24 - Psa96 10

24 Feb: Daily Readings and Thought for February 24th. “THE LORD REIGNS”

 

Our Psalms today are, in one sense prophetic and we can readily imagine them being sung in the kingdom age when Christ returns to reign from Jerusalem resulting in wonderful rejoicing among the faithful when righteous living is expected of all who are alive. 

Until that time, Christ reigns in the hearts (Rom. 6 :6-8; John 14 v.23) of those who have a conviction of faith in this future and they will read these Psalms for inward rejoicing. “Worship the LORD in the splendour of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! Say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns!’” [Psa. 96 v.9,10]   The Psalm ends, “… for he comes to judge the earth.  He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.” 

Psalm 97 tells us that “righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne” [v.2] How literal is the indication in this Psalm of the way “justice” is dealt out to them who do not want him to reign over them? (Remember Jesus’ words – Luke 19 v.27) If the words in this Psalm are seen as symbolic, what are they symbolic of? We read “Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around … the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax … the heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory” [v.3-6].  There will be new heavens, which means, new rulers, the saints – recall what we read in the first 6 verses of Psalm 50.

We know of one mountain that is going to split in two – the mount of Olives (Zech.14 v.4].  There will be trembling among all those who do not believe in the one and only God that he has created them and all that exists – and others who, although they believe to some degree have failed to act on that belief.  Verse 10 tells us, “O you who love the LORD, hate evil. He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them …” Let us hate evil – and look in faith for his deliverance.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrcucXWBw44[/embedyt]
23 - Psa94 19

23 Feb: Daily Readings and Thought for February 23rd. “WHEN THE CARES OF MY HEART ARE MANY … “

 

Psalm 94 contains many consoling and stimulating thoughts for us, especially for those who have to cope with the world and its unspiritual values most days of the week. This Psalm shows that our only sure strength of mind when life is difficult – is to have a real ‘living’ relationship with our God.

We read, “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul” [v.19] and “When I thought, ‘My foot slips,’ your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.” [v.18] What are God’s consolations? It has the sense of compassion and comfort.  It reminds us of Paul’s words, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” {Philpns.4 v.6,7]

When God answers the petition with which this Psalm begins we will need that attitude of mind in all its fullness.  We read, “O LORD, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance shine forth!  Rise up, O judge of the earth … O LORD …how long shall the wicked exult? They pour out their arrogant words …” [v.1-4] 

The Psalm concludes, “But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.  He will bring back on them their iniquity and will wipe them out for their wickedness …” [v.22,23]  Psalm 95 is also our reading today.  Let us meditate on v.6-8, “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts …”   We hear his voice by reading his word, let us make sure we “hear” what we are reading. 

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnifbBHcxgU[/embedyt]
22 - 1Cor5 1

22 Feb: Daily Readings and Thought for February 22nd. “IT IS ACTUALLY REPORTED THAT … “

 

 It is natural to wish that life in serving Christ, in the assembly of believers, should be all smooth.  So it should be and can be – if the members are dedicated and possess a true spiritual vision.  Daily Bible reading is a foundation factor in creating this.   Our reading today of Paul’s admonition to the believers at Corinth contains an important lesson of the need to take action when it is necessary, but any action must be undertaken in love, just as when parents see it necessary to discipline their child – out of love for their child. 

We read, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.  And you are arrogant!” [1 Cor.5 v.1,2] It does not say his mother, so we presume she has died and this is his father’s second wife.   Why were they arrogant? Had their broadmindedness created this?  Such “pride” is growing in many parts of the world today, a spirit of permissiveness that all things that do not actually hurt someone else are allowable, many churches are becoming at least a little affected by this and appear pleased with their attitude. 

Paul says, “Your boasting is not good.  Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” [v.6]  As a permissive spirit spreads it corrupts everything – just like rust. This was starting to happen among the believers in Corinth and Paul is very concerned about this and he says, “you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” [v.5]

It is not clear what “to deliver” him means. In his 2nd letter to them Paul writes of how “a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated” [12 v.7] Paul came to realize the positive side of this from God’s point of view and then wrote, “for the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses … for when I am weak, then I am strong.” [v.10]

    What is the type of strength that really matters? It is brought about by situations that cause believers to really know and trust in their Lord.

