Devotional · Uncategorized

Stuck in a Rut

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Psalm 51:10-13

When Jesus came to earth God had been silent for 400 years, historians like Josephus tell us. No prophets or priests had been given special messages for God’s people in such a long time! Yet the people waited. As circumstances unfolded, spiralling downwards, Israel still looked for Messiah. It is truly amazing that although their worship had degraded, they still held onto the hope that God would deliver them.

However, they had forgotten something. God’s promises would be fulfilled, but only on His terms. His promised deliverance would be of a spiritual nature, not political or temporal. What were those terms? Who would Messiah be like? The Jews had been given clues. Isaiah wrote about Messiah, as did David and some of the prophets. Whatever had been taught in the synagogues, or in the Temple at Jerusalem, it seems that the nation only had a partial understanding of what to expect.

Pain is a great catalyst calling for action ….some action, any action seems to be better than waiting. Ripe with expectation the Jewish people were ready to grasp at straws. If Jesus were truly Messiah, they were ready! The question was – were they ready to return to the loving arms of God? Were they prepared to follow Christ’s teachings? Certainly the religious elite were not…and they were the teachers of the people!

We know how that ended. Death seemed to have removed their only hope. Very few got the message. And Jesus wept (Matthew 23:37).

Have we, who are blessed to hold scripture in our hands, learned anything from these mistakes? Does Jesus weep today, watching people stuck in the same rut as the children of God, in ancient times? Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun. What sort of deliverance are we waiting for, when we remember Jesus is coming again?

How often do we pray for deliverance from our circumstances – health issues, financial binds, unfulfilled relational needs and the list goes on? Are we interested in those deeper blessings only known as we shelter safe within the arms of God? Dottie Rambo wrote about that –

I’ll have no fear, for Jesus walks beside me…and I’m sheltered safe within the arms of God”.

Is that true for you and for me? Whatever happens today or tomorrow with COVID-19, are we ready to walk with God through it all? If Jesus should come today or tomorrow are we ready to meet Him?

Reflection:

What does your relationship with God mean to you today?

Do we anticipate a glorious reunion when we meet Jesus, Messiah, face to face? Or are we stuck in the rut of religious tradition, looking for relief of unpleasant circumstances, of a temporal nature?

Can you say with King David:

Cast me not away from Your presence O Lord; take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of my salvation, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:11-12 KJV)

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

The Mind of God

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Micah 7:18 1 Corinthians 2:18

What do we know about the mind of God – He who created the universe, all things large and small? Mankind is discovering a lot about the electric impulses of the brain, how the sun and planets function, disease management, and the secrets of our earth. These discoveries are to be celebrated, but if we think about it, God knows already every detail we are uncovering.

Jesus who revealed the mind of God to His generation, also majored on relationships – that part of life which in the twenty-first century causes so much international angst and individual pain. Is this suffering within the plan of God? Surely not! Jesus told His disciples He came to set them free from guilt and shame. He came to bring peace and joy. Because of His great love, through the Holy Spirit the triune God comforts and directs us. However, we must receive His gift. He is still accomplishing His purposes upon this care-worn world. And….there are consequences for making choices outside of the will of God.

When we lose sight of the magnificence of His will, as it was seen in the creation process as well as in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we lose heart and hope. That certainly isn’t the design of the God who is relational, loving, provisional, forgiving and kind. It seems “Katie” Wilkinson as she was known, grasped something of this when she wrote the following song.

May the mind of Christ, my Saviour live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly in my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph only through His power.

May the peace of God my Father rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me, as the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing, this is victory.

May I run the race before me, strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus as I onward go.

May His beauty rest upon me as I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel, seeing only Him.

A member of the Church of England, she was involved in a ministry to the girls in London. She also participated in the Keswick Convention Movement. She would have struggled with the reality of human suffering, but the hope she knew as the greatest reality was to be found in the mind of Christ her Saviour!

Look at what it meant to her to have the mind of Christ:

Triumph through His power! The peace of her heavenly Father ruled her choices giving her calm to comfort others who suffered and grieved. The love of Jesus obviously humbled Katie, but by looking to Him she was strong enough to continue in the race, even to the point of facing enemies. Only then did the beauty which draws others to our Lord, rest upon her, and her ministry to girls.

Reflection:

How does one get to know the mind of God? Certainly we hold His guide in our hands – that Holy Word which reveals His character and His will to us. But I have discovered there is nothing that brings me greater joy than to wait upon Him as I listen for His voice, while on my knees. Worshiping Him for all He is takes practice. Are we willing to spend the time in order to know the mind of God?

Perhaps this hymn will be our prayer.

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

The Haves and Have-nots

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Job 1:21

We have heard this expression used when calculating global economies, but how does it apply to the world of 2020?

The book of Job is written about a man favoured by God. Not only was Job wealthy, but he had a large family. The Bible records “He was the greatest man among all the people of the East” (Job 1:3). Apparently his lifestyle pleased God, for we are given a glimpse into a conversation taking place before the throne of God. The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and up-right, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8).

