Devotional

The Morning Star

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Read: Rev. 22:16 2 Peter 1:19 Isaiah 14:12-15

Question: “Why are both Jesus and Satan referred to as the ‘Morning Star’?”

In my recent morning reading Isaiah refers to Satan “the morning star, son of the dawn.” (14:12) The verses following describe the power Satan held in his heavenly experience. Created the most beautiful of all angels, Satan was given great privileges. These he abdicated when he chose to aspire to God’s greatness, indeed to become greater than God (Isaiah 14:13).

This ambition was frustrated by the hand of God which brought him low “…you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit” (Isaiah 14:15). Seventy-two disciples of Jesus were reporting back with great joy. They had been sent by Jesus to do His work and had seen demons submit to them in the Holy name of Jesus! He confirmed His authority to give them the power to overcome ever effort of Satan to separate man from God. Jesus, Himself testified “I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven” (Luke 10:18). Satan may have been a bright morning star, but he is only a poor imitation of the one true bright morning star, Jesus Christ, the Light of the whole world (John 1:3-5).

Ezekiel makes reference to the incredible privileges Satan enjoyed. “You were the model of perfection…full of wisdom and perfect in beauty! ….Every precious stone adorned you….You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount with God. You were blameless from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you” (Ezekiel 28:12-15).

It is interesting to note that the idea of the “morning star” is not the only concept that is applied to both Jesus and Satan. In Revelation 5:5, Jesus is referred to as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. In 1 Peter 5:8, Satan is compared to a lion, seeking someone to devour. The point is this, both Jesus and Satan, to a certain extent, bear some similarity to lions. Jesus is similar to a lion in that He is the King, He is royal and majestic. Satan is similar to a lion in that he seeks to devour other creatures. That is where the similarities between Jesus, Satan, and lions end, however. Jesus and Satan are like lions in very different ways.

The Morning Star is the precursor of a new day. As this term describes our Lord Jesus Christ, we see Him on the verge of a new day – “That day” so often refers in scripture to His return. But first let us consider the source of His brightness. It is the essence of His Being, as God. John 9:6 reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world. Satan, as a created being, is one of many angels whose light simply reflects the glory of God. Jesus, on the other hand, as God Incarnate, is the bright and morning star, exclusively. His light is self-existent. Satan could never be more than a poor imitation of that celestial light.

The Bible ends with the glorious words of Christ Jesus Himself “I am the root and the offspring of David and the Bright Morning Star” (Revelation 22:15). What a thrilling revelation, with the promise of things to come, when we will live in His light for all eternity!

Reflection:

How do Satan’s aspirations differ from that of mankind in general today?

Differentiate, if you can, between the essence of light and the reflection of light.

To which does the title Morning Star truly belong?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

Persecution?

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John 15:20

Your friend is a missionary in inland China. She writes that fellow missionaries in other cities are being killed, as are the Chinese Christians. They are hoping to get out alive, but fear grips their hearts every time they see rioters in the streets. Only a miracle can save them. Pray for their safety.

A young mother of 3 children is waiting, with dinner ready, for her husband to come home from work. It is Friday night. The kids are cowering in their rooms. Her heart is thumping with anticipation. Sadly, abuse is frequently visited upon this family.

A veteran employee has a meeting with his new boss, a young man who is very conscious of his position and who often takes advantage of those beneath him. Ethics are sometimes tossed to the wind in order to get ahead. What will his expectations demand this time?

A pastor has the reputation of being analytical of fellow servants of God. In his small flock he leads children of God to believe that critical thinking is an important sign of spirituality. Quite naturally this spirit impacts their worldview, as well as their testimony. They find a spirit of judgment and condemnation within their congregation and wonder why?

What does the Bible teach that would help in each of these situations? Jesus warned: “If they persecuted me they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). He spoke about the need to be rooted in our faith in order to be strong when persecution comes (Matthew 13:21). The Apostle Paul spoke from experience: “….everyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Persecution originates with Satan. How will we endure? Two words are often linked in scripture – persecution and perseverance. Immediately following the account of persecutions endured by early Christians (Hebrews 11:37) we read “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1) James assures us that the “testing of your faith develops perseverance”(1:3). Jesus commends the faithful “You have persevered and have endured hardships for My name” (Revelation 2:3).

