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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

Confession

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Psalm 51

What is the purpose of confession? Here’s the truth: God knows everything. He doesn’t need to be told what we have done, because He is aware. King David recognized this. “Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely!” (Psalm 139:4). The Psalm begins with a call to worship this Lord who knows every detail of our lives, perceiving our thoughts, familiar with all our ways!

Way back in time, God made clear a need for confession. Written in the Torah we read “If they confess their sins….their treachery against Me and their hostility toward Me…I will remember My covenant” (Leviticus 26:40, 42) Why is this necessary? Again we turn to David for an explanation. “Against You, You only have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51:4). We may harm other people, but in doing so we are breaking God’s standard for holy living. Thus confession needs to be made to Him, while perhaps restitution needs to be made to those we have hurt.

Our confession is a recognition of the standard of God. In violating His perfect will, we need to remember the seriousness of our offense against a Holy God! Confession, if nothing else, is an act of humility. If that is genuine, we will be restored because God is faithful to His covenant. He has promised us eternal life, which begins at the moment we believe, and receive Jesus as Lord (John 1:12). Too many want Him as Saviour, but deny His Lordship by living their own way. Do we really want “Thy will be done”?

There is grave danger in using a “profession of faith” to get into heaven. That is not what the Christian life is all about. It is rejoicing in our salvation with such strength of purpose that life takes on a whole new meaning. We are indeed “…a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come” when we are “in” Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

People in New Testament times, once they confessed their sins, were baptised. That is another act of faith, a demonstration to God and the world that we are serious about becoming children of God. Now we truly are one with the Father [united], depending on Him to guide and protect us (John 17:11). When we take control of our own lives, laying plans without consulting God’s wishes, we need to confess our waywardness.

Confession opens the door for cleansing. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Of course there are those who deny they have any sin. This is a dangerous practice because it denies what God knows to be true. We often sin in our thoughts, or with feelings of anger, or fear, or hatred, resentment and the list goes on. Then there are those times when we do not do what the Holy Spirit is prodding us to do, called the sin of omission. If the truth about our personal sin is not something we are prepared to confess, then John says “His [God’s} Word has no place in our lives” (1 John 1:10). That is such a dangerous place to be!

Reflection:

What is it that prevents us from confessing to God? Do we deny we continue to sin, fearing if we do God will punish us? Have we presumed on God’s grace, believing He will overlook our sin because we are covered by the blood of Jesus? Do we look at sin casually – “it’s just a little white lie” mentality? The danger is if we are not obeying God’s Word. Satan takes hold of our weakness by inserting misunderstanding of what it means to relate to a Holy God! Our Father is also our judge…and a fair one, at that. However, we must not presume upon His mercy.

“It is written: As surely as I live, says the Lord, ’Every knee will bow before Me; every tongue will confess to God’. So then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:11-12).

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)

Devotional

Numbers


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Numbers 14:18-24

Numbers are often used as a measure of success. What marks did you get? How much do you earn? How many attended a certain function? How old are you? Our great Omniscient God attends to detail, counting the very number of hairs on each person’s head. He also created vast expanses of stars, and angels without number. He numbered the tribes of Israel exactly one year after they left Egypt. They gathered in the desert near Mt Sinai to receive instructions from the Lord, through His servant Moses (Numbers 1:1-2).

Are numbers important to God? The Bible answers that question for us. The Lord Jesus talked about the importance of one sheep that was lost and how the good shepherd left ninety-nine to recover that one (Luke 15:3-7). He used this to illustrate the rejoicing which takes place in heaven over one person who comes into the family of God (Luke 15:7-10).

When is the last time you heard a sermon from the book of Numbers? Yet – the theme of this book is relevant to our day and age. God’s intention was for His people to walk by faith, trusting in His promises. They did not have Bibles tucked under their arms when they went to church, but rather stood in the sun for hours, to hear the Word of the Lord, thundered by His prophet Moses. The book is very real, since it describes the weaknesses of the nation’s leaders; Moses, Aaron and Miriam did not always measure up to God’s standard. Ryrie notes “God miraculously supported them during those years of rebellion and wandering and finally brought them [the nation] to the Promised Land” (Ryrie Study Bible Page 197).

