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When God Withdraws

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Romans 1

In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul begins with some Biblical truth, in order to ground the Roman Church. He includes truths revealed in scripture about God, Himself. Now that Paul has described God’s character to us, he turns to compare it with man’s. What a disappointment humankind must be to our Creator. He gets little glory or appreciation for all that He has done for us! In fact it is quite the opposite. Man, giving in to the folly of pride, started creating his own gods. ”…their foolish hearts were darkened” (:22).

First of all man’s intellect became his god. What he thought, what he believed, what he chose to worship, became of primary importance. Where did that take him? God first gave man over to sinful desires. His thinking was infected with self-righteousness.

Second, God gave them over to shameful lusts, through which any sexual behaviour became appropriate. The heart of man became suspect, as his feelings led his head. This was not the Creator’s intention. He had revealed Himself repeatedly, through acts of mercy, through scripture, through our Lord Jesus Christ. However, Paul writes – “Although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).

Third God gave them over to a depraved mind. The mind of mankind, originally created with all the potential of Godly decision-making, became filled with every kind of evil, greed and depravity resulting in a whole list of godless activities (Romans 1:29-31). Today our society, if not condoning these, will excuse murders, insolence, mistreatment of parents, hating God, in a spirit of senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless living. The final line is drawn when they decide to approve of everyone doing such things (Romans 1:32); seen in the freedom of man’s wisdom running loose.

Note that three times Paul says “God gave them over”. Leaving man to decide his own fate, God withdrew. His character did not change. He is always, eternally, a God of love and truth and holiness. However, sin and holiness are like oil and water – they do not mix.

How is the faith community to respond? We are to love our enemies – the person, not the sin. That is very hard to do. Out of fear we want to see these evils corrected. We fear for the salvation of our loved ones, for the infection of sin which is spreading throughout society, pandemically. But we are a community of faith and our faith is put into practice by doing what Jesus would do. What would Jesus do if He walked through North America today, for example?

Is it possible to bridge the gap between right and wrong? No! Jesus already has done that with His life, and death, yet people still reject His remedy for the sickness of sin. The best we can hope for is that His joy and peace, demonstrated in a spirit of love, will create a yearning in hearts darkened by an error that is spreading like wild-fire in our hedonistic society today. We know that God has already gone to the nth degree to correct these evils, but His love is everlasting!

So we pray that the Light will still provide Life, drawing men and women out of the pit they are digging for themselves. Let us all remember at the dawn of a New Year, that positive change always begins with “me”. Furthermore, I am the only person over whom I can really have any control. With God the Holy Spirit’s help I can exercise that required control which will temper my mind and heart, and my reactions to things others do to irk me.


Reflection:

Which is the greatest sin of our day? Is one worse than another? Do we not all continue to sin in small ways or large? How dangerous is prejudice? Is this why Jesus commanded us not to judge others?

The Psalmist prayed that God would search his heart (Psalm 139:23).

Let us pray: “Create in me a new heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit in me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, or take Your Holy Spirit from me, Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and grant a willing spirit to sustain me.” Amen (Psalm 51:10-12).

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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Christlikeness

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Matthew 16:24-26

The long awaited Christ [Messiah] came to earth as a baby. Lost in the tinsel and twinkle of earthly celebrations today, the majesty of all that Christ is from eternity past, is often lost. That baby embodied all that is God – infinitude, wisdom and power. Yet as we sing “O come let us adore Him” what is it that we really mean? Do we envision the baby Jesus as “Christ the Lord”? What honour do we give to His Sovereignty? As we come face to face with Jesus do we surrender control of our lives to truly make Him “Lord” over all we are and have?

When we think about the baby in the manger, it is hard to comprehend that all the characteristics of the Godhead were wrapped up in that tiny bundle, so loved by Mary and Joseph. There lay the Creator of all things (John 1:3); yet He humbled Himself, scripture records. His humility cost. As a man, Jesus died on the cross, obedient to His Father’s plan to save you and me from the jaws of hell (Philippians 2:8).

Here’s a thought…..Jesus gave up His glory and majesty to become like you and me. We might reflect on how important our status is, in our family, community or church in comparison to His. However, He lived a life like no other recorded down through history. Born into humble circumstances Jesus was kind, caring, and forgiving. He encouraging goodness in others; His example is the mission of every believer. During His earthly sojourn He was Godly, connected intimately with His Father in heaven. They were never separated until that awful moment on the cross when sin, yours and mine, dragged Him out of the Father’s presence (Matthew 27:46).

