Devotional

Raise the Standard High

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Luke 23:34

In olden days as men marched into war they kept their eyes open for the standard which was a visual signal for where you were to go. The standard-bearer would be close to the leader, providing a rallying point. If anything happened to the standard-bearer and he went down, the whole battle could be lost, since the army would be without direction. If the enemy captured your standard, the honour of the unit was lost.

Today believers are in a spiritual battle and God has given us a standard. The rally point is around God’s Word. It keeps us close to the leader, to our Heavenly Father. It brings the church together with one vision and purpose. Without this Holy book we wouldn’t know Jesus, who must be lifted up to draw all people to Himself. Why is that important?

Jesus’ life demonstrates the principles of spiritual warfare. In purity, faithfulness and love Jesus marches the troops forward, following Him who set the highest of all possible standards. We are to walk in the ways of truth, honour and kindness. We are equipped by God for the battle. First of all He motivates us through the indwelling Holy Spirit to have the right attitudes. Not too many people have gone to war loving their enemies, but Biblical principles clearly state we are to do just that (Matthew 5:44). This remarkable deviation from what is “human” makes a spectacular statement to a world filled with anger, hate and fear.

Following our Saviour’s example, God strengthens followers of Jesus to be joyful in the midst of adversity. Haven’t you noticed how contagious real joy is? People who are always venting over some disappointment, or complaining they haven’t been treated well, often make us nervous because we don’t know when they will begin to see us as their enemy. Joy isn’t about laughter, but it is a deep-seated satisfaction derived from being in the will of God, pleasing Him by our holy thoughts, our intentional choices, and our selflessness.

Selflessness does not mean we become a doormat, or that we succumb to abuse. It is comprised of the intentional deeds we do to help others, to lift them up physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Everyone can encourage those who have fallen. Jesus Himself said he came, not to heal those who are well, but those who are sick (Luke 5:31). Can we see the soul-sickness of those about us? What might we do to help?

Solomon taught “A soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). Spiritual warfare is not for the purpose of gaining ground, but rather for giving grace. Paul taught “Do not take revenge….but leave room for God’s wrath….On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink” (Romans 12:19-20). Our Lord showed grace to His abusers as He cried from the cross “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Reflection:

Recognizing our own sinful state before we were saved by the love of Christ, provides us with a spirit of empathy. Surely all humans come to the foot of the cross equal in guilt and shame. The exquisite relief of God’s forgiveness must then become the catalyst for us to share His mercy and grace, even with those who are our enemies. Paul continued teaching the Roman church “…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good!” (12:21).

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

The Panacea of Praise

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I will praise You, O Lord, with all my heart.” Psalm 138:1

Have you ever felt depressed, low in your spirit? Haven’t we all at some point or another? Where do these feelings come from? Many things can trigger nostalgia, – sensory perceptions as well as events are common triggers. Sometimes it’s hard to pin point the source, but the feeling is definitely there! Often the stresses we endure day by day crescendo gradually until we have reached the breaking point. At this point we might fail to see the build-up is enormous.

A very dear friend has been living with chronic pain as well as financial stress, She faces uncertainty about where she will live if she has to move. Add to that a serious let-down in the discovery that friends no longer share the same Christian perspectives, along with coping in a new job and I sense her cup of endurance is overflowing!

However, she has the joie de vivre of a saint! Her love for the Lord Jesus causes her to praise Him continually. What a panacea* for the overwhelming burdens of life! Grateful for all that God has done she looks beyond the events of today to see He is holding her close to his heart, through it all, and that the fiery darts of the evil one cannot touch her because God is shielding her with His gift of faith.

While we might justly grieve over our difficulties, the remedy often lies in our own hands. One cannot complain and praise at the same time. That is a choice we must make! We all know heroes of the faith who have suffered beyond anything we could imagine and yet they found a solution in reaching out. Imagine that we might reach out to the very heart of God! Music rising from hearts of gratitude blesses our Father!

Our strongest testimony occurs in those little seasons when we least expect that what we say or think will make any difference. It is the attitude that colours our world with joy, or buries it in misery. Confounding to our chaotic world is the incredible peace we find in Jesus Christ our Lord who suffered all things for us, and remains to this day the best icon of praise and virtue known by the world. He is our example:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before

Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down on the right hand of the throne of

God!” (Hebrews 12:2)

Reflection:

Describe a situation where you chose to praise God for the unknowns in your life.

