28th Feb – 1st March
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there.”
The cross forever stands as a reminder of the pain and suffering that our Lord Jesus went through when He took humanities sin on His shoulders and took our punishment for us. However, when looking at the cross, we should only see our place in God’s eyes. FORGIVEN!
If we are forgiven (continually forgiven) then our lifestyles should reflect the inward change and the regenerative work of salvation. So often we can slip up and go back to old habits, old lifestyles and even begin to think as you did before Christ lived in you. However, Paul’s encouragement for us today, is to nail our old habits, passions and desires to the cross. We no longer have to be slaves to sin. What Jesus did on the cross was eternal, for everyone and can never run out.
We can start again today. Grace, hope and love are no restricted to a once in a lifetime decision. You can have as much of Jesus’ grace, hope and love, as you want all the time. If we confess our sins (nailing them to the cross) then He will forgive us. It’s a promise. Today if you have wondered from God’s best for you, nail your sins to the cross, and have faith they are crucified with Christ and that because of His love for you, YOU ARE FORGIVEN…HOW AMAZING IS THAT!!
Go and Sin no more!!
“The Name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to Him and are safe. The rich think of their wealth as a strong defence; they imagine it to be a high wall of safety.”
Whether you have a lot or a little, we all have one thing in common; it is all temporary. That is not an excuse to say that we should not be good stewards of what God has given us on this earth. What it is saying, is that our possession and wealth, whether a lot or a little, should not be our security.
So often we can hide behind our ‘stuff’, become over comfortable and use our world possessions as a ‘High wall of safety’. Yet there is nothing more impenetrable or secure that being in the presence of an Almighty God.
God has so many Names. Each one has a defining characteristic and attribute. Yet the writer of Proverbs knew that in the Name of the Lord, was something that he could not find in all his wealth and splendour: safety and security.
The amazing thing, is that now we have received the fullness of the Name that is above all Names, the Name of Jesus Christ. It is at His Name that every knee will bow, demons flee, the sick are healed and the dead raised. In the Name of Jesus we are guaranteed security and safety because of the fact that He overcame of all temptation, all sin, every power of hell and even hell itself, rising triumphantly on the third day proving that even death could not hold Him down. There is only victory in Name of Jesus.
We can take even greater joy in knowing that the fortress of the Lord, is not some physical building, or man made pinnacle. The Lord lives in us. That means we can access His presence all the time. Rejoice today, knowing that the Name above all Names, live in us.
“I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath.”
God talks to us in many ways, through His Word in written form (the Bible), through His voice, through creation, through prophetic words, and through dreams and visions. These are to name just a few. However our primary source of communicating with God is through prayer. God sent Jesus for that very reason. He wanted to have an intimate and personal relationship with each of His creations. Yet so often we can feel as if we are talking into thin air when we pray or feel discouraged that we might not hear an answer.
The truth is, is that God always hears what we have say. His ears are always attentive to our voice. In fact He loves listening to us. What father when his child speaks would choose to ignore him? What husband when his wife shares her heart would turn away? Our walk with Christ is so relational. He wants to have a loving and fruitful relationship with us. David rightly says in today’s Psalm, that God “hears my voice and my prayer for mercy”. God hears our voice: Period. Furthermore, He even hears our groans and pleas for mercy. Even when we have no hope, or even no words to say, the Spirit intercedes for us and He even prays with us with “groans that cannot be expressed in words” (Romans 8:26).
Yet the highlight or crescendo or today’s verse is found in verse 2, “He bends down to listen”. This is the God we serve. Not a far away god that is not interested in what we have to say. Not a god where we have to earn his attention. We serve a God who bends down to listen to our prayers. This pictorial depiction of God’s loving nature is so deep and intimate. God wants to hear our voice. Do you want to hear His?
“The Lord Himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as a protective shade.”
It’s often said that everyone has been assigned a guardian angel to look after them. Some have even seen their ‘angel’. However, what is exciting about today’s passage is the Psalmists conclusion that God Himself is there to be our guardian. The great thing is that it’s His choice to watch over and protect His own children.
