Devotional

A Message from the Lord

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Zechariah 12:1-13:1

Many years ago we used to sing a song:


I’ve a message from the Lord, Hallelujah!

The message unto you I’ll give.

‘Tis recorded in His Word, Hallelujah!

It is only that you “look and live”.

Refrain:

“Look and live” my brother, live.

Look to Jesus now and live.

‘Tis recorded in His Word, Hallelujah!

It is only that you look and live”.

The song goes on, sharing that it’s –“a message full of love”, one that is offered unto you”…a personal message.

A message was given to the prophet Zechariah. “This is the word of the Lord concerning Israel!” (12:1). This oracle begins by describing God’s wrath against those who attacked Jerusalem. “On that day” occurs 16 times in chapters 12, 13 and 14.

Judgment is the theme of Zechariah’s message. Immediate fulfillment occurred when Nebuchadnezzar captured Judah. The ultimate fulfillment is yet to come, “on that day” during the tribulation years. For our purposes today we will jump in towards the end of Zechariah’s prophecy.

“On that day” – a day yet in the future, Jesus will return to do battle with the nations who have persecuted Israel. Named “Faithful and True”, the Rider on a white horse will come with blazing eyes to make war (Revelation 19:11-12). Destruction of evil will be complete (29:20-21).

Zechariah informs us that at the second coming of Christ Israel will recognize Jesus as their Messiah. “They will look on Me, the One they have pierced and they will mourn….and grieve bitterly….On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great!” (Zechariah12:10-11). However the Lord doesn’t end the story there, but gives, as He always does a continued message of hope.

“On that day a fountain will be opened to the House of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity” (Zechariah13:1). Note the promise is inclusive….“And so all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26). Paul wrote further to the Roman Church: “Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments!” (Romans 11:33). You see, God had to remain true to His covenant with Israel. “They are loved on account of the patriarchs” (11:28b).

Reflection:

Note the simple message of our song captures all that will happen “On that day”. Folks who look to Jesus will live! As John watched his beloved Master dying on the cross, he was reminded of the ancient prophecy (John 19:37). This is the covenant, an everlasting, binding agreement with God’s people. Because He is faithful and True to His word, we have hope and joy and peace! Praise be to our God!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

The Paraclete

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John 3:6-8

Paraclete is defined as an advocate; one called to aid or support; hence, the consoler, comforter or intercessor, a term applied to the Holy Spirit, who is invisible. In the world of the supernatural there are forces we contend with, some of which draw folks into the realm of fear. These fears might be dispelled if we have a true understanding of the supernatural. Wikipedia helps us with that term: The supernatural is phenomena or entities that are not subject to the laws of nature. Isn’t it amazing to think that they are under the laws of the great Creator, God! This also loosely describes the Holy Spirit who is the unseen “wind” which “blows wherever it [He] pleases” (John 3:8).

First we must note there are three forces which govern the supernatural. All other “beings” whether angelic, Satanic or otherwise, are created beings, designed by one God who is represented in three persons (Colossians 1:16). Most of us are familiar with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one in substance, but three in function. NB. Satan and his angels were created perfect by God who is holy, but they chose to challenge God and became His enemies. As created beings, the devil and his followers are still subject to the will of God (Job 1 & 2).

For our purposes today let us consider the Holy Spirit, One who cannot be seen and therefore falls into the category of the supernatural. Though we cannot see Him, but we know He is there, actually the source of all comfort, power and spiritual understanding, our Paraclete! Recently I heard a sermon which gloriously simplified what often we make complex. In His last words to His disciples, Jesus instructed them to wait for “the gift” promised by the Father and about whom He had frequently spoken as He prepared them for His absence (Acts 1:4). This gift could not be earned nor was it deserved; it is given only to those who received and believed Jesus, as Saviour and Lord.

When the Holy Spirit enters the life of a believer, we are actually receiving the Divine person and will. Now that is powerful! We are compelled to seek God’s will day by day because our lives are being transformed into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are gifted with grace to love. We’re energized to enter into spiritual battle. This supernatural phenomenon is named the Holy Spirit. If we thought about it seriously, it almost defies imagination that part of the Godhead lives within us, shaping us into the image of Christ. What a gift!

We, as believers, are sealed by the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). This gives us security. We are baptised by the Spirit into one body, of which Christ is the head (Colossians 1:18). This gives us community! God’s Sovereignty is at play when we see the working of the Holy Spirit. This gives us purity. As He did in the Old Testament, God sends the Holy Spirit specifically to accomplish His purposes today. Our goal is to live out each day in the fulness of what we have been given, by yielding all that we are and have to the control of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes we pray as if we thought God was out there to serve “me” and to supply “my” needs. In the broader picture, life is not all about me, but the Holy Spirit widens our scope and gives us opportunity to serve, to give of ourselves to others as Jesus gave of Himself, in His daily ministry. It is for this we are empowered! Whether we are sitting in a wheelchair or capable of great fetes of physical strength, the power is the same gift, given so that we might “be” what God wants us to be.

