christ says, “You can be found,” This is the message of Jesus’ parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son (Luke 15) – three parables, one message.

It’s not so much about us – our seeking the Lord and finding Him. It’s about the Lord. He seeks us and finds us.

In Matthew 26, we read about a woman who worshipped the Lord, and a man who betrayed Him.

Worship or betrayal? Which will it be?

* How do we worship the Lord? – We worship Him, when we make Him the top priority in our lives.

* How do we betray the Lord? – We betray him when we fill our lives with other things, and leave no place for Him.

The woman is to be remembered for the right reason. She worshipped the Lord. Judas Iscariot is remembered for the wrong reason. He betrayed the Lord.

We remember them. We remember Jesus, the Passover Lamb, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Jeremiah 1:4-10

How old was Jeremiah when he was called to be a prophet of God? We don’t know. We do know that this was the great turning-point of his life. This was the day that he discovered the meaning, purpose and direction of his life. This was revealed to him by God. This call gave him strength to face many difficult times.

Jeremiah 6:9-19

The Word of God is to be preached – and heard.

Real hearing begins with listening. It doesn’t end there.

The preacher’s message doesn’t begin with himself. The preacher is a messenger. The message comes from God. He has sent the preacher to deliver His message.

The message of Jeremiah 6:16 is not just ‘the old ways are always the best ways.’ How could there be progress if we were always thinking like this? How could we move beyond the Old Testament and into the New Testament? We are to look back to what God has done. we are to build on it, as we move on with Him, into His future. From the past, we learn about what God has done for us, what He has said to us and what He requires of those whom He has redeemed. We learn from the past, but we must not allow ourselves to get locked in the past. God is the God of the future as well as the God of the past – and He is the God of the past as well as the God of the future.

Jeremiah 31:1-6

God’s everlasting love: His love for us comes before our love for Him.

We’re living in a wilderness – spiritual and moral. We’re always searching, but never finding. We’re never sure which way to turn.

Into this situation, comes God – from “far away” (heaven). He speaks of His love, and putting our life together again (Jeremiah 31:3-4).

We can’t do this for ourselves. He must do this for us. It’s not a self-improvement programme. It’s a new birth into a life of praise (Jeremiah 31:40, service (Jeremiah 31:5) and calling others to come and worship the Lord (Jeremiah 31:6).

Jeremiah 31:7-14

“Sing with joy” (Jeremiah 31:7,12-13).

This is to be our response to the Gospel. It’s more than a singalong. It’s “praise.” This praise continues after we leave the place of worship.

“Shout” – “I am not ashamed” (Romans 1:16).

“Proclaim” – Make the message known: “for the Good News” (Romans 1:1,5-6).

This for everyone (Jeremiah 31:8,10).

We come as we are – “blind” and “lame” (Jeremiah 31:8). We come to our “Shepherd” (Jeremiah 31:10). He has “ransomed” us. He has “redeemed” us from the “power” of Satan, Our enemy is stronger than we are, but he is not stronger than Jesus – “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:40.

With Christ in our life, everything changes – “new wine, fresh oil… Their life will be… They will be no longer…” (Jeremiah 31:12). It is “abundant” life, a “satisfied” life (Jeremiah 31:14). We have received new life in Christ – “This is the Lord’s declaration concerning us (Jeremiah 31:14).

Jeremiah 31:15-20

The human situation, the divine solution

* “She refuses to be comforted” (Jeremiah 31:15). Often, we dig a hole for ourselves.

* “Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears” – This is what “the Lord” says to us (Jeremiah 31:16).

If anyone else says this to us, we might well say, “It’s all right for you to say that. You’re not suffering like I am.”

God gave His only Son – to die for us. He knows what we’re going through. He’s been there, and He hasn’t forgotten it,

He came out the other side for us – the resurrection.

* “They shall come back from the land of the enemy; there is hope for your future” (Jeremiah 31:16-17) – “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

How are we to understand our times of suffering?

* “You disciplined me” (Jeremiah 31:18) – There is a purpose of God in our suffering. “Bring me back, let me come back, for You are the Lord my God” (Jeremiah 31:18) – the story of the prodigal son, your story, my story.

* “After I had turned away, I repented” – two stages of life.

* Jeremiah 31:20 – God puts a question to us, and He answers it for us. It is the answer of His love. Don’t stop believing in His love. He’ll never stop loving you. Believe in His Son. Believe in His promises.

Jeremiah 31:21-30

“Set your hearts toward the highway; keep the highway in mind” (Jeremiah 31:210 – “the highway of holiness” (Isaiah 35:8):

A call to the “backsliding daughter” (Jeremiah 31:22). “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied” (Proverbs 14:14).

Here’s a breath prayer (breathe in for the first part, breathe out for the second part). It’s based on John 3:30 – “More of You, Lord, less of me.”