In 2020 I wonder how the conversation has gone between God and Satan. God could challenge Satan again to look at the world He created and the people whom He loves. (Let’s remember, since we just celebrated Easter, God sent His only begotten Son to pay the price of the sins of all people.) Hypothetically, would it have gone something like this? God: Have you considered my servants in North America? They have been reading their Bibles and praying, giving selflessly to the poor, caring for the disadvantaged at home and abroad, welcoming strangers into their hearts and homes, so they could tell them about the love of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. They have been straining to look after the environment, even at the cost of their own comfort and convenience. There is no other nation on earth like them!

Or, would God looking down see self-indulgence, greed, hatred and a spirit of entitlement? In this “me” generation does God care about our human rights, yours and mine, or has He called His children to care about the rights of those less fortunate? Surely as the world trembles in the face of an invisible enemy today, we might do some soul-searching.

Faced with the overthrow of all his good fortune, God had allowed Satan to test Job to the limit. He lost his property, his family and his health. Wouldn’t that make most people scream that God is ‘unfair’? Perhaps Job’s worldview may mean something to anyone facing the loss of all they hold dear. The Bible tells us he did not lose his faith in God, but rather fell to the ground and worshiped, saying: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised!” (Job 1:21).

Hundreds of years later, the Apostle Paul knew something of Job’s experience. He tells us “I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11-12).

Reflection:

Does our happiness depend on what we have, or does the attitude of gratitude colour our world rosy?

When do we most often find ourselves on our knees? Usually it is when we are in need.

Can we, do we trust God to supply all our needs through His riches in glory in Christ Jesus? (Philippians

4:19)

Do we count our relationship with God among our riches? Do you have, or have not?

Let us pray the prayer of David – Psalm 51:10-12.

Devotional · Uncategorized

A Desert Experience

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Matthew 4:1-11

Before He began His formal ministry, Jesus was tempted in the desert. Drawn away by the Holy Spirit, there was a purpose in this time alone; He was there to fast and pray. Following Jesus’ baptism He needed time alone with God. Our young people sometimes attempt 40 days of fasting, but they do it together and it is not practised in the complete absence of food. The purpose of course is to feast one’s eyes on God, to hear His voice. Is this what Jesus was doing in the desert?

So much is made of the temptation which followed Jesus’ fasting that we sometimes forget to look at the amazing strength He received from talking with His Heavenly Father for 40 whole days! Think of it! How often do we spend 40 minutes dedicated to listening to God? Its hard to spend an hour in prayer – Jesus’ disciples couldn’t do it in Gethsemane; you and I aren’t, generally, much different.

We hear sermons about how Satan attacked Jesus when He was most vulnerable. Perhaps we forget the way God had nurtured His spirit for 40 days; given their precious communication, Jesus was able to meet Satan armed with the “sword of the spirit” which Paul talks about (Ephesians 6:17).

One pastor recently reminded his congregation that Satan took what was good, in an attempt to pervert Jesus’ calling. Jesus’ response demonstrated His commitment to that calling, based on the Word of God.

Satan didn’t stop until he had tempted Jesus to abandon His calling, twisting reality in the attempt to invert the whole experience of worship. Jesus knew Himself to be worthy of worship. This was, and is the truth. He, being the way, the TRUTH and the life (John 14:6), was not going to abdicate His royal position for any temptation here on earth.

Worship is to be God-centered. Sometimes in order to take our focus off of temporal things we need to be alone in the desert with God, where nothing will distract us from listening to His voice. Then, and only then will we know the joy of having the Holy Spirit minister to our innermost needs. Imagine the irony of Satan, a created being himself, trying to tempt the Omniscient, Almighty Creator with power.

Reflection:

Our prayers often exemplify what we believe about God’s power. Only in a desert experience can we know the reality of scripture “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Matthew records how this played out in the life of Christ. Can we, will we, see beyond the temporary to the eternal, in our desert experiences?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Tell Me the Old, Old Story

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Ezekiel 3:20
Tell me the old, old story is a well-known hymn which was written as a poem by an English evangelist, Miss Katherine Hankey, in 1866 when she was recovering from a serious illness in London.[1] (Wikipedia). It was recited at a YMCA convention in Montreal where it inspired Bishop Doane to set it to music. As a child I remember my heart thrilling as we sang the words of this old hymn.
Imagine our devotions inspiring us to write about unseen things above. Do we pause in our frenetic world long enough to actually see Jesus and His glory, to sense His love? In the fight to succeed do we recognize our tremendous need as little children in the faith, weakened and weary by the battle to survive feelings of helplessness and guilt?
Time is of the essence today. When might we find time to take the story of redemption in slowly, soaking up God’s remedy for sin through Jesus’ Christ our Lord? Ah! How soon we forget! Perhaps it is only in times of great fear that we recognize our need for comfort from the truths of scripture, and how dearly our pursuit of happiness has cost us in the realm of spiritual reality.
In my own life it has often been through the experience of being set aside that my own needs had been replaced by the deepest joy of abiding in Him. The cost of my personal peace procured at the cross is an old story, but one that I like to hear and tell often, one that I need to hear repeated.
1 Tell me the old, old story  2 Tell me the story slowly
Of unseen things above, That I may take it in –
Of Jesus and his glory,  That wonderful redemption,
Of Jesus and his love. God’s remedy for sin.
Tell me the story simply,  Tell me the story often,
As to a little child; For I forget so soon;
For I am weak and weary,  The early dew of morning
And helpless and defiled. Has passed away at noon. [Refrain]
Refrain:
Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story,
Of Jesus and His love.
3 Tell me the same old story
When you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory
Is costing me too dear.
Tell me the story always,
If you would really be,
In any time of trouble,
A comforter to me. [Refrain]
Reflection:
Which Biblical story (stories) brings you the greatest joy?
Do you find it easy to share your life story with others, and what does it say about Jesus?

By Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Cursed to Crawl

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Genesis 3

The Garden of Eden was perfect. Created by the word of God’s mouth, when it was finished –

“God saw all that He had made and it was very good. And there was evening and morning – the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).

Think of it – pretty little flowers peeping out from under sprawling bushes of every kind, stately birds singing songs from perches in the greenery, tiny animals scurrying through forests of magnificent blossoms, fruit of every kind – fresh for the picking! It really is unimaginable! And there goes a talking animal, walking tall on its legs in order to show off its sleek long body…its name is “snake”. Wait a minute – animals don’t talk, and snakes crawl – right?

The Bible tells us that Satan used the snake as his mouthpiece to tempt Eve to disobey God. Satan still does that today – he speaks to us through nature to say that the sun, moon and stars are gods. He spreads that same lie through TV to say we ourselves are gods who have the right to “do it my way”. Satan’s attempts to become like God, know no bounds. Sadly everything he touches suffers the consequences.

The serpent was cursed to crawl on his belly in the dust (:14). Worse still there was now going to be enmity between snakes and man. There had been perfect harmony between man and even the most ferocious animals living in that garden, but now things had changed. In the bite of an apple (or whatever fruit it was) all that God called good was destroyed. This tension between God’s creatures will not be resolved until Satan is crushed.

The very ground was cursed. Eve would now bear her children in pain –

“I will increase your pains in child-bearing” (:16).

This raises questions – how long had Adam and Eve lived in the Eden? A thousand years? Had they other children brought into this world without pain? Some have asked “Where did Cain get his wife?” Was God being fair to resign Adam to working the ground by the sweat of his brow?

At Easter we see Satan at his worst. The only perfect Man who ever lived was unmercifully beaten, mocked by the very people who had just welcomed Him as their king. He suffered the ignominious death of a traitor/criminal, painfully hanging on a cross for all to see. Surely Satan was at the height of his glory now.

But wait! The temple veil was rent in 2 as the cosmos writhed in sympathy for the One who had created it. This was no Devilish victory. As only God would do, to whom time means nothing – wait and see. The drama unfolds over 3 days. Celebration and grief – which would win?

“Death has been swallowed up in victory! Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin….but thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Hebrews 15:54-56).

At Easter we celebrate not only death, but the crushing defeat of Satan in the mighty resurrection of Jesus.

Reflection: What is the single, most important thing you celebrated this Easter?

by Marilyn Daniels.

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

The Apple of His Eye!

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Deuteronomy 32

We hear some interesting expressions from time to time and wonder where they came from. Some we think might be in the Bible but when we search, they are not. How often has someone describe a child as “The apple of the parent’s eye”? Is that a Biblical expression?

As it happens – Moses was singing a song that God had commanded him to write and to teach to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 31:19). The purpose of the song was that it would review their attitude towards God and be a witness against them. Always tender, in the midst of judgment, the heart of our Father God is mentioned. “Is He not your Father, your Creator?” (Deuteronomy 32:6).

The song goes on to describe the tender care this Father took of His people. He gave them an inheritance, dividing the land and making boundaries for each tribe. He shielded them and cared for them in the desert while bringing them out of slavery in Egypt. His people were fed and nourished with the choicest of meat and vegetables. Why? Because they were the “apple of His eye” (32:10).

Everyone needs to feel significant, accepted and secure. Here we see the significance of the Israelites! In spite of their waywardness, their Father loved them. He would have to discipline them – yes! Foolish and unwise, even corrupt, God’s people would be punished. But God – ever a God of hope, tells how He will care for them once again. God Himself would make atonement for them, and for the land He had given to them. Not only does He give His people cause to hope, but He calls the nations to rejoice with them (32:43).

At Easter we celebrate God’s atonement through Jesus Christ our Lord. Scripture tells us Jesus was made like His brothers…took on human flesh in order to make atonement for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:14-18). In fulfillment of the ancient prophecy made in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), He became the offspring of a woman, God with us (Matthew 1:23). By His death and resurrection He dealt a crushing blow to the head of Satan.

Oh how blessed to be “The Apple of His Eye”!

Reflection:

What gives you assurance that you are “the apple of God’s eye”?

How does one approach this God of mercy?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net