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

Love Begets Love

1 John 4

So many people today seem to be starving for love. How many men and women will go to almost any lengths to generate a love relationship? Sadly they are often motivated by a desire to have their felt needs met, in order to feel complete. This imposes the impossible on other people. Only God can fill this void. When we know Him we have a new self-image because we recognize all the potential He has created. Though some fear this looks like pride, in reality this celebrates the love with which He created us. Jesus understood this necessity when He instructed His listeners to “love your neighbour as [much as you love] yourself” (Mark 12:31).

The apostle John had seen this type of love in action, had witnessed the remarkable love of Jesus for people of every station in life, the poor and marginalized, those who were oppressed, those who were socially unclean, physically challenged, demon possessed, the rich and famous. Jesus’ loving spirit, His compassionate nature reached out to draw people to Him. People followed Him in droves all over the countryside. They even forgot they were hungry as they gathered on the hillsides to listen to Him. Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles alike sought Jesus for His wisdom, coming to Him by day or by night.

When our needs drive our passions, values we believe in can quickly erode away. There are a dangers in making such personal sacrifices while trying to make someone love you. Jesus was devoid of any such personal agenda. His ministry was for the people whose lives He touched. He didn’t fear what people thought, but rather was committed to doing the will of God, day by day, person to person. His motivation for coming to earth was love. Paul describes it as humble obedience, servant-like in Philippians chapter 2.

Look around you at those people who have a lot of quality friendships. Why have they been so blessed? What is lacking in lives that are virtually friendless and desperately lonely. How often have I heard people complaining about the church as a cold and uncaring place? In reality that perspective is often held by those who find it difficult to love themselves. Without a confidence in who they are, people often find it difficult to reach out to others, or when they do they only talk about themselves.

Love is interested in what makes another tick. For most, this is the essence of Mother-love. Moms want to understand what things their kids will enjoy? In Church do we show interest in where people come from? What are some highlights of their lives, or is there anything they find challenging, need prayer for? Can you relate – laugh and cry together?

We can learn from the Apostle who writes that love is from God (1 John 4:16). He saw love teaching in the synagogue, challenging the heresies of that day, feeding 5,000, healing lepers, hanging on a cross. Perhaps you have never seen the love of God. When you do, you will understand how love begets love!

Reflection:

In our world today people crave attention and value the number of friends they have on social media. In the light of our discussion today, what would help them to resolve this tremendous “felt need”?

Do you have a positive outlook on life that attracts others, because of what God is doing in your life? Has the love of God overwhelmed you with its purity and peace? What qualities attract others to you, and therefore to Jesus?

by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)

Devotional

Fanning Into Flame

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2 Timothy 1:6

Timothy was Paul’s spiritual [true, dear] son (1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:2). His grandmother Lois and mother Eunice had been impacted by the gospel through Paul’s preaching, while he was in Lystra (Acts 16:1). It seems that Timothy also became a disciple then too.

Paul circumcised him because the Jews all knew that Timothy’s father was Greek. Perhaps in Paul’s mind this would prove Timothy’s conversion was genuine. This has given rise to controversy ever since, about the necessity of circumcision. We know that Paul wrote to the Romans “A man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code” (Romans 2:29).

Paul refers to Timothy’s faith, as a sincere conviction, a living faith! (:5). Just as fire is alive when it burns brightly, Paul uses this metaphor to describe Timothy’s role in the ministry. As a leader he is to fan into flame the gift of God. This gift is the very faith we are talking about (Ephesians 2:8.9). His passion would radically impact the lives of others. He must keep the flame burning brightly!

God, who calls us into His kingdom, will sanctify and seal us, will perfect us [complete what He started in us] until that day (Philippians 1:6). But we also are accountable to Him for how warm or lukewarm we become in the exercising of our faith. Jesus spares nothing when urging the church at Laodicea to overcome their propensity to dawdle at the game of faith. This gift of God could not, must not be taken lightly! To be lukewarm means to be uncommitted.

God’s passion for each human He creates is so great that He sacrificed His only begotten Son out of a deep abiding love, only characteristic of our God. That love is the oxygen which fans the flames of our devotion to God as well as our commitment to others! Does God’s love flowing through us find us setting the world on fire? Why or why not?

Jesus explains His chastisement is based on love “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent!” (Revelation 3:19). He then tenderly invites the wayward believer into renewed fellowship with Himself – “table fellowship” (Revelation 3:20). Those who fan the flame will “sit with me on my throne” (:21). What joy such a hope brings! There is always hope in the life of a believer who is willing to fan the flames of faith – even dying embers can be revived!!

Reflection:

Do we recognize the dangers of being lukewarm Christians?

Can you remember times when your spiritual ardour was waning, when someone fanned into flame the passion you once had for Jesus Christ and the written word of God? What challenges did that provide for you? What did you feel?

