Daily Devotional Readings: Year Three – July

1st July: Jeremiah 39:1-18
You can take the man out of Babylon, but you can’t take Babylon out of the man! We may have never set foot in the ancient city of Babylon, but we know all about the spirit of Babylon! ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt’ (17:9) – This is the spirit of Babylon, ‘the spirit of disobedience’, the spirit which is ‘at work’ in every one of us: ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Ephesians 2:2; Romans 3:23). Is there any hope for us? We cannot change ourselves: ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil’ (13:23). We can be changed by God. To those who ‘trust’ in Him, the Lord says, ‘I will save you’ (18). God wants to bless you. Put your trust in Him. Let His blessing flow into your heart (17:7).
2nd July: Jeremiah 40:1-16
‘The Lord your God pronounced this evil against this place; the Lord has brought it about, and has done as He said. Because you sinned against the Lord, and did not obey His voice, this thing has come upon you’ (3). We hear a great deal today about ‘the feel good factor’. People need to get a good feeling: ‘Give them a pat on the back. Make them feel good about themselves’. There’s not much of a ‘feel good factor’ in Jeremiah’s preaching! The people must have been wondering, ‘Where did they dig him up from? He has nothing good to say about anyone or anything’. We must rise above the sarcasm of those who have no time for the Word of the Lord. We must ask, ‘Where did Jeremiah’s message really come from?’. This is what the Word of the Lord says: ‘The Word came to Jeremiah from the Lord‘ (1).
3rd July: Jeremiah 41:1-42:6
Terrible things were happening! Things were going from bad to worse. ‘What next?’ – The people were wondering where it would all end. What are we to do when everything seems to be getting totally out of control? There is one thing we must never forget. It is the most important thing of all. We must ‘pray to the Lord our God’. We must ask Him to ‘show us the way we should go’. He will ‘show us the thing that we should do’ (42:2-3). It’s time to stop complaining and start praying. ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!…Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged. Take it to the Lord in prayer!…Jesus knows our every weakness. Take it to the Lord in prayer!’ (Mission Praise, 746).
4th July: Jeremiah 42:7-43:7
‘Do not go to Egypt’ (19). We may never set foot in the country known as ‘Egypt’ – but the spirit of ‘Egypt’ may be in our hearts: ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey Him…?’ (Exodus 5:2). ‘Egypt’ is an attitude of the heart. It is an attitude of rebellion against God. We must say ‘No’ to ‘Egypt’. We must say ‘No’ to the spirit of rebellion against God. For God’s people, ‘Egypt’ was a place of slavery, a place from which they needed to be set free by God (Exodus 2:23-25; 3:7-10). Each of us must choose how we will live. We can remain in the place of slavery – ‘slaves of sin’ – , or we can be ‘obedient from the heart’, stepping out from that place into the place of freedom, ‘the new life of the Spirit’ – ‘`the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death’ (Romans 6:17-18; 7:6; 8:2).
5th July: Psalm 115:1-18
‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Your Name be the glory because of Your love and faithfulness’ (1). God loves us. He loves us with a faithful love, ‘an evelasting love’, a ‘love that will not let us go’. His love ‘never comes to an end’. Nothing can separate us from His love (Jeremiah 31:3; Lamentations 3:22-23; Romans 8:38-39; Church Hymnary, 677). What have we done to deserve such love? Absolutely nothing! We are ‘sinners’. We do not deserve to be loved by God. We have done nothing to earn His love. Love begins with God. It comes from Him. How do we know that He loves us? Have we proved ourselves worthy of His love? No! – ‘God shows His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’. ‘To God be the glory!’ (Romans 5:8; Church Hymnary, 374).
6th July: Psalms 116:1-117:2
‘I love the Lord…I will call on Him as long as I live’ (116:1-2). Our love for God is to be a lifelong life. It is to be the love of our life. What are we to do when our love for God grows weak? We must remember His love for us – ‘Great is His love towards us. The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever’ (117:2). When we we find it difficult to keep on loving God, we must remember how much He loves us. When we feel live giving up on loving God, we must remember that He never gives up on loving us. He loves us when our love for Him is strong. He loves us when our love for Him is weak. In love, He reaches out to us. He brings us out of our weakness and into His strength. Let His strong love reach you in your weakness and give you His strength: ‘Loving Him who first loved me’ (Church Hymnary, 450).
