Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Man shall not live by bread alone

We Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. – Matthew 4.1-4

Pretty early on in Jesus’ ministry He went into the desert to fast and pray. That alone sets down an example that is worth our consideration, but I am going to move on a bit today.

After 40 days Satan was permitted to come and test Jesus. Satan took Jesus up on a mountain and said ‘if you are the Son of God speak to these stones and turn them into bread.

Jesus’ response sets a pattern for the other tests to come and a pattern for how we should deal with our own tests. Jesus said ‘man doesn’t live by his physical needs only.’

Everything in our lives is a battle between the flesh and the spirit. They war against each other. Our desire for ‘bread’ and anything else physical is constantly screaming out to us.

Jesus refuted Satan’s temptation by pointing out that there is more to life than just bread. There is the word of God that truly gives life. We ought to desire the word of God more than any physical desire. As long as physical things control us we will never obey the word of God. If we seek God and His righteousness, on the other hand, everything other need will be met. 

Monday, 22 January 2018

Of the Holy Spirit

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.  – Matthew 1.20-21

Imagine what it must have been like to be Joseph. Everything was going well. We had a lovely young betrothed wife. He had a decent job. Everything was falling into place for a good life.

Then, out of nowhere an angel appears. Okay, that’s a bit unusual, but then the angel speaks: ‘Don’t be afraid. Your betrothed wife is indeed going to have a baby. But this is the work of the Holy Spirit.’

This was a big ask. Trust that Mary’s pregnancy is the work of the Holy Spirit and obey me by taking her as your wife and treating the baby and your son. Call Him Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.

But Joseph did it. That challenges my own heart. How many times does God ask us to trust the work of the Holy Spirit is situations that make no sense to us? I don’t know about anyone else, but that is a common occurrence. It doesn’t appear that Joseph balked – he just did it.

When God asks us to do the impossible or trust Him in impossible situations or be faithful is situations that seem to be difficult are we willing to trust what He says and obey Him? Or do we rely on our own logic and reasoning and insist on our way.

Lord, I need Joseph’s faith. Help me to remember that God is at work in my life just as He was in Joseph’s. Help me to trust and obey. 

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Healing in His wings

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. – Malachi 4.2-4

One of the last prophecies in the Old Testament is that the Sun of Righteousness would rise with ‘healing in His wings.’ It goes on the say that He will ‘tread down the wicked’ in His time.

It is the idea of healing, of course, that blesses me. This is so special because the residents of a broken world certainly need healing.  Sin’s curse has infected the world with the most terrible plague possible. It is has a 100% infection rate and it is 100% fatal. Man has no cure. The Law always fell short of curing sin.

But Messiah will come with healing in His wings. He has the only cure for sin. God loved the world so much that He gave the world is only Son that whoever believes will not perish from the curse of sin but have eternal life. It is by His stripes on the cross that He can bring healing.

Four hundred silent years are coming for Israel, but healing is on its way. 

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Spoke often to each other

Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. – Malachi 3.16-18

I love this. Here in Malachi there is a general indictment of the nation for their lethargy and lackadaisical spirit. Hey have forgotten about the reality of God in their lives. The end of prophecy was on the horizon.

And yet, here in all this, there were some who still feared the Lord. These who still feared the Lord spoke often to each other and thought about God and remembered Him and God wrote down their names in a ‘book of remembrance.’ God said ‘these people are mine. I will spare them, and when Messiah comes He will discern between them and those who do not follow God.

I need this right now. I need to remember that no matter what we are facing or how bad it gets or how many unfaithful there are that there still remains a small remnant. It is vital that those of us who strive to stay true speak often to each other to encourage and build each other up.

Wow. I don’t know if God still keeps a ‘book of remembrance’ for those who keep fearing God or not, but I do know that He still knows our hearts and we can be assured that we are His no matter what is going on on the outside.

Let’s be sure that we keep thinking on God and His goodness and who He is and  speaking often to each other as all around us seems to crumble. 

Friday, 19 January 2018

Why bother?

Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts? – Malachi 3.14

Why bother serving God? It’s done nothing for me. Why have I deprived myself for Him? I need to live the way I want to live. So why bother?

Apparently this attitude is not modern. It goes way back. In the flesh it can seem almost logical. I try to do right and live for God and love and care for others. I skip the parties and the drunkenness and worldly pursuits to chase God instead and what good does it do. I might as well just eat, drink, and be merry.

It’s one of those many things that happens when we focus on the flesh and not the spirit, on the seen and not the unseen, and on the temporal and not the eternal. If all we looked at is what we can see most of us are going to get discouraged. We could even be tempted just to give up.

That’s why need to always look beyond the obvious. God is working for eternity. We can’t always see it. We need the faith to know that it is not vain to serve Him. It is not profitless to live for Him.

Just keep our eyes in eternity. 

Thursday, 18 January 2018

I change not

For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. – Malachi 3.6

While Malachi has a lot of statements about the state of the people, it has several wonderful things to say about God. I think one of the greatest blessing of the attributes of God is His immutability – His unchangeableness – the fact that He does not change.

Why is this such a big deal? It means the God I serve today is the exact same God who said ‘let there be light’ and then there was light. He is the same God who parted the Red Sea. He is the same God who fed 5000 from a boy’s lunch. He is the same God who healed the sick and made the lame whole and raised the dead. He is the same God who has provided for and cared to me all my life. He is the same God who has carried me through every trial of life. He is the Lord. He does not change. Jesus is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

Since that is the case how can I fear the present or the future? Is He all of a sudden going to fail me?

No, He is the Lord. He will not change. I can trust Him to care for me today and in the future just like He has cared for me all along. 

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Wearying God

Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment? – Malachi 2.17

‘God is tired of your words.’ That’s what Malachi said to the people. ‘Why is He tired of our words?’ ‘Because you have swallowed the line that evil and good don’t make any difference to God.’

The faith of Judah had collapsed. They no longer really believed God. Their religion acted like you could just do whatever you want and God would do nothing about.

These people we taking advantage of God and His patience. God is being slow to anger – and everything thinks that it means He is not going to judge. When that happens we can lose the motivation to do right.

The issue, like so often is motivation. If I am only doing good because I don’t want God to ‘get me’ than I am doing it all wrong. My motivation to do right ought to be because of who He is and because it is right.

I hope we don’t serve God just because there is evil out there that we don’t see Him dealing with. God is working and He will work. I need to trust Him enough to believe that and keep on serving and stop wearying Him with our behaviour.