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

Uncategorized

26 December

John 15:1-17

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Prayer: Almighty God, You have given us Your only Son to take our nature upon Him and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin: grant that we, being born again and made Your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by Your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Chris, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

31 March 2020

Proverbs 6

20 My son, keep your father’s command
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
21 Bind them always on your heart;
    fasten them round your neck.
22 When you walk, they will guide you;
    when you sleep, they will watch over you;
    when you awake, they will speak to you.
23 For this command is a lamp,
    this teaching is a light,
and correction and instruction
    are the way to life,
24 keeping you from your neighbour’s wife,
    from the smooth talk of a wayward woman.

Listen, keep, and remember the lessons of your parents. They will guide you and protect you throughout your life. If you keep them, they will protect you from the most pervasive of temptations in our society – that of sexual sin. Of course, the premise here is that the teachings of your parents are instruction in the commandments of God. Parents are to teach what those commandments are; they are to teach the reasons for following the commandments and the wisdom of these laws. They are to model obedience. They are to teach from their own experience the blessings of obeying the commands and the pain of disobeying them. Parents are to discipline and reprove their children upon disobedience, and they are to encourage and praise their children when they obey.

The result is that as the children mature, they recognize the wisdom of their parents’ teaching and will obey out of that trust. They also are taught how to discern and use discretion; thus, they gain the ability to spot sin and avoid it. They learn from their parents not merely to obey the law, but to love God’s commands, so that they do not think they are choosing between pleasure and obedience. They know the greater pleasure lies in obedience.

Parents, are you teaching your children commands and teachings that are worthy of binding them on your children’s hearts and around their necks? Are your teachings a lamp leading along the way of life? The “evil woman” will be using all her wiles to lead them astray. What are you giving them now to preserve them?

Give them the righteous commands of the law. But give them the Gospel day after day after day. The law alone will only set up their fall. It is the Gospel that will be the shining lamp leading them through life’s perils. Show them Christ and how to keep their eyes upon him.

Exodus 32-33

32 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered round Aaron and said, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’

Aaron answered them, ‘Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.’ So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, ‘Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.’ So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterwards they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

‘I have seen these people,’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.’

11 But Moses sought the favour of the Lord his God. ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, “It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth”? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: “I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance for ever.”’ 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

15 Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. 16 The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.

17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, ‘There is the sound of war in the camp.’

18 Moses replied:

‘It is not the sound of victory,
    it is not the sound of defeat;
    it is the sound of singing that I hear.’

19 When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20 And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.

21 He said to Aaron, ‘What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?’

22 ‘Do not be angry, my lord,’ Aaron answered. ‘You know how prone these people are to evil. 23 They said to me, “Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” 24 So I told them, “Whoever has any gold jewellery, take it off.” Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!’

25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughing-stock to their enemies. 26 So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, ‘Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.’ And all the Levites rallied to him.

27 Then he said to them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbour.”’ 28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. 29 Then Moses said, ‘You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.’

30 The next day Moses said to the people, ‘You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.’

31 So Moses went back to the Lord and said, ‘Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, please forgive their sin – but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.’

33 The Lord replied to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. 34 Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.’

35 And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.

 

33 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, “I will give it to your descendants.” I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.’

When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments. For the Lord had said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites, “You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.”’ So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.

 

The tent of meeting

Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the ‘tent of meeting’. Anyone enquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. 10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshipped, each at the entrance to their tent. 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young assistant Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

 

Moses and the glory of the Lord

12 Moses said to the Lord, ‘You have been telling me, “Lead these people,” but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, “I know you by name and you have found favour with me.” 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favour with you. Remember that this nation is your people.’

14 The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’

15 Then Moses said to him, ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?’

17 And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.’

18 Then Moses said, ‘Now show me your glory.’

19 And the Lord said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.’

21 Then the Lord said, ‘There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.’

24 January 2020

Proverbs 1:8-9

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction

    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

They are a garland to grace your head

    and a chain to adorn your neck.

