Devotional · Uncategorized

Height of Hypocrisy

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Luke 18:9-14

How often have you and I thanked God for our blessings? It’s a critical part of worship isn’t it? First we adore God for His character – all that He is in infinitude, eternality, omniscience and might. That’s a mouthful isn’t it? In other words when we praise God we remember He is so superior to anyone we know, unfathomable really in His wisdom, power and love!

Then we thank God for how He works among the people He has created, sustaining us by His powerful word (Hebrews 1:3). In many countries temporal blessings are so abundant that folks begin to think these are their right. Recently I’ve heard people saying no one can take away their rights. Have they forgotten those around our globe who don’t enjoy the same unalienable rights?

Why then have rights to life and liberty been denied so many people? It’s heart-breaking to see babies and little children who will never enjoy the practical sustenance we believe all children need. Doesn’t God care? Yes, He does. He has given us so much that if we shared a portion of it regularly with others, this world would be a different place. How sacrificially might we love others? When we say we love God how does that play out on the horizontal level, here on earth?

Jesus often talked in parables. One such story might relate to us today. A Pharisee stood up to pray in the temple. Notice his posture. Notice his attitude. “Thank God I am not like other men”! What was his perspective on other people? It was very negative. He would have made a great reporter in the twenty-first century. Look at our society – on the streets of our cities there are robbers, drunks, prostitutes, murderers, drug addicts, adulterers and those who cheat on their taxes. There are even crooks in government! (Luke 18:11). Surely I’m not like them!

He continued: “Look God at how good I have been, tithing and fasting regularly – twice a week!” Now to me that statement smacks of pride. Paul reminds people of faith that the universe was made by God (Hebrews 11:1). God asked Job where he was when He laid the foundation of the earth? (Job 38:4-7). Let’s keep our perspectives about God and man in balance. What impact can my fasting and tithing or any other good works have on the God who created all things? It’s like an ant bragging to me about building its anthill.

Just to keep us focused, Jesus contrasts the Pharisee’s prayer with the prayer of a tax collector – a man the Pharisee has just mocked. This man didn’t even raise his eyes to heaven, but “beat upon his breast and said ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’ “ (Luke 18:13).

Which man do you think was justified before God? Looking at our world today, it’s shocking to see Christians caught up in what once might have been called a “worldly” perspective. I was told once by a professing believer, that God only wanted the best for me and therefore my old, ramshackle car was an affront to Him. I almost bought it!! However, I knew that God had provided me with a vehicle that got me where I needed to go, freeing me to share with others some of the wealth of this world that still remained in my pocket. This was my comfort in the face of ridicule.

One more lesson might be learned from this parable. Had the Pharisee forgotten that to judge others is a sin in the eyes of God? Along with his insatiable pride, he was as much a sinner as those he criticized. God could judge his heart, even if his life looked good on the outside. We who know God the Father intimately have the unalienable right and privilege to spread His love to those who have lost heart and hope. Just as God lifts us up when we are weary, so we must lift up others with words and deeds of encouragement. May God forgive us if we don’t!

Reflection:

Do I feel accountable to God for all that He has blessed me with?

Which man’s life does mine resemble?

How do others see me, and is it the same as the way God sees me?

Who might you view as society’s outcasts? Would you be willing to come along side them in love?

Devotional · Uncategorized

Leaving Things Behind

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Philippians 3:7-14

This devotional is a corollary following ‘My Sin Is Ever Before Me’. It’s absolutely necessary for us to understand the glorious freedom we have been given in God’s forgiveness. Think about it. Perhaps you have destroyed someone’s reputation by passing along unnecessary gossip, which in the end proved to be untrue. You feel terrible and apologize. Then, marvellously, your friend forgives you. How do you know you are truly forgiven? They don’t rub your face into the memory of what you said. Fellowship is restored.

Forgiveness uplifts us! That is what brings glory to God. In spite of our wrong-doing, when we confess and turn from our sin, He lifts us up to have communion with Him, because we’ve been cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus! His forgiveness facilitates our moving forward. He even shares His plans with us so that day by day we are able to worship Him, serve Him and revel in the abundant life Jesus promised to God’s children!