The first chapters of this book deal with the sanctification of God’s chosen people. One event had Messianic overtones, when Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness to heal folks bitten by snakes (Number 21:9) Compare this scripture with John 3:14. Only God could turn that evil into good. Paul understood this principle when he wrote “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

In this remarkably honest book we find the nation celebrating the first Passover. Just after the completion of the Tabernacle, designed to foster worship, God spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai (9:1) laying out the details of this specific celebration. And so “The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses” (9:5). We also find the Holy Spirit in this Old Testament book! Moses gathered 70 elders together and the Lord descended in a cloud to speak to him. Then “He took the Spirit that was on him [Moses] and put the Spirit on the seventy Elders “. Under the power of the Spirit of God, they prophesied – a one-time only event (11:25).

Throughout their journey, the Israelites often grumbled. We read that in spite of this “The Lord was slow to anger, abounding in love, and forgiving sin and rebellion” (14:18). It is this same God who grows patience and kindness and love in His children today through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). However, lest we take God’s mercy for granted He warned “no one who has treated Me with contempt will ever see it [the Promised land] (Numbers 14:23). There are consequences for our choices, even today.

Reflection:

There are so many lessons to be learned from the Book of Numbers. Here the character of our faithful, covenant-keeping God is confirmed in the experience of wayward Israel.

The words of Balaam remind us of the committed life “I must speak only what God puts in my mouth” (22:38). Would to God we stayed by this principle, letting our yea be yea and our nay mean nay (Matthew 5:37).

God desires to make a covenant of peace with those who are zealous for the honour of the Lord (25:12-13). This reminds us of the cost to the One who purchased our peace at Calvary, doesn’t it?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Prone to Wander

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Lamentations 3

There is some good theology written into many hymn lyrics. One particular favourite links our human struggles with those of the writer of “Come Thou Fount of Ev’ry Blessing”. In May 1758, when he was only 22 years old, Robert Robinson penned “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” for his sermon on Pentecost Sunday. In the following year of 1759, the lyrics of this powerful hymn were included in a small hymnal entitled A Collection of Hymns used by the Church of Christ. 

His loudest praise is for “streams of mercy that never cease”. Surely he had been reading Lamentations 3:22-23. “The Lord’s compassions never fail”, Jeremiah was inspired to record. In fact God’s blessings are new every morning, because He is a faithful and loving God! “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed”. What a glorious truth!

Young Robinson recognized that his salvation was fixed upon the “mount of Thy [God’s] redeeming love”. Although Jeremiah calls himself “the man who has seen affliction” (3”1) he relies on the fact that “the Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him” (3:25). After all, Robinson’s testimony went like this: “Jesus sought me when a stranger, wand’ring from the fold of God”. Amazing how he worked that truth into poetic form to be sung in ages to come by many believers for whom Jesus had “interposed His precious blood”.

He knew his Bible. It was to “grace” that he was indebted. It was God who daily bound his wand’ring heart to Himself. Jesus Himself assures us “No one can snatch them [His sheep – His followers] out of My hand….no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:28).

Yet the struggles of each human heart are very real. Reading through the Bible there is no one who has not wrestled with temptation, no one who has not wandered, Abraham, Moses, David, to name a few. Yet they trusted in the God who “Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love” (Lamentations 3:32). The prophet then prescribes a remedy: “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord” (3:40), lest today we find ourselves unforgiven because we did not repent. The prophet feared he had been cut off (3:54), but in the end “You heard my plea,…… You came near” and “You redeemed my life” (3:56-58).

We are only saved by the goodness of God who “binds my wand’ring heart” to Himself. In fact our salvation is sealed for what purpose? – to worship God in His courts above (Revelation 7:9-10). Our worship rises up as a sweet smelling sacrifice, spreading everywhere “the fragrance of the knowledge of Him [Christ]..…and blessing God because “we are to God the aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).