What is it that gives us strength to face the future, whether it is turbulent or peaceful? We often waste energy fearing what might happen. Rather we need to develop an attitude of gratitude. I’ve lived among folks who have very little of this world’s goods. They are uncertain where their next meal will come from and yet they give thanks when it did come and day by day found many things for which to praise God.

Take heart! Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution….?” (Romans 8:35) Jesus said we should consider ourselves “Blessed” (Matthew 5:11) when we are persecuted. This gives us an opportunity to “pray for those who persecute you” (5:44). He Himself gave us an example as He prayed from the cross “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Paul’s attitude was “When we are cursed we bless; when we are persecuted we endure it”(1 Corinthians 4:12).

Reflection:

Writing to the Thessalonian Church Paul told them he thanked God always for their testimony of faith. Who can you lift up in prayers of thanksgiving? Persecution doesn’t seem to fit a celebration of thanksgiving, but it does force us to look at what is most important in our lives…our steadfast God who draws us close to His loving heart, especially when things are tough! Looking at the future when Jesus will return, we might ask ourselves: How will we react in the face of persecution? Are we prepared for what must come?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

Praying With Tears

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Isaiah 25:8

Recently I was reminded of something I heard many years before – that we are not sinners because we commit sinful acts, but we commit sinful acts because we are sinners. This reflects back to the truth that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Jesus gave us hope when He claimed those who mourned would be blessed….not speaking of grieving over a loved one’s death, but rather grieving over one’s sinful disposition. Only then do we enter into the blessings of God’s Kingdom (Matthew 5:4).

John the Baptist began the theme of repentance prior to Jesus’ ministry, after 400 years of silence from God, warning that the Kingdom of God was at hand (Matthew 3:2). Following Jesus’ ascension Peter preached the gospel of repentance, launching this foundational truth of Christianity on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38). Jesus talked about repentance during His ministry, but we have some prophetic words from Him recorded by John in the Book of Revelation, when Jesus calls the seven churches to repent (Revelation 2 & 3)!

The Apostle Paul expands on the theme: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). David knew what it meant to repent so he wrote “weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). When the sincerity of our tears is assessed by God as genuine, there is an overwhelming joy in the restoration of our Father-child relationship!

Richard Foster believes that “tears are God’s way of helping us descend with the mind into the heart and there bow in perpetual adoration and worship” (Prayer, Page 41, italics mine). We really cannot worship in spirit and in truth while our hearts are separated from God by unconfessed sin. We worry about what people will think, so often try to hide our sins from those we know and love, but God knows everything. There is nowhere to hide from our eternal and infinite God (Psalm 139:7).

There might be a progression in our spiritual growth if we consider the fear of the Lord means holding Him in awe, in the deepest possible respect. Like Isaiah we might fall on our faces before this Majestic Being who is ruler of all, praying “Woe is me….my eyes have seen the King” (Isaiah 6:5). Having compared God with himself, Isaiah recognized that even as God’s prophet he was impure! As his tears fell the Lord raised him up, knowing the sincerity of his heart.

Isaiah knew a lot about tears. He wept on behalf of the obstinate, rebellious nation of Israel, but God assured him that one day, when death {separation from God] was swallowed up forever, the Sovereign Lord would wipe away all tears! What a glorious hope! (Isaiah 25:8).

Reflection:

Can you identify with the Psalmist who wrote: “My eyes shed streams of tears because Your law is not kept” (Psalm 119:136)?

Do you pray with tears over the sins of the world, or of the church, or even of your family?