The joy of knowing that our lives can please God brings us tremendous hope that today, and in all our future days, we have something special to strive for. In order to do so we must leave the past behind. The Apostle Paul knew all about that. He wrote to the church at Philippi that he found “straining toward what is ahead” took all his energy. It required leaving the past behind. (Philippians 3:13)

You see – Paul had a renewed vision! God was sharing His purposes for ministry that gave impetus to Paul’s plans, his hopes and his work. He was totally committed to doing the will of God. It cost him; he was tested by shipwreck, human violence and rejection, imprisonment and so forth. But it wasn’t only the bad things that imprisoned Paul. His status as a Pharisee, his position in society had also had a negative impact and it was all this which now he told the Philippians, he had to leave behind.

Just imagine saying “I consider everything a loss [good and bad] , compared to the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things!” (Philippians 3:8). It takes maturity to leave the past behind, while remembering its impact on our lives. Certainly our vulnerability to pride often blasphemes the very sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, because it brings glory to me and you, rather than glory to Him! We live in ever-present danger because our enemy goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour [destroy, separate from our Father, God] (1 Peter 5:8).

Reflection:

The Holy Spirit brings balance to our thinking, as He reminds us of all that Christ taught. We are to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. If we remain in a state of hatred for what we have done it will colour our relationship first of all with God. It means we really haven’t received His forgiveness, but also it makes us suspicious of others. Instead of rejoicing with all that God is doing to bring folks into sweet fellowship with Himself, we lose sight of the glory of God! This is a grave danger. The Bible tells us to rejoice in the Lord always and to think about whatever is true. My prayer is that we will leave the past behind, pressing on toward God’s goal for you and me. There is a prize at the end of the journey. (Philippians 4:4, 8, 14)

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Show Us the Father

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John 14:6-14

Jesus was disappointed. He had been working and walking, eating and drinking with His disciples for three years. They were His intimate friends. As such He expected them to know Him very well, yet here was Philip asking Him to show them the Father. Why did that matter?

Jesus had talked about God the Father continuously throughout His ministry, primarily to identify Himself with His Father in heaven. He even taught His disciples to pray to God as “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Now, in the present moment Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure to God the Father. The crucial message He was leaving with them was that no one could get to God in heaven unless they followed the Way, the Truth and the Life, new names He gave Himself (John 14:6).

In the face of Philip’s question Jesus patiently explained again that “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (14:9). John the Baptist had already prepared the way, years before, by preaching that “No one has ever seen God [in His invisible Spirit-being], but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known” (John 1:18). Jesus declared to Philip and the other disciples: “It is the Father, living in Me, who is doing His work” (14:10). The mystery of how He is in the Father and the Father is in Him needed explanation once again, since Jesus’ purpose was to bring glory to God the Father.

Let’s consider briefly the life of Jesus. In His ministry He was often prophetic about His immediate future, things fulfilled in His life-time, as well as events to which we still look forward (i.e. John 6:62). He demonstrated His foreknowledge when He saw Nathanael under the fig tree, prior to speaking with him. Jesus declared God to be a loving Father, challenging His followers to love one another as a sign they were Christ-followers (John 13:34-35).

Jesus Himself was an emotional being, weeping at the grave of Lazarus, angry with the moneychangers in the temple, compassionate towards sinners, loving people who didn’t always respond to Him such as the rich young ruler. If nothing else, Jesus showed us the Father is a relational Being. Created to be like God, people need to be secure in relationship with Him. Within that significance and security, all our relationships benefit.

Then there were the miracles which He often used to illustrate His Divinity. He healed the sick, raised the dead, fed thousands with few resources, made the blind to see, lepers clean, and the lame walked. His disciples witnessed how the winds and waves were subject to His voice, this One who is also Creator God. He escaped out of crowds who sought to kill him and walked on water. God doesn’t call us to walk on water; He just calls us to love! Perhaps the greatest miracle of all was the forgiveness He freely expounded towards the very folks who nailed Him to the cross.

If in three years of talking about His Father the disciples still didn’t ‘get it’, its impossible for us to exhaust the riches of scripture, in our search for understanding of an Omniscient, Almighty, Eternal, Omnipresent, and Infinite God. Do we still ask “Show us the Father” when doing our daily devotions? Shouldn’t that be our prayer? It will take eternity for us to fathom the riches of His grace and mercy, to see clearly the mind of God in all its justice, and to interpret His wisdom.

Reflection:

Since man was made in the image of God its important to understand God’s heart and mind. How often did Jesus talk about doing the will of His Father? Are we challenged to do the will of “Our Father”?

