1st November: Psalms 60:1-61:8
There is so much to hold us back from worshipping and serving the Lord. We could so easily become discouraged. We need the encouragement of God’s Word. This is what we have here: ‘With God we shall gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies’ (12). At times, it may seem like our enemies have the upper hand. When we feel like this, we must remember the Lord – He is ‘a strong tower against the enemy’ (61:3). When things seem to be getting out of control, we must fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ – He is ‘enthroned for ever’ (61:7). ‘Day after day’, He calls us to worship Him and to live as His servants. He calls us to receive ‘His mercy…new every morning’, to be ‘renewed day by day’ (61:8; Lamentations 3:22-23; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
2nd November: Psalms 62:1-63:11
The Lord is ‘my Rock and my Salvation’ (62:2,6). As you read the Psalmist’s words, let your thoughts turn to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our ‘Rock’ – the ‘Rock’ of our salvation. Through ‘the blood of Christ’, we receive the greatest ‘blessing’ of all – salvation (1 Corinthians 10:1-4,16). No other blessing can ever compare with the joy of knowing Christ as Saviour: ‘Your steadfast love is better than life’. Through our great Saviour – the Lord Jesus Christ – , we are learning to ‘praise’ God. We are learning to say, with the Psalmist, ‘I will praise You as long as I live’ (63:3-4). What a great Saviour we have. He is greater than all our songs of praise. He is ‘too marvellous for words’ – ‘Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!’ (Mission Praise, 788; 2 Corinthians 9:15).
3rd November: Proverbs 17:1-12
What kind of people are we to be? What kind of life are we to live? We are to be God’s people –
people who are learning to live a life of ‘love’ (9). How do we learn what love is like? We learn from God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father loves us – ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…’ (John 3:16). In the Son, we see perfect love – ‘The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). Through the Spirit, our lives are filled with love – ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love’ (Galatians 5:22). We can only be an influence for love if we are learning to be influenced by love. We are to be people ‘under the Influence’. We are to live our lives under the influence of God’s love. This is the Godly, Christlike, Spirit-filled life – the life of love.
4th November: 1 Timothy 1:1-2:15
‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’. Paul has something special to say about this statement. This is what he says – ‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance’ (1:15). This is Paul’s message, the message of the Gospel: ‘Christ Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all’ (2:5-6). Paul speaks of ‘the glorious Gospel of the blessed God’ (1:11). He speaks as a man with a testimony: ‘I received mercy…the grace of our Lord overflowed for me’ (1:13-14). God is still looking for people who will say, with Paul, ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith’, ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord jesus Christ’ (Romans 1:16; Galatians 6:14). May God help us, in our generation, to be ‘eager to preach the Gospel’ (Romans 1:15).
5th November: 1 Timothy 3:1-4:16
Belief and Behaviour – Both are important. We are ‘nourished in the words of the faith’ so that we ‘may know how one ought to behave in the household of God’ (4:6; 3:15). We are not only to believe the right things. We are to behave the right way. To each of us, God says, ‘Watch your life and doctrine closely’ (4:16). What we believe is important. How we live is also important. If our faith is real, it will lead to a change in our way of life. The whole of life is to be ‘consecrated by the Word of God and prayer’ (4:5). Our God is ‘the living God’ (3:15; 4:10). He wants to be real to us in every part of our life. ‘Fill Thou our life, O Lord our God, in every part with praise…Not for the lip of praise alone nor even the praising heart, we ask, but for a life made up of praise in every part’ (Church Hymnary, 457).
6th November: 1 Timothy 5:1-6:21
There is a great battle going on – between God and Satan. There have been disappointments: ‘Some have already strayed after Satan’. Lives are being ruined. Many ‘have wandered away from the faith’. They have not found happiness. They ‘have pierced their hearts with many griefs’ (5:15; 6:9-10). There is a great deal at stake in this battle. We must ‘give the enemy no opportunity to slander us’. We must take care how we live – ‘so that God’s Name…may not be slandered’ (5:14; 6:1). We are to live a life of ‘godliness’, a life that is based on ‘the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ’. We are to ‘aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness’. Let’s live for ‘the life to come, the life which is permanent’. This is ‘life indeed, the life that is truly life’ (6:3,11,19).
