Bible Study 2024

THURSDAY 22ND FEBRUARY 2024

PSALM 37 - Part 2

Last week we looked at Psalm 37:1-6, and this week we will look at Psalm 37:7-11

Psalm 37:7-11
These verses follow on from the first 6 that we looked at last week and which we summarized as follows:
DON’T:
fret or be envious

DO:
trust, do good, dwell, enjoy, take delight in the Lord, commit your way to the Lord.

In the following verses we find more “do’s and don’ts”.

After being told to commit our way to the Lord and trust in Him in V.5 and by doing so God, our Vindicator, will clear us of everything we have been accused of falsely, what does David tell us to do next?

V.7 – Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.

This Hebrew word for “be still” here means “do not make a noise” as well as “do not move”. The idea is that we will not speak to vindicate ourselves; we will trust in God us clear us of all blame or suspicion.

What does “wait patiently” actually mean?
Patience is the capacity to tollerate challenges or delays without getting upset.
We have all heard that patience is a virtue, and I’m sure we have all asked God for patience at some point in our Christian lives: “Dear Lord, please give me patience and give it to me NOW!”

In the same verse (V.7) we are told yet again not to fret. This time what are we not to fret over?

When others have success in carrying out their wicked schemes. This is the second time we are exhorted not to get all hot and bothered when the wicked seem to prosper.

Why is this?
The answer is in v.8. David wisely advised the man or woman of God to give up 
angerwrath, and fretting. This is STRONG language. What are the differences between these three terms?

Anger: a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. Wrath: great anger which expresses itself in a desire to punish someone. In the Roman Catholic church, wrath is classed as one of the seven deadly sins.

We often read about the wrath of God. What do we understand about God’s wrath?
The wrath of God is, according to John Stott, “His steady, unrelenting, unremitting, uncompromising antagonism to evil in all its forms and manifestations.”

Then for the third time in 8 verses we are told not to fret (get all hot and bothered), According to David, what does fretting lead to?

Evil!
Strong language!

Anger, wrath and fretting accomplish nothing except harm. They are the opposite of delighting oneself in the LORD and patiently waiting upon Him. In fact, when we get angry with someone it usually leads to trouble.

Spurgeon said this: “Cease from anger: “Especially anger against the arrangements of Providence, and jealousies of the temporary pleasures of those who are so soon to be banished from all comfort. Anger anywhere is madness, here it is aggravated insanity.”

V.9 tells us that the evil will be destroyed.
Can you define what evil is?
Dictionary definition: evil involves human destructiveness, people who take pleasure in intentionally hurting others and behaving in ways that harm, abuse, demean, dehumanize, or destroy the innocent.
Can anyone here say they have NEVER done an EVIL act towards someone else based on this definition? A rhetorical question.

We all know the motivation in our hearts behind what we do or say at times.
Does that make us evil people?
John Piper says this: “The ”Do what you want – just don’t hurt anyone else” mantra is alive and well in our society. But to find your superior satisfaction anywhere else but in God is the essence of evil....... The real evil if you hurt somebody is that they’re in the image of God....... If you taste from God’s never ending fountain of all-satisfying water and you say “I don’t like it, I’m going to dig a well”, then you are an evil person.....Evil is tasting God and preferring something else.”

Jeremiah 2:12-13 (NKJV)
“Be astonished, O heavens, at this; and be horribly afraid; Be very desolate,” says the Lord,“For my people have committed two evils: They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn (dug out) themselves cisterns - broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

What happens to those who hope in the Lord?
Those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
Once again David is encouraging his fellow Israelites to stay put and to hope in the Lord for their reward – inheriting the land.
V.10 reiterates what was said in V.9:
The evildoers have their day of prosperity, but it is short-lived. Soon the wicked who are often the famous and praised in this world will be of no notice or standing at all.

David this time talks about God caring for and rewarding the meek.

What does the word meek mean?
Late twentieth-century Western culture does not hold meekness to be a virtue, in contrast to the ancient Near East and the Greco- Roman world, which placed a high premium on it. This dramatic shift in values is problematic for contemporary biblical translation. Most modern versions replace the noun "meekness" by "gentleness" or "humility.”
Meekness is therefore an active and deliberate acceptance of undesirable circumstances that are wisely seen by the individual as only part of a larger picture. It is not a resignation to fate or a passive and reluctant submission to events. Meekness does not identify the weak but more precisely the strong, who may have

been placed in a position of weakness, but where they persevere without giving up.

Where do we read this concept in the New Testament?

Jesus quoted this line in the Sermon on the Mount, in the third beatitude (Matthew 5:5).
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Isaiah 66:2 says this:

Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “These are the ones I look on with favour: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.”

