Devotional

Valuing the Vulnerable

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Matthew 18:3

Jesus showed a tenderness towards children by both word and deed. Parents must have sensed this because they brought their children to Him to be blessed, for Him to lay His hands on them and to pray for them. (Matthew 19:13). When Jesus’ disciples protested He spoke words that over centuries of time have become famous. “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them” (:14).

Mark records a further demonstration of His love, saying that Jesus “took the children in His arms” (10:16). He cuddled them. Physical touch was important to Him. Just imagine the memories of those children in years to come. The actual touch of One who would become Saviour of the world!

Earlier as He was teaching His disciples about the kingdom of heaven and who would be “first” there, Jesus took a small child into His arms as an illustration of His point, saying: “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the One who sent me!” (Mark 9:37). This certainly prioritized the important deeds the disciples might have imagined themselves doing, in His name!

Jesus went on to explain: “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child, will never enter it” (Mark 10:15). Now that is humbling. What sort of intellectual assent could a child give to something of such magnitude as the kingdom of heaven? But that was just the point! Coming into the kingdom of God is “not by might nor by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6)….and His Spirit could reveal truth to a little child. I can attest to that since I knew Jesus was my Saviour at a very early age. I also knew I was naughty – a sinner who needed to ask God’s forgiveness for my daily sins – a wonderful habit to begin as a child.

A child has very little to offer in an adult world. They are learning. But what they do have to offer, no amount of education can teach. I have seen mentally challenged children, perhaps the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, giving gifts of love and trust to their adult counterparts. How amazing is that? We can learn from their innocence, from the very dependency of children, how to relate to God who views us as His children.

Jesus explains again: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). He goes on to say this would require humbling themselves in order to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (:4). John the Baptist understood this. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). There was no cousinly jealousy, no competition in ministry. Perhaps this is why Jesus described John as the greatest among those ever born of woman! (Luke 7:28).

As children of God we have the privilege of calling Him our Father! He knows us well – we are so vulnerable to feelings of pride, the need to control our lives (and perhaps the lives of others as well). We are weak in understanding the bigger picture and the plans God has for us. We see relationships from our own perspective, rather than through the eyes of Jesus. Yes – we are very vulnerable! But Jesus takes us in His arms and blesses us. He is in heaven right now praying for you and for me (Hebrews 7:25).

Reflection:

Why do we often turn away from those who are vulnerable? What does that tell us about the inner person?

When we truly love, how do we express that?

Do we love those who are vulnerable in words only, or in deeds?

by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)

Devotional

Why?

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reflections on Job

“Why” is a little three-lettered word that sometimes gets us into trouble. Children sometimes exasperate their elders as they use it to learn about the world around them. If we question the established order of things, as adults, we may irritate others. Sometimes it is a word used when we fall into desperate circumstances. Often we question God with “Why?” when things are hard to understand, such as natural disasters, or the death of a loved one or a pandemic!

God understands our query more than we know. He too might ask “Why” questions. As His people wandered away from His goodness, His will and His ways, we might wonder why? However, an omniscient God knows all. He knows the end from the beginning. Why? Because He is God. Look at God’s declaration to Isaiah:

“I am God and there is no other [god]!

I am God and there is none like Me!

I make known the end from the beginning!

I say: My purpose will stand! And

I will do all that I please” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

Why then does God allow trouble and violence and death? Job is the Bible character outstanding for his suffering. Yet he was a man described by God Himself, as blameless. From this we learn that trouble does not always perform as a punishment in our lives. Yes – there are consequences for our poor choices, but what did this blameless man learn from his woeful experience?

He did ask “Why” questions: “Why have You made me Your target?” (Job 7:20).

“Why did You bring me out of my mother’s womb?” (Job 10:18).

It seems Job’s faith passed the test because he concludes:

“I could only plead with my Judge for mercy” (Job 9:15).

“Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since He judges even the highest?” (Job 21:22).

“In His hand is the life of every creature, and the breath of all mankind (Job 12:10).

“To God belong wisdom and power, counsel and understanding are His…..He pours contempt of the nobles

and disarms the mighty…..He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason” (Job 12:13, 21, 24).

Reflection:

These reflections may not be encouraging, but Job gives us some very beautiful and up-lifting reasons to trust in God. “He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 32:10).

“The fear [reverence] of the Lord – that is wisdom and to shun evil is understanding” (Job 28:28).