How would you like to be the catalyst for others to be spiritually revived?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

I Have Seen Your Tears

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2 Kings 20:5

Weeping is for a season, the Psalmist suggests, but morning brings joy (Psalm 30:5). Why is it then that for many people morning never seems to come? Tears and sorrow seem to last forever! Does God really see our tears?

Tears are a marvellous release of tension. However, some people fear that crying will make them vulnerable. There is some truth to that, but the fact is confronting one’s feelings makes it easier to move forward in life. Actual breaking down into tears may help us to let go of baggage, the beginning of healing. A Jewish proverb tells us “What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul.”

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving

There are many reasons for tears – tears of intercession, like King Josiah shed when he realized God’s wrath would fall upon his disobedient people (2 Kings 22:19). God’s people wept for release from slavery in Egypt. Hannah wept before the Lord as she asked for a child (1 Samuel 1:7, 10-15). The woman pouring ointment over the feet of Jesus, wept with tears of love as she kissed His feet. (Luke 7:37ff). Those who pray with tears over the lost, “Go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him!” What a promise! (Psalm 126:6).

Implying that God is attentive to every detail of our lives, the Psalmist prays that God will record his lament, by listing his tears on a scroll. KJV says “Put my tears in Your bottle” (Psalm 56:8). Why is this important? Tears are to be remembered. There are lessons to be learned as we weep. We identify ourselves with the sufferings of Jesus Christ when we weep. Our shame is taken away when we weep over our sins. We release ourselves into the exquisite comfort of God’s love as we sorrow in our disappointment, hurt or loneliness.

As we look at scripture we notice that whether a nation or an individual is suffering, throughout history God has seen their tears. Whatever it takes our Father provides, so that we can be His representatives here on earth. In the Millennial Kingdom we read both death and tears will vanish. “The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces” (Isaiah 25:8). “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order has passed way” (Revelation 21:4). Until that time, the Holy Spirit will sustain us in our griefs and sorrows by His gentle presence. God does not just see our tears but goes to the utmost to relieve them. Praise the Lord for the fullness of joy when it does come through our Father’s miraculous intervention.

Reflection:

How does it comfort you to know God sees your tears? Does that evoke any other feelings?

Are you uncomfortable when others weep in your presence? If so – why?

Since God allows us to cry in His presence, how might we bring comfort to those who are sad?

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

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

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

http://www.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

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

Bipartisanship

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Matthew 5:3

Today we are hearing a lot about bipartisanship as the USA faces another election. It is a political term used to describe the relationship between two opposing political ideologies. However, it occurs to me that it represents much more than politics. It is about the deep underlying currents of belief which govern so many different relationships. For example, in a sense there needs to be a spirit of bipartisanship between denominations.

The question may arise, would that require compromise? Yes it might. How far can we go in accepting others who disagree with the details of our faith. One Pastor explained it to me like this “God only has one church, but there are different expressions of it”. Have you ever asked yourself what you have in common with those of another belief system, rather than what issues you differ on? Of course denominational differences are not the same as interfaith concerns, which are based on which god you worship. Within Christianity we presume everyone worships Christ.

When you meet a new friend, you usually build on things you have in common. Its really the same when it comes to sharing the gospel; the best evangelism draws on beliefs you share. When trust is built, there may be time to gently check out what the Bible says is true about things we disagree on. Oddly enough you may find your own perceptions are challenged. For example, is it’s God’s will for legalism to override love?

Legalism is the enemy of faith. It rests on the premise that our works define our eternal hope. Strict adherence to the law was the downfall of the Pharisees, whom Jesus condemned. God judges man on the condition of his/her heart. Do your feelings, and mine, please God? Are His expectations satisfied by the way in which we approach others with whom we differ?

The key to developing a powerful witness is respect. Respect for the environment in which your friend was nurtured, respect for the experiences God has allowed in their lives, respect for differences in opportunities. i.e. education, relationships, etc. We might even find there are positives to celebrate; after all each of us has been made in the image of God! Sometimes trouble, sorrow or pain creates a glaze over those very virtues, making them difficult to see. Let us be patient in our love.

We must be mindful that when our thoughts are disparaged or, in any other way we are discredited, our reaction is often to withdraw. We do not want to create that response when interacting with anyone who needs to know Jesus personally, do we? Our Lord Jesus is the perfect example of One who humbled Himself, taking on the form of man in order to deliver God’s message of salvation to a needy and rebellious people. That might be seen as compromising His glory, but He did it out of love. It was a bipartisan move.

Reflection:

Let us not be afraid to connect with people with all of the meekness shown by our Saviour who said: ”Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:3). May we be willing to “step across the aisle” [across the hall, across the street, across the ocean] to welcome folks into the family of God. “Beginning in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”, Jesus calls us to be His witnesses. (Acts 1:8)

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net