Devotional

Let There Be Light!

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Genesis 1

It is a simple statement, but what does this tell us about God? His first words indicate He wants us to live in the light of His presence. His glory lit up the darkness at the dawn of creation when “the earth was formless and empty” and darkness prevailed (Genesis 1:2). There was no other source of light! Hovering over it all was God’s Spirit, ready for our world to join the universe, in God’s great creative plan.

Suddenly light burst forth in the darkness! The power of God’s word is manifested as He separated the light from the darkness, preparing a place where mankind could dwell. He “saw that the light was good”! He even named “day” and “night”; these became morning and evening, the first day (1:4-5). In the beginning….! At the end of time there will be a wonderful experience for all who believe that Jesus is “the Light of the world” (John 8:12). We are going to live in a city where there will be no hydro. In fact there will be no need of sun or moon since the glory of God will brilliantly illuminate heaven! (Revelation 22:23). It is going to be beyond spectacular!

In the life of Jesus we see again the heart of God who desires all people should walk in the light of His glory. Adam and Eve enjoyed that privilege in the Garden of Eden, until they chose to disbelieve God’s Word. Jesus brings us back to God. He said “I am the Light of the world”! That is quite a claim! (John 8:12). This theme is repeated “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world” (9:5). Miracles performed by Jesus brought light to the blind, but let’s not forget – He also came to bring light to the spiritually blind.

God’s intention is for all people to enjoy the “light of life” brought to us by His only begotten Son (John 3:16). It isn’t complicated. That fellowship comes to those who believe and receive the Light which John clearly identifies in his gospel (John 1:12). “In Him [Jesus] is life and that life is the Light of men”. John is inspired to explain “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:4-5). However, the truth is that “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

Now, the gospel is free. Paul says he offers it through his preaching in order “to win as many as possible”. Isaiah, hundreds of years before Christ came to earth proclaimed “How beautiful….. are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion ‘Your God reigns’!“ (52:7). Today the best preaching is done by the silent witness of lives changed by God to love others!… lives lit by the Light of God, who make a difference – you in your small corner and I in mine! Lives touched by the Holy Spirit with joy and peace, kindness and patience, and forgiveness.

Reflection:

Is God’s Light radiating from your life? How will your eulogy read regarding the way your life has represented faith in Christ Jesus, to the people around you? These are questions each of us would do well to consider. God’s Light is both exquisite and powerful. His love generates tranquility and energy. It attracts because it is real!

Let there be Light!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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Eternal God

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Genesis 21:33

Have you ever wondered how different the God you worship is, from every person who has everlasting life?

He shares so much of Himself with His children as He grows them into the image of Jesus Christ! First, through His amazing grace He calls us into His family, where we enjoy freedom from guilt and shame because He has forgiven us. He commands us to pass that forgiveness on to others (Matthew 6:14), since Jesus is our example of the attitude we need when we feel abused, or rejected, or persecuted. Words are not enough; God looks at our hearts and deeds, to see if we are genuine (Matthew 6:15).

So, everlasting life begins with forgiveness (Matthew 6:12) which gives us the privilege of calling God our Father. But what do we know about this God who is the source of life? We are created beings who can be transformed by the power of His Spirit, sanctifying our spirits. Will we ever be eternal? The Bible tells us we will live forever in heaven in the presence of God, but it also tells us He is eternal. What is the difference?

For people who know nothing other than the limitations of time and space it is hard for us, sometimes, to look forward into eternity. Everything here on earth comes to an end, eventually, Our physical life will cease, unless some of us live to see Jesus return. What will endless life look like? However, God can do something we cannot do – as He looks back into eons of time, then He remembers we are but dust. We are created beings. We had a beginning; God does not.

This is what sets us apart from the God who gives us the spirit of eternal love. He gives us the privilege of reflecting His great love, but we can never pass on to another human being a love that is eternal. God’s love has no beginning, and no end; our love has a beginning. He is what we will never be; He is eternal. Why is this important? There are some religious philosophies that teach we will become gods in eternity. There is no indication in the Bible that we should expect that. Logically it is impossible to have no beginning, since we were actually made by the hands of God, designed in His heart to accomplish His purposes, in a certain period of time and space.

Satan fell from a very exalted position in heaven because he desired to be like God; it seems he actually thought he could compete. Does he forget this simple truth? A created being, such as he is, and we are, does have a beginning and an end. God does not. Until we get that fact established in our minds, there will be something lacking in our worship of the one true God! It is pretty obvious today that there are people who think they are spiritual enough to make decisions without consulting God for wisdom and direction.