“The Lord bless you… mountain of holiness” (Jeremiah 31:23), “the days are coming” (Jeremiah 31:27,31,38): God is looking towards what we will become.

Taking apart the self-centred life; putting together the God-centred life (Jeremiah 31:28).

Jeremiah 31:31-34

God forgives and forgets (Jeremiah 31:34). It’s not “God cannot remember.” It’s “God chooses not to remember.” The rebuilding of our life – we are to be “holy to the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:38-40).

Lamentations 3:19-33

Do you want to “become depressed” (Lamentations 3:20)? – Keep on remembering the bad things that have happened to you.

Do you want to be lifted out of your depression and into the joy of the Lord? – Remember this: God loves you.

God’s love is a “faithful love” (Lamentations 3:22). It doesn’t come and go. It doesn’t change with the weather or our changing circumstances.

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him” (Lamentations 3:25) – God is good, but we need to learn to wait on Him, if we are to appreciate His goodness.

“Be silent” (Lamentations 3:28). Less complaining – all this shows is that we’re seeing things for our own point of view.

“He will show compassion according to His abundant faithful love” (Lamentations 3:32 ) – This is God’s point of view.

Ezekiel 37:1-14

God calls us to speak His Word. First, we must receive His Gospel. We must see ourselves as sinners. We must see Jesus as our Saviour. The Word of the Lord is to be encouraging, challenging and life-changing. We will not always be on the mountain-top. Often, we will be down in the valley. We will need to be lifted up by the Lord. As we move from the world of the Bible to the world of today, we must ask the question, “Can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3), and we must listen to God’s answer to this question.

Humanly speaking, the answer is “No.” God gives us a different answer. He says, “Yes.” God’s answer is given by grace. It is to be spoken in faith. It is the answer that comes to us when the Spirit of the Lord is at work in us (Ezekiel 37:1). It is the answer that comes from revelation. It is the answer that leads to revival.

Ezekiel 47:1-12

“ankle-deep, knee-deep, up to the waist, deep enough to swim in, a river than could not be crossed on foot” (Ezekiel 47:3-5).

Jerusalem – ankle-deep, all Judaea – knee deep, Samaria – up to the waist, the ends of the earth – deep enough to swim in (Acts 1:8)

Before there can be witness, there needs to be worship: from a trickle to a river – John 7:37-39.

The rivers of living water must flow into us before they can flow out from us. “There will be life everywhere the river goes” (Ezekiel 47:9).

Daniel 2:44-47

God’s Kingdom “will never be destroyed.” It “endures forever.”

“The dream is true, and the interpretation is certain.”

Through the resurrection of Jesus, this is more than a dream. He has triumphed over death.

How are we to respond to Jesus? – “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28); “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16); “revealer of mysteries” (Daniel 2:47).

Worship the Lord. Submit to Him. Learn from Him. Live for Him.

Daniel 3:1-30

Fire – danger, heat

There is, in God’s Word, a word of warning and a word of promise.

This is the way we are not to go. This is the way we are to go.

* “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).

* “The bush was not consumed” (Exodus 3:2).

* “Our God is an awesome God” (Rich Mullins) – we must never forget this.

Fire is to be respected. Our God is a holy fire. He burns away our dross.

* “Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire is to be holy, set apart for You, Lord; I choose to be holy, set apart for You, my Master, ready to do Your will” (Brian Doerksen).

* “O God of burning, cleansing flame, send the fire! Your blood-bought gift today we claim: send the fire today!… We need another Pentecost! Send the fire today!” (William Booth).

This is the inspiring and empowering fire: the Holy Spirit. “Give me oil in my lamp. Keep me burning” – burning for God.

* Isaiah 43:2 – “You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.”

There were four men in the furnace of blazing fire – Jesus was there: “the fourth was like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25),

We go through many testing times, but we are not alone. Jesus is with us. He’s there with His grace: “My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). He calls us to put our faith in Him.

* In the fiery furnace, the men were burning for God. They weren’t being consumed by the fire. They were shining for God. Their light was calling out to others.

Come to the light. Come to the Lord.

When we look at these men, we must look beyond them to the Son of God. Jesus passed through the “fire” for us. He was forsaken by God so that we might be welcomed by God.

Daniel 6:1-28

The deliverance of Daniel from the mouths of the lions – What a great miracle this is! It points forward to an even greater miracle – the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Why is the resurrection a greater miracle? – It seemed almost inevitable that Daniel would be killed, but he didn’t actually die. Jesus did die. The shadow of death hung over Daniel, but death did not take him. Jesus was raised from death. He was “crucified, dead and buried” – and, after all that, He was raised to life.

The message of Daniel’s deliverance from the mouths of the lions – “For He is the living God, and He endures forever; His Kingdom will never be destroyed, and His dominion has no end” (Daniel 6:26). This is the message of Jesus’ resurrection.