7th July: Jeremiah 43:8-44:14
‘The Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah’ (43:8). The Lord speaks His Word to those who are prepared to make time for listening to Him. Come to God’s Word, praying that it will be ‘a lamp to your feet and a light to your path’. Come with the prayer, ‘Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Word’. See that you ‘live according to His Word’: ‘I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You’ (Psalm 119:105,18,9,11). Pray that God will ‘speak’ to you. ‘Listen’ to what He says to you (1 Samuel 3:10). ‘Say to them, “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says…”‘ (43:10). Don’t keep God’s Word to yourself. Share His Word. We are not to listen to God without also speaking for Him. We must remember that we cannot really speak for Him unless we are also listening to Him.
8th July: Jeremiah 44:15-45:5
‘Egypt’ was to be a place of punishment. To those who remain in the the place of rebellion, God says, ‘I will punish you in this place’. This is His Word of warning. We don’t need to remain in the place of rebellion and punishment. We can ‘return’ to ‘Judah’, the place of obedience and blessing (28-29). This is not about places we will find on a map of the world. It’s a call to look into the secret places of our hearts. We must ask God to search our hearts. What will He find when He looks into our hearts? Will He find rebellion? Will He find obedience? God wants us to leave the place of rebellion and punishment. He wants us to return to the place of obedience and blessing. ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart!…See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!’ (Psalm 139:23-24).
9th July: Jeremiah 46:1-28
‘Egypt rises like the Nile, like rivers whose waters surge. He said, “I will rise, I will cover the earth, I will destroy cities and their inhabitants”‘ (8). The spirit of rebellion against God is very powerful. Many lives have been destroyed by the attitude of proud unbelief: ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey Him…?’ (Exodus 5:2). We must take our stand against this attitude. We must stand up for the Lord. We see the world going from bad and worse. We must continue to believe the Word of God. When we are filled with fear, He comes to us with His Word, ‘Do not fear…Do not be dismayed…’. When we feel the spirit of rebellion sweeping over us, God comes to us with His promise: ‘I will surely save you out of a distant place’. He gives us ‘peace and security’ – ‘Do not fear…I am with you’ (27-28).
10th July: Jeremiah 47:1-48:17
‘The day has come to destroy all the Philistines…The Lord is about to destroy the Philistines …Woe to you, O Moab! The people of Chemosh are destroyed’ (47:4). That seems like ancient history – nothing to do with us! What about this? – ‘A curse on him who is lax in doing the Lord’s work!’ (48:17). The Bible may have been written many centuries ago – but it still has a great deal to do with us! We miss the point if we read the Bible as no more than a book of ancient history. God is still speaking to us through His Word. He is still calling us to sit up and take notice. He is still demanding our attention. We must not be lazy in the work of the Lord. We are to be faithful servants of the Lord. ‘Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord…your labour in the Lord is not in vain’ (1 Corinthians 15:58).
11th July: 1 Peter 1:1-25
On earth, we have ‘trials’. In ‘heaven’, we will have ‘salvation’ (3-9). In our journey from trials to salvation, from earth to heaven, we are to live a life of holiness and love. In this life of ‘obedience to the truth’, we must never forget that we have been ‘redeemed with the precious blood of Christ’ (15,22,18-19). We must never take pride in our obedience – ‘boasting is excluded’. All that can be said about ourselves is this: ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. What makes the difference? What is it that changes us? What is it that sets us on the pathway of holiness and love? We have received ‘the redemption which is in Christ Jesus’. Our ‘faith’ is in Him (Romans 3:27,23-25). He makes the difference. He changes us. He makes us holy. He fills us with His love.
12th July: 1 Peter 2:1-25
Being ‘God’s own people’ is a great privilege – ‘you have received mercy’. It is also a great responsibility – ‘declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light’ (9-10). God’s people are described as ‘strangers in the world’ (11). We must not think of ourselves as ‘superior’ – ‘a cut above the rest’. We are not! In ourselves, we are ‘strangers’ – ‘without God in the world’. There’s nothing ‘special’ about us, There’s something very special about what God has done for us: ‘In Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ’ (Ephesians 2:12-13). As those who ‘have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls’, let’s point others to Him who ‘bore our sins…that we might die to sin and live to righteousness’ (24-25).
