Devotional

Raise the Standard High

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Luke 23:34

In olden days as men marched into war they kept their eyes open for the standard which was a visual signal for where you were to go. The standard-bearer would be close to the leader, providing a rallying point. If anything happened to the standard-bearer and he went down, the whole battle could be lost, since the army would be without direction. If the enemy captured your standard, the honour of the unit was lost.

Today believers are in a spiritual battle and God has given us a standard. The rally point is around God’s Word. It keeps us close to the leader, to our Heavenly Father. It brings the church together with one vision and purpose. Without this Holy book we wouldn’t know Jesus, who must be lifted up to draw all people to Himself. Why is that important?

Jesus’ life demonstrates the principles of spiritual warfare. In purity, faithfulness and love Jesus marches the troops forward, following Him who set the highest of all possible standards. We are to walk in the ways of truth, honour and kindness. We are equipped by God for the battle. First of all He motivates us through the indwelling Holy Spirit to have the right attitudes. Not too many people have gone to war loving their enemies, but Biblical principles clearly state we are to do just that (Matthew 5:44). This remarkable deviation from what is “human” makes a spectacular statement to a world filled with anger, hate and fear.

Following our Saviour’s example, God strengthens followers of Jesus to be joyful in the midst of adversity. Haven’t you noticed how contagious real joy is? People who are always venting over some disappointment, or complaining they haven’t been treated well, often make us nervous because we don’t know when they will begin to see us as their enemy. Joy isn’t about laughter, but it is a deep-seated satisfaction derived from being in the will of God, pleasing Him by our holy thoughts, our intentional choices, and our selflessness.

Selflessness does not mean we become a doormat, or that we succumb to abuse. It is comprised of the intentional deeds we do to help others, to lift them up physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Everyone can encourage those who have fallen. Jesus Himself said he came, not to heal those who are well, but those who are sick (Luke 5:31). Can we see the soul-sickness of those about us? What might we do to help?

Solomon taught “A soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). Spiritual warfare is not for the purpose of gaining ground, but rather for giving grace. Paul taught “Do not take revenge….but leave room for God’s wrath….On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink” (Romans 12:19-20). Our Lord showed grace to His abusers as He cried from the cross “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Reflection:

Recognizing our own sinful state before we were saved by the love of Christ, provides us with a spirit of empathy. Surely all humans come to the foot of the cross equal in guilt and shame. The exquisite relief of God’s forgiveness must then become the catalyst for us to share His mercy and grace, even with those who are our enemies. Paul continued teaching the Roman church “…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good!” (12:21).

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

The Panacea of Praise

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I will praise You, O Lord, with all my heart.” Psalm 138:1

Have you ever felt depressed, low in your spirit? Haven’t we all at some point or another? Where do these feelings come from? Many things can trigger nostalgia, – sensory perceptions as well as events are common triggers. Sometimes it’s hard to pin point the source, but the feeling is definitely there! Often the stresses we endure day by day crescendo gradually until we have reached the breaking point. At this point we might fail to see the build-up is enormous.

A very dear friend has been living with chronic pain as well as financial stress, She faces uncertainty about where she will live if she has to move. Add to that a serious let-down in the discovery that friends no longer share the same Christian perspectives, along with coping in a new job and I sense her cup of endurance is overflowing!

However, she has the joie de vivre of a saint! Her love for the Lord Jesus causes her to praise Him continually. What a panacea* for the overwhelming burdens of life! Grateful for all that God has done she looks beyond the events of today to see He is holding her close to his heart, through it all, and that the fiery darts of the evil one cannot touch her because God is shielding her with His gift of faith.

While we might justly grieve over our difficulties, the remedy often lies in our own hands. One cannot complain and praise at the same time. That is a choice we must make! We all know heroes of the faith who have suffered beyond anything we could imagine and yet they found a solution in reaching out. Imagine that we might reach out to the very heart of God! Music rising from hearts of gratitude blesses our Father!

Our strongest testimony occurs in those little seasons when we least expect that what we say or think will make any difference. It is the attitude that colours our world with joy, or buries it in misery. Confounding to our chaotic world is the incredible peace we find in Jesus Christ our Lord who suffered all things for us, and remains to this day the best icon of praise and virtue known by the world. He is our example:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before

Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down on the right hand of the throne of

God!” (Hebrews 12:2)

Reflection:

Describe a situation where you chose to praise God for the unknowns in your life.

What is the usual attitude of your heart – are you developing a positive persona?

Think about the impact a person who is joyful has on your life.