When we look at the baby who gave Himself so that you and I might live (John 10:18), we celebrate the reality of Christmas. Recently a pastor proclaimed “Christmas is not all about family because it is all about Jesus”. Within this reality there is both a call and a cost. We, who claim Jesus to be our Saviour, are called to represent Christ here on earth, if we say we follow Him – if we declare ourselves to be “Christian”. Do we look and act and talk like the Lord Jesus Christ? (John 13:35).

Here on earth Jesus entered into every aspect of life along with His fellowman. He met folks at weddings and worshiped according to Jewish law, in the synagogue. Jesus began at a very early age to be “about My Father’s business” – found teaching in the temple at the tender age of 12 (Luke 2:49). He continued traveling throughout Israel, teaching, eating, praying, fishing, serving on His Father’s business.

Reflection:

What is God calling us to do, since we say we know Jesus? Do we fear the cost of His call? Do we find ourselves changed by the indwelling Holy Spirit, becoming more Christlike as we look at others? Are we accepting, forgiving, loving our neighbours as ourselves? What are we willing to sacrifice in order to serve our Lord, to be “the only Jesus” another might ever see? Are we becoming hardened to the needs within our world today – physical, material, emotional, as well as spiritual needs?

I sometimes wonder: What would Christ be doing about the environment, the pandemic, the anger, fear, hostility and abuse to be found in every corner of our globe? Derived from His loving character, Jesus laid down His very life for others, including you and me. Might this be written on our tomb stones?

“Here lies the most Christlike person who ever lived”.

MarilynDaniels.net

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The Three “E”s

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Romans 16:25-27

The challenges of parenting can be overwhelming. Environment makes a subtle impact on the senses of our little children, even in babyhood. Science provides an awareness of how important it is for us to sing and talk to a baby in the womb, since the sound of voices can be recognized at that early stage; subliminally tones of the human voice are being interpreted. Environment entails those delightful fragrances that so often stir a hidden nostalgia in the adult heart. Tenderness or otherwise is conveyed by touch. How many parents have gently rocked their child to sleep? How many little children are battered?

Toddlers are so cute! They begin to enjoy a stage that lasts a life-time. “Why?” One of their favourite questions can drive a parent mad, but it is the beginning of learning. Education can be fun! Make a game of learning Bible verses. Sing songs about little chores. How important to learn to “like what you do”, not just to “do what you like” as my father used to advise. Learning comes from asking questions, from facing one’s inadequacies and dealing with them constructively.

Perhaps more than anything Experience teaches us the most. In our environment our greatest education is received through experience as people model to us the truths of ethical standards and behaviour, right thinking as well as wrong feelings. We ourselves learn through trial and failure as much as we do from success.

Now what does any of this have to do with faith? A very great deal! God places each person in a particular environment. Why? We do not know. “Why?” is a question adults often ask when trouble comes, but do we ever wonder why we have been so blessed? God has taught me some painful lessons through life, but my life has been enriched by an environment filled with His presence, throughout them all! (Psalm 23:4). Marvellous!

Those of us who hold God’s Word in our hands have the greatest educational advantage! Here is all the information we will ever need to know for peace and prosperity in relationships! Our primary relationship is with God and here is the guide book. God wants us to know Him (1 John 5:13). The purpose of education is to teach us learning skills and to describe the road to maturity, isn’t it? Maturity is where the heart and mind meet in balance, permitting the joy of interdependence with others!

There are three other “E’s” in the Bible that help to impact the meaning of our lives. When we encourage one another to endure we are established, grounded, stable. Our scripture reading is a benediction. May the encouragement of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless your life today and forevermore.

Reflection:

Experience? Does your experience teach you to trust in God? Have you ever put Him to the test? I have been blessed by His faithfulness, His forgiveness, His freedom and so much more. What would life be without trusting His plan for my life, the meaning that His love gives to every day? Thankfully my environment, education and experience taught me at an early age that the Lord God Almighty is truly the lover of my soul! He has never failed to live up to all that promises.

What is it about your environment, education and experience that equips you to react to problems the way you do?

How easy is it for you to let go of those little hurts that niggle in the back of your mind?

