Devotional

The Old, Old Story

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Matthew 28:19-20

Jesus said “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). He said this on the basis of authority given to Him by the Father, to rule in heaven and earth. Therefore….!

John recalls Jesus’ High Priestly prayer, addressed to His Father: “Father the time has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You”. Jesus was facing the cross. He needed strength of purpose, knowing His Divine calling was to bring peace and rest to hurting hearts, through restored fellowship with His Father. His prayer goes on – “For you granted Him [the Son] authority over all people, that He might give eternal life to all those You have given to Him”. That sweet fellowship, beginning at the moment of conversion, will continue throughout eternity! So that we really understand what eternal life is, Jesus defines if for us – it is knowing God and Jesus Christ (John 17:1-3).

The visiting preacher was passionate! Folks – he reminded us, you can go and baptized, as well as teach people about Jesus Christ, without making disciples! How many people have said the sinner’s prayer, thinking that meant they were going to heaven, but the seed planted produced no growth and certainly no beautiful flowers. Some seed died because it landed on stony ground, other seed was choked by weeds growing in the same patch (Matthew 13).

Making sure the seed grows takes time and careful tending; it needs to be watered, perhaps even fertilized, and many gardeners carefully remove weeds. Jesus illustrates nurturing spiritual growth by discussing the need to prune branches in order to produce fruit (John 15:1-2). If we are to see growth we need the ministry of presence. Walking alongside, as Jesus did with His disciples for 3 years! We get impatient for souls. In the urgency of evangelism, we forget sometimes to nurture by loving and learning more about God, together. Sharing the joy of the Lord is one of the privileges of the Church! There is nothing more satisfying than encouraging brothers and sisters in their faith!

The key to discipleship is given by Jesus, in these verses. We are teaching others to obey His commands, to think “God thoughts”. What are they? They shape our entire worldview. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37-38). This is the first and greatest commandment, summarizing the first 4 of the ten commandments given to Moses. We are not to worship any other gods, or to take the name of God lightly [in vain]. The rest of those (Exodus 20) are summarized in the way we treat our neighbour .

Jesus commands us to love our brothers and sisters, our neighbours and even our enemies – the way we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). If we are honest we are often self-indulgent, with our time, our money and our possessions. If generosity of spirit is the hallmark of discipleship, a lot would change in our world today. Even of those who do not follow Him, many are willing to label Jesus as a “good” man.

Reflection:

Would they say the same about us, giving us kudos for the way we celebrate humanity? Are we known for acts of kindness? Are we selfless? Some of us are blessed to remember earthly fathers who looked like Jesus, who went out of their way to bless others! It is the “Old, Old Story”, captured in the words of the song and challenging us to identify with Jesus in thought, word and deed!

Tell me the old, old story,
  Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory,
  Of Jesus and His love;

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Speak Lord in Stillness

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Psalm 46

We were in the depths of darkness in the savannahs of Guyana. I had never seen so many stars! Fascinated by the sight, our team piled out of their quarters to stare at the sky. Quietness ensued. We were awestruck by the hand of God! Away from the hustle and bustle, the blurring brightness of city lights, we could actually pause to see what God has made and in so doing, to truly worship Him. What a privilege!

We probably have read in the news “Nations are in an uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice and the earth melts.” Psalm 46: 6 could have been written just yesterday. But the Psalmist also pens words of trust:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear,

though the earth give way (:1).

In the varying cadences of this Psalm our hearts are lifted to worship as we pause to consider the works of the Lord (:8). In so doing we too can determine to shut out the fears that naturally possess us when faced with trauma or possible persecution. I read recently how a soldier returning home to drown nightmares from PTSD in alcoholism, was impacted by the Spirit of God. He waited for God to speak, as he hungered for the Word of God, like the starving POW he had once been. In the stillness, he was healed.

