Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Exodus 3:1-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c or Jeremiah 15:15-21; Psalm 26:1-8; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28

The work of God makes progress when God’s people move forward together.
Salvation, service, personal faith, life among God’s people – God has much to teach us. Moses sins (Exodus 2:12). God graciously forgives (Micah 7:18-19) – this is salvation. His sin forgiven, Moses is called to service. He is called by the eternal God, the God who draws near to His people (Exodus 3:14-15). Saved by Christ, we are called to serve Him, the eternal ‘God’ who ‘became flesh and dwelt among us’ (John 1:1-14). Saved, we belong to God’s people (1 Peter 2:10). Serving, we play our part within the ‘one body’of Christ (Romans 12:4-5). Moses was to serve God’s people, the people whose prayer God answered – delivering them from bondage and leading them on to great blessing (Exodus 2:23-25; 3:8). Moses was a key figure, but he did not stand alone. The work of God made progress because the people of God went forward together. In God’s work, we are to be participators – not spectators!
The work of God makes progress when God’s people receive strength from Him.
‘Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonderful works that He has done…’ (Psalm 105:4-5). The Lord gives strength to those who put their trust in Him. Trusting in Christ, we have this great testimony: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13). How do we receive the Lord’s strength? We must ‘seek His face always. We must not think we can face difficult circumstances in our strength. Without the strength of the Lord, we will be defeated. He has helped us in the past. Never forget this. Give thanks to Him for every victory won. As you face temptation, remember the Lord’s promise of victory: ‘God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength. With the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape…’ (1 Corinthians 10:13).
‘He brought His people out with joy’ (Psalm 105:43). When things are going badly and we feel like giving up, we must remember the Word of the Lord: ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10). We are to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’. The Lord does not leave us on our own when our time of testing comes. He is there for us in our time of need: ‘My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:4, 19). When we are deeply conscious of our own weakness, the Lord comes to us with His Word of strength: ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9). Through the Word of God, we receive strength. His Word brings joy to us. Let us sing ‘glad songs of victory’: ‘The Lord is my Strength, my Song, my Saviour’ (Psalm 118:14-15).
The work of God makes progress when we trust Him to give us the victory.
Some of our problems come from outside of ourselves. Other people cause problems for us – ‘This people will fight against you’ (Jeremiah 15:20). Some of our problems come from within our own hearts. Our own sins cause problems for us – ‘Put to death what is earthly in you…’ (Colossians 3:5). There are ‘fightings and fears within.’ There are ‘fightings and fears without.’ We are ‘tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt’. Tell the Lord all about it. Tell Him how it really is. ‘Just as I am’- This is how we must come to the Lord. Our ‘fightings and fears’ do not simply disappear the moment we pray, ‘O Lamb of God, I come’ (Church Hymnary, 79). We do, however, have God’s promise: ‘They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you’ (20). He will lead us in the way of victory (Colossians 2:8-10).
The work of God makes progress when we walk continually in His truth.
God’s love for us inspires our loyalty to Him: ‘Your love is ever before me, and I will walk continually in Your truth’ (Psalm 26:3). Loyalty to the Lord involves worshipping Him and walking with Him (Psalms 26:11-12). Walking with God is not easy. There are ‘enemies round about’us (26:4-5, 9-10; 27:2-3, 6, 11-12). What are we to do? We are to worship God: ‘One thing have I asked of the Lord…that I may dwell in the House of the Lord…’ (Psalm 27:4). What are we doing when we gather in the Lord’s House for worship? This is what we are doing – ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage’ (Psalm 27:14). Where does our strength come from? It comes from God: ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation… The Lord is the stronghold of my life’. Strong in Him, we say, ‘My heart will not fear… I will be confident’ (Psalm 27:1, 3).
The work of God makes progress when His love fills every part of our life.
Here, we have practical Christian living, living the life of love. What can our ‘sacrifice’ be in the light of Christ’s greater Sacrifice of Himself for us? It can only be ‘our reasonable service’, our ‘spiritual worship’. His love calls for our response, the response of love: ‘Love so amazing, so divine, demands (and shall have) my soul, my life, my all’ (Romans 12:1; Church Hymnary, 254). Our love for Him can never begin to compare with His love for us. ‘Love is a many splendoured thing’ (Romans 12:9-21). Let love direct our thinking, speaking and living – His love, love for God, love for people (Romans 13:8-10). Let your prayer be, ‘More love, more power, more of You in my life. And I will worship You with all my heart,… mind,… strength’(Songs of Fellowship, 392). Worship the Lord – and be changed by His love!
The work of God makes progress when keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
There will come a time when the glory of God will be fully revealed – ‘the Son of man is going to come in His Father’s glory’ (Matthew 16:27). Here on earth, there are ‘foretastes of glory divine’: Matthew 16:28 may be understood in connection with the transfiguration (Matthew 17:2) – the divine glory of heaven breaking through into our human life on earth. Revelations of glory prepared these men for discipleship. They turned their eyes upon Jesus (Matthew 17:8). They looked full in His wonderful face (Matthew 17:2). The things of earth grew strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace (Mission Praise, 59, 712) – ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here’ (Matthew 17:4). The ‘mountain top’experience could not be preserved – no ‘three shelters’ (Matthew 17:4)! We can continue to worship, hear Jesus’words and look to Him (Matthew 17:6-8), rejoicing in His suffering for us (Matthew 17:12) and awaiting His return to ‘restore all things’ (Matthew 17:11).

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