As this world grows more godless, believers must stand firm by Christ’s principles, noting Paul words, “I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother (or sister) if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler …” [5 v.11].  Note his words in his 2nd letter (Ch. 2 v.2-8) and the good results that standing firm lead to in this case.  Note also his words in Galatians 6 v.1

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM4RnCLESjg[/embedyt]
21 - 1Cor3 1

21 Feb: Daily Readings and Thought for February 21st “I … COULD NOT ADDRESS YOU AS SPIRITUAL PEOPLE”.

 

Our 5 chapters today were intensely thought provoking.  First, the utterly remarkable and challenging relationship of Moses (and the people through Moses) with the LORD (yhwh) who had delivered them from Egypt . Second, the Psalms of Moses, 90 & 91; “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” [90 v.12]: then noting the opening words of Psalm 91, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High … will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’.”  Moses is the ultimate Old Testament example of one who achieved an intimate relationship with God.

And now in Paul’s heart searching first letter to the Corinthians we read Paul’s distress at their minimal progress toward real spirituality – so parallel to Moses’ experience with the God’s nation in the wilderness.

     In chapter 2 we read, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he (or she) is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” [v.14] and then ch. 3 starts, “But I, brothers (and sisters – footnote) could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.”[v.1] 

He deplores their lack of unity, their failure to see the need to team together under the guiding hand of Christ as he was doing. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants not he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” [v.6,7]  He goes on to state, “For we are God’s fellow workers”[v.9]. Visualise that!  As such we team together to build God’s spiritual house which is only seen by the “eyes” of those who have spiritual vision. 

God laid “the foundation … which is Jesus Christ.” [v.11] “Let each one take care how he (or she) builds upon it” [v.10] whether it be “gold silver … hay, straw” then “the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.”[v.13]

What does v.15 mean? “If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he (or she) … will be saved, but only as through fire.”  What is our work? It is the same as Paul at Corinth , to witness, to bring people to Christ beginning with our children. The time appears to be very short; let us become more spiritual, more zealous to build – how close is God’s building to being completed!?

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niHm0tntOJk[/embedyt]
20 - 1Cor1 11

20 Feb: Daily Readings and Thought for February 20th. “UNITED IN THE SAME MIND”

 

Once again we have an overflow of challenging thoughts in today’s readings.  Paul’s words particularly arrested our attention. “I appeal to you brothers by the name of our Lord that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” [1 Cor. 1 v.10-11].  This is essential among those who follow Christ, but in Corinth they were in disarray because they were following leaders.  Paul stresses that the only way believers can be united is to follow Christ, and to do that they should seek to possess the “mind of Christ” [1 Cor.2 v.16] and Paul set them an example to follow.

“God is faithful,” writes Paul, “by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” [1 v.9]   God is faithful to those who say they are committing their lives to him – and looks for faithfulness in response. A tragic example of failure is the situation we read today in Exodus 32: so utterly tragic after the people had witnessed so much evidence of the Divine presence at Mt. Sinai .  We must accept the lessons in our daily reading of the Bible of how, after evidence of divine presence and blessings has been given, God may put people to the test to prove their faithfulness. 

Paul writes about the challenge of “the cross” [v.18]. The message of “the cross is folly to those who are perishing.”  The Corinthians had been attracted by the dynamics of the Christian movement and they “are not lacking in any spiritual gift” [1 v.7].  So many in Corinth wanted the experiences the church offered but failed to put their minds to understand that Paul  “preached Christ crucified, a message that was “a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles” [1 v.23]

Paul’s understanding of God’s objective in his testing is this: “God chose what is low and despised in the world … so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” [1 v.28-29]  Where there is boasting and human ego, believers will never be united.  So often in serving Christ, those seeking leadership, or looking for leaders to follow, are elevating men: this attitude destroys unity. Our unity that should be based, not on human wisdom, but on the wisdom that is from above (read James 3 v.17,18).

