The Righteous Will Flourish

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Psalm 92

What comes to mind when you think of something that is flourishing? For me it would be plant life, perhaps some exotic flower. Is it possible for people to flourish? The Bible tells us that the righteous will flourish.

Psalm 92 is one used frequently on the Sabbath, a song of praise and thanks to God for His judgment on the wicked, and His blessings on the righteous. The ten-stringed lyre and the harp were used in corporate worship in the synagogue or temple.

This unnamed Psalmist is thrilled by the works of God’s hands. Was he speaking about natural beauty or miracles among the people of God? We may not know which, but what we do know is that his soul is touched by the thoughts and deeds of his God (92:5). His experience is calling forth songs of praise because he is not among those who do not see, who do not understand the marvels of Almighty God.

In fact, he has been anointed, consecrated and strengthened for God’s service (92:10). Defending his God, he noted that God’s enemies would suffer defeat, among them the senseless and foolish who would be destroyed forever (92:11, 6).

Meanwhile the righteous will have the joy of growing in love for their God as they “flourish in the courts of our God”. Placed in the very centre of worship, they will have the joy of bearing fruit into old age, ever green and fresh (92:13-14). Here they will proclaim praises to their God. He ends as he began, with praise to “the Rock” in whom there is no wickedness (92:15).

Contrast this picture with the one the Apostle John gives to us of religious leaders who, struggling to get into the sheepfold over the wall rather than through the gate, which is Jesus Christ Himself, their intention is to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Thankfully we know that Jesus came to give His sheep life – an abundant life! The righteous cannot help but flourish under the watch-care of the “Good Shepherd” (John 10:14).


The first question which comes to mind is “Will I be counted among the righteous?” Jesus assures us that those who listen to His voice and follow Him will never die…referring to spiritual death (John 10:27-28). Spiritual death is eternal separation from God. We may be secure in His love, once we have moved out of darkness into His marvellous light! (1 Peter 2:9) Just as light causes plants to flourish, so does the light of God’s presence in our lives cause believers to flourish!

by Marilyn Daniels (


Isaiah’s Wreath

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Isaiah 28

Wreaths of leaves, fruit, wheat or vines were worn as crowns by Etruscan rulers, ancient symbolism of some mythological concept. Roman magistrates wore golden wreaths to symbolize their lineage went back to the Etruscan days. Today we use wreaths to commemorate certain seasons or memorial events.

The term is used in scriptures nine times, often synonymous with the word crown. For example in Revelation 4:10 the twenty-four elders worshipping the One sitting on the throne cast their wreaths/crowns at His feet. Wreaths also were a significant part of the decoration of the temple. Isaiah uses the word wreath under inspiration of the Holy Spirit to describe Samaria, the capital of Ephraim.

To understand what Isaiah is talking about in chapter 28 we need to go back in history. In blessing his sons on his deathbed, Jacob raised Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh to the level of sons, perhaps as a tribute to his favourite wife, Rachel. Their history in the Promised Land was checkered by the notion they had tribal supremacy because of that blessing. They were competitive and uncooperative, earning for themselves a divisive reputation among their brethren.

At one point the tabernacle was located in the city of Shiloh, in Ephraim. However, it was captured by the Philistines when the Israelites brought it into battle. Shiloh itself was destroyed. This brought the morale of the people to an all-time low. When the Ark of the Covenant was recovered, tribal supremacy was centered in Benjamin, where it was relocated. After that the tribe of Ephraim fell into idol worship.

Isaiah twice pronounces a woe upon Samaria “Woe to that wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards.” (28:1,3). Through Isaiah, the Lord reviews the former advantages of Ephraim – a flower of glorious beauty, set at the head of a fertile valley. Now the Lord will crush it. They will recognize His mighty power, as the Lord tramples them under foot. Judgment will fall! (28:2, 3)

In contrast, the Lord Himself “the Lord Almighty will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath for the remnant of His people!” (28:5) The remnant will celebrate the fact that God is their crown, blessing them in a spirit of justice. He will be their source of strength! Imagine a world when the plumbline is righteousness! (28:17)

Recognizing the helpless condition of His people, the Lord comes to their rescue by promising to lay a cornerstone, one that is tested, that is precious, that forms a sure foundation – trustworthy, dependable! (:16) Here will be a new beginning! Isaiah looked forward to that day when Jesus would come – the precious only begotten Son of God, tested in the crucible of suffering for the sins of His people. Paul writes about this very foundation: “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). God’s purpose, foretold by Isaiah, has been accomplished!