7th November: Nehemiah 4:10-5:13
‘Our God will fight for us’ (20). What a tremendous encouragement these words are! We are not alone in our battle against Satan. God is with us. He is fighting for us. We are not to sit back, and do nothing. There is work to be done. There is a battle to be fought. When the Lord gives us the victory, we must keep on doing His work (15). Our enemies are never far away. We must remain alert at all times (17-18). We must ‘put on the whole armour of God’ (Ephesians 6:10-18). The work is the Lord’s. The battle is the Lord’s. Our strength comes from Him. The victory comes from Him. This is something we must never forget -‘The Lord your God will go with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory’ (Deuteronomy 20:4).
8th November: Nehemiah 5:14-6:19
What are we to do when we face those who are ‘scheming to harm’ the Lord’s servants and the Lord’s work? – We are to devote ourslves to the ‘work‘ of the Lord. We are to ‘pray‘ for His strength (6:2; 5:16; 6:9). Critics of the Lord’s work want to argue with us. Are we to ‘come down’ to their level, going round in circles with arguments that lead us nowhere? Nehemiah shows us a better way, God’s way – ‘I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?’ (6:3). ‘Completing the work with the help of our God’ (6:15-16) – This is the best ‘argument’ against the critics of Christ and His Gospel. Keep working for God and pray that’many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord’ (Psalm 40:3).
9th November: Nehemiah 7:1-73
What kind of people are we? Are we ‘faithful and God-fearing’ people’ (2)? It is so easy to lose our way and become ‘unclean’ (64)? What are we to do when we lose our way, when we forget the Lord, when we wander away from Him? We must return to the Lord. We must begin again with Him, confessing our sin, receiving His forgiveness and learning to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. These words may help you to make a new beginning with God: ‘There’s a way back to God from the dark paths of sin. There’s a door that is open and you may go in: at Calvary’s Cross is where you begin, when you come as a sinner to Jesus’. ‘Cleanse me from my sin, Lord. Put Thy power within, Lord. Take me as I am, Lord, and make me all Thine own…’ (Mission Praise, 682, 82).
10th November: Nehemiah 8:1-9:5
What happens when God’s people ‘gather together’ (8:1)? – (a) We hear the Word of the Lord (8:2-3,8). We come to the Lord’s House, seeking a fresh understanding of His Word. We look to the Lord, speaking through His Word, to fill us ‘with great joy’ (8:12). (b) We thank God for His Son, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ (8:13-18). In ‘the feast of the seventh month’, ‘the Lord’s Feast of Tabernacles’, God’s people remembered how much He had done for them (Leviticus 23:34,42). In the Lord’s Supper, we remember that Christ died for our sins (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). (c) We dedicate our lives to the Lord (9:2). ‘Do not be conformed to this world’. ‘Be transformed’ by God’s Word (Romans 12:2). (d) We worship the Lord (9:5). Let us ‘praise the Lord our God…’.
11th November: Psalms 64:1-65:13
‘Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord’ (64:10). True joy in the Lord is not just a passing emotion, a feeling which doesn’t last for very long. When our ‘praise’ to the Lord is real, it leads to a changed life: ‘O God’, we will ‘keep our promises to You’ (65:1). Jesus shows us the great difference between a passing emotion, a feeling which doesn’t last, and a true conversion which leads to a changed life. He speaks of those who ‘receive the Word with joy,…endure for a while’ and then ‘fall away’. He speaks also of those who ‘hear the Word and accept it and bear fruit’ (Mark 4:3-9,16-17,20). How do you worship the Lord? Are you looking for a good feeling – and nothing more than that? God is looking for more. He wants us to live as ‘a new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
12th November: Nehemiah 9:6-38
At the heart of Ezra’s prayer, there is a tremendous description of God: ‘You are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love’ (17). This is ‘our God’. ‘Our sins’ are great. The love of God is even greater. We look at ‘our sins’, and we feel that everything is hopeless. We look to ‘our God’, and everything changes. We see Him as the ‘gracious and merciful God’, and we are filled with hope. Our life need not be controlled by ‘our sins’. It can be changed by ‘our God’ (31-32,37). Our God ‘delights in steadfast love’. He ‘will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea’ (Micah 7:18-19). How do we know that God loves us? – ‘Christ died for our sins’. Bring your sins to Jesus, and let ‘His blood cleanse you from all sin’ (1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 John 1:7).