These verses were inspired by God to heal the souls of those around the world who are persecuted for their faith. In the awful silence of a prison cell the still small voice of God can be heard echoing the reality of the presence of our Creator God. The Holy Spirit quietly releases prisoners from bondage in the soul. Isaiah writes about this ministry where the Spirit of God binds up the broken-hearted, proclaims freedom for the captives and releases prisoners from darkness (Isaiah 61:1).

Shining in the blackness of the night sky millions of stars pierced the consciousness of men and women with sparkling light! There is a God! He speaks in the beauty of holiness, and in the stillness, sometimes without words!

Reflection:

Reflect on a time when you have become aware of the voice of God.

By what means did He speak to you? What did that experience teach you?

How does the reality of God’s presence allay your fears?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Encouraging Who?

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Hebrews 3:12-14

We know that encouragement is a Biblical principle. Remarkable isn’t it, to consider that God not only lays down principles by which to live, but also provides all that we need in order to abide by them. Encouragement is listed among the gifts given to believers by the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:8). Perhaps knowing we need the Holy Spirit in order to exercise this gift, will prompt us to lean more on God, in order to meet the needs of others.

Encouragement is regarded throughout both Testaments as necessary to spiritual development. “We sent Timothy who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith” (1 Thessalonians 3:2). In the Old Testament we read – “Stop doing wrong; learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed” (Isaiah 1:17) How often it is easy to overlook those who are quiet and shy. Paul recommends, among other things, that we not forget to strengthen the timid (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Encouragement, like many other Christian virtues needs renewing day by day “Encourage one another daily….so that none of you may be hardened by sins deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13). It is needed by leaders. In training Joshua to take his place, the Lord instructed Moses “Encourage him, because he will lead Israel” (Deuteronomy 1:38). It is needed by brothers in the Lord, and was even needed by Jesus Himself (Matthew 26:38). “He [an elder] must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9).

One requires great patience to encourage others. It can be emotionally draining (2 Timothy 4:2). Serving others requires that gift of the Spirit. “Patience” (Galatians 5:22, 2 Timothy 4:2). Also, those who form the support network for aging relatives or grieving friends know how much energy it takes to be a reliable presence in the face of such great need.

Josiah, King of Israel encouraged the priests in their temple duties. How important it is when we see encouragement coming from the top down! Paul found that in exercising praise he encouraged himself. Today he might have written a book on self-help! Barnabas fulfilled the meaning of his name, “Son of Encouragement”, by his ministry to others (Acts 4:36). Endurance and encouragement from the scriptures brought about a spirit of unity in the early Church.

If the truth were known there probably isn’t anyone living who has never needed an encouraging word, a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on. We who have been recipients of such a ministry, understand the magnitude of the miniscule….it is little things that mean so much in times of crisis. Jesus said “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me (Matthew 25:40). Therefore all of us can do something to encourage others, if we would only be sensitive to their moments of need.

Reflection:

Remember a time when God used someone to encourage you. How did that feel?

Would you like to have the reputation of making others feel the same?

What is it that prevents you and me from seizing the opportunities that God places before us?

Would you be willing commit to a ministry of encouragement?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

The Royal Standard

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1 Peter

Queen Elizabeth is celebrating seventy years on the throne, as I write. When she is at home a flag flutters over the castle. The Royal Standard is the flag used to represent the Queen not only in the United Kingdom but also overseas when she makes state visits. It is the royal arms in banner form, signifying that the head of state is present.

Did you know that the King of Kings has a Royal Standard? In the same way as Queen Elizabeth’s standard has a purpose, His standard also announces that He is present. What then does it look like? And where can it be seen?

The only time you and I are referred to as “Royal” is when Peter, “an Apostle of Jesus Christ” wrote “to the elect”, those who have been “chosen” and “sanctified” by the Holy Spirit “for obedience to Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:1-2). What does all that mean? God’s purpose in calling believers into His family is to bless them to be a blessing. It is not primarily so that we will go to heaven; that may be seen as a perk.

