Devotional

My Covenant

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Isaiah 59:21 **

Isaiah begins Chapter 59 with a wonderful statement. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save.” The question is : To whom does this remarkable hope extend? Is Isaiah talking to the Jewish nation or individuals of faith, or does he refer to all human beings?

Today many Christians live as the Jews did long ago. As God’s chosen people, Israel became exclusive, carrying the principle of separation from other nations out of the realm of faith. What do I mean? They forgot that households were blessed by the faith of the patriarchs. Foreigners within that household were drawn to the One True God by the wisdom of God working in and through the lives of His chosen people. In fact all in Abraham’s household (foreigners included) were circumcised as a sign of their covenant relationship with God. (Genesis 17:27)

Isn’t it thrilling to know that God extends His mercy and grace to all mankind! Looking at externals we often judge that someone is too hard, too far gone, too disinterested to be reached by the gospel. Recently I had the exquisite pleasure of listening to a young man, sharing quite unexpectedly with me how his life had been changed. He came face to face with Jesus! A drug addict around the age of 12, he continued down that path for 7 years until God got hold of his life. His tattooed body will forever hold a message of where he was, but the sparkle in his steady blue eyes tells where he is now. He was amazed to discover that God might use him to help his old friends and even his family, to whom he had always lied. Truly in this case “The Lord’s hand was not shortened”!

Isaiah describes those who were included in God’s covenant promise, categorizing their sins of injustice and evil. Repeatedly God notes the lack of truth, the propensity to lie: “Truth has fallen in the streets.” (:14) “No one calls for justice nor does any plead for truth.” (:4) ”Their feet run to evil and they make haste to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are of iniquity.” (:7) Like the blind they walked in darkness. They growl like bears (:10-11)….and on and on.

However, because He is a covenant God, His mercy reaches down to those unable to help themselves. The Lord saw all of the darkness, evil and injustice, and was deeply displeased (:15). Knowing the utter helplessness of mankind caught in such a trap, His own righteousness came into play. With fury God scourged His adversaries in order to rescue His chosen people (:18).

Prophetically Isaiah writes “His own Arm [God’s]worked salvation for Him. Because there was no human adequate to mediate, God gave us salvation through the redemptive work of Christ, His Son! This Redeemer will come, even today, to those who turn from transgression! Imagine such mercy and grace!

For them, as for us, the covenant remains secure. “As for me, says the Lord, this is My covenant with them: “My Spirit is upon you and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants…..forevermore!” (:21)

Reflection:

Do Isaiah’s words mean anything to you today? Do you have salvation through Jesus Christ the Lord?

Are you resting in the assurance of God’s covenant, because you believe, and received Jesus as Lord?

Read John 1:12-13.

By Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Uncategorized

What is Faith?

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1 Corinthians 13:13

The dictionary defines faith as “complete trust or confidence in something or somebody”. The Bible also defines faith as the basis for understanding that our universe was made at God’s command (Hebrews 11:2)….tying in with the dictionary definition, because our confidence is in God who created all things. John spells it out in definite terms. “Through Him all things were made, without Him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). John was referring to Jesus in his introduction to His gospel.

Somehow in the intervening time, since John wrote that under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, his firm conviction that God created all things has become distorted by the wisdom of man. Another idol has replaced God…the idol of scientific knowledge. Sadly Satan has succeeded in diverting man’s attention away from the One who designed the universe for a purpose. Hearts have become hardened. “For although they [mankind] 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). These have lost faith in their Creator.

One might ask “Why?” Is this a control issue? Why is it so difficult to glorify God for what He has made? Other questions come to mind. Is living in the darkness described in Romans, bringing any greater happiness into our world? We would do well to consider the situation in our world today when the environment brings us to the verge of extinction, because we have wasted our resources in indulgent living. There is certainly enough to go around if those who “have” would share with those who “have not”.

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for” (Hebrews 11:1). Paul writes to the church at Rome “Hope that is seen is no hope at all”. We don’t hope for what we already have (Romans 8:24). He notes that people have to wait patiently for the things we hope for to materialize.

