1st October: 2 Chronicles 17:1-18:34
In 17:3, we read of backsliding – in David, Asa and Jehoshaphat. ‘Jehoshaphat walked in the first ways of his father David'(Authorized Version). David, Jehoshaphat’s ancestor, started off so well – ‘the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power’. Things fell apart for him when he set his eyes upon Bathsheba (1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Samuel 11:2-5). ‘Jehoshaphat walked in the earlier ways of his father'(Revised Standard Version). Asa, Jehoshaphat’s father, began well. He did not finish well (14:2; 16:12). ‘In his early years Jehoshaphat walked in the (good) ways that his father David had followed’ (New International Version). Sadly, he lost his way – ‘he made a marriage alliance with Ahab’, ‘a man…who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord’ (18:1; 1 Kings 21:25). It can happen to anyone! We must be careful!
2nd October: 2 Chronicles 19:1-20:37
‘I have the desire to do what is good , but I cannot carry it out…When I want to do good, evil is right there with me’ (Romans 7:18,21). In 19:2-3, we see the two sides of Jehoshaphat. In his heart, he wanted to do God’s will, seeking and serving Him. Sadly, however, he did not always follow the promptings of God’s Spirit. He allowed himself to be influenced by ‘those who hate the Lord’. The godly side of Jehoshaphat – ‘O Lord…our eyes are upon You’ – was in conflict with his sinful side – ‘Jehoshaphat…made an alliance with Ahaziah…who was guilty of wickedness’ (20:5-12,35). ‘The desires of the flesh…and the desires of the Spirit…are opposed to each other…’. ‘Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature’ (Galatians 5:16-17). May God help us to live His way.
3rd October: Psalm 48:1-14
‘Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised’ (1). We worship God in the place of worship – ‘Within Your Temple, O God, we meditate on Your unfailing love’. Our worship must not end there. We are to play our part in seeing that the praise of the Lord ‘reaches to the ends of the earth‘. We are to ‘be glad’ in the Lord. We are to ‘rejoice’ in Him (9-11). We must not keep this joy to ourselves. The Lord is ‘the joy of all the earth’. We must share His joy. We are to ‘tell the next generation’. How will they know if we do not tell them? Many are slow to come and worship the Lord. We must not be slow to witness for Him. Let’s remember God’s promise – ‘My Word…will not return to Me empty, but will…achieve the purpose for which I sent it’ – and let’s say – ‘Here am I. Send me!’ (Isaiah 55:11; 6:8).
4th October: 2 Chronicles 21:1-23:21
We live in difficult times. Many are choosing to do what is ‘evil in the sight of the Lord’ (21:6). We must make another choice, a better choice. We must choose to ‘be the Lord’s people’ (23:16). In this time of great darkness, we have ‘the lamp of the Lord’: ‘Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’ (21:7; Proverbs 20:27; Psalm 119:105). We must let His lamp shine brightly: ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16). The darkness will not overcome the light (John 1:5). Satan will be ‘slain by the sword’. He will be ‘thrown down’. All God’s people, from every land, will rejoice – ‘Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (23:21; Revelation 12:9; 5:9; 1 Corinthians 15:57).
5th October: 2 Chronicles 24:1-25:28
‘He turned away from the Lord’ (25:27). Things have not changed. Many are turning away from the Lord. We must search our hearts. We must pray for God’s help: ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me, and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!’ (Psalm 139:24). We read about the kings who ‘turned away from the Lord’. We must learn from their mistakes. These things are ‘recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord’ (Psalm 102:18). If we don’t learn from their mistakes, we will repeat their mistakes. Don’t turn away from the Lord. Turn to Him. May God help us to live as His faithful people – ‘Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong’ (1 Corinthians 16:13)
6th October: 2 Chronicles 26:1-28:27
We must not take God’s blessing for granted. King Uzziah began well – ‘He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord…He set himself to seek God’ (26:4-5). Things went wrong – ‘When he was strong he grew proud’ and ‘he was false to the Lord his God’ (26:16). We must choose to live the Lord’s way – King Jotham ‘did what was right in the eyes of the Lord’. Even when we do this, it does not guarantee that others will follow our example – ‘the people still followed corrupt practices’ (27:2). In times of trouble, we can become bitter people – ‘In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord’ – or better people – ‘the God of all comfort …comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble…’ (28:22; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Bitter or better – Which will it be?