*Panacea: The solution or remedy for all difficulties

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Justice and Mercy

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Zechariah 7:9-10

Looking at Justice and Mercy first let us define our terms. Justice is seen as the quality of fairness, the principle of moral rightness, the process of fairly using law to judge and punish. It is equal in all cases when deciding what is fair. To be fair one must be honest, upright, honourable, trustworthy. Mercy, on the other hand, is compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

In the Bible we are told that God is just. Sometimes He links justice and mercy together. “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress….” (Zechariah 7:9-10). Jesus, pronouncing a woe upon the Pharisees, said: “…you neglect justice and the love of God” (Luke 11:42). Hosea also talks about maintaining love and justiceo (2:19). And so we see the prophets speak about the dangers of withholding justice from the poor and oppressed.

Let’s pose a question: How can mortal man bring justice and mercy together in the 21st century?

Mercy is an attitude of heart expressed in feelings of compassion. When we look at a criminal, for example, we might feel compassion for the situation in which that person finds themselves, knowing the judgment that will be a consequence of wrong choices. However, that feeling does not negate the consequences unless justice can be satisfied in some other way.

An example might be in the news account of a man jailed for murder. Having become a Christian while incarcerated, with a compassionate attitude would we not want to see him go free, now that his life had turned around? However, he suffered the death penalty for his crime, willingly acknowledging the mercy of God, while accepting the consequence of his murderous temper.

Divine justice and mercy factor into this account. Would we, with our finite wisdom, pervert the very mercy of God? We need to be wary of being guided by our feelings instead of maintaining a balance between cognitive and emotive understanding. Often our judgment is impacted by our own feelings more than we realize. Instead of facing the result of sin in our lives, we look for any escape from those ramifications.

How does God view each individual situation? There is the promise given through Isaiah “My justice will become a light to the nations” (51:4)! That means that God’s merciful provision for the sins of the nations, through Jesus Christ the Lord, will effectively save those who repent and receive God’s forgiveness. Our knowledge of God gives us a wonderful answer to the dilemma of sin. Divine Justice is not something to fear when tempered with His matchless mercy!

Reflection:

How often do we want to deal with our problems in our own way? Is this not a rejection of God’s mercy? What is the consequence? What is God’s perfect provision?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

What Will You Do With Jesus?

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Acts 10:25-26

At the end of the day the only question that will matter is “What did you do with Jesus”. His representatives on earth may fall, but Jesus never fails. Lyricists have written songs about His amazing faithfulness to truth and righteousness. The Bible assures us He is the same yesterday, today and forever! (Hebrews 13:8). What a blessed promise in the face of human failure and disappointment.

We might ask another question “Who am I compared to the King of glory, the One who left the glory of heaven (Philippians 2:5-8)to suffer shame and disgrace at Calvary, taking my punishment for sins He never committed?” (Hebrews 10:10-14). Charles Goodman captured the truth as he asked:

Who am I that the King would bleed and die for?
Who am I that He would pray not my will, Thine Lord.
The answer I may never know
Why He ever loved me so
That to an old rugged cross He’d go…
For who am I?

When we see Jesus our gratitude sometimes takes a turn, and we begin to revere the instrument that brought the light of the gospel to us. The apostles leave us with a legacy which we do well to remember. In our scripture today we read that Cornelius called his household together, family, friends and servants to meet the great Apostle Peter.

Like Jonah, Peter resisted sharing his faith with Gentiles. The Gospel was for the Jews, surely. God rebuked Peter and finally he surrendered. It was a long journey from Jerusalem to Caesarea, but Peter had been called by God to go specifically to the home of this Italian military Commander (Acts 10).

What was Peter’s attitude when he arrived? Considering the important role he played in the development of the early Church in Jerusalem, this was a great concession involving time and energy. He could have been condescending, but we see Peter serving Jesus with humility. As Cornelius fell at his feet in the respect demanded by the custom of the day, Peter commanded him to “Get up”! Leaving the crowd in no doubt, Peter declared “I am only a man myself” (Acts 10:25-26).

Peter had learned to come to grips with the limitations of his own humanity. He had failed Jesus many times. He couldn’t stay awake to watch with Him prior to Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane. He denied that he knew Jesus immediately prior to His crucifixion. Here was another test. This time he didn’t fail. In spite of the Jewish laws which prevented association with Gentiles, God had shown Peter that He cared about the souls of all people, even Gentiles.

