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"Love so amazing so divine, demands my soul, my heart, my all"

Deuteronomy 21; Psalm 108, 109; Isaiah 48; Revelation 18

Deuteronomy 21

Life is made up of choices. Making good choices should be everyone’s no. 1 priority. There is a stark contrast between the blessings afforded us by God for obedience of his laws and the curses of disobedience. Ultimately it comes down to us making a choice. Choose a life of obedience and blessings will be afforded to you. Let’s live life to the full in obedience!

Psalm 108

13 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.

 My prayers almost always end with requests for help through stressful situations. Prayer requests for help to survive. David didn’t just pray for rescue, but for victory. With God’s help we can claim more than just survival, we can claim victory.

Psalm 109

David was angry at being attacked by evil people slandering him and lied. When this happens to us let us follow David’s example. Remain a friend. Love everyone and hate the evil. Only through Gods strength will we be able to follow David’s example.

4 In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer.

 Isaiah 48

17 This is what the Lord says — your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.18 If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.

 Like a loving parent, God teaches and directs us as we obey his Word. Refusing to pay attention to Gods commands invites punishment and threatens that peace and righteousness.

Revelation 18

11“The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13 cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.

14“They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ 15 The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn 16 and cry out: “ ‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! 17 In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’

“Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. 18 When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ 19 They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out:  “ Woe ! Woe to you, great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’

God’s people should not live for money, because money is worthless in eternity. We should guard against greed. God wants us to work and provide for our families, and he commands the right use of money. Don’t be enslaved by the desire for wealth. Don’t let money become a false god.

God Bless

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Numbers 28; Psalm 72; Isaiah 19, 20; 2 Peter 1

Numbers 28

Numbers 28 is clear instructions concerning offerings for those days. These offerings had to be brought regularly and according to prescribed rituals. Following these instructions and preparing everything must of taken an age but must also have given the people the opportunity to prepare their hearts correctly. The act of giving or offering is an act of worship and if our hearts are not correctly prepared, this worship is meaningless. It is so much easier to give and make offerings if our hearts are prepared with thankfulness.

1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Give this command to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Make sure that you present to me at the appointed time my food offerings, as an aroma pleasing to me.’ 

Psalm 72

1 Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness.

2 May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice.

God desires all who rule under him to be righteous and just. With our leaders and politicians in the news every day we get a front row seat to their “righteousness and justice”. If only all the world leaders would commit to these two qualities right? Pray for our leaders that they might realize their need for the Lord and that He would help them rule with righteousness and justice.

Isaiah 19

Egypt was well known for its wisdom, but here its wise men and officials were deceived and foolish. True wisdom can come only from God. We must ask him for wisdom to guide all our decisions, or we too will be uncertain and misdirected

11 The officials of Zoan are nothing but fools; the wise counsellors of Pharaoh give senseless advice. How can you say to Pharaoh, “I am one of the wise men, a disciple of the ancient kings”? 12 Where are your wise men now? Let them show you and make known what the Lord Almighty has planned against Egypt. 13 The officials of Zoan have become fools, the leaders of Memphis are deceived; the cornerstones of her peoples have led Egypt astray. 14 The Lord has poured into them a spirit of dizziness; they make Egypt stagger in all that she does, as a drunkard staggers around in his vomit. 15 There is nothing Egypt can do— head or tail, palm branch or reed.

 Isaiah 20

2 at that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot.

God asked Isaiah to do something that seamed shameful and illogical. At times, God may ask us to take steps we don’t understand. We must obey God in complete faith, for he will never ask us to do something wrong.

2 Peter 1

Peter lists several of faiths actions: learning to know God better, developing perseverance , doing God’s will, loving others. These actions do not come automatically or naturally, they require hard work. They are not optional; all of them must be a continual part of the Christian life. We have a great responsibility so ask God to empower and enable you to learn and grow.