What is the usual attitude of your heart – are you developing a positive persona?

Think about the impact a person who is joyful has on your life.

*Panacea: The solution or remedy for all difficulties

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Justice and Mercy

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Zechariah 7:9-10

Looking at Justice and Mercy first let us define our terms. Justice is seen as the quality of fairness, the principle of moral rightness, the process of fairly using law to judge and punish. It is equal in all cases when deciding what is fair. To be fair one must be honest, upright, honourable, trustworthy. Mercy, on the other hand, is compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

In the Bible we are told that God is just. Sometimes He links justice and mercy together. “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress….” (Zechariah 7:9-10). Jesus, pronouncing a woe upon the Pharisees, said: “…you neglect justice and the love of God” (Luke 11:42). Hosea also talks about maintaining love and justiceo (2:19). And so we see the prophets speak about the dangers of withholding justice from the poor and oppressed.

Let’s pose a question: How can mortal man bring justice and mercy together in the 21st century?

Mercy is an attitude of heart expressed in feelings of compassion. When we look at a criminal, for example, we might feel compassion for the situation in which that person finds themselves, knowing the judgment that will be a consequence of wrong choices. However, that feeling does not negate the consequences unless justice can be satisfied in some other way.

An example might be in the news account of a man jailed for murder. Having become a Christian while incarcerated, with a compassionate attitude would we not want to see him go free, now that his life had turned around? However, he suffered the death penalty for his crime, willingly acknowledging the mercy of God, while accepting the consequence of his murderous temper.

Divine justice and mercy factor into this account. Would we, with our finite wisdom, pervert the very mercy of God? We need to be wary of being guided by our feelings instead of maintaining a balance between cognitive and emotive understanding. Often our judgment is impacted by our own feelings more than we realize. Instead of facing the result of sin in our lives, we look for any escape from those ramifications.

How does God view each individual situation? There is the promise given through Isaiah “My justice will become a light to the nations” (51:4)! That means that God’s merciful provision for the sins of the nations, through Jesus Christ the Lord, will effectively save those who repent and receive God’s forgiveness. Our knowledge of God gives us a wonderful answer to the dilemma of sin. Divine Justice is not something to fear when tempered with His matchless mercy!

Reflection:

How often do we want to deal with our problems in our own way? Is this not a rejection of God’s mercy? What is the consequence? What is God’s perfect provision?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

What Will You Do With Jesus?

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Acts 10:25-26

At the end of the day the only question that will matter is “What did you do with Jesus”. His representatives on earth may fall, but Jesus never fails. Lyricists have written songs about His amazing faithfulness to truth and righteousness. The Bible assures us He is the same yesterday, today and forever! (Hebrews 13:8). What a blessed promise in the face of human failure and disappointment.

We might ask another question “Who am I compared to the King of glory, the One who left the glory of heaven (Philippians 2:5-8)to suffer shame and disgrace at Calvary, taking my punishment for sins He never committed?” (Hebrews 10:10-14). Charles Goodman captured the truth as he asked:

Who am I that the King would bleed and die for?
Who am I that He would pray not my will, Thine Lord.
The answer I may never know
Why He ever loved me so
That to an old rugged cross He’d go…
For who am I?

When we see Jesus our gratitude sometimes takes a turn, and we begin to revere the instrument that brought the light of the gospel to us. The apostles leave us with a legacy which we do well to remember. In our scripture today we read that Cornelius called his household together, family, friends and servants to meet the great Apostle Peter.

Like Jonah, Peter resisted sharing his faith with Gentiles. The Gospel was for the Jews, surely. God rebuked Peter and finally he surrendered. It was a long journey from Jerusalem to Caesarea, but Peter had been called by God to go specifically to the home of this Italian military Commander (Acts 10).

What was Peter’s attitude when he arrived? Considering the important role he played in the development of the early Church in Jerusalem, this was a great concession involving time and energy. He could have been condescending, but we see Peter serving Jesus with humility. As Cornelius fell at his feet in the respect demanded by the custom of the day, Peter commanded him to “Get up”! Leaving the crowd in no doubt, Peter declared “I am only a man myself” (Acts 10:25-26).

