Together, we serve
to know Christ
and to make Christ known
for the glory of God

23 August 2019

2 Corinthians 10

By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you – I, Paul, who am ‘timid’ when face to face with you, but ‘bold’ towards you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be towards some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.’ 11 Such people should realise that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.
12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. 14 We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. 15 Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, 16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. 17 But, ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’ 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

Sadly, most of the pastors and gospel workers who I know have faced criticism and hardship to some degree or other. No doubt, some of the critique will have been justified (even if not given in a loving way) and many of them welcome loving feedback and critique in order to grow and develop. But sometimes, the criticism is not only harsh, it is unjustified; even horrible and spiteful. At those times, they need to remember they are in good company.

Paul’s ministry was also criticised. Indeed, in the reading today, Paul answers the scathing criticisms of himself and his ministry from within the Corinthian church. He, his ministry and his doctrines were under attack. Whether they think he hides behind his letters (verse 1), or lacks in the area of delivery and oratory (verse 10), or doesn’t compare to the ‘super-apostles’ visiting the church (verse 12); the point is, their unjustified criticism is scathing and cutting to the core. Paul must steel himself against this by rooting himself in the only One whose critique really matters – his Lord. So, Paul reminds his critics that in this spiritual battle, his weapon is the Word. It is this Word that ‘demolishes arguments and every pretension’ (verse 5); that helps him ‘to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ’ (verse 5) – thus overcoming their harsh and unjustified comments. And, it’s this Word that shapes his past, present and future ministry so that his boast is not in the things of this world, the accomplishments of man, or the perception of others. No, his boast ‘is in the Lord alone’ (verse 17).

Such a passage reminds us of the very real struggles faced by those in ministry, especially the pastors. They face the same problems and struggles that we face, yet are tasked to rise above and to live their lives at a higher standard (James 3:1). Because of this calling, they are vulnerable and susceptible to tests and temptations, to gossip and slander, and to unfair and unloving criticism. While we must speak the truth in love to them; so too we must seek to encourage them and build them up. One way to do that is to pray regularly for them.

Let’s do that now.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the pastors and leaders who serve the body at TCC. Thank You for the vision that You have given them for our church and that we get to be part of the community which You are building here.

Give them strength, power, and understanding to teach Your Word and to do so in a way that drives religion out and brings relationship with You back as the centre point. Equip them and empower them to do the work of the ministry for which You have called them. Give them an overflow of wisdom and grace as they love the sheep and assist Your people. Thank You for their role in my spiritual growth and maturity.

Lord, surround them with people they can trust and can be accountable to, with people to encourage them in Your ways. Guard them against unloving and unjustified criticism or conflict. Help them to evaluate all comments in light of Your Word and to make all thoughts captive to obedience to Christ.

In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

22 August 2019

2 Corinthians 9

There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the Lord’s people. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we – not to say anything about you – would be ashamed of having been so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.


Generosity encouraged
Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
    their righteousness endures for ever.’
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

As mentioned when we read 2 Corinthians 8 last week, we refer you to and commend to you the recent sermon series on Stewardship (preached during July in the morning services) which was based on this chapter.

Prayer: Father God, teach me to be generous towards others, as You have been generous towards me in Jesus and the gospel;

teach me to serve You as you deserve, giving willingly and cheerfully of all that You have entrusted to my stewardship;

teach me to give and not to count the cost, sacrificially and joyfully giving as I follow the way of the cross;

to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and not to seek reward, except that of knowing that I do Your will

– and may I do that neither reluctantly nor under compulsion, but overflowing with love and thankfulness to You in all things.

In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Based on and adapted from the “Prayer of Generosity” by St Ignatius of Loyola

21 August 2019

2 Samuel 12

The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, ‘There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
‘Now a traveller came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveller who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.’
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.’
Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.”
11 ‘This is what the Lord says: “Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.”’
13 Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’
Nathan replied, ‘The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.’
15 After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. 16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.
18 On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, ‘While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.’
19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realised that the child was dead. ‘Is the child dead?’ he asked.
‘Yes,’ they replied, ‘he is dead.’
20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshipped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.
21 His attendants asked him, ‘Why are you acting in this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!’
22 He answered, ‘While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, “Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.” 23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.’
24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The Lord loved him; 25 and because the Lord loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.
26 Meanwhile Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured the royal citadel. 27 Joab then sent messengers to David, saying, ‘I have fought against Rabbah and taken its water supply. 28 Now muster the rest of the troops and besiege the city and capture it. Otherwise I shall take the city, and it will be named after me.’
29 So David mustered the entire army and went to Rabbah, and attacked and captured it. 30 David took the crown from their king’s head, and it was placed on his own head. It weighed a talent of gold, and it was set with precious stones. David took a great quantity of plunder from the city 31 and brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labour with saws and with iron picks and axes, and he made them work at brickmaking.[f David did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then he and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.

Sin always has a way of catching up with us. Sooner or later there will be a reckoning. As David’s sin was exposed, the Psalms teach us that he responded not just with remorse, but repentance. And, God in His grace, takes away sin so that we do not die (verse 13 and see John 3:16 and 11:25-26).

What better way to respond to this passage than with David’s own prayer following his interaction with Nathan.

Prayer 

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;

according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;

so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Amen.

Psalm 51:1-12

20 August 2019

2 Samuel 11

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman washing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, ‘She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, ‘I am pregnant.’
So David sent this word to Joab: ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house and wash your feet.’ So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.
10 David was told, ‘Uriah did not go home.’ So he asked Uriah, ‘Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?’
11 Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!’
12 Then David said to him, ‘Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.’ So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.
14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, ‘Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so that he will be struck down and die.’
16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.
18 Joab sent David a full account of the battle. 19 He instructed the messenger: ‘When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, 20 the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, “Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth?[b Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?” If he asks you this, then say to him, “Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.”’
22 The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. 23 The messenger said to David, ‘The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. 24 Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’
25 David told the messenger, ‘Say this to Joab: “Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.” Say this to encourage Joab.’
26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.

