Short comments (devotionals) on Bible verses for two months by Maurice Paine & Andrew Paine
“Some time later the brook dried up” I Kings 17:7(NIV)
We are left to wonder what Elijah thought when the brook that God had provided dried up. We can all get comfortable, even complacent with God’s provision. Most of us resist change unless it is something we have chosen. Today’s supply may not be the same as yesterday’s, but we have the assurance that God will supply our need.
When Elijah’s brook dried up he needed to look out or listen in for what God had next for him.
Some time later things will change for you. God’s care for you will not change. The Lord leads onward and upward. Each change is something better. All of us can thank God for the brook drying up when He has alerted the next person in line to sustain us.
“let all who take refuge in you be glad” Psalm 5:11 (NIV)
There is no safer shelter from the pressures of life than that known by the soul that is trusting in Jesus. Those whose lives are committed to Jesus may sing for joy: even in the midst of distress, for faith tells you that all will be well. As a complete covering, God’s protection covers His children. Those who love His Name rejoice in Him.
Life can be very stormy and temptation to do wrong very fierce. All who make God their refuge can benefit from the sanctifying power of the presence of Jesus.
If it is a deep peace you want; if you would rest content while the storm rages it is God’s refuge and strength and very present help in trouble that can give you heaven’s gladness in your heart.
“When they could not find a way…they went up on the roof” Luke 5:19 (NIV)
When the friends of the paralysed man could not use the normal way they found another way in. They had initiative and a desire to get their friend to Jesus.
If you can’t find an obvious way to get to Jesus, let your desire be so great that you get Him anyway.
Jesus is alive. There may be many obstacles to reaching Him, but all can be overcome.. And the joy those men must have had when letting down their friend right where Jesus was made it worth the effort.
First, his sin was forgiven. We do not know the detail but the malady is common to us all. Then, the paralysed man took up his mat and walked. Jesus delivered him because of his friends’ faith. Their faith found a way to Jesus.
“neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard”
I Kings 6:7
Solomon’s temple was made ready before it was brought
together. Stones at the quarry were selected and tested.
Then measured and cut. Last of all they were transported to the site where they were assembled without noise of any tool at all.
The assembly can be likened to heaven for the children of God, having come through fire and tribulation on earth, once in heaven it will be all peace and joy to see the glories of God’s building with stones quarried from all ages. An eternal building of God will be erected.
No more chipping and cutting of rough edges. Thoroughly cleansed and prepared, they will shine in the Kingdom of the Father.
“but some doubted” Matthew 28:17
Any doubts you may have about the gospel, do not alter the truth of the gospel. Doubting is not confined to the feeble minded among us. It is most likely an attack of the enemy and Satan looks for any opportunity to sow seeds of doubt.
Sometimes doubting makes us cry to God for assurance as we examine our faith and this can turn what seems an evil thing into good. Doubting can also get a foothold in an atmosphere of faith. What more glorious time than when the Risen Lord Jesus appeared to His disciples on a mountain in Galilee?
Crush doubt with faith. In dealing with unbelief, be like the man who asked Jesus to heal his boy and asked the Lord to help him in his unbelief.
“Seek the Lord while he may be found” Isaiah 55:6 (RAV)
These words urge us to do something while we can. Things can change so very quickly. What you leave for tomorrow will not be done as it should today, if done at all.
Today God’s grace is extended to us, saving, supplying satisfying, what tomorrow holds is unknown.
Everyone reading this page has at least a leaning towards God. Your interest is aroused, your faith stimulated and your hopes rekindled. Don’t let these be just pious thoughts or fond hopes. Do something about your desires for God however and whenever expressed.
The Lord may be found standing ready to meet and bless you. But you do need to seek. Seek and so show you are in earnest. God’s salvation is a blessing we all need to seek.
“Can you search out the deep things of God?
Job 11:7 (RAV)
Don’t think that God is far away and that to try and find Him is doomed to failure before you start. Certainly a great gulf exists between man and God. Can we expect to span it?
Several evidences join to say we can. None can deny that God is Almighty and we marvel at the world He created.
First there is the clear message of the Bible, then there is the testimony of those who have gone before us as well as those among us who have found Him. Then there is that inbuilt desire to do so, constrained by conscience.
Best of all is the promise of Jesus that seeing Him will show us the Father. It is Jesus we need as we seek the deep things of God.
“And they remembered his words” Luke 24:8
We admire these women who came bringing spices to anoint the body of Jesus. They could not find Him but when reminded by the angels, they remembered He had said He would rise again.
