Devotional

Can One Escape God?

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Matthew 25:31-34

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflection:

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

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

My Peace

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Isaiah 26:1-13

When my heart is troubled, how do I deal with failure feelings or challenges to my rights? Is there a human being who has not felt the sting of rejection or the pain of discrimination in big ways or in little? Injustice hits a raw nerve in all of us from time to time, doesn’t it? When feelings overwhelm us where can we turn?

Thankfully the Word of God speaks to our hurting hearts. I’ve mentioned this many times before: “You [God] will keep him /her in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast because he/she trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3 MDV). No wonder Jesus was able to reassure His disciples: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives”. His peace was beyond anything the world could ever know. Have you ever experienced it? ….that exquisite moment when worldly cares just melt away and your heart is truly at rest? God doesn’t want our hearts to be troubled. Twice in John 14, Jesus cautions His followers “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (14:1, 27).

Troubled hearts aren’t able to rest. Hearts which are not resting in God do not have the same impact on our troubled world as hearts which are at peace. Satan is happy to ruffle our feathers because that renders us useless to God. Jesus adds another thought that troubled hearts are really afraid (John 14:27). He doesn’t want us to be afraid, but rather to be fully trusting, in spite of circumstances beyond our control. That is hard, but not impossible. Notice He is saying it in the imperative “Do not…!” It is not a suggestion. It takes determination and hard work!

Here is how it is done…”Trust in the Lord forever” (Isaiah 26:4). What do we really mean when we say we trust God? Do we let Him control the happenings in our lives, or do our plans even include Him, as we go about our daily lives? Do we live on automatic pilot, thereby not even seeing those exciting surprises that we so often miss because we are focused on what we want?

The Lord is our Rock, according to Isaiah (26:4). When we recognize the amazing stability He lends to us each day, we may find our souls yearning for Him in the night! Have you ever wakened with a sense of His presence in the darkness? What an illustration of His presence in the darkness of our world today! “In the morning my spirit longs for You” (Isaiah 26:9). Both soul and spirit rest in Him, the One through whom the world learns about righteousness (:9).

Reflection:

The subject of peace is crucial in our war-torn world today. So many families are split apart. Political leaders are torn from their posts. Violence is entering our schools making them unsafe for our precious children….and the fear grows. If only people knew the Lord. Yet, even in our churches we find competition and resentment, unfaithfulness and unforgiveness, disapproval and unacceptance. We need revival! Oh that the Spirit of our dear Lord would reign in our hearts and minds, exhibited by His amazing mercy and grace; lived out in lives of service and love. Then we would know His peace and truly be representatives of Almighty God!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

My Covenant

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Isaiah 59:21 **

Isaiah begins Chapter 59 with a wonderful statement. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save.” The question is : To whom does this remarkable hope extend? Is Isaiah talking to the Jewish nation or individuals of faith, or does he refer to all human beings?

Today many Christians live as the Jews did long ago. As God’s chosen people, Israel became exclusive, carrying the principle of separation from other nations out of the realm of faith. What do I mean? They forgot that households were blessed by the faith of the patriarchs. Foreigners within that household were drawn to the One True God by the wisdom of God working in and through the lives of His chosen people. In fact all in Abraham’s household (foreigners included) were circumcised as a sign of their covenant relationship with God. (Genesis 17:27)

Isn’t it thrilling to know that God extends His mercy and grace to all mankind! Looking at externals we often judge that someone is too hard, too far gone, too disinterested to be reached by the gospel. Recently I had the exquisite pleasure of listening to a young man, sharing quite unexpectedly with me how his life had been changed. He came face to face with Jesus! A drug addict around the age of 12, he continued down that path for 7 years until God got hold of his life. His tattooed body will forever hold a message of where he was, but the sparkle in his steady blue eyes tells where he is now. He was amazed to discover that God might use him to help his old friends and even his family, to whom he had always lied. Truly in this case “The Lord’s hand was not shortened”!

Isaiah describes those who were included in God’s covenant promise, categorizing their sins of injustice and evil. Repeatedly God notes the lack of truth, the propensity to lie: “Truth has fallen in the streets.” (:14) “No one calls for justice nor does any plead for truth.” (:4) ”Their feet run to evil and they make haste to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are of iniquity.” (:7) Like the blind they walked in darkness. They growl like bears (:10-11)….and on and on.

However, because He is a covenant God, His mercy reaches down to those unable to help themselves. The Lord saw all of the darkness, evil and injustice, and was deeply displeased (:15). Knowing the utter helplessness of mankind caught in such a trap, His own righteousness came into play. With fury God scourged His adversaries in order to rescue His chosen people (:18).

Prophetically Isaiah writes “His own Arm [God’s]worked salvation for Him. Because there was no human adequate to mediate, God gave us salvation through the redemptive work of Christ, His Son! This Redeemer will come, even today, to those who turn from transgression! Imagine such mercy and grace!