In the Garden of Eden, we read that sin entered the world because the woman ‘saw, took and ate’ – and the man who was with her did the same (Genesis 3). Sin’s pattern has not changed any. In this passage, David saw, took and ‘ate’! Aroused by the lust of his eyes, he took Bathsheba to himself and to His bed and devoured her in the flesh – with her becoming pregnant as a result. Then, to compound matters, he covered it up rather than confess it. When his plans to send Uriah home to cover his own sin failed (verse 11), he made a bad situation worse by wickedly and deceitfully orchestrating Uriah’s death (verse 14). In the end, David got exactly what he wanted – a new wife who bore him a son … ‘but the thing David had done displeased the Lord’ (verse 27)!

We must recognise the way that sin entraps us … it appeals first to our eyes – which is why it is so important to be careful what we watch and what we look at … it takes control of the actions of our hands – we take, steal and plunder, consuming the desires of our flesh … and no sooner have we finished consuming those delights, than do we discover that sin has, in fact, consumed us. For sin simply reveals the true desires of our heart, the true nature of our heart and how desperately we need regeneration and salvation. And, of course, we must remember that the Lord is never pleased with such behaviour.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, especially the evil that lurks within the sinful desires of our hearts. Guard our eyes from the lust of the eyes; give us self-control over the lust of the flesh; and help us overcome the pride of life– recognising these are the not from You but the world (John 2:16). Help us to overcome the temptations we face all around us and to pursue righteousness in all things.

May the grace that helps us say no to unrighteousness and yes to godliness (Titus 2:14) abound more and more in each of us every day. 

Help us always to faithfully pursue pleasing You in all things, especially in a world that is moving further away from You. In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

19 August 2019

2 Samuel 7

After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, ‘Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.’
Nathan replied to the king, ‘Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.’
But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:
‘Go and tell my servant David, “This is what the Lord says: are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’”
‘Now then, tell my servant David, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people shall not oppress them any more, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
‘“The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 when your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.”’
17 Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.


David’s prayer
18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said:
‘Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant – and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human![c]
20 ‘What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.
22 ‘How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel – the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own for ever, and you, Lord, have become their God.
25 ‘And now, Lord God, keep for ever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great for ever. Then people will say, “The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!” And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.
27 ‘Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, “I will build a house for you.” So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue for ever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed for ever.’

A good motive: things are on the up in Israel! The nation is home, the ark of the covenant is home, and the king is home – settled in his palace, enjoying rest from all his enemies (verse 1). Life is good, and that’s the problem. David recognises that he has a home but is concerned that God’s ark remains in a tent (verse 2). He wants to do something for God, he wants to build a home for God too (as if anything he could build can contain God – but that’s another blog!) Even Nathan recognises that David’s heart is in the right place and commends him to go ahead (verse 3). But, sometimes, good motives aren’t enough! We can, with every good intention in the world, embark on a course of action that is unwise (at best) or wrong (at worst). This would have been one of those times. For God does not want David to build Him a house (verse 5), so graciously intervenes accordingly (verse 4).

At times like these, good motives must be shaped by godly action – in this case, obeying the revealed will of God. David cannot build God a house unless God says so. A great reminder for us to always examine our motives and desires, our wants and our will, in light of the revealed will of God in the Scriptures. Of course, submitting to God’s will is always the best course of action.

A generous Master: Instead of letting David build Him a house, God responds by reminding David that He will build David’s ‘house’ – what grace, what generosity. God will make David’s name great – which, in the context of the day means He will grant Him many descendants (people) and much blessing (prosperity); He will provide land (place) for those descendants not just to dwell but to settle and put down roots (plant); and He will restore relationships and provide rest (peace). It’s important to notice the repetition of ‘I will’ – it is God who will do all these things for David. You see, it is God who will build David’s house! That’s the type of house we all want – one not built by men for this world, but one built by God for all eternity. And David’s house will be an eternal house.

A gospel message: David is told that following him will be a son whose house, whose kingdom, God will also build (verse 12). This will be an eternal house and a forever throne (verse 16). It will be this son who will build God’s house in which He will dwell (verse 13). God and this son will have a special, personal and intimate relationship (verse 14). Of course, many of us recognise it was Solomon, David’s son, who built the Temple as the House of God. And while this is a partial fulfilment of the promises God made to David; it is not the fulfilment. For the descendant who will build God’s house will be no less than God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. This passage points us, ultimately, beyond David to Jesus, and beyond Israel to the Church. Jesus is the forever King who establishes God’s house – a spiritual house, built with flesh and blood, in which God will dwell by His Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22). Jesus is the cornerstone and foundation upon which the house of God is built for all eternity.

David rightly responds to such wonderful revelation, with prayer and praise.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and faithfulness to Your eternal plans to build your house through Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Please help us to recognise Jesus as the Forever King who rules over Your Kingdom and establishes Your dwelling place.

As members of Your household, please help us to conform our motives, desires and will in accordance with Your revealed will, always obeying Your Word and submitting to Your Son.

Especially help us when we are tempted by evil desires and sinful motives to build our own house. Help us to trust You to build it and to rather use our time, talents and treasures in advancing Your house and proclaiming Your kingdom.

In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

17 August 2019

Deuteronomy 4:1-43

Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.
You saw with your own eyes what the Lord did at Baal Peor. The Lord your God destroyed from among you everyone who followed the Baal of Peor, but all of you who held fast to the Lord your God are still alive today.
See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. 10 Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, ‘Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.’ 11 You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness. 12 Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. 13 He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets. 14 And the Lord directed me at that time to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess.


Idolatry forbidden
15 You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, 16 so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, 17 or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, 18 or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. 19 And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars – all the heavenly array – do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshipping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. 20 But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.
21 The Lord was angry with me because of you, and he solemnly swore that I would not cross the Jordan and enter the good land the Lord your God is giving you as your inheritance. 22 I will die in this land; I will not cross the Jordan; but you are about to cross over and take possession of that good land. 23 Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
25 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time – if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing his anger, 26 I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. 27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. 28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.


The Lord is God
32 Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? 33 Has any other people heard the voice of God[a] speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? 34 Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lordyour God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
35 You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other. 36 From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, and you heard his words from out of the fire. 37 Because he loved your ancestors and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength, 38 to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today.
39 Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. 40 Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.


Cities of refuge
41 Then Moses set aside three cities east of the Jordan, 42 to which anyone who had killed a person could flee if they had unintentionally killed a neighbour without malice aforethought. They could flee into one of these cities and save their life. 43 The cities were these: Bezer in the wilderness plateau, for the Reubenites; Ramoth in Gilead, for the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, for the Manassites.

