Daily Devotional Readings: Year Three – September

1st September: Proverbs 23:19-35
‘Keep your heart on the right path’ (19). How are we to do this? We must seek ‘truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding’ (23). We must give our hearts to Christ. He is ‘the Truth’ (John 14:6). We must open our hearts to Christ. He is ‘our Wisdom’ (1 Corinthians 1:30). Opening our hearts will mean opening our Bibles. Giving our hearts to Christ will mean giving time to reading God’s Word. As we read ‘the Scriptures’, we will receive ‘instruction’. We will learn about ‘salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’. We will receive ‘instruction for right living’ (2 Timothy 3:14-17). As we read God’s Word, we must pray that the Holy Spirit will give us ‘understanding’ (1 Corinthians 2:9-13). ‘Be filled with the Spirit’. ‘Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly’ (Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16).
2nd September: Ezekiel 21:1-32
We read here about ‘the time of final punishment’ (25,29). God’s Word speaks to us about ‘eternal punishment’ as well as ‘eternal life’: ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not have life, but will remain under God’s punishment’ (Matthew 25:46; John 3:36). God loves us. He sent His Son to be our Saviour. He calls us to put our faith in Christ (John 3:16-18). He speaks to us His Word of promise – ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ – and His Word of warning – ‘How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?’ (Hebrews 2:3). God is calling us to ‘flee from the wrath to come’ (Luke 3:7). We must turn from sin – ‘Turn away from your sins and live’ – and turn to Him – ‘Turn to Me and be saved’ (18:32; Isaiah 45:22).
3rd September: Ezekiel 22:1-31
‘I looked for a man…, but I found none’ (30). God is looking for people who will be faithful in prayer. What happens when God’s people refuse to pray? God’s Word leaves us in no doubt – ‘I will pour out My anger on them…, bringing down on their own heads all they have done’ (31). What a tragedy! The people refused to pray – and there was no blessing from the Lord: ‘You do not have, because you do not ask God’ (James 4:2). Things could have been so different: ‘If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14). God wants to bless us. We must pray for His blessing. ‘Ask and it will be given to you…’ (Matthew 7:7-8).
4th September: Ezekiel 23:1-49
‘Because you have forgotten Me and turned your back on Me, you will be punished for all your sin’ (35). We are to remember the Lord. We must not forget Him. We must not let the Word of God ‘go in one ear and out the other’. We must be ‘doers of the Word’ as well as ‘hearers of the Word’ (James 1:22-25). Let’s put the past behind us and make a new beginning with God: ‘Return to Me, and I will return to you’ (Malachi 3:7). ‘Have mercy on me, O God… Cleanse me from my sin…Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation’ (Psalm 51:1-2,10-12). Let this be the prayer of your heart and the blessing of God will flow into your life.
5th September: 1 John 3:19-4:21
‘God is greater than our hearts’. When you are deeply aware of your sinfulness, remember – God loves you. God’s Word is brutally honest – about us: ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?’ God’s Word is wonderfully encouraging – about His love for us. He ‘knows everything’ about us – and He still loves us: ‘God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us’ (3:20; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 5:8). What a great Saviour we have. He is ‘without sin’ – yet He is the Friend of sinners. He ‘receives sinners’. He ‘came into the world to save sinners’ (Hebrews 4:15; Luke 15:2; 1 Timothy 1:15). Whenever we start getting too full of ourselves, too full of our own importance, we must remember: ‘He first loved us’ (4:19) – before we ever thought of loving Him!
6th September: Ezekiel 24:1-27
‘I will punish you because of the way you lived’ (14). God is calling us to think about the way we are living. He wants us to leave behind the old, self-centred way of living. He wants us to begin a new life, a life that is centred on Him. Real change comes from God. We must pray that He will change us – ‘Change my heart, O God. Make it ever true. Change my heart, O God. May I be like You’. We must pray for a deep work of the Spirit of God in our hearts – ‘Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me…Break me, melt me, mould me, fill me…’. We must pray that we will become more like Jesus – ‘Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, all His wondrous compassion and purity. Oh, Thou Spririt divine, all my nature refine, till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me’ (Mission Praise, 69,613,410).