These women did not merely provide the sandwiches and other needs of Jesus and His team. They listened to and remembered what they had heard. In this they were ahead of the disciples.
Because you are engaged in a menial task, need not preclude you from the deep truths of the gospel. In fact you can shine when others fall by the wayside. Last at the scene, first at the tomb, preparing for every need, we must emulate them in their love for Jesus.
“search for me with all your heart” Jeremiah 29:13(RAV)
It is only then that you will find God.
He stands ready to enter into your daily walk in life, to meet your need and give joy and peace in the midst of sorrow and turmoil. The sky that is thick with clouds today can clear. God can come into your life to strengthen or sustain you when you are called to go through a long tunnel-like experiences and deep valleys.
The secret in finding these is to be seeking with your whole hearted desire but when some distraction comes along we are easily drawn away.
This seeking really means whole commitment and surrender. This must be preceded by total cleansing and making ready for the greatest find you could ever make.
“he asked what it meant” Luke 18:36
We commend this blind man for asking what was happening. Then for crying out to Jesus and not letting people silence him, finally for reaching out in faith and receiving his sight. Most of us have things happening that would point us to God but we miss the sign. It was the excitement of passers-by that led this man to Jesus. Things come and go. We need to be alert and ready to respond. Life is full of opportunities that need to be taken. None more so than events that would further our walk with the Lord. We do not hear so do not ask, do not understand and recognise God trying to reach us in our blindness. The Holy Spirit is at work in our world. Ask, enquire, seek, put yourself in the way. Find out what it means.
“ I came not to judge the world but to save it”
Jesus came to save: His Name means Saviour.
The way He went about achieving this makes amazing reading in the gospels. He lived among us for more than thirty years and for at least the last three of these, went about doing good and healing those who were oppressed of the devil for the last three years. His teaching related to all who heard Him and the Gospels give us a feast from His teaching that is ours today.
But you do not get the message until you get to the Cross. It is only there that the healing balm of salvation can be applied. It is at the Cross that light breaks through into the darkened soul. The four fold Gospel narrative takes you there as nothing else could. Go there, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.
“you also ought to wash one another’s feet”
Jesus was telling His disciples and now tells us that there ought to be an expression of true love and humility between us. The disciples were amazed at the object lesson Jesus gave them when He took a towel and water and going to each of them, washed their feet. Peter objected, until Jesus pointed out its importance.
Look for caring and loving acts of humility that we can do one to another. No previous experience is necessary for this. Instead of remonstrating, featuring differences, treating with suspicion and so on look at what Jesus did and minister to your brother. Sweep aside all the reasons why you could not do this. Go out of your way to find how you should serve those who the Lord calls to mind.
“He who sees me sees him who sent me”
All those seeking God need go no further than Jesus. He is the expression of God’s glory. Through the Son of God is the only way we can approach God. Prayer to God needs to be made through Jesus.
These truths are a revelation of the Spirit. Most saw a Galilean, the carpenter’s son who had become a notable teacher and miracle worker. Some, whose heart God had touched, saw the Son of God. And that truth led them to reach out in faith and make contact with God the Father.
Stay with the humanity of Jesus, wonder at His life and ministry. But it is only when you know He is God, worship Him, ask His forgiveness and cleansing that you get that deep peace and joy of the new birth and new life in Christ.
“if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” John 12:32
This is the pull of the cross. It acts upon all who hear about it : it is as sure and universal as the pull of the moon has on the oceans of our earth. Few recognise it, and when they do they often ignore it. You might think that the moon’s pull is very weak, until you see the force of a spring tide.
That God sent His Son to die and that Jesus did so on the cross makes an impression even on those who reject it. God has ensured that it is a message that has never been allowed to die.
This is because men and women, boys and girls respond to it and are living testaments to the power of the cross today.
The moon pulls water in our oceans and the cross changes for good the lives of all who respond to it.
“the many kinds of trials you suffer” I Peter 1:6(GNB)
We are forever meeting something new by way of burden or difficulty or opposition we face. They are the many kinds of trials that Peter mentions here.
Say that you never thought you would suffer a trial like the present if you will, but know God will keep you and use this circumstance to prove and refine the reality of your faith.
Peter expected the many kinds of trials to make some sufferers sad. After all, they wouldn’t be trials if they didn’t carry difficulty and oppression, would they?
The Christian pathway is neither smooth nor level but the victories in Christ’s Name are blessed beyond words.
And though your trial may feel unique, the Lord knows all about you, is watching over you and cares about you.