Peter says those who have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19) are a Royal priesthood (2:9) – our lives serving as priests in the Kingdom of God. Priests are God’s representatives here on earth. Therefore those who have been “born again….through the living and enduring Word of God” (1:23) must resemble Christ Jesus our Lord.

He is holy, therefore we must strive to be holy in all we do. Peter quotes from scripture, “because it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ (Leviticus 11:44-45, 1 Peter 1:15-16). He reminds his readers that “Christ suffered for you, leaving you and example, that you should follow in His steps” (2:21). To achieve this Godly standard Peter calls “all of you, live in harmony with one another”. Not only as individuals are we to exemplify the character of Christ, but collectively as His body we need to “be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. The list goes on 1 peter 3:8-9). Jesus never repaid evil with evil. In fact he was kind towards those who crucified Him, praying God would forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing (Luke 23:34).

Holy people keep from speaking evil; rather they uplift one another with cheerful speech, They seek peace, knowing that “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous….and against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:10-12). Our reputation for doing good is coloured by our eagerness to do so, as well as with an attitude of gentleness and respect (3:13, 15). This earns us the opportunity to share the reason for our eternal hope. We do not give of our time or money grudgingly, bearing in mind the principle that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). Jesus, for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Peter, like Paul, knew the impact a life which is self-controlled has on folks outside the community of faith! Signs of a heart at peace with God are seen in lives who love each other deeply, “because love covers over a multitude of sins” and serves others “Faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms”. God will give us the words and the strength through Jesus Christ” our Lord (1 Peter 4:7-11). Why? Because “To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen!” (4:11).

Reflection:

What then is the Standard of Christ? Holiness identifies a Godly life. “Without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). It purifies the way we love, the words we speak and the attitude with which we serve. Holiness warns Satan who “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:9) that we are protected by the blood of the Lamb who was slain! Holiness flags our devotion to our heavenly Father, as we bear the image of Jesus Christ our Lord, in our lives.

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Mother’s Day

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Ephesians 6:2 Proverbs 23:22

Moses was given the 10 commandments as the basic rule of life, for God’s people. They dealt with worship and spiritual issues, as well as those of social justice and interaction. God’s intention is clear; He is to be the focal point of all we do and say. As a faithful Pharisee, Paul understood the importance of the law, reminding Corinthian believers “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:21).

God revealed Himself as the One who would punish those who rejected His law, but balanced that with the wonderful promise to “show love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:5-6). What does this have to do with Mothers Day?

God went on to detail what He meant in the 5th commandment which reads: “Honour your father and your mother”. The promise for doing so was that they would bring glory to God by honouring His word, and therefore would live long in the land that He was giving to them (Exodus 20:12). This is the positive side of obedience.

However, Moses received further instruction. “Anyone who attacks his father or mother must be put to death” (Exodus 21:15). Furthermore, “Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death” (Exodus 21:17). Another reality is made clear by the Apostle Paul. “If anyone does not provide for ….his immediate family [father and mother], he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). These are serious allegations, made by Sovereign God.

We need to note that they address our attitude, as much as our deeds. The law is not a suggestion – we are commanded, in this case to honour our parents. Commands are non-negotiable as Solomon knew. “Do not despise your mother when she is old” (Proverbs 23:22). Jesus confirmed this as He rebuked the Pharisees. Apparently they had been giving funds to projects at church [the temple] as a gift to God, “nullifying the Word of God”. They sought to impress people with their generosity while depriving their parents of basic needs. Jesus then called them hypocrites for not abiding by the law to honour both father and mother. God knew they honoured Him with lip-service only. Sadly their hearts were far from Him (Matthew 15:3-8).

“Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5 KJV). From the cross He looked down at the woman who had given Him birth, who believed in His ability to perform miracles before ever He did, and so Jesus provided for His mother Mary, as He called upon John to take care of her (John 19:26-27).