13th November: Proverbs 17:13-28
‘A friend loves at all times’ (17). Jesus speaks of His love for us – ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ – and our love for Him – ‘You are My friends if you do what I command you’ (John 15:13-14). His love comes first. Our love is a response to His love: ‘We love, because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). Jesus didn’t wait until we obeyed His Word perfectly before He laid down His life for us: ‘God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8). He didn’t start loving us because we started loving Him. He loved us long before we ever thought of loving Him. He loves us. He died for us.We are to love Him. We are to live for Him. His love is a perfect love. Our love is to be a growing love.
14th November: Nehemiah 10:1-39
God is calling us to commit our lives to Him. At the heart of our commitment to the Lord, there must be worship: ‘We will not neglect the House of our God’ (39). ‘Worship God’ (Revelation 19:10). This is our reason for coming to the Lord’s House. We come to worship Him. Our worship is to be more than mere words. We worship God when we bring our offerings to Him. God’s people brought ‘the tithe’ (tenth) to Him (37). We meet with the Lord when we worship in His House: ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the House of God, and this is the gate of heaven’. Through our giving – ‘Of all that You give me I will give You the tenth’ – , let us express our commitment to the Lord – ‘the Lord will be my God’ (Genesis 28:17,21-22).
15th November: Psalms 66:1-67:7
‘Come and see what God has done’ (66:5). God invites us to look into His Word, to read His Story, the Story of all that He has done for us. ‘Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He has done for me’ (66:16). God invites us to listen to the preaching of His Word, to let His Story become our story, to let His salvation become real in our lives. We read God’s Word. We hear His Word. This is our journey of discovery. We discover what the Lord has done for us. We discover how much He wants to bless us. He waits to hear our prayer – ‘May God be gracious to us and bless us…’. He answers our prayer – ‘God has blessed us’ (67:1,6-7). He wants us to ‘be glad and sing for joy’. He wants us to call ‘all the ends of the earth’ to ‘worship Him’ (67:4,7).
16th November: Nehemiah 11:1-12:30
Like the walls of Jerusalem, our lives lay in ruins until Christ puts us together again. In Christ, our lives have been rebuilt. Now, we can ‘celebrate’. We can worship the Lord ‘with gladness’ (12:27). We are to build our lives upon Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11). This will not be easy. Our faith will be put to the test. Often, we will be tempted to take our eyes off Christ. We must keep our eyes on Him. He is the solid Rock upon which we must build (Matthew 7:24-27). Again and again, we must make our choice. We must choose Christ. We must choose to be ‘holy’. This is the choice which is ‘blessed’ by the Lord. ‘Many’ choose the ‘other’ way, the way of self. We must choose the way of the ‘few’, the way of Christ, the way of holiness and blessing (11:1-2; Matthew 7:13-14).
17th November: Nehemiah 12:31-13:31
God’s people sang ‘songs of praise and thanksgiving to God’. Where does the song of praise come from? – It comes from the Lord: ‘God had given them great joy’ (46,43). Often, we seek our joy in other people and other things. We forget the Source of true joy – the Lord our God. God sees our self-centred way of life. He asks us to think about the way we’re living: ‘Why is the House of God forsaken?’ (11). We have forgotten Him. Have we any right to expect Him to remember us? Time and time again, we have failed Him. Our many sins have given Him plenty of reasons for turning His back on us. Does He turn His back on us? No! He remembers us ‘according to the greatness of His steadfast love’ (22) – He sent His Son to die for us. Let His great love fill you with great joy.
18th November: Psalm 68:1-35
God is ‘our salvation’. He is the ‘God of salvation’ (19-20). God’s salvation covers our past, present and future. (a) You have been saved. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we have received the forgiveness of our sins (Romans 5:1). (b) You are being saved. God is at work in our lives, making us the kind of people He wants us to be (Romans 5:3-5). © You will be saved. We look forward to ‘sharing the glory of God’, being with the Lord forever (Romans 5:2,9-10). From beginning to end, salvation is the work of God – He has forgiven our sins. He is making us like Christ. He will lead us on to heaven. Our God is great. His salvation is great. Let us ‘be joyful’. Let us worship the Lord ‘with joy’ (3). Let us give all the glory to God – ‘Blessed be God!’ (35).