”I now realize how true it is that God does not show any favouritism” (Acts 10:34). This was an epiphany for Peter. Suddenly he got it! He found himself preaching about Jesus, sharing ”the good news of peace, through Jesus Christ who is Lord of all” (10:36). His focus was Jesus Christ! As a privileged witness of all that Christ was and did, Peter talked about His life and death as the fulfillment of prophecy and how, following His miraculous resurrection, Jesus ate and drank with His followers. As Paul reminds us “He lives to make intercession for us” (Hebrews 7:24-25) so to Him goes all the honour and glory forever and ever!

The power of the Holy Spirit came upon these Gentiles so that they believed and were baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. This is what happens when we see Christ Jesus lifted up by Godly men and women.

Reflection:

What are you doing with the precious, holy name of Jesus? Do you guard His reputation with your life?

by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)

Devotional

The Judge Stands at the Door

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James 5

The news is full of judgment, whether it is political, criminal or even inspirational. Sports figures and artist are weighed by public opinion and everyone, we are told, is entitled to their own opinion. Strangely enough few people take God’s opinion to heart. However, as our scripture indicates He is the ultimate Judge and even now is waiting, withholding the inevitable judgment on mankind (James 5:9).

James paints a grim picture of the last days! Folks will be hoarding their wealth (James 5:3, 5). Having worked in developing countries where I have seen people picking through garbage to find food, along with storks and rats, I marvel at the waste of food and the self-indulgence as we sit down to tables groaning with plenty, day after day. James observes there is also an attitude which sometimes we see in the twenty-first century. How can we get the best bang for our buck? (James 5:4) Does cheating a workman of the wages he deserves, count as fair? The rich have taken advantage of the poor (James 5:6).

All is not lost. James challenges us to remember the Lord; He is full of compassion and mercy (James 5:11). He calls each of us to be as steadfast as Job was, in our moral integrity. In a day when everyone does what is right in their own eyes, will we find righteous living according to the standards God has clearly laid down in His Word?

Jesus gave us cause for reflection. When Jesus returns will He find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8). How can we call ourselves people of faith if we do not obey the Word of God? Faith is believing, “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Becoming a Christian is not saying a prayer asking for God’s forgiveness, if our lives do not follow the pattern laid down by Jesus. His life was one of obedience to the Father’s will “I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38).

Our words must be matched by our deeds when the day of judgment comes. Look at this Judge once more. How much do we have to fear? Is it fear that drives us to do what is right? God has lavished His love on us by sacrificing His only begotten Son (1 John 3:1). That is a love He longs to have reciprocated. “There is no fear in love”, John writes (1 John 4:18). Fear has to do with punishment, and scripture assures us that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

So what does it mean to be “In Christ”? Sometimes we sign our letters with that phrase. What do we mean? Do our lives stand the test? Are we selfless, Christ-centered, generous and kind? Do we endure with patience, believing God allows suffering for a moment but “Joy comes in the morning”? (Psalm 30:5). Are we willing to endure persecution for the sake of our Lord and His gospel message? Do we return good for evil done to us? Can we forgive ourselves knowing the Spirit of God will help us to overcome our weaknesses and failures?

Reflection:

The Judge of all the earth can see deep into our hearts, yours and mine. What does He see?

by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)

Devotional

The Christmas Story Unfolds

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Perhaps it will surprise you to know that the Christmas story begins in Genesis. We need to look at some background. The earth was not God’s first creation. Created beings lived with Him in heaven long before earth took shape. How long Lucifer, one of many angels, existed before the creation of man, we are not told.

God created Lucifer [meaning “Shining One”]. Ezekiel describes him as chief among the angels, powerful, intelligent and very beautiful (Ezekiel 28:13-17). What we learn from Ezekiel and Isaiah is that rivalry developed; Satan wanted not just to be like God, but to be in control (Isaiah 14:12-14). That is when things began to fall apart. It is important for us to understand that God did not create evil in the person of Satan [meaning “accuser”]. Privileges were taken for granted, as power was coveted. Satan’s attempt to seduce Eve and Adam, demonstrated his continuing efforts to control God’s creation.

How does this relate to Christmas? As God cursed the serpent, the creature used by Satan to tempt Eve, He predicted that Satan would bruise the heel of One who would actually extinguish any power the Devil gained in intervening years, by crushing Satan’s head.

We know of course, that this is what happened during the Easter event when Jesus was crucified (bruised seems a light term for His great suffering). But wait! Jesus rose from the dead – the Divine Conqueror of death! His resurrection crushed the determined efforts of the “accuser of the brethren”. Revelation 12 describes that final battle in heaven. As the Devil is hurled to the earth, salvation is complete; the power and the Kingdom of God, authorized by the blood of Christ overcomes him.

