30 - Heb2 18

30 May: Daily Readings & Thought for the day May 30th. “HE IS ABLE TO HELP …”

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today’s readings.. (Joshua 16), (Isaiah 22), (Hebrews 1,2)

 Today we began reading the specially thought-provoking letter to the Hebrews.  The author is not named, but the best conclusion is that Paul wrote it as a message to his fellow Jews and he didn’t name himself because a prejudice against him had developed and some, maybe many Jews, would have ignored the letter if it had been obvious it came from him.  

Now Paul had a special relationship with his Saviour because he appeared and spoke to him on the road to Damascus.  He is wonderfully conscious of the continuing unseen presence of Christ in his life and encourages his fellow  Hebrews to develop the same consciousness, he quotes many Old Testament passages from the Psalms and Moses’ writings that foretold the special and wonderful role God’s Son would have.  We see the emphasis in these two chapters of how he would first come into the world to die as a once and for all sacrifice for sins and also experience life as we do and so be able to understand and help us,

We note in particular the closing verses in ch. 2 (from v.16) “For surely … he helps the offspring of Abraham.  Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.  The Greek word, translated ‘tempted’ essentially means ‘tested.’ 

Yes, “he is able to help,” but we do not receive this help, this guiding oversight of our lives, unless we prayerfully seek it.  We will see Paul’s warning in ch. 3, where, quoting David’s words in Psalm 95, Paul says, “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” [v.15]  It is God’s ‘living word’ that we read and ‘hear’ – and “he is able to help” if we truly ‘listen’ and respond.

[vc_column_text] [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtQBKsZCS0Q[/embedyt]


29 - Phil1 4

29 May: Daily Readings & Thought for the Day (May 29th.) “I REMEMBER YOU IN MY PRAYERS”

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today’s readings.. (Joshua 15), (Isaiah 20,21), (Philemon)

The short letter of Paul to Philemon has some valuable lessons for us in the area of spiritual relationships of believers with one another.  Paul is writing as “a prisoner of Christ Jesus” [v.1] and Timothy is with him – and other visitors support him, “Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke” [v.24]. He tells Philemon, “I remember you in my prayers.” (v.4)

We meditate on what filled Paul’s hours and days in his imprisonment, his mind was very much occupied with thoughts about the believers he knew and the news he hears about them. We  remember the dramatic night when he and Silas sang hymns while in prison, and we surely imagine him singing hymns with “Epaphras my fellow prisoner” [v.23]. 

How do we compare, we who are free to do as we please – does how we spend our time help or hinder our spiritual life?  We have to admit that, unless we are at some spiritual gathering, the events of our daily lives rarely help us spiritually; it is vital that we ask ourselves – do they hinder, do they undermine?  

Paul is pleased with Philemon “because I hear of your love and the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints (fellow believers), and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective …” [v.5,6]

Would others hear the same sort of thing about us?  If not, what would they hear?  Would it have any effect on them in the sense of a good (or bad) example we set them? Paul is able to say to Philemon, “I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” 


 Do we shed abroad a spirit that refreshes the hearts of other believers – so that we are a light that really shines in the increasing spiritual darkness of this world – the effect of that light being so good that even some unbelievers will notice?    Let us live so that we do this, it maybe that we do it unconsciously, only realizing the effect we have had as we look back on events.  And in communicating with fellow believers – and those who do not yet believe, which may include some of our children, we can state, “I remember you in my prayers.” 

[vc_column_text] [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6HrDjLjCqI[/embedyt]


28 - Jos14 8

28 May: Daily Readings & Thought for the Day (May 28th.) “YET I WHOLLY FOLLOWED THE LORD”

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today’s readings.. (Joshua 14), (Isaiah 19), (Titus 1,2,3)

In Joshua ch. 14 today we read of the blessings received by a man who “wholly followed the LORD.”  Caleb was the other man, who with Joshua, spied out the land and brought back an optimistic report; this was after the people had miraculously escaped from Egypt, been fed in the wilderness, built the tabernacle and received the law. Surely the whole nation had evidence on which to base their faith – and today, God’s book is available for all to read and provides much evidence to build up our faith.

Caleb is now aged 85 and seeks his promised reward. We read his testimony to Joshua of the time “when Moses … sent me … to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart” [v.7] His was a good positive report, spoken in faith.  Sadly, he adds, “my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the LORD” [v.8] 

A prophecy about Egypt features in our Isaiah chapter 19 – and today the Coptic Christians in their midst are an unhappy and somewhat persecuted minority. Verse 17 came remarkably true after Israel was re-established in 1947/48.  We read, “In that day the Egyptians will be like women and tremble with fear before the hand that the LORD of hosts shakes over them.  The land of Judah will become a terror to the Egyptians …” [v.16,17]  This never happened in history – until then!  