Reflection:

What are our inmost thoughts as we celebrate Mothers Day? Are we be compassionate as we give our mothers the benefit of the doubt for obvious mistakes? Do we bless them for giving us life? Will we reflect on the positives rather than judging the negatives? Motherhood is an awesome responsibility, entered into, usually, with very little training or orientation. What comfort can we derive from their sacrifice, and moments of generosity, playfulness and love? Will we honour God for those special Moms who adopted us into their hearts and families? Today, some of us need to demonstrate the love of Christ, who reached down to the unlovely to redeem them [us] from every sin and failure, by the way in which we honour mothers who have struggled. Happy Mothers Day!

Devotional

Standing on Holy Ground

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Exodus 19:10-25

Moses was instructed by the Lord to prepare the people to meet with Him. God was in the business of restoration. “Now if you obey Me fully, and keep My covenant, then, out of all the nations you will be My treasured possession” (19:5). First He called them to remember the recent events which had brought them safely out of Egypt. God describes it: “I carried you on eagles wings, and brought you to Myself” (19:4). He had revealed His power by rescuing them from slavery, and now He becomes very personal. His plan is for a relationship. “Although the whole earth is Mine, you will be for Me a kingdom or priests and a holy nation” (19:6).

Many years before, God had made a covenant with their forefathers, beginning with Abraham and passing down the generations through Isaac and Jacob. Now He is about to renew His covenant. The offer is conditional -“If”. The people responded together: “We will do everything the Lord has said” (19:8). The stage was set. Moses, acting as the go-between, conveyed the Lord’s instructions to the people. In order to meet with this powerful Holy God they must purify themselves. Consecration involved rituals of physical cleanliness, including sexual abstinence, as well as being clothed in clean garments (19:10,15). This procedure is intended to “honour the Lord your God….who makes you holy” (Leviticus 20:7-8). As clean as we might try to be, it is God alone who can make us holy.

There were limits put upon the people – a boundary was established around Mount Sinai. “Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death” (19:12, 23). If God told us today that certain limits were to be observed, or else we would die, how seriously would we take His words? Yet His word clearly states “The soul who sins is the one who will die”. Our response to God must be personal…”The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son” (Ezekiel 18:20).

Habakkuk understood the holiness of God. “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; You cannot tolerate wrong” (1:13). This is why His Holy Son, under the burden of the sins of the world cried from the cross “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).

As the people gathered around Sinai, after three days of preparation, they were greeted by lightening and thunder! While a thick cloud covered the mountain, everyone trembled at loud blasts from a trumpet. Then the Lord descended in fire, while smoke billowed like smoke from a furnace. At last God had the attention of His people.

The Apostle Paul knew folks in his day needed to pay attention to God. He asked “How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing, the blood of the Covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” He warned “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” (Hebrews 10:29-31).

The Hebrews, waiting before God at Mount Sinai were ready, consecrated, and committed to serving God in a Covenant relationship. They stood on Holy ground to receive their orders. Ten commandments became their rule of life. After Jesus’ death and resurrection we can reread these commandments as words of promise. There are no other gods. “I am the way, the truth and the life” Jesus declared. (John 14:6). Through Him God has shown the love He promised on that eventful day to His people at Sinai, promised to a thousand generations of those “who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:6).

Reflection:

If we want to see God and to hear His voice in the intimacy of a holy relationship, we need to remove our sandals. They are dirty from walking through a sinful world. Jesus washed His disciples feet, as a symbol of service to Holy God. If we hope to witness to others about the gospel, we need to do so from a position of strength gained only from standing on Holy ground, having our feet “fitted with the readiness [commitment] that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Are you willing and ready to stand on Holy ground?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Uncategorized

Victorious

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It began in heaven. The decision was made within the Godhead to send Jesus to earth to accomplish the “salvation plan”. Here’s how it went. Paul enlightened the Philippian Church, writing that Christ Jesus “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (2:6-7). Jesus demonstrates to us how to control pride of place. Status often means so much to us as human beings, doesn’t it? Victory number one!