Perhaps the greatest demonstration of the heart of God was when Jesus wept over Jerusalem. If He is in the Father and we are in Him, do we weep over our Jerusalem? Where has God planted us? Why, how and when do our lives, yours and mine, reveal the Father to these dear people?

Devotional · Uncategorized

How Big is Your God?

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Isaiah 40:25-26

In my early morning prayer my imagination was smitten by the reality of God’s amazing design for our world and stretching beyond – the universes mankind is just discovering! I awoke to the gorgeous purity of freshly fallen snow! Imagine! God creates each flake different from another; is it because His creative genius delights in intrigue, as well as in beauty? Imagine the same attention to detail, included in creating the Milky Way!

I enjoy nature programs on TV because they bring me so much closer to the Creator of all things. Fascinating! Colours and shapes, as well as function, never cease to amaze me. But then there is the majesty of mountains, contrasting with the depths of fiords and seas Why? we might ask; man does ask that question and spends much time and energy to find out the answers. Sadly many scientific minds put their own spin on the reasons behind creation….and God answers back with His own questions.

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand?” (40:12). Through the prophet Isaiah, God reveals Himself as “the Sovereign Lord [who] comes with power” (40:10). He reminds Israel “…Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket or weighed the mountains on the scales….”? (:12). “Who has understood the mind of the Lord?” (:13).

Job expressed awe of God “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (5:9). “He moves mountains…..He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble. He speaks to the sun and it does not shine….. He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south (9:5-7, 9). “Who can say to Him [the Lord] – ‘What are you doing?’ “ (9:12) Job is surprised that such a God would be mindful of a mere human being (7:17).

Recently I was reminded that children of God have a great treasure in nature. It stretches our imagination to explore the creative handiwork of God, in which His majesty and might are very clearly seen! In that nature excites our pious thoughts and increases our devotion to God, it might be said to be sacramental. Let your imagination roam! How big is your God?

Reflection:

Limited by time and space, as we humans are, it is very hard to imagine the extent of God who is not confined by either time or space. If we cannot physically see Him, what then are His thoughts? How privileged we are to live after He revealed Himself through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ! Since Jesus walked the earth, we have been able to understand the very heart of God, who loves His created beings with an everlasting love. Every detail of His creation is for a purpose, from those things which are invisible to the naked eye as well as in the spectacle of a starry night stretching beyond the beyond.

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

There is None Like You

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Exodus 20:1-7

A popular song today describes the uniqueness of the Christian God.

There is none like You,
No one else can touch my heart like You do,
I can search for all eternity Lord
And find, there is none like You.

Your mercy flows like a river so wide,
And healing comes from Your hand.
Suffering children are safe in Your arms,
There is none like You.

In a world threatened by political instability, one might ask where can we find security? What is truth? Who can we believe, rely on? Then suddenly the words of this simple song spring to mind and we know! God is our Rock! (Isaiah 26:4). He never wavers (Psalm 110:4). His word is truth (John 17:17) and it endures forever (Hebrews 13:8). There is none like YOU!

Just imagine the condemnation our world faces because it has ignored or rebelled against the will of God. Yet His mercy continues to flow. Today He is saving people from every tribe and nation, sometimes through the reading of His most Holy Word. By sending visions, or sometimes sending missionaries to share about His mercy and His love, the Holy Spirit is moving to draw men, women and children to Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Indeed He is the only one who can touch hearts with His incredible love. What other god declares He is love? Did you know there are 18 Bible verses that reassure us of God’s unconditional love? What is that like? It means He loves us while we are still sinners (Romans 5:8). We did nothing, nor can we do anything to earn God’s love – faith is a free gift, born of God’s love (Ephesians 2:8-9). We just need to receive and believe (John 1:12-13).

As we, God’s children, suffer anxious thoughts about the conditions in our world, we are reminded that God’s love is eternal….that He is faithful to His covenant love, so we are safe in His arms. That is eternal security, not physical. Bad things happen. People get sick in our fallen world, but believers know that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. The most important healing of all is cleansing of our souls from evil. This only God can do, through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!

Reflection:

Do you believe “there is none like YOU”? How is that demonstrated in your daily walk? Does God know your faith wavers? Do others see you stable and secure in His love? Would others envy the security and peace you bring into situations that would rock their boats?