Prayer: Grant us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always such things as are right; that we, who cannot do anything that is good without You, may by You be able to live according to Your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

16 August 2019

2 Corinthians 8

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: they gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: ‘The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.’


Titus sent to receive the collection
16 Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. 17 For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. 18 And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. 19 What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honour the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. 20 We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. 21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.
22 In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honour to Christ. 24 Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.

My only comment is that if you didn’t hear Luke’s sermons on stewardship then I strongly encourage you to download these from the website

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, we praise You for Your ongoing provision that sustains us each day. We are completely dependent upon You for everything that we have. Thank You for our family and friends, our work and leisure, our homes and shelter, our faith and salvation. You bless us abundantly, spiritually and physically, and so we pray that our gratitude will overflow in the way in which we live.

Help us to be people who are generous in our giving back to You and providing for the needs of our gospel workers and neighbours who are in need. Lord, it is so easy to keep what we have for ourselves, so we pray that You will move our hearts to be unselfish and giving. You know what we do in secret. We can’t keep anything from You. And so we pray that our stewardship will be done with humility but also be encouraging to others. Transform and renew us to be more like Christ, who gave everything sacrificially for us. Help us to fulfil the following: ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me’. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

15 August 2019

2 Corinthians 7

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.


Paul’s joy over the church’s repentance
Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.
For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn – conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.
Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it – I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while – yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. 12 So even though I wrote to you, it was neither on account of the one who did the wrong nor on account of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. 13 By all this we are encouraged.
In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. 14 I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. 15 And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling. 16 I am glad I can have complete confidence in you.

Verse 19 tells us that how we respond after being sorrowful for our actions is a clear indication of whether we are regenerate or not; whether we are Christian or not. Sorrow that leads to repentance shows that the Holy Spirit is within us convicting us of sin, turning us from our sin and seeking God’s forgiveness. Paul says that worldly sorrow that leads to no change of heart – or realisation that the wrong actions are a sin against God – leads to death. Feeling guilty about the wrongs we have done is a good thing, in that God is pricking our conscience. However just feeling guilty is of no value if it doesn’t lead to a change of heart and seeking reconciliation with the hurt party. But above all we must confess our sins to God.

In scripture we see the confession of sins not only being commanded by God (1 John 1:8-10) but the effects being cathartic for those who confess. James 5:16 is a good example of this. It would be a good idea, after praying the prayer below, to spend time with God in confessing the sins that He brings to mind.

Prayer: Dear Father God we are truly grateful for the amazing privilege of being Your sons and daughters. We really want to live as Your children, we want to live in a way that honours You and that is holy and pure, but we find it so difficult. We do want to revere You but fall so short. We pray that as You convict us of our sin, we would be contrite and repentant; seeking to change our ways and not repeating our sins.

We seek to be more like Jesus every day, so we pray that You will help us to grow in His likeness. Help us to be as individuals and as a church, an example that would delight You and show the world that the church is a place where Your love is shared and Your will is done. We pray too, that we will be an encouragement to the churches, organisations and missionaries that we support. We pray for each of them that they will remain faithful to sharing and living out the gospel. We pray that together that Your kingdom will grow for the sake of Your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

14 August 2019

2 Samuel 6

David again brought together all the able young men of Israel – thirty thousand. He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, tambourines, rattles and cymbals.
When they came to the threshing-floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.
Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.
David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, ‘How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?’ 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.
12 Now King David was told, ‘The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.’ So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.
17 They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.
20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, ‘How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!’
21 David said to Michal, ‘It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel – I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honour.’
23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.

Prayer: Almighty God, ruler of all we come in reverence before You to honour Your holy name. We confess with shame that our actions don’t nearly live up to your standards. When we consider what happened to Uzzah, we realise that we live under Your great mercy and grace. In many respects our sins deserve the same fate as that of Uzzah and so we are grateful that You spare us.

Help us Lord, in realisation of this fact, to live our lives in honest worship of You and who You are. Help us to be like David who in many respects went overboard in managing the move of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. We can’t delight in You and celebrate You enough; help us to live lives of joy for the glory of Your name.

Lord, we pray that You will turn our feeble attempts of praising You to wholehearted rejoicing that gives You the tribute due to You for who You are – our Lord our Saviour and our King. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

13 August 2019

2 Samuel 5

All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, ‘We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, “You shall shepherd my people Israel, and you shall become their ruler.”’
When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.
David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah for seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.
David conquers Jerusalem
The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, ‘You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.’ They thought, ‘David cannot get in here.’ Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion – which is the City of David.
On that day David had said, ‘Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those “lame and blind” who are David’s enemies.’ That is why they say, ‘The “blind and lame” will not enter the palace.’
David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the terraces inwards. 10 And he became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him.
11 Now Hiram king of Tyre sent envoys to David, along with cedar logs and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built a palace for David. 12 Then David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.
13 After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him. 14 These are the names of the children born to him there: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15 Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16 Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet.
David defeats the Philistines
17 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him, but David heard about it and went down to the stronghold. 18 Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; 19 so David enquired of the Lord, ‘Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?’
The Lord answered him, ‘Go, for I will surely deliver the Philistines into your hands.’
20 So David went to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He said, ‘As waters break out, the Lord has broken out against my enemies before me.’ So that place was called Baal Perazim. 21 The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them off.
22 Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; 23 so David enquired of the Lord, and he answered, ‘Do not go straight up, but circle round behind them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. 24 As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move quickly, because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.’ 25 So David did as the Lord commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.

Prayer: Father God You are truly the King of kings and Lord of lords. As we read Your word, we are reminded that You are the One and Only God who is in control of everything. Lord, through Your providence You made David king in fulfilment of Your promise, despite the many events in David’s life that could have prevented him from becoming king.

Help us Lord, to clearly hear Your voice and do what you have commanded us to do. Help us to pray like You taught Your disciples. Help us to be faithful witnesses that take the gospel and make disciples in fulfilment of the great commission. Help us to love mercy, to act justly and to live humbly before You. It seemed that David was very clear of what You required of him, how much more so is that true today for us as Christians who know the work of Jesus and have Your inspired Word in the scriptures.