7th September: Ezekiel 25:1-17
We read here about God’s judgment upon sinful nations – Ammon (1-7), Moab (8-11), Edom (12-14) and Philistia (15-17). God speaks to us. He says to us, ‘You will know that I am the Lord’ (5,7,11,17). He speaks to us as our Judge. He speaks to us about ‘sin, righteousness and judgment’ (John 16:8-11). We are sinners. God is righteous. There will be a Judgment. This is God’s way of showing us how much we need His love. He shows us how much we need to be saved so that we might learn to be truly thankful to Him for the Good News of His love, the Gospel of our salvation – ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…’; ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’; ‘Christ died for our sins’ (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Corinthians 15:3). Let us ‘rejoice in God our Saviour‘ (Luke 2:47).
8th September: Ezekiel 26:1-21
‘I am against you, O Tyre…You will be no more…You will never again be found…’ (3,21). God’s Word is spoken against us: ‘There is no-one righteous…All have turned away…There is no-one who does good…All have sinned…’ (Romans 3:10,12.23). God speaks His Word against us ‘so that every mouth may be silenced’ (Romans 3:19). He wants us to to stop making excuses for ourselves. He wants us to start listening to what He has to say to us. For the city of Tyre, the situation was hopeleess. For us, there is a Word of hope. Jesus Christ has come ‘to seek and to save the lost’. Jesus Christ has ‘died for our sins’ (Luke 19:10; 1 Peter 3:18). ‘Through faith in Jesus Christ’, we hear God’s Word of forgiveness: ‘I will remember their sins no more’ (Romans 3:22; Hebrews 8:12; 10:17).
9th September: Psalm 132:1-18
‘Let us go to the Lord’s House; let us worship before His throne’ (7). God is calling us to worship Him. We are to gather together as His worshipping people. As we gather for worship, we remember that ‘the Lord is King’. We do not only give Him the praise of our lips. We give Him the praise of our lives. We do not only sing to Him. We live for Him. We come ‘before His throne’ with this prayer, ‘Take my heart – it is Thine own; It shall be Thy royal throne’. God hears and answers our prayer. He gives us His strength. We rise to His challenge: ‘Rise up, O Church of God! Have done with lesser things; Give heart and soul and mind and strength to serve the King of kings’ (Church Hymnary, 36,462,477). The service of worship comes to an end. Let our service of living begin – and never end!
10th September: Ezekiel 27:1-36
‘Your wealth…will sink into the heart of the sea on the day of your shipwreck’ (27). We will sink if we don’t ‘keep our eyes fixed on Jesus’. We must not allow ourselves to get weighed down. We must not become ‘entangled’ in the world’s way of living. We must ‘throw off everything that hinders’ our spiritual growth. Jesus is ‘the sure and strong Anchor for our lives’. He will keep us from sinking. Let us look to Him and learn from Him: ‘Do not lay up treasures on earth…Lay up treasures in heaven’ (Hebrews 12:1-2; 6:19; 2 Timothy 2:4; Matthew 6:19-20). ‘Will your anchor hold in the storms of life…? We have an Anchor that keeps the soul , steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love!’ (Church Hymnary, 412).
11th September: Ezekiel 28:1-26
‘You were on the holy mount of God…You were blameless in your ways…You sinned…I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God’ (14-16). This is much more than the ‘long time ago’ story of ‘the king of Tyre’ (12). Here, we catch a glimpse of ‘the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms’. We read about ‘war in heaven’. We read about the downfall of ‘Satan’. God’s Word is warning us: ‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood’. We face a much more poweful ‘enemy’ – ‘Satan’. He ‘disguises himself as an angel of light’. We must not be fooled. He is no ‘angel of light’. He is ‘a roaring lion’. He is ‘prowling about, looking for someone to devour’. We shall overcome him ‘by the blood of the Lamb…’ (Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 12:7-9,11; 2 Corinthians 11:14; 1 Peter 5:8).
12th September: Ezekiel 29:1-21
In God’s dealings with Egypt, we see both His wrath – ‘Egypt will become a desolate wasteland’ – and His mercy – ‘At the end of forty years…I will restore the fortunes of Egypt’ (9,13-14). God’s wrath is His response to Egypt’s pride – ‘Because you said, “The Nile is mine; I made it”, therefore I am against you’ (9-10). In His merciful restoration, God places His restraint on Egypt’s pride – ‘It shall be the most lowly of the kingdoms, and will never again exalt itself above the other nations’ (15). We come to God as sinners. We confess our sins, praying, ‘In wrath, remember mercy’. He saves us by ‘His mercy’. His way of salvation – ‘through Jesus Christ our Saviour’ – is a constant rebuke to our pride: ‘This is not your own doing. It is the gift of God’ (Habakkuk 3:2; Titus 3:4-6; Ephesians 2:8).