Are you feeling secure in the love of Christ and how does that play out in your life? What do others see?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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The Sacrifice of Praise

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Psalm 100

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess His name” (Hebrews 13:11)

The Apostle Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Prior to that Jeremiah had also written about praise which he called “sounds of joy and gladness….thank offerings” to be brought into the house of the Lord. Kirk Dearman based a well loved chorus on Jeremiah 33:11:

“We bring the sacrifice of praise

Into the house of the Lord.

We bring the sacrifice of praise

Into the house of the Lord.

And we offer up to you

The sacrifices of thanksgiving;

And we offer up to you

The sacrifices of joy.”

Perhaps this is the panacea for the spirit of heaviness that pervades our world today. Can we, will we begin a habit that will stem the tide of depression? We have many Biblical examples of praise and worship which lift our spirits when we study the truths behind them.

“Shout for joy to the Lord” the Psalmist wrote. To whom does this apply? He answers “all the earth”.

“Worship the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:1-2). Do we find ourselves attending church out of a sense of obligation or duty? Has it become a tradition to meet with our friends on Sunday? Or have we gone to church anxious to offer praise? It may be a sacrifice. Perhaps we are grieving. Some of us are struggling with health issues or disappointed hopes, things that occupy the forefront of our minds. How can we think happy thoughts at such a moment?

The Apostle Paul is our great example. He sang hymns while bound in chains in a dank, dark prison cell. Perhaps he had memorized Psalm 100. “Come before Him [God] with joyful songs”. Hymns celebrate the great God we worship. Today many songs focus on “Me or I” but when we contemplate the character of our God, we are compelled to acknowledge His wisdom and majesty, His faithfulness and love. What joy to know that “our God is greater than any other god”! Yet “what a friend we have in Jesus” the One who bears all our sins and griefs!

The Psalmist warns “Know that the Lord is God” (100:4). Is there something lacking in our knowledge of God? How can we correct that? Another Psalm admits to needing God’s word – scripture memorization. “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11 KJV). This is what enables us to “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” (100:4). After all “The Lord is good”. In a world torn by evil, hatred, fear and anger, we rejoice to know the goodness of our God, the One whose “love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations” (100:5).

Reflection:

It hardly seems to be a sacrifice to give praise to the God of heaven who is our personal Father, Shepherd and King. Let us sing His praises out of the abundance of joyful hearts, since we know God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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Spectator or Participant?

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Joel 1-3

Often the Old Testament is overlooked in favour of the gospels of our Lord Jesus Christ. In dialogue with my grandson recently I was thrilled to learn he has become aware of the necessity of grounding ourselves in the teachings of the Old Testament. As well as disregarding the First Covenantal book, we often attempt to distinguish which are the “important” books of scripture, failing to recognize that each book has been written for the express purpose of teaching us to know and understand the heart and mind of our great and glorious God! With this in mind let us review what Joel has to teach us.

The Jews have been chosen as God’s representatives here on earth. Sadly they failed to appreciate the privilege of participating with God in His saving purpose for all humankind. God’s patience was tried from generation to generation until promised judgment finally fell upon His chosen people (Joel 1). Great suffering resulted, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Great witnesses came and went – Elijah, Obadiah and now Joel were sent by God to purify His people. It is worth noting Joel’s description of God. In Chapter 2:11 we find Him coming as the thundering leader of a great army – numberless, mighty forces who obey His commands! His purpose? “Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God!” (2:27).

This God is described as jealous (2:18), vigilant over the nation He calls His own. Protective, pitying their weaknesses, God’s great heart of compassion can be seen; He has been slow to express His anger at their folly, demonstrating His love and grace repeatedly throughout centuries of time (2:13, 18).

How blessed we are to live in the age Joel prophesied would come when God pours out His Spirit upon all people – Jew and Gentile alike, whomever responds to His love (2:28). Paul writes about this: “For we are all baptised by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slave or free” (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Apostle Peter preached from Joel’s book on the Day of Pentecost: “Repent and be baptised…in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Peter concludes “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21).

Joel reminds us that our God is determined to be our refuge, a stronghold in the day of trouble (3:16). Trouble assuredly will come, but God chooses to restore the years the locusts have eaten (2:25). This is the God we know to have been so merciful to us day by day, as we take three steps forward and two steps back! One day He will judge the nations (3:2), but in the end Sovereign God will dwell in Zion (3:21)….and there will be peace on His Holy hill, in Jerusalem (3:17).