Job longed for those days “When I was in my prime…God’s intimate friendship blessed my house!” (Job 29:4). However, Job also looks to the future “I know that my Redeemer lives…and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God!…How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27).

Does your knowledge of God, your experience of His mercy and His loving faithfulness prompt this same response when you face sorrow and struggles, when you ask “Why?”

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

Isaiah Talks About Moab

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Isaiah 15,16

Moab in ancient days was a kingdom east of Israel, in the Transjordan highlands. The nation arose from Lot’s incestuous child by his eldest daughter, named Moab (Genesis 19:38). They were often at war with their Israelite neighbours to the west. However events recorded in the book of Ruth testify to occasions of friendly interaction between the two nations, from time to time at least between Bethlehem and Moab.

Perhaps because he descended from Ruth, a Moabite, we know David also had friendly relations. He committed his parents to the protection of the Moabite King when pursued by King Saul (1 Samuel 22:3-4). However, once David became king he made the Moabites a tributary, while placing them under the rule of a governor. That was the end of all friendly relations.

One small incident remains to be told. When the Israelites were returning to the Promised Land from Egypt, the Moabites denied them passage through their land, causing them a long detour around, heaping God’s judgment upon themselves (Judges 11:17-18). In His judgment on them, God referred to Moab as His “washpot”, a place of accumulated filth (Psalm 60:8).

Israel suffered political upheaval under King Rehoboam. Under him the Moabites may have been absorbed into the northern kingdom of Israel, where they continued in vassalage until the death of Ahab. Eventually they refused to pay tribute, asserting their independence and making war on Israel. Later they assisted Nebuchadnezzar in his aggression against King Jehoiakim in Israel.

Isaiah and Jeremiah both refer to the burden that Moab had become (Isaiah 15-16, Jeremiah 48:42). Isaiah identifies their pride as an abomination to God, as well as their utter contempt for Israel.

At the time of Ruth we believe child sacrifices were still offered to one of their many deities. Chemosh was their chief god (2 Kings 23:13). Their religious influence reached as far into history as Solomon, who erected a “High place” for Chemosh (1 Kings 11:7). Sadly this was not destroyed until the reign of Josiah.

Isaiah is given denunciations by God against other nations, Moab included. Some hold no hope…certain nations will be cut off forever, once God’s judgment falls. However, Isaiah records a couple of very interesting phrases regarding Moab. God says “My heart cries out over Moab.” (Isaiah 15:5). “My heart laments for Moab (Isaiah 16:11).

Reflection:

What is it about this particular nation of Moab, that created angst in the heart of God? (Jeremiah 48:36)

What is it about any of us that generates His great love?

Let us remember that the essence of God’s character is love. His heart is pained when He has to declare judgment, because His intention is for His people to walk with Him in paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake! (Psalm 23).

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

New Leadership

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Good Morning All! In my devotions today I was reading about Cornelius, described as a devout man who believed in God (Acts 10). It gave me hope that God would work similarly in the heart of other devotees today, to bring them the full knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, as King of Kings! He is worthy of all worship, glory, honour and praise. Those who are humble in heart might worship Him in spirit and in truth.Whether it is spiritual pride or pride of status, wealth or knowledge, pride is one of the greatest hindrances to a pure relationship with God, isn’t it? ….for me, for anyone.As I pondered on this scripture, my hope and prayer is that God would impact the mind and heart of the one chosen to lead the USA in these next 4 years (Romans 13). Joe Biden’s reputation is that of a devout man, but like Cornelius, he needs Jesus, as does every man and woman. I cannot, would not judge his relationship with God, but he’s been given a terrible responsibility needing Divine help! We have been given the responsibility to pray for those in authority…..just think of the impact a Christian nation may yet have on our world. If any nation calling themselves “Christian” would walk as Jesus taught, caring about others, sacrificing our own comforts for the sake of others, risking all we have for others, sharing our blessings with others, what a different world this would be.As we pray for God’s will to be done, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words that call me to measure my own life against God’s principles. If I am without sin I can cast the first stone. If I am to condemn others I must first take the plank out of my own eye before trying to remove the splinter in anyone else’s. Am I walking the walk? As I write this, it is with a grateful heart. God has sent the Holy Spirit to walk with me; I do not walk alone. We have every cause to hope for peace and  joy!  Let us pray.”God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear” (Psalm 46:1-2a) Lovingly, prayerfully, Marilyn.