Empower us Lord, by Your Holy Spirit, to know You better each day and to serve You in making Jesus known to the world. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

12 August 2019

1 Samuel 24

After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, ‘David is in the Desert of En Gedi.’ So Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.
He came to the sheepfolds along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. The men said, ‘This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, “I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.”’ Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
Afterwards, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, ‘The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.’ With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.
Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, ‘My lord the king!’ When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He said to Saul, ‘Why do you listen when men say, “David is bent on harming you”? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord gave you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, “I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.” 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, “From evildoers come evil deeds,” so my hand will not touch you.
14 ‘Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? 15 May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.’
16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, ‘Is that your voice, David my son?’ And he wept aloud. 17 ‘You are more righteous than I,’ he said. ‘You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the Lord gave me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the Lord that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.’
22 So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

Prayer: Dear Father God, in this passage we clearly see why David was a man after Your own heart. He could have forced his way into becoming king by taking Saul’s life, however instead he placed his full trust in You. Help us Lord to live likewise by seeking the leading of the Holy Spirit. Teach us through Your Word to know what is right and then give us the discipline to live in obedience to your Word.

Help us Lord, to be people who keep our promises. Help us to trust You to sort out issues when we feel slighted and want to take revenge. Help us Lord to be strong when the easy way out is not in accordance with Your will. We need Your help each moment of our lives, to live in a way that is worthy of our calling.

Lord Jesus, You are the true anointed King who is fully deserving of our allegiance. You rule with truth and justice, and so we pray that we will be Your humble servants and faithful witnesses for the praise of Your glory. In Your name we pray. Amen.

10 August 2019

Deuteronomy 2

Then we turned back and set out towards the wilderness along the route to the Red Sea, as the Lord had directed me. For a long time we made our way around the hill country of Seir.
Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north. Give the people these orders: “You are about to pass through the territory of your relatives the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, but be very careful. Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on. I have given Esau the hill country of Seir as his own. You are to pay them in silver for the food you eat and the water you drink.”’
The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lordyour God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.
So we went on past our relatives the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. We turned from the Arabah road, which comes up from Elath and Ezion Geber, and travelled along the desert road of Moab.
Then the Lord said to me, ‘Do not harass the Moabites or provoke them to war, for I will not give you any part of their land. I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.’
10 (The Emites used to live there – a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites. 11 Like the Anakites, they too were considered Rephaites, but the Moabites called them Emites. 12 Horites used to live in Seir, but the descendants of Esau drove them out. They destroyed the Horites from before them and settled in their place, just as Israel did in the land the Lord gave them as their possession.)
13 And the Lord said, ‘Now get up and cross the Zered Valley.’ So we crossed the valley.
14 Thirty-eight years passed from the time we left Kadesh Barnea until we crossed the Zered Valley. By then, that entire generation of fighting men had perished from the camp, as the Lord had sworn to them. 15 The Lord’s hand was against them until he had completely eliminated them from the camp.
16 Now when the last of these fighting men among the people had died, 17 the Lordsaid to me, 18 ‘Today you are to pass by the region of Moab at Ar. 19 When you come to the Ammonites, do not harass them or provoke them to war, for I will not give you possession of any land belonging to the Ammonites. I have given it as a possession to the descendants of Lot.’
20 (That too was considered a land of the Rephaites, who used to live there; but the Ammonites called them Zamzummites. 21 They were a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites. The Lord destroyed them from before the Ammonites, who drove them out and settled in their place. 22 The Lord had done the same for the descendants of Esau, who lived in Seir, when he destroyed the Horites from before them. They drove them out and have lived in their place to this day. 23 And as for the Avvites who lived in villages as far as Gaza, the Caphtorites coming out from Caphtor destroyed them and settled in their place.)


Defeat of Sihon king of Heshbon
24 ‘Set out now and cross the Arnon Gorge. See, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his country. Begin to take possession of it and engage him in battle. 25 This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven. They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you.’
26 From the Desert of Kedemoth I sent messengers to Sihon king of Heshbon offering peace and saying, 27 ‘Let us pass through your country. We will stay on the main road; we will not turn aside to the right or to the left. 28 Sell us food to eat and water to drink for their price in silver. Only let us pass through on foot – 29 as the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir, and the Moabites, who live in Ar, did for us – until we cross the Jordan into the land the Lord our God is giving us.’ 30 But Sihon king of Heshbon refused to let us pass through. For the Lord your God had made his spirit stubborn and his heart obstinate in order to give him into your hands, as he has now done.
31 The Lord said to me, ‘See, I have begun to deliver Sihon and his country over to you. Now begin to conquer and possess his land.’
32 When Sihon and all his army came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz, 33 the Lordour God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army. 34 At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed them – men, women and children. We left no survivors. 35 But the livestock and the plunder from the towns we had captured we carried off for ourselves. 36 From Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge, and from the town in the gorge, even as far as Gilead, not one town was too strong for us. The Lord our God gave us all of them. 37 But in accordance with the command of the Lord our God, you did not encroach on any of the land of the Ammonites, neither the land along the course of the Jabbok nor that around the towns in the hills.

Prayer: Almighty God, grant that we, who justly deserve to be punished for our sinful deeds, may in Your mercy and kindness be pardoned and restored; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

9 August 2019

2 Corinthians 6

As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says,
‘In the time of my favour I heard you,
    and in the day of salvation I helped you.’
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.


Paul’s hardships
We put no stumbling-block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonour, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange – I speak as to my children – open wide your hearts also.


Warning against idolatry
14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
‘I will live with them
    and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.’
17 Therefore,
‘Come out from them
    and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
    and I will receive you.’[d
18 And,
‘I will be a Father to you,
    and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.’

‘do not be yoked with unbelievers’ (verse 14)

We live a very political correct City where we are expected to embrace others – no matter what their religious, social, and otherwise stance may be.

But is that entirely right for Christians?

Are we not expected to remain separate in this so-called connected world? Yes we are! But we are to be separated, and not isolated! Remember Jesus? He lived in this world and He lived a perfectly holy life. Yet at the same time, He was ‘a friend of…sinners’.

We must be intentional always, to know Christ and to make Him known where He is not known.

Many people in our neighbourhood, in our circle of friends, in our sphere of influence do not hold to what we believe from Scripture. Yet we are commanded to love them like we are loved by God, through Jesus. As we pray for opportunities to engage with them, we pray too for gentleness and respect as we give them the reason for the hope we have.