Patience isn’t a popular virtue. We live in a world of instant gratification. We can get instant food and drink. We expect medication to bring instant relief from pain. Modern communication creates the expectation that our wants and wishes will be instantly gratified. Instead of developing patience, which actually is the fruit of the Holy Spirit living within God’s children, we find ourselves getting angry if we have to wait. Might we suggest that patience while waiting is part of loving? Faith, hope and love – which is the greatest of these? (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Reflection:

“Hear the conclusion of the whole matter” Solomon wrote. “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man”. Whether we believe it or not, God is central to the life we each live and we will be judged for our faith response to Him. “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). God offers us every opportunity for everyone to believe and worship Him. Just looking at nature leaves each of us without an excuse for not recognizing God (Romans 1:20). Through Jesus Christ He has made a personal relationship with Holy God possible, and offers us the gift of faith to participate in that exquisite relationship (Ephesians 2:8-9). The question is “Will we receive and believe?” (John 1:12-13). Will we accept God’s gift of faith?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

It Doesn’t Matter

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Revelation 9-10

The preacher actually said those words “It Doesn’t Matter”. To what was he referring? His passionate message was serious, actually about – and I quote – “life and death”. Reviewing recent studies in Revelation, he was pointing out the dangers of trying to attach significance to dates, times and places, causing us to lose the thrust of the entire book.

Revelation is not written in chronological order. It is like a picture, giving us different perspectives on the same story. It is the tale of completion – in God’s perfection His seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls present us with God’s judgment. In the midst of it all, God still warns people, calling them to repent, yet they refuse His mercy (Revelation 9:20-21). Revelation is not just about a seven-year period, but rather it is all about the battle between good and evil which has coloured the existence of mankind from the very beginning, when God created all things, and called them good (Genesis 1).

Interwoven into this picture is God’s amazing grace. The end of the story is glorious! We who know Him, whom to know is life eternal (1 John 5:13), will witness the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ who will reign forever and ever (Revelation 11:15). The Alpha and Omega will sign His painting with a great flourish! “Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). The timing doesn’t matter. Jesus told His followers to be ready – it might happen any day (Matthew 25:13).

Our focus is to be on Him….watching for His return. “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning…..It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when He comes…..even if He comes in the second or third watch of the night!” (Luke 12:35-38). This is what does matter…”The Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him” Surprise! Will you and I be watching? (Luke 12:40).

The danger for all people is that our hearts may become hardened to the Word of God. God’s children are not immune. Impacted by cultural norms we may stray away from the Truth, from the path (Way) Jesus laid down as He modelled purity of vision and purpose and practise. Someone said to me the other day “Lots of young people walking with God are living together (outside of marriage). Is this a reality that Christians today accept? Are we alive in Him, who came to give us Life? (John 14:16). We need that relationship to prepare us for the push-back Satan will bring against those who declare their faith. After we taste that the Lord is good, life may turn sour (Revelation 10:9). Our responsibility is to share the truth. Ezekiel was warned that it may not be received well (Ezekiel 3:1-7). Nothing has changed thousands of years later.

The blood of martyrs cries out: “When will the end come?” (Revelation 6:10). God is waiting for every tribe to enjoy the knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, because He is not willing that any should perish. He also must be true to His covenant with Abraham, promising to bless every nation through his descendants (Genesis 12:3). However, the time will come when “there is no more delay” (Revelation 10:6).

Reflection:

Sadly, the pastor noted, the Gospel has become soft, inoffensive, non-confrontational as we try to make it “seeker friendly”. When we read about the need for repentance, do we believe that God means business? Do we doom others to a lost eternity by sharing their terms guided by cultural sensitivity? In an age when “if it feels good, do it” is a norm, are we ready to talk about the lengths to which God has gone to make salvation possible? Sacrifice? Am I prepared to die for my faith? And in the midst of it all we misplace our energy by trying to figure out the symbols God has given to us as hints of things beyond the scope of our imagination. What is it that truly matters?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Uncategorized

Victimized

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The little child who was worshiped by Kings from the east, became a man. In the intervening years it had not been easy to be parents of the Christ-child. They had to endure public opinion about Mary’s unexpected pregnancy. Then at the tender age of two Jesus was seen to be a threat; sought by Herod the King after the Magi came looking for a new baby king. Led by God, they fled to Egypt to keep this precious child safe. We might recall the tragedy that befell innocent babies in Ramah (Matthew 2:1-2, 16), as this wicked king sought to extinguish the Son of God.

Herod died, so the family returned home. For nearly thirty years Jesus lived quietly at home in Nazareth. What were His thoughts as He learned His earthly father’s trade? What sort of life did He have with the question of His paternity hanging over His head? We sense that within the home things were not always easy. What was it like for His siblings to live with the eldest child, who had a history of being worshiped as King?