Reflection:

Through His Holy Word God reassures us that, though we are prone to wander, He is ever faithful to those who call upon His name for their salvation. We trust Him to exemplify the kindness to which He calls us, as representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ here on earth. He gives meaning and purpose to each of His children and through the power of His Holy forgiveness enables us to pass on to others all that we have received from Him – grace, mercy, peace, joy and love. Praise the Lord! (1 John 1:8-10)

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

My Tribute

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Hebrews 12:7-11

There is a beautiful song written in the twentieth century which begins “How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me – things so undeserved yet You gave to prove Your love for me”. Andrae Crouch was touched by a truth we often take for granted. We do not deserve God’s love, nor, as Dr. James Kennedy points out, can we earn it.

God desires to have a relationship with you and me and every human being that He has created, but He does leave the choice up to us, to accept the invitation He gives through Jesus Christ our Lord, to become part of His family. What a privilege it is to call God “Our Father”! What joy it brings to be loved unconditionally by our heavenly Father!

I was blessed to have an earthly father who also loved me unconditionally. Oh – he had to discipline me when I was growing up, but I knew I could trust him, when he followed through on consequences according to his warnings. So it is with our heavenly Father, who disciplines those He loves. “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons” (Hebrews 12:7). “If you are not disciplined….then you are illegitimate children and not true sons” (12:8). What an awesome thought!

In a world writing meaningless songs about empty love, we find folks seeking for proof, for the reality of true love, for something lasting. All this can be found in the love of our God! Think about the word “unconditional”. It means no matter what I do His love abides forever. Love is the essence of His character so God’s love cannot be anything but everlasting, because He is eternal!

“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1). The whole of Psalm 136 gives credit to the Lord for His position among the gods, for His understanding, creativity, fairness in judgment, leadership and protection, each verse based on the fact that “His love endures forever”!

His love doesn’t depend upon our response, like so much of human love, but rather – when the rich young ruler left Jesus without relinquishing his wealth in order to serve God, “Jesus looked at him and loved him” (Mark 10:21). Note this young man went away, no longer rich, but very poor, spiritually.

How wonderful it is for us to know the Bible assures us “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!” We are utterly dependent upon His righteousness, covering ours which looks like “Filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

How often do we destroy relationships because we have unrealistic expectations? Perhaps the young ruler was deceived into thinking God needed him and his wealth. We must not forget we come to God empty-handed. He takes us and shapes us into something He can use for specific purposes (Isaiah 29:16, 45:9, 64:8).

Reflection:

Andrae went on to write: ”The voices of a thousand angels could not express my gratitude”. His response to God’s amazing grace was “All that I am or ever hope to be, I give it all to you. To God be the glory!”

Why don’t you journal the tribute you want to pay to God today?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

The Old, Old Story

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Matthew 28:19-20

Jesus said “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). He said this on the basis of authority given to Him by the Father, to rule in heaven and earth. Therefore….!

John recalls Jesus’ High Priestly prayer, addressed to His Father: “Father the time has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You”. Jesus was facing the cross. He needed strength of purpose, knowing His Divine calling was to bring peace and rest to hurting hearts, through restored fellowship with His Father. His prayer goes on – “For you granted Him [the Son] authority over all people, that He might give eternal life to all those You have given to Him”. That sweet fellowship, beginning at the moment of conversion, will continue throughout eternity! So that we really understand what eternal life is, Jesus defines if for us – it is knowing God and Jesus Christ (John 17:1-3).

The visiting preacher was passionate! Folks – he reminded us, you can go and baptized, as well as teach people about Jesus Christ, without making disciples! How many people have said the sinner’s prayer, thinking that meant they were going to heaven, but the seed planted produced no growth and certainly no beautiful flowers. Some seed died because it landed on stony ground, other seed was choked by weeds growing in the same patch (Matthew 13).

Making sure the seed grows takes time and careful tending; it needs to be watered, perhaps even fertilized, and many gardeners carefully remove weeds. Jesus illustrates nurturing spiritual growth by discussing the need to prune branches in order to produce fruit (John 15:1-2). If we are to see growth we need the ministry of presence. Walking alongside, as Jesus did with His disciples for 3 years! We get impatient for souls. In the urgency of evangelism, we forget sometimes to nurture by loving and learning more about God, together. Sharing the joy of the Lord is one of the privileges of the Church! There is nothing more satisfying than encouraging brothers and sisters in their faith!