As someone said, ‘like a skilled physician, we are to practice contact without contamination in this world’.

We have to be here and we have to interact with the world around us – but even as we live here in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, we are to shine as lights in the world as we saw in our studies in Philippians recently.

Never must we be ashamed of the fact that TCC is out of step with this world! We must never be ashamed of what we are, what we believe and of the convictions we hold dear. Instead, we must strive to ensure that it remains that way until Jesus comes!

‘Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
    and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
   and they will be my people.”’ (verse 14-16)

Please God, that we do not even start to lower the standard, because when we do, we will soon be no different than churches all around that have forfeited the presence and the power of God so they might gain the popularity and praise of men!

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, in our world where the common buzzwords are of tolerance, of acceptance, of openness…and a society in which we live where the idea behind all of these terms is togetherness, or being connected on a human level. Where there is this push in our world to bring everyone together under the same umbrella, one world, one society, one church…please protect us from becoming like our world instead of being different. Remind us that You did not call us Your people, to be inclusive, but to be exclusive. You have called us be vastly different from the world around us! Please give grace to do that in a way that will not impede our witness to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Help us as a church to remain faithful as You are faithful. Amen.

8 August 2019

2 Corinthians 5

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.


The ministry of reconciliation
11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are ‘out of our mind,’ as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

‘we live by faith, not by sight’ (verse 7)

Prayer: Our Father in Heaven who teaches us to pray, please help us as we live by faith, to keep an eternal perspective on life and this world.

Help us to always live confidently as children of God.

Motivate us Lord, to make it our goal to please You in everything, and when we fail, please restore us quickly as we repent.

Remind us, by Your Spirit, to try always to persuade people – especially those we know and love but who don’t know and love You.

Help us, as we are compelled by Christ’s love to be committed to the message of reconciliation – to not give up in our prayerful proclamation to people.

Forgive us for sometimes being tempted to live for self, for commending ourselves instead of showing them Christ who died for us.

For His name’s sake we pray. Amen.

7 August 2019

1 Samuel 23

When David was told, ‘Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are looting the threshing-floors,’ he enquired of the Lord, saying, ‘Shall I go and attack these Philistines?’
The Lord answered him, ‘Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.’
But David’s men said to him, ‘Here in Judah we are afraid. How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!’
Once again David enquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered him, ‘Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand.’ So David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines and carried off their livestock. He inflicted heavy losses on the Philistines and saved the people of Keilah. (Now Abiathar son of Ahimelek had brought the ephod down with him when he fled to David at Keilah.)


Saul pursues David
Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah, and he said, ‘God has delivered him into my hands, for David has imprisoned himself by entering a town with gates and bars.’ And Saul called up all his forces for battle, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men.
When David learned that Saul was plotting against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, ‘Bring the ephod.’ 10 David said, ‘Lord, God of Israel, your servant has heard definitely that Saul plans to come to Keilah and destroy the town on account of me. 11 Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? Lord, God of Israel, tell your servant.’
And the Lord said, ‘He will.’
12 Again David asked, ‘Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?’
And the Lord said, ‘They will.’
13 So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and kept moving from place to place. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he did not go there.
14 David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.
15 While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life. 16 And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him to find strength in God. 17 ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You shall be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.’ 18 The two of them made a covenant before the Lord. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh.
19 The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, ‘Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon? 20 Now, Your Majesty, come down whenever it pleases you to do so, and we will be responsible for giving him into your hands.’
21 Saul replied, ‘The Lord bless you for your concern for me. 22 Go and get more information. Find out where David usually goes and who has seen him there. They tell me he is very crafty. 23 Find out about all the hiding-places he uses and come back to me with definite information. Then I will go with you; if he is in the area, I will track him down among all the clans of Judah.’
24 So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the Desert of Maon, in the Arabah south of Jeshimon. 25 Saul and his men began the search, and when David was told about it, he went down to the rock and stayed in the Desert of Maon. When Saul heard this, he went into the Desert of Maon in pursuit of David.
26 Saul was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side, hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his forces were closing in on David and his men to capture them, 27 a messenger came to Saul, saying, ‘Come quickly! The Philistines are raiding the land.’ 28 Then Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to meet the Philistines. That is why they call this place Sela Hammahlekoth.[b 29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi.

‘he inquired of the LORD’ (verse 2)

‘once again David inquired of the LORD’ (verse 4)

‘David said…O, LORD God of Israel, tell your servant’ (verse 11)

‘again David asked…’ (verse 12)

It is a great thing that as a local church we considered our prayer life last term – not just as a corporate body, but also as individual sons and daughters of God, our Father. What a wonderful thing it was to plead ‘Lord, teach us to pray’ and experience God answering us in no uncertain terms.

Prayer is speaking to God, acknowledging Him as God, giving due worship and praise to Him, asking Him for His blessing on us and others. Prayer is trusting God Almighty!

In today’s reading, this chapter shows us how David, a man after God’s own heart expressed his trust in the Lord. David shows us how we should not go ahead of God in any and everything. Instead, we ought to bring everything before Him – the One who rules and reigns sovereignly in our lives, in our world

Prayer: Dear Lord, forgive us for the times that we show unbelief by not inquiring of You first. Please help us to trust You in everything. We humbly pray this in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

6 August 2019

1 Samuel 18

After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.
Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.
When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lyres. As they danced, they sang:
‘Saul has slain his thousands,
    and David his tens of thousands.’
Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. ‘They have credited David with tens of thousands,’ he thought, ‘but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?’ And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.
10 The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11 and he hurled it, saying to himself, ‘I’ll pin David to the wall.’ But David eluded him twice.
12 Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul. 13 So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. 14 In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. 15 When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns.
17 Saul said to David, ‘Here is my elder daughter Merab. I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and fight the battles of the Lord.’ For Saul said to himself, ‘I will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!’
18 But David said to Saul, ‘Who am I, and what is my family or my clan in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law?’ 19 So when the time came for Merab, Saul’s daughter, to be given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah.
20 Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. 21 ‘I will give her to him,’ he thought, ‘so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.’ So Saul said to David, ‘Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law.’
22 Then Saul ordered his attendants: ‘Speak to David privately and say, “Look, the king likes you, and his attendants all love you; now become his son-in-law.”’
23 They repeated these words to David. But David said, ‘Do you think it is a small matter to become the king’s son-in-law? I’m only a poor man and little known.’
24 When Saul’s servants told him what David had said, 25 Saul replied, ‘Say to David, “The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Philistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.”’ Saul’s plan was for David to fall by the hands of the Philistines.
26 When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king’s son-in-law. So before the allotted time elapsed, 27 David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.
28 When Saul realised that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, 29 Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy for the rest of his days.
30 The Philistine commanders continued to go out to battle, and as often as they did, David met with more success than the rest of Saul’s officers, and his name became well known.