“a great and glorious joy which words cannot express” I Peter 1:8(GNB)
Joy is not something that can be accurately described. I can tell you about the joy that Jesus gives but only when you reach out in faith and call upon Him for salvation will you know what I am talking about.
Salvation is the reward for faith in Christ. The Father gave the Son to be Saviour of the world and how that was perfectly effected when Jesus died for our sins!
The promise is given that those who seek will find. The eye of faith can see and the heart can receive the blessed assurance that Christ has given Himself for those He has called to follow Him. All over the world there are those who have found real peace and joy in the Lord and who are living in the light of that love. Be sure to be one of them.
“Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead”
Jesus’ call to follow Him must take precedence over everything else. The man should have said that since Jesus had called him in person, he must go. Someone else must take care of funeral arrangements.
Put another way, the call of Jesus is paramount. Finding the Kingdom of God in Christ is like the pearl of great price. Go all out for it.
We can safely assume that this man could return once he was enrolled or, as some have suggested, his father was dying rather than dead.
The truth is, like the disciples of Jesus, we need to leave all and follow Him.
“Go, and do thou likewise” Luke 10:37
We all know and enjoy the Parable of the Good Samaritan but many of us hope we would never meet a man wounded and left half-dead by the roadside!
Yet the “do likewise” applies to us. What are we doing to help a fallen brother? The Book of James tells us that pure religion is to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.
A new life that comes from a new birth must be seen to go the extra mile, pay the extra bill, meet the unexpected need.
The bottom line in the Parable of the Good Samaritan is “do likewise”. Get your theology right, grow in grace, be strong in faith and go out of your way, disturb your day, to help a genuine case of need.
“whose house was next door to the synagogue”
This detail is given us for a reason. Nothing in Scripture is there without purpose. Where Justus lived was important and where you live is important. Justus may not have thought much about why he lived there until Paul’s meetings in the synagogue came to an abrupt end. He was to live and work close up against those who came to worship. It was not so far away that his faith in Jesus could be forgotten.
The place where you are, be it away from home or somewhere you would leave tomorrow if you could. The reason for you being there may not be clear yet, in which case seek God’s face that He may show you. Followers of Jesus should know that where they live is important.
“new life by raising Jesus Christ from death”
I Peter 1:3(GNB)
The resurrection of Jesus three days after His crucifixion was not just a spectacular event: it was more than God vindicating the work and ministry of His Son: it was more than a cardinal truth of the Christian gospel.
Because Jesus is raised from the dead He is alive, a risen Saviour for sinners and Lord for disciples. He imparts new life to all who will call upon Him. Because He is alive, you may meet Him: you must if you are to know His salvation.
New life in Christ is only given to those who visit Calvary: to callers in person! Your life is drawn by your conduct day by day. It is not a record in a card or data on a computer. And new life in Christ is something you know about. Because Jesus lives, we may live also.
“whom having not seen, you love” I Peter 1:8(RAV)
Human love may depend largely on seeing but not heavenly love. The message of the gospel brings an invitation to meet the living Lord Jesus. We love Him because He first loved us.The many blessings of His love can be recognised without seeing Jesus with one’s physical eyes; but not without experiencing the cleansing, healing power of the blood He shed for our sins.
When you know that the God of Glory sent His Son to redeem us from all iniquity and you call upon Him to save you, His love fills your heart. Though you don’t see Him now you have the blessed hope of His purpose working in your life and His promise that one day your faith will turn to sight.
“riches do not endure for ever” Proverbs 27:24(NIV)
Use riches to store up real spiritual estate in heaven, like alms giving, deeds of kindness, helping those who cannot help themselves.
Riches enable you to do so much for others. Convert earth’s wealth into heaven’s currency. Realise that this world’s wealth is like a cancer that eats into your soul. Money and possessions are the greatest hindrance to the Kingdom of heaven. Often we seek after what will do us the least good!
The Word of the Lord endures for ever. Those who put their trust in Jesus, confessing their sin and receiving eternal life will never perish. Only what is done for God will last. Make any necessary adjustments to your portfolio today.
“faint, yet pursuing” Judges 8:4
Gideon’s three hundred men kept going when weariness might have halted lesser warriors. Besides physical exhaustion they had discouragement and lack of co-operation, but they kept going. We know they passed the test to be selected and it proved a good choice.
You are unusual if you don’t get tired but there are times when the need for rest must be over-ridden by the need for finishing the job.
Keep going: don’t be distracted from your calling.