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

Judeo-Christian?

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Acts 11:26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflection:

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

Does becoming a Christian make one less Jewish?

What binds Jews and Christians together?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.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

God’s Invitation

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Isaiah 55

What a mighty God we serve! The Bible tells us angels bow before Him, worshiping Him for His wisdom and power (Revelation 7:11). Hundreds of years before the Apostle John had this heavenly vision, God gave Isaiah a vision of David’s continuing dynasty. After delivering denunciations against Judah and other nations God gave Isaiah a glimpse of future tribulation, along with further woes and blessings. But then this all-wise, all-powerful God revealed His program for peace, which included salvation through the Servant-Messiah, One who would be of David’s line (2 Samuel 7:16, Luke 1:32).

Sometimes we hear what we want to hear, and see what we want to see. The Israelites lost the vision of the promised Servant and clung only to that of the Messiah, a deliverer who would relieve them of oppression and suffering. Therefore when a baby was born, fulfilling prophecy, the nation to which the babe was sent, didn’t recognize the significance of God’s faithfulness to His promise. “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call Him Immanuel [God with us]” (Isaiah 7:14).

Think of this. God who is Almighty, is designer of the universe. According to His plan, God created great and small, things too small for the eye to see, as well as things too large for our human understanding to take in! With all the conceit of the twenty-first century, humans are discovering what God already knows about such contrasting things such as DNA and outer galaxies. This great God chose to speak to His people through this Man, born in obscurity.

And so we celebrate, at Christmas time, the birth of a little baby! God could have come with crashing cymbals and trumpets blaring, filling the sky with the brightness of His glory, to announce His plan of salvation. Why did He choose to use a baby in the humblest of circumstances, to eventually die on a cross, providing us with eternal hope? Here, in Bethlehem’s manger lay a wee scrap of a human being. Who could have imagined that He, “being in very nature God…made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a Servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7)?

Notice He was made in human likeness. He was not just a human, but was unique in every way. Immanuel is the only God-man. You and I will be given perfect bodies one day, but we will never be God. Jesus is God. Yet He was not daunted by the prospect of taking on the form of man.

God told Isaiah to write it twice to keep in mind “My thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways My ways” (Isaiah 55:8-9). This amazing God invites us to “Come” (Isaiah 55:1). Jesus repeated that call “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Which of us today isn’t weary of conflict and chaos, suffering and sorrow? Isaiah went on to say God would bless those who came, with food and drink. Jesus blessed those who hungered and thirsted [sought] after righteousness (Matthew 5:6). The invitation is music to our ears. “Listen”…”Hear Me that your soul may live” (Isaiah 55:2-3). There is a promise from God that if we “Seek the Lord while He may be found…you will go out with joy and be led forth in peace” (Isaiah 55:6 & 12).

Reflection:

What has been your response and mine to God’s invitation?

One day, Isaiah tells us, the mountains and the hills will burst forth into song before God, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands! (Isaiah 55:12). This should not seem unusual. Even today we celebrate the greatness of our God through the awesome beauty and power of nature! Paul understood this when he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what was made” (Romans 1:20). God made a baby to house His only begotten Son “that whosever [all inclusive invitation!] believes on Him will have everlasting life”! (John 3:16).

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

Praying With Tears

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Isaiah 25:8

Recently I was reminded of something I heard many years before – that we are not sinners because we commit sinful acts, but we commit sinful acts because we are sinners. This reflects back to the truth that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Jesus gave us hope when He claimed those who mourned would be blessed….not speaking of grieving over a loved one’s death, but rather grieving over one’s sinful disposition. Only then do we enter into the blessings of God’s Kingdom (Matthew 5:4).

John the Baptist began the theme of repentance prior to Jesus’ ministry, after 400 years of silence from God, warning that the Kingdom of God was at hand (Matthew 3:2). Following Jesus’ ascension Peter preached the gospel of repentance, launching this foundational truth of Christianity on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38). Jesus talked about repentance during His ministry, but we have some prophetic words from Him recorded by John in the Book of Revelation, when Jesus calls the seven churches to repent (Revelation 2 & 3)!

The Apostle Paul expands on the theme: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). David knew what it meant to repent so he wrote “weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). When the sincerity of our tears is assessed by God as genuine, there is an overwhelming joy in the restoration of our Father-child relationship!