Have you ever wept over your own sins? (Psalm 51:1-9)

Is your hope based on God’s promise that joy will come after tears of repentance? (Psalm 30:5)

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Height of Hypocrisy

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Luke 18:9-14

How often have you and I thanked God for our blessings? It’s a critical part of worship isn’t it? First we adore God for His character – all that He is in infinitude, eternality, omniscience and might. That’s a mouthful isn’t it? In other words when we praise God we remember He is so superior to anyone we know, unfathomable really in His wisdom, power and love!

Then we thank God for how He works among the people He has created, sustaining us by His powerful word (Hebrews 1:3). In many countries temporal blessings are so abundant that folks begin to think these are their right. Recently I’ve heard people saying no one can take away their rights. Have they forgotten those around our globe who don’t enjoy the same unalienable rights?

Why then have rights to life and liberty been denied so many people? It’s heart-breaking to see babies and little children who will never enjoy the practical sustenance we believe all children need. Doesn’t God care? Yes, He does. He has given us so much that if we shared a portion of it regularly with others, this world would be a different place. How sacrificially might we love others? When we say we love God how does that play out on the horizontal level, here on earth?

Jesus often talked in parables. One such story might relate to us today. A Pharisee stood up to pray in the temple. Notice his posture. Notice his attitude. “Thank God I am not like other men”! What was his perspective on other people? It was very negative. He would have made a great reporter in the twenty-first century. Look at our society – on the streets of our cities there are robbers, drunks, prostitutes, murderers, drug addicts, adulterers and those who cheat on their taxes. There are even crooks in government! (Luke 18:11). Surely I’m not like them!

He continued: “Look God at how good I have been, tithing and fasting regularly – twice a week!” Now to me that statement smacks of pride. Paul reminds people of faith that the universe was made by God (Hebrews 11:1). God asked Job where he was when He laid the foundation of the earth? (Job 38:4-7). Let’s keep our perspectives about God and man in balance. What impact can my fasting and tithing or any other good works have on the God who created all things? It’s like an ant bragging to me about building its anthill.

Just to keep us focused, Jesus contrasts the Pharisee’s prayer with the prayer of a tax collector – a man the Pharisee has just mocked. This man didn’t even raise his eyes to heaven, but “beat upon his breast and said ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’ “ (Luke 18:13).

Which man do you think was justified before God? Looking at our world today, it’s shocking to see Christians caught up in what once might have been called a “worldly” perspective. I was told once by a professing believer, that God only wanted the best for me and therefore my old, ramshackle car was an affront to Him. I almost bought it!! However, I knew that God had provided me with a vehicle that got me where I needed to go, freeing me to share with others some of the wealth of this world that still remained in my pocket. This was my comfort in the face of ridicule.

One more lesson might be learned from this parable. Had the Pharisee forgotten that to judge others is a sin in the eyes of God? Along with his insatiable pride, he was as much a sinner as those he criticized. God could judge his heart, even if his life looked good on the outside. We who know God the Father intimately have the unalienable right and privilege to spread His love to those who have lost heart and hope. Just as God lifts us up when we are weary, so we must lift up others with words and deeds of encouragement. May God forgive us if we don’t!

Reflection:

Do I feel accountable to God for all that He has blessed me with?

Which man’s life does mine resemble?

How do others see me, and is it the same as the way God sees me?

Who might you view as society’s outcasts? Would you be willing to come along side them in love?