How was all of this possible? God sent a tiny baby, born of a virgin to bless all nations of the earth (Isaiah 7:14). This was also fulfillment of a prophecy given thousands of years before to a man named Abram. The author of Genesis writes the promise of God to this man He renamed Abraham [meaning “father of a great number”]. “I will make you a great nation….and all people on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3). That promise was repeated to God’s covenant people, the nation He promised Abraham’s progeny would become.

Matthew begins his gospel “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac…..” Writing specifically to the Jews, it is crucial for Matthew to begin with the one they called Father Abraham. Ryrie explains “The common teaching of that day said that the Jews participated in the merits of Abraham, which made their prayers acceptable, helped in war, expiated sins, appeased the wrath of God and ensured a share in God’s eternal kingdom” (Page 1463 Ryrie Study Bible) No wonder they were so shocked when John and Jesus preached the need for personal repentance!

The Apostle John records the dissension caused by Jesus, claiming God as His Father (John 8:33-58). His statement that He existed before Abraham was the final straw. This was blasphemy in the ears of orthodox Jews. Yet here we are celebrating Jesus! Not only do we rejoice in His birth, but His life has given us eternal life! So at Christmas it really is impossible to remember His birth, miraculous as it was, without thinking of His death on a cross. Hallelujah! That was not the end because He rose again to bring spiritual healing and glorious hope to all who would believe and receive Him! (John 1:12-13).

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

Do You Know?

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Luke 2:13-20

How much our witnessing has changed during the course of one short life-time. Today if we want to tell people about Jesus, we cannot start from the premise that everyone knows who He is. There is now a whole generation of children who have not gone to Sunday School, for example. Subtly, distractions and responsibilities have taken over a society with more time on their hands than ever before, disabling well meant intentions to give God one hour on Sunday.

Christmas was once a time when most people went to church, if only to hear the carols. Now, however, Christmas has become so commercialized and carols so secular, that even that witness to the birth of Jesus has become virtually ineffective. Everyone knows Santa. Sadly the very virtues once attributed to the Saviour of our world, are now seen in a jolly fat man, garbed in red. “He knows when you are sleeping; he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good….” Is Santa really omniscient?

In my childhood memories the sweetness of Christmas songs plays a big role! One song is a particular favourite, inspiring awe at the whole event:

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope! the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;
Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born.
O night, O holy night, O night divine.

When we used to sing “Who is He in yonder stall?” people knew the miracle baby, Jesus, had been laid in a manger.

Amazingly His birth was announced by a choir of angels, a once-only event. Shepherds heard them and instantly responded with great joy! What was it about a baby in the most humble of circumstances, lying in the feeding trough of some cattle, in a smelly stable, which caused them to glorify and to praise Almighty God? (Luke 2:20). And so – the lyrics go on to tell us more. “At whose feet [the baby Jesus] the shepherds fall”.

Stories of angels and shepherds and wiseman were common knowledge. The thunderous response to the question “Who is He” came back, identifying this holy Babe as:

The Lord! O wondrous story! ‘Tis the Lord the King of glory!”

In my youth, once a year at least, folks were encouraged to consider, to worship and to respond! The thrill of that proclamation warmed even the coldest hearts in December! But the question still remains: Do you know the reason behind your response?

Reflection:

Do you know what, if anything, prevents you from truly worshiping this baby who became the Lamb of God?

Does knowing Him as the Son of God, cause you to fall at His feet in worship?

What is the most beautiful aspect of the Christmas revelation that stirs your heart?

What is it about Jesus Christ that caused a hymnologist to write:

“At His feet we humbly fall. Crown Him! Crown Him Lord of all!”

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

Praise and Worship

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Isaiah 66:1-2

Dear Lord,

There are so many people on my mind for whom I would pray this morning, people in need physically and spiritually. Yet as I bow before You, my spirit is reminded of the great privilege You have given to Your people of coming to You in the name of Jesus.

He, who is the personification of true love, is the “Way”…the way to You, our heavenly Father. He came to earth to show us how to worship as well as the way we should treat one another. Oh Father! As we celebrate His advent, I must praise You for Your perfect plan – that marvellous revelation of the heart of God, yearning sacrificially for relationship with mankind! If only Your children could follow Jesus’ perfect example, what a different place this world would be! Your great heart must be often disappointed. Father forgive me please.

Thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit, who dwells within each of Your children, offering guidance and comfort, and even rebuke, so that I may confess my sins and be freed daily of the guilt with which Satan immobilizes me. Your love is so forgiving. May I be also.

Thank You for showing me unconditional love. I know that I could never earn the approval of Omniscient, Almighty God, yet Your love has given me grace and mercy, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Oh Lord! May I be filled to overflowing, in order to pass this good news on to others.

The depth of Your love inspires me to walk in the steps of my Saviour, but it is sometimes with the fear that I might fail to live up to His example. Thank You that Your strength is made perfect in weakness!

Your love has all the hallmarks of a perfect parent; Your wisdom is wonderful! Your love disciplines me for my own good. Thank you Father!

You are so kind, and sensitive to the pitfalls on this earthly journey, and to my human frailty. I read in scripture that kindness and patience are the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit. I need Your touch to deal kindly with those who try my patience. Thank You for Your word that assures me my prayers will be answered.

Oh Father – You are Holy. Surrounded by temptation, the Devil assaults my mind and heart with suggestions that do not glorify the values You have given to me, in Your most Holy Word. Forgive me! Holy Spirit teach my wayward heart the purity that is Your very essence!

Thank you for challenging the Church to love holiness with a passion. May we be people of truth and honour, in order to glorify Your most Holy Name.

You have promised to empower Your children to do exploits in the name of Jesus! Your love for others compels me to see them through Your eyes. However, it is not always easy. Let me see others from Your perspective when they sin against me, so that I may use what I have learned at the feet of Jesus, to bless them in return.

Thank You Father for giving me quiet moments of solitude to spend at Your feet. Thank You for restoring my soul! Thank You for the peace that comes over my spirit when it is in tune with Yours. Thank You for Jesus, the visible reflection of all that You are. Thank You for the joy of my salvation! Thank You for the eternal hope I have that one day I will stand in Your glorious presence. Thank You for opening up doors of service. Thank You for the fellowship and encouragement of brothers and sisters in the family of God. Thank You for lessons learned through sorrow and pain, through disappointment and heartache. Thank You for the privilege of sharing Jesus.

Dear God, may my worship be acceptable in Your sight. Amen

Reflection:

As we pray, let us check our beliefs. Is this the God who can move mountains, Who in fact created those mountains? Did He really raise Lazarus and Jesus from the dead? Is He raising those who are spiritually dead in this the twenty-first century? Does He have the right to place people in the environment of His choosing? Does His power and His passion for what is right, generate awe in my heart? Is God truly good and fair and loving? It is important to know the One we say we trust, and to examine the extent to which we really trust Him. Do we come to God demanding things for our comfort and pleasure, or do we want to align our hearts and minds with His good pleasure? Does the sacrifice of my contrite heart bring joy to the heart of the God I love? Does God need me in order to accomplish His purposes; does He give me the privilege of coming alongside, to join in the joy of seeing Him at work?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

The Sermon on the Mount

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Introduction Matthew 5:1-8:1

How long would it take you to read Matthew 5:1-8:1? How long did it take Jesus to preach that sermon, I wonder? How many people, since Matthew recorded Jesus’ words, have preached sermons on the various principles that enrich the text?

The beatitudes are perhaps more familiar than the rest of these chapters, but there are verses which some folks like to quote. For example: “Turn the other cheek” (5:39). That is a fine message, when pointing out someone else’s sins, but do we take it to heart when it applies to our own problems?

Someone has divided chapter 5 into sections labelled “the Law of…..”, highlighting topics such as murder, reconciliation, adultery, divorce, oaths, and even the law of non-resistance! Chapter 5 ends on a high note, when Jesus gives us the Law of love. Most of us are familiar with His instruction to “love your enemy” …and to “pray for those who persecute you” (5:44) It’s important to note there was no such teaching in the Old Testament. This is indeed a new law, given at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry! Ryrie calls these “The Precepts for Kingdom Life (Ryrie Study Bible, Page 1466).

We are now living in the Kingdom Age. When Jesus died and rose again, His Kingdom was officially ushered in. Those who follow Him are to live as examples of His character, following in His steps (1 Peter 2:21). Therefore the principles our leader laid down are of tremendous significance! The question is: ‘Do we know these principles?’ If we examine them we may find they run in contrast with the mores of society today, certainly the culture of North Americans. Just one example, that of turning the other cheek, does not align with the “me movement” which teaches my rights are of primary importance. Our Lord and Master exemplified humility, when He gave up His rights to His glory, as part of the Trinity.