The key to discipleship is given by Jesus, in these verses. We are teaching others to obey His commands, to think “God thoughts”. What are they? They shape our entire worldview. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37-38). This is the first and greatest commandment, summarizing the first 4 of the ten commandments given to Moses. We are not to worship any other gods, or to take the name of God lightly [in vain]. The rest of those (Exodus 20) are summarized in the way we treat our neighbour .

Jesus commands us to love our brothers and sisters, our neighbours and even our enemies – the way we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). If we are honest we are often self-indulgent, with our time, our money and our possessions. If generosity of spirit is the hallmark of discipleship, a lot would change in our world today. Even of those who do not follow Him, many are willing to label Jesus as a “good” man.

Reflection:

Would they say the same about us, giving us kudos for the way we celebrate humanity? Are we known for acts of kindness? Are we selfless? Some of us are blessed to remember earthly fathers who looked like Jesus, who went out of their way to bless others! It is the “Old, Old Story”, captured in the words of the song and challenging us to identify with Jesus in thought, word and deed!

Tell me the old, old story,
  Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory,
  Of Jesus and His love;

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Speak Lord in Stillness

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Psalm 46

We were in the depths of darkness in the savannahs of Guyana. I had never seen so many stars! Fascinated by the sight, our team piled out of their quarters to stare at the sky. Quietness ensued. We were awestruck by the hand of God! Away from the hustle and bustle, the blurring brightness of city lights, we could actually pause to see what God has made and in so doing, to truly worship Him. What a privilege!

We probably have read in the news “Nations are in an uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice and the earth melts.” Psalm 46: 6 could have been written just yesterday. But the Psalmist also pens words of trust:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear,

though the earth give way (:1).

In the varying cadences of this Psalm our hearts are lifted to worship as we pause to consider the works of the Lord (:8). In so doing we too can determine to shut out the fears that naturally possess us when faced with trauma or possible persecution. I read recently how a soldier returning home to drown nightmares from PTSD in alcoholism, was impacted by the Spirit of God. He waited for God to speak, as he hungered for the Word of God, like the starving POW he had once been. In the stillness, he was healed.

These verses were inspired by God to heal the souls of those around the world who are persecuted for their faith. In the awful silence of a prison cell the still small voice of God can be heard echoing the reality of the presence of our Creator God. The Holy Spirit quietly releases prisoners from bondage in the soul. Isaiah writes about this ministry where the Spirit of God binds up the broken-hearted, proclaims freedom for the captives and releases prisoners from darkness (Isaiah 61:1).

Shining in the blackness of the night sky millions of stars pierced the consciousness of men and women with sparkling light! There is a God! He speaks in the beauty of holiness, and in the stillness, sometimes without words!

Reflection:

Reflect on a time when you have become aware of the voice of God.

By what means did He speak to you? What did that experience teach you?

How does the reality of God’s presence allay your fears?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Encouraging Who?

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Hebrews 3:12-14

We know that encouragement is a Biblical principle. Remarkable isn’t it, to consider that God not only lays down principles by which to live, but also provides all that we need in order to abide by them. Encouragement is listed among the gifts given to believers by the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:8). Perhaps knowing we need the Holy Spirit in order to exercise this gift, will prompt us to lean more on God, in order to meet the needs of others.

Encouragement is regarded throughout both Testaments as necessary to spiritual development. “We sent Timothy who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith” (1 Thessalonians 3:2). In the Old Testament we read – “Stop doing wrong; learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed” (Isaiah 1:17) How often it is easy to overlook those who are quiet and shy. Paul recommends, among other things, that we not forget to strengthen the timid (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Encouragement, like many other Christian virtues needs renewing day by day “Encourage one another daily….so that none of you may be hardened by sins deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13). It is needed by leaders. In training Joshua to take his place, the Lord instructed Moses “Encourage him, because he will lead Israel” (Deuteronomy 1:38). It is needed by brothers in the Lord, and was even needed by Jesus Himself (Matthew 26:38). “He [an elder] must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9).