Devotional · Uncategorized

Pondering the Puzzle!

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Isaiah 7:9-23

One of my favourite hobbies is doing jigsaw puzzles. I have friends who share this interest, so now family and friends have some exquisite scenery lining their walls, over which many happy hours were spent. What makes it so interesting? Tiny bits and pieces require minute examination to see if patterns and colours will match. It is so satisfying when the strangest shapes suddenly fall into place!

For me, sometimes scriptures are a puzzle. Take for example the sign given to Isaiah of the virgin conceiving and bearing a son. We need to look at the context to examine this puzzle piece. Israel had been continually disobedient. By Chapter 7 the Lord has already exclaimed “Stop” three times. “Stop bringing meaningless offerings” (1:13). “Stop doing wrong” (1:16). “Stop trusting in man” (2:22). He has pronounced more than seven woes descrying the varied sins of His people.

Now in the era of King Ahaz, an opportunity to test the nation’s faith presented itself in the design by Syrian and Israelite kings to overpower Jerusalem. (By this time Israel and Judah had split, becoming separate kingdoms.) Ahaz is warned by God “If you do not stand firm in your faith you will not stand at all!” (7:9). Having said that, the Lord challenges Ahaz to ask for a sign that will bolster his faith. He’s given great latitude “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights” (7:11). I wonder what I would have answered in the same situation….and you?

Ahaz refused, sounded very pious: “I will not put the Lord to the test” (7:12). How would you respond if one of your children refused the offer to ask for something you wanted to give them? Isaiah was exasperated! However, God was not taken by surprise. He had the puzzle piece ready to fit. A virgin will conceive. Some commentators suggest that Isaiah knew this referred to the young woman he was going to marry and that he was prophesying, under the power of the Holy Spirit, that she would bear a son. It is presumed that Isaiah’s first wife had died after the birth of his first son. The second son would not have reached the age of moral discrimination before the rest of the prophecy came true. The kings that Ahaz feared so much would both be dead and their kingdoms laid waste (7:16). Other puzzle pieces yet to be fitted in, include several references to “in that day” (7:18, 20, 21, 23).

Reflection:

Let’s think about this. What do we know about the nation Israel, or learn about God in this scripture? Does this prophecy fit into one time frame or does it cover past and present (for us), as well as future. This is where we require time to ponder. Puzzles were not put together in an instant. They require a right perspective, an overview, some experimentation, patience, and certainty that it will all fit together in the end.

In hind sight we know that Jesus was the future predication fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy – the babe born of a virgin! The fulfillment of this sign assures us that other prophecies will be completed in His time. As much as the reality of God’s outworking in the faith of Ahaz, so is this a reality when our own faith is tested.

For example – what signs have been fulfilled in your life and mine? Do we know we have been freed from our sins by the blood of Christ? Do we know the power of the Holy Spirit when we are tempted and tried? Have we seen the hand of God leading us into paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake? Looking back, how has God fit the puzzle pieces of your life together?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

A Challenge For Today

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Ezekiel 33

Recently the news media made us aware of child abuse taking place in another country where young girls are “married” according to the rules of their religion, for short periods of time. Essentially this was one way of covering sexual abuse that is becoming increasingly more prevalent, in a place where poverty makes girls helpless victims as young as the age of 9.

One girl being interviewed with her face covered, told the interviewer that life for her ended, once this abuse began. There was no hope for a normal life once she was victimized. One wonders how any religious group might believe that God is pleased with the destruction of a child’s future hopes and prospects. Yet it is happening around our civilized world today. What does God’s Word tell us?

Luke records Jesus’ woe: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through which they come. It would be much better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck, than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin” (Luke 17:1-2).

Jesus also calls little children to come to Him. Many of us may be familiar with his words: “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). He demonstrated His personal love and concern for children.

What happens to abused children in our world today? How responsible are Christians for social injustices? Will it do when we stand before God to tell Him we felt helpless? That we prayed for them? What fuels our passion? Do we take comfort in the fact that God will take care of them? Truly we believe His mercy and justice will, in the end, take care of all those who are victims of man’s violence. But will we be held responsible in any way? Must we not engage in yet another form of warfare in the twenty-first century?