13th July: 1 Peter 3:1-4:6
The world is preoccupied with outward appearances. As Christians, we should be more concerned with our inward attitude. ‘In your hearts reverence Christ as Lord’. Pray for His ‘attitude’ – ‘a tender heart and a humble mind’ (8,15; 4:1). We believe the Gospel – ‘Christ died for our sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God’. Let’s share the Gospel – ‘Be always ready to give…a reason for the hope that is in you’. How are we to share the Gospel? – ‘with gentleness and respect’ (18,15). We must get the attitude right – ‘so that nothing will hinder our prayers’ (7). We need more than the ‘right’ prayers – words that sound good. We need the right attitude. The blessing will not come because our words sound good. It will only come when our attitude is right.
14th July: 1 Peter 4:7-5:14
In all the service we offer to God, there is to be the offering of worship: ‘To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever’ (4:11; 5:11). We will not learn to serve God unless we are learning to worship Him. There is a ‘form of religion’ which ‘denies the power’ of God – ‘These people honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me’ (2 Timothy 3:5; Matthew 15:8). They go through the motions – but their hearts are not in it! We must pray that God will deliver us from this kind of thing: ‘O for a heart to praise my God! A heart from sin set free; A heart that always feels Thy blood, so freely shed for me’ (Church Hymnary, 85). ‘Religion’ is about respectability. Salvation is about renewal: ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me’ (Psalm 51:10).
15th July: Jeremiah 49:1-22
‘Afterwards I will restore the fortunes…’ (6). Sometimes, when you’re going through a particularly difficult time, you may wonder, ‘Will this ever end?’. God speaks to us His Word of encouragement. There will be an ‘afterwards’. There will be a ‘restoration of our fortunes’. ‘The Lord will not cast us off for ever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion according to His steadfast love. He does not willingly bring suffering or grief to anyone’ (Lamentations 3:31-33). There will come a time when we will be able to look back at our most distressing circumstances and say from the heart, ‘God meant it for good’ (Genesis 50:20). In our most testing and trying times, God is teaching us to say, with confidence in Him, ‘We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him’ (Romans 8:28).
16th July: Jeremiah 49:23-39
‘I will restore the fortunes…in days to come’ (39). God is calling us on to His future, a glorious future, a future full of heavenly and eternal glory. We look ahead to ‘days to come’. We look ahead to the greatest Day of all – the Day of Christ’s Return. It will be a glorious Day – ‘the Day He comes to be glorified…in all who have believed’. What a glorious Day it will be – the Day of ‘the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’, the Day of ‘our being gathered to Him’: ‘The Lord Himself will come down from heaven…We will be with the Lord for ever’. Get ready for Christ’s Return. Don’t be like those who ‘perish’. They ‘do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus’. They ‘refuse to love the truth and be saved’. Have ‘faith’ in Christ and be ‘saved’ (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; 2:1,10,13-14; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
17th July: Jeremiah 50:1-28
‘The people…will go in tears to seek the Lord their God…They will come and bind themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten’ (4-5). God is calling us to come to Him. He is calling us to commit ourselves to Him. We are to come to the Lord with ‘tears’: ‘Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation’ (2 Corinthians 7:10). Our commitment to the Lord is not to be a half-hearted thing. It is to be a whole-hearted dedication of our lives to Him. God loves us. He has blessed us so much. He has drawn us to Himself. He has heard and answered our prayer for salvation. How are we to respond to such love? We must give ourselves to Him as ‘a living sacrifice’. This is our ‘spiritual worship’. It is ‘holy and pleasing to God’ (Romans 12:1).
18th July: Jeremiah 50:29-46
‘The arrogant one will stumble and fall’ (32). God’s Word warns us – ‘Pride goes before…a fall’; ‘Arrogance will bring your downfall’ (Proverbs 16:18; 29:23). We must not trust in ourselves. We must put our trust in the Lord – Our ‘Redeemer is strong. The Lord Almighty is His Name’ (34). We must not boast of ourselves. Salvation is ‘not our own doing’. We must ‘boast of the Lord’. Salvation is ‘the gift of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). When we are tempted to take pride in ourselves – ‘Lord, I thank You that I am not like other men…’ (Luke 18:11-12), we must come to the Cross of Christ, praying the sinner’s prayer – ‘Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner’ (Luke 18:13) – and boasting only of the Lord – ‘God forbid that I should glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14).