But then Isaiah is caused to look further into the future to the time when “the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day and worship …” [v.21]  In that day all the world will become dramatically aware there is a Creator – and a divine law to be obeyed (see Isaiah 2 v.2,3)

Let us “wholly follow the LORD” now, for, said Jesus, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” [John 20 v.29].  Caleb saw – yet in seeing he was aware of all the difficulties, but he “wholly followed the LORD”.  We see the unfolding fulfilment of prophecy, especially with Israel, as an aid to strengthening our faith; may we be able to say in that day, “yet I wholly followed the LORD”

[vc_column_text] [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3l9SEAWRaD4[/embedyt]


27 - 2Tim3 5

27 May: Daily Readings & Thought for the Day (May 27th.) “… BUT DENYING ITS POWER”

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today’s readings.. (Joshua 13), (Isaiah 17,18), (2 Timothy 3,4)

 Today we completed Paul’s 2nd letter to his “son in the faith” Timothy. He deplores what he sees the future is going to hold for believers; a serious decline of faith and a Christ-like way of living.  As Paul looks into the future  “the Spirit” gives him a ‘picture’ of what is going to develop in “the last days.” [3 v.1]   Paul of course has no idea as to how far off this future time is. But the description of this ‘time’ that is revealed to him has a specific focus on the condition of believers: they “will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness but denying its power” [v.4,5].

 The word “power” is the Gk word dunamis, it does not necessarily refer to something miraculous, earlier this month we saw Paul use it twice in his first chapter in writing to the Colossians, ”may you be strengthened with all power” [v.11]  “… I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” [v.29] 

Believers need real energy of mind – and the real pursuit of godliness generates such power – spiritual strength of mind.   Paul told the Corinthians that the Lord said to him as he struggled with a divinely given “thorn in the flesh”, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” [2 Cor. 12 v.9]  

Paul then adds, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me”   This is not power in the sense of miracle working, but inner strength developed through the reality of our relationship with our Lord and the Father.  We read 2 days ago how Paul told Timothy,  “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” [ch. 1 v.7]

Back to chapter 3; we are aware how true Paul’s prediction has been throughout history that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and imposters will go from bad to worse.  But as for you (and us!) continue in what you have learned and firmly believed … how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred scriptures … breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” [v.12-14,16]  May we  increase our zeal for the Holy Scriptures and develop a greater “spirit .. of power and love and self-control” as we complete our “training in righteousness”.

[vc_column_text] [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wL8JhclJRh8[/embedyt]


26 - 2Tim2 12

26 May: Daily Readings & Thought for the Day (May 26th.) “IF WE ENDURE…”

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css_animation="zoomIn"][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today’s readings.. (Joshua 12), (Isaiah 16), (2 Timothy 2)

We continue with our reading and reflections on the final epistle that Paul wrote: our chapter (2) begins with his encouragement to Timothy, “my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ …” He encourages him to “share in the suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” [v.3]

Paul is “bound with chains as a criminal”, but says, “the word of God is not bound.” [v.9]  Today, with widespread translation and printing and websites, the word of God is more unbound than ever before, but how few are taking notice of it, especially in western countries which are overflowing with fleshly distractions and “the love of money.” 

Paul and Timothy are examples to us; Paul declares, “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” [v.10]

Before his conversion Paul served himself, developing his ego as a Pharisee, blind to “the way” – the way of Christ; the human ambitions he then had, in a sense, “died” outside Damascus.  Among the early believers inspirational sayings began to circulate and Paul includes one in this letter, “The saying is trustworthy, for: ‘If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.” [v.11.12]  

This saying remains totally true today, have we “died with” him?  Our thoughts immediately go to Paul’s words to the Colossians, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness … for on account of these the wrath of God is coming” [ch. 3 v.5,6] 

As the moral restraints on our world totally disintegrate, even more endurance will be required – and our endurance will need to include the confession of our faith in Christ for v.12 in today’s chapter concludes Paul’s quotation of the ‘saying’ – “if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful …” to his promise that “if we endure, we will also reign with him.”

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


25 - 2Tim1 5

25 May: Daily Readings & Thought for the day (May 25th.) “YOUR SINCERE FAITH, A FAITH THAT DWELT … “

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today’s readings.. (Joshua 11), (Isaiah 15), (2 Timothy 1)

The final letter of the Apostle Paul was his second letter to Timothy.  His opening verses after his usual greeting is to write of Timothy’s faith.  Note how he expresses it, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” [Ch.1 v.5]  We know nothing of his father, except he was a Greek, although his mother was a Jewess (Acts 16 v.1).

