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

Can One Escape God?

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Matthew 25:31-34

Reading through the prophets, we distinctly hear the voice of God. Sometimes He is angry, sometimes He is pleading, sometimes He seems to be just biding His time. “I will remain quiet and look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.” (Isaiah 18:4-5) This is rather a pastoral view of God in His heaven, isn’t it?

Matthew Henry shed some light on this unusual passage. Apparently God’s people were being trampled on, but the perpetrator will find that in the end they are indestructible. God is waiting until the time is right to rescue His people. In the case of Cush [modern Sudan], God will show mercy. Eventually they will bring gifts to the Lord, when they recognize Him as the Almighty One (Isaiah 18:7). Ryrie suggests that these gifts will be the people of Cush, themselves.

This illustrates the day, yet to come, when the nations of the earth will be convinced that Jehovah is the true God, and Israel is His people, and unite in presenting spiritual sacrifices to His glory. Because the wicked seem to triumph for a while, let us take heart from this scripture that God does care for His people, for Israel as well as the international church.

There is a time and place for everything. Contrast this picture with the words of Jehovah in Isaiah chapter 62. “For Zion‘s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet until her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch” (:1). Note how important it is to keep verses in their context!

A Psalm illustrates not only the plan of God as seen above, but the presence of God. “You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise. You know my thoughts….You are familiar with all my ways”(Psalm 139:1-3). This can be rather disconcerting when we admit there are times when we do not understand ourselves. God knows. Amazing! Even more thrilling is God’s omnipresence. The Psalmist continues…”Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?”(:7).

Scripture is full of promises of God’s faithfulness, of His abiding with His people, of the Holy Spirit now indwelling believers (Matthew 28:20, 1 Corinthians 6:19). These bring great comfort in times of distress and hardship.

In the end, both the saved and the unsaved will come before God. Jesus describes this event “When the Son of Man comes in His glory….He will sit on His throne…..All nations will be gathered before Him and He will separate the people……the sheep on His right hand and the goats on His left…..Then the King will say – ” (Matthew 25:31-34). There is no escape! Those who follow Jesus have nothing to fear. Take heart! “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you”(:34).

Reflection:

Why would anyone want to escape God? It is impossible to hide from Him. ”Where can I go from Your Spirit O God?” (Psalm 139:7). David follows this question with several questions beginning with “if” demonstrating the omnipresence of God. There is no escaping One who is everywhere!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Tough Love

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1 John 3:1-6

Let us establish one fact to begin with. The Apostle John reassures us: “God is love….we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:16, 19). God is the source of all true love. He goes on to say “If anyone says ‘I love God’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar” (:20). The rationale is that it is impossible to love someone you can’t see if one hasn’t been able to love the persons we do see – our brothers and sisters, and our neighbour.

The Holy Spirit living in each believer’s heart, grows fruit in us. Most of us are familiar with the verse that begins “The fruit of the Spirit is love……” (Galatians 5:22). Why does God mention love first? Is it because without love, all the other segments of fruit growing in our lives, would shrivel, distort? Love is foundational because “God is love”. Isn’t this why Jesus called each believer to “love God and love your neighbour”, naming these as the two greatest commandments? (Matthew 22:37-39).

Jesus left His disciples with a “new” commandment: “Love one another” (John 13:34). Why was this so different? The last 6 of the Ten Commandments required behaviour that was loving towards all others. ”Honour your father and mother, do not murder, do not commit adultery, don’t steal, do not bear false witness against your neighbour, do not covet your neighbour’s possessions” Exodus 20:12-17). Love requires self-restraint, which takes us back to the verses in Galatians. The only way we will know God is working in our lives is to see the changes that are being made by the Holy Spirit, one of which is ”self control” (Galatians 5:23) Wow!

When love is growing in our hearts we will be careful not to hurt someone else. Our bodies and even our tongues will be restrained. The tongue can wound another’s heart. James describes it like this: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person” (James 3:6). However, James has also written words of great hope “If you really keep the royal law, found in scripture: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ you are doing right” (James 2:8).

Some years ago a child-rearing philosophy became popular. Use “tough love” the experts said. It wasn’t noted then but it stands to reason that the discipline required to correct another, begins with me. Therefore I must examine my own heart and life to see if I require more of someone else than I do of myself. This is why Jesus came…to show us the Father’s love! It is sacrificial. But – it is also demanding. Jesus’ death wasn’t easy – it cost Him everything! It was absolutely necessary for anyone to have a relationship with His Father. How far are we, His disciples, willing to go to put that into practise?

There is a danger that we offer a gospel of quick fix, with a love that is really meaningless. When we glimpse the agony of our Saviour on the cross our hearts are overwhelmed by His love. Then came the glory of His resurrection! Unthinkable! It is the fruit of His passionate love! The greatest of all possible hope!! Because He toughed it out to prove His love is genuine, we are offered the gift of faith.