Devotional · Uncategorized

Defection Described

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1 John 2:18-19
There is a phrase used by John the Apostle that is painful to read. “….even now many antichrists have come” (1 John 2:18). Prophesying about the last days, John tells us how to recognize the antichrist. The “last hour” (1 John 2:18) is described by one commentator as the time period between Christ’s first and second coming.
Throughout John’s references, the common factors are :
1. “This ….spirit of antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world….if they had belonged to us they would have remained” (1 John 2:19). They have exhibited a spirit of independence.
2. This antichrist can be recognized by his deception, his lies – “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ” (2:22).
3. They reject that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, which in effect is also a denial of God the Father (1 John 2:22, 2 John 7).
Where does this spirit originate? It is the satanic force behind all teachings and activity that would destroy Christianity. Sadly, we can clearly see this in our world today! We hear people talking about being “spiritual”, or about interacting with the Divine. Whatever that means, usually it applies to something emanating from inside mankind, without any acknowledgement that at the heart of every man is the deepest need, only fulfilled in a relationship with Jesus Christ!
In John’s day, as unfortunately today, many of these people belonged to the visible church but were not believers (2:19). How sad is it to realize that among the wheat there really are tares growing, subtly promoting their doctrine by watering down the truths of scripture. Jesus tells us – “While everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away” (Matthew 13:25).
The church has become sleepy. The enemy is planting his weeds among us. Unfortunately these seeds are hard to recognize until they have grown and by then to cut out the weeds would also injure or destroy the wheat. Paul warned the church in Ephesus: “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). It was serious enough for Paul to warn them repeatedly, and with tears! (20:31). What to do?
Paul says “Be on your guard” (Acts 2:31). Wake up! Smell the coffee! Be discerning! We are to be ready to confront lies. This takes courage, because obviously we will not be popular. It may even divide friends, friends who have given in to the gospel of love as a weak acceptance of evil. We need to know our Bibles well, to deal with those finer points of doctrine that some will so subtly, and some rather unknowingly, shift from the truth.
They went out from us, [they defected not necessarily physically, but cognitively] but they did not really belong to us” (1 John 2:19) for if they had they would have kept the faith. The journey of their thoughts, the promotion of their interpretation of scripture for their own advantage, proves that they do not belong to us!
However, John does not leave the believer without hope. “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth” (2:20). Believers are led by the Holy Spirit to know all truth (John 16:13). We need not be afraid!
Reflection:
Who are the key players in the scenario John describes? What is the problem?
Does this same scenario describe the church today? How does it differ?
Would you know how to discern the spirit of anti-Christ?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Heaven

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Revelation 22
There seem to be many more questions than answers, on the subject of heaven. Where is it? What will it be like? What will we do there? There are 3 levels of heaven described in scripture – the firmament where the birds fly – what we now refer to as sky. The second is the heavenlies where galaxies go on, into infinitude. And then there is the dwelling place of God where He sits on His throne, a visible presence of the One who until now is the invisible God.
Martyrs and saints who have passed from this life, are with the Father, as is the Son who is seated on a throne at the Father’s right hand. Surrounded by angels, singing praise to the holiness of our triune God, we might envision heaven as just a bright and happy place to be. We are not told a lot in scripture about heaven – just enough to make us curious. We are given some idea of things that will be missing – no more death or crying or pain; no longer will one have to fear evil, nothing impure, no restrictions in a physical, visible temple, no longer any curse, no more night, (21:4, 8, 25, 27, 22; 22:3, 5).
However, the New Jerusalem is described in detail as a city of brilliance and beauty! Coming out of heaven this holy city will be as breath-taking as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:2). It will be the abode of the saints according to Hebrews 12:22-24 “the church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven.”
There will be work to be done in heaven. “His servants will serve Him” (Revelation 22:3). Where did we ever get the idea that we would be completely idle, sitting on a cloud, strumming a harp? Jokes have been made about this, but the truth is, we will be busy. Having experienced a life-time of challenges as God stretches and teaches us in His service here on earth, one might wonder what sort of service will there be in heaven? Will there be lessons to learn?
Perhaps the greatest joy will be the Father dwelling visibly with men. “They will be His people and God, Himself, will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3). Just imagine! God in visible form – majestic, loving, accessible! What greater prospect could any human being have than to live in the visible presence of Almighty God?
But…. There is often a “but” in life and here it is. Day by day, those of us who know God personally here on earth will continue in His presence, in heaven. However, many have chosen to live in a world of their own making here without God as part of their daily experience. For many this seems to be a hell on earth. Just so – it will continue in the after-life, living in the absence of the glory of our Father. The choice is ours to make now.
When our thoughts accuse us, when circumstances aren’t to our liking, when we are angry and afraid, when we are vulnerable and hurt, or disappointed by others, life can feel very bleak. Even black! Darkness enters the soul. This is certainly not God’s will. Jesus came to bring light (John 1:4). Sometimes our responses to situations make life anything but heavenly. Yet that was God’s intention when He sent Jesus to show us the way to eternal life. “In Him was life and that life was the light of men!”
Reflection:
Why would anyone choose to live in darkness?
Is it really possible to experience “heaven on earth”?
What might that look like?
What do you look forward to most when you get to heaven?
Devotional · Uncategorized