Reflection:

The question Joel raises for you and me today is whether or not we have believed and received God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Will we participate in this peaceful coexistence with God, or have we just been spectators at the game of life?

“Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful!

May the fire of our devotion light the way.

May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe,

And the lives, we live inspire them to obey”

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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Restoration

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Joel 2:25

We found the Israelites in a state of terror at the beginning of chapter 2. Judgment was going to fall. “The Day of the Lord is coming….a day of darkness and gloom” (2:1-2) Destruction was promised by the very God they had chosen to ignore, and now they could see the signs clearly. The locusts have eaten everything. “The Day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful! Who can endure it?” (2:11).

God had been calling the people to repentance for a long time. He now calls the priests, whose actual service is “to the Lord” (2:17), not just for the people. God needs them to weep and pray for His mercy, to prove their hearts are in their worship. Their tone was to be not only repentant, but they were to beg God to save His glory. What a prayer! (2:17). What exactly did it mean?

These are conditions laid down by God through Joel. Once they were met the Lord had something positive to offer. In fact according to His zealous nature the Lord made a significant promise. “I will repay to you for the years the locusts have eaten” (2:25). Notice the Lord does not promise to keep them from the battle, but once it is over He will restore.

He is specific. His people will never be put to shame. They will know that God is in their midst! The Lord will pour out His Spirit in those days (post-judgement). Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (2:26-29). This must have sounded utopian to a nation writhing in its death-throes. What does it promise for us today?

The prophet continues. There will be judgment for the nations who had persecuted God’s people – those He calls “My Heritage”. Those responsible for the diaspora (3:2), will face God. The battle will take place in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, also referred to as the “Valley of Decision” (3:12 & 14). Here the Lord will be near. Usually that is a comforting phrase, but not in this instance. His very presences promotes danger. In His anger God will roar, so that the heavens and the earth will shake.

BUT! The Lord will protect His people. In this mighty battle the Israelite God will show His strength to the nations. There will be no shadow of doubt about whose side He is on. Israel and the world will know! (3:16-17). “Judah will abide forever and Jerusalem from generation to generation….for the Lord dwells in Zion” (3:20-21).

The great battle of Armageddon will be followed by peace like the world has never known because the Prince of Peace will reign, as prophecy has already announced. However, just as is written – this peace will only come after the battle (Revelation 16:16, 17:14).

Reflection:

Have you ever prayed that God would do something for His name’s sake?

Will you be on the side of restoration? Does your daily walk with God demonstrate this attitude today?

What battles in your life have prompted the peace of God in a demonstrable way?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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God’s Invitation

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Joel 2

What does God’s grace mean to you today? Someone has described it as “unmerited favour”. If this definition is true it helps to explain God’s invitation to His wayward people. “Even now” in spite of everything, rejection, worshiping other gods, denying My Sovereignty, declares the Lord, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning” (Joel 2:12).

It was the custom of the Jewish people to tear their garments when overwhelmed by grief and sorrow, but through Joel God tells them their hearts need to be broken. “Rend your hearts, not your garments” (2:13). The reality of repentance is internal change, not external show.

What would give them the confidence to return to God after years of apostacy? God Himself reminds them of His character which is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love”(2:13). What an awesome God! All He requires is sincerity of heart, as we have seen. The heart was considered to be the seat of emotions and intellect. Perhaps, if repentance measures up to God’s standard He will even bless His people once again (2:14).

There is a wonderful celebratory aspect to Joel’s prophecy. With trumpets, the people will gather together to fast and pray, consecrating themselves together in a holy assembly. Perhaps they will then hold one another accountable to the covenant they make with the Lord their God. Everyone including nursing babies is included in the call of God. As they weep, the priests must acknowledge their total dependence upon God [Yahweh]. Suddenly they will be gripped with the realization they need to bear witness to the nations around them! Theirs is the only true GOD (2:17). As we have noted before, it is through Israel the seed of Abraham, that all nations of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3). This happy promise has been fulfilled through the Messiah, Jesus (Galatians 3:8).

God’s invitation comes to us twofold today, since we have this stunning call from ages past. We also have the words from the lips of our precious Lord and Saviour: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). His rest isn’t calling us to idleness, but rather to that exquisite peace of mind which being right with God provides.