Reflection:

Is it possible for us to receive this kind of love from the Lord Jesus Himself? Would we be strong enough to withdraw from a relationship that is inappropriate, not from lack of love, but because our love has become pure?

The Holy Spirit is pleading with each soul who hears the gospel. His love offers us the opportunity to share with others what it means to be free from the guilt with which so many live. We cannot possibly earn our salvation. We can’t even clean up our act in order to be acceptable to God. The miracle of His love is that He reaches down to lift us out of the pit and set our feet upon a rock (Psalm 40:2). This is tough love. All glory to God!

Read 1 John 3:1-6.

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Uncategorized

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

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 (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

The Three F’s

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1 John 1:8-10

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to free [purify] us from all unrighteousness”.

Who is writing this? The author identifies himself: “We have seen and heard”. This is an eye witness account from one of the followers of Jesus Christ, the Apostle John. His goal is for his readers to enjoy fellowship which is “with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). Knowing his message will make a difference in the lives of those who accept it, will make his joy complete (:4).

Let’s unpack John’s proclamation. He is talking about his first-hand experience walking and working and listening to the “Word of life” for a period of three years. This “Word” means a lot to John – he wrote about Him in his gospel. Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of a promise made to Abraham (Genesis 12:3) appeared in person to folks living in Israel, but alas! ….the very nation to whom He offered Himself as a sacrifice for sins, rejected Him (John 1:11). Thankfully Jesus’ offer of eternal life extended then to “…all those who received Him, to those who believed in His name”. To these, down through centuries of time Jesus gives “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

What we see here in just a few short verses challenges you and me to receive and believe God’s eternal plan of salvation. All of us have sinned. No one has been able to measure up to God’s glory by doing good works. Neither can salvation be inherited. It is quite simply a personal acceptance of God’s gift, born out of His faithfulness to a promise made so very long ago! “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you” God told Abraham (Genesis 12:3).

From the beginning of time God was aware of how fragile the humanity He created, is. Adam failed to live up to His standards, disbelieving the truth of what God had said. What a sad rejection of our loving heavenly Father! Only a few short generations of time elapsed before the wickedness in the then-known world was so great that God was forced to begin again, saving Noah and his sons, the only people left on earth to remain true to God by following Him.

Millenia later God sent His only begotten Son – incarnate God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, to save His people from their sins (1 Timothy 1:15). Surely this act of kindness demonstrates the love God yearns to share with mankind. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God”! (1 John 3:1). Jesus travelled throughout Judea “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3”:3). It isn’t enough to regret when we have done wrong, but repentance requires a turning away from those sins which so easily best us.

God knows the sincerity of our hearts and what motivates us to try harder to please Him. Knowing our weaknesses, God’s great love sets us free (John 8:36) from the bondage we naturally have – that terrible affinity to sin! He knows the battle we are in and provides us with the support we cannot live without. The indwelling Holy Spirit guides children of God into paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3), thus restoring our souls!

Reflection:

Have you received forgiveness and freedom because you believed Jesus was sent by our faithful God? What does that make you? (…a child of God). What do you enjoy as a result? (freedom from bondage to sin, fellowship with the Father, fruitfulness and purpose, fearlessness as we war against evil).PTL!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

The Fruit of Self-Control

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Galatians 5:22-23

My sense of right and wrong has been offended. I am grieving injustice. I am tempted, so my conscience is in conflict. My feelings have been seriously hurt and I don’t think I will ever forgive the wrong done to me. I am angry to find my world in chaos. There are so many individual responses to the circumstances in which we find ourselves, aren’t there? And for these our Mighty God has given to us the unique indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The list of benefits we receive when we yield to His leading is long. We know He gives us love, joy and peace. We might even remember that He, the Holy Spirit seeks to make us kind, gentle and patient. Do we credit Him for the goodness with which we serve those in need, or do we claim some of that glory for ourselves? When we are faithful are we aware that it is conditioned by the power of God or conversely, the lack thereof? But how often does our list end there?

What exactly does the fruit of self-control look like? How many sermons have you heard on the topic of self-control? Is it difficult because we don’t understand it, or is it difficult because we don’t know how to glorify God for the fruit He is growing inside of us? Are we willing to ponder the “difficult”?

God’s Word is very realistic. We see the contrasts clearly, between good and evil. Humankind struggles with our capability for reason, and tries to justify the reactions that so often colour our world. What is our guide? In only a few generations, mankind had wandered far away from the path of fellowship with God; only Noah’s family remained true to their heavenly Father. Clearly there was no desire for self-control as folks gave in to every desire of the flesh and the devil, and we know what happened to them.