Are you part of that glorious circle which will celebrate eternity in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Figuratively speaking the wreath, in a never-ending circle, will remind us that He brings to His people eternal life.

by Marilyn Daniels (



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Psalm 19:11, Colossians 3:23-24

Recently a friend caused me to think about new doctrinal teaching on rewards. It would take a lot of digging to check out all the Bible verses that speak to the topic, but speak they do. From both Old to New Testaments God’s people are assured of rewards. It is interesting to note that God Himself is spoken of as Abraham’s “very great reward” (Genesis 15:1). What might that mean?

Abraham had just declined taking anything that would obligate him to the King of Sodom, asserting his complete allegiance to “the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14:22), with whom he already had a covenant. Therefore God honoured him with His protection and presence.

The Psalmist reminds his readers that in keeping the ordinances of the Lord, there would be great reward (Psalm 19:11). Old Testament theology demonstrates a conviction that people will be rewarded for their works, a point that Jesus clarifies in His teaching about the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:34 – “Come you [sheep] who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance – the kingdom prepared for you.” Not all rewards will be received on earth. Jesus warns that many will be persecuted for righteousness sake; these will receive their rewards in heaven (Matthew 5: 10-12). Paul speaks about rewards in heaven as a certainty. However, he mentions motivation. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for man!” Why? “….since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving!” (Colossians 3:23-24).

In our world today a prevailing attitude seems to be to put our best foot forward when we know we will get something out of it. However, out of a sense of commitment and loyalty the best work is done, done for the sake of the work itself. This is what Jesus was talking about when He spoke about rewards in Matthew 25. Those who were blessed by His Father were totally unaware – “Lord when did we see You hungry….thirsty….a stranger…..sick……in prison?” What a thrilling surprise that they were rewarded by the commendation of their precious Saviour! What a horrible shock that those who, labouring to keep up appearances were told to “Depart from Me you who are cursed” (Matthew 25:41), because they had not seen Jesus in the opportunity. Not sensing it would be a work worthy of reward, the work was left undone.

Prophecy anticipates Jesus’ return -“The Sovereign Lord comes with power ….see His reward is with Him” (Isaiah 40:10).


Can you imagine serving Jesus out of a competitive spirit? Why do we want rewards? Would we serve Him if there were no rewards promised? What will these “rewards” look like?

by Marilyn Daniels (


Tactics of Satan

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Job 1:6-7, 1 Peter 1:8-9

We have just celebrated Easter – the death and resurrection of the Christ. Where do we learn important truths about this vital doctrine of the Christian faith? Satan casts doubt on the veracity of the resurrection and among some, even about the truth of the crucifixion. Is the Bible true, or is it not to be trusted?

Today many Christians struggle to model their convictions among people who do not acknowledge God’s love and mercy.  Why? There are many answers to that question, but one stands out in my mind just now. People who claim to know and love God, must know and love God.  There is a struggle for supremacy over the human mind; Satan against God. The war is waged in both big and little battles (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). We sometimes see this in the choices we make, or even in the choices we do not make, as we rush along in the busy-ness of our world. Authors write about fitting God into a 3-minute devotional each day. Is this enough for a God who invites us to be in communication with Him 24/7? (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Doesn’t our day belong to Him?

Furthermore, perhaps relationships are falling apart today because we are trying the same principle. Quality time not quantity! Quality time often means a frenetic busy-ness of its own, doing something together as couples, doing something together as parent and child, doing something together as friends. When can we dream dreams together? When can we enjoy silence together? When can we share about our faith and those precious things we are learning about God? How often is it all about doing, rather than being?  The same problem exists as we attempt to appease our God. And Satan laughs.