Peter had learned to come to grips with the limitations of his own humanity. He had failed Jesus many times. He couldn’t stay awake to watch with Him prior to Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane. He denied that he knew Jesus immediately prior to His crucifixion. Here was another test. This time he didn’t fail. In spite of the Jewish laws which prevented association with Gentiles, God had shown Peter that He cared about the souls of all people, even Gentiles.

”I now realize how true it is that God does not show any favouritism” (Acts 10:34). This was an epiphany for Peter. Suddenly he got it! He found himself preaching about Jesus, sharing ”the good news of peace, through Jesus Christ who is Lord of all” (10:36). His focus was Jesus Christ! As a privileged witness of all that Christ was and did, Peter talked about His life and death as the fulfillment of prophecy and how, following His miraculous resurrection, Jesus ate and drank with His followers. As Paul reminds us “He lives to make intercession for us” (Hebrews 7:24-25) so to Him goes all the honour and glory forever and ever!

The power of the Holy Spirit came upon these Gentiles so that they believed and were baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. This is what happens when we see Christ Jesus lifted up by Godly men and women.

Reflection:

What are you doing with the precious, holy name of Jesus? Do you guard His reputation with your life?

by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)

Devotional

The Judge Stands at the Door

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James 5

The news is full of judgment, whether it is political, criminal or even inspirational. Sports figures and artist are weighed by public opinion and everyone, we are told, is entitled to their own opinion. Strangely enough few people take God’s opinion to heart. However, as our scripture indicates He is the ultimate Judge and even now is waiting, withholding the inevitable judgment on mankind (James 5:9).

James paints a grim picture of the last days! Folks will be hoarding their wealth (James 5:3, 5). Having worked in developing countries where I have seen people picking through garbage to find food, along with storks and rats, I marvel at the waste of food and the self-indulgence as we sit down to tables groaning with plenty, day after day. James observes there is also an attitude which sometimes we see in the twenty-first century. How can we get the best bang for our buck? (James 5:4) Does cheating a workman of the wages he deserves, count as fair? The rich have taken advantage of the poor (James 5:6).

All is not lost. James challenges us to remember the Lord; He is full of compassion and mercy (James 5:11). He calls each of us to be as steadfast as Job was, in our moral integrity. In a day when everyone does what is right in their own eyes, will we find righteous living according to the standards God has clearly laid down in His Word?

Jesus gave us cause for reflection. When Jesus returns will He find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8). How can we call ourselves people of faith if we do not obey the Word of God? Faith is believing, “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Becoming a Christian is not saying a prayer asking for God’s forgiveness, if our lives do not follow the pattern laid down by Jesus. His life was one of obedience to the Father’s will “I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38).

Our words must be matched by our deeds when the day of judgment comes. Look at this Judge once more. How much do we have to fear? Is it fear that drives us to do what is right? God has lavished His love on us by sacrificing His only begotten Son (1 John 3:1). That is a love He longs to have reciprocated. “There is no fear in love”, John writes (1 John 4:18). Fear has to do with punishment, and scripture assures us that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

So what does it mean to be “In Christ”? Sometimes we sign our letters with that phrase. What do we mean? Do our lives stand the test? Are we selfless, Christ-centered, generous and kind? Do we endure with patience, believing God allows suffering for a moment but “Joy comes in the morning”? (Psalm 30:5). Are we willing to endure persecution for the sake of our Lord and His gospel message? Do we return good for evil done to us? Can we forgive ourselves knowing the Spirit of God will help us to overcome our weaknesses and failures?

Reflection:

The Judge of all the earth can see deep into our hearts, yours and mine. What does He see?

by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)

Devotional

When God Withdraws

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Romans 1

In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul begins with some Biblical truth, in order to ground the Roman Church. He includes truths revealed in scripture about God, Himself. Now that Paul has described God’s character to us, he turns to compare it with man’s. What a disappointment humankind must be to our Creator. He gets little glory or appreciation for all that He has done for us! In fact it is quite the opposite. Man, giving in to the folly of pride, started creating his own gods. ”…their foolish hearts were darkened” (:22).

First of all man’s intellect became his god. What he thought, what he believed, what he chose to worship, became of primary importance. Where did that take him? God first gave man over to sinful desires. His thinking was infected with self-righteousness.