Leaving Things Behind

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Philippians 3:7-14

This devotional is a corollary following ‘My Sin Is Ever Before Me’. It’s absolutely necessary for us to understand the glorious freedom we have been given in God’s forgiveness. Think about it. Perhaps you have destroyed someone’s reputation by passing along unnecessary gossip, which in the end proved to be untrue. You feel terrible and apologize. Then, marvellously, your friend forgives you. How do you know you are truly forgiven? They don’t rub your face into the memory of what you said. Fellowship is restored.

Forgiveness uplifts us! That is what brings glory to God. In spite of our wrong-doing, when we confess and turn from our sin, He lifts us up to have communion with Him, because we’ve been cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus! His forgiveness facilitates our moving forward. He even shares His plans with us so that day by day we are able to worship Him, serve Him and revel in the abundant life Jesus promised to God’s children!

The joy of knowing that our lives can please God brings us tremendous hope that today, and in all our future days, we have something special to strive for. In order to do so we must leave the past behind. The Apostle Paul knew all about that. He wrote to the church at Philippi that he found “straining toward what is ahead” took all his energy. It required leaving the past behind. (Philippians 3:13)

You see – Paul had a renewed vision! God was sharing His purposes for ministry that gave impetus to Paul’s plans, his hopes and his work. He was totally committed to doing the will of God. It cost him; he was tested by shipwreck, human violence and rejection, imprisonment and so forth. But it wasn’t only the bad things that imprisoned Paul. His status as a Pharisee, his position in society had also had a negative impact and it was all this which now he told the Philippians, he had to leave behind.

Just imagine saying “I consider everything a loss [good and bad] , compared to the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things!” (Philippians 3:8). It takes maturity to leave the past behind, while remembering its impact on our lives. Certainly our vulnerability to pride often blasphemes the very sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, because it brings glory to me and you, rather than glory to Him! We live in ever-present danger because our enemy goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour [destroy, separate from our Father, God] (1 Peter 5:8).

Reflection:

The Holy Spirit brings balance to our thinking, as He reminds us of all that Christ taught. We are to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. If we remain in a state of hatred for what we have done it will colour our relationship first of all with God. It means we really haven’t received His forgiveness, but also it makes us suspicious of others. Instead of rejoicing with all that God is doing to bring folks into sweet fellowship with Himself, we lose sight of the glory of God! This is a grave danger. The Bible tells us to rejoice in the Lord always and to think about whatever is true. My prayer is that we will leave the past behind, pressing on toward God’s goal for you and me. There is a prize at the end of the journey. (Philippians 4:4, 8, 14)

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

My Sin is Ever Before Me

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Psalm 51

In this Psalm of penitence David pleads for forgiveness and cleansing. He fears what life would be like without the presence of God. The distress causing David to pray this way is the very real understanding of how his life had failed to please God. His sin was ever in his face. Was he not forgiven?

The Bible tells us that all children of God are saints. The word “saint” comes from the Greek word hagios, which means “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious.” So who is a saint today? Paul talks about equipping the saints (KJV) [‘God’s people’ NIV] for works of service, for the purpose of maturing His Church (Ephesians 4:12). However the saints need prayer (Ephesians 6:18) Why?

Paul answers this question. In the passage where he addresses the equipment needed by children of God to fight the enemy of our souls (Ephesians 6:11), Paul warns the church at Ephesus to always keep on praying for the saints; in other words for one another, even for him (6:18-19a). Isn’t it comforting to know that the Holy Spirit intercedes for the saints (Romans 8:27). We also read that God guards the feet of His saints (1 Samuel 2:9).