There can be no looking back or turning away because Jesus gives some hard sayings. And besides, the Lord gives power to the faint, none more so than to those who are seen to be in the front-line of the fight of faith.
“immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness”
It seems strange that the Spirit drove the Son of God into the wilderness. Was this a path He would have been reluctant to take without being driven? We recognise it and the ensuring temptation as part of His preparation.
It must not be surprising than to find that the Spirit directs us into the wilderness at times..
Our path through this life is one of preparation.
The Holy Spirit needs to send us into areas we would choose to avoid.
If the Son of God needed to be driven, we must have the same experience in the Christian life. Without it we might progress to slowly and get an incomplete training if at all.
Basic training is essential to our calling.
“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
The scribes and Pharisees wanted any disreputable people to tidy themselves up before coming into their midst. Look at the answer Jesus gave them.
It holds today – those who are well don’t need a physician. He had come to call sinners.
Getting down alongside them is the best way if you would reach them. If your God is the preserve of better people there is little hope for them!
Heaven is populated by sinners saved by grace: truly they were sinners and truly they are saved. Those who are unaware of their sin and short-coming are not likely to get saved. Faith in Christ makes sinners into saints when it is Jesus who sits among them.
“Will the Lord cast off for ever?” Psalm 77:7
Some tunnels are so long and dark that you think them never- ending. When in the middle of the forest you can think you’ll never get out of it.
Such experience may have made the Psalmist ask this question. And you may know the same feeling at times. Our unpleasant and hard exercises usually go on
longer than we expected. Only when all is over do we see their value.
So we do well to encourage each other with the promise that the Lord will not let go our hand. This is something that we can feel in the darkness. Faith can reach out and know the Lord is there and though for the present the blessing of His Person seems to have left us, it is not for ever.
“When Jesus saw their faith” Mark 2:5
What the four friends did in bringing the man to Jesus and letting him down into the room through the roof showed they had faith.
Throughout the Gospel narrative we see that it is faith that Jesus looks for. It’s still the same today.
Our faith is the channel or link through which God works. At salvation we believe the Gospel and call upon God to save us, and then have faith to meet the challenges day by day.
We read that on one occasion, Jesus could do no mighty work because of their unbelief.
Sometimes it calls for a concerted effort to rid ourselves of doubt and unbelief. Then we need to make our faith work out in daily living.
“The Lord is all I have, and so I put my hope in him.”
We are reminded of the Apostle Peter who, when asked if he would go away said “To whom else can we go?”
So we ask, Where else or in whom else can you put your trust? What is the choice?
The blessed thing is to be able to say that the Lord is yours, that you have come to Him, confessed your sin, received His forgiveness and know His presence and peace.
Having called upon Him for salvation, the need is to trust Him in every eventuality that comes. Every problem, every obstacle, even in the setbacks, our trust must be in Him. We need to develop a strong line of communication in prayer and fellowship between us and our God.
“to whom shall we go?” John 6:68
Peter knew there was no other alternative open to him.
Discipleship has its problems. There are hard choices to be made and you may see others going away from the Lord. But take stock, read the promises, hear a report of those who have borne a good testimony and are now safely home: let the Holy Spirit minister to you. Don’t give up, don’t give out, don’t go away, but shake off the lethargy and move forward with renewed energy to the prize that lays before you.
There is no Master to be compared with the Lord Jesus. What will it profit you if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul. No! There is no one else. Thank God that you know Him who is life eternal.
“He will live with them” Revelation 21:3(GNB)
This is a most wonderful promise to which the believer looks forward. In the Celestial city the Lord will not merely call on those there from time to time. He will live with His People – something that Jesus did for about 33 years. In the heavenly city He is preparing, everything will be perfect, trouble free, sinless and God-honouring and the presence of Jesus living with his people.
Words cannot begin to describe the heavenly state, but ideas like this convey the wonder of life there. Living will then be being with Jesus.
You can see how only those who have met and known His forgiveness and cleansing down here will be able to stand the glare of holiness and living with Christ up there.
“faithful instruction is on her tongue”
This is but one of many virtues attributed to a wife of noble character. Her conversation is not idle and the instruction she gives is wise.
Bringing up children needs wisdom and the guidance given needs to be accurate if they are not to return with misgivings in later years.
Much hasty counsel has led to wrong paths taken and assessment given without proper consideration has left many with a wrong impression.
No price can be put on good advice and when found and recognised it needs to be heeded.
Disregarding those who are giving good advice will make them turn off the supply.