Yahweh* is the sacred name for the self-existent God who revealed Himself as the God of Israel, when He called to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). Who are you? Moses wanted to know. “I AM WHO I AM” was God’s reply. In other words “I exist”. This was hugely important for Moses to understand, since he was called to confront the Egyptian Pharoah who had made himself out to be a god. In a pagan society that worshiped multiple gods, it was not difficult to add one more. God’s dynamic, eternal self-existence mattered then, as it does now.

Reflection:

Ryrie comments that the name Yahweh is “the most significant name for God in the Old Testament…meaning: the active, self-existent One….and is especially associated with God’s holiness (Leviticus 11:44-45), His hatred of sin (Genesis 6:3-7) and His gracious provision of redemption” (Isaiah 53:1, 5, 6, 10). When Jesus claimed to be “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6) it was only possible on the basis of His eternal disposition! From Him, our eternal God, we receive everlasting life.

*Yahweh appears 6,823 times in the Old testament

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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Harbinger of Hope

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Genesis 9:13-16 (Note this is a repeat)

I have set my rainbow in the clouds and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and earth.”(Genesis 9:13).

A brief study of rainbows reveals they can double-arc over a falls, or very rarely they might spring from the same origin. Googling ‘rainbows’, I discovered that from an aircraft or other vantage point of height, occasionally a full-circled rainbow can be seen. Science explains fogbows and moon bows in a fascinating study. Have you ever seen a Sun Dog? Like slivers of rainbow they lend an aura of mystery to the sky, seen around the globe under the right meteorological conditions. Amazing the handiwork of God!

Early in the history of earth God used the rainbow to signal a covenant which He initiated. It is interesting to note it is not reliant on anything to do with man or his behaviour, but rather is a covenant between God and the earth He has created, and sustains. Coming on the heels of a world-wide flood, the promise is all about God. “I have set My rainbow in the clouds” (Genesis 9:13). He takes ownership for this sign. It is quite probable that this was the first rainbow, due perhaps to changes in atmosphere and cloud conditions following the flood. God, who created all things, has perfect timing and capability to make changes in His creation.

Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds” God promises that He will remember the covenant He has made with Noah and every living creature (Genesis 9:14-16). We have sometimes got it wrong, thinking that the rainbow was a sign for man to remember what God had promised. Instead it’s a sign that God will not forget His promise; a sign of faithfulness to His covenant! What a marvellous hope!

That hope consists of the reality that a world-wide flood will never occur again. As bad as it gets when we see pictures on the news of terrible flooding in many countries around the world, there has never again been a world-wide flood. God has been true to His promise throughout human history since the time of Noah. It went like this: “Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life” (Genesis 9:15).

When we see a rainbow we recognize immediately that God is in control. I remember a very long drive through the hinterland of Guyana. Trails petered out through trackless savannah. In places we had to choose whether to drive down a steep embankment to cross a stream or to rebuild a rickety bridge. As the day wore on we were getting nervous that the sun would suddenly set as it does in the tropics, before we reached our destination. Pacing beside our vehicles as the men repaired the bridge, I was absolutely thrilled by the sight of a rainbow in the sky. There had been no rain where we were, but there it was! A marvellous sign that God had not forgotten us!

God referred to His everlasting covenant on the occasion of the first recorded rainbow. He has made another everlasting covenant. Hebrews 13:20 refers to the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17. “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant” (KJV), or perhaps the Living Bible states it more clearly “Now may the God of peace–who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood….” Salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord! What glorious hope we have in the faithfulness of our great God! And with that benediction God’s purpose is revealed “[He will] equip you with everything good for doing His will”!

Reflection:

What did the rainbow mean to Noah and is family?

Has God kept His covenant with Noah?

When you see a rainbow now, what do you think God will be saying to you personally?

Consider how much our world stands in need of a harbinger of Hope.

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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A Bowl of Stew

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Genesis 25:24-34

Many of us are familiar with the history of the Jewish nation, beginning with Abraham. Called by God from the land of Ur, Abram was promised that God would make him into a great nation that would ultimately bless the world. His name was then changed to “Abraham” which means “Father of a great number”. To this day numberless Arabs, as well as Jews, call Abraham their father.

Isaac, son of God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah, became a quiet shepherd. He was 60 years old when his twin sons were born. As unalike as could possibly be, Esau and Jacob were different in looks, activity and tastes. God gave Rebekah some insight into what to expect of these children “Two nations are in your womb…one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23). In those days, as throughout much of human history, the line of succession went to the eldest male child, so here we see God reversing the customary order of things.