13th September: 1 John 5:1-21
What a great blessing we receive through faith in Christ – ‘Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God’ (1). Our life as God’s children is not a life of tranquility. We face conflict, real conflict – a battle. In this spiritual warfare, we have God’s promise of victory. In verse 5, we have a question: ‘Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?’. The answer is contained in the question. Our victory is in Christ. We are not victorious because our faith is so strong that we couldn’t possibly fail. Many times, we fail. We take our eyes off Christ – and we are defeated. What are we to do? – when temptations seem to be so many and so powerful. When you feel so weak, let Christ be your Strength. ‘With Christ within, the fight we’ll win’.
14th September: Psalms 133:1-134:3
God sends ‘His blessing’ when His people gather together for worship: ‘How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!’ (133:1,3). Many people like to think of themselves as ‘believers’, yet they show no interest in worshipping together with God’s people. What does God’s Word say about this? – ‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…’ (Hebrews 10:25). ‘Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the House of the Lord’ (133:1; 134:1). Some people never miss a Sunday morning service – but they always miss the Sunday evening services! They are missing out on so much of God’s blessing. ‘May the Lord…bless you…’ on Sunday evenings as well as Sunday mornings (134:2)!
15th September: Psalm 135:1-21
‘Praise the Lord’ (1-3,19-21). ‘The Lord is good…The Lord is great’ (3,5). In our worship, we focus on both God’s greatness and His goodness. God is great in power: ‘Great is our Lord and mighty in power’ (147:5). He is also great in love: ‘How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!’ (1 John 3:1). When we praise the Lord, singing of His greatness, let us not think only of the greatness of His power: ‘I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed’. Let us think also of His goodness, the greatness of His love: ‘And when I think that God His Son not sparing, sent Him to die – I scarce can take it in, that on the Cross my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin’ (Mission Praise, 506).
16th September: Psalm 136:1-26
‘His love endures for ever’. This is the great message contained in every single verse of this Psalm. It’s a message worth repeating – over and over again! God’s love is an everlasting love – ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’ (Jeremiah 31:3). God’s love is an unfailing love – ‘My unfailing love for you will not be shaken’ (Isaiah 54:10). Let us ‘give thanks’ to God for His love (1-3,26). In His love, the Lord has provided for us ‘an everlasting salvation’. His ‘salvation will last for ever’ (Isaiah 45:17; 51:6). We must not be like those who refuse to love the Lord – ‘Pharaoh…great kings…mighty kings …’ (15,17-20). Those who reject God’s love will not receive ‘eternal life’. Their future will be very different – the ‘raging fire that will consume the enemies of God’ (John 3:16-18; Hebrews 10:26-27).
17th September: Psalms 137:1-138:8
‘How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?’ (137:4). It is not easy to keep on worshipping the Lord when so many show no interest in worshipping Him. What are we to do when our faith seems so weak and we are on the verge of giving up? ‘Ask the Saviour to help you, comfort, strengthen and keep you’. What will we find when we come to the Lord, looking to Him for strength? ‘He is willing to aid you. He will carry you through’. God gives us strength – ‘You answered me when I called to You. With Your strength, You strengthened me’ (138:3). “To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown. Through faith we shall conquer, though often cast down. He who is our Saviour, our strength will renew. Look ever to Jesus. He will carry you through’ (Church Hymnary, 482).
18th September: Ezekiel 30:1-26
‘The day of the Lord is near…A sword will come against Egypt…The day of Egypt’s doom is sure to come’ (3-4,9). We must not take God lightly. We can’t do what we like and get away with it. We must not ‘trample the Son of God under foot’. We must not ‘treat Christ’s blood as an unholy thing’. We must not ‘insult the Spirit of grace’. We must not forget: ‘It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’. God is speaking to us concerning ‘the Day of the Lord’, the Return of Christ: ‘He who is coming will come…’. He speaks His Word of warning: ‘Those who shrink back are destroyed’. He speaks His Word of promise: ‘Those who believe are saved’ (Hebrews 10:29,31,37-39). ‘When Christ comes, will He find faith…?’. ‘Search my heart, O God…’ (Luke 18:8; Psalm 139:23-24).