7th October: 2 Chronicles 29:1-36
God is calling us to be holy – ‘Now sanctify yourselves, and sanctify the House of the Lord, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the holy place’ (5). Before there can be true rejoicing in the Lord – ‘they sang praises with gladness’ – , there must be real dedication to the Lord – ‘We have cleansed all the House of the Lord’ (30,18). Before there can be rejoicing, there must be restoration (35-36). We may pray, ‘Restore, O Lord, the honour of Your Name!’. We must also pray, ‘Cleanse me from my sin, Lord’. The prayer for revival begins with the dedication of our own lives to the Lord – ‘O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee; send a revival – start the work in me’ (Mission Praise, 579, 82, 587). Revival can happen ‘suddenly’ (36). It will not happen without a true return to the Lord.
8th October: Psalm 49:1-20
How can I be saved? How does God answer our most important question, the question of salvation? He speaks to us about (a) our need of salvation; (b) His provision of salvation; (c) receiving salvation. (a) Our need of salvation: We cannot save ourselves. ‘No man can ransom himself, or give to God the price of his life. The price to be paid for his soul is too costly’ (7-8). (b) His provision of salvation: Jesus Christ came to earth ‘to give His life as a ransom for many’. We are ‘redeemed with the precious blood of Christ’ (Mark 10:45; 1 Peter 1:18-19). (c) Receiving salvation: Christ died to ‘save us from the power of hell’ and ‘take us to Himself’. We receive salvation through faith in Him: ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved’. ‘He who believes in the Son has eternal life’ (15; Acts 16:31; John 3:36).
9th October: 2 Chronicles 30:1-31:10
We are called to ‘return to the Lord’. With this call comes God’s promise: ‘the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you, if you return to Him’ (30:9). Where does the desire to return to the Lord come from? – It comes from the Lord Himself: ‘the hand of the Lord was on the people to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the Word of the Lord’ (12). Returning to the Lord, we hear His Word of forgiveness: ‘The good Lord pardon every one who sets his heart to seek God’. We rejoice in the Gospel – ‘The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives’. ‘ The Lord has blessed His people’. We rejoice in Him – ‘Praise the Lord!…Let the people rejoice’ and ‘let the earth hear His voice’ (18-19; 30:10; Mission Praise, 708).
10th October: 2 Chronicles 31:11-32:33
Seek God and serve God. This is what King Hezekiah did – ‘he did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God,…seeking his God…with all his heart’ (31:20-21). Seek God and serve God. This is what we must do. God was good to Hezekiah – ‘the Lord saved Hezekiah…’ (32:22). God is good to us. He saves us. To ‘all the ends of the earth’, He says, ‘Turn to me and be saved’ (Isaiah 45:22). He calls us to come to Him through Jesus Christ, ‘the Saviour of the world’ (John 4:42). It is so easy to forget the Lord. Hezekiah was delivered from death yet he did not thank the Lord (32:24-25). We may forget the Lord, but He does not forget us. He waits for us to return to Him and receive His forgiveness – ‘the Lord is merciful and gracious…He does not deal with us according to our sins…’ (32:26; Psalm 103:8-13).
11th October: 2 Chronicles 33:1-34:13
Good work can be very quickly undone – ‘Manasseh…did what was evil in the sight of the Lord …he rebuilt the high places which his father Hezekiah had broken down, and set up altars to other gods…’ (33:1-3). We must be careful to follow the godly example of those who have served the Lord well. In Hebrews 11, we read about God’s faithful servants. They served the Lord in their day. We are to serve Him in our day – ‘surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,… let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus…’ (Hebrews 12:1-2). Bad work can also be undone if, like King Josiah, we are ready to make a new beginning with God (34:1-4). He was only ‘eight years old when he began to reign’. Pray that the children will start loving God now and keep loving Him as they grow older.
12th October: Psalm 50:1-23
‘Our God comes, He does not keep silence’ (3). God does not keep His distance. He comes near to us. He does not keep His silence. He speaks to us – ‘God the Lord speaks’ (1). How does God come near to us? How does He speak to us? He comes near to us in Jesus Christ. He speaks to us through Jesus Christ. In John 1:1, we have this tremendous description of Jesus Christ: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’. Jesus Christ is the Word. God is speaking to us through Jesus Christ. How does God speak to us through Jesus Christ? He speaks to us by drawing near to us – ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’. Jesus Christ is God’s Word. He is God, speaking to us. He is God, coming near to us. He is God,’full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14).