Esau and his father were particularly close. Perhaps Esau was the man Isaac never had the courage or the disposition to become, and so he admired Esau’s wild ways and vigorous activity. Jacob, on the other hand was his mother’s darling. In due time Isaac fell ill; it looked like his days were numbered. The patriarchal blessing must be given before he died. Isaac wanted to celebrate the blessing with a little feast so he called Esau to hunt, and to prepare his favourite dish. What he did not know was that the boys had been involved in a discussion on the birthright many years before.

Esau had come home from hunting feeling famished (Genesis 25:29-30). Jacob was cooking, probably a stew of red lentils since these verses refer to it as “Red Stew”. As the elder son it was quite within his right to order his younger brother. “Quick!” “Look, I’m about to die!” Have you ever used language like that because of a perceived need? How serious that need was for Esau, we do not know. However, we do read that he was quite willing to despise his birthright, actually taking an oath when he sold it to his brother for that bowl of stew (25:33-34).

The time came when Esau recognized what he had given up. Bitter were his tears when he pled with his father to bless him too (Genesis 27:38). How thrilling it is to know that God is willing to restore us to the position of children of God, when we repent of our wrong choices!

We must note that Esau did what every human heart, without the Spirit of God must do – he vowed to take revenge. He blamed Jacob for the choice he himself had made. He entered into a covenant agreement, with an oath, to sell his birthright for a bowl of stew. From Esau we must learn to put first things first, to value the privileges God has given to us, and to take responsibility for our own decisions.

Reflection:

Now the question is…what is the birthright of every human being? We have each been made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). It is our right to call Him “Our Heavenly Father”, but do we? Have we been deceived about the state of our spiritual health, just as Esau was mistaken about his physical well-being?

What things take priority in our lives? Do we understand how certain things, or people, hopes and dreams can replace the treasured birthright we have, of being children of God. Satan will tempt us at our greatest point of weakness to believe we need something other than God, to sustain us in the moment. What bowl of stew is tempting you and me today?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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Forgiven Much

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Luke 7:36-50

Have you been forgiven much? What is the measuring stick for our sins as children of God? Is it a list of do’s and don’ts? Are we guided by our feelings, whether something is right or wrong? How does God’s Word describe “sin”? Chuck Swindoll gives us some clues.

“Any and all sin is enough to separate us from God and invoke His wrath—even eating fruit (Genesis 3:6)! All sin is equal in the sense that all sin breaks God’s law and falls short of His perfect standards. The Bible portrays sin as straying from God’s paths, opposing Him, and rebelling against Him. Whether it’s the sin of stealing a small item, telling a lie, or murder, all sin transgresses the law of God. So yes, in that sense all sin is the same in God’s eyes.”

When God calls us to do something and we do not do it, is that sin? In order to appreciate God’s forgiving spirit we need to understand what offends Him. He saves us to be useful, to further His Kingdom here on earth. In our reading today Luke signifies the importance of glorifying God through our actions. A woman worshiped Jesus. Is that enough?

Reading on, we find that Jesus declares this woman’s sins are forgiven (:48). Is there anything more important in this life than to know our sins are forgiven? The reality is we keep on sinning, in small ways or in big. We all yield to temptation from time to time so are blessed to know that “He [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). There is one condition. “If”….If and when we recognize our thoughts, our words, or our behaviour have offended God, we must confess our sins. Then and then only will God forgive us and cleanses us.

How did the woman in our scripture reading demonstrate a repentant attitude? Tears and kisses? I believe it was the way she bowed at Jesus’ feet. In an act of subservience, she acknowledged His supremacy. She didn’t care what people thought, or what they said about her. In fact, to this day she remains nameless. Only her actions testify to her faith. Jesus knows our hearts, just as He knew hers. “Your faith has saved you” (:50). WOW! He knew what this wordless demonstration of love meant.

Apparently my love is conditioned by my awareness of my own personal sin, according to this woman’s example. Jesus leaves us with a thought for further consideration: “He/she who has been forgiven little, loves little” (:47). For those of us who have known the exquisite joy of being forgiven, our gratitude is never-ending. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!!! Listen to the Psalmist: “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn Your decrees. The law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold” (Psalm 119:71).

Reflection:

God knows all about us. Are your sins and mine many or few? This woman was apparently a great sinner. Listen to Jesus publicly declaring: “Her many sins have been forgiven”. Whether you and I have been great sinners according to the standards of this world, nothing is too great for God to forgive (Psalm 86:5). How often are we Christ-like towards others who still struggle with temptation? (Ephesians 4:32) How kind are we to ourselves when we need to confess we blew it once again? God’s Holy Word is full of encouragement! He opens the door for us to express our great love to Him, by declaring us to be forgiven much!

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 · 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