Today as we look around us things don’t seem much different. Every man is doing what is right in his own eyes – the very problem seen twice in the book of Judges where God records the reason for existing sin. “Israel had no king”. Because there was no accountability to God, “Everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 17:6, 21:25). In order to control ourselves, we need to recognize the only One who can make us in His image, as “King”. Oh – physically we have been made in his image, having been given heart and mind and soul, but to control the self, we desperately need the love and the goodness of God poured into our lives day by day…to become a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)

It goes against the grain to recognize our need. Many today think we should be autonomous.

“Autonomous motivation is defined as engaging in a behavior because it is perceived to be consistent with

intrinsic goals or outcomes and emanates from the self.”(Google)

The only problem with this idea is that we do not emanate from ourselves – we are created beings, with accountability to our Creator. He is the One who created us for His purposes, with goals and outcomes planned for each individual. “I know the plans I have for you….plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). Looking down through time God sees all that is glorious for His children throughout eternity, in that little word future. When most humans think of the future it is with the hope that when I grow up I will become….., or when I get married I will start a family, or when I retire I will be able to do so and so. God’s vision is limitless. Eternal!

Reflection:

Would you agree then that self-control is achieved by using the supernatural power given to us by God, through the Holy Spirit, who gives us insights into who we might become and the Divine wisdom and power to do so? Self-control gives us victory over those very things that would separate us eternally from our God, as well as victory over the flesh and the devil.

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Uncategorized

The Three “E”s

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Romans 16:25-27

The challenges of parenting can be overwhelming. Environment makes a subtle impact on the senses of our little children, even in babyhood. Science provides an awareness of how important it is for us to sing and talk to a baby in the womb, since the sound of voices can be recognized at that early stage; subliminally tones of the human voice are being interpreted. Environment entails those delightful fragrances that so often stir a hidden nostalgia in the adult heart. Tenderness or otherwise is conveyed by touch. How many parents have gently rocked their child to sleep? How many little children are battered?

Toddlers are so cute! They begin to enjoy a stage that lasts a life-time. “Why?” One of their favourite questions can drive a parent mad, but it is the beginning of learning. Education can be fun! Make a game of learning Bible verses. Sing songs about little chores. How important to learn to “like what you do”, not just to “do what you like” as my father used to advise. Learning comes from asking questions, from facing one’s inadequacies and dealing with them constructively.

Perhaps more than anything Experience teaches us the most. In our environment our greatest education is received through experience as people model to us the truths of ethical standards and behaviour, right thinking as well as wrong feelings. We ourselves learn through trial and failure as much as we do from success.

Now what does any of this have to do with faith? A very great deal! God places each person in a particular environment. Why? We do not know. “Why?” is a question adults often ask when trouble comes, but do we ever wonder why we have been so blessed? God has taught me some painful lessons through life, but my life has been enriched by an environment filled with His presence, throughout them all! (Psalm 23:4). Marvellous!

Those of us who hold God’s Word in our hands have the greatest educational advantage! Here is all the information we will ever need to know for peace and prosperity in relationships! Our primary relationship is with God and here is the guide book. God wants us to know Him (1 John 5:13). The purpose of education is to teach us learning skills and to describe the road to maturity, isn’t it? Maturity is where the heart and mind meet in balance, permitting the joy of interdependence with others!

There are three other “E’s” in the Bible that help to impact the meaning of our lives. When we encourage one another to endure we are established, grounded, stable. Our scripture reading is a benediction. May the encouragement of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless your life today and forevermore.

Reflection:

Experience? Does your experience teach you to trust in God? Have you ever put Him to the test? I have been blessed by His faithfulness, His forgiveness, His freedom and so much more. What would life be without trusting His plan for my life, the meaning that His love gives to every day? Thankfully my environment, education and experience taught me at an early age that the Lord God Almighty is truly the lover of my soul! He has never failed to live up to all that promises.

What is it about your environment, education and experience that equips you to react to problems the way you do?

How easy is it for you to let go of those little hurts that niggle in the back of your mind?

Are you feeling secure in the love of Christ and how does that play out in your life? What do others see?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Uncategorized

The Sacrifice of Praise

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Psalm 100

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess His name” (Hebrews 13:11)

The Apostle Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Prior to that Jeremiah had also written about praise which he called “sounds of joy and gladness….thank offerings” to be brought into the house of the Lord. Kirk Dearman based a well loved chorus on Jeremiah 33:11:

“We bring the sacrifice of praise

Into the house of the Lord.

We bring the sacrifice of praise

Into the house of the Lord.

And we offer up to you

The sacrifices of thanksgiving;

And we offer up to you

The sacrifices of joy.”

Perhaps this is the panacea for the spirit of heaviness that pervades our world today. Can we, will we begin a habit that will stem the tide of depression? We have many Biblical examples of praise and worship which lift our spirits when we study the truths behind them.