Second, God gave them over to shameful lusts, through which any sexual behaviour became appropriate. The heart of man became suspect, as his feelings led his head. This was not the Creator’s intention. He had revealed Himself repeatedly, through acts of mercy, through scripture, through our Lord Jesus Christ. However, Paul writes – “Although they 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).

Third God gave them over to a depraved mind. The mind of mankind, originally created with all the potential of Godly decision-making, became filled with every kind of evil, greed and depravity resulting in a whole list of godless activities (Romans 1:29-31). Today our society, if not condoning these, will excuse murders, insolence, mistreatment of parents, hating God, in a spirit of senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless living. The final line is drawn when they decide to approve of everyone doing such things (Romans 1:32); seen in the freedom of man’s wisdom running loose.

Note that three times Paul says “God gave them over”. Leaving man to decide his own fate, God withdrew. His character did not change. He is always, eternally, a God of love and truth and holiness. However, sin and holiness are like oil and water – they do not mix.

How is the faith community to respond? We are to love our enemies – the person, not the sin. That is very hard to do. Out of fear we want to see these evils corrected. We fear for the salvation of our loved ones, for the infection of sin which is spreading throughout society, pandemically. But we are a community of faith and our faith is put into practice by doing what Jesus would do. What would Jesus do if He walked through North America today, for example?

Is it possible to bridge the gap between right and wrong? No! Jesus already has done that with His life, and death, yet people still reject His remedy for the sickness of sin. The best we can hope for is that His joy and peace, demonstrated in a spirit of love, will create a yearning in hearts darkened by an error that is spreading like wild-fire in our hedonistic society today. We know that God has already gone to the nth degree to correct these evils, but His love is everlasting!

So we pray that the Light will still provide Life, drawing men and women out of the pit they are digging for themselves. Let us all remember at the dawn of a New Year, that positive change always begins with “me”. Furthermore, I am the only person over whom I can really have any control. With God the Holy Spirit’s help I can exercise that required control which will temper my mind and heart, and my reactions to things others do to irk me.


Reflection:

Which is the greatest sin of our day? Is one worse than another? Do we not all continue to sin in small ways or large? How dangerous is prejudice? Is this why Jesus commanded us not to judge others?

The Psalmist prayed that God would search his heart (Psalm 139:23).

Let us pray: “Create in me a new heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit in me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, or take Your Holy Spirit from me, Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and grant a willing spirit to sustain me.” Amen (Psalm 51:10-12).

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

Praise and Worship

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Isaiah 66:1-2

Dear Lord,

There are so many people on my mind for whom I would pray this morning, people in need physically and spiritually. Yet as I bow before You, my spirit is reminded of the great privilege You have given to Your people of coming to You in the name of Jesus.

He, who is the personification of true love, is the “Way”…the way to You, our heavenly Father. He came to earth to show us how to worship as well as the way we should treat one another. Oh Father! As we celebrate His advent, I must praise You for Your perfect plan – that marvellous revelation of the heart of God, yearning sacrificially for relationship with mankind! If only Your children could follow Jesus’ perfect example, what a different place this world would be! Your great heart must be often disappointed. Father forgive me please.

Thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit, who dwells within each of Your children, offering guidance and comfort, and even rebuke, so that I may confess my sins and be freed daily of the guilt with which Satan immobilizes me. Your love is so forgiving. May I be also.

Thank You for showing me unconditional love. I know that I could never earn the approval of Omniscient, Almighty God, yet Your love has given me grace and mercy, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Oh Lord! May I be filled to overflowing, in order to pass this good news on to others.

The depth of Your love inspires me to walk in the steps of my Saviour, but it is sometimes with the fear that I might fail to live up to His example. Thank You that Your strength is made perfect in weakness!

Your love has all the hallmarks of a perfect parent; Your wisdom is wonderful! Your love disciplines me for my own good. Thank you Father!

You are so kind, and sensitive to the pitfalls on this earthly journey, and to my human frailty. I read in scripture that kindness and patience are the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit. I need Your touch to deal kindly with those who try my patience. Thank You for Your word that assures me my prayers will be answered.

Oh Father – You are Holy. Surrounded by temptation, the Devil assaults my mind and heart with suggestions that do not glorify the values You have given to me, in Your most Holy Word. Forgive me! Holy Spirit teach my wayward heart the purity that is Your very essence!

Thank you for challenging the Church to love holiness with a passion. May we be people of truth and honour, in order to glorify Your most Holy Name.