The story continues. Jesus’ parents found Him in the temple, where according to the custom He had celebrated His ‘Bar Mitzvah’ at twelve years of age. Returning home, the missed him and returned to find Him discussing theology with the Rabbis. “Everyone who heard Him was amazed at His understanding and His answers”! (Matthew 2:42-47). We might have thought a young boy, quizzed by the religious leaders of his day might have been timid, but not so for the One who created the system, and the people who were practising it. Victory over fear of what people might think!

We’re all familiar with the “temptations” which Jesus endured during 40 days of fasting in the wilderness (Matthew 4). Satan tried his best to weaken Jesus’ resolve to do His Father’s will, but “Hallelujah” failed to deter Him. Victory #3.

Throughout His life, short as His ministry experience was, Satan tried to taunt Him, ridiculing Him for making Himself equal with God, for calling God His “Father”. The final blow might have been when people mocked Him for saving others, but not saving Himself. He had wrestled, as He faced the awful trauma of crucifixion which lay ahead of Him, as He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. How well do we handle our own fears? If we knew we would suffer pain and humiliation, would we pass the test? The miracle of calling it all off at any point would have devalued the very reason for Jesus coming to earth in the first place – Victory #4 overcame fear of personal pain!

Folks gathering around the foot of the cross failed to see the victory that Jesus experienced by His very death. The reality was He could have saved Himself, but immediate satisfaction would have destroyed His purpose. He had to die that man might live! Hadn’t the angel prophesied to Joseph “She will give birth to a Son and you are to give Him the name ‘Jesus’ because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). And so for us today, we read: “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all” (2 Corinthians 15:14-15). Victory #5. Will we take up Peter’s challenge “Christ suffered for you, leaving an example, that you should follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21)?

We know that we will live eternally with Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Our certain hope is based on His resurrection. Imagine life without such joyous anticipation? And He was seen, over a period of 40 days, “giving many convincing proofs that He was alive” (Acts 1:3). Again we read Peter’s words “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact” (Acts 2:32). Victory #6!

Reflection:

If we have put our trust in what Jesus has done, then do we trust His promise that He will come again? Are we preparing for His return? At that time He will have His final victory of evil! Sin and death will no longer provoke us because Satan and his angels will be cast into the Lake of fire to stay, forever (Revelation 20:10). Praise God! Seven, the perfect number – seven victorious moments in the life of Christ, bring us the greatest of all possible joy!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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Victimized

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The little child who was worshiped by Kings from the east, became a man. In the intervening years it had not been easy to be parents of the Christ-child. They had to endure public opinion about Mary’s unexpected pregnancy. Then at the tender age of two Jesus was seen to be a threat; sought by Herod the King after the Magi came looking for a new baby king. Led by God, they fled to Egypt to keep this precious child safe. We might recall the tragedy that befell innocent babies in Ramah (Matthew 2:1-2, 16), as this wicked king sought to extinguish the Son of God.

Herod died, so the family returned home. For nearly thirty years Jesus lived quietly at home in Nazareth. What were His thoughts as He learned His earthly father’s trade? What sort of life did He have with the question of His paternity hanging over His head? We sense that within the home things were not always easy. What was it like for His siblings to live with the eldest child, who had a history of being worshiped as King?

One commentator labels Matthew Chapter 10 as “The Program of the King; the Program announced”. Chapter 13 becomes “The Program Altered”, then “The Program Attacked”. Here we see the community in which Jesus grew up, explodes! Jesus had been going “through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness” (Matthew 13:35). Coming back to His hometown, He began teaching in the synagogue where amazement quickly turned into indignation. “Where did this man get the wisdom and these miraculous powers?” and “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” Suspicion grew! “Isn’t His mother’s name Mary?” and they went on to list His brothers by name, attempting to destroy His reputation, as a child sent by God (Matthew 13:53-57).