13th October: Proverbs 16:1-17
‘Wisdom is better than gold…understanding is to be chosen rather than silver’ (16). What is wisdom? In 1 Corinthians 1:30, we learn that Jesus Christ is Wisdom. To find Jesus Christ is to find Wisdom. How do we find Jesus Christ? How do we find Wisdom? Jesus tells us – ‘Seek and you will find’ (Matthew 7:7). For so many of us, the most important thing is getting on in the world. Jesus says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven’ (Matthew 6:19-20). Which world is more important to you – this world or the world to come? Jesus puts this question to every one of us. This is the question we must answer. May God help us to give this answer – ‘I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold…I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today’ (Mission Praise, 319).
14th October: Psalm 51:1-19
‘Create in me a clean heart, O God…Cast me not away from Thy presence…Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation’ (10-12). These words come to us from the ancient past. They were first spoken many centuries ago. They can be the words which change your future. You can make them your words. David made a new beginning with God. You can make a new beginning with God. You have sinned. You need to be forgiven. Come to Christ. He says, ‘I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me’ (John 6:37). You need to be ‘born again’. Receive Christ as your Saviour and be ‘born again’ – ‘born of God’ (John 3:3,7; 1:12). You feel so weak, unable to be the person God wants you to be. Let ‘the joy of the Lord be your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10). Let His love reach you. Let His power make you a new person.
15th October: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2:12
For ‘all those who have believed’, ‘the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ will be a great Day, the Day of celebration, the Day of our salvation, the Day of ‘our being gathered to Him’ (2:1; 1:10). ‘When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven’, it will be a Day of judgment for ‘those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus’ (1:7-8). The Word of God is very clear about God’s purpose of salvation: ‘God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him’. ‘The Lord does not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance’. ‘God wants all people to be saved’ (John 3:17; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). You can say ‘No’ to Christ – and perish. Say “Yes’ to Him – ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ (2:10; John 3:18; Acts 16:31).
16th October: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:18
Paul prayed for the Thessalonians and he asked them to pray for him. He prayed that God would ‘comfort their hearts and establish them in every good work and word’ (2:16-17). He prayed that they would enjoy peace: ‘Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in all ways’ (3:16). He asked them to pray for his ministry – ‘pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may speed on and triumph among you’ (1). Paul was writing to the Thessalonians, ‘You keep on praying for us and we’ll keep on praying for you’. We must not forget each other. We must remember each other – in prayer. Far too often, we forget. It becomes a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. We’re not to live in the past. We are to keep on praying for those who belong to our past. Don’t forget to remember!
17th October: 2 Chronicles 34:14-35:19
During the reign of King Josiah, there was spiritual revival (33). Where did this spiritual revival come from? It came from God. It came from the rediscovery of God’s Word. Where was the Word of the Lord found? – It was found ‘in the House of the Lord’ (34:15). God speaks to us through His Word. Beyond the written Word, there is Jesus Christ, the living Word. The Word of God is preached to us. We listen for the Voice of Jesus Christ, the true and living Word of God. God is speaking His Word in power. This is much more than the opening of a book. It is the opening of our hearts to the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5). It is the opening of our hearts by the Spirit of God. Through the Spirit, ‘rivers of living water’ flow out from our hearts (John 7:37-39).
18th October: 2 Chronicles 35:20-36:23
Josiah had been a good king, but ‘he did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God’. His mistake was very costly. He ‘fought’. He was ‘shot’ and ‘badly wounded’. He ‘died’ and was ‘buried’ (35:22-24). Be careful in your listening to God”s Word. Failure to obey His Word will be costly: ‘How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?’ (Hebrews 2:3). After Josiah’s time, there was terrible spiritual decline. Beginning with Jehoahaz (1-2; 2 Kings 23:31-32), the kings ‘did what was evil in the sight of the Lord’ (5,9,11-12). Was there any hope for the future? – Yes! ‘The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia…to build Him a House at Jerusalem’. Like Cyrus, we must say to our neighbours, ‘Let us go to the House of the Lord’ (36:22-23; Psalm 122:1). His time of blessing may not be far away!
19th October: Psalms 52:1-53:6
‘I am like a green olive tree in the House of God’ (9). This is a picture of growth and fruitfulness – in the House of God. You can grow spiritually – in the House of God. You can become spiritually fruitful – in the House of God. We must not ‘go it alone’. We receive strength as we worship with the Lord’s people. When the Psalmist prays for God’s blessing, he is not just thinking about himself. He is praying for the whole people of God: ‘O that salvation for Israel would come from Zion!’. He is praying that God will ‘restore the fortunes of His people‘. He is not thinking only about his own personal happiness. He is praying that all God’s people ‘will rejoice and be glad’ (53:6). Don’t just pray for yourself. Pray ‘that the body of Christ may be built up until we all…become mature…’ (Ephesians 4:12-13).