Back to the Bible – the Old Testament.  Here God repeats over and over again what He has done for His people. Review! What an important part of learning. Just to ensure we get it right we need times of meditation, times of being still and “knowing that I am God”, times of wonder and adoration., time to listen to the “still small voice” of God (1 Kings 19:12).

We need to be reminded that before we asked Jesus to cleanse us from our sins we were dead. DEAD! Death separates us from life, but God… He has a plan to bring people back to life. In so many words, we are resuscitated by the Holy Spirit – made aware of our need so that we can choose life. Who is doing the seeking? God the Holy Spirit.  However, there are movements today who would refute this by telling us to develop the god within each of us. This is defined in our culture as being ‘spiritual’. God does not appeal to the god within us when He offers us a salvation purchased at the cost of Christ’s life.

We need to remember how separate we were in our sins, from the character of God, His holiness and purity, His love and His justice.  If we do not remember, Satan laughs as he gains supremacy in our thinking and our language, in our behavior and our relationships!  Let us not give Satan this opportunity!


When God made man in His image, didn’t He empower Adam to rule over His precious creation? (Genesis 1:26). Why would we believe that anymore than we believe that God said “Let there be Light and there was light”? (Genesis 1:3). What do you and I believe about God and why? Satan began with Eve: “Did God really say….” (Genesis 3:1) and he tempts us with those very same words.

Don’t we need God to guide us in the big and little decisions we will make each day? Who is in charge the rest of our day after a quick moment of devotion as we speed off into the workplace? Do we trust God’s warning to us about the evil One who seeks to devour us? Each day we face the temptation Satan throws at us to disbelieve, to distrust God’s Holy Word. Where do we get the power to discern what is truth and what is not true, if such a thing is possible in Scripture?

by Marilyn Daniels (


The Narrow Way

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Matthew 7:13, 14

Many people say they like the Sermon on the Mount, so they follow it. It guides them through the challenges of daily life. In fact some will declare it to be all the instruction they need for ethical living and decision-making.

In this lengthy lesson, Jesus says some rather difficult things such as: Consider yourself blessed when people insult you, or even when you find yourself persecuted (Matthew 5:11). He pronounced laws of reconciliation that require us to forgive others who have disappointed or offended us before we worship God (5:23-24). He told his listeners to turn the other cheek rather than resist those who would harm them (5:39). How easy is it for any of us to love our enemy? Yet He not only preached, but practised this precept (5:44). We must be challenged by His cry from the cross –“Father forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing!” (Luke 23:34)

Knowing man’s propensity to want recognition for his good deeds, Jesus suggested our givings should be private – so much so that even our left hand would not know what the right hand is doing! (6:3). Preaching the principle of forgiveness, Jesus told the crowd that the Father would forgive them in the same way as they forgave others (6:14-15). Another principle is “You cannot serve both God and money”(6:24). In our generation, striving to be wealthy is not just a worldly ambition. Believers have all sorts of reasons why their focus should be on gaining status in the business community. Jesus’ list goes on and on. These are the words of Jesus, Himself. Do we believe them? Would anyone recognize that we are on the narrow path He described, by living according to His words?

How many of us fear being seen as narrow-minded? Don’t we deceive ourselves if we say we believe but do not act upon the principles of God’s Word? Do we do unto others what we would like them to do for us? (7:12).

Do we really believe that a good God would send anyone to eternal destruction? Jesus clearly stated “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it” (7:13). “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (7:19). Scary proclamations! Yet Jesus is not vindictive. He came to bring hope to the hopeless. He has a solution. Those who do the will of His Father who is in heaven, will enter the kingdom of heaven (7:21). By following Jesus, who proclaimed Himself to be the Way, we will spend eternity in the mansions He has gone to prepare for us (John 14:2,6).