One commentator labels Matthew Chapter 10 as “The Program of the King; the Program announced”. Chapter 13 becomes “The Program Altered”, then “The Program Attacked”. Here we see the community in which Jesus grew up, explodes! Jesus had been going “through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness” (Matthew 13:35). Coming back to His hometown, He began teaching in the synagogue where amazement quickly turned into indignation. “Where did this man get the wisdom and these miraculous powers?” and “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” Suspicion grew! “Isn’t His mother’s name Mary?” and they went on to list His brothers by name, attempting to destroy His reputation, as a child sent by God (Matthew 13:53-57).

His ministry became perhaps the greatest example of human fickleness, because so many people followed Him for all the wrong reasons. Human nature is hard to change. Crowds followed Him for what they could get – healing and hope. They longed to be free from Roman oppression; surely this miracle-worker would engineer the ultimate miracle for their oppressed nation. Consider the burden this expectation put on Jesus, who described “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

Most of us experience problems with sibling rivalry or criticism, jealousies or competition during our life time. As we have seen, Jesus was not immune to these human inconsistencies. However, the real test came at the end of His ministry when the “religious right” decided the time had come to get rid of this maverick teacher. They became passionate to extinguish what they saw as blasphemy, making Himself equal with God (John 3:34-35). After all, how many times had Jesus called God His Father? And now He was forgiving sins? (Mark 2:5-7).

Jesus became the ultimate victim of a religion whose leadership had lost the concept of a personal relationship with God. Their abuses were heaped onto the people they were given the privilege of leading spiritually, in the form of rules and regulations which were almost impossible to keep. What was one more injury to add to the list, and so we find their consciences seared. Crucifying the Christ was nothing to so many who needed to know the God they said they worshiped, is a God faithful to His promises.

Reflection:

In the end an abuser reaps what he sows. Sadly in the eternal scheme of things, those who victimize the Christ, are eternal losers.

by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)

Uncategorized

Vilify, Validate, Victimize, Victorious!

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What do all those words have in common? These words describe the life of our Lord Jesus Christ!

As we go into the Easter season, it is customary to reflect on our Lord Jesus Christ. Just how well do we know Him? It is sometimes hard for us to wrap our minds around the fact that Jesus is fully human and fully God at the same time. When He began His earthly ministry, it is curious to read that the Spirit led Him into the desert to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1). Why was that an important part of His human experience? For one thing it helps Him to identify with us in our moments of temptation. In fact He taught us to pray “Lead us not into temptation” because He knew the powerful impact, the desperate energy it takes, to resist the devil.

Vilify: “To speak about in an abusively disparaging manner”.

Jesus’ life began under the shadow of illegitimacy. God chose a virgin to bear His Holy Son so there would be no question about His Divinity. Some folks, refusing to believe God’s miracle, vilify Mary to this day. To be sure there was no stain on Jesus’ name, a prophecy was given hundreds of years before His birth: “The Lord Himself will give you a sign. The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call His name “Immanuel” [meaning God with us] (Isaiah 7:14). And so the “Virgin Birth” became a cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith!

Before His ministry began, the Holy Spirit took Jesus into the desert for the specific purpose of facing temptation.

After 40 days and nights of fasting, most of us would be pretty weak. When we are tired or hungry, when our felt needs are not met, we become impatient, grumpy, and even fearful and angry. It is interesting to note that right at that time Satan tried to take advantage of Jesus’ weakened physical state. He taunted Him:
If you are the Son of God….” (Matthew 4:3). Because we know Jesus is God, we sometimes pass over the impact this would have had on a physically weak person. Bread? What would He have given for a piece of bread? We know, from His later miracles, that He could produce bread miraculously, but He would not do it to satisfy the cravings of His own mortal body. Certainly He would not give the devil the satisfaction of weakening His resolve – to use this time of fasting to draw strength from His heavenly Father, for all that lay ahead. He knew the battle that His humanity would face, and this was just the beginning! Twice in the desert the devil questioned His authenticity, demanding He prove His unique Sonship. Failing that, Satan used many folks throughout Jesus’ ministry to ridicule Him as the Son of God. We find the Pharisees, folks trained in the scriptures and prophecy, who ought to have recognized who Jesus was, questioning Jesus’ identity, and then of course crucifying Him on the grounds of blasphemy, for making Himself equal with God (John 5:18).