You have promised to empower Your children to do exploits in the name of Jesus! Your love for others compels me to see them through Your eyes. However, it is not always easy. Let me see others from Your perspective when they sin against me, so that I may use what I have learned at the feet of Jesus, to bless them in return.

Thank You Father for giving me quiet moments of solitude to spend at Your feet. Thank You for restoring my soul! Thank You for the peace that comes over my spirit when it is in tune with Yours. Thank You for Jesus, the visible reflection of all that You are. Thank You for the joy of my salvation! Thank You for the eternal hope I have that one day I will stand in Your glorious presence. Thank You for opening up doors of service. Thank You for the fellowship and encouragement of brothers and sisters in the family of God. Thank You for lessons learned through sorrow and pain, through disappointment and heartache. Thank You for the privilege of sharing Jesus.

Dear God, may my worship be acceptable in Your sight. Amen

Reflection:

As we pray, let us check our beliefs. Is this the God who can move mountains, Who in fact created those mountains? Did He really raise Lazarus and Jesus from the dead? Is He raising those who are spiritually dead in this the twenty-first century? Does He have the right to place people in the environment of His choosing? Does His power and His passion for what is right, generate awe in my heart? Is God truly good and fair and loving? It is important to know the One we say we trust, and to examine the extent to which we really trust Him. Do we come to God demanding things for our comfort and pleasure, or do we want to align our hearts and minds with His good pleasure? Does the sacrifice of my contrite heart bring joy to the heart of the God I love? Does God need me in order to accomplish His purposes; does He give me the privilege of coming alongside, to join in the joy of seeing Him at work?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

Would My Love Be Enough?

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1 John 4

A woman knelt by her bed to declare her love for God. She was very thankful for all her many blessings and after a short prayer of praise was ready to rise to meet the day. However, the Lord had a question for her. If all this was taken away from you, would My love be enough?

For those of us blessed to have a love-relationship with God, that question bears some consideration. What expectations do we have? What comprises a love relationship? Is our love for God based on our feelings or on our blessings, or does it emanate from respect and trust, knowledge and truth?

The Apostle John had a unique relationship with the Lord Jesus. He was one of the inner circle, one of three disciples who were chosen to be with Jesus on a couple of significant occasions. The last one was when Jesus asked John and James and Peter to watch with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He claimed to be the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23).

Years later John wrote about love in a short letter written to his “little children” (2:1,18), children in the faith. He knew all too well how weak human love is. His had failed Jesus in the desperation of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:40, 43). His frail humanity took over and he fell asleep just when Jesus needed him most. When we claim to love God would we be ready, willing and able to watch with Him one hour?

The interesting thing about John’s understanding of love is his discovery that real love exists within the Godhead. “We know and rely on the love God has for us ”because God is love”. It is the very essence of His being. Our love is acquired, learned. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:16. 19).

The question prompted by the Holy Spirit and faced by the woman in her devotions asked if she believed her love for God was impacted by circumstance or character. Is God’s love enough for any situation? We have a great Biblical example in the life of Job. Wealth and health were taken away; he even lost his family. Left to scrape his boils with a broken piece of a clay pot, what did Job know about God? He had a support network that was useless. His wife urged him to “Curse God and die” (1:9). One of his friends questioned the purity of his heart (8:6). Another suggested that if he put away his sin there would be hope (11:14,18).

It’s no wonder Job was seen as blameless before God (Job 1:1)! His answers to his friends indicated complete trust. “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him” (Job 13:15). He prayed with hope “My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; You [God] will cover over my sin” (Job 14:17). His faith was secure in the knowledge that “my Redeemer lives…that in the end…. I will see God….with my own eyes…..How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27). Isn’t that heart-yearning born out of the security Job knew in his relationship with God?

Reflection:

When everything was stripped away, this wealthy man found the love of God was enough to meet the adversity of his circumstances. “You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in Your providence watched over my spirit” (Job 10:12). At the moment of writing, our world is in a global crisis with the pandemic of COVID-19. Many of those everyday comforts we take so much for granted have been stripped away. It is fascinating to see the differing responses to what God has allowed in our world today. What is your response? Do we question God’s love? Do we trust His plan to work all things for our good? (Romans 8:28).

Devotional · Uncategorized

Height of Hypocrisy

crop woman with sheet face mask
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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