Jesus reminds us there are only two important goals in life. The health and wealth we so often see as a measure of success cannot compare with that heartfelt worship we owe to God, which flows out of hearts filled with gratitude. Nor do they demonstrate that we are indeed followers of the One we say we worship; He does not exist to make me healthy and wealthy. Jesus gave up every right in order to provide mankind with a relationship with His heavenly Father.

Reflection:

God not only invites us into His service, but He also empowers us to know and do His will. In the most magnificent ways little things take on new meaning – kindness and sharing. We will be rewarded for things in heaven that we weren’t even aware pleased God here on earth, when our hearts are right with God.

If we accept God’s invitation to love Him with all our heart and soul and mind, we will find ourselves loving our neighbour that much, and even more than we love ourselves. (Matthew 22:37-39).

by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)

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God’s Arms

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Isaiah 40:11

Following a series of personal calamities, Handel was encouraged, at the very point of giving up, by reading Charles Jennen’s libretto, which included scripture. Inspired by prophecy as well as by Christ’s life, Handel was moved to begin again. When he wrote “Messiah” no one could foresee its popularity over centuries of time.

When first played it blessed King George 2 so greatly that he stood during the Hallelujah chorus, recognizing Christ as King of Kings, a tradition followed to this day. This Messiah gathered the lambs in His arms, a picture of God’s caring and protection. Therefore we see this scripture engaging men of fame and power – a noted musician as well as the king. Most men might not acknowledge their need of a shepherd’s care, but these men acknowledged their personal need of God to guide them, to comfort them, as though they were His lambs.

Handel must have been reading: “He gathers His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart” (Isaiah 40:11). What a tender picture of God sustaining, providing for, and protecting His sheep. Those who are most vulnerable, the marginalized, the very young and very old are held close to His heart! We cannot forget that Jesus, Himself, tenderly took little children in His arms to bless them (Mark 10:16). During his own suffering was this Handel’s experience of God?

The Bible tells us many things about God’s arms. His power is demonstrated by the strength of His arms and hands (Deuteronomy 3:24), a strength visible among the nations. His arms are holy, the source of salvation (Isaiah 52:10). The Psalmist concurs when he writes “Sing to the Lord….for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him!” (Psalm 98:1).

God’s arms are everlasting. How many people have found comfort in verses written so long ago by Moses? “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27). Through generations of human history God remains the same, tender and loving to all who will receive Him.

More than once the question is asked in scripture whether or not the Lord’s arm is too short to save His people? (Numbers 11:23, Isaiah 50:2). Notice it is God who is proactive, stretching out His arm to save the Israelites on different occasions, as no other god had done before (Deuteronomy 4:34).

Perhaps we might emulate God’s example as we meet people today. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we are equipped to bear His love towards those who are hurting, and those who struggle to understand God. Will His gentle Spirit working in and through us give occasion for us to proclaim the strong and yet tender arm of God to those in need?

Reflection:

Have you ever had occasion to depend upon an arm to help you get up or to walk? How often when we are grieving does a gentle arm around the shoulders bring us comfort. Arms were also designed by God as messengers of love. Imagine as you draw close to someone in trouble how valuable your arm is to them. Let your arms be God’s arms to others in need.

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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Seized by Temptation!

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1 Corinthians 10:13

Do you always recognize when you have been seized by temptation? Satan is subtle. We know how Job was tempted because we read in scripture God permitted Satan to submit him to extraordinary testing. (Job 1:6-12) Everything was taken away from this wealthy man, his possessions, his family and eventually his health. God knew His man! With confidence He permitted this, with only one restriction – Satan could not take Job’s life.

David was tempted on different occasions. In a cave, hidden from his mortal enemy, David could have taken Saul’s life, but he opted to trust God with his own life and future by allowing the King to go free (1 Samuel 24). He is famous for his failure with Bathsheba, but even worse perhaps than that, was when he succumbed to the thought he should take a census throughout his nation (2 Samuel 24:1). Sometimes we ourselves confuse the voice of God with the voice of Satan. Hindsight is always clearer. As David looked back he repented, confessing his sin before God. However, there was a penalty. The consequence of his wrong choice cost 70,000 people their lives, by means of the plague (2 Samuel 24:15)

Why did the man who bravely stood before Goliath in the name of the Lord, fail to remember this Holy One was the source of his strength? Why did he need to count the strength of man-power in his army? We may never know the answer to those specific questions, but what we might learn from David’s experience is how important it is to keep our eyes fixed on God.