Daniel’s deliverance gives us a glimpse of God’s glory. Jesus’ resurrection is a marvellous and mighty revelation of the eternal God and eternal life (see 1 John 5:20 – “Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”) Daniel was a great man. Jesus is our great Saviour.

Like Daniel, we will face “lions” – Satan goes about “like a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8). Like Daniel, we must “resist” the devil, firm in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9). Christ delivers us – and He will raise us.

Daniel 7:13-14

What a future God has planned for His people. What a great future He is planning for His people. Coronation – What a day of celebration.This is better than any human coronation. It’s better than any human celebration.

When Christ comes, this will go beyond our ability to describe or even imagine: the great Kingdom – full of the glory of God; the great Saviour – full of the grace of God. Christ takes us from grace to glory.

In Matthew 26:75, we see what Peter was. In Acts 2, we see what He became. This is grace, calling us on to glory.

Hosea 6:1-3

* “Let us return to the Lord” (Hosea 6:1). There are many blessings, waiting for us. We must come to the Lord and receive these blessings from Him.

* “He will revive us” (Hosea 6:2). This is new life in Christ. It’s new life in the Spirit. We were dead. Now, we are alive, Glory to God!

* “He will raise us up” (Hosea 6:2) – resurrection, not just a pick-me-up. God must do it. He alone can do it – and He does!

* “He will come to us like the rain” (Hosea 6:3) – “the spring showers that water the land”: This will put a spring in our step. It will send us out, with joy and strength, to serve the Lord and bring others to Him (Psalm 126:5-6).

Hosea 14:1-9

There is hope. There is a future. Hosea 14:9 – Conclusion: This is for us. The only way to live is the Lord’s way.

Repentance (Hosea 14:2) – It’s returning to the Lord (Hosea 14:1). It’s more than “words” (Hosea 14:2). It’s a way of life. As we walk with the Lord, we learn about repentance.

God speaks to us about forgiveness (Hosea 14:2). In love, He’s speaking to us. He speaks to us from the cross of Christ. The Spirit makes God’s love real to us. He brings Jesus to us. God’s love inspires our thinking and our living.

Our whole life is to be an expression of our love for the Lord, a heartfelt response to His love for us – a way of saying, “Thank You, Lord”, a way of offering to the Lord the praise and worship that arises from our hearts.

As we worship God, we must remember that He is not only love. He is also holiness.

This is to be seen in our “return to the Lord” (Hosea 14:1), our conversion. It’s not to be a partial conversion – paying lip-service to the Lord. It’s to be a full conversion – our hearts and our lives: the stirring of our hearts and the changing of our lives.

Joel 2:21-32

Give thanks to the Lord (Joel 2:21).

Joel 2:22-24 – Harvest is a special time for giving thanks to the Lord.

* We look back from the harvest, and we see the character of God (Joel 2:13).

* We look forward from the harvest – to greater blessing: spiritual as well as material (Joel 2:28-29).

Note the way of salvation – “Call on the Name of the Lord, and be saved” (Joel 2:32).

Jonah 2:1-10 

“Salvation is from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). Salvation comes first, then there is service. Before his prayer “from inside the fish” (Jonah 2:1), Jonah was running away from God. He wasn’t serving God. Before we can do something for God – serving Him, He must do something for us: He must save us. Jonah’s prayer comes from “out of the depths” (Psalm 130:1). In the depths, he finds that “there is forgiveness with God” (Psalm 130:4). With God’s forgiveness comes hope for the future (Psalm 130:5,7). This hope comes from God’s “faithful love” and His “abundant redemption” (Psalm 130:7).

Jonah’s experience was a physical deliverance. He should have been dead. He remained alive. There was more than that. The man who came out of the fish was different from the man who was swallowed by the fish. He had been disobedient. Now, he was obedient – and blessed.

Micah 6:8

In Micah 6:8, the question is asked, “What does the Lord require of us?”

Micah 6:8 gives us an Old Testament answer to the question, “What is holiness?”

As well as Micah’s answer, there is a New Testament answer to this question.

* “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin” (Hebrews 9:22).

God calls us to come to the Cross. That’s where the life of faith and obedience begins.

* “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

God calls us to put our faith in Christ. It’s personal faith. Each one of us must come to Jesus – “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.” Faith is God’s gift. Each one of us must receive His gift.

* “Without holiness, no-one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

God is calling us to become more like Jesus. Our life is to be less of self and more of Christ – and we’re to give all the glory to God.

Zechariah 9:9-10

This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus entered Jerusalem.

Jesus is the King – not just a king.

* What kind of King is He? – “righteous and victorious”, “humble” (Zechariah 9:9)., “to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:10).

* How are we to respond to Him? – “Rejoice greatly… Shout in triumph” (Zechariah 9:9).

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