What a rollercoaster of emotion existed in Jesus’ life. Crowds of folks celebrated the man they thought was their deliverer from Roman persecution! His miracles produced entertainment for the multitudes. However, when He was taken prisoner, the chant changed to “Crucify Him”! What made the difference? Ignorance mingled with unrealistic expectations, led them astray. Let us not forget the intensity of Jesus’ feelings when He was vilified. How did Jesus respond?

Consider: how painful was this to the heart of the gentle Saviour who so loved the world that He came to sacrifice Himself for each person’s sin? It was apparently enough to make Him weep over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37). We humans all need to feel appreciated. Knowing what we now understand from scripture about God’s purposes, how easy is it for you and for me to yield to the Father’s will? Would we deny Jesus what is due the supreme effort He made to subjugate His humanity to the will of His Father?

Reflection:

The important thing is that Jesus didn’t ever feel He had to prove to anyone who He is. We might take a page from His story to consider that as God’s children, neither do we need to prove who we are. If we are living as God wants us to live, what is that to anyone else? Jesus questioned James’ and John’s desire. A verse worth meditating on reflects Jesus’ attitude towards you and me. Nothing else matters. We may be vilified, but Jesus says: “You must follow Me” (John 21:22).

by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)

Uncategorized

Defined by Love

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1 Corinthians 4

As we have noted before, people who came to Jesus were not defined by their mistakes, but rather by the love of a Saviour who gave everything He had to bring us life and light and love. His love is something we have the privilege of sharing with others, but it can only be given in the measure with which we have experienced it.

Think of the Pharisees. They tried to be what they thought God wanted them to be. They were so very religious, legalistically obeying the law to the letter. They came from generations of well-intended people who were proponents of that law, given by a loving God to protect them as they wandered in the wilderness, as they fought with their enemies, as they raised their children to become God’s children. Israel became a force to be reckoned with among the nations because their God was with them, but alas! they missed the spirit of the law.

From the beginning God demonstrated His love for everyone. He provided sinners with clothes to cover their nakedness; He still provides sinners with all that they need today. The rain falls on the unjust as well as the just (Matthew 5:45). God met with an Egyptian slave-girl in the desert and cared for her and her teen-aged son,; today that son’s descendants are scattered across the middle east, a powerful group of Arabs bearing the heritage of Ishmael, whose very name means “God listens”. As we go on through scripture we recognize that God’s love saved folks from other tribes, beyond His particular “chosen” people…Ruth and Rehab who are among the genealogies of Jesus, because God’s love defined their choices.

What it is that defines your life and mine? Have you been given eternal life because you received salvation purchased by the Lord Jesus Christ? Jesus came to give us an abundant life (John 10:10). What might that look like? His desire was to walk with us day by day, impacting our thinking and our feelings, giving us a new perspective and creating a new spirit (attitude) within each child of God. Through our new lifestyle God uses us to share the light of His truth with everyone we meet….family, friends, colleagues at work and even strangers.

The Apostle Paul had something to say about the way we live out our Christian lives. He taught that God “will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts” (:5). We, as God’s servants, must prove ourselves faithful to the trust we have been given (:2). Paul was practical. “Who makes you different from anyone else?” What do you have that you did not receive?” (:7).

It seems the church at Corinth was fighting against pride and arrogance. Paul draws their attention to the humility required in a servant of God by telling them we might look like fools for Christ’s sake (:10). Then he lists many things we may have to endure, preferably with a loving and gentle spirit (:21). We need to remember we are in a battle for truth and righteousness. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us with kindly thoughts towards everyone, so that we can be true representatives of the love of Jesus. “The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power!” (:20)….power to reach out to those who are unlovely, just as God reached out to you and to me!

Reflection:

What a challenge it is to live for Jesus! First of all He knows our motives. Are they pleasing to Him? Do we behave as He would? Do we walk in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake? Are we motivated by a powerful, compelling desire to please Him? Are our lives defined by the love He poured out at Calvary?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Surrender?

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1 Corinthians 13:3

A pastor recently asked the question “What are you holding onto that you won’t surrender?” That question caused me to examine my heart. Is there anything I long for? Are there unfulfilled dreams? Do I covet more stuff? Am I discontented in relationships? Do I need to feel more in control of my life? What irks my spirit most?