“the Lord Almighty is his Name” Jeremiah 51:19(NIV)
The chapter from which this verse is taken is a prophecy warning of the downfall of Babylon. To emphasize this prophecy, the prophet says that the Lord is Almighty. Know this and find no limitation on what God will do.
He will carry out His purpose. He made the earth by His power, founded the world by His wisdom and the heaven by His understanding. He makes clouds arise, He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind.
All this and more is shown in relief against the frailty and fickleness of man. He is the Maker of all things, the prophet concludes. Those who trust the Lord shall be as Mount Sinai that shall not be moved. It is in His Name we have come to trust.
“You will destroy yourselves” Jeremiah 44:8(NIV)
This was God’s warning against His People who sacrificed to other gods and departed from the God who had brought them out of the land of Egypt and worked on their behalf.
It is an indictment that can be levied against those nations and individuals who have disowned the Lord today and departed from obedience to His Word.
It doesn’t need some mighty miracle from heaven. Sin working in a nation or an individual destroys all that is good if left unchecked. Righteousness exalts a nation whereas sin is a reproach to any people.
All need to consider their ways. In the light of revelation He gives us, God expects, obedience and trust.
Only salvation in Christ ensures that we perish not.
“what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Jesus’ question makes us realise how we neglect the care of the soul and underestimate the tragedy of its loss.
Many strive for seventy years or more to collect and enjoy things in this life without regard to the priceless treasure within them that needs attention.
The accumulation of this world’s riches and the collection of fame and experience starve the soul.
Born of the Spirit and in life in the Spirit ensure the health of the soul. The redeemed are in possession of the promise of heaven. No price can be put on this. Redemption of the soul is based on the sacrifice of the eternal Son of God and this is greater than all else.
“The woman then left her waterpot” John 4:28
Her action was similar to that of Bartimaeus who we read, cast away his garment to go to Jesus. When a person finds the Lord these are some things no longer needed.
Both the water pot belonging to the woman at the well and Bartimaeus’ coat were useful and valuable to them.
But a greater calling had rendered them surplus. The woman’s testimony didn’t need a water pot and Bartimaeus with his sight restored did not need a blind man’s blanket.
The question should be asked whether we are still clinging to things we treasured before we found Christ and that are now really unnecessary excess baggage.
“he had wisdom from God to administer justice”
I Kings 3:28(NIV)
Justice is not administered easily or without effort. Solomon found this when trying to decide whose mother the infant had. So it is today. Conflicting ideas and aspirations make justice need to be seen as well as done.
If God gives the wisdom, He does this in the light of the
fact that He knows all about us. Furthermore, He came and it is our responsibility to yield to His voice speaking to us in one of a number of ways.
Don’t pray for wisdom unless you are willing to heed the advice and direction. Remember that God gives liberally to those who ask Him and that no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.
“nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her”
I Kings 10:3 (NIV)
Wisdom was the outstanding gift the Lord gave Solomon. In an age characterized by a search for knowledge and when one unanswered question led to another, Solomon was able to satisfy the Queen of Sheba’s hard questions.
Prayer to the Lord today takes us to One who knows all things and He is ready to share with us in all we need.
The Queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon reminds us of the blessing that can accrue from time spent in prayer and waiting upon God today.
Our journey to reach the Lord is nothing compared with the Queen of Sheba’s travel but the pressure of modern living can make it just as daunting and we need diligence and determination.
“Why then has all this happened to us?”
Gideon boldly asked this because he did not know the identity of his heavenly visitor. Had he known, he would not have dared voice it. Silent questioning in our own heart may mirror Gideon’s complaint. Why so much suffering?
Gideon had to realize that the answer lay not in solving his problem, but seeing that God had come down to deliver him. You will never find an answer to many things but you can know that God will use you in whatever place you are in to bring help and comfort to those in need. Doing your part is all God expects of you.
The comforting thing must be knowing that God is with you. And that He stands ready and waiting to commission and empower you.
“I have become a laughing-stock to my friends”
To be laughed at can be difficult to bear; doubly so when you can do nothing about it. It was an act of God that took Job’s possessions and livestock and family from him. He was distressed because he did not know the end of it all.
So it is with us sometimes. We can be in a situation when no remonstrating on our part will remove the stigma attached to what has happened to us. Yet in it all, those whose trust is in the Lord will never be confounded. Any discomfort will only be temporary, even though too long and severe for our liking.
Thank God that Job’s integrity remained intact. May God give us similar grace when misunderstood by friends as we seek to serve the Lord.
