Devotional · Uncategorized

Cursed to Crawl

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Genesis 3

The Garden of Eden was perfect. Created by the word of God’s mouth, when it was finished –

“God saw all that He had made and it was very good. And there was evening and morning – the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).

Think of it – pretty little flowers peeping out from under sprawling bushes of every kind, stately birds singing songs from perches in the greenery, tiny animals scurrying through forests of magnificent blossoms, fruit of every kind – fresh for the picking! It really is unimaginable! And there goes a talking animal, walking tall on its legs in order to show off its sleek long body…its name is “snake”. Wait a minute – animals don’t talk, and snakes crawl – right?

The Bible tells us that Satan used the snake as his mouthpiece to tempt Eve to disobey God. Satan still does that today – he speaks to us through nature to say that the sun, moon and stars are gods. He spreads that same lie through TV to say we ourselves are gods who have the right to “do it my way”. Satan’s attempts to become like God, know no bounds. Sadly everything he touches suffers the consequences.

The serpent was cursed to crawl on his belly in the dust (:14). Worse still there was now going to be enmity between snakes and man. There had been perfect harmony between man and even the most ferocious animals living in that garden, but now things had changed. In the bite of an apple (or whatever fruit it was) all that God called good was destroyed. This tension between God’s creatures will not be resolved until Satan is crushed.

The very ground was cursed. Eve would now bear her children in pain –

“I will increase your pains in child-bearing” (:16).

This raises questions – how long had Adam and Eve lived in the Eden? A thousand years? Had they other children brought into this world without pain? Some have asked “Where did Cain get his wife?” Was God being fair to resign Adam to working the ground by the sweat of his brow?

At Easter we see Satan at his worst. The only perfect Man who ever lived was unmercifully beaten, mocked by the very people who had just welcomed Him as their king. He suffered the ignominious death of a traitor/criminal, painfully hanging on a cross for all to see. Surely Satan was at the height of his glory now.

But wait! The temple veil was rent in 2 as the cosmos writhed in sympathy for the One who had created it. This was no Devilish victory. As only God would do, to whom time means nothing – wait and see. The drama unfolds over 3 days. Celebration and grief – which would win?

“Death has been swallowed up in victory! Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin….but thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Hebrews 15:54-56).

At Easter we celebrate not only death, but the crushing defeat of Satan in the mighty resurrection of Jesus.

Reflection: What is the single, most important thing you celebrated this Easter?

by Marilyn Daniels.

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

The Apple of His Eye!

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Deuteronomy 32

We hear some interesting expressions from time to time and wonder where they came from. Some we think might be in the Bible but when we search, they are not. How often has someone describe a child as “The apple of the parent’s eye”? Is that a Biblical expression?

As it happens – Moses was singing a song that God had commanded him to write and to teach to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 31:19). The purpose of the song was that it would review their attitude towards God and be a witness against them. Always tender, in the midst of judgment, the heart of our Father God is mentioned. “Is He not your Father, your Creator?” (Deuteronomy 32:6).

The song goes on to describe the tender care this Father took of His people. He gave them an inheritance, dividing the land and making boundaries for each tribe. He shielded them and cared for them in the desert while bringing them out of slavery in Egypt. His people were fed and nourished with the choicest of meat and vegetables. Why? Because they were the “apple of His eye” (32:10).

Everyone needs to feel significant, accepted and secure. Here we see the significance of the Israelites! In spite of their waywardness, their Father loved them. He would have to discipline them – yes! Foolish and unwise, even corrupt, God’s people would be punished. But God – ever a God of hope, tells how He will care for them once again. God Himself would make atonement for them, and for the land He had given to them. Not only does He give His people cause to hope, but He calls the nations to rejoice with them (32:43).

At Easter we celebrate God’s atonement through Jesus Christ our Lord. Scripture tells us Jesus was made like His brothers…took on human flesh in order to make atonement for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:14-18). In fulfillment of the ancient prophecy made in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), He became the offspring of a woman, God with us (Matthew 1:23). By His death and resurrection He dealt a crushing blow to the head of Satan.

Oh how blessed to be “The Apple of His Eye”!

Reflection:

What gives you assurance that you are “the apple of God’s eye”?

How does one approach this God of mercy?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Christ Redeemed Us

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Galatians 3:10-14

As we prepare our hearts for Easter let us consider why the sacrifice of Christ was necessary. I marvel at the cohesive message given in both Old and New Testaments.

As far back as Deuteronomy (21:22-23), hanging on a tree was a shameful thing. There the punishment differed from actual death on a tree…the already dead body would be exposed to shame and ridicule, for all to see. Interesting, isn’t it, how centuries later Jesus was put to death in this most shameful way?

In his letter to the Galatian church the Apostle Paul points out what will happen to those who do not keep the law perfectly. James tells us that those who sin in one point are guilty of all (James 2:10). Of course you and I will not likely commit murder, nor will we break other of the Ten Commandments, but how often do we think we get away with just a little coveting? Or – heaven forbid, what about slandering a neighbour? Do we worship at the shrine of health or wealth? These could cost us eternity in heaven, but for the redemption Christ purchased by His ignominious death.

His death was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3: “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you”. We might note that Paul, quoting from Moses’ writings, declared Abraham righteous by his faith. Galatians 3:6 “He believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness”.

Martin Luther discovered “The righteous will live by faith!” This glorious discovery which set Luther’s spirit free from so many laws that bound him, changed his whole life! But it cost. He was persecuted for his very faith.

He wanted others to understand that “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The Old Testament message of God’s love is consistent with the New, because love is the essence of our heavenly Father’s being. Moses wrote about how God in His unfailing love would redeem His people (Exodus 15:13). That love could last through 1,000 generations, conditioned on the obedient, love responses of His children (Deuteronomy 5:10).

John tells us that those who received Him, believing in Jesus’ name, to them [the Father] gives the right to be called children of God (John 1:12). That’s faith isn’t it?

Many of us are familiar with Lamentations 3:22 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for His compassions never fail – they are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness”!

The great love chapter of the Bible is really 1 John 4. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (:10). “We love Him because He first loved us” (:19). The apostle John knew Jesus personally. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (:18). His experience taught him that the sign of being called the children of God came from the great love the Father lavishes on us (John 3:1)! But it cost.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).

Reflection:

Are you trying hard to be a good person? How far will that get you?

How effective is Jesus’ redemption? To whom does it apply? (John 1:12)

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net