What a lesson this is of the valuable role of women in their commitment to Christ and the inspiration they can give to children and grandchildren, we know well the commitment that was obviously in the women who went to the tomb on the morning of the resurrection.  In the next verse Paul writes, “For this reason (your faith) I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” [v.6].  

A “sincere faith” is an essential ingredient in any natural abilities and talents we have.  In those days abilities or gifts were given by Apostles such as Paul.  His first letter to the Corinthians illustrates the range of such abilities, many of which we would see as “natural” – such as wisdom and knowledge (1 Cor. 12 v.8] Paul desires “especially that you may prophesy.” [14 v.1] which means, to reveal God’s attitude and purpose, not necessarily to predict the future – this is evident in the Old Testament prophets such as Jeremiah.  Today God’s word should “fan into flame” our desire to use our various abilities to do as much work as we can for our Lord.

Back in the letter to Timothy we noted the next 2 verses (7 & 8) “for God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self control.  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord …”  In so many countries in the world the message of Christ is now held in low regard, so it is now more necessary than ever to develop this spirit of strength of mind to enhance our “sincere faith” and follow in the footsteps of Timothy.  

How would someone who knows you well write about your faith?

[vc_column_text] [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_M0S4XWoqw[/embedyt]


24 - 1Tim6 3

24 May: Daily Readings & Thought for the Day (May 24th.) “IF ANYONE TEACHES A DIFFERENT DOCTRINE”

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css_animation="zoomIn"][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today’s readings.. (Joshua 10, (Isaiah 14), (1 Timothy 6)

It is evident that when Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy whom he had left “at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine …” [ch.1 v.3,] that already there were those who were trying, using their own ‘wisdom’, to ‘improve’ on the true teaching they had received.  In today’s ch. 6, Paul tells Timothy, “if anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.  He has an unhealthy craving for controversy … “ [v.3,4]  

Each generation since then has needed to heed Paul’s warning, the failure to do this is the reason why we have so many different churches. It results, all too often, in the basic instincts of human nature being displayed.  Paul says such people are “deprived of the truth” and, even worse they see “godliness as a means of gain” [v.5], and so we have seen wealthy churches emerge with leaders who display an affluent lifestyle. 

We saw in ch. 5 that Paul is not saying it is wrong for “those who labour in preaching and teaching” to receive support for “the labourer deserves his wages” [v.17,18]

But Paul himself, as we read 4 days ago, in writing his 2nd letter to the Thessalonians said, “nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but … worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you” [3 v.7,8]. Paul was a tentmaker [Acts 18 v.3] and set a worthy example.

His aim in life should be, Paul tells Timothy, to “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.  Fight the good fight of faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called …”   [6 v.11,12]

 Timothy is to encourage them “to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves …” [v.18,19] for the kingdom. Let us all do this, trying at the same time to correct “anyone who teaches a different doctrine” and develop our understanding of “the words of our Lord Jesus Christ” and the other writings God has caused to be written and preserved – as much as we can – and then make greater efforts to put them into practice. 

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


23 - Isa13 11

23 May: Daily Readings & Thought for the day (May 23rd.) “I WILL PUNISH THE WORLD FOR ITS EVIL”

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css_animation="zoomIn"][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today’s readings.. (Joshua 9), (Isaiah 13), (1 Timothy 4,5)

Isaiah ch. 13, todays’ reading, appears to have a double application: it tells us [v.1] it is an “oracle concerning Babylon,” but much of its content is remarkably parallel to the ‘Babylon’ described in the book of Revelation.  It is enlightening to note that the word ‘Babylon’ in the Hebrew is actually ‘Babel’; part of this chapter appears to be about the ‘Babel’ of the last days.

In the days of Isaiah Assyria was the enemy Israel feared, Babylon was not yet a nation to be feared. Isaiah is caused to write of “The sound of the uproar of kingdoms, of nations gathering together! The LORD of hosts is mustering a host for battle … the weapons of his indignation to destroy the whole land  [v.4,5]  What “land” is to be destroyed?     The same Hebrew word (eretz) is translated as “earth” in v13, “the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the LORD of hosts in the day of his fierce anger”.  To our way of thinking it should be understood as “earth” in both places. 

We note the context, look at v.9 -11, “Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger …the sun will be dark at its rising and the moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity”   This describes a far greater calamity than when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and brought to an end the kingdom established under David and Solomon. We must seriously consider how it describes the world today, with its’ world-wide ungodliness when “every way of man is right in his own eyes” [Prov, 21 v.2] and there is no thought that an all-seeing Creator even exists.