“work with one hand and held a weapon in the other”
The rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem makes gripping reading. It was not at all easy for Nehemiah and those with him and for this reason relates to life in every generation.
Nehemiah was warned about impending attacks and hindrances mounted by Sanballat and finally he resorted to working with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other.
Life is like this and especially the Christian life. We cannot engage in the work to which we are called as we would like. Time needs to be spent on hindrances and distractions.
We need to get ahead as and when we can. When we are fighting the enemy we cannot be building the wall, but both are necessary and so long as we are doing one or the other there can be no complaint.
“what is man that you are mindful of him”
Measured against the stars, man is nothing. He could be forgiven for thinking that God has no time for him. Our finite mind imagines the God of All must be taken up with more important things. But man is God’s creation and his welfare God’s concern.
This concern is wonderfully demonstrated in the life and message of Jesus and how much He loves those He has made by His death on the Cross. God dismissed any idea that He was not interested when Christ died for our sins and rose again to lead His followers to eternal bliss.
“Not mindful” cannot be true when the Spirit of God has proclaimed the gospel of free grace all down the years. We can’t imagine why God should be mindful of us, but He is.
“Mattaniah…who led in thanksgiving and prayer”
How we need Mattaniahs today! Folk who can lead God’s people in thanksgiving and prayer. This is more than a sing song or a dutiful prayer meeting: this is an expression of heartfelt gratitude to the Lord and a longing to live His way. The rebuilding of the walls under Nehemiah followed the rebuilding of the temple under Ezra. Now there needed to be a rebuilding of the spiritual life of the people and Mattaniah had a leading role in helping this to happen. The lead he gave would have been by example, not simply instruction. How good if the same can be true of us. Actions speak louder than words and our lives should express our thanks to God for all he has done for us in Christ and our desire to live His way. AP
“such as all the other nations have” I Samuel 8:5(NIV)
This is a sad reflection of how the hearts of the Israelites had changed. From a desire to follow the Lord God, and to be His people, they now wanted to be like the other nations and have an earthly king. It’s a danger that is there for all of us. The influences of the world bear down on us every day. The appeal of the world is very real and as we look at those around us, our hearts’ desires can change. It’s not that we turn our back on God or deny our love for Him, but other things begin to creep in and even take priority. Compromise can be helpful in some circumstances but not when it comes to who is Lord and King. The Israelites didn’t want to be the ‘odd ones out’ but sometimes we have to be, if we are going to follow Jesus. AP
“I will search for the lost and bring back the strays”
Ezekiel 34:16a (NIV)
The Eternal God is Jehovah Rohi, my shepherd. The leaders of the Israelites who should have cared for the people had instead cared for themselves and allowed the people to wander away from following the Lord. The consequences were severe, but the mercy of the Lord was greater and his heart went out to the lost sheep of Israel. It’s the same today. Because He is eternal, the Lord’s love and mercy is as great today as it has ever been and however far you or I may wander, He longs to bring us home. Whether our wandering is deliberate or accidental, or others are aware or think everything is fine, the Lord comes to seek us and bring us back. Repentance precedes restoration and is the only way back. AP
“I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak”
These are the words of Jehovah Rophe – the Lord who heals. Many of us are injured or left weak by life’s experiences. A harsh word or misunderstanding can leave pain between family or friends. The actions or decisions of others can leave us wounded even when nothing shows on the outside. The stresses and strains of everyday life take their toll and leave us weak, mentally, physically and spiritually. Well, hear these words of Jehovah Rophe. He heals the hurts, however deep and strengthens the soul, however weak. His work is not dependant on others and enables us to stand firm in the storms of life. The healing He gives is something we can share with others as we take His forgiveness and peace into our relationships. AP
“but Hannah had none” I Samuel 1:2(NIV)
This was so much more than just not having children. Hannah felt less than the wife she had hoped to be. She was vulnerable to ridicule and easily irritated. The love of her husband was difficult to accept when she could not bear him any children. It was made even worse by the fact that Peninnah had many children. Every day was an effort and every family time a struggle. Yet out of the depth of her despair she made a promise to the Lord that would impact a whole nation and even more. Most of us lack something in life that can leave us feeling much like Hannah but, like Hannah, we can pour out our hearts to the Lord and allow Him to work in us for the good of His kingdom. Hannah gained a son then gave him back to serve the Lord. AP
“she mourned for him” II Samuel 11:26(NIV)