The Message translation of verses 7-11 of Psalm 37 reads:

7. Quiet down before God, be prayerful before him. Don't bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top. 8. Bridle your anger, trash your wrath, cool your pipes - it only makes things worse. 9. Before long the crooks will be bankrupt; God-investors will soon own the store. 10. Before you know it, the wicked will have had it; you'll stare at his once famous place and – nothing! 11. Down-to-earth people will move in and take over, relishing a huge bonanza.

Let’s close by reading another four verses from Psalm 37 which illustrate the advantages of delighting in the Lord, and as we meditate on them may the simple truths they communicate become our own to live by, so that in whatever situation we may find ourselves, we can delight in the Lord and inherit the land He has prepared for each one of us. :

V.23 The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; V.24 though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
V.25 I was young, and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.

V.26 They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing.

THURSDAY 15TH FEBRUARY 2024


PSALM 37 - Part 1 Background to Psalm 37

David wrote Psalm 37 for Jewish settlers who had moved into new land during David’s expansion of the kingdom of Israel.
However, the children of Israel had never completely driven out the Canaanites who were living there before, and as a result, these Canaanites had such an influence on the Israeli people that they sinned in an even worse way than the Canaanites had done.

As a result of this, a righteous man would be tempted to abandon the land God had called him to. David himself did that temporarily when he fled from Saul to the king of the Philistines, and that period was not a good one for either him or his men. (1 Samuel 27)

Can you think of anyone else who had left the land of Israel to try to improve their situation, only to find it got worse?
Naomi, her husband and her two sons come to mind.

So, in the midst of the temptation for the Jewish settlers to leave the land, David writes Psalm 37 to encourage his fellow Israelites to stay put and do good.

Let’s read V.1-6

The psalm starts off with two “do nots” : “Do not fret......or be envious.....”
What does the word “fret” mean?
The Hebrew word for fret here is “charah”, which means to grow warm, blaze up, be angry or be incensed.

Just like when something happens to make us upset and our heart starts pounding and we go all hot. That is part of “charah”.

What does “envious” mean?
Envy means a discontented longing for someone else’s advantages.

So who are we not to fret about? Those who are evil.

And who are we not to be envious of? Those who do wrong.

But as good, born again Christians, surely we would never fret over evil people or be envious of those who did wrong, would we?

Have you ever thought:
“Why do things go right for them and not for me?” “Why don’t they get what they deserve?”

and the classic “It’s not fair!”

“Why did he get promoted when I have far better qualifications?” “How come my work colleagues always get away with only doing half their job and I have to finish off THEIR work?

and so on!
What is David actually telling us here?

The F.B.Meyer Commentary summarizes this, noting that David is “grappling with the problem of the inequality of human life and the apparent failure of God to reward His servants and punish His enemies as they deserve.”

We can ALL relate to that, It is a core part of human nature to look around and compare our lives to those of other people, which is a wide and easy path to both envy and self-righteousness, and it leads us to being anxious, instead of fixing our eyes on God.

What does Psalm 37 tell us to do instead? V.3 TRUST in the Lord and DO GOOD.

Why does TRUST come first?
Because trust makes us feel secure. Doing good is a consequence of trusting.
C.H.Spurgeon said:
““Faith cures fretting.” Sight is cross-eyed and views things only as they seem, hence her envy; faith has clearer optics to behold things as they really are, hence her peace.
“And do good”. True faith is actively obedient. Doing good is a fine remedy for fretting. There is a joy in holy activity which drives away the rust of discontent.””

DWELL in the land and ENJOY safe pasture. What does “dwell” mean?
To live in or at a specified place.
To remain for a time.

What is David’s message here?
STAY WHERE GOD HAS PLACED YOU.

ENJOY safe pasture.
Enjoy has two meanings:
a) take delight or pleasure in and activity or occasion.

eg. I enjoy watching good films. b) possess and benefit from.

Here David is saying that if we stay where God has placed us, (dwell in the land) we can benefit from God’s promise to provide for us and take care of us (enjoy safe pasture).

V.4 TAKE DELIGHT in the Lord.
What does to take delight mean?
To be very happy because of something To be gratified by
To very much enjoy

Synonyms: admire, adore, appreciate, cherish, indulge in, relish, revel in, savour.

These are all very LAVISH terms.
David is telling us to REVEL IN the Lord. What is the result?
He will give you the desires of your heart.

So does this mean that if I consciously enjoy the Lord, He’ll respond by giving me everything I want?

OR

Does it mean that as I intentionally enjoy the Lord – His Word, His fellowship etc. - then He will actually change my desires to the point where my desires are also His desires, and He’ll be pleased to grant them?