‘in everything he did he had great success, because the LORD was with him’ (verse 14)

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we are so aware that just as David faced the terrible human emotion of jealousy from Saul expressed in Saul’s anger, we too may be the recipients of others’ jealousy or we may be jealous of others. Please protect us from that – help us to respond to others’ jealousy with love. Please Father, rid us of any jealous, envious attitudes towards other people. Help us to see Christ afresh and help us to have a similar attitude. Please Lord, protect us from the real enemy, the devil who is bent on sowing discord. And help us Lord God, to remember You promise that You are with us always. Amen.

5 August 2019

1 Samuel 17

Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.
A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armour of bronze weighing five thousand shekels;on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield-bearer went ahead of him.
Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, ‘Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.’ 10 Then the Philistine said, ‘This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.’ 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.
12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13 Jesse’s three eldest sons had followed Saul to the war: the firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three eldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.
16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.
17 Now Jesse said to his son David, ‘Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. 19 They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.’
20 Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.
25 Now the Israelites had been saying, ‘Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.’
26 David asked the men standing near him, ‘What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?’
27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, ‘This is what will be done for the man who kills him.’
28 When Eliab, David’s eldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, ‘Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.’
29 ‘Now what have I done?’ said David. ‘Can’t I even speak?’ 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.
32 David said to Saul, ‘Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.’
33 Saul replied, ‘You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.’
34 But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.’
Saul said to David, ‘Go, and the Lord be with you.’
38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armour on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
‘I cannot go in these,’ he said to Saul, ‘because I am not used to them.’ So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield-bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 ‘Come here,’ he said, ‘and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!’
45 David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.’
48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly towards the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.
51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.
When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. 53 When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.
54 David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.
55 As Saul watched David going out to meet the Philistine, he said to Abner, commander of the army, ‘Abner, whose son is that young man?’
Abner replied, ‘As surely as you live, Your Majesty, I don’t know.’
56 The king said, ‘Find out whose son this young man is.’
57 As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head.
58 ‘Whose son are you, young man?’ Saul asked him.
David said, ‘I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.’


‘you come to me with sword, and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD God Almighty…’ (verse 45)

This is a very familiar story in the Bible – the account of David facing the giant Goliath in battle – the outcome of which would either make God’s people subject to the Philistines, or the Philistines servants of the Israelites. So, much was at stake (verse 9).

From man’s point of view, the choice of David regarded as ‘only a boy’ (verse 33) and to take on this giant was not a good choice at all.

But, David’s confidence in God – he remembered past victories (verse 34-37): ‘the LORD who delivered me (in the past)…will deliver me (again)’ – made Saul agree to the request that David should go and fight Goliath.

We know the end of the story – David, the shepherd boy, armed with only a few stones and a staff triumphed over Goliath. And he did so only by the power of God Almighty.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, thank You for this account of a boy fighting and triumphing over a giant. Thank You that it shows us so much about You and Your greatness. Please help us not to look for victory and success as the world does. Remind us Lord, that we can confidently face this life and this world with all its problems ‘in the name of the LORD God Almighty’. Please give us the confidence to trust You not only when things are going well, but especially when we are overwhelmed by life. Amen.

3 August 2019

Deuteronomy 1

These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the wilderness east of the Jordan – that is, in the Arabah – opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab. (It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road.)
In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all that the Lord had commanded him concerning them. This was after he had defeated Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, and at Edrei had defeated Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth.
East of the Jordan in the territory of Moab, Moses began to expound this law, saying:
The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighbouring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the Lord swore he would give to your fathers – to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – and to their descendants after them.’


The appointment of leaders
At that time I said to you, ‘You are too heavy a burden for me to carry alone. 10 The Lord your God has increased your numbers so that today you are as numerous as the stars in the sky. 11 May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised! 12 But how can I bear your problems and your burdens and your disputes all by myself? 13 Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.’
14 You answered me, ‘What you propose to do is good.’
15 So I took the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men, and appointed them to have authority over you – as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials. 16 And I charged your judges at that time, ‘Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you. 17 Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.’ 18 And at that time I told you everything you were to do.


Spies sent out
19 Then, as the Lord our God commanded us, we set out from Horeb and went towards the hill country of the Amorites through all that vast and dreadful wilderness that you have seen, and so we reached Kadesh Barnea. 20 Then I said to you, ‘You have reached the hill country of the Amorites, which the Lord our God is giving us. 21 See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.’
22 Then all of you came to me and said, ‘Let us send men ahead to spy out the land for us and bring back a report about the route we are to take and the towns we will come to.’
23 The idea seemed good to me; so I selected twelve of you, one man from each tribe. 24 They left and went up into the hill country, and came to the Valley of Eshkol and explored it. 25 Taking with them some of the fruit of the land, they brought it down to us and reported, ‘It is a good land that the Lord our God is giving us.’


Rebellion against the Lord
26 But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the Lordyour God. 27 You grumbled in your tents and said, ‘The Lord hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. 28 Where can we go? Our brothers have made our hearts melt in fear. They say, “The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.”’
29 Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. 30 The Lordyour God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, 31 and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.’
32 In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, 33 who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.
34 When the Lord heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore: 35 ‘No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, 36 except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.’
37 Because of you the Lord became angry with me also and said, ‘You shall not enter it, either. 38 But your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will enter it. Encourage him, because he will lead Israel to inherit it. 39 And the little ones that you said would be taken captive, your children who do not yet know good from bad – they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it. 40 But as for you, turn round and set out towards the desert along the route to the Red Sea.’[a
41 Then you replied, ‘We have sinned against the Lord. We will go up and fight, as the Lord our God commanded us.’ So every one of you put on his weapons, thinking it easy to go up into the hill country.
42 But the Lord said to me, ‘Tell them, “Do not go up and fight, because I will not be with you. You will be defeated by your enemies.”’
43 So I told you, but you would not listen. You rebelled against the Lord’s command and in your arrogance you marched up into the hill country. 44 The Amorites who lived in those hills came out against you; they chased you like a swarm of bees and beat you down from Seir all the way to Hormah. 45 You came back and wept before the Lord, but he paid no attention to your weeping and turned a deaf ear to you. 46 And so you stayed in Kadesh many days – all the time you spent there.

