Devotional

Principles of Suffering

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1 Peter 2:21

Peter is writing “to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered….who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:1-2). He praises God who, because of His “great mercy” gives us “new birth” along with a “living hope” and eventual “inheritance” which is kept in heaven for each one who “through faith are shielded by God’s power….to be revealed in the last time” (1:3-5). Does this apply to you and to me today?

He then goes on to say that Salvation comes through the sufferings of Christ (1:12), which were predicted by the prophets, men who spoke about God’s anticipated grace (i.e. Isaiah 53). Let’s pause for a moment to look at the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ. Long before the cross Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37). For any of us who weep over loved ones who still reject salvation through Jesus Christ, we know the suffering of His heart! He knew that everyone would not turn to God, even when He gave His life for them. We know the crowd was fickle; just as people are today. How many want what they can get [heaven], without being willing to suffer for principles seen in the life of Christ. He gave up everything…”making Himself nothing” to become a human being, humbling Himself and being obedient to death! (Philippians 2:7-8).

Jesus taught His disciples all about suffering. When He said “ the Son of Man must suffer many things” He then listed rejection by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law before He mentioned being killed (Mark 8:31). Rejection is painful. Every human being has been created with the longing to “belong”, to be significant and secure in relationships. It is hard to stay the course in the face of rejection. But, thankfully He did!

Peter goes on to describe what following Jesus looks like. Even if we suffer for doing good our hearts will be at peace because our intentions were good, and therefore our consciences are clear before the Lord. If someone speaks maliciously against us, our good behaviour may be a rebuke to them. Certainly our attitude of gentleness and respect will be a powerful testimony in the face of adversity (1 Peter 3:13-16). After all we are representing the One who cried from the cross “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing!” (Luke 23:34).

How might we respond to suffering for Jesus’ sake? Peter addresses this too. We must rejoice! Really? Yes, he writes “Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may rejoice when His glory is revealed” (4:13). He goes on to say what he, himself, knows all too well to be true: “If you suffer as a Christian do not be ashamed”. We mustn’t forget Peter denied knowing Jesus, fearing for his life at one point in time, yet now his perspective ha s totally changed! Why? “Praise God you bear that name [Christian]”. For Peter to be a Christian meant everything! (4:16).

Reflection:


When we think of suffering, often it is with the fear of physical pain. However, emotional pain goes even deeper – right into the soul of every human being. God can rescue us from that, delivering us from evil (Matthew 6:13), as Jesus taught us to pray. The Holy Spirit infuses us with the power to be kind and good and patient (Galatians 5:22), when we encounter Satanic attacks. Let us be “strengthened with all power according to His glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully give thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light!” (Colossians 1:11-12).

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps” 1 Peter 2:21

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Go and Sin No More

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John 8:3-11 (KJV)

What are our thoughts when we read this verse, words from the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. Is this a suggestion for Godly living? Perhaps it’s a thought, which in reality is impossible because we are still warring with our old nature and prone to fall when faced with temptation. After all the Apostle Paul tells us he, the mighty giant of New Testament faith, struggled with conflicts in his own desires. Maybe it’s only situational, for surely the sin, the sin of immoral choice, is something anyone could avoid (John 8:10-11).

Or is it? Doesn’t scripture warn us to beware, for he who prides himself on standing, may suddenly find he has fallen (1 Corinthians 10:12)? How often do we continue to sin, excusing ourselves on the grounds that we are only human and God will surely understand? The question then arises – would God ask something of us that is impossible?

I was thinking of some of the excuses we use when faced with the difficult truths of scripture. We are faced with the reality of God’s holiness time and again. So far from what we find within ourselves, does He truly mean “Be holy as I am holy?” Peter makes frequent use of this word (1 Peter 1:15-16, 2:5 & 9). He makes it an “ought” in his second epistle, in answer to the question “What sort of people ought you to be?” He tells his readers, including you and me “You ought to live holy and Godly lives” (3:11).

Paul solves the problem of holiness for us. In many of his letters, to the Romans, to the Corinthians, and the Ephesians he illustrates by using the root of the tree being holy, therefore so are the branches; he refers to Timothy’s calling to a holy life and so forth. Writing to the Hebrews, he confirmed what he said earlier about holiness….he gives us hope. When Christ came into the world, it was with the express purpose of doing His Father’s will. “And by that will we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all!” (Hebrews 10:10).

The goal of a holy people (“holy nation” 1 Peter 2:9) is to “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy” (Hebrews 12:14). Now if I find I have failed to be holy, if temptation has overpowered me, I have recourse to the Father’s forgiveness, but without true repentance it’s useless to ask for it. True repentance expresses the attitude, intention, determination not to do it again. Whatever it takes, I am to flee the devil. I cannot continue to live in circumstances that bring this same temptation before me without placing some safeguards against it. Certainly blaming God for the way He made me will never hold water in the face of His holiness. If God’s word says it is wrong, then I have to examine what it tells me to do to protect myself. If a child has a murderous temper, the parents are obliged to curb it, to teach the little one to control that urge.