V.5 COMMIT your way to the Lord.
How do we do that?
Literally this means “Roll your path upon the Lord”. Our life is like a path that we walk on every day. For the person who feels stuck in a bad situation, like David’s audience was, that person is still on a path, but that path can be heavy or burdensome. That’s why we’re told to roll that path upon the Lord – to commit it to Him – to place it in His hands and no longer carry that burden. As we do this and “trust in Him... He will do this:”

V.6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

What does “vindication” mean?
The action of clearing someone of blame or suspicion.
Proof that someone or something is right, reasonable or justified.

Spurgeon says this: “The Lord will clear the slandered. If we look to His honour, He will see to ours”.

Summary

DON’T:
fret or be envious.

DO:
trust, do good, dwell, enjoy, take delight in the Lord, commit your way to the Lord.



THURSDAY 8th FEBRUARY 2024

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Today is our Worship Experience. 

Here is a devotional to encourage our hearts as we worship of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. 


Hebrews 12:28-29 ( NKJV )  -“Therefore since we are receiving a Kingdom which cannot be shaken, 

let us have grace by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 

For our God is a consuming fire”

                                                 

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Sometimes in life when something is taken from us, it can leave us feeling shaken. 

Sometimes we invest in things that don’t last, and when we lose it, we experience confusion with the unexpected loss.

It is so easy to allow our identity to become connected to earthly things. 

Therefore we need reminders of eternal truths so we can hold on to these truths instead.


In these verses, the writer of Hebrews writes to encourage the persecuted Christians then. 

Maybe they wondered whether Jesus was really worth all the pain they were suffering for the Kingdom. 

Maybe they thought about going back to their old ways, bowing to religious sacrifices and rituals 


Today the writer encourages us to pursue, ‘go after, follow’,God's unshakable Kingdom.

The Lord reminds us that a greater Kingdom exists so that we don't over-focus on building our own 

or returning to old ways of thinking.

There is a need for us to realign to eternal values so we don't feel quite so shaken when things get taken. 

You might lose a job opportunity, affection in a relationship or even material possessions. 

In our humanity, we might cry, grieve and become anxious, fretful with these earthly setbacks. 


Yet God's Word, His love ,His Son and His Holy Spirit are ours forever if we trust Jesus as Lord !

God's eternal Kingdom is secure.The Scripture says “ it cannot be shaken.” It is His gift to us.


The natural response to this gift is to express gratitude and praise to our eternal King. 

Worship the all-powerful One with reverence and godly fear. 

This is a fear that draws us to Him. It is not repulsive or intimidating. 

It is a godly fear that draws us to love what He loves, and hate what He hates. It shapes our intentions, thoughts, 

words and actions.


In the end, this unshakable Kingdom we are receiving will remain. 

So let's embrace this perspective as we live for the glory of Jesus. It is all about Jesus.


Response : 

What has been shaking your world lately? 

How can you cling to God's unshakeable Kingdom in the midst of negative circumstances?


-Focus our minds and hearts on the hope of our returning King who rules triumphantly. 

-Keep an eternal perspective so you are focused on what matters most.

-Worship Him with reverence and holy fear even in your lifestyle as you live to glorify the King of Kings. 


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THURSDAY 1st FEBRUARY 2024

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We are continuing the study series “The Battle For Your Mind”. 

The topic we are studying today is Fear

 

What is Fear / or what does it mean to be afraid ? It can be defined as a distressing emotion aroused by impending threat or danger, pain, etc.This threat can be imagined or real.

It's one of the most paralysing of all human emotions .It can rob us of reason and faith


Let's consider how fear works and by what means it can be defeated. We are studying verses from 1 Samuel 17 - the very famous battle between two individuals namely David and Goliath. Some truths about irrational Fear : it can be intimidating.It can be debilitating.It breeds squabbling.It requires conquering 


1 Samuel 17: 20 -50


>>FEAR IS INTIMIDATING ( a frightening or threatening effect ) - Goliath, a champion from the Philistine camp is outstandingly tall ( like 9 feet !) . He shouts to the Israelite camp to choose a man to fight him.( vv8-9 )


Verses 11 / 23-24 :How did the the Israelites respond to this challenge? Dismayed and terrified or greatly afraid.

> From an article in the magazine ‘Psychology Today’: ‘people who are tall, loud or outgoing- type A personalities- often bring intimidation with them.This causes others to be afraid.’


How does  David react to Goliath’s challenge ? David does not see  a giant.He sees a big ,easy target that he cannot miss. 