19th July: Psalm 118:1-29
‘The Lord is my Strength and my Song. He is my Saviour’ (14). Knowing that Jesus Christ is our Saviour gives us a song to sing: ‘Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine…This is my story, this is my song, praising my Saviour all the day long’. Knowing that Jesus Christ is our Saviour, we sing His song with strength, committing ourselves to His service, earnestly seeking to win others for Him: ‘We’ve a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right …We’ve a song to be sung to the nations, that shall lift their hearts to the Lord…We’ve a message to give to the nations, that the Lord, who reigneth above, hath sent us His Son to save us…We’ve a Saviour to show to the nations…’ (Mission Praise, 59,744). Don’t keep your Saviour to yourself. Share Him with others. Win others for Him.
20th July: Psalm 119:1-24
The way of blessing is the way of obedience (1,9,11,17). Many will choose the way of disobedience – ‘influential people sit together and slander me’. We must choose the way of obedience – ‘Your servant will meditate on Your teachings’ (23). Following Jesus Christ will not be easy. We see many people turning back from following Him. We are tempted to join them. We feel the pull of the world. We must not take our eyes off Jesus. We must not return to the world’s way of living. We must remember all that Jesus has done for us – ‘He loved us and gave Himself for us’ (Galatians 2:20) – and recommit ourselves to following Him: ‘I have decided to follow Jesus…The world behind me, the Cross before me…Though none go with me, I still will follow…No turning back, no turning back’ (Mission Praise, 272).
21st July: Psalm 119: 25-48
‘Revive me according to Your Word’ (25). How does God revive us according to His Word? He gives us His salvation: ‘Let Your unfailing love come to me, O Lord – Your salvation according to Your Word’ (41). He gives us His strength: ‘My soul is weary with sorrow. Strengthen me according to Your Word’ (28). He gives us a change of heart: ‘I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on Your laws…I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free…Give me understanding, and I will keep Your law and obey it with my whole heart…Turn my heart to Your testimonies…’ (30,32,34,36). He gives us ‘new life’: ‘When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!’ (40; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
22nd July: Psalm 119:49-72
God’s Word makes such a difference! When everything seems so hopeless, we turn to God’s Word and we find that there is ‘hope’ (49). When we are going through a time of terrible ‘suffering’, we turn to God’s Word and we find ‘comfort’ (50,52). When everything seems to be going so badly, we must keep on reading the Word of the Lord: ‘The wicked have laid a trap for me, but I do not forget Your law’ (61). Through His Word, God is teaching us to see His purpose in our sufferings: ‘The punishment You gave me was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to Your laws’ (71). God is showing us what is really important: ‘The law that You gave means more to me than all the money in the world’ (72). He is teaching us to see His ‘love’ in every part of our life (64).
23rd July: Psalm 119:73-96
We rejoice in God’s ‘constant love’. This is our ‘comfort’ – God keeps on loving us no matter what’s going on in our lives. We may be going through really hard times – ‘Men persecute me with lies…They have almost succeeded in killing me’. There’s one thing that never changes – God’s ‘constant love’. He loves us in the hard times as well as in the happy times. His love inspires us to keep on loving Him when we feel like giving up in despair (76,86-88). We see many changes taking place in our world. Sometimes, we wonder, ‘Where is God in all of this? Has He abandoned us? Can we keep on trusting Him and rejoicing in His Word?’. When our minds are full of negative thoughts, we must remember God’s Word – ‘Your Word, O Lord, will last for ever…Your faithfulness endures through all the ages’ (89-90).
24th July: Psalm 119:97-120
Throughout life, we have to make choices. Some choices are relatively straightforward. Others are very much more difficult. Some choices don’t affect the rest of our life very much. There are, however, choices which affect the whole of our life. There is one choice which is more important than any other – Choosing the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour. Those who refuse to choose are ‘double-minded'(113). They can’t make up their mind. They know that they should be following Christ – but they are still ‘in love with the world’. They are ‘lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God’ (I John 2:15; 2 Timothy 3:4). Make your choice. Say to the world, ‘Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God’. Say to God, ‘I have decided to obey Your laws until the day I die’ (115,112).
25th July: Psalm 119:121-144
‘The entrance of Your words gives light’ (130). The Word of God brings light into our lives. Sadly, many people ‘love darkness rather than light’. They refuse to ‘come to the light’. They prefer to remain in the darkness. They refuse to listen to what God is saying to them through His Word. Then, when things are not going so well for them, they blame God. They say, ‘It’s all Your fault’! Things could have been so different. They could have learned to spend time with God. They could have learned the lessons of faith which are found in God’s Word. They could have learned to cope with life’s difficulties. They could have been filled with the strength of the Lord. They would not be complaining against Him. They would be rejoicing in Him: He has ‘called us out of darkness into His marvellous light’ (1 Peter 2:10).