The description of God as our protective shade is so humbling. So often we walk into places that have the potential to burn us or scald us. Yet God is there as our refuge. When we stand under His protection all fear is cast away, anxiety is gone, insecurities are silenced and we are overcome with all encompassing peace and safety.
However there is more. God’s shade and protection isn’t like a big cloud covering the sun, protecting us from harmful rays. It is so much closer. The Psalmist writes that God is right there beside us. He is closer than our very skin.
Whatever you are faced with today, know this: That God is on YOUR side. He is standing next to you, fighting for you, protecting you and shading you from harm. You can be at peace knowing that God is your protective shade despite of your circumstances. May God give us eyes to see His protective banner over us!
“..the One who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.”
I remember once, when I went to visit a Buddhist temple in Japan with a friend. There was a long rope with a bell at the very top. The way it worked is that you give a donation to the temple, ring the bell and say a prayer to one of the gods. As I started to film the whole ordeal, my friend in the background starting singing out the ‘engaged’ tone, to the words ‘I’m sorry, the god you are calling is unable to answer your call, he is sleeping….’
Jokes, aside, there is an incredible truth in that. So often, in many of the world religions, you have to earn the right to talk to your god, or to even be in their presence. Yet the God we serve, as the Psalmist rightly says, never sleeps, never slumbers, and never has a mid-afternoon siesta. He is always everywhere!! He is the great God who watches over every part of our lives. Not only does He watch over us, but He always has His ear open to talk to us. He is our loving Father, that is longing to spend time with us, His children.
Rejoice today in the good news, that God is not dead, He is ALIVE. He is readily available to converse with you, to have a relationship and is only a prayer away. Invite God into every part of your life and take great comfort that in every step of your day, you have a real and living God walking with you.
“I look up to the mountains-does my help come from there? My help comes from the LORD, whom made heaven and earth.”
Have you ever seen a mountain range so magnificent that it renders you speechless? Have you ever marvelled at whose handiwork it was, that made such grandeur? Well, the same God who created those mountains is the same God who created you. Furthermore, that great God lives in YOU.
The Psalmist writes in today’s passage of his wonder at where his help came from. He too realised if God created such wonderful mountains, so tall and mighty, then that same God would be able to help him through his travels, struggles and heartaches. There is such assurance in his words in verse 2 of this passage. “My help comes from the LORD!” He knew that if God could create such high mountain peaks, if God could create the heavens and the earth, then what are his problems in comparison?
Stop trying to fix your problems and struggles by your self. We serve an almighty God who created the entire world and all that is in it by the very breath and word of His mouth. There is no need to worry or fret. God is at hand. His mighty Hands that flung stars into space, that carved Adam from the dust of the ground, are the same hands that carry you from your trials. Trust in the creator of Heaven and Earth. That is where your help comes from!!
21st & 22nd February
“Three things will last forever –Faith, Hope and Love – And the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
There is no thing more persistent, faithful, committed, and everlasting than the love of Jesus Christ. It is so encouraging to know, that even though our world may crumble around us and disaster hit on every side, we have a constant to steady our ship and to guarantee that in complete hopelessness and despair, Christ’s love is always there.
Yet just receiving and abiding in God’s love for us, is meaningless unless we share that love. In John’s gospel, in chapter 15, Jesus encourages His disciples with these words “This is My commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus, in the greatest act of love mankind has ever seen, laid down His life for the entire world. It wasn’t temporary and it wasn’t a one off act, it was forever. His commitment to us is forever; it is everlasting. That is why when everything else fails and ends, His love will last forever.
If we have been set the greatest example of love, then we should have enough of an idea to know how to love others with the same love we have received. Notice what Jesus says in John 15 “Love each other in THE SAME WAY I have loved”. Quite simply if you haven’t received or accepted God’s love for yourself, you won’t be able to love others either. Today’s challenge is to receive Christ’s love for yourself and when you have, share it with others. Faith, Hope and Love will last forever, so we should use our time wisely to get better at them.
“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
1 Corinthians 13:7
God’s love for us never fails, never gives up on us and never lets us down. When faced with impossible tasks and situations we can call upon His love and let it lead and guide us through hardships.