“WHAT we see is often a matter of HOW we see”.Saul and the Israelites are afraid of this big giant Goliath.David is not intimidated; his confidence is in God. We have two different responses 


>>FEAR IS DEBILITATING ( hinders and makes you weak )

V16 ( read )  Goliath comes out to defy Israel.Goliath repeats the challenge :‘give me a man to fight, come on let’s fight.!.what are you waiting for you cowards..?’

How many times does Goliath do this ? Forty days , morning and evening = 80 times !  

> if you heard this kind of defiance, would that demoralise you or make you despairing?


This is so much like the tactics of the enemy of our souls..the devil. Repeatedly the devil tries to intimidate. He comes closer, trying to take advantage if we don't resist him


This is how fear works :as it increases, you have irrational thinking and it keeps you awake at night. You might be obsessed with ‘what if’ thoughts. For example ‘what if this relationship does not work , what if this disease gets worse ..?’


V24- what did the men of Israel do when they saw this intimidating giant Goliath ? They fled. This is like the ‘flight’ reaction in the “flight or fight” response to great fear. They were dreadfully afraid , overcome or crippled with fear ( freaked out ! )


>>FEAR BREEDS SQUABBLING (arguing over something in anger )

When someone is afraid they do something with their fear. David sees the issues clearly as he speaks to the men about Goliath 


V28 -Eliab is in the army and the oldest brother of David.He was the first brother in the family to be rejected as king by Samuel. Eliab’s anger is aroused against David.

Observe the questions he asks David. 

What do you think is Eliab ‘s motive ?He is trying to put David down by saying in effect , “I am in the army, not you.All you do is keep sheep. Who's is taking care of those sheep ?”

Eliab lashes out at David in fear. Fear can turn into anger in a stressful situation. Combined with a perceived threat ,one can become frustrated and often one can lash out.


Vv29-30 How does David respond ? He turns away from his brother .He was not there to fight his brother. The enemy would love that.

>For us as God's children, we don't fight the brother / sister. We engage in warfare with the enemy of our souls. David  knew who to fight - the enemy. David was there to fight the beast called Goliath 


>>FEAR REQUIRES CONQUERING (overcoming or take control of )

Vv 45-47 : David is ready -with sling and 5 stones -to face the giant in the name of the Lord Almighty.


You can conquer fear ( overcome / unlearn fear ) by :

     >V33- 37 : remembering past victories. You conquer present fear by recalling past victories of the Lord

     >V38 -40 : using the armour /gifts / abilities that God has given you to fight. David is not used to Saul’s armour. This is like  a 12-year old wearing his daddy's suit. 

      >V45 : relying on your powerful God for it is His battle .Goliath is attacking God's army / people.,not just any army. 

God gets hot and bothered when the enemy messes with His people


    Response:

When you magnify the Lord , fears go away. Remind yourself of the size of your God. 

Israel is going ‘poor us’. David is going ‘poor Goliath’ !


Don't fight life’s battles in your strength. Our confidence and competence come from the Lord.

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THURSDAY 25th JANUARY 2024

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We are resuming a study series on ‘The Battle For Your Mind’. 

In November 2023, we started this series ( please visit churchlanzarote.com and click ‘Bible Study’)


As we have said before, your mind is a battlefield where most of life's battles are won / lost. The life you have is often a reflection of the thoughts you think. The topic today is Depression 


Depression - describes an experience / condition where there is low mood and this impacts on your ability to function in your daily routine. It affects how you feel, think and how you act


Today we are studying the great Bible character of Elijah and his episode of depression 


1 KINGS 19: 1-18 ( Read )


Context - Elijah, a great man of God, has just emerged victorious in a contest at Mt Carmel (18:39 ).He achieved great exploits of faith in God's name. King Ahab tells Jezebel about Elijah’s victory. 


V2- How does Queen Jezebel react ? She is undaunted by Elijah's victory at Mt. Carmel. She sends a messenger (? maybe with a note  ) with a death threat to Elijah. 


Verses 3/4 : V3- NKJV - ‘when he saw that’… reading note from messenger. He is focussed on the letter of threat or message from Jezebel the queen. His eyes are not on the Lord .“We steer in the direction we stare”. He begins to live by sight.


V4- How does Elijah respond ?

He is in danger. He runs away for his life from this angry  woman Jezebel.Fear grips his heart. He has been standing for long hours on Mt . Carmel until the grand finale.

He is very likely anxious and physically exhausted / fatigued after running 70-80 miles south of Mt Carmel. He goes into the wilderness, sits under the shade of a low lying desert shrub (juniper tree ) He is in isolation. 

He is despairing - perhaps he is thinking his work is not fruitful so life is not worth living.