True wisdom is totally lacking in the world today in both material and spiritual things.  We must recognise the influence of this on us and Paul’s message to the Corinthians is full of encouragement for them to develop spiritual vision, for “no eye has seen , nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” [1 Cor. 2 v.9]

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGi0Vs_MWas[/embedyt]
19 - Psa141 2

19 Feb: Daily Readings and Thought for February 19th. “LET MY PRAYER BE COUNTED AS INCENSE”

 

We do not read of the early Christians using incense in their worship, but there is an interesting spiritual application in the Psalms and also in the book of Revelation.  Our thoughts on this were prompted by reading today about the small second altar that Moses was commanded to make. It was less than a metre high and less than half a metre square and was totally overlaid with gold and placed in front of the veil in front of the Mercy Seat in the Holy Place .

Aaron was to burn incense on it “at twilight” as he lit the lamps.[Exod. 30 v.1-8] Sense the atmosphere as the fragrance of the smouldering incense filled the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.    The incense was made of special ingredients and no one else was allowed to make anything similar, “whoever makes any like it to use as a perfume shall be cut off from his people” [v.38] is the warning given following the details of its five ingredients [v.34-36] and saying it was “pure and holy”

When we come to read David’s Psalm 141 note his appeal to the LORD, “Give ear to my voice when I call to you!  Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!” [v.1-2]. 

In the book of Revelation, when the seventh and final seal is opened, an angel stands “at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints rose before God …” [8 v.3-4]  and in  chapter 5 we read of the 24 elders falling down before the Lamb having “golden bowls full of incense which are the prayers of the saints.” [v.8]

Prayer is a wonderful privilege, we must give the utmost thought to what we are doing and saying when we decide to pray – and the purpose of our prayer.  

    Today’s Psalm (88) is a prayer of desperation, “I, O LORD, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. O LORD, why do you cast my soul away?”  [v.13,14] May we so learn to pray and fully sense what a privilege and power it is that we can “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” [Hebrews 4 v.16]

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B97DDOnOhQE[/embedyt]
18 - Exod29 1

18 Feb: Daily Readings and Thought for February 18th. “THIS IS WHAT YOU SHALL DO TO THEM TO CONSECRATE THEM”

 

We are reading in Exodus (Ch.29) of the elaborate ritual needed to consecrate the High Priest, Aaron, also his sons.  There is a lot of detail about the elaborate garments and head covering they need to wear and the ritual involved in sacrificing a ram and the use of its different body parts.  We also read of the anointing oil and how it should be used.  All this combined to make “a pleasing aroma before the LORD” [v.25].  There is also “one loaf of bread … and one wafer out of the basket of unleavened bread that is before the LORD.” [v.23].  If any of it “remains until morning then you shall burn the remainder of it with fire … because it is holy” [v.34]

There is a big contrast in our reading in Mark (Ch.14) and the simple but most significant actions of Jesus –  “as they were eating” Jesus simply “took bread and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them” saying “This is my body”.  Next “he took the cup” and after giving thanks said “this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many” [v.22-24] 

A simple act as part of a meal, no special dress or ceremony!  This became a feature in the lives of the first believers, probably “on the first day of the week” [Acts 20 v.7], but there is no command as to which day, laws of this nature were entirely absent among the first believers.  Paul simply details what “I received from the Lord” in 1 Corinthians 11 v.23-27, but it must be not be done “in an unworthy manner” [v.27] there must be self examination. 

This thought takes our minds to our reading of David’s Psalm 86 today. “Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant who trusts in you – you are my God … For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.” [v.1,2,5]

Then David looks to the future time, which is still future now, when “all nations you have made shall come and worship before you O Lord, and glorify your name.” [v.9].  May we be there. Finally note his intimate personal  thoughts of his relationship with God, such an example for us. “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear thy name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart” [v.11,12]

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zSPDXdNAow[/embedyt]
17 - Mark13 37

17 Feb: Daily Readings and Thought for February 17th. “STAY AWAKE”

 

These are the last 2 words in our reading today of Mark 13.  They had their initial application to those who heard Jesus say them!  Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in AD 70 and faithful believers who were spiritually awake heeded his words “flee to the mountains” [v.14] instead of staying in Jerusalem with its wonderful Temple, thinking it was impossible God would let the Temple and the Holy of Holies be destroyed.

Those who believed Jesus that “there will not be left one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” [v.2], did “stay awake”; they escaped from this destruction.  But Jesus, after speaking at some length on this great tragedy then looks further into the future! It seems clear that while his words have an application to the destruction of Jerusalem, they also apply to an even greater time of trouble and destruction engulfing this time, the whole world. 