His ministry became perhaps the greatest example of human fickleness, because so many people followed Him for all the wrong reasons. Human nature is hard to change. Crowds followed Him for what they could get – healing and hope. They longed to be free from Roman oppression; surely this miracle-worker would engineer the ultimate miracle for their oppressed nation. Consider the burden this expectation put on Jesus, who described “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

Most of us experience problems with sibling rivalry or criticism, jealousies or competition during our life time. As we have seen, Jesus was not immune to these human inconsistencies. However, the real test came at the end of His ministry when the “religious right” decided the time had come to get rid of this maverick teacher. They became passionate to extinguish what they saw as blasphemy, making Himself equal with God (John 3:34-35). After all, how many times had Jesus called God His Father? And now He was forgiving sins? (Mark 2:5-7).

Jesus became the ultimate victim of a religion whose leadership had lost the concept of a personal relationship with God. Their abuses were heaped onto the people they were given the privilege of leading spiritually, in the form of rules and regulations which were almost impossible to keep. What was one more injury to add to the list, and so we find their consciences seared. Crucifying the Christ was nothing to so many who needed to know the God they said they worshiped, is a God faithful to His promises.

Reflection:

In the end an abuser reaps what he sows. Sadly in the eternal scheme of things, those who victimize the Christ, are eternal losers.

by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)

Uncategorized

Validate

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John 1:29-34

The crucifixion took place by people who vilified the “Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). Since His ascension into heaven, His sacrifice is validated by worship of “the Lamb who was slain”, by heavenly hosts gathered around God’s throne! (Revelation 5:9-10, 12).

Returning to His earthly experience, let us first note that the baby in the manger was announced by angels who proclaimed “Today, in the town of David, as Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord”. The shepherds then went into Bethlehem to check it out, and found Jesus lying in the hay (Luke 2:10-11, 16). At the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry John made the proclamation, just as we read, that the Lamb had come from God to remove the sin in their wicked world.

Of course we remember that prophecy was clearly fulfilled when the Magi appeared on the scene to worship the “King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:1-2). For Jews who knew their scripture, this was their ultimate hope and so we read that two elderly folk recognized Jesus as the child “destined to cause the falling and rising of man in Israel” through whom “the thoughts of many will be revealed” (Simeon – Matthew 2:34-35). Anna proclaimed to all who were gathered in the Temple that God had given this Child “to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Israel” (Matthew 2:38). And Mary treasured all these things, validating her precious son, in her heart!

After John baptised Jesus, a remarkable thing happened. John heard the voice of God confirming Jesus’ identity “This is My beloved Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). This was witnessed by crowds of folks who had repented, and were being baptised by John (Luke 3:21-22). How thrilling the moment would have been to hear the actual voice of God, as a dove sent from heaven, landed on Jesus! Think of it – the scripture tells us this was the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. How would that minister to the spirit of the man, Jesus? Here His Divinity was authorized, miraculously and publicly, so that people could rejoice in what God was doing. Here was God’s Son – the promised Messiah! This is heavenly validation indeed!

Jesus called a group of men to work together with Him; His intention was to train then to carry on His ministry. It was crucial that they understood what He said about Himself: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). No one but God could make such a claim. Thankfully Peter recognized the truth, and spoke for the others when he declared “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” (Matthew 16:16).

The “Truth”, which Jesus claimed to be inherently, (John 14:6), was also recognized as He hung dying, on the cross. One thief vilified Him, but the other validated Jesus when he asked Him to “remember me when You come into Your kingdom” (Luke 24:42). Oh that folks today would recognize the “Way” into the kingdom of God* , and the “Way” into heaven eventually, is through believing and receiving Jesus Christ our Lord! (John 1:12-13).

At the moment of Jesus’ death there was an earthquake, causing a Roman soldier to gasp “Surely He was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54). The cross was a travesty of injustice, but our Lord carried on, proving the glory of God!

Reflection:

Many people, down through the ages have questioned the veracity of Jesus’ Divinity. If He was simply a man who died, our faith is also dead. But He rose from the dead, was seen by many who validated He lives! (Acts 1:3). We do not worship a dead person but the Giver of True Life, eternal life! The question is: Does your life and mine validate the reality of Jesus Christ, as Lord?