He lacks sleep. He is not caring for his body . “I’ve had enough,Lord” ,praying that the Lord take his life .He wants to die.Unable to cope. He isolates himself from others. He is feeling really bad about himself 

These are indicators or triggers for depression.Simple tasks become difficult. Negative outlook.They lose hope.


>>This is a different view of Elijah. One day, full of faith he speaks boldly to King Ahab about having a contest to see which God will answer by fire. The next day he gets discouraged and wants to die, to quit.


V5- How did God answer Elijah's prayer ? As he lay under the the tree, he fell asleep. God did not take his life.The Lord did not answer him in the affirmative but in the negative. He spared him.


Question to ponder : how would you feel / respond if God did not answer ‘yes’ to your prayer ?


Vv 6-7:  What happens while Elijah is asleep ? He is touched and awakened by an angel. Fresh,hot bread is provided and also a jar of water. This happens twice ! God is tender with Elijah and compassionate towards him 

> the point here is that in such times providing in a practical way is more important.


Some Christians would say that  if you're a true believer in Christ, you will not suffer depression.Some of the godliest people in the Bible suffered with depression. God is graciously taking care of Elijah in his low time


V8 - so Elijah receives God's great room service of food and drink. God intervenes miraculously by providing him with sustenance. He has to travel  for 40 days and 40 nights to Horeb ( Mt Sinai )


Vv 9 -18 : an interaction takes place between the Lord and Elijah to help him re-focus . This is triggered by the Lord asking Elijah, “What are you doing here,Elijah ?” ( vv 9, 13 )

Elijah is not answering the question- he is deflecting in his responses, self - focussed and looking at the deficiencies in the other prophets who are not there. God allows Elijah to vent his feelings 


Yet Elijah is not the only one left .In v18, there are seven thousand who are God -fearing and faithful. A perfect number symbolic of completion !


V12- God finally gets his attention by a still , small voice…a gentle whisper. God did not speak to him by wind ,earthquake or fire ; this did nothing to Elijah 


The Lord gives Elijah a second chance ; this time with the right perspective 


Vv15-18 : the Lord gives Elijah some tasks to anoint three people. These two kings and Elisha will help purge the nation of idolatry/ Baal worship.


          Application : how can you help a depressed person ?


 By treating them tenderly and compassionately - the Lord did not say “get over it Elijah!”

 By engaging in conversation to help the depressed person re- focus on what really matters

 In practical ways - God provided food and drink ( twice !) for Elijah. 

 Encouraging them to listen in to God's still ,small voice and reading God's Word

 Prompt them into doing small tasks. This adds structure to their day and boosts their confidence 

 Pray because you recognise that we are helpless without Christ


                           Jesus says “come aside and rest.” “Come unto Me ,Rest in Me.”

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THURSDAY 18th JANUARY 2024

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This week our focus is on Prayer, Fasting and Drawing nearer to Jesus. 

Today as we spend time  in worship, this is some further encouragement from God's Word.


Devotional : Acts 16:14

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After Paul receives a vision from God ( to go to Macedonia), he makes his way together with Luke and other travel companions to Philippi. This was a leading city of the district of Macedonia 

They go outside this city and down to the riverside for a prayer meeting. It is Sabbath day so they are are expecting to find others gathered for prayer. They join a group of women who are there. They are speaking with the women - sharing the good news of Jesus 


Verse 14 highlights one of these women, namely Lydia.

( v14) “One of those listening was a woman of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth.She was a worshipper of God.The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message.”


Lydia is described as a worshipper of God.Wow ! She has her priorities right ! Even in her busy life of exclusively trading purple cloth, she was not focussed on herself. 

The phrase ‘worshipper of God’ carries the idea that she shows reverence and awe to God.To hold in high regard and reverent fear  ( to revere ) 


The spotlight is on God not her wealth or successful business. This is what worship is - shifting the focus - off  ourselves and onto another. In Lydia's case, it is all about God. 

For us ,it should be the same 

Lydia understood the importance of intentionally setting aside time to pray and worship God


One pastor said ‘the cure for ‘it's all about me” is worship whereby ‘it's all about God’.The cure for narcissism is theism.’

Worship is the one activity we do now and which we will do in heaven too.

It is the proper response TO God FROM the heart whereby we place God ABOVE everything and everyone else. “Because you have loved me, I worship you genuinely ,I love You Lord….”


As Lydia listened to Paul sharing the good news, “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message”.


The word ‘opened’ ( from the Greek ) carries the idea of to ‘open up completely, all the way’. It means to “open thoroughly what had been closed. To open one’s soul, to rouse in one the faculty of understanding and the desire of learning.”