19th September: Ezekiel 31:1-18
‘Pharaoh, king of Egypt’ had the appearance of ‘majesty’ – ‘Who can be compared with you in majesty?’ – yet he was ‘brought down’ (2,18). There is one Majesty who will never be brought down – Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is ‘the same yesterday and today and for ever’. He will receive ‘glory for ever and ever’. To Him alone, the Father says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever’ (Hebrews 13:8,21; 1:8). This is real Majesty! ‘Majesty, worship His Majesty. Unto Jesus be glory, honour and praise. Majesty, Kingdom authority, flows from His throne unto His own. His anthem raise. So exalt, lift up on high the Name of Jesus. Magnify, come glorify, Christ Jesus the King. Majesty, worship His Majesty, Jesus who died, now glorified, King of all kings’ (Mission Praise, 454).
20th September: Ezekiel 32:1-32
‘Pride goes before destruction’ (Proverbs 16:18). ‘Pharaoh, king of Egypt’ was arrogant and ruthless: ‘You are like a lion among the nations;you are like a monster in the seas, thrashing about in your streams, churning the water with your feet and muddying the streams’ (2). Soon, it would be ‘the day of his downfall’: ‘The sword of Babylon will come against you…Pharaoh and all his hordes will be killed by the sword’ (10-11,32). Don’t be like the rich fool – ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry’. He couldn’t have been more wrong! – ‘God said to him, ‘You fool! I will demand your life from you tonight!”‘ God is warning us: ‘This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God’ (Luke 12:19-21).
21st September: 2 John
‘Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for, but may win a full reward’ (8). Don’t let things slip. Build on the work that has already been done. This will not be easy – ‘many deceivers have already gone out into the world’. Such people do nothing but harm. They are wreckers. They will destroy the work of God – and think nothing of it. They are ‘antichrist’. They are doing ‘wicked work’ (7,10). When God’s work and God’s glory are at stake, we dare not be too ‘easy-going’. The ‘anything goes’ attitude will undermine the work of God – if we’re not careful. ‘A charge to keep I have, a God to glorify…To serve the present age, my calling to fulfil…Arm me with jealous care, as in Thy sight to live; and O, Thy servant, Lord, prepare, a strict account to give’ (Revised Church Hymnary, 518).
22nd September: Proverbs 24:1-14
‘Wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, there is a future hope for you’ (14). How do we find wisdom? We read the written Word of God, seeking God’s promised blessing: ‘The law of the Lord is perfect and revives the soul. The Lord’s instruction never fails. and makes the simple wise’. As we read God’s written Word, keeping our eyes fixed on Christ, the living ‘Word’ of God, we discover that He is the ‘Wisdom’ which is ‘sweeter than honey’and we rejoice in Him, our ‘Hope of glory’ – ‘You believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls’ (John 1:1-2,14; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Psalm 19:7,10; Colossians 1:27; 1 Peter 1:8). ‘Ask God’ for ‘wisdom’.’Seek and you will find’ (James 1:5-8; Matthew 7:7).
23rd September: Proverbs 24:15-34
‘Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again’ (15). We are ‘kept by the power of God’. We do not raise ourselves. It is the Lord who is ‘able to keep us from falling’. He ‘knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations’ (1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24; 2 Peter 2:9). When our ‘faith’ is ‘tested by fire’, we must pray that God will give us His victory: ‘Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace’ (1 Peter 1:6-7;Daniel 3:17). When our strength is almost gone, the Lord comes with His Word: ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9), ‘Amazing grace!…Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. ‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home’ (Mission Praise, 31).
24th September: Ezekiel 33:1-33
Ezekiel was to be ‘a watchman for the house of Israel’: ‘whenever you hear a Word from My mouth, you shall give them warning from Me’. He was to ‘warn the wicked to turn from his way’ (7-9). This is the warning of love. God loves us. It is because He loves that He ‘has no pleasure in the death of the wicked’. In His love, He shows us our sin so that we might come to Him with a real confession of sin: ‘Our sins are upon us’. In His love, He creates in us a desire for His salvation: ‘How then can we live?’. In His love, He calls us to return to Him: ‘Turn back from your evil ways’. He loves us. He does not want us to ‘die’: ‘Why will you die?’ (10-11). In love, God shows us our sin – ‘The wages of sin is death’ – and calls us to receive His ‘free gift’ – ‘eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23).