19th November: Psalm 69:1-36
David is going through ‘the deep waters’ of suffering. He prays to the Lord for deliverance from ‘the flood’ and ‘the deep’ (14-15). He had sinned against the Lord. He does not try to hide this. He confesses his sin and guilt – ‘the wrongs that I have done are not hidden from You, my guilt is not hidden from You’ (5). He looks to the Lord, remembering that He is the God of ‘steadfast love’ and ‘abundant mercy’ (16). When you come to God in prayer, do not try to hide your sins from Him. Remember – ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’. In Christ, there is ‘mercy’ – God doesn’t send the judgment we deserve – and ‘grace’ – God sends the blessing we don’t deserve. Come to Christ and receive His ‘mercy’ and ‘grace’ (1 Timothy 1:13-16; Hebrews 4:14-16).
20th November: Psalms 70:1-71:24
David is in great danger. His life is being threatened by his enemies (70:2). We might expect that he would be depressed. Far from it! Rather than being preoccupied with his own problems, he is calling on God’s people to worship the Lord with joy: ‘May all who seek You, rejoice and be glad in You! May those who love Your salvation continually say, “God is great!”‘ (70:4). How was David able to rise above his own problems and call the Lord’s people to worship? – He knew that the Lord was his ‘Rock of refuge’, his ‘strong Fortress’ (71:3). Like David, we may face ‘many terrible troubles’. Let us learn, like David, to praise the Lord and look to Him to lead us in the way of victory: ‘You have done great things, O God…You will revive me again’ (71:19-20).
21st November: Psalm 72:1-20
Read the words – ‘His Name’ shall ‘endure for ever’ (17) – and think of Christ. His Name is ‘the Name above all other names’. He is ‘the King of kings and Lord of lords’ (Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 19:16). Read the words – ‘all nations call Him blessed’ (17) – , and think of Christ. ‘From every tribe and language and people and nation’, God’s people have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (Revelation 5:9). Read the words -‘May His glory fill the whole earth!’ (19) – and think of Christ. In the ‘new heaven and new earth’, ‘the holy city’ will shine with ‘the glory of God’. ‘Its radiance’, ‘like a very precious jewel’, will be shining from this ‘lamp’: Jesus Christ, ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (Revelation 21:1-2,10-11,23; John 1:29).
22nd November: Esther 1:1-2:18
This is a very human story. It is the story of a man – Ahasuerus – and two women – Vashti and Esther. It is the ending of one love and the beginning of a new love (1:19; 2:17). It is also a very important part of the Divine Story. God is at work here. This story teaches us about God’s love for His people. It teaches us that ‘all things work together for the good of those who love God’ (Romans 8:28). It was no accident that Esther was chosen to become the Queen of Persia. God had chosen her for a very special purpose. She was sent there by the Lord. Esther was one of God’s people (2:5-7). She was to serve God’s purpose. She would play an important part in bringing the blessing of God to the people of God. What part will you play in bringing His blessing to others?
23rd November: Esther 2:19-4:17
‘Haman sought to destroy all the Jews’ (3:6). This is the work of the devil. He ‘comes only to steal and kill and destroy’ (John 10:10). To oppose such determined enemies of the Lord is never easy. Esther knew this. She was ready to put her life on the line: ‘If I perish, I perish’ (4:16). She knew that this was not a time for remaining silent. She must speak up for the Lord’s people. She was to serve God’s purpose – the deliverance of His people from death at the hands of His enemies (4:14). Esther was prepared to suffer death for the sake of God’s people. Jesus did suffer death for us. Jesus tells us why He came to this world: ‘I have come that they may have life…’. He tells us why He died: ‘I lay down my life for My sheep…I give them eternal life’ (John 10:10,15,27-28).
24th November: Esther 5:1-6:14
Haman wanted ‘to have Mordecai hanged’ (5:14). Herod wanted to have Jesus killed (Matthew 2:16-18). Neither Haman nor Herod were successful in their evil plotting (6:13; Matthew 2:19-21). Even when Jesus Christ was ‘crucified at the hands of wicked men’, this was not a victory for the devil. God was in control of the whole situation. Following the death of Jesus, there was the mighty triumph of His resurrection from the dead: ‘God raised Him from the dead’. Christ’s enemies thought that they had triumphed over Him. They were wrong! They could never succeed – ‘It was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him’ (Acts 2:23-24)! Mordecai was honoured by the king (6:10-11). Jesus has been honoured by God – He is ‘both Lord and Christ’ (Acts 2:36).