Ezekiel’s words are forever a challenge to my heart. “Son of man, I have made you a watchman….so hear the Word I speak and give warning from Me….. If you have warned the wicked man to turn from his ways, and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself” (Ezekiel 33:7, 9).

How effective has our sense of mission been around the world? Do we truly believe the gospel, given in Jesus’ words “I am the way the truth and the life…no one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6)? Does the World, for whom Jesus gave His life, know or care that life is sacred, a gift from God not to be violated in any way?

Children are the future of every nation. What must be done, what can we do, to protect them for Jesus’ sake? Their abuse is only a symptom of an even greater evil; buried in the heart of man is rebelliousness against the very God some folks claim to serve. That is spelled out in Frank Sinatra’s song: “I did it my way”. Is this then the challenge for our world today?

Reflection:

How much effort have I made to warn my world about the consequences of evil?

Have I demonstrated the love of Christ in such a way as to win others to the cause of Christ?

Does Ezekiel’s warning apply to the Church of the twenty-first century?

How practical is it to pray for victims of abuse around our world? Is there anything else we must do?

by Marilyn Daniels.

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Journey Through Darkness

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Jonah 2

 

Do you remember being afraid of the dark? How many little children express fear of the dark? As adults can we identify with those fears? Dark moments in adult life may look different from the physical darkness that envelopes the imaginations of little kids, but they are just as real, none-the-less.

 

The Bible tells us of one man who experienced darkness physically and spiritually. He was near death – certainly a cardinal moment for us all. He knew he needed God to walk with him through this experience, but being out of fellowship with God made that an even more humbling experience. In spite of feeling banished from God’s sight, as he deserved to be, he tells us “When my life was ebbing away I remembered You, Lord, and my prayers rose to You” (Jonah 2:7).

 

How often is this the human experience? We feel engulfed, threatened, trapped. Everything is swirling around us as the breakers roll over our spirits. Isn’t it then that we think of God?

 

Recently I watched “Call the Midwife”, a programme set in the late 50’s which reminded me of the community nursing I did in the early 60’s. The young nurse in the series was shocked by the conditions she faced in the east end of London, as was I in Regent Park, Toronto. The lifestyle of people who were suffering deprivation of every kind, could only be called ‘dark’.

 

How much they needed to know God listens and answers prayer. He alone can bring our lives out from the pit. “Salvation comes from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). He is the source of all comfort because He is the God of grace (Jonah 1:8). He is described by David : “You are my lamp oh Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light” (2 Samuel 22:29).

 

Why did Jonah struggle in the dark? He was running away from God. God had called him to do something he didn’t want to do. Can you empathize with Jonah? Jonah recognized his punishment came from God. ”You hurled me into the deep” (Jonah 2:3). But he also knew God didn’t leave him there. “You brought my life up from the pit!” (2:6).

 

In his subsequent dealings with the Ninevites one might have supposed Jonah would have identified with them. They were displeasing to God and yet He saved them. In his darkest hour Jonah experienced God’s mercy and grace, but still begrudged it to the Ninevites. In a way, his own attitude kept him in darkness. Do we face this same struggle on our journey through life?

 

Reflection:

In the month of November we remember some of the darkest days in recent history – two great wars, called “World Wars” because humans from every continent met in combat. Principles of righteousness and democracy were at stake. Many nations paid dearly for the depths of darkness that nearly annihilated a whole generation of young men. Running away from the truths of God’s Word, the enemy assaulted the very chosen people of God. This was indeed a journey away from God!….a journey through darkness!

 

By Marilyn Daniels. http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

The Triumph of Mercy

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James 2:8-13

Our Ladies are studying the book of James. We’ve probably read it many times, but there is still much to learn! A little phrase suddenly jumped out at me “Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (2:13). First of all we need to understand what judgment looks like.

In our world today people are tweeting about their personal observations, so often from the bias of criticism, it seems. Is this the test of one’s intelligence, I wonder, to be able to discern the faults of others? How often are we acting out what Jesus warned about – looking at the speck of sawdust in our brother’s or sister’s eye, while ignoring the plank that limits the vision in our own (Matthew 7:4). Jesus recommended that we take time to remove the plank before we assume a helping relationship with our brother/sister (Matthew 7:5).