Paul in verse 7, highlights again the power that committed love has. Paul knew what it was like to live in hardship. He even knew what it meant to be in situations where there seemed to be no way out. Yet above all else, he knew that Christ’s love for him would help him persevere through any troubling times and lead him to have a heart of compassion on the very people that would persecute him.
Yet the incredible thing is, is that Paul was one of these persecutors. He was the one, in the days of the early church, who went around torturing, imprisoning and harassing ‘Christians’. If this letter was readily available to the early church at the time of their persecution, it is very probable that they would have used it as a source of strength for themselves. What grace and what power of Love that can change a hardened man’s heart to a heart of compassion.
Here we have a redeemed man of God, saved by grace, filled with the love of a conquering King, giving an encouragement to his fellow believers, to endure through all circumstances because of God’s love. Moreover, not just endure, but because of God’s love, to love others with that same love they have received. To never give up on people and to never give up on hope. Why? Because LOVE HAS WON. Because God’s love never fails and it’s from that resource that we can love, we can persevere, we can endure through every circumstance and we can love the unlovable (even through persecution).
“It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.”
1 Corinthians 13:6
We are called as the body of Christ to fight for injustice. This is encompassed in an attitude of loving others more than yourself. However, we live in such a corrupted world where injustice is celebrated, corruption is no longer hidden, and truth has been marked as an unknown. How can we love in a world like that?
Yet it is clear in Paul’s writing, that we are encouraged to stand up for injustice, and fight for the truth. It is so easy to unknowingly rejoice in injustice because it has been so cleverly knitted into our cultures, our mindsets and quite often in our way of life. Do we stand up for the marginalised in our society? Do we walk past the suffering homeless on the streets? Do we fight against the bullies in our schools and workplaces? Even closer to home, do we laugh at inappropriate jokes or join in in things we know are directly oppositional to God’s Holy standards? Isn’t it so easy to see how all these things have become so natural for us to ignore or to partake in? By ignoring or partaking in things that are unjust/evil in this world, we are almost rejoicing in them and aiding its growth.
However we are called to rejoice in the truth. Love conquers all evil. In fact love did conquer all evil on the cross. Therefore, as followers of Christ we are called to be ambassadors on this earth to fight for this love to remain true and evident in our world. When we see injustice we are called to bring God’s love to that situation. When we experience evil in this world, we are called to bring God’s truth and justice, not just by praying (although that is great) but also by doing! Love is an action that we all have the responsibility to partake in. If we are not love where there is no love, who will be? If we can only show a partial conditional love, how will this world know God’s impartial and unconditional love? Let the truth WIN OUT!
“…. or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.”
1 Corinthians 13:5
This is such a hard lesson to write about. As you read this, it is most probable that you will be reminded of a wrong someone has done to you. Furthermore, you could probably think of a wrong you have done to someone else. In truth, it is so hard not to keep a record of wrongdoing. We are human after all.
Yet the truth is there in black and white. LOVE KEEPS NO RECORD OF BEING WRONGED. If we are to truly love someone, then our memories must be erased of all wrongdoing and be replaced with a committed and unconditional loving attitude. This takes love from being a feeling or an emotion to a choice. A choice that says, yes you have wronged me, yes I deserve your apology or repentance, but because I have been loved much, so I should love you and keep no record of the wrong that you have done to me.
On paper it almost seems manageable to do. Yet in reality this is one of the hardest lessons to grasp, yet alone put into practice. However we truly have been shown the greatest act of love when Christ paid the price for our sins. Not only does Jesus keep no record of our wrongs, on the cross He took our sins on His shoulders. Not only have we been forgiven for our sins, once we repent, there is no record of wrong in God’s eyes. The only condemnation comes from our own minds and from the enemy’s lies. This is our standpoint. Loved much – love much. Forgiven much – forgive much. Let this be your prayer today as you search your heart to keep no record of being wronged.
Lord, I accept Your forgiveness and Your love. Help me to be able to forgive and love others as You have loved me. Help me as I search my heart to see who has wronged me, that I may keep no record of wrong. In Jesus’ Name!