Reflection:

Have we ever thought of the Holy Spirit as a gift? Let us welcome the work of the Holy Spirit, listening to His voice as we yield ourselves into God’s service. We have the choice to believe and receive all that our Lord Jesus Christ has planned for us, but it must be done His way. The Paraclete waits to guide us day by day. Think of how the world was changed by 12 ordinary men who yielded their lives to the power of the Paraclete. Do we have the faith to believe this could happen again if we are totally committed to using the gifts given by the gift Himself?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Covered With His Feathers

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Psalm 91

David begins this song with words of reassurance. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (:1). In a world torn by violence and anger, war and so many abuses, rest sounds wonderful. Our anxious hearts ache as we see the chaos around the globe. What would peace of mind feel like? How welcome to be free from fear!

Do we know the One who promises to “cover you with His feathers” where under His wings we will find refuge? Can we trust the promise of God that “His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart?” (:4) A rampart is a length of bank or wall forming part of the defensive boundary of a castle, hillfort, settlement or other fortified site. God will protect His own. Isn’t it interesting that He promises the strength of feathers as our protection! However, David’s experience taught him to trust in the Lord whom he called “my refuge and my fortress“ (:2).

Notice this promise is conditioned on one thing. “If” – that tiny word with so much meaning! “If you make the Most High your dwelling….” (:9). Dwelling is another word for home, the place where one lives. In our homes we want to feel a sense of security and safety. When a young couple sets up their first home it is with dreams that the atmosphere will be full of love. God’s love removes any terrors those who dwell in His shadow might feel, night or day (:5-7). Love goes both ways. “Because he/she loves me” the Lord said “I will rescue him/her”. In fact, if we acknowledge His name, God will protect us and will answer our prayers” (:14-15).

Who wouldn’t choose to dwell with God when we read the list of His blessings? He will honour His children with long life. He will deliver us from all sorts of things (:5, 6, 10, 13), and as Jesus prayed, extends His promise to “deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13). God’s people will be satisfied (:16). In our world today there is so much striving for bigger and better things. The attitude that allows us to have satisfaction in the moment is pushed aside, when we feel driven to compete in the workplace. Paul knew “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11). And God blesses His own, those dwelling in safety, with a visual hope of His salvation (:16).

This Psalm of praise thanks God for His judgment on the wicked (:4-9) and His blessings on the righteous (:10-15). In between, we read “For He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways”. Angels are “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). Throughout scripture we read about the service angels render to God, as they took messages to various people, Mary and Joseph perhaps being the best known example (Luke 1:26-36, Matthew 1:20-21). We must remember how they were warned by the angel of the Lord to flee from Herod into Egypt, with the Baby Jesus (Matthew 2:13).

Reflection:

This beautiful Psalm shows us the character of God, who longs to protect us and to bless us with His love. He generously supplies His own agents, angels, to keep our feet from slipping into sin (:12). We know from New Testament scriptures that God has also given us His Holy Spirit to grow us in His likeness (Galatians 5:22-23) and to make us agents of His peace in a world that is weary with care (Titus 3:2).

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

God Speaks to Joshua

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Joshua 1

Who was Joshua? The son of Nun, we know, but what was it that drew Moses’ attention to this young man? Preparing for battle against the Amalekites, Moses trusted Joshua to choose the Israelite warriors (Exodus 17:9-14). The Lord singled Joshua out when the battle was over, because God wanted Joshua to remember what He had accomplished through him that day (:9). Was this a sign of things to come?

From that time, Joshua was chosen by Moses as his aide, to accompany him to Mt Sinai where he received the 10 commandments. Moses also appointed him to guard the Tent of Meeting where God spoke face to face with Moses. Clearly Joshua had proven himself capable and trustworthy.

We find Joshua gradually being given increased responsibility. At the end of Moses’ life he was commissioned before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly (Numbers 27:17, 23). Passing the baton must have been a very moving experience for Moses who knew he would never enter the Promised Land because of the sin he had committed at Kadesh.

Joshua’s name meant “Yahweh is salvation”. He was a descendent of Joseph, one of the tribe of Ephraim. He had scouted the land of Canaan with Caleb and the other 10 spies who had given a negative report. After the death of Moses, the Lord spoke to Joshua directly. He had been accustomed to receiving the word of the Lord through Moses. Now Moses was dead.

