13:1-27 - ‘These wicked people, who refuse to listen to My words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them will be... completely useless’ (10). Are you on the way to becoming ‘completely useless’? Each of us must think about what’s been happening in our lives? - ‘Where is the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul-refreshing view of Jesus and His Word? What peaceful hours I once enjoyed! How sweet their memory still! But they have left an aching void the world can never fill’. We need to pray for real change. We need to pray for ‘a closer walk with God’: ‘Return, O Holy Dove!... The dearest idol I have known... Help me to tear it from Thy throne, and worship only Thee. So shall my walk be close with God...’ (Church Hymnary, 663).
14:1-22 - In ourselves, there is sin - ‘O Lord... we have sinned against You’. In the Lord, there is salvation - ‘O Lord our God... our hope is in You’ (20,22). In the Lord, there is no sin - ‘You are too pure to look on evil’ (Habakkuk 1:13). In ourselves , there is no salvation. We are ‘spiritually dead because of our disobedience and sins’. We need to be ‘made alive’. How can this happen? It is not something we can do for ourselves. The new birth can only be received as a gift from God. We must stop trying to save ourselves. It cannot be done. Salvation cannot be earned. It must be received as a gift from God. It must be received by ‘faith’. We must look away from ourselves to Christ. In Christ, we see ‘God’s great love for us’. Through receiving Christ as Saviour, we are ‘born of God’ (Ephesians 2:1,4-5,8; John 1:12-13).
15:1-21 - Some of our problems come from outside of ourselves. Other people cause problems for us - ‘This people will fight against you’ (20). Some of our problems come from within our own hearts. Our own sins cause problems for us - ‘Put to death what is earthly in you...’ (Colossians 3:5). There are ‘fightings and fears within’. There are ‘fightings and fears without’. We are ‘tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt’. Tell the Lord all about it. Tell Him how it really is. ‘Just as I am’ - This is how we must come to the Lord. Our ‘fightings and fears’ do not simply disappear the moment we pray, ‘O Lamb of God, I come’ (Church Hymnary, 79). We do, however, have God’s promise: ‘They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you’ (20). He will lead us in the way of victory (Colossians 2:8-10).
16:1-21 - ‘O Lord, my Strength and my Stronghold, my Refuge in the day of trouble, to You the nations will come from the ends of the earth... They will know that My Name is the Lord’ (19,21). Faith is to be personal - The Lord is my Strength, my Stronghold, my Refuge. Faith must not be private. It is not to be kept to ourselves. There is to be no ‘us and them’ attitude. We are not to have a ‘we are the people’ attitude. The Gospel is for the nations. We’re not to say, ‘I’m okay. That’s all that matters’. The Gospel is to be taken to the ends of the earth. We are to reach out to others. We must share the Gospel with the people we meet. Tell the people what the Lord has done for you. Tell them what He can do for them. Let them know how much the Lord loves them. Let them know that our God can be their God too.
17:1-27 - ‘The Lord’ is ‘the Fountain of living water’ (13). He says to us, ‘With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation’ (Isaiah 12:3). We can be ‘like a tree planted by water’, a tree that ‘does not cease to bear fruit’ (8; Psalm 1:3). God speaks His Word to us: ‘“Where is the Word of the Lord?” Let it come!’ (15; Psalm 1:2) He brings His salvation to us: ‘Save me, and I will saved’(14; Psalm 1:6). He gives His blessing to us: ‘Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord’ (7: Psalm 1:1). We rejoice in God’s ‘eternal love’, drinking from ‘the streams of living waters’ and discovering that ‘grace,... like the Lord the Giver, never fails from age to age’ (Church Hymnary, 421). Let us press on to our heavenly and eternal glory: ‘In Your presence is fullness of joy. At Your right hand are pleasures for evermore’ (Psalm 16:11).
18:1-23 - ‘The pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands, so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him’ (4). This is what the Lord is doing in our lives. He is ‘the Potter’. We are no more than ‘jars of clay’ (6; Isaiah 64:8; 2 Corinthians 4:7). Our lives are ‘marred’ by sin. It would be very easy to give up on ourselves. God hasn’t given up on us. He looks beyond what we are now. He sees what we will become. He is preparing us for ‘eternal glory’. ‘We are being renewed day by day’. ‘We are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-17:3:18). ‘Jesus, You are changing me. By Your Spirit, You’re making me like You... You are the Potter and I am the clay. Help me to be willing to let You have Your way...’ (Mission Praise, 389).