Devotional

Go and Sin No More

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John 8:3-11 (KJV)

What are our thoughts when we read this verse, words from the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. Is this a suggestion for Godly living? Perhaps it’s a thought, which in reality is impossible because we are still warring with our old nature and prone to fall when faced with temptation. After all the Apostle Paul tells us he, the mighty giant of New Testament faith, struggled with conflicts in his own desires. Maybe it’s only situational, for surely the sin, the sin of immoral choice, is something anyone could avoid (John 8:10-11).

Or is it? Doesn’t scripture warn us to beware, for he who prides himself on standing, may suddenly find he has fallen (1 Corinthians 10:12)? How often do we continue to sin, excusing ourselves on the grounds that we are only human and God will surely understand? The question then arises – would God ask something of us that is impossible?

I was thinking of some of the excuses we use when faced with the difficult truths of scripture. We are faced with the reality of God’s holiness time and again. So far from what we find within ourselves, does He truly mean “Be holy as I am holy?” Peter makes frequent use of this word (1 Peter 1:15-16, 2:5 & 9). He makes it an “ought” in his second epistle, in answer to the question “What sort of people ought you to be?” He tells his readers, including you and me “You ought to live holy and Godly lives” (3:11).

Paul solves the problem of holiness for us. In many of his letters, to the Romans, to the Corinthians, and the Ephesians he illustrates by using the root of the tree being holy, therefore so are the branches; he refers to Timothy’s calling to a holy life and so forth. Writing to the Hebrews, he confirmed what he said earlier about holiness….he gives us hope. When Christ came into the world, it was with the express purpose of doing His Father’s will. “And by that will we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all!” (Hebrews 10:10).

The goal of a holy people (“holy nation” 1 Peter 2:9) is to “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy” (Hebrews 12:14). Now if I find I have failed to be holy, if temptation has overpowered me, I have recourse to the Father’s forgiveness, but without true repentance it’s useless to ask for it. True repentance expresses the attitude, intention, determination not to do it again. Whatever it takes, I am to flee the devil. I cannot continue to live in circumstances that bring this same temptation before me without placing some safeguards against it. Certainly blaming God for the way He made me will never hold water in the face of His holiness. If God’s word says it is wrong, then I have to examine what it tells me to do to protect myself. If a child has a murderous temper, the parents are obliged to curb it, to teach the little one to control that urge.

Reflection:

Do we think with shame and embarrassment how often we have failed by repeating the same sin?

When something is difficult is that an excuse for not trying?

Doesn’t this command “Go and sin no more” place the responsibility on us? Does God extend extra mercy and grace to help us?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

The Royal Standard

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1 Peter

Queen Elizabeth is celebrating seventy years on the throne, as I write. When she is at home a flag flutters over the castle. The Royal Standard is the flag used to represent the Queen not only in the United Kingdom but also overseas when she makes state visits. It is the royal arms in banner form, signifying that the head of state is present.

Did you know that the King of Kings has a Royal Standard? In the same way as Queen Elizabeth’s standard has a purpose, His standard also announces that He is present. What then does it look like? And where can it be seen?

The only time you and I are referred to as “Royal” is when Peter, “an Apostle of Jesus Christ” wrote “to the elect”, those who have been “chosen” and “sanctified” by the Holy Spirit “for obedience to Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:1-2). What does all that mean? God’s purpose in calling believers into His family is to bless them to be a blessing. It is not primarily so that we will go to heaven; that may be seen as a perk.

Peter says those who have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19) are a Royal priesthood (2:9) – our lives serving as priests in the Kingdom of God. Priests are God’s representatives here on earth. Therefore those who have been “born again….through the living and enduring Word of God” (1:23) must resemble Christ Jesus our Lord.

He is holy, therefore we must strive to be holy in all we do. Peter quotes from scripture, “because it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ (Leviticus 11:44-45, 1 Peter 1:15-16). He reminds his readers that “Christ suffered for you, leaving you and example, that you should follow in His steps” (2:21). To achieve this Godly standard Peter calls “all of you, live in harmony with one another”. Not only as individuals are we to exemplify the character of Christ, but collectively as His body we need to “be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. The list goes on 1 peter 3:8-9). Jesus never repaid evil with evil. In fact he was kind towards those who crucified Him, praying God would forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing (Luke 23:34).

Holy people keep from speaking evil; rather they uplift one another with cheerful speech, They seek peace, knowing that “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous….and against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:10-12). Our reputation for doing good is coloured by our eagerness to do so, as well as with an attitude of gentleness and respect (3:13, 15). This earns us the opportunity to share the reason for our eternal hope. We do not give of our time or money grudgingly, bearing in mind the principle that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). Jesus, for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Peter, like Paul, knew the impact a life which is self-controlled has on folks outside the community of faith! Signs of a heart at peace with God are seen in lives who love each other deeply, “because love covers over a multitude of sins” and serves others “Faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms”. God will give us the words and the strength through Jesus Christ” our Lord (1 Peter 4:7-11). Why? Because “To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen!” (4:11).

Reflection:

What then is the Standard of Christ? Holiness identifies a Godly life. “Without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). It purifies the way we love, the words we speak and the attitude with which we serve. Holiness warns Satan who “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:9) that we are protected by the blood of the Lamb who was slain! Holiness flags our devotion to our heavenly Father, as we bear the image of Jesus Christ our Lord, in our lives.