In those precious moments down by the riverside, God gives Lydia a fresh revelation of Jesus. He gives her a desire in her heart to learn MORE about the gospel of grace. She takes the next step and trusts Christ as Saviour ( the first European convert to Christianity !)


So for us too as we seek God, as we worship Him. Let us ask God to pry our hearts wide open so completely, we receive a fresher revelation of Jesus.


Let us long to know Him more no matter how much we think we know about Him.

Let us spend time to discover God's truths and rejoice in His promises for us

    May this be our desire today and every day !


Prayer : Lord Jesus, pull back the veil so I can see You more clearly and hear You more distinctly. Give me the desire , the strong urge to spend time with you intentionally  and in daily in worship. Help me by the power of your Holy Spirit to embrace who You are more  ( your character) and to trust in what you can do more (  your capability )

Thank You Lord that You are able to do infinitely more than my greatest request .Indeed You are able to exceed my wildest imagination ! I worship You .

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THURSDAY 11th JANUARY 2024

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Devotional to guide and encourage you

 during these two weeks of Prayer, Fasting and Drawing nearer to Jesus

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         Romans 8:26-27 (Read)


Our focus is on prayer. 

It is in prayer and spending time with God that we as believers express our relationship with God.

God listens to our prayers and answers them. 

We have God's promises that we can cling to with faith as we pray. 

When we pray, our prayers are like sweet-smelling incense to our God. 


Paul shares some truths here about the role of the Holy Spirit when we pray. 

The Holy Spirit groans with us in our weaknesses, burdens and sufferings.

Additionally, the Holy Spirit is praying for us as He groans,

 so that we will be led into the perfect will of God.


We seek God because we desire His will. We don't always know how to pray. 

So the Spirit intercedes for us, bringing us into alignment with God's will 

despite the sufferings and trials we are facing. 


   “Do we pray for a cure or for strength and perseverance? 

Do we change our location or pray for a change in our attitude?...

I really don't know Lord what to pray.”

God’s got it !!


“The Spirit helps us in our weaknesses” - 

note verse 26 does not say ‘the Spirit helps in our perfection, 

or when we aren't anxious or peace- filled.’

This means we are dependent on the One powerful enough to help us. He covers us with grace. God does not turn us away. 

God gives us the ability to trust Him so that we would not depend on ourselves 


When we don't understand, God our Father, 

by the Spirit is interceding effectively and sympathetically for you His child.He prays for you not just on your behalf but in our place. God searches our hearts and certainly knows what He causes His Spirit to pray for us ,His people .

The Spirit intercedes between me - the one who does not know - and God, the One who does  know the answers

When we pray the Holy Spirit will interpret that correctly in accordance with God's will. 

As we pray in the Spirit we can use the gift of tongues -

we can groan - as we communicate with God. 


So draw nearer to God. Let God continue to rule and reign in your hearts by faith. 

Jesus makes it clear that the Father wants to give to us; He wants to answer prayer. This is to be seen in a life that submits to God’s will and lives in intimate relationship with Him ( John 15:7 )



Thursday 4th January 2024

A Devotional on Faithfulness 


“When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 

(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, 

“Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord” ), 

and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: 

“a pair of doves or two young pigeons.””

Luke 2:22-24 (NIV)


Faithful Obedience to God & Sacrifice 

A little bit of background information. 

Following the birth of a son, the mother had to wait 40 days at home for a male child before going to the temple to offer sacrifice for her purification according to the law of Moses. 

 

If she could not afford a lamb & a pigeon or dove, 

then two pigeons or doves would be acceptable. 

This sacrifice could be done only at Jerusalem & required a journey there. The sacrifice offered was the less expensive one, permitted to poor people - a deliberate reference to the humble status of Joseph & Mary. 


Jewish law required that a firstborn child had to be redeemed, bought back. 

All firstborn creatures were seen as consecrated to God. 

This was expressed by sacrificing the firstborn of animals & 

by making a payment of five Israeli shekels or twenty Roman denarii 

in lieu of children when they were a month old. 

It’s worth mentioning here that this would have been equal 

to the income for twenty days of work for a man at that time. 


Every firstborn son was to be consecrated or dedicated to the Lord 

for two reasons : 

  1. To remember the firstborn sons who were rescued from the final plague in Egypt & 
  2. To honour the promise of the substitutionary atonement of the firstborn of God Who would redeem humankind    (Exodus 13:2,12; Numbers 3:12). 



Jesus was present because Mary seems also to have made 

a special offering of her child to God for His service, 

just as in the Old Testament Hannah had given Samuel to God 

in the Temple. 

In these ways all possible requirements of the law were fulfilled. 