Teach Your Children Well

This is a good lesson for parents and children. First to children: what you may regard as chains around your neck, burdening and holding you down are really garlands and pendants to adorn you. Their instructions and rules are for your protection and your growing in maturity and wisdom – and wisdom is the finest of jewels. Their teachings which may appear to be outdated are based on principles that have stood the test of time, and much of what they have to teach they have learned from experience. Understand further that they have been entrusted by God with raising you according to his ways. It is a great responsibility and all the more reason then for you to listen to them regardless of how well you think they follow their own rules. You will be held accountable by God for how well you listened and obeyed godly instruction, regardless of your parents’ ability to obey. You will be accountable for your own behavior.

Then to parents: see the great responsibility laid upon you. Are you indeed giving instruction that is graceful and valuable? Are you teaching the ways of the Lord? Are you teaching what it is to be just, to be godly, to be merciful? Or do you lay heavy burdens on the necks of your children that you yourself would not bear? And are you living before your children the very principles that you teach them to observe? You must teach your children; you must give instruction. You cannot evade that responsibility. All the more then, study the Word of God, seek after wisdom, and follow what you teach.

And always point your children to the Word – Jesus Christ. Do not let them think that life is about following the right rules. Teach them the salvation found only in our Lord, and teach them to live by his grace and mercy.

 

Esther 9-10

On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.

The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.

11 The number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. 12 The king said to Queen Esther, “The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.”

13 “If it pleases the king,” Esther answered, “give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be impaled on poles.”

14 So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they impaled the ten sons of Haman. 15 The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder.16 Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder. 17 This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.

18 The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.

19 That is why rural Jews—those living in villages—observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.

Purim Established

20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

23 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. 25 But when the plot came to the king’s attention,[a] he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be impaled on poles. 26 (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, 27 the Jews took it on themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. 28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.

29 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. 30 And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom—words of goodwill and assurance— 31 to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation. 32 Esther’s decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records.

The Greatness of Mordecai

10 King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.

15 May 2018

Romans 4
Psalm 50

Romans 4. We live in a society that is big on earning what we have.

If we don’t work, we can’t expect to earn or eat. We feel pity on those who are begging at the traffic lights – some may even despise them a little bit, thinking to ourselves: “Why don’t they go find some work to do so that they can earn their daily bread”. We take comfort in the principle: “The man who does not work, does not eat”. You must earn what you get!

In the same way, we so often, even though we know better, think that we can earn God’s favour by doing the right things and by keeping his commands. We think we can earn our own right standing before God – a righteousness of our own.

But here in Romans we find that God is the giver of righteousness. Righteousness is not something that we earn. It is given as a free gift. Romans 4:4-5 makes this plain. We saw this yesterday as we looked at Romans 3. Now here in Romans 4 Paul is underlining the same truth: Righteousness is a free gift from God.

However, there is something that we must do in order to receive this gift. Now that is a confusing idea! I must do something to receive a gift? Then it can’t be a gift!

Just hold on to your horses! What we are required to do is not quite a deed, but more an attitude – more specifically a trust. We have to trust that the Giver of this gift is able and willing to impart it to us. This is what verse 5 means when it says “to the one who…trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.”

Abraham’s faith as described in Romans 4:18-21, “Against all hope, Abraham believed … being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised.” We need to have a faith like this. Do you believe that God is able to give you the gift of righteousness?

Verses 7-8 allude to how this gift becomes ours: “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven”. This causes my heart to leap with joy as I know that my sins are forgiven because Christ Jesus was crucified in my place and my “sins are covered”!

“Blessed [indeed!] is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them”! Did you notice that? Never! If you believe God gives this righteousness and forgives sins through Jesus Christ, your sins will NEVER be counted against you!

Oh, how wonderful it is that we can be credited with righteousness from God! Fellow believer, rejoice today because God has given you righteousness – a righteousness you have not earned nor that you deserve. But it IS yours, because you trust that God is able and willing to give it to you.

Let me encourage you today to rest and rejoice in God’s great and generous gift of righteousness.

Our right response in gratitude to God is one of worship (praising and exalting God for His undeserved goodness to us), witnessing (telling others how they too may receive this infinitely generous gift), and working (doing our best to do what pleases and honours God – love Him with all our heart soul and mind, and love our neighbour as ourselves).