Seeking Him, His presence moment by moment, His will for each day, His wisdom and discernment, will give us the courage we need when Satan looks for a weakness in our armour. Knowing our weaknesses is a preventative. Do you know where and when you are most vulnerable? What do you do to prevent Satan getting a toehold in these areas? Denial is the enemy of our faith.

God promises the faithful: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man, and God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you are able to bear. But when you are tempted He will also provide a way out, so that you can stand up under it.”

This was true so often, in David’s case. God sent people to confront David when he sinned because God wanted him to be pure in heart. Joab, general of his army, was horrified at his suggestion to take a census and warned him of the evils (2 Samuel 24:3). Nathan confronted David regarding his sexual sin (2 Samuel 7). Eventually David was conscience-stricken and regretted bitterly the choices he had made.

Reflection:

Why did David listen to his mentors? Because he recognized he had displeased God.

Do we pause to thank God for bringing folks into our lives who have the courage to confront us so that our fellowship with God is not destroyed?

The question for us, as we face temptation today, must be “Is this pleasing to God?” Does it really matter?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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Be of Good Cheer

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Isaiah 32 John 16:31-33 KJV

All around us the world is changing. Even as I write, one can see the possibility of another great world war looming before us as nation aggravates nation. Nature rises up against mankind as floods or hurricanes, earthquakes or mudslides take the lives of hundreds of people. Closer to home, relationships fracture so easily. Where is the glue that holds things together as spouses part, and children run from home? Even friendship has taken on a new dimension, because isolation reigns in developed countries.

Thousands of years ago life also seemed very harsh. Nations were at war. The prevailing atmosphere was one of gloom, even hopelessness. However, the ancients were given a vision of a better world where each man would be as strong as a refuge from the storm. There would be a sense of protection, like the shadow of a rock in a thirsty land. Those who had been blind would see; the deaf would hear. Minds would be healed, enabling them to know and understand. Even those with speech difficulties would be fluent and clear (Isaiah 32).

Written as prophecy, Isaiah was giving Israel a message from the Lord about Messiah and His Kingdom (Isaiah 32). What an ideal all of the above represents. It will come to pass only when the King reigns in righteousness. Would it be stretching truth too far to suppose that if the “King” (Jesus) truly reigned in the hearts of His people today the world would be a different place? At least we know that “the fool would no longer be called noble, nor the scoundrel be highly respected” (Isaiah 32:4-5).

Isaiah depicts the wasteland of a society that makes up evil schemes, and destroys the weak with lies, leaving them hungry and thirsty, without compassion. Complacency will give way to trembling fear and even mourning in sackcloth. The fortress, and the citadel will become a wasteland until…!

“Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high” (Isaiah 32:15). There is hope! Picture justice dwelling in a desert which was produced by the folly of man. Now righteousness would live in a fertile field. What makes the difference? It is the fruit of righteousness.

In our world today it might seem that many principles treasured by Godly people, are being violated by the opinions of man. For example, mankind, without seeing ahead, claims to be more compassionate than God. Did God really say “Come out from among them and be separate”? (2 Corinthians 6:17). What does this mean? In a day when God’s Word is devalued, perhaps it means we should be bold enough to stand for our belief in Biblical truth. We are different from the world in our thoughts toward God and man. Compassion might take the form of tough-love. When will we allow our “rights” as believers to be taken away, discredited? Will we take a firm stand for righteousness?

Jesus warned His disciples that they would be scattered. It’s easier to be strong when you are joined together. Perhaps this is why Jesus taught there must be unity in the faith (John 17:20-23). Paul reinforced Jesus’ teaching by addressing unity in the church (Ephesians 4:13). Isaiah leaves us with cause for good cheer. He writes that the fruit of righteousness will be peace (32:17). Within our own spirits the possibility of peace in the midst of life’s storms comes to us when the righteousness of Christ rules in our lives.

Reflection:

Jesus promised His disciples they would have trouble in this world. We don’t want to think about that. However, He links trouble to an experience of His peace….”So that in Me you may have peace” (John 16:33). Are we willing to pay the price for His peace? Our confidence comes from the reality of His resurrection when He proved to the world there is greater life beyond what we know and experience here! Will we be a part of His millennial kingdom? Take heart! “Be of Good cheer!” (KJV) “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

The effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever” (Isaiah 32:17)

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)