Jesus speaks of a coming time of “tribulation as has not been from the beginning of creation that God created until now, and never will be” [v.19].   And while these words speak of the end of the Jewish age they also have a secondary application to the days of the Lords second coming, as they are a quote from the prophecy of Daniel 12:1. The Lord is to “cut short” those days, otherwise “no human being would be saved” [v.20].   Ponder the words which follow about how “after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light and the stars will be falling …” [v.24,25]  

Is this literal?  It should be understood symbolically.  Note v.31 where Jesus says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” which leads us to recall what Peter later wrote, “according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” [2 Peter 3 v13]  We therefore understand that the collapse of all governments and human institutions is coming, occurring because of their total godlessness. Human “heavens” and systems will be overwhelmed by awesome events. When?  Jesus says that even he does not know the day  “only the father” [v.32]  His next words are, “Be on your guard, keep awake” [v.33] which is emphasised in his final words in the chapter, “And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJehQXVZW9g[/embedyt]
16 - Mark12 28

16 Feb: Daily Readings and Thought for February 16th. “WHICH COMMANDMENT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL?”

 

 They asked Jesus the above question and his answer is simple – and we see it as embracing the fundamental principles by which we should live our lives.  His answer was, “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” [Mark 12:29-30].  We cannot love anyone until we know them – and when we love them, we first know them very well and as a result feel attracted to them and appreciative of all that they are.

But how can we know God?  Well, first, because we recognise that all that exists, as we look at the world is the result of his creative power. We see a multitude of astonishing marvels in what God has created. Second, because the more we read his word, the Bible, we see things no human could have written unaided. How important then to feed the Bible into our minds!  This will lead to us knowing God more and more – and this becomes the foundation of our love for him.  

And the nature of that love?  Some forms of love focus on the “taking”, true love focuses on the ‘giving.  ’Now Jesus, in his answer, goes on to make another point, “The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” [v.31]  (Note the difference between these and the 10 commandments we read 6 days ago in Exodus 20). 

In Luke’s record of this event, this answer of Jesus is followed by the question “And who is my neighbour?” [10 v.29]  In his reply, he tells the parable of the good Samaritan. This illustrates that all humans should be “neighbours” to each other.  What a different world it would be if all people saw these two commandments as the most important of all.  We must do our part in keeping them, we can do no more.  

But, surely this will be expected of all people when Christ reigns from Jerusalem.  How wonderful to live in that kind of world!  

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oa3UKGlykNs[/embedyt]

 

15 - Psa80 4

15 Feb: Daily Readings and Thought for February 15th. “HOW LONG WILL YOU BE ANGRY WITH YOUR PEOPLE’S PRAYERS”

 

The Psalms are Israel’s fascinating Hymn Book, but some of the hymns are mournful, even despairing!  These are written later in times of despair, as God’s nation faltered in their commitment to him when evil and faithless kings replaced the good ones, leading eventually to the destruction of Jerusalem.  Yet, this is one of the features of God’s word; it paints in the valleys and the shadows as well as the high hills and lofty themes.

Today’s Psalm laments, “O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins” [79 v.1].  They are in anguish over the situation, “we have become a taunt to our neighbours, mocked and derided by those around us.” [v.4].  The next Psalm (80) asks, “O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?”[v.4] 

This reminds us of what the LORD said to Jeremiah, “… do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble” [Ch.11 v.14]  Oh dear!  Is this the God of love?  But the Bible does not simply say “God is love”, remember how Paul wrote, as we read at the beginning of this month of “the severity of God”  (Romans 11 v.22) compared to his “kindness …”   Isaiah, in the first chapter of his prophecy has this message from God, “when you spread your hands, I will hide my eyes from you, even though you make many prayers I will not listen … wash yourselves, make yourselves clean … Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow …” [v.15,16,18].  A great many prayers are offered to God today; let us make sure ours are in the spirit revealed in the Scriptures.

Later in Psalm 80, the prayer reaches its climax with these prophetic words, “let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself” [v.17]  The ultimate application of this prayer – is to the Lord Jesus Christ!  The final fulfilment of the prayer which concludes this Psalm will be when Christ returns!  And the words of that last verse?  “Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved.” 

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UyJnEBiNzU[/embedyt]