25th November: Esther 7:1-8:17
Esther spoke up for God’s people – ‘spare my people’ (7:3). She spoke out against the enemy of God’s people – ‘A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!’ (7:6). The tables were turned on the enemy of the Lord’s people – ‘they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai’ (7:10). He was replaced by the Lord’s servant – ‘the king took off the signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai’ (8:2). Instead of the gallows, Mordecai received ‘royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a purple robe of fine linen’ (8:15)! For God’s people, this was ‘a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honour’ (8:16). Let’s look beyond Mordecai to Christ. Rejoice! He was crucified for us. He is now exalted to the highest place (Philippians 2:8-9).
26th November: Esther 9:1-10:3
Among God’s people, there was much ‘feasting and joy’. They gave thanks to the Lord – ‘their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration’ (9:17-22). They gave thanks to God for Mordecai – ‘he sought the welfare of his people, he worked for the good of his people’. They rejoiced because of ‘the greatness and high honour of Mordecai, to which the king had raised him’ (10:2-3). We have even more to celebrate. We gather at the Lord’s Table. We celebrate the Lord’s Supper. We rejoice in Jesus Christ our Saviour. He ‘gave His life as a ransom for many’. His body was broken for us. His blood was shed for us. ‘Redeemed with His precious blood’, we rejoice in Christ – ‘crucified’ and ‘risen’ for us (Mark 10:45; 14:22-24; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
27th November: Psalm 73:1-28
It is so easy for us to lose our way – ‘my feet had almost stumbled’. We look at ‘the prosperity of the wicked’ and we become ‘envious of the arrogant’ (2-3). What are we to do when the worldly attitude threatens to take control of us? We must remember the Lord, drawing near to Him in worship and standing up for Him in witness. When others are forgetting about God, we must continue to take our place in ‘the sanctuary of God’ (17). In an age when so many show no interest in worshipping God, we must continue to say, ‘for me, it is good to be near God’. Our worship is not to end the moment we leave the place of worship. We are to tell others what the Lord ‘has done’ for us – ‘O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!’ (28; 34:3).
28th November: Psalm 74:1-23
We have been ‘redeemed’. God has brought ‘salvation’ to us (2,12). We rejoice in the Old Testament story of salvation: ‘the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt’ (Deuteronomy 7:8). Through Christ, we rejoice with a much greater joy: “In Him we have redeemption through His blood’. This is ‘the Gospel of our salvation’. It is ‘good news of a great joy’. Through faith in Christ, we ‘rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy’. Through faith in Christ, we look forward to ‘a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time…the salvation of our souls’ (Ephesians 1:7,13; Luke 2:10; 1 Peter 1:5,8-9). ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God’ (Revelation 19:1).
29th November: Psalms 75:1-76:12
‘We give thanks to You, O God…I will rejoice for ever, I will sing praises to the God of Jacob… Make your vows to the Lord your God, and perform them…’ (75:1,9; 76:11). True rejoicing in the Lord is more than singing praises to Him. We are to live what we sing. ‘Fill Thou our life, O Lord our God, in every part with praise’. ‘Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee’. These are not words to be forgotten as soon as we leave the place of worship. ‘We ask…for a life made up of praise in every part’. ‘Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee’ (Church Hymnary, 457, 462). Such words are not only for singing. They are for living. We must not only sing them. We must live them. ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13).
30th November: Job 1:1-2:13
Satan is very busy – ‘going to and fro on the earth…walking up and down on it’. Why is Satan ‘roaming through the earth’? – ‘Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour’ (1:7; 1 Peter 5:8). If, like Job, you ‘fear God and turn away from evil’, Satan will make you his target. He will do all that he can to make you stop worshipping God and start cursing Him (1:1,11). Satan is very powerful – but he can only do what God allows him to do (1:12; 2:6). There is a greater Power than the power of Satan – ‘the Power of God’. When you face Satan’s onslaughts, remember – God is in control. His Power is at work in us to keep us in the way of faith, the way which brings ‘ praise and glory and honour’ to Him (1 Peter 1:3-7).