  Are we to expect physical signs – will the sun “be dark” and “the moon will not shed its light”?   Jesus made some awesome prophecies, that “there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven” [Luke 21 v.11]  But he also said, “there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation  … if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose …”  [Mark v.19,20]

Make sure you are among the elect – for “he will send out the angels and gather his elect … from the ends of the earth” [v.27]  An utterly awesome divine forecast of events – we close our eyes to it – at our peril.

[vc_column_text] [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubnmSqGvU1o[/embedyt]


22 - Isa12 1

22 May: Daily Readings & Thought for the Day (May 22nd.) “YOU WILL SAY IN THAT DAY”

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css_animation="zoomIn"][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today’s readings.. (Joshua 8), (Isaiah 12), (1 Timothy 1-3)

We usually have a reasonable idea of what we are going to talk about as today progresses, also some of the things that are likely to be part of our thoughts and conversations tomorrow – but it is invaluable to meditate on what the 6 verses that make up the entire 12th chapter of Isaiah told Israel and tells us of what “you will say on that day.”  

How utterly wonderful to be among those who will say, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD God is my strength …” [v.2]   Of course, believing in God and his Son should always be the foundation on which our “strength” rests – it is not physical strength is it!  What strength of mind do you have?  How much does your mind meditate on the ultimate future? 

In v.3 we read “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation”. This takes our thoughts to what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, “… whoever drinks of the water that I will give him …(it) … will become in him (or her) a spring of water welling up to eternal life” [John 4 v.14] We link this saying with his words “on the last day of the feast” that the one “who believes in me … out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” [7 v.38]    After Jesus left them, “the Spirit” [v.39] was to flow out of the heart of the disciples to produce more of the words of God – on which we can (and must) feed our minds.

Now back to Isaiah, the last 2 verses vividly picture the time when the redeemed will “Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously … Shout and sing for joy. O inhabitant of Zion. For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”  These words take us to “the song of the Lamb” in Revelation 15.  Let us live so that, by the grace of God we will be there to experience and sing this “in that day 

“Great and amazing are your deeds O Lord God the Almighty!  Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!  … For you alone are holy.  All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” [v3,4]   At the moment they have been concealed – except to those who read and mediate on God’s word and prepare themselves for what they “will say (and sing) in that day

[vc_column_text] [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMybXP9GiGI[/embedyt]


21 - 2Thes3 5

21 May: Daily Readings & Thought for the Day (May 21st.) “MAY THE LORD DIRECT YOUR HEARTS TO …”

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css_animation="zoomIn"][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today’s readings.. (Joshua 7), (Isaiah 11), (2 Thessalonians 3)

As Paul concludes his 2nd letter to the Thessalonians he tells them, “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” [3 v.5] It is evident that the Lord cannot “direct” this – unless our hearts are already “looking” toward our Saviour.  Paul told the Hebrews, they needed to be “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith” [Heb 12 v.2] and the Gk. For “looking” refers to a fixed direction of ‘looking.’

It is evident that this cannot happen unless our attitude of heart is already desiring this. We read today in Joshua of the judgements of God that affected the whole nation because one man coveted some of the spoil of Jericho when it was destroyed.  It is evident it was a deliberate calculated act because when Achan is identified, under the direction of God, he admits, he took them, including silver and gold and “they are hidden in the earth inside my tent” [ch. 7 v.21]. 

The words Joshua addressed to Achan are significant, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise to him.  And tell me what you have done.” [v.21] Honest confession to God, gives him a form of “glory” because it acknowledges the total supremacy of an all knowing Creator.  But Achan’s sin was a calculated deception and “all Israel stoned him with stones” [v.25] and our thoughts turn to the words of Paul in Hebrews that “if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of Judgment …” [12 v.26]  

 Thankfully for our human weaknesses  and failures, the grace of our Lord is readily extended to us, but let us never forget the lesson of Achan, who should have felt an awed humility when he saw the walls of Jericho fall without any human effort.  What of us, when God destroys the “walls” of the remarkable ‘civilisation’(?) human beings have now created in this modern world?

Finally, the inspiring chapter we read in Isaiah today (11) gives us such a wonderful vision of the future God has planned for our world and for those faithful to him and his Son; in reading them we should feel spiritually motivated to live our lives more and more to reflect that we really are his spiritual sons and daughters looking forward to the time when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” [v.9]   Is your motivation increasing? Are you seeking more and more earnestly for “the Lord to direct your heart”?  Remember what he is directing it toward – read again the opening quote from Paul’s letter.

[vc_column_text] [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yz2dJlkYqo[/embedyt]