The Lord’s first words confirmed his Divine appointment. “Get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give….I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses” (Joshua 1:2-3). As a warrior, Joshua was used to war. However, God’s promise “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life” must have been deeply encouraging (:5). Joshua may have remembered earlier experiences when God was true to His word. Now God was giving him a glimpse into the future of His people. WOW!

Moses had called the people to be strong and courageous. They were not to be afraid, because the Lord their God would go before them, never leaving or forsaking them! (Deuteronomy 31:6.) Now God Himself is making the same commitment directly to Joshua “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). Three times God repeats “Be strong and courageous” (:6, 7, 9).

Today God calls us to be strong and courageous. Paul writes: “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong” (1 Corinthians 16: 13). Jesus, as He was leaving His disciples promised “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He had promised earlier that He would send a comforter, the Spirit of Truth, one who would live with and in believers, Christ-followers (John 14:16-17).

Joshua rose to fame because his life was totally committed to God. Just as God spoke to him, so God will speak to us through His word – the Bible, and even through others in our lives. We need to recognize the role of the Holy Spirit dwelling within. The Lord said: “Take Joshua….a man in whom is the Spirit” (Numbers 27:17).

Reflection:

In what way(s) would you like your life to resemble Joshua’s?

Is our response to God’s call “Here am I – send me”?

What is more thrilling than to remember those significant moments in our lives when God has used us to His glory?

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)

Uncategorized

Be of Good Cheer

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Isaiah 32 John 16:31-33 KJV

All around us the world is changing. Even as I write, one can see the possibility of another great world war looming before us as nation aggravates nation. Nature rises up against mankind as floods or hurricanes, earthquakes or mudslides take the lives of hundreds of people. Closer to home, relationships fracture so easily. Where is the glue that holds things together as spouses part, and children run from home? Even friendship has taken on a new dimension, because isolation reigns in developed countries.

Thousands of years ago life also seemed very harsh. Nations were at war. The prevailing atmosphere was one of gloom, even hopelessness. However, the ancients were given a vision of a better world where each man would be as strong as a refuge from the storm. There would be a sense of protection, like the shadow of a rock in a thirsty land. Those who had been blind would see; the deaf would hear. Minds would be healed, enabling them to know and understand. Even those with speech difficulties would be fluent and clear (Isaiah 32).

Written as prophecy, Isaiah was giving Israel a message from the Lord about Messiah and His Kingdom (Isaiah 32). What an ideal all of the above represents. It will come to pass only when the King reigns in righteousness. Would it be stretching truth too far to suppose that if the “King” (Jesus) truly reigned in the hearts of His people today the world would be a different place? At least we know that “the fool would no longer be called noble, nor the scoundrel be highly respected” (Isaiah 32:4-5).

Isaiah depicts the wasteland of a society that makes up evil schemes, and destroys the weak with lies, leaving them hungry and thirsty, without compassion. Complacency will give way to trembling fear and even mourning in sackcloth. The fortress, and the citadel will become a wasteland until…!

“Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high” (Isaiah 32:15). There is hope! Picture justice dwelling in a desert which was produced by the folly of man. Now righteousness would live in a fertile field. What makes the difference? It is the fruit of righteousness.

In our world today it might seem that many principles treasured by Godly people, are being violated by the opinions of man. For example, mankind, without seeing ahead, claims to be more compassionate than God. Did God really say “Come out from among them and be separate”? (2 Corinthians 6:17). What does this mean? In a day when God’s Word is devalued, perhaps it means we should be bold enough to stand for our belief in Biblical truth. We are different from the world in our thoughts toward God and man. Compassion might take the form of tough-love. When will we allow our “rights” as believers to be taken away, discredited? Will we take a firm stand for righteousness?

Jesus warned His disciples that they would be scattered. It’s easier to be strong when you are joined together. Perhaps this is why Jesus taught there must be unity in the faith (John 17:20-23). Paul reinforced Jesus’ teaching by addressing unity in the church (Ephesians 4:13). Isaiah leaves us with cause for good cheer. He writes that the fruit of righteousness will be peace (32:17). Within our own spirits the possibility of peace in the midst of life’s storms comes to us when the righteousness of Christ rules in our lives.

Reflection:

Jesus promised His disciples they would have trouble in this world. We don’t want to think about that. However, He links trouble to an experience of His peace….”So that in Me you may have peace” (John 16:33). Are we willing to pay the price for His peace? Our confidence comes from the reality of His resurrection when He proved to the world there is greater life beyond what we know and experience here! Will we be a part of His millennial kingdom? Take heart! “Be of Good cheer!” (KJV) “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

The effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever” (Isaiah 32:17)

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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?

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