20th October: Psalms 54:1-55:23
The Psalmist had problems – ‘Strangers are attacking me; ruthless men seek my life – men with no regard for God’ (54:3). There was, however, something else troubling him. Someone else was causing him problems – ‘my close friend, with whom I enjoyed sweet fellowship, as we worshipped together at the House of God’ (13-14). He felt like running away from it all – ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest – I would flee far away and stay in the desert…I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm’ (55:6-8). This is what he felt like doing. He had almost forgotten – ‘God is my Helper’ (54:4). With God, he faced and overcame his problems: ‘I will call upon God; and the Lord will save me’. ‘Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you‘ (16,22).
21st October: Ezra 1:1-2:35
To ‘all’ of us, God gives His call. We are to ‘rebuild the House of the Lord’. To ‘all’ of us, He gives His strength: ‘Then…all those whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the House of the Lord’ (1:3,5). If the work of God is to be done, every one must play their part. No one must opt out. No one must say, ‘There’s nothing for me to do’. There’s always something to do. There’s something for every one. God has so much work for us to do. We must not fail Him. He is calling you to serve Him. He will give you the strength that you need. Open your heart to Him. Surrender your life to Him. ‘Every person in every nation, in each succeeding generation, has the right to hear the news that Christ can save…Father, I am willing to dedicate to Thee, life and talent, time and money, Here am I, send me’.
22nd October: Ezra 2:36-3:13
At the heart of God’s work, there is worship – ‘praising and giving thanks to the Lord’. This is our first priority. We must not forget the Lord. We must remember that ‘He is good’. We must remember that ‘His steadfast love endures for ever’ (3:11). Nothing can take the place of worship. This is where serving the Lord begins. It begins with worship. Without worship, we cannot serve the Lord. He must be at the centre of everything we do. This is what serving the Lord means – keeping Him at the centre of everything you do. We look for ‘more love’, ‘more power’, more of God’s blessing in our lives. We must give ourselves – more fully and more truly – to Him: ‘I will worship You with all of my heart…with all of my mind…with all of my strength’ (Songs of Fellowship, 392). The blessing will come down as the worship goes up!
23rd October: Ezra 4:1-5:17
God’s work does not always move forward smoothly. We face determined opposition. Where there is opportunity, there will be opposition (1 Corinthians 16:9). The servants of Satan rise up to oppose the servants of the Lord. This is what happens here. The Lord’s enemies had some success: ‘the work on the House of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill’. This was, however, only a temporary setback. God gave new strength to His servants. He sent His ‘prophets, Haggai and Zechariah’. They brought His Word to the people. Strengthened by their ministry of God’s Word, ‘Zerubbabel…arose and began to rebuild the House of God in Jerusalem’ (4:24-5:2). God’s work was back on track. His people were moving forward – again. When your head goes down, let the Lord come to you. He will lift you up!
24th October: Proverbs 16:18-33
What a difference there is between a self-centred life and a God-centred life. Where does the self-centred life lead us? – ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death’ (25). Is there a better way, a way that leads to true happiness? Yes! There is the God-centred way: ‘He who gives heed to the Word will prosper, and happy is he who trusts in the Lord’ (20). True happiness does not come to those who seek it in the things of this world. It comes to those who seek the Lord. ‘Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey’ (Mission Praise, 760). God invites us to choose between two very different ways – our own way and His way: ‘the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23). Choose Christ!
25th October: Psalms 56:1-57:11
‘Be gracious to me, O God…Be merciful to me, O God’ (56:1; 57:1). In mercy, God withholds from us the judgment we deserve. In grace, He gives to us the salvation we do not deserve. How does He do this for us? He makes His grace and mercy available to us through the death of His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. How do we receive God’s grace and mercy? We look to the Cross of Jesus Christ. There, we see our Saviour, bearing our sin and inviting us to receive His salvation. There, we see God’s ‘steadfast love and faithfulness’ (57:3,10). At the Cross of Christ, we see eternal love. God loves us. His love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. How are we to respond to such love? – ‘I will give thanks to You, O Lord…I will sing praises to You …Be exalted, O God…’ (57:9-11).