“Shout for joy to the Lord” the Psalmist wrote. To whom does this apply? He answers “all the earth”.

“Worship the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:1-2). Do we find ourselves attending church out of a sense of obligation or duty? Has it become a tradition to meet with our friends on Sunday? Or have we gone to church anxious to offer praise? It may be a sacrifice. Perhaps we are grieving. Some of us are struggling with health issues or disappointed hopes, things that occupy the forefront of our minds. How can we think happy thoughts at such a moment?

The Apostle Paul is our great example. He sang hymns while bound in chains in a dank, dark prison cell. Perhaps he had memorized Psalm 100. “Come before Him [God] with joyful songs”. Hymns celebrate the great God we worship. Today many songs focus on “Me or I” but when we contemplate the character of our God, we are compelled to acknowledge His wisdom and majesty, His faithfulness and love. What joy to know that “our God is greater than any other god”! Yet “what a friend we have in Jesus” the One who bears all our sins and griefs!

The Psalmist warns “Know that the Lord is God” (100:4). Is there something lacking in our knowledge of God? How can we correct that? Another Psalm admits to needing God’s word – scripture memorization. “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11 KJV). This is what enables us to “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” (100:4). After all “The Lord is good”. In a world torn by evil, hatred, fear and anger, we rejoice to know the goodness of our God, the One whose “love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations” (100:5).

Reflection:

It hardly seems to be a sacrifice to give praise to the God of heaven who is our personal Father, Shepherd and King. Let us sing His praises out of the abundance of joyful hearts, since we know God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Faith or Fear?

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1 Corinthians 10:13

The question arose in our Bible study: “What if I ask God for something that isn’t good for me and He gives it to me?”*1 Such a question gives rise to more. “Is God the author of evil?”*2 “Does God ever test us?”*3

The second question requires an answer first. Is God the author of evil? Scripture holds answers for us. James 1:13 tells us “God cannot be tempted by evil and He, Himself, does not tempt anyone”. Jesus’ temptation in the desert was clearly from Satan (Matthew 4). When God’s judgment [calamity, disaster] falls, many would call that an evil, but it is not morally wrong to punish sin. To understand the moral nature of God, we need to know that sin is not a created thing, but rather our response to circumstance, the lack of moral perfection in a fallen creature.

How would it be possible to trust a God who is the author of confusion, One who wavers from one decision to another, One who possibly lies? Paul assures us “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33). The arch-enemy of God is known to be the Father of lies. Jesus gives us a bio on the devil – a murderer from the beginning, in whom there is no truth (John 8:44). On the other hand scripture defines the character of God. “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and then not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19). Perhaps we should consider – if God warned of judgment for sin and did not perform it, could we trust His word?

This gives rise to another question. “Does God mean what He says?” We know Adam and Eve fell from grace when they questioned God’s word. Satan helped them: “Did God really say….?” (Genesis 3:1). We need to be careful as we read scripture not to question what God has said. That attitude determines if we are indeed people of faith.

Another question that sometimes gives rise to fear is “Does God ever test us?” Of course He does. The Psalmist prayed: “Test me, O Lord, and try me; examine my heart and my mind” (Psalm 26:2). Perhaps that seems like quite a bold prayer. That creates a transparent relationship between us and God so that we can/will keep short accounts when we sin. Most of us have things in our lives we wouldn’t want spread across the news, but God Almighty already knows these things. Does that strike fear into our innermost being, or do we trust His mercy and His grace? Job knew what it meant to be tested and praised God that “When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).

Back to our first question. Will God give us things that are not good for us? It may seem so on the surface, but underneath are the Everlasting Arms. Do we trust Him completely to bring good out of difficult situations. What determines whether something is good for us – our comfort, our convenience, our success?…and the list goes on. What are the lessons we learn during those times of testing? Would we have learned to trust Him under happier circumstances? In the end we can trust God to give us what we need.

What exquisite joy – knowing He never leaves us or forsakes us! And – we have His promise for those times when we may even be tempted: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man”. Is there any comfort in knowing others have gone through similar circumstances and come out on the other side glorifying God?….Paul continues “And God is faithful! He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Reflection:

Faith or fear? Which defines your earthly pilgrimage? “There is no fear in love – perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). However, there is another implication in the word fear. People who truly fear God [respect, honour, glorify God] know His Holy Word is to be trusted. They know they are accepted by His loving heart, warts and all. People who live in fear of judgment don’t understand the amazing character of our Sovereign Lord. Even in failure, God gives us hope. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). His faithfulness is the cornerstone of our Christian faith, and casts out fear. When things get tough do we have the right to accuse God of bringing evil into our lives?*2 Are we afraid we may not pass the test?*3 Or, will we celebrate the goodness of God, which equips us for victory?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)