Faith & Fulfilment of Promise

‘O Lord, in the morning You hear my voice, in the morning 

I lay my requests before You & wait in expectation,’ Psalm 5:3. 


 No doubt both Simeon & Anna would have been familiar 

with this verse from the Psalm of David. 


“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, 

who was righteous and devout. 

He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, & the Holy Spirit was on him. 

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die 

before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 

Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. 

When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for Him 

what the custom of the Law required, 

Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God, saying: 

“Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, 

You may now dismiss Your servant in peace. 

For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared 

in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, 

& the glory of Your people Israel.” 

The child’s father & mother marvelled at what was said about Him. 

Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His mother: 

“This child is destined to cause the falling & rising of many in Israel, 

& to be a sign that will be spoken against, 

so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. 

And a sword will pierce your own soul too.””

Luke 2:25-35 (NIV)



‘The story of Simeon in Luke 2:25-35

is a beautiful picture of the faithfulness of God.  

Simeon was a very elderly man but He had a promise from God 

which he had held on to for many years.  

He was a devout man. He knew that in God’s time that this promise 

would be fulfilled & that was sufficient for him.

He faithfully served as a priest while he waited 

in eager anticipation for this prophecy to be fulfilled. 

Or in English we might say ‘he waited with bated breath.’

God had told Simeon that He would not die 

until He had seen the Lord’s Christ, the Messiah.  


He lived in a place of expectation that God would be faithful to His Word 

& then one day the Bible tells us 

that the Holy Spirit prompted Simeon to go to the temple.  


Being the devout man that he was Simeon would have been to the temple many many times before, 

but without knowing it this day was going to be very different.  


At the precise moment he entered the temple enclosure, 

so did Mary & Joseph with baby Jesus. 

They were there doing what every other Jewish parent did back then & brought their baby to the temple to be dedicated.  


God as the ultimate divine connector used 

this seemingly normal occurrence to fulfil His promise to Simeon.  


Simeon, Joseph, and Mary met in the temple enclosure & under the unction of the Holy Spirit, Simeon knew he was looking at the Messiah.


Following the small promptings of the Holy Spirit are usually the key 

to receiving the blessings of God & the next step in our journey with Him.  


Simeon could have ignored the prompting, he could have allowed 

other things to come to the forefront of his mind.  

He could have stopped to chat to others on his way to the temple or 

he could have gone into another part of the temple.  


He could have put off going to the temple at that precise moment 

& chosen to go later, but God.  

God had a plan to connect Simeon with Mary, Joseph, & the Messiah 

in order to fulfil His promise to Simeon.  


All of them had to be in the right place at the right time, 

doing the right things. 

They were all led of the Holy Spirit, so that is exactly what happened.

Everything worked in perfect alignment. 


In what ways have you personally experienced 

the faithfulness of God, as you have stepped out in obedience? 


Is there  anyone like to share a short testimony 

that highlights this fact? 



The Song of Simeon (Nunc Dimittis)

‘Lord, now You let Your servant go in peace :

Your Word has been fulfilled. 

My own eyes have seen the salvation :

Which You have prepared in the sight of every people, 

a light to reveal You to all nations : 

And the glory of Your people Israel.

Glory to the Father & to the Son :

And to the Holy Spirit; 

As it was in the beginning, is now :

And shall be forever. Amen.’ 


In the words of Simeon, which we know as the Nunc Dimittis, 

we too can commit ourselves in faith & joy to God. 



‘We wait in hope for the Lord, He is our help & our shield. 

In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. 

May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, 

even as we put our hope in You, ‘ Psalm 33:20-22. 



When we encounter unexpected moments in life, 

may God teach us how to stay faithful to Him. 

Our faithfulness to God will never be in vain. 

A life that is fully devoted to Him is always worth living. 

We may encounter challenges along the way, but God is faithful to us. 

May we learn to stay faithful, 

even when we go through difficult seasons in life.


Then we move on to our next character : Anna. 

“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, 

of the tribe of Asher. 

She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years 

after her marriage, & then was a widow until she was eighty-four. 

She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting & praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God 

and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward 

to the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Luke 2:36-38 (NIV)


Luke refers to Anna, a prophetess who had been devoted for most of her life 

to serving God through the ministry of prayer. 

‘She never left the temple, but worshipped night & day, fasting & praying.’ 

Herod’s temple was quite large & included rooms for various uses, 

& Anna may have been allowed to live in one of them. 

So Anna probably spent her waking hours attending & worshipping in the temple. 

Life had dealt a cruel blow to Anna, 

as she was widowed after only seven years of marriage. 

Yet she had not become bitter or resentful, 

or allowed her circumstances to overwhelm her.

She continued to trust in God & in His promises. 