Meanwhile our journey will be on a narrow path wide enough to accommodate our Saviour and ourselves. We do not walk alone in paths of righteousness. The poem “Footprints” tells us that when the way gets too rough or narrow, it is then that Jesus carries us. What a precious love we enjoy – the love of one who paid the penalty of our sins so that we could spend eternity with Him. He made the way narrow to protect us from evil, just as the Massai make the entranceway into their homes narrow and curved so that lions cannot come into their huts on the attack.

In the English countryside there are some very narrow lanes; two cars could not pass. Often these by-ways are lined with hedgerows, so visibility is limited, but the air is perfumed with the scent of grass and flowers, and larks are singing. Peace and tranquility reigns, yet there is adventure around every curve. This gives us a visible picture of living on the narrow way. We wouldn’t want to miss the adventure or the fragrance of beauty that rewards our surrender to Jesus’ leadership. Praise God for the Narrow Way!


We’re pilgrims on the journey of the narrow way, wrote Steve Green, praying that all who come behind us would find us faithful.

What benefits have you enjoyed on the narrow road? Has the fire of your devotion ever got you into trouble?

Will God be pleased with your journey?

by Marilyn Daniels (


The Living Christ

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Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Recently I read “On Fire”, written by a man who as a nine-year-old boy, with third degree burns on 85% of his body, was not expected to live. He learned to fight for life when he would rather die, because his mother offered him the responsibility of choosing to fight for life, as he faced possible death. If you and I had to choose between life and death, what might we choose in the midst of pain?

Several thoughts come to mind when we consider the choices we must make day to day. God called the nation of Israel to choose between life and death. He laid out the rationale clearly….”so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God!” (Deuteronomy 30:20). In the book I read the author challenges his readers with seven choices to ignite a radically inspired life. Throughout he relied on God as the source of his strength to fight against all odds, and the power of prayer.

Thinking about the problems we face today – relational problems, disappointment, loss, cruelty and pain as well as the rigors of old age and more, can we say, will we say that we understand why we must endure? What is it that ignites your passion? Victor Frankl said “If you know your ‘why’ you can endure any ‘how’ “. How we live life in the mundane of everyday defines who we truly are. The danger is that we might forget why we are doing what we are doing. We come home exhausted from work, too tired to do anything but grumble, so then our families suffer because we’ve lost the vision of living for others.

The Lord Jesus came to earth fully aware of the suffering He would endure. Day by day His family and community rejected Him. “His own received Him not” John explains (1:11). What was it that motivated His choices in the midst of ridicule and rejection?

Could it be that Jesus lived out the injunction from Deuteronomy? God went on to say to the nation of Israel that life was all about loving God, listening to His voice and holding fast to Him, because “the Lord is your life” (Deuteronomy 30:20). This is a reason why we can give everything we’ve got to making our world a better place.

Whatever you do “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Might this be your rational for living life to the full? In spite of your limitations, without regard for what people might think, when we know God is calling us to live for Him, what greater joy can there be than to see our purpose is breathing life into others?


Why things do not go well might be because we have lost our passion. You see – indifference kills hope and joy and peace. Passion, on the other hand, overcomes obstacles. Are you letting the love of God fuel your passion? Why or why not? Is this the testimony of the Living Christ and those who follow Him??

by Marilyn Daniels (


Through Faith, Shielded

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1 Peter 1:1-5

There are pertinent questions we need to ask ourselves when studying the Word of God. Who are the people involved? What does this teach me about God? How does this apply in my spiritual journey?

Peter writes to the elect – those “…who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” Just to refresh our memories, let us remember salvation applies to our past, present and future state before God.

Who are the people involved? Peter is writing to God’s elect, those who have been chosen by God for obedience to Jesus Christ, to be used of Him as they surrender to His leadership in their lives (:1-2). Peter praises God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as he identifies himself as one with this group! (:3).

They are described as exiles scattered throughout the then-known world. To prepare them for service God provided the Holy Spirit to sanctify them – purifying and setting them apart from worldly living. Their hearts were sprinkled/ purified by the Blood of Christ.

In referring to their former ignorance (:14), Peter warns them not to conform to the evil desires which once governed their behaviour. Probably many of them were Gentiles. “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God!” (1 Peter 2:10). Their faith in Jesus Christ would be a shield against the temptations of a previous lifestyle.