Both Old Testament and New tell us about saints who sing God’s praises (Psalm 30:4), who love and fear the Lord. In a triumphant song of praise the Psalmist writes “The Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in this honour!” (Psalm 149:5). They “will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever – yes! Forever and ever” (Daniel 7:18). In the end saints will be given the privilege of judging (1 Corinthians 6:2). With all of this in mind, let’s not be deceived. Sainthood is not for a special few. Neither do we pray to saints for their support – there is nothing in scripture about that. Jesus is the one and only intercessor when we sin, with whom we share our joys and sorrows (Hebrews 7:25).

So, just as David struggled with the memory of his sin, do we also? Yes. The Apostle Paul did; he describes the struggle in Romans 6. However, there is something protective about remembering the awfulness of our sins. If we forget that taking another drink will put us over the edge, that just an innocent flirtation endangers our sexual purity, that overeating is hard on the body, that gossip ruins another’s reputation, may we not yield to temptation more easily?

Psalm 51 is a cry for mercy according to God’s unfailing love! (:1) As much as our sins impact the lives of others, it is against God alone that we have truly sinned (:4). God desires truth – and the truth is I am vulnerable to attack from within and without….but God! He is the source of wisdom and allows us to distinguish between our sinfulness and His holiness. He is the only One who can wash away all my iniquity (:2), who longs to create a new heart in each of us (:10), who saves me from guilt (:14), who knows if my repentance is genuine (:17).

Reflection:
Have you ever done anything that you hate with a passion? How did you deal with it? Are you forgiven? Do you remember it? How does that memory protect you from a repeat performance? Do you come before God with a broken spirit and a contrite heart? How does God promise to receive you in that attitude? Are you a saint or a sinner? Isn’t the answer “both”?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Show Us the Father

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John 14:6-14

Jesus was disappointed. He had been working and walking, eating and drinking with His disciples for three years. They were His intimate friends. As such He expected them to know Him very well, yet here was Philip asking Him to show them the Father. Why did that matter?

Jesus had talked about God the Father continuously throughout His ministry, primarily to identify Himself with His Father in heaven. He even taught His disciples to pray to God as “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Now, in the present moment Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure to God the Father. The crucial message He was leaving with them was that no one could get to God in heaven unless they followed the Way, the Truth and the Life, new names He gave Himself (John 14:6).

In the face of Philip’s question Jesus patiently explained again that “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (14:9). John the Baptist had already prepared the way, years before, by preaching that “No one has ever seen God [in His invisible Spirit-being], but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known” (John 1:18). Jesus declared to Philip and the other disciples: “It is the Father, living in Me, who is doing His work” (14:10). The mystery of how He is in the Father and the Father is in Him needed explanation once again, since Jesus’ purpose was to bring glory to God the Father.

Let’s consider briefly the life of Jesus. In His ministry He was often prophetic about His immediate future, things fulfilled in His life-time, as well as events to which we still look forward (i.e. John 6:62). He demonstrated His foreknowledge when He saw Nathanael under the fig tree, prior to speaking with him. Jesus declared God to be a loving Father, challenging His followers to love one another as a sign they were Christ-followers (John 13:34-35).

Jesus Himself was an emotional being, weeping at the grave of Lazarus, angry with the moneychangers in the temple, compassionate towards sinners, loving people who didn’t always respond to Him such as the rich young ruler. If nothing else, Jesus showed us the Father is a relational Being. Created to be like God, people need to be secure in relationship with Him. Within that significance and security, all our relationships benefit.

Then there were the miracles which He often used to illustrate His Divinity. He healed the sick, raised the dead, fed thousands with few resources, made the blind to see, lepers clean, and the lame walked. His disciples witnessed how the winds and waves were subject to His voice, this One who is also Creator God. He escaped out of crowds who sought to kill him and walked on water. God doesn’t call us to walk on water; He just calls us to love! Perhaps the greatest miracle of all was the forgiveness He freely expounded towards the very folks who nailed Him to the cross.