One requires great patience to encourage others. It can be emotionally draining (2 Timothy 4:2). Serving others requires that gift of the Spirit. “Patience” (Galatians 5:22, 2 Timothy 4:2). Also, those who form the support network for aging relatives or grieving friends know how much energy it takes to be a reliable presence in the face of such great need.

Josiah, King of Israel encouraged the priests in their temple duties. How important it is when we see encouragement coming from the top down! Paul found that in exercising praise he encouraged himself. Today he might have written a book on self-help! Barnabas fulfilled the meaning of his name, “Son of Encouragement”, by his ministry to others (Acts 4:36). Endurance and encouragement from the scriptures brought about a spirit of unity in the early Church.

If the truth were known there probably isn’t anyone living who has never needed an encouraging word, a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on. We who have been recipients of such a ministry, understand the magnitude of the miniscule….it is little things that mean so much in times of crisis. Jesus said “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me (Matthew 25:40). Therefore all of us can do something to encourage others, if we would only be sensitive to their moments of need.

Reflection:

Remember a time when God used someone to encourage you. How did that feel?

Would you like to have the reputation of making others feel the same?

What is it that prevents you and me from seizing the opportunities that God places before us?

Would you be willing commit to a ministry of encouragement?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

The Royal Standard

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1 Peter

Queen Elizabeth is celebrating seventy years on the throne, as I write. When she is at home a flag flutters over the castle. The Royal Standard is the flag used to represent the Queen not only in the United Kingdom but also overseas when she makes state visits. It is the royal arms in banner form, signifying that the head of state is present.

Did you know that the King of Kings has a Royal Standard? In the same way as Queen Elizabeth’s standard has a purpose, His standard also announces that He is present. What then does it look like? And where can it be seen?

The only time you and I are referred to as “Royal” is when Peter, “an Apostle of Jesus Christ” wrote “to the elect”, those who have been “chosen” and “sanctified” by the Holy Spirit “for obedience to Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:1-2). What does all that mean? God’s purpose in calling believers into His family is to bless them to be a blessing. It is not primarily so that we will go to heaven; that may be seen as a perk.

Peter says those who have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19) are a Royal priesthood (2:9) – our lives serving as priests in the Kingdom of God. Priests are God’s representatives here on earth. Therefore those who have been “born again….through the living and enduring Word of God” (1:23) must resemble Christ Jesus our Lord.

He is holy, therefore we must strive to be holy in all we do. Peter quotes from scripture, “because it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ (Leviticus 11:44-45, 1 Peter 1:15-16). He reminds his readers that “Christ suffered for you, leaving you and example, that you should follow in His steps” (2:21). To achieve this Godly standard Peter calls “all of you, live in harmony with one another”. Not only as individuals are we to exemplify the character of Christ, but collectively as His body we need to “be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. The list goes on 1 peter 3:8-9). Jesus never repaid evil with evil. In fact he was kind towards those who crucified Him, praying God would forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing (Luke 23:34).

Holy people keep from speaking evil; rather they uplift one another with cheerful speech, They seek peace, knowing that “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous….and against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:10-12). Our reputation for doing good is coloured by our eagerness to do so, as well as with an attitude of gentleness and respect (3:13, 15). This earns us the opportunity to share the reason for our eternal hope. We do not give of our time or money grudgingly, bearing in mind the principle that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). Jesus, for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Peter, like Paul, knew the impact a life which is self-controlled has on folks outside the community of faith! Signs of a heart at peace with God are seen in lives who love each other deeply, “because love covers over a multitude of sins” and serves others “Faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms”. God will give us the words and the strength through Jesus Christ” our Lord (1 Peter 4:7-11). Why? Because “To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen!” (4:11).

Reflection:

What then is the Standard of Christ? Holiness identifies a Godly life. “Without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). It purifies the way we love, the words we speak and the attitude with which we serve. Holiness warns Satan who “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:9) that we are protected by the blood of the Lamb who was slain! Holiness flags our devotion to our heavenly Father, as we bear the image of Jesus Christ our Lord, in our lives.

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)