When Moses blessed the tribes of Israel before his death 

he said of the tribe of Asher ‘Your strength will be equal to your days,’ 

& ‘the Eternal God is your refuge & underneath are the Everlasting Arms,’ Deuteronomy 33:25b & 27. 


Anna was the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher, 

she showed in her life the beauty & the reality of those words 

spoken many years before by Moses.

The years spent in relationship with the Lord 

had allowed Anna to be in tune with the Holy Spirit. 

So much so that the very hour the baby Jesus came into the temple 

she felt it in her soul. 

Each day of her life was lived to the full in praise & worship, 

her source of strength & security being firmly founded in God & His Word.  

She lived to see God’s Word ‘made flesh.’ 


For, like Simeon, her eyes too saw God’s salvation 

in that child named Jesus, & she shared her joy with all who would listen, 

all those who were also looking forward to the One Who would come, 

Who had now come. 

Sensing her Saviour’s nearness, something welled up inside of Anna : 

overwhelming gratitude. 

She could not hold back her praise & immediately began giving thanks to God 

(Luke 2:38).


Coming up to Mary & Joseph, Anna gave thanks to God & spoke about the child 

to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 

Simeon & Anna were ‘young at heart’ in spite of being in their eighties or nineties.

They were also both strong in faith & love, as they saw their longing fulfilled. 


Would anyone like to share an instance 

where they have recently been encouraged 

& given thanks to God for something that has been 

a direct answer to one of their prayers? 


Summary 

Mary & Joseph demonstrated faithful obedience 

by presenting the appropriate sacrifices required for poor people 

after the birth of Jesus in the Temple, in line with Jewish Law. 


Simeon & Anna were both in their eighties or even nineties at least 

& remained faithful to God waiting for the promised Messiah to come.

Because of their faithfulness, they were able to live 

until He was dedicated in the temple 

& see that promise of the Messiah in the flesh in their lifetime. 


The same is true for you & for me. 

God has a plan to fulfil His promises to each one of us as individuals.  

He knows exactly when, where, why, & how He is going to do it.  


It could very well happen in the ordinary everyday things that you & I are doing, 

but as we follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit day-by-day 

God will connect us with people & places & will lead us into situations.

Then we will realise that they are ‘God-incidences’ 

or another way of phrasing it is also that they are ‘Divine appointments.’


Be encouraged today by the faithfulness of God to Simeon & Anna.  

What God did for them He can also do for you & me, as He is no respecter of persons.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.  


In the ordinary everyday things that you & I are doing 

God is orchestrating things to position us to receive 

the manifestation of His plans, promises, & purposes.  

May we also trust & follow the leading of the Holy Spirit just like Simeon & Anna did.  


May we too be constant, steadfast, & unwavering in our faith. 

May we continue to spend our lives cultivating a lifestyle of worship & prayer.


May we be as wholeheartedly committed & devoted as they were 

in serving the Lord on a day-to-day, run-of-the-mill basis.  


May their examples be an inspiration for us 

to continue developing a habit of prayer & to grow 

& become more mature believers in Christ, 

reflecting His character & attitude in all that we think, say, & do. 


May we live with our ultimate goal being to praise, glorify, 

& honour God in all things. Amen! 


In response, let’s sing together :-

‘I Love You Lord, & I Lift My Voice’ & 

‘Lord, the Light of Your Love is Shining (Shine, Jesus, Shine)’


Closing Prayer

Thank-You, Lord for Your Word that leads us into wisdom & truth about Who You are. 

Thank-You for the years that Your love has kept & guided us. 

We are grateful for Your faithfulness to us. May we remain faithful & obedient to You. 

Help us to continue to look to You when we read Your Word, 

knowing that being in a relationship with You 

will allow us to have the veil of our sinfulness removed 

so that we can one day see You face-to-face. 

We thank-You for Your Holy Spirit Who continues to guide us into all truth 

& remind us of Your teaching, Jesus. 

As we have just celebrated Your first coming, 

may we long for Your Second Coming with an ever-increasing passion & zeal. 


Thank-You God, for all the years You have given us - 

Your love which has sustained us, Your grace which has supported & carried us, 

& all Your blessings which have enriched & empowered us. 

Help us, Lord, to stay close to You, so close that we can sense Your nearness, 

& that it causes us to rejoice with thanksgiving from hearts filled 

with an attitude of gratitude for Who You are & for all that You have done for us. 

May our lives reflect more & more of You, Jesus, 

as we grow to show & share Your Light & Love with those we meet. 

Thank-You for this time of joy & celebration, 

& to You be all praise & glory for ever & ever Jesus Christ, our Lord & Saviour. Amen!