What does this teach me about God? He is all-knowing “according to the foreknowledge of God” (1:2). His calling was predetermined by what He knew. The Trinity is at work in these verses. The Father chose, the Son sacrificed and rose again, the Holy Spirit sanctifies! The cumulative power of the Godhead protects us from sin, and provides us with assurance that our inheritance is indestructible.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians about the shield of faith, part of the armour of God used to ward off the fiery darts of the devil. Think of it – fiery darts would be very painful, if not deadly. Faith trusts God. Faith is measurable according to the words of Jesus who condemned people of little faith (Matthew 14:31) and commended those of great faith (Matthew 8:10). Seeing their lack of faith, Jesus didn’t waste His time doing miracles in Nazareth.

Our finite minds can hardly grasp the significance of the supernatural power about us, limited as we are by time and space. Our warfare is spiritual. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4) We often think in temporal terms; the physical becomes the measure of our faith. But God is protecting something even more precious. He has given us faith – the gift of God! (Ephesians 2:9) to protect our spirits!


A shield is a visible piece of equipment. I must ask if my faith is a visible sign to others around, a sign that I trust in God? Do I stand confidently holding the shield of faith, as I do battle with the enemy of my soul day by day, or do I cower behind it? Oh that our spirits may be at peace, knowing we are shielded from eternal disaster, by our faith.

by Marilyn Daniels (


Vanquished or Victorious?

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Psalm 44

In an era where spelling is almost irrelevant as words are reduced to fit into a texting format, the existence of the English language may be threatened. However, there are those who still enjoy the richness of words as they contribute to our understanding of ideas, of history, as they paint word pictures and describe feelings.

Vanquished is an old-fashioned word describing those subdued completely in battle, overcome in conflict or contest, or overwhelmed by emotion. There are times in the lives of most of us when we feel vanquished by circumstance – perhaps external, or even internal conflict.

We live in a world of unprecedented choices. One can actually now chose their gender. A growing trend is to examine preferences in early childhood, upon which one’s sexuality is based. Despite physical appearances hormonal growth can be stunted to achieve the look of the gender preferred. Imagine the confusion if in later years these people who are neither man nor woman might long for a child. When we cannot accept and celebrate what God has given to us we find ourselves in serious conflict, vulnerable to feeling continually overwhelmed/ vanquished.

On the battlefield of life Satan has the advantage when we feel conquered. Once we are down we are vulnerable to every fiery dart he can throw at us. But God! In Psalm 44 there is a theme running through this lament, a theme of victory. Israelite history proved God-given victories. He brought them into the Promised Land and settled them there, removing completely those who might have been their enemies. “…not by sword that they won the land nor did their arm [of strength] bring them victory, but it was Your right hand, Your arm and the light of Your face – because You loved them!” (:3).

Looking at the present, the Psalmist recognized the hand of God once again had given him victory: “I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but You give us victory over our enemies [Satan, self, others]….in God we make our boast all the day long! (:6-8).

However, momentarily the Director of Music who wrote this Psalm fears God’s rejection. Experience has taught him that God is faithful. This gives him confidence to cry out for redemption from the present overwhelming circumstance (:26).

He knows the power of God that vanquished the nation’s enemies (:2). But now, for some reason the army is losing the battle. They feel abandoned, rejected, humbled (:9). In retreat from the enemy they have become a reproach to their neighbours (: 13). Now they are pleading for God to rise up and redeem them (:26).


God may be testing His people, since we read their defence written in verses 17-22. Meditate on these verses.

Note their petition is based on the certain knowledge of God’s unfailing love (:26).

Can you identify with this lament? How do you approach God when you feel vanquished?

Where does your certain victory originate?

by Marilyn Daniels (


Come and See

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John 1:35-39

Jesus continually astonished people by knowing their thoughts. Simon who didn’t give Him water to wash His feet when Jesus was a dinner guest in His house, was critical about the woman Jesus allowed to wash His feet with her tears. “Didn’t He know she was “a sinner?”….?” Jesus answered his unspoken question by publicly declaring what the woman had done was an act of worship (Luke 7:39-47).