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Yahweh is God

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Joel Introduction July Devotions – Series on Joel

Joel is one of the minor prophets, who wrote during the days of King Joash. We need a little background: The young king ascended the throne at the age of seven and reigned over Judah (2 Chronicles 24) for nearly 40 years. His reign was marked by the restoration of Solomon’s temple, begun by Jehoiada the priest. Jehoiada played a significant role in the young king’s life, making a covenant “that he and the people and the king would be the Lord’s people” (2 Chronicles 23:16). It is no surprise, therefore, that ”Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him” (2 Kings 12:2). However, once Jehoiada died, Joash was swayed by the homage of officials in his kingdom. Together they abandoned the temple to worship Asherah poles and idols. The spirit of the Lord came upon Zechariah, grandson of Jehoiada, (2 Chronicles 24:20), who then warned the people of their sin against God. How terrible to read that “by order of the King [Joash] they stoned him to death” (:21). One needs to be careful whom we chose as friends; sadly Joash was murdered by the very people he thought he could trust (:25).

It is here that Joel enters the picture. The kingdom was facing severe drought and famine from the invasion of locusts, which Joel recognized was a punishment from the Lord. God sent him as a messenger to the Judeans, summarizing the desolation both physical and spiritual, which He allowed to destroy the land. There are some strong words used in chapter one. God is actually calling the people to Himself (1:14), but first they will weep and wail, mourning for all they had lost (1:8). This event is recorded so that their children would not forget what the wrath of God looks like (1:3). “Surely the joy of mankind has withered away” (1:12).

There is pain in this prophecy. The suffering will be universal – cattle moan! Sheep suffer; is there spiritual symbolism here that God’s sheep [Israelites] will suffer? Joy and gladness have been cut off from the house of God (1:16). Wild animals pant for water. The Lord cries out “Alas!” (1:15). He takes no pleasure in the destruction of His people. The day of the Lord is near, He says. That day is further described throughout Joel’s prophecy. For the moment we must see how it grieves the heart of our Heavenly Father to execute punishment of this magnitude.

There is a lesson to be learned here. God is holding Himself true to His covenant of love. Is His anger an expression of love? When anyone goes down a destructive path, is it loving to let them continue, or should we attempt to help them make changes for the better? Paul instructed the Galatians “If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him/her gently” (Galatians 6:1). The key word “restore” interfaces with confrontation of evil.

Joel’s message is to everyone who lives in the land of Judah, first and foremost to the elders, the leaders of the people (1:2). Remember Israel formed the northern kingdom which separated from Judah, made up of Benjamin and Judah. They remained faithful to their God many more years than Israel, but now – Listen up! God snatched the wine from their lips. That which their pleasures centered upon has been taken away. Their drunkenness made God’s land vulnerable to invasion (1:5-6). Therefore God allowed His vines and fig trees to be ruined, laid waste!

The people have forgotten they are stewards of God’s property. Therefore they are not worthy of spiritual privileges. Why should they sacrifice and worship the God their lifestyle has rejected? What is the point of going through the motions?

Reflection:

In order to get their attention God had to do something spectacular, among His people. He asked “Has anything like this ever happened in your days, or in the days of your forefathers?” (1:2). The answer, of course, was ‘No’. This plague was unique in Judah. Would it be fair to ask if God had to repeat this method of getting man’s attention, down through eons of time? What about today? Have we misunderstood the character of God by ignoring His justice, by focusing on Him only as a God of love?

It is hugely important for us to recognize the sacred privileges we have of worshiping the God who is HOLY (1:14). Only when our hearts are right with God, when His purity reigns in our hearts, can we worship Him in spirit and in truth. Therefore Joel is commissioned to “declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly….and cry out to the Lord” (1:14)

Devotional · Uncategorized

Deliver Us From Evil

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Matthew 6:9-13

Most of us are familiar with the Lord’s Prayer. In some churches it is repeated every Sunday. Each phrase is very meaningful when we examine them individually. This prayer teaches us first to honour our Father who is in heaven. His name represents the essence of His being – that which is holy. What a challenge in our world today, to think about holiness!

Our focus for today is on the end of this prayer when Jesus taught His disciples to pray “deliver us from evil”. This is a crucial request, for many reasons. It involves our perception of what is acceptable in God’s eyes. What exactly is evil? Adam and Eve did not know what evil was until they yielded to temptation. Now that we inherited their vulnerability to temptation we need the power of Almighty God to deliver us from both temptation and evil….”lead us not into temptation”.

It is worthy of note that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for 40 days of temptation but He did not succumb. What was it that gave Jesus the strength to endure without falling into sin? Was it the knowledge that He had come to do the Father’s will? (John 6:38).

What is the source of evil? We think temptation comes from the devil, and so it often does, but Jesus describes our hearts as the source of “evil thoughts…” He includes murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander (Matthew 15:19).

These things that make a person unclean in God’s holy eyes, require a cleansing that we ourselves are incapable of and so God sent Jesus the Christ to save us from ourselves, and our own inherent tendency towards evil.

If we saw ourselves as God sees us we might be appalled! The writer to the Hebrews tells us we need supernatural help…”The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any sword it penetrates….it judges the thoughts and intent (KJV), attitudes (NIV) of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Perhaps this is another reason Jesus was tempted – so that He could identify with us in our weakness, yet without sin (:15). He does not want us to fail, so with the temptation He has made a way to escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).

How often do we deplore the evils of our society, and stand in judgment on the actions of others. Would we have done any better, given their circumstances? Wouldn’t we have eaten the apple in the Garden of Eden? Paul warned the Corinthian church “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Even in the process of restoring a fallen brother or sister Paul warns us to be careful, lest we ourselves are tempted in the same way (Galatians 6:1).

Reflection:

How often when we think of evil do we think outside of ourselves? Would we be ready to ask God to search our own hearts?

Read Matthew 7:3-5.

 

Written by Marilyn Daniels. http://www.marilyndaniels.net