Prayer: Almighty God, whose never failing power governs all things in heaven and earth: we humbly ask You to put away from us all things hurtful, and to give us those things that are good for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

2 August 2019

2 Corinthians 4

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13 It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of[c faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, it’s Your gospel alone that saves. It’s Your Son alone, Christ crucified and resurrected, that is the means of rescue. It’s to Your glory that You have done all this. Please Father, give us the grace to speak the truth with boldness. May You give us strength in these bodies of clay to courageously declare the gospel. In our weakness be strong, in our frailty be glorified. Even though ‘we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed’, we know that in eternity You will be glorified. We pray all this so that many would come to glory and glory in You alone. Amen.

1 August 2019

2 Corinthians 3

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, You have removed the veil that once blinded us to Your beauty and glory. And now with eyes to see, we behold You – but not in full. Reveal Yourself to us more and more, so that as we gaze upon Your glory, we will be changed and transformed to be vessels of Your glory. Give us obedient hearts and a willingness to lay down our lives for You. Challenge us in our complacency for a lost world and our lack of courage to reach them. Lord, may Your Spirit move us to speak of Your glory through Christ Jesus, so that many would come to a knowledge of You. In Christ’s Name. Amen.

31 July 2019

1 Samuel 16

The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.’
But Samuel said, ‘How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.’
The Lord said, ‘Take a heifer with you and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.” Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.’
Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, ‘Do you come in peace?’
Samuel replied, ‘Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.’ Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.’
But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’
Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, ‘The Lord has not chosen this one either.’ Jesse then made Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, ‘Nor has the Lord chosen this one.’ 10 Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, ‘The Lord has not chosen these.’ 11 So he asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’
‘There is still the youngest,’ Jesse answered. ‘He is tending the sheep.’
Samuel said, ‘Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.’
12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; this is the one.’
13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.
David in Saul’s service
14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil[a] spirit from the Lord tormented him.
15 Saul’s attendants said to him, ‘See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.’
17 So Saul said to his attendants, ‘Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.’
18 One of the servants answered, ‘I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.’
19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, ‘Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.’ 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.
21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armour-bearers. 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, ‘Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.’
23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

1 Samuel 16:7. Samuel’s first inclination was to think that the most impressive son of Jesse, being tall and handsome, should be king. How wrong he was! The youngest and least impressive, being a shepherd, was God’s choice. As the youngest son and a mere shepherd his status was insignificant. Yet, as we learn in the next chapter, God had been preparing him. The heart mattered most to God, not what impressed man.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for our King Jesus, whose heart is devoted to You and You alone. Whose desire is Your glory alone and who never stops glorifying You. Give us a deep conviction of His kingship, His Lordship, and worthiness to receive our loyalty and devotion.

Give us eyes to see Your chosen king. In His humility, love and sacrifice. Help us not to be lured by the world’s view of a leader, not ashamed of Your view of a king and not moved from following Your king whole-heartedly.

May we, by Your Holy Spirit, reflect our Saviour’s devotion and loyalty to Your glory. May we cast off all sin that brings dishonour to Your name, put on righteousness, and live a life that brings You glory. Amen.

30 July 2019

1 Samuel 15

Samuel said to Saul, ‘I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. This is what the LordAlmighty says: “I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”’
So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim – two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand from Judah. Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine. Then he said to the Kenites, ‘Go away, leave the Amalekites so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.’ So the Kenites moved away from the Amalekites.
Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs – everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 ‘I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.’ Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.
12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, ‘Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honour and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.’
13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, ‘The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.’
14 But Samuel said, ‘What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?’
15 Saul answered, ‘The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.’
16 ‘Enough!’ Samuel said to Saul. ‘Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.’
‘Tell me,’ Saul replied.
17 Samuel said, ‘Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, “Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.” 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?’
20 ‘But I did obey the Lord,’ Saul said. ‘I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.’
22 But Samuel replied:
‘Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
    and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
    he has rejected you as king.’
24 Then Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.’
26 But Samuel said to him, ‘I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!’
27 As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 Samuel said to him, ‘The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbours – to one better than you. 29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.’
30 Saul replied, ‘I have sinned. But please honour me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.’ 31 So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshipped the Lord.
32 Then Samuel said, ‘Bring me Agag king of the Amalekites.’
Agag came to him in chains. And he thought, ‘Surely the bitterness of death is past.’
33 But Samuel said,
‘As your sword has made women childless,
    so will your mother be childless among women.’
And Samuel put Agag to death before the Lord at Gilgal.
34 Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.

1 Samuel 10: 10-11. When we ask God for something we had better be ready to receive what we ask for!

Israel asked for a king, like the nations (1 Samuel 8:5). And they received a king, like the nations, who did not listen to God’s word and who worshiped himself. Israel’s first king turned out to be just like all worldly kings, but that’s what they asked for. He rejected God’s clear and decisive word to destroy the Amalekites. (As an aside: our modern sensitivities abhor a God who calls for destruction of a nation. But if you trace the history of this nation you will find a king and nation who is brutal, oppressive and whose track record is off wiping out nations, men, women, children and animals.) God only exacted on them the punishment they deserve. In fact they are an example of why Israel were foolish to ask for a king ‘like the nations.’ Saul rejects God’s word of justice.

Saul also worships himself, rather than God. 1 Samuel 15:12 ‘Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honour and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.’ The tragedy of Israel’s first king is that he set himself up as the true king and leader of God’s people. Instead of giving glory to God, he glorified in himself.

Thankfully, a king came (from God) who would never reject or disobey the word of God. Who would only live for His Fathers glory and will. The Son, who deserved glory, deferred His glory to God the Father.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your Son Jesus who is our true and faithful king. Thank You for His example and humility in obeying and upholding Your word. Thank You that he lived for Your glory and not His own. Help us to do the same, change us, move us, do not let us settle until we do so.