Richard Foster believes that “tears are God’s way of helping us descend with the mind into the heart and there bow in perpetual adoration and worship” (Prayer, Page 41, italics mine). We really cannot worship in spirit and in truth while our hearts are separated from God by unconfessed sin. We worry about what people will think, so often try to hide our sins from those we know and love, but God knows everything. There is nowhere to hide from our eternal and infinite God (Psalm 139:7).

There might be a progression in our spiritual growth if we consider the fear of the Lord means holding Him in awe, in the deepest possible respect. Like Isaiah we might fall on our faces before this Majestic Being who is ruler of all, praying “Woe is me….my eyes have seen the King” (Isaiah 6:5). Having compared God with himself, Isaiah recognized that even as God’s prophet he was impure! As his tears fell the Lord raised him up, knowing the sincerity of his heart.

Isaiah knew a lot about tears. He wept on behalf of the obstinate, rebellious nation of Israel, but God assured him that one day, when death {separation from God] was swallowed up forever, the Sovereign Lord would wipe away all tears! What a glorious hope! (Isaiah 25:8).

Reflection:

Can you identify with the Psalmist who wrote: “My eyes shed streams of tears because Your law is not kept” (Psalm 119:136)?

Do you pray with tears over the sins of the world, or of the church, or even of your family?

Have you ever wept over your own sins? (Psalm 51:1-9)

Is your hope based on God’s promise that joy will come after tears of repentance? (Psalm 30:5)

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

A Prayer for COVID

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Nehemiah 1

Recently I received a list of prayers that might take us through the difficulties we are presently facing with restrictions in our life-style, during the present global pandemic. It started well. “Our great physician, we ask for Your healing touch for those infected with the virus. For those facing quarantine and feelings of isolation, comfort them with the promise of Your presence. We declare Psalm 91:10-11 – that no plague shall come near our dwelling for You shall give Your angels charge over us, to keep us in all Your ways”.

Prayer for me, is a learning experience, even after a life-time of talking with my Heavenly Father. Something about this prayer bothered me. When Jesus was asked how we should pray He began with the tender reminder that God is our Father, great and majestic, sitting on His throne in heaven “Our Father who art in heaven….hallowed be Thy name” (Matthew 6:9). Now this puts us in the right frame of mind as we approach a Holy God.

This is, after all, the God who can bring either blessings or curses upon His people depending on their obedience to Him. And indeed He did just that back in Nehemiah’s day– the Israelites tried the patience of God until He was forced to bring consequences of their choices upon them. They were in exile when Nehemiah discovered things back home in Jerusalem were deteriorating, and he wept. Many folks are weeping because of the impact of COVID internationally today. Things are deteriorating around the world. Does God see? Know? Care?

How did Nehemiah deal with his painful thoughts, with his grief? Did he shake his fist and ask “How could a loving God let this happen?” or did he claim the promises of God? What comes first when we want to claim God’s blessings? Our heart attitude must be scrutinized. “Search me O God and know my heart…..see if there is any offensive way in me” (Psalm 139:23-24). Nehemiah’s first thoughts are of confession, nationally, personally and communally; he and his father’s house and all of Israel had earned the wrath of God (Nehemiah 1:6-7). When we are in distress do we remember to examine our hearts before God and then confess our sins?

Carrying on where we left the Lord’s Prayer….then Jesus taught His disciples to pray that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. God’s will does not allow wickedness to run rampant, unchecked. His disciplinary actions may be hard to bear, but very necessary nonetheless.

Looking at our world today it would seem that everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes. If we saw the chaos and hatred, violence or neglect through the eyes of God, perhaps our prayers would take a different shape. People are dying without understanding God’s love. Have those of us who enjoy it let our world down? What can we do, or pray for, that will remedy the situation?

Reflection:

Our words display what is on our hearts. How awful is it to offend God? In a world that focuses on my rights, we sometimes act as though God owes us something…they call that entitlement. Is this approach we take with the Supreme God, Lord Jehovah, Yahweh? It is a great eye-opener on what sort of a God we worship when we come to Him demanding, rather than humbly beseeching His favour. Of course we want COVID to end – it’s a plague, the very pestilence Jesus said would be a sign of His return (Luke 21:10-11). What is foremost on our minds when we think about COVID?

http://www.marilyndaniels.net