For me I admit time, comfort and convenience are things I find hard to surrender sometimes. I am a creature of routine. Surprises are fun but many people as they age, cling to habits of a life-time. Where has that feeling of serendipity gone? As young people we sang:

All to Jesus I surrender; All to Him I freely give.

I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.”

Did our youth group really commit to that in everyday life? Looking back, God often brought the unexpected into my experience. Surrendered to Him, it was always good, even wonderfully fulfilling. Not that the experiences in themselves were necessarily positive, but I could always be positive that good would come out of them, through lessons learned.

The Apostle Paul talks about surrender. Hidden away in the most famous love chapter in the Bible the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write: “Though I surrender my body to the flames….” (1 Corinthians 13:3). Now under any circumstances that is not something most of us would want to do – it’s not on our list of expectations! Obviously it’s an extreme measure he is introducing to explain love….there is no sacrifice that we can make, even the death of our bodies, which is worth it, if we do not love.

Yet – there have been martyrs of the faith who have surrendered to the flames. We know that Paul, following his conversion, experienced death threats and attempts on his life. Daniel records the experience of his friends who ended up in a furnace so hot that those opening the door were overcome (Daniel 3:19-23). Notice Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not saved from the experience, but a visible presence stayed with them and in the end a heathen king gave glory to God for saving their lives.

Surrendering to the evil whims of others isn’t on our bucket list, but scripture is filled with examples of those who did. Read Hebrews Chapter 11. For the sake of bringing glory to God can we surrender to the unknowns that are bound to come in the year ahead? What is it that we are hoping for? Are we certain of things we cannot see? What is it that challenges our faith today?

Faith is all about surrender. “Without faith it is impossible to please God”. Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He has their best interests at heart! This amazing God has promised to reward those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Can you surrender your life to Him?

Reflection:

What will motivate our choices in the year ahead? It is the desire to be led by love?

If I give all I possess to the poor, and surrender my body to the flames, by have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3)

Who knows what might come out of our surrender to God?

I must ask how far I will go in order to surrender to what is right?

How may the fires of our trials and afflictions bring glory to God?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Uncategorized

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

Devotional

Eternal Hope

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Psalm 62

Recent research on nurses in the workplace has found that the need for resilience is critical, linking resilience, hope and optimism together. Other psychological studies demonstrate this linkage in the development of emerging positive organizational behaviour, which simply means happiness in the workplace.

What is your greatest hope today? Health? Happiness? Strength? Wisdom? Love? There is a multitude of things we as Christians pray for, but do we recognize the depth of the hope that we have in Jesus Christ?

Let’s look at David’s hope. In Psalm 62 he describes its source. “My hope come from Him”….from God alone in whom his soul finds rest (:5). What is it about David’s God that differs from other gods of his era? Twice he refers to God as his rock and his salvation (:2, 6). In the challenges of change we all need to know our souls are resting on the solid rock, don’t we?

This God is a “mighty rock” which forms a fortress or a refuge for the King of Israel. David’s job is not an easy one. His people are wayward, his sons rebellious (:3,4). Facing all of this, plus international warfare, we must not be surprised to learn that he became disheartened. At such a low point in his life, David seeks strength and security in God, knowing he can trust His faithful love (:12). Where do we go when needing consolation and direction?

David’s testimony declares God to be One who listens, and he encourages others, including you and me today to “pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge”! (:8). As I examined my own hopes for today I wondered if I could affirm what David says: “My salvation and my honour depend on God” (:7)?

Billy Graham spent his long life teaching and preaching hope to a world writhing in pain. “For the believer there is hope beyond the grave, because Jesus Christ has opened the door to heaven for us by His death and resurrection”, he reminded his listeners. We often celebrate this hope at Easter, but do we consider the cost that put a baby in a manger? Facing a life of distrust and even persecution and death, Jesus came to give us eternal hope.

Reflection;

Do we ever look at hope from God’s perspective? It actually is a gift to us voiced through the prophet Jeremiah who, on God’s behalf declared “I know the plans I have for you…plans to give you hope and a future” (29:11). Eternal hope! God doesn’t intend for mankind to feel hopeless. He created an eternal home for all those who love Him and follow Jesus (John 14:1-3). Eternity is a long time – much too long for our finite minds to comprehend. God, the author of hope, looks forward to our fellowship with Him throughout eternity. He sent His Holy Son to make a way for this dream of eternal life to come true. At Christmas time our thoughts turn to gifts. What an exquisite gift we have in Jesus Christ. Eternal Hope!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Uncategorized

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)