If in three years of talking about His Father the disciples still didn’t ‘get it’, its impossible for us to exhaust the riches of scripture, in our search for understanding of an Omniscient, Almighty, Eternal, Omnipresent, and Infinite God. Do we still ask “Show us the Father” when doing our daily devotions? Shouldn’t that be our prayer? It will take eternity for us to fathom the riches of His grace and mercy, to see clearly the mind of God in all its justice, and to interpret His wisdom.

Reflection:

Since man was made in the image of God its important to understand God’s heart and mind. How often did Jesus talk about doing the will of His Father? Are we challenged to do the will of “Our Father”?

Perhaps the greatest demonstration of the heart of God was when Jesus wept over Jerusalem. If He is in the Father and we are in Him, do we weep over our Jerusalem? Where has God planted us? Why, how and when do our lives, yours and mine, reveal the Father to these dear people?

Devotional · Uncategorized

The Forever Principle

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Hebrews 8:1-13

Recently I watched a documentary on Anti-Semitism. After the atrocities of WW2, Jewish children of the Holocaust were brought to England, clothed and fed, and put into homes where they were cared for and educated. What happened to that spirit? It was shocking, for me, to see how subtly Satan has convinced some believers today, that the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people, that they are evil and the source of the world’s evils. What happened to the ‘forever principle’?

It began with God’s promise to Abram of land that would be forever his, belonging to Abram’s offspring forever (Genesis 13:15). This was an unconditional promise. God’s faithfulness could be seen even when His people were slaves in Egypt “I will bring you to the land I promised….”(Exodus 6:8) Throughout captivities which befell the people of Israel as the consequence of disobedience, God has remained faithful to this promise. The land, a tiny portion compared to some of the empires of our world, has become a hot spot of political controversy throughout human history. Why is this vital spot so significant? It is the battleground between good and evil, God and Satan.

When Solomon finished building the Temple in Jerusalem God promised His eyes and His heart would always be there forever (1 Kings 9:3). His very name would be there forever. There was an “if” to this promise. It was conditioned on the faithfulness of the king and his people (:6-7). Sadly we see that Israel today has largely rejected God – so many are atheists. But there is a remnant. Who are they and what do we know about God’s promises to them? First of all God’s judgment caused a diaspora which effects Jews today. Jeremiah was given insight into a future, which we see has come to pass. God told him “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture…..I Myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture” (Jeremiah 23:1-3). This was accomplished in 1948.

When Jesus Christ came to earth He was followed for many reasons – some were curious about His way of teaching through parables. Others sought healing miracles. Some were fascinated by the way He could feed crowds of people from minimal resources. A few saw Him as who He said He was – the long-awaited Messiah (John 1:41, 4:25, Matthew 28:18-20). He declared Himself to be the good Shepherd! (John 10:11) Through Him we see God’s promise renewed by Paul. God said “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal [past history]. So, too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace”! (Romans 11:4-5). Also notice God’s new covenant with Israel recorded in Hebrews 8:8-10.

In the twentieth century the land was restored to the Jews who are still God’s people. Among them are obedient followers of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. One of the most influential Christians of our times is a Jewish man with dual citizenship with Israel and the USA. Joel Rosenberg has ties with Arabs, Jews and believing Christians, carrying out God’s ancient promise that the gospel would be from the Jews to the nations of the world. God’s ‘forever principle’ remains true. Jews have suffered for their sins, but as God’s chosen people, they will always be the conduit by which salvation through Jesus Christ came to the world!

Reflection: Gentiles have the joyous privilege of being grafted into the Vine (Romans 11:17-21). Jesus called himself the Vine (John 15:1). Salvation and eternal life are for everyone, but the land which God promised to the Jews, is forever theirs, a visual reminder of God’s faithfulness. This is the forever principle!

It is to the Holy Mount in Jerusalem that the King of the Jews, Jesus, will one day return.

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign

forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15)