25th September: Ezekiel 34:1-31
God speaks to us in love. He says, ‘I Myself will be the Shepherd of My sheep’ (15). We rejoice in His love. We say, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ (Psalm 23:1). Jesus is our Shepherd. He is ‘the good Shepherd‘. He laid down His life for us that we might receive the forgiveness of our sins. ‘Christ died for our sins’. He – ‘the Righteous’ – died for us – ‘the unrighteous’ – ‘to bring us to God’ (John 10:11; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Peter 3:18). He is ‘the great Shepherd‘. He was ‘raised’ from the dead’. Through His resurrection, we receive eternal life. He says to us, ‘Because I live you will live also’ (Hebrews 13:20-21; 1 Corinthians 15:4; John 14:19). He is ‘the chief Shepherd‘. He will come again with ‘the unfading crown of glory’ for His ‘good and faithful servants’ (1 Peter 5:4; Matthew 25:21).
26th September: Ezekiel 35:1-15
‘You will be desolate, O Mount Seir, you and all of Edom. Then they will know that I am the Lord’ (15). The people of Edom knew the Lord as their Judge. There is a much better way of knowing the Lord. We can know Him as our Saviour. Those who refuse to come to Jesus Christ, trusting in Him as Saviour, place themselves under God’s judgment. They are ‘condemned already because they have not believed in the Name of God’s one and only Son’. They will know the Lord as their Judge – but they could have known Him as their Saviour if they had submitted to God’s saving purpose for their lives: ‘God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him’ (John 3:17-18). Each of us must choose. Do you know Christ as Saviour, or will you face Him as Judge?
27th September: Ezekiel 36:1-38
‘I will look on you with favour’ (9). Through Christ our Saviour, God looks upon us with favour. Here are some words which will help you to rejoice in the ‘wonderful grace of Jesus’ which is ‘greater than all my sin’, the ‘wonderful grace of Jesus’ which ‘reaches me’. ‘Let me introduce you to a friend called Grace. Doesn’t care about your past or your many mistakes. He’ll cover your sins in a warm embrace. Let me introduce to a friend called Grace’. ‘His grace reaches lower than your worst mistake and His love will run further than you can run away’. ‘He believes in lost causes when common sense would just give up. He believes in lost causes and changes people with His love. There’s nobody too far gone, no one beyond His reach. He believes in lost causes ’cause He believed in me’. Let Jesus be your Joy!
28th September: Ezekiel 37:1-28
It was ‘a valley of dry bones’ (1-2). Then, the Lord changed everything – ‘I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live’ (5). What a difference the Lord makes! ‘Breathe on me, Breath of God. Fill me with life anew’ (Church Hymnary, 103). What happens when the Spirt of the Lord breathes new life into the Church of God? – ‘The Church that seemed in slumber has now risen from its knees and dry bones are responding with the fruits of new birth’. ‘Holy Spirit, we welcome You. Let the breeze of Your presence flow that Your children here might truly know how to move in the Spirit’s flow…Holy Spirit, we welcome You. Please accomplish in us today some new work of loving grace, we pray. Unreservedly, have Your way. Holy Spirit, we welcome You’ (Mission Praise, 274,241).
29th September: Psalm 139:1-24
Through Christ our Saviour, we are led ‘in the way everlasting’: ‘God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son’ (24; 1 John 5:11). God’s great pupose of eternal salvation seems ‘too wonderful’ – ‘too good to be true’! ‘It is a thing most wonderful, almost too wonderful to be, that God’s own Son should come from heaven and die to save a child like me, and yet I know that it is true…’ (6; Church Hymnary, 385). God has a glorious future planned for us. We can hardly even begin to take it in: ‘Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain’. We know that ‘no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ yet we rejoice in this: ‘God has revealed it to us by His Spirit’ (6; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10). ‘Lead me in the way everlasting!'(24).
30th September: 3 John
Some people do a lot of good. Others do a great deal of harm. Diotrephes thought he was a big ‘star’. He ‘loves to be first’. He ‘likes to put himself first’. He wasn’t a star. He was a disaster! He took ‘nothing to do with’ God’s servants. He did ‘not acknowledge’ the authority’ of Christ’s apostle. He was ‘gossiping maliciosly about’ God’s servants. He did not make people feel ‘welcome’. He drove people ‘out of the church’ (9-10). Demetrius was very different. He was ‘well spoken of by everyone – and even by the truth itself’. He wasn’t just popular. He was real, genuine, true. There was a ring of truth about him. These were no empty words of flattery. God’s ‘true’ servants said, ‘We also speak well of him’ (12). What kind of person are you?
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