God, thank You that You are our king and we don’t have to search for another. Forgive us when we are enticed to give our allegiance to another, correct us when we do and draw our hearts to You alone as King. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

29 July 2019

1 Samuel 10

Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, ‘Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance? When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, “The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, ‘What shall I do about my son?’”
‘Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to worship God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them.
‘After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines, pipes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.
‘Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.’
Saul made king
As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When he and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he joined in their prophesying. 11 When all those who had formerly known him saw him prophesying with the prophets, they asked each other, ‘What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?’
12 A man who lived there answered, ‘And who is their father?’ So it became a saying: ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’ 13 After Saul stopped prophesying, he went to the high place.
14 Now Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant, ‘Where have you been?’
‘Looking for the donkeys,’ he said. ‘But when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.’
15 Saul’s uncle said, ‘Tell me what Samuel said to you.’
16 Saul replied, ‘He assured us that the donkeys had been found.’ But he did not tell his uncle what Samuel had said about the kingship.
17 Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the Lord at Mizpah 18 and said to them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.” 19 But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your disasters and calamities. And you have said, “No, appoint a king over us.” So now present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and clans.’
20 When Samuel had made all Israel come forward by tribes, the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21 Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was taken. Finally Saul son of Kish was taken. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. 22 So they enquired further of the Lord, ‘Has the man come here yet?’
And the Lord said, ‘Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.’
23 They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. 24 Samuel said to all the people, ‘Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.’
Then the people shouted, ‘Long live the king!’
25 Samuel explained to the people the rights and duties of kingship. He wrote them down on a scroll and deposited it before the Lord. Then Samuel dismissed the people to go to their own homes.
26 Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some scoundrels said, ‘How can this fellow save us?’ They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.

Prayer (1 Samuel 10:17-19): Lord, you have taught us to pray ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.’ Yet we have our hearts set on this life and our glory and we desire for earthly kings to rule us and change our lives. Please forgive us? Forgive us for choosing men to rule us rather than you, the true King.

Father, move our hearts by Your Spirit to trust in You alone daily and persistently. Let our hearts not be enticed by leaders of this world to put our trust in them, or in new technological inventions or strength of political will. Lord, give us a deep conviction of Your word over the word of the world. Change us, transform us and lead us as we drink of Your life-giving word. Spirit, help us choose Jesus daily, not giving into temptation, but pursuing righteousness and Your glory.

Lord, today help me to trust You alone as King! I’m thankful that you hear my prayer, through Christ Jesus, who lives and intercedes for us. Amen.

27 July 2019

Deuteronomy 2

Then we turned back and set out towards the wilderness along the route to the Red Sea, as the Lord had directed me. For a long time we made our way around the hill country of Seir.
Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north. Give the people these orders: “You are about to pass through the territory of your relatives the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, but be very careful. Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on. I have given Esau the hill country of Seir as his own. You are to pay them in silver for the food you eat and the water you drink.”’
The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.
So we went on past our relatives the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. We turned from the Arabah road, which comes up from Elath and Ezion Geber, and travelled along the desert road of Moab.
Then the Lord said to me, ‘Do not harass the Moabites or provoke them to war, for I will not give you any part of their land. I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.’
10 (The Emites used to live there – a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites. 11 Like the Anakites, they too were considered Rephaites, but the Moabites called them Emites. 12 Horites used to live in Seir, but the descendants of Esau drove them out. They destroyed the Horites from before them and settled in their place, just as Israel did in the land the Lord gave them as their possession.)
13 And the Lord said, ‘Now get up and cross the Zered Valley.’ So we crossed the valley.
14 Thirty-eight years passed from the time we left Kadesh Barnea until we crossed the Zered Valley. By then, that entire generation of fighting men had perished from the camp, as the Lord had sworn to them. 15 The Lord’s hand was against them until he had completely eliminated them from the camp.
16 Now when the last of these fighting men among the people had died, 17 the Lord said to me, 18 ‘Today you are to pass by the region of Moab at Ar. 19 When you come to the Ammonites, do not harass them or provoke them to war, for I will not give you possession of any land belonging to the Ammonites. I have given it as a possession to the descendants of Lot.’
20 (That too was considered a land of the Rephaites, who used to live there; but the Ammonites called them Zamzummites. 21 They were a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites. The Lord destroyed them from before the Ammonites, who drove them out and settled in their place. 22 The Lord had done the same for the descendants of Esau, who lived in Seir, when he destroyed the Horites from before them. They drove them out and have lived in their place to this day. 23 And as for the Avvites who lived in villages as far as Gaza, the Caphtorites coming out from Caphtor destroyed them and settled in their place.)


Defeat of Sihon king of Heshbon
24 ‘Set out now and cross the Arnon Gorge. See, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his country. Begin to take possession of it and engage him in battle. 25 This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven. They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you.’
26 From the Desert of Kedemoth I sent messengers to Sihon king of Heshbon offering peace and saying, 27 ‘Let us pass through your country. We will stay on the main road; we will not turn aside to the right or to the left. 28 Sell us food to eat and water to drink for their price in silver. Only let us pass through on foot – 29 as the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir, and the Moabites, who live in Ar, did for us – until we cross the Jordan into the land the Lord our God is giving us.’ 30 But Sihon king of Heshbon refused to let us pass through. For the Lord your God had made his spirit stubborn and his heart obstinate in order to give him into your hands, as he has now done.
31 The Lord said to me, ‘See, I have begun to deliver Sihon and his country over to you. Now begin to conquer and possess his land.’
32 When Sihon and all his army came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz, 33 the Lordour God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army. 34 At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed them – men, women and children. We left no survivors. 35 But the livestock and the plunder from the towns we had captured we carried off for ourselves. 36 From Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge, and from the town in the gorge, even as far as Gilead, not one town was too strong for us. The Lord our God gave us all of them. 37 But in accordance with the command of the Lord our God, you did not encroach on any of the land of the Ammonites, neither the land along the course of the Jabbok nor that around the towns in the hills.

Prayer: God our father, You have prepared for those who love You such good things as pass man’s understanding: pour into our hearts such love towards You, that we, loving ou above all things, may obtain Your promises which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.