Whether this was genuine sorrow or just regret we don’t know, but whichever it was, it was too late. The passion had lasted just a few moments but the consequences were for a lifetime. The selfish actions of Bathsheba and David had caused pain and death to innocent people. The mourning was insufficient by itself. Repentance was needed and consequences had to be faced so that restoration could take place. There may well be things in our past lives that cause us to mourn, but it must not stop there. Forgiveness isn’t cheap but Christ has paid the price and we can be restored. The actions of Bathsheba and David are there not only to warn us, but also to reassure us that whatever we’ve done, there is a way back. AP
“a wise woman called from the city” II Samuel 20:16(NIV)
We don’t know her name but that doesn’t matter. What we do know is that she was a wise woman. Her swift action saved a whole city from destruction. She wasn’t put off by the forces amassed against her, nor was she bothered that she didn’t know all the facts. Something was wrong, actions had to be challenged, so she shouted out. Sometimes staying silent is not an option yet how many people are ‘hell-bent’ and no-one is shouting a warning? The Bible speaks of the responsibility of the watchman (see Ezekiel 33:7) and all who know Christ as Saviour and Lord are called to share this task. It’s not about the volume, but it is about being heard. Let’s be wise as we share the gospel today. AP
“I am willing … Be clean!” Matthew 8:3 (NIV)
One man’s life was transformed! Whether his saying, ‘If you are willing…’ was out of doubt or respect, the answer was emphatic. But there’s something more for us to recognise. Firstly, Jesus doesn’t mind the request being made. The fact that the leper asked, expressed a desire to receive and Jesus responded to that. Let’s not think that our request is ever too small, or too intrusive or too anything for the Lord. Secondly the Lord is willing. The healing is not given with reluctance or under pressure. We don’t have to persuade God to do good. He is all good. Then thirdly, Christ wants us to be clean. Physically, maybe but His concern is primarily for our relationship with Him and for that, we must be clean within. AP
“you are now doing more than you did at first”
Revelation 2:19 (NIV)
What a commendation from the Lord! This fellowship in Thyatira had been commended for their love, faith, service and perseverance as well as their work-rate. It seems they were an enthusiastic church. But read on to see that this enthusiasm got the better of some of them and they tolerated things that undermined all the hard work.
It’s easy to sacrifice quality for quantity and this was the failing of the church in Thyatira. We might argue that the end justifies the means, but not in the eyes of the Lord.
It’s good to increase our productivity for the Kingdom of God, but not if it means letting unholy ways creep in.
“love covers over all wrongs” Proverbs 10:12(NIV)
This is not to say that love is blind. It acknowledges that wrong has been done but it doesn’t stop there. The word for ‘cover over’ is speaking of filling in a hollow and conveys the idea of wanting to repair the damage caused. For a repair to take place, the damage must be acknowledged. But instead of just pointing out the damage done, love wants to repair it. What a gracious attitude. So many lives today are pot-holed as a result of all sorts of wrongs and many of those holes are simply getting bigger. How important it is for you and me to be those who can fill those holes in through our love in Jesus’ Name. Kindness, grace, mercy, forgiveness, acceptance are all useful tools to do the job. AP
“the Lord disciplines those he loves”
‘Discipline’ here means correction and this can be difficult to receive – unless of course you are heading in the wrong direction. Then we will welcome correction. The same can be true of many things. Doing something the wrong way can, if uncorrected, leave things in a right mess. In most cases, it’s the attitude behind the correction that makes the difference. Here, we’re told that the Lord loves those He corrects. He wants the best for us and will help us change direction or start again in order to save us ending up in the wrong place or with a complete mess. But turning around or dismantling what we’ve done can be difficult and painful. But the end result, once we accept the correction, will be oh so beautiful. AP
“All this is from God” II Corinthians 5:18a(NIV)
As we consider again the impact of Christ’s death and resurrection over the next few days we would do well to underline this statement of Paul’s. Our salvation is all of God. He initiated it, He implemented it and He saw it to completion. Let’s not become so familiar with the death of Jesus that we take it for granted. Let’s not misunderstand God’s love to mean our sin doesn’t matter. It does. Let’s not imagine for one moment that we can do anything to save ourselves. We can’t. The incredible truth is that for God to reconcile us to Himself, He had to do everything. We can never do enough to deserve His help, but, like the Samaritan ex-leper we can come again and kneel at His feet to thank and worship Him as Saviour and Lord. AP
“reconciled us to himself through Christ”
II Corinthians 5:18b (NIV