Reflection:

Do we think with shame and embarrassment how often we have failed by repeating the same sin?

When something is difficult is that an excuse for not trying?

Doesn’t this command “Go and sin no more” place the responsibility on us? Does God extend extra mercy and grace to help us?

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

Judeo-Christian?

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Acts 11:26

Growing up I read several books about Jewish people who converted to Christianity. It became a subject of keen interest which carried over into my work as a nurse in a Jewish community. Wikipedia describes the term Judeo-Christian:

Judeo-Christian is a term used since the 1950s to encompass the common ethical standards

of Christianity and Judaism, such as the Ten Commandments. It has become part of American

civil religion and is often used to promote inter-religious cooperation.“

Since this was a reality in the 1950’s it saddens me to read in a more recent periodical that “The Jewish Community generally views Christianity as a threat because of the long history of ‘Christian’ anti-Semitism.”

One Christian author coined the phrase “Christianity is Jewish.” Since it is our primary authority, what does the Bible say? The first notation we have of the word Christian is in Acts 11:26 “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch”. By definition the word disciple means partisans, or followers – in this case of Christ. ‘Christian’ is a word which appears very few times in the New Testament. King Agrippa, after listening to Paul preach the gospel in his own defense, asked Paul if he thought he could persuade him to become a Christian. The only other time it is used is by Peter who clarifies “…if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear the name” (1 Peter 4:16). A Christian is one who bears Christ’s name.

We need to recognize that these first Christians, men and women who followed Jesus, were all Jews! Would becoming a Christian make them less Jewish? That question has been debated, even by the Jewish community itself, to this day. The President of ‘The Chosen People’ explains: “Jewish people like myself are raised knowing that Jesus is not for Jews….. I stepped over that line in 1970 and discovered to my great surprise, that I was still Jewish!”

Did becoming Christian, Christ-followers, mean they left the faith of their fathers? If the Messiah was anticipated by the Israelite nation as one sent from God to His own people, to free them from oppression, and if Jesus is that Messiah, following Him would not mean leaving the faith of their fathers.

Christianity must honour the roots of our faith revealed in Judaism. Gentiles have been included in prophecy as far back as Abraham (Genesis12:3), so it is not a nationalistic faith but an inclusive one. The Psalmist urges us to pray for peace in Jerusalem Why?

Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is most appropriate for a city whose name literally means “peaceful” and which is the residence of the God of peace. Further, Jerusalem will be the scene of Christ’s return (Acts 1:11; Zechariah 14:4), and at that time He will establish permanent peace within its walls. True Christians must be eagerly awaiting His return, and praying for the time when the Prince of Peace will reign in Jerusalem. “For unto us a Child is born….the Prince of Peace, of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, He will reign…..forever!” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

There is no room in the economy of God for anti-Semitism or anti-Christianity between Jews and Christians. We need to encourage one another in our faith because when one reads the Old Testament, under the Spirit of God, Jesus the Messiah is recognizable. Together we may be united under Christ!

Reflection:

What does the designation Judeo-Christian mean to you? Explain.

Does becoming a Christian make one less Jewish?

What binds Jews and Christians together?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional · Uncategorized

Favorite Scriptures

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1 John 4:7-19

If you were asked to give your favourite scripture verse or verses, what might they be? Would they be focused on the comfort of your faith, or the greatness of your God? There is no right or wrong answer to that question. However, the answer does demonstrate where you are on your faith journey, doesn’t it? Faith begins with our vision of God. The Psalmist wrote “The Lord is my light and my salvation! Of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1 KJV) “The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (NIV)

Some of my all-time favourite verses are 1 John 1:7-9. As long as I live in this mortal body I will need to come before God in a spirit of repentance, knowing that He, in His amazing love will cleanse me from all unrighteousness. “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us….” What great reassurance this is of His faithfulness and His fairness!

Along the way so many verses have spoken at my point of need. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). In fact that whole chapter has spoken to me since I was a young teen. Listen to this: “The mind of sinful man/woman is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (:6). “The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (:26). “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him…” (:28).

Who is this God? “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God” (1 John 3:1). He has given us His Holy Word, so that we can know Him. “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:11, 105). Jesus, God’s only begotten Son is “…the light of the world” (John 8:12). “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17). Do we understand the sacrificial nature of God’s great love?

Job describes Him: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth, and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I will see Him with my own eyes….How my heart yearns within me!” (19:25-27).

Then of course we all have favourite promises…”Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles [what a word picture!}; they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Now in my senior years I agree with King David – “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4).

Reflection:

It is encouraging to look back to verses that impacted our lives in younger years. As a teen I read the book “In His Steps” based on 1 Peter 2:21. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you and example, that you should follow in His steps”. Jesus Himself encourages us to fulfill the will of God, as He did in His life. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6).

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net