26th July: Psalm 119:145-176
‘With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!’ (145). God is calling us to pray. There is nothing more important than this. If other things have become more important in our lives, we need to think about the way we are living. God wants to send His blessing into our lives: ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7). His blessing will come to those who seek him with their whole heart: ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you seek me with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:13). If we do not ask, we will not receive: ‘You do not have, because you do not ask’ (James 4:2). God’s blessing is not given to those who are half-hearted. God is calling us to love Him with our whole heart: ‘I long for Your salvation, O Lord, and Your law is my delight’ (174).
27th July: Jeremiah 51:1-33
‘Lift up a banner in the land! Blow the trumpet among the nations!’ (27). God calls us to be His witnesses. If we are growing in our fellowship with the Lord, we will want others to know what they’re missing. We will want them to know how much blessing they could know – if they put their faith in Christ and began to walk with Him day-by-day. Let us give our testimony: ‘The Lord is my Banner’, ‘His banner over me is love’ (Exodus 17:15; Song of Solomon 2:4). Let us make sure that our ‘trumpet’ gives out ‘a clear call’, calling people to come to Christ. We must point them to Christ, calling them to trust Him as Saviour and obey Him as Lord. We must show them the way to true happiness: ‘Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey’ (Mission Praise, 760).
28th July: Jeremiah 51:34-64
‘When you get to Babylon, see that you read all these words aloud’ (61). God’s Word is not to be kept within the place of worship. We are to take His Word to ‘Babylon’. We must speak His Word in the places where He is not worshipped. We are to call people to turn from their sinful ways. We are to call them to return to the Lord. This will not be an easy message to speak. Many people won’t want to hear it. We must warn people that by neglecting God’s salvation, they are placing themselves in danger of His judgment. We must speak of the Day when everyone of us must ‘answer’ to God concerning the way we have lived our lives (Hebrews 2:3; 4:13). We must call on people to ‘believe in the Lord Jesus’ and ‘be saved’ (Acts 16:31).
29th July: Jeremiah 52:1-34
We need ‘a portion for each day…all the days of our life’ (34). When we pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’, we must look beynd our physical need for food. We must remember our spiritual need for ‘the Bread of life’: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word of God’ (Matthew 6:11; John 6:35; Luke 4:4). Day-by day, we should pray for spiritual feeding: ‘Break Thou the Bread of life, dear Lord to me, as Thou didst break the bread beside the sea. Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord. My spirit longs for Thee, Thou living Word! Thou art the Bread of life, O Lord, to me, Thy holy Word the truth that saveth me. Give me to eat and live with Thee above. Teach me to love Thy truth, for Thou art love’ (Mission Praise, 64).
30th July: Psalm 120:1-121:8
‘Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips’ (120:2). God calls us to ‘believe the truth’, ‘love the truth’ and ‘follow the truth’. We are to be people who ‘do what is true’ (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11; 3 John 3-4; John 3:21). How can we be such people? We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. He is ‘the Truth’ (Hebrews 12:2; John 14:6). When we are tempted to turn away from the pathway of truth, we must remember this: ‘My help comes from the Lord’. We must remember God’s promise: ‘The Lord is your Keeper…The Lord will keep you from all evil’. God’s promise is not only for ‘this time’. It’s ‘for evermore'(121:2,5,7-8). This gives us glorious hope as we keep on looking to Christ,’eagerly awaiting’ His Return ( Hebrews 9:28).
31st July: Psalm 122:1-124:8
‘I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the House of the Lord”‘ (122:2). Why do we go to the House of the Lord? We go ‘to give thanks to the Name of the Lord’ (122:4). We seek His mercy for our past sins: ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us!’ (123:3). We seek His help for our future temptations: ‘Our help is in the Name of the Lord…’ (124:8). As we receive mercy and help from the Lord, we worship Him: ‘Blessed be the Lord’ (124:6). In our worship, we ‘look to the Lord of our God’, drawing encouragement from His Word: ‘The Lord is on our side’ – In Him we have the victory (123:2; 124:1-5). Rejoicing in God’s blessing, we pray for others: ‘May they prosper who love You’ (122:6).
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