26th October: Ezra 6:1-7:28
God’s work makes good progress when God’s people receive strength from God’s Word. Haggai and Zechariah were faithful in preaching God’s Word to the people. Their preaching ministry was very important. It was just what the builders needed. It inspired them to keep working. God’s House was rebuilt and God’s people rejoiced (6:14-16). The rebuilding of God’s House was followed by the ministry of God’s servant, Ezra. ‘The hand of the Lord was upon Ezra’ (7:6,28). His ministry was blessed by the Lord. In Ezra’s ministry of the Word, there are three vital elements – studying, doing and teaching (7:10). Ezra did not only study and teach God’s Word. He did God’s Word. Obedience lies at the heart of true ministry. This is the kind of ministry that God blesses – an obedient ministry.
27th October: Ezra 8:1-36
The return of God’s people to Jerusalem was not simply a geographical return – moving from one place to another. It was a spiritual return. They were returning to the Lord. They were seeking His blessing (21). Without God’s blessing, we are nothing. We may have happy memories of better days, recalling ‘the good old days’. We may look back to times of blessing, remembering how the hand of the Lord was upon us. If this is all we have, we have nothing. We are no longer in the place of blessing. We need to return to the Lord. The times of blessing can come again. God gives us His promise: ‘The hand of our God is for good upon all that seek Him’ (22). God wants to bless us. How much do we want to be blessed by Him? If the times of blessing are to return to us, we must ‘return to the Lord’ (Isaiah 55:6-13).
28th October: Ezra 9:1-10:44
The return of God’s blessing begins with a real confession of sin – ‘our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens’ (9:6). If God chooses to bless us, it is not because we deserve to be blessed by Him. It is because He loves us and wants more than anything else to pour out His blessing upon us. Despite all of our sin, God’s Word encourages us to believe that the Lord may yet ‘grant us a little reviving’. Pray that God will ‘grant us some reviving to set up the House of our God’ (9:8-9). This was Ezra’s prayer. It was the prayer of ‘a very great assembly of men, women and children’ (10:1). If prayer for revival is real, it will be much more than pulpit prayer. There will be much prayer, arising from the hearts of many people: ‘If My people pray…I will heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14).
29th October: Psalms 58:1-59:17
‘Surely there is a God who judges the earth’ (58:11). Let these words send you to the Saviour. ‘Deliver me from my enemies, O my God’ (59:1). Take this prayer with you to the Cross of Christ. There, at the Cross, you will meet the Saviour – ‘My God in His steadfast love will meet me’. In our Saviour, we have the victory over our enemy, Satan – ‘My God will let me look in triumph on my enemies’ (59:10). What a Saviour we have! Think of His love. Think of His power. Let your heart be filled with praise to Him – ‘I will sing of Your strength…I will sing of Your love…O my Strength, I sing praise to You; You, O God, are my Fortress, my loving God’ (16-17). What a great salvation God has given to us in Christ – the forgiveness of our sins, victory over our enemies and eternal life (1 John 1:7,9; 3:8; 5:4-5,11-13).
30th October: Nehemiah 1:1-2:18
‘You see the trouble we are in’ – How do you react when the going gets tough? Do you collapse in despair and succeed only in making your troubles seem even bigger than they really are? There is a better way of dealing with our problems. Believing that ‘the hand of his God was upon him for good’, Nehemiah looks at the problem – ‘Jerusalem lies in ruins’ – and sets about solving it – ‘Come. let us build the wall of Jerusalem’ (2:17-18). Our problems may be great. Our God is greater. When your problems threaten to overwhelm you, remember this: God has ‘redeemed us by His great power and His mighty hand’ (1:3-6,10). There is no greater problem than our sin and God has dealt with that problem – Christ has ‘put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself’ (Hebrews 9:26). ‘Pack up your troubles’ and take them to Jesus!
31st October: Nehemiah 2:19-4:9
Serving the Lord is not easy. There are always those who ‘mock and ridicule’ the Lord’s servants (2:19; 4:1-3). What are we to do when we encounter this type of thing? We must pray to God and we must work for Him – ‘The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we His servants will arise and build’ (4:4-6; 2:20). When we face determined opposition from the enemies of Christ and His Gospel, we must pray and we must be practical – ‘we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night’ (4:9). We need to know our God – ‘the people who know their God will be strong’. We need to know our enemy – ‘we are not ignorant about Satan’s scheming’. When Satan comes to us, we must be ready for him and we ‘must firmly resist him’ – in the Name of Christ (Daniel 11:32; 2 Corinthians 2:11).