God Bless

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Numbers 12, 13; Psalm 49; Isaiah 2; Hebrews 10

Numbers 12

My wife and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary this week. In the grand scheme of things this may not be a long time but in 9 years we have had many a “discussion” when in disagreement. Often afterward we can’t even remember what the disagreement was after getting so distracted by “arguing”. When you are in a disagreement, stop and ask yourself if you are arguing over the real issue or if you have introduced a smoke screen by attacking someone’s character. If you are unjustly criticized, remember that your critics may be afraid to face the real problem. Don’t take this type of criticism personally. Ask God to help you identify the real issue and deal with that.

1 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite.  2 “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?”  And the Lord heard this.

13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!” 14 The Lord replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” 

When we criticize and attack others wrongfully we too may ask for forgiveness and God will be merciful.

Numbers 13

Many times when I face a tough decision the negatives cause me to lose sight of positives. Weigh both sides carefully. Don’t let the potential difficulties blind you to Gods power to help and his promise to guide

25 At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land. 26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.

Psalm 49

10 For all can see that the wise die, that the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others.11 Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their dwellings for endless generations, though they named lands after themselves. 12 People, despite their wealth, do not endure; they are like the beasts that perish. 13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings. 14 They are like sheep and are destined to die; death will be their shepherd (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning). Their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions.

The rich and the poor have one similarity. When they die, they leave all they own here on earth. The only riches they have are those they have stored up in heaven. To have treasure in heaven we must place our faith in God, pledge ourselves to obey him, and utilize our resources for the good of his kingdom. This is a good time to check our investments and see where we have invested the most.

Isaiah 2

Isaiah also touches on material investment when he writes:

8 Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands to what their fingers have made. 9 So people will be brought low and everyone humbled—do not forgive them.

Though very few people worship carved or moulded images today, worshiping objects that symbolize power continues. Cars, homes, sports stars, celebrities, money etc. Idol worship is evil because it insults God when we worship something he created rather than worshiping him, our confidence is placed in something else rather than in him and causes us to rely on ourselves rather than relying in him. Let’s fix our eyes on him.

Hebrews 10

Hebrews is a wonderful description of Christ’s sacrifice for us and a call to persevere. Often I am reminded of my sin and feel very guilty. I am reminded here I have been given forgiveness through Christ’s incredible sacrifice. It’s permanent, powerful, sin destroying forgiveness we have from Christ and once we have confessed our sin to him, we need never to think of it again. Christ has forgiven us….

God Bless

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Leviticus 25; Psalm 32; Ecclesiastes 8; 2 Timothy 4

Leviticus 25

In April 2015 my wife and 11 month old daughter and I left our “home” in South Africa and moved permanently to the United States. On the eve of this 2 year anniversary I look back at what has been an enormous undertaking, with many a tear but also many a wonderful story to tell. It still feels rather lonely without family and familiar friends sometimes but I am reminded as I read in Leviticus we can always rely on the Lord for strength and He will keep us safe

18 “ Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land. 19 Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety.”

Psalm 32

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

What is confession? To confess our sin is to agree with God, acknowledging that He is right to declare what we have done as sinful, and that we are wrong to desire or to do it. It means affirming our intention of abandoning that sin in order to follow God more faithfully.

Ecclesiastes 8

Solomon recalls the remedy for life’s unanswered questions. He recommends joy and contentment as encouragement for us along life’s journey. We must accept each day with its daily measure of work and of course pleasure. Let us learn to enjoy what God has given us to refresh and strengthen us to continue His work.

15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.

2 Timothy 4

2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

Always be ready to serve God in any situation, whether or not it is convenient. Be sensitive to the opportunities God gives you. It is difficult to accept correction, to be told we have to change. But no matter how much the truth hurts, we must be willing to listen to it so we can more fully obey God.

God Bless

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Leviticus 10; Psalm 11, 12; Proverbs 25; 1 Thessalonians 4

Leviticus 10

The purpose of Gods laws is to teach us how to distinguish between right and wrong, the sacred from the common, the clean from the unclean. Aaron’s sons were careless about following the laws for sacrifices. In response, God destroyed them with a blast of fire. Performing the sacrifices was an act of obedience. Doing them correctly showed respect for God. It is easy for us to grow careless about obeying God, to live our way instead of God’s. But if one way were just as good as another, God would not have commanded us to live his way. We always place ourselves in danger when we consciously or carelessly disobey Him.