Archbishop William Temple wrote; ‘ “There cannot be a God of love”, men say, “because if there was and He looked on the world, His heart would break”. The Church points to the cross and says, “It did break”. “If God made the world”, men say, “it’s He that should bear the load”. The Church points to the cross and says, “He did bear it” ’. John’s description of Christ’s death, the flow of blood followed by water indicates that Christ died from a ruptured, or broken, heart. The cross stands forever as a demonstration of God’s heart for mankind. Somehow God’s desire to reconcile us to himself was so great that the suffering of a broken heart was worthwhile. Let us respond by offering ourselves afresh to Him. AP
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us”
II Corinthians 5:21(NIV)
Sin leaves an indelible stain on our lives. Our nature is sinful, our actions are sinful and the curse of sin is death. We have all fallen short, our sins count against us and we are guilty before a holy God. Our situation is hopeless, but here is the amazing truth. God has helped us. As a result of what He has done in Christ on our behalf, our sin can be forgiven. The stain can be removed, a new nature is available, a new way of living can be ours and death can be replaced with new life. The impact of Christ’s death is once and for all time and cannot be changed. We may struggle with the old nature, but the offering has been made. Our sin has been dealt with and we can be forgiven and set free. Hallelujah, what a Saviour! AP
“In him we might become the righteousness of God”
I I Corinthians 5:21(NIV)
The resurrection of Jesus is so much more than just His entering into a new life. It is proof that Christ’s death has had effect. Sin and death are defeated, the power of the devil is broken and our salvation is secured. What’s more we haven’t just been rescued from sin and death; we’ve been washed, sanctified and justified in Christ (1 Cor 6:11) so that God’s righteousness might be revealed in us! Paul tells us that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is now at work in us. This is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, now living in us, making us ready for the new heaven and earth, ‘the home of righteousness’. As we live now in readiness for then, let’s do all we can to reflect the righteousness of the holy God who saves. AP
“and they came to him from every quarter” Mark 1:45
They have been doing so ever since! From all walks of life, from every part of the globe, increasingly in number as the centuries have rolled by, men and women, boys and girls have been coming to Jesus.
Drawn by the Holy Spirit and through the ministry of His servants, they have responded to the Divine invitation. Sometimes out of curiosity, at other times seeking special help they felt only God in Christ could supply, they have found peace and rest for their souls.
Often amid opposition and persecution and at other times coming to Him at great cost and sacrifice, none has been disappointed who reached out in faith and repentance.
How has it been where you are?
“certain others with them” Luke 24:1
There is no space to mention everyone by name but no-one went un-noticed. It is the same today.
Many back-room jobs do not get any applause or credit in this world’s honours lists, whereas the least thing done for the Lord is recorded in heaven.
The love of these women extended beyond the death of Jesus. And so, they met the angel who had rolled back the stone that sealed the entrance and shared in the excitement and amazement of what had happened. Only “certain others,” but they sought a body and found the news – Jesus had risen.
Join with them and go seeking Jesus today wherever you are. The reward is great!
“bringing the spices which they had prepared”
We have all prepared and then never been able to use!
These women prepared the embalming spices because they loved their Master and were not paralysed by grief as were the others.
They would never regret having done this though their spices would never be used. Their love and devotion drove them to get up early to be at the tomb and hear the announcement from the angel that Jesus had risen from the dead. We think they then lost interest in the spices and were taken up with the news of the resurrection.
What they spent time preparing yet never used led them to Jesus. And those spices got them there before anyone else. Time spent in devotion to Jesus is never wasted.
“while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father” II Chronicles 34:3(NIV)
Josiah was outstanding in this respect. He quashed idea that still persists in some circles, that you need to be older or grown up before you can serve the Lord.
He began to seek the God of his father, David, some generations before. He reigned for 31 years and from the eighth year he began a regeneration which in the twelfth year extended to cleansing Judah and Jerusalem of the high places of idolatry. Altars of Baal were torn down and he cut to pieces, the incense altar and smashed the Asherah poles, idols and images.
He had the benefit of faithfiul counsellors, secretaries and scribes. Old and young worked together in an exemplary manner for us today.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”
This puts the Lord above and beyond any level on which we can stand! That He knew us before we were formed graphically illustrates His omniscience and omnipotence.
Events never take the Lord by surprise.
His hand planned and His heart conceived all that subsequently happened. And when you find that it was product of His love that made you, commissioned you and enabled you, you worship before Him.
The realization of this truth should strengthen your faith in Him and your resolve to follow Him. It is not by way of disappointment that this statement was made but a loving Father and Creator speaking comfortably to those who would respond to His leading.