Then there is the question of truth and honour. When we make a promise, is it conditional? Do we take vows which hold an escape clause? Can our word be trusted by our family and friends? In days gone by a person only needed to say “My word is my bond” to be trusted, but today there are documents needing signatures for so many transactions, including prenuptial agreements, which raises questions about the intentions of those involved. Do Jesus’ words apply today? “Do not swear [take an oath] at all….but let your Yes be yes and your no be no!” (5:34a, 37). After all, Jesus said: “I am the Truth” (John 14:6).

Reflection:

When Jesus spoke, He knew His message would be written down for generations to come. Do we treat his words as viable in our world today, or are we content to let society rule our attitudes, our intentions and our reactions? We have only brushed the surface of His instructions in Chapter 5. Before going on to study Chapter 6 we need to ask ourselves some questions about how far we are willing to go to walk in the steps of the Master. Eliza E. Hewitt wrote:

Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Trying to follow our Savior and King;
Shaping our lives by His blessed example,
Happy, how happy, the songs that we bring. Refrain:
How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Stepping in the light, stepping in the light,
How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Led in paths of light. Pressing more closely to Him Who is leading,
When we are tempted to turn from the way;
Trusting the arm that is strong to defend us,
Happy, how happy, our praises each day. Walking in footsteps of gentle forbearance,
Footsteps of faithfulness, mercy, and love,
Looking to Him for the grace freely promised,
Happy, how happy, our journey above. Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Upward, still upward, we follow our Guide;
When we shall see Him, “the King in His beauty,”
Happy, how happy, our place at His side.

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

Perfect Leadership

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Matthew 4:1-11

In today’s world leadership around the world is being challenged. One might ask “What are the expectations of the populace based upon?” What might our own expectations for good governance be, and why?

We hear the word truth used a lot. What is truth, and who is completely truthful? Social absolutes have been fractured as pride and prejudice have taken over. How can anyone be true to a wavering ideology? There seem to be a lot more questions than there are answers.

God knows all about this. Having sent the Prince of Peace to this world, we should know more about truth, since He declared Himself to be the Truth (John 14:6). Knowing Him, leads us into all truth, through the power of the Holy Spirit, whom He sends to indwell the minds and hearts of God’s children (John 16:13).

The truth is we have forgotten or perhaps denied the truth by which Jesus Himself lived. Matthew records the way He faced temptation in the wilderness. Note that Jesus was not led into the wilderness by the devil, but rather by the Holy Spirit. Isn’t that amazing? God was willing to put this unique God-man to the test, for your benefit and mine.

Three times Satan enticed Jesus to demonstrate signs of His power. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus did use bread as a sign of His power when the loaves and fishes were multiplied to feed 5000 people! (Mark 6:41). He didn’t need to turn stones into bread to prove Himself (Matthew 4:3-4). In the second test, Satan, who is not all-knowing, couldn’t have foreseen, as he was tempting God’s Son against the forces of gravity (4:5-6), that one day He would walk on water (Matthew 14:25ff).

The third test was about worship. Satan knew that Jesus was a man who had choices, just as we do today. Would He comply with the will of God when offered the kingdoms of this world? Tempting proposition! After all Jesus knew that temporarily Satan was the “Prince of this world” (John 12:31). His world is a system diametrically opposed to the things of God, and he wants to keep it that way. Think what Satan would have accomplished, had Jesus yielded!

However, we have been given an example of perfect leadership, given to us by this man, Jesus. Yes – He was also God, but coming to earth He divested Himself of all the glory that goes with being God, to walk this earth as a man (Philippians 2:6-8). He faced life with all the same potential God has given to you and to me – He had feelings, intelligence, volition (ability to make choices).

So what might we learn from His response to temptation? Quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus reminds us it is written….”man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. Three times Jesus relied on the truths of scripture to defend His choices. He refused to act independently of His Father’s perfect will. Today, this same Jesus, the only God-man, requires us as His disciples to follow His lead, to lean on the spoken and written word of God.

Reflection:

Perhaps you remember times of testing and temptation. What was the source that governed your response?

Do you understand, by faith, that Jesus is both God and man? This is why John writes to describe Him as “God’s only begotten Son” (John 3:16). We are also sons of God, but we are adopted into the family of God. We do not have His DNA. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are becoming more Christ-like, through the process of sanctification.

Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word” (Hebrews 1:3). As our example, Jesus led not only in word, but in deed (John 13:15). So “let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith”(Hebrews 12:2). What a perfect leader!

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net