*The kingdom of God is here in the hearts of Jesus’ followers. We do not wait to go to heaven to be blessed, but are members of His Kingdom here on earth, now! ? Because our Sovereign Lord reigns in our hearts. Praise God!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Uncategorized

Vilify, Validate, Victimize, Victorious!

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What do all those words have in common? These words describe the life of our Lord Jesus Christ!

As we go into the Easter season, it is customary to reflect on our Lord Jesus Christ. Just how well do we know Him? It is sometimes hard for us to wrap our minds around the fact that Jesus is fully human and fully God at the same time. When He began His earthly ministry, it is curious to read that the Spirit led Him into the desert to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1). Why was that an important part of His human experience? For one thing it helps Him to identify with us in our moments of temptation. In fact He taught us to pray “Lead us not into temptation” because He knew the powerful impact, the desperate energy it takes, to resist the devil.

Vilify: “To speak about in an abusively disparaging manner”.

Jesus’ life began under the shadow of illegitimacy. God chose a virgin to bear His Holy Son so there would be no question about His Divinity. Some folks, refusing to believe God’s miracle, vilify Mary to this day. To be sure there was no stain on Jesus’ name, a prophecy was given hundreds of years before His birth: “The Lord Himself will give you a sign. The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call His name “Immanuel” [meaning God with us] (Isaiah 7:14). And so the “Virgin Birth” became a cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith!

Before His ministry began, the Holy Spirit took Jesus into the desert for the specific purpose of facing temptation.

After 40 days and nights of fasting, most of us would be pretty weak. When we are tired or hungry, when our felt needs are not met, we become impatient, grumpy, and even fearful and angry. It is interesting to note that right at that time Satan tried to take advantage of Jesus’ weakened physical state. He taunted Him:
If you are the Son of God….” (Matthew 4:3). Because we know Jesus is God, we sometimes pass over the impact this would have had on a physically weak person. Bread? What would He have given for a piece of bread? We know, from His later miracles, that He could produce bread miraculously, but He would not do it to satisfy the cravings of His own mortal body. Certainly He would not give the devil the satisfaction of weakening His resolve – to use this time of fasting to draw strength from His heavenly Father, for all that lay ahead. He knew the battle that His humanity would face, and this was just the beginning! Twice in the desert the devil questioned His authenticity, demanding He prove His unique Sonship. Failing that, Satan used many folks throughout Jesus’ ministry to ridicule Him as the Son of God. We find the Pharisees, folks trained in the scriptures and prophecy, who ought to have recognized who Jesus was, questioning Jesus’ identity, and then of course crucifying Him on the grounds of blasphemy, for making Himself equal with God (John 5:18).

What a rollercoaster of emotion existed in Jesus’ life. Crowds of folks celebrated the man they thought was their deliverer from Roman persecution! His miracles produced entertainment for the multitudes. However, when He was taken prisoner, the chant changed to “Crucify Him”! What made the difference? Ignorance mingled with unrealistic expectations, led them astray. Let us not forget the intensity of Jesus’ feelings when He was vilified. How did Jesus respond?

Consider: how painful was this to the heart of the gentle Saviour who so loved the world that He came to sacrifice Himself for each person’s sin? It was apparently enough to make Him weep over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37). We humans all need to feel appreciated. Knowing what we now understand from scripture about God’s purposes, how easy is it for you and for me to yield to the Father’s will? Would we deny Jesus what is due the supreme effort He made to subjugate His humanity to the will of His Father?

Reflection:

The important thing is that Jesus didn’t ever feel He had to prove to anyone who He is. We might take a page from His story to consider that as God’s children, neither do we need to prove who we are. If we are living as God wants us to live, what is that to anyone else? Jesus questioned James’ and John’s desire. A verse worth meditating on reflects Jesus’ attitude towards you and me. Nothing else matters. We may be vilified, but Jesus says: “You must follow Me” (John 21:22).

by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)