Sometimes we ignore the potential dangers God warned the Israelites about …the damage of giving false testimony about our neighbour (Deuteronomy 5:20), because we are so quick to pass sentence on another fellow human being. James reminds us that often anger is the basis of our condemnation, so we should pause to listen, before expressing our opinions (James 1:19). Have we forgotten the besetting sins of our own nature that make us so displeasing to God?… and yet He repeatedly forgives us. Can we, will we, pause to remember His mercy?

Here’s the thing – Jesus told the crowd assembled on the mount, that we will be judged with the same measure of mercy we deliver towards those who offend us (Matthew 7:2). James amplifies this thought:
“judgment
without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful” (James 2:13). That follows the theme of the Lord’s prayer that so many of us know by heart, and repeat often: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive others who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12 KJV).

Do we really want God to forgive us in the same way as we have forgiven others? Even William Shakespeare got it right when he wrote the Merchant of Venice, reminding Shylock that mercy must be freely given – “The quality of mercy is not strained [forced]”. It must be genuine, real. God knows whether or not we are going through the motions, or if we mean what we say.

Often it is hard to forgive – it is a Divine gift in the moment. With God it is possible for mercy to triumph over judgment. Our judgment may or may not be perfectly correct. That is not the issue. The ability to lean on God to help us deliver His mercy to others is demonstrated by our desire, and His power, to forgive. This is the Divine triumphing in the lives of human beings!

Reflection:

Dear Heavenly Father,

We say we are followers of Jesus. He was so merciful to those who were accused! May we learn from His example. His love drew people to Himself! May our lives exemplify our appreciation for all men and women because they are made in the image of God. Search my heart and see if there is any wicked way in me , before I pronounce judgment on anyone else. Help me to remember Jesus’ words “He/she who is without sin cast the first stone”. May I live by His perfect example, which demonstrated Your love for everyone. May Your mercy out-weight the judgments I might make. Keep me from slandering others. Empower me, my Father, to triumph over evil. In Jesus’ name I pray.

By Marilyn Daniels.

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

The Dead Will Hear

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John 6:24-29

 

Again we are privileged to listen in as Jesus is speaking to the crowds. We need to look at the context to understand what He means when He says “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God” (:25). First of all notice that He identifies Himself as the Son of God throughout this chapter. Nearly 20 times, Jesus refers to His special Father-Son relationship with God. Secondly He is talking about eternal life (:24). He uses the present tense to describe crossing from death to life.

 

Now, as so often John records, Jesus prefaces His message with “I tell you the truth….” (6:25). Only God is the essence of truth. Here on earth our truth is motivated so often by self-interest, but God’s is pure truth and this is what His only begotten Son will tell people then, and now.

 

Jesus says the time has come, in fact it is now – when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. Who are the dead? Surely Jesus didn’t mean those buried in the ground. Of course not! He is talking about spiritually dead people. Paul spelled it out for the Ephesian church “You were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live” (2:1). That describes spiritual death in the midst of physical life, separation from God who cannot be in the presence of sin.

 

To further prove He is talking about spiritual life and death, Jesus clarified His Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him, should have eternal life…and I will raise him/her up in the last day” (6:40). Note that eternal life begins at the moment when a person puts their faith in God’s Holy Son! It is not something we wait to receive when we die. That eternal life is sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).

 

The Jews kept asking Jesus for a sign to prove His deity (6:30). One might wonder what they expected. After all He was known for His miracles, so much so that crowds followed Him (6:24). How many of those who followed Him then were still dead, looking for excitement because of this miracle-worker new in town? Curious? Wanting to be fed, healed, to be seen as good because they were allied with a Holy man? How many things motivate a human being’s loyalties? We know the crowd was fickle. After lauding Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, within a week they turned to shout “Crucify Him”! What caused their change of heart? They were dead spiritually. Those who were alive followed Christ to the tomb, grieving over His suffering and sacrifice.

 

It is a mystery how some folks go to church all their lives, but never hear the voice of the Son of God. We cannot judge another human heart, but Jesus knows, and the final judgment has been given to Him (5:22). Its never too late to hear, while physical life lasts. The thief on the cross was promised eternal life in Paradise that very day. How merciful is God to forgive at the eleventh hour, but oh what a waste of life in which one might have found such joy and peace through Jesus Christ our Lord!

 

Reflection:

“Come Holy Spirit, dark is the hour.

We need Your filling your love and Your mighty power.

Move now among us, stir us today.

Come Holy Spirit – Revive Your church today!” John W. Peterson