In another instance Nathanael belittled the idea that the Messiah could come out of Nazareth, the town which Jesus called home. Jesus recognized Nathanael, when Philip introduced them, as “a true Israelite in whom there is nothing false” and went on to prove how He knew that by telling Nathanael He had seen Him worshiping under a fig tree. Awestruck Nathanael then declared Jesus to be “the Son of God, you are the King of Israel” (John 1:49).

In our reading today two of John’s disciples heard John declare “Look! The Lamb of God” (1:36). If nothing else this would have aroused their curiosity. When Jesus noticed them standing there with their mouths open, He asked what they wanted. Unsure of what to say, they blurted out “where do You stay?” Jesus invitation resounds down through the ages “Come and see”.

John’s gospel is very intimate. He shows us how much Jesus wanted to be known personally. In an act of +Jewish hospitality, He invited these two unnamed men home for coffee. How thrilling it must have been to be noticed by this great man and then to be invited to spend more time with Him!

Have you been noticed by the King of kings? Did you respond when He invited you to “Taste and see that the Lord is good”? David, in the Old Testament, knew God personally. He knew, from experience, that the man or woman who took refuge in the Lord would find blessing (Psalm 34:8).

I just love watching Poirot on TV. What does that have to do with our study? David Suchet, who plays Poirot, is a converted Jew. I watched him interviewed by the Rev David Hoyle in Westminster Abbey in the Jerusalem room – lots of history there. They were reviewing the impact of the Gospel of John on their lives – fascinating how our God works!

David Hoyle pointed out the importance of seeing Jesus and how, near the beginning of John’s Gospel, Jesus invited the men following Him to “Come and see”. Then the book ends with Thomas crying out “Unless I see….I will not believe”. For sure seeing grows us in our faith, but for most of us “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).


What is it that stirs your heart in those intimate moments with Jesus, which excite your devotion? Thinking back on your spiritual journey, did it start when you actually saw the Lord high and lifted up – King of kings crucified so that you would not pay the penalty for your sins? Would you wash His feet with your tears? Do you cry out “My Lord and my God!”?

by Marilyn Daniels (


The Glory of God

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John 1:14

Have you ever seen the glory of God? Often when breath-taking scenery makes us gasp, we may think of things that are glorious. Then when we hear about heroic acts, such as a bus driver rescuing seniors stuck in their car on tracks where a train is thundering down on them, we are awed by his bravery.

However, the glory of God is beyond description. You may remember that after speaking with God, Moses’ face was so radiant he had to cover it with a veil. How many of us can describe the glories of heaven. Reading the book of Revelation stretches our human imaginations, doesn’t it? What does the word “glory” mean to you?

The glory of God: John, in his gospel declares “We have seen His glory”. What does John mean? This was not a singular experience, because John speaks for all the disciples. “We” have seen… Written two thousand years ago, his words still stir our spirits with anticipation as we hope to also see “His glory, the glory of the One and Only , who came from the Father” (John 1:14), some day. Imagine what it will be like to see our Lord Jesus Christ, face to face! This is something worth meditating on.

John goes on to describe Jesus, God in a human body, as full of grace and truth. In our world today we could value those qualities! What is truth? Without absolutes, truths are hard to determine. Unless we appreciate God’s own Holy Word, we are lost. He is the “Only” truth worth trusting. Jesus’ voice thunders down through the ages – “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life! How glorious would it be to live in a world governed by Truth!


As I ponder this scripture a prayer arose in my heart. Let this start with me. Perhaps my life could show forth the glory of God if I yield to the Spirit of Truth. As a Christ-follower, do I present truth in the place God has put me? The truth is – I had nothing to do with the parents God gave to me, nor the siblings, nor the race to which I belong. I am who I am by God’s grace, as each one of us is – created for a Divine purpose. Is that purpose to bear “Truth” to the glory of God?

by Marilyn Daniels (