2 So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord

Psalm 11

God does not shield believers from difficult circumstances, but he tests both the righteous and the wicked. For some, God’s tests become a refining fire, while for others they become an incinerator for destruction. Don’t ignore or defy the tests and challenges that come your way. Use them as opportunities for you to grow.

5 The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a  passion.

  Psalm 12

2 Everyone lies to their neighbour; they flatter with their lips but harbour deception in their hearts.

3 May the Lord silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue— 4 those who say “By our tongues we will prevail; our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”

We may be tempted to believe that some lies are relatively harmless, even useful at times. But God does not overlook lies, flattery, deception or boasting. Each of these sins originates from a bad attitude that is eventually expressed in our speech. The tongue can be our greatest enemy because, though small, it can do great damage. Be careful how you use yours….

Proverbs 25

God’s form of retaliation is most effective and yet difficult to do. By returning good for evil, we are acknowledging God as the balancer of all accounts and trusting him to be the judge.

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. 22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

1 Thessalonians 4

Because Jesus came back to life, so will all believers. Do not despair when loved ones die or world events take a tragic turn, God will turn our tragedies into triumphs. And we will all be reunited and united with Him for ever and ever. Amen

18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

God Bless

Neil

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Exodus 35; John 14; Proverbs 11; Ephesians 4

Exodus 35

Building the tabernacle needed various materials and of course people with varied skills in a variety of disciplines to accomplish. God did not require special offerings from his people, just what they were willing to give, whether that was skill or material. He appealed to them as He does to us, to have generous and willing hearts. We all have been given varied skills and abilities and it is our duty to develop and nurture these and to use them in the service of God for His glory!

5 From what you have, take an offering for the Lord. Everyone who is willing is to bring to the Lord an offering of gold, silver and bronze; 6 blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; 7 ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; 8 olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 9 and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breast piece.

10 “All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the Lord has commanded:

 26 And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair.

John 14

Hallelujah! Jesus’ words show that the way to eternal life, though unseen, is secure.  As secure as your trust and acceptance of Jesus.

1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Not only is our eternity secured for us we also know the way to get it, wow!

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”     6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Proverbs 11

Two contrasting paths for life and not intended for all people in all circumstances, yet it can be applied to anywhere or wherever we may live. As God’s people we are not by any means excluded from troubles or struggles. If we follow God’s wisdom, however, we can and will be rescued.

8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble, and it falls on the wicked instead.

Ephesians 4

God has chosen us to be Christ’s representatives on earth. In the light of this, Paul challenges us to live lives worthy of the calling we have received. We have an awesome privilege of being called Christ’s very own. This includes being humble, gentle, patient, understanding, and peaceful. People are watching your life. Can they see Christ in you? How well are you doing as His representative?

 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

The Holy Spirit in us is our seal and guarantee that we belong to God!

God Bless

Neil

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Exodus 21; Luke 24; Job 39; 2 Corinthians 9

By the time I had read these readings, I could not but rejoice at what was achieved for us by Jesus Christ. His faultless life, death and resurrection.

He came to fulfill the “impossible to keep” intricate laws by which everyone would be declared guilty.

He came to absorb the Fathers wrath and redeem all who believe in Him

Exodus 21 – Complicated Laws

God laying down the Law

1“These are the laws you are to set before them:

Luke 24 – Resurrection Emmaus

Jesus walking beside believers and explaining the Scriptures in love.

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Job 39 – Humbling Job

God, more gently persuading Job to think correctly

26 “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread its wings toward the south? 27 Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high? 28 It dwells on a cliff and stays there at night; a rocky crag is its stronghold. 29 From there it looks for food; its eyes detect it from afar. 30 Its young ones feast on blood, and where the slain are, there it is.”

2 Corinthians 9 – Encouraging generosity

Paul encourages the people to respond generously

6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;  their righteousness endures forever.”

Thank you Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

God Bless

Neil

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