For them, as for us, the covenant remains secure. “As for me, says the Lord, this is My covenant with them: “My Spirit is upon you and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants…..forevermore!” (:21)

Reflection:

Do Isaiah’s words mean anything to you today? Do you have salvation through Jesus Christ the Lord?

Are you resting in the assurance of God’s covenant, because you believe, and received Jesus as Lord?

Read John 1:12-13.

By Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

God Speaks to Joshua

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Joshua 1

Who was Joshua? The son of Nun, we know, but what was it that drew Moses’ attention to this young man? Preparing for battle against the Amalekites, Moses trusted Joshua to choose the Israelite warriors (Exodus 17:9-14). The Lord singled Joshua out when the battle was over, because God wanted Joshua to remember what He had accomplished through him that day (:9). Was this a sign of things to come?

From that time, Joshua was chosen by Moses as his aide, to accompany him to Mt Sinai where he received the 10 commandments. Moses also appointed him to guard the Tent of Meeting where God spoke face to face with Moses. Clearly Joshua had proven himself capable and trustworthy.

We find Joshua gradually being given increased responsibility. At the end of Moses’ life he was commissioned before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly (Numbers 27:17, 23). Passing the baton must have been a very moving experience for Moses who knew he would never enter the Promised Land because of the sin he had committed at Kadesh.

Joshua’s name meant “Yahweh is salvation”. He was a descendent of Joseph, one of the tribe of Ephraim. He had scouted the land of Canaan with Caleb and the other 10 spies who had given a negative report. After the death of Moses, the Lord spoke to Joshua directly. He had been accustomed to receiving the word of the Lord through Moses. Now Moses was dead.

The Lord’s first words confirmed his Divine appointment. “Get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give….I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses” (Joshua 1:2-3). As a warrior, Joshua was used to war. However, God’s promise “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life” must have been deeply encouraging (:5). Joshua may have remembered earlier experiences when God was true to His word. Now God was giving him a glimpse into the future of His people. WOW!

Moses had called the people to be strong and courageous. They were not to be afraid, because the Lord their God would go before them, never leaving or forsaking them! (Deuteronomy 31:6.) Now God Himself is making the same commitment directly to Joshua “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). Three times God repeats “Be strong and courageous” (:6, 7, 9).

Today God calls us to be strong and courageous. Paul writes: “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong” (1 Corinthians 16: 13). Jesus, as He was leaving His disciples promised “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He had promised earlier that He would send a comforter, the Spirit of Truth, one who would live with and in believers, Christ-followers (John 14:16-17).

Joshua rose to fame because his life was totally committed to God. Just as God spoke to him, so God will speak to us through His word – the Bible, and even through others in our lives. We need to recognize the role of the Holy Spirit dwelling within. The Lord said: “Take Joshua….a man in whom is the Spirit” (Numbers 27:17).

Reflection:

In what way(s) would you like your life to resemble Joshua’s?

Is our response to God’s call “Here am I – send me”?

What is more thrilling than to remember those significant moments in our lives when God has used us to His glory?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Prone to Wander

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Lamentations 3

There is some good theology written into many hymn lyrics. One particular favourite links our human struggles with those of the writer of “Come Thou Fount of Ev’ry Blessing”. In May 1758, when he was only 22 years old, Robert Robinson penned “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” for his sermon on Pentecost Sunday. In the following year of 1759, the lyrics of this powerful hymn were included in a small hymnal entitled A Collection of Hymns used by the Church of Christ. 

His loudest praise is for “streams of mercy that never cease”. Surely he had been reading Lamentations 3:22-23. “The Lord’s compassions never fail”, Jeremiah was inspired to record. In fact God’s blessings are new every morning, because He is a faithful and loving God! “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed”. What a glorious truth!

Young Robinson recognized that his salvation was fixed upon the “mount of Thy [God’s] redeeming love”. Although Jeremiah calls himself “the man who has seen affliction” (3”1) he relies on the fact that “the Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him” (3:25). After all, Robinson’s testimony went like this: “Jesus sought me when a stranger, wand’ring from the fold of God”. Amazing how he worked that truth into poetic form to be sung in ages to come by many believers for whom Jesus had “interposed His precious blood”.

He knew his Bible. It was to “grace” that he was indebted. It was God who daily bound his wand’ring heart to Himself. Jesus Himself assures us “No one can snatch them [His sheep – His followers] out of My hand….no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:28).

Yet the struggles of each human heart are very real. Reading through the Bible there is no one who has not wrestled with temptation, no one who has not wandered, Abraham, Moses, David, to name a few. Yet they trusted in the God who “Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love” (Lamentations 3:32). The prophet then prescribes a remedy: “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord” (3:40), lest today we find ourselves unforgiven because we did not repent. The prophet feared he had been cut off (3:54), but in the end “You heard my plea,…… You came near” and “You redeemed my life” (3:56-58).

We are only saved by the goodness of God who “binds my wand’ring heart” to Himself. In fact our salvation is sealed for what purpose? – to worship God in His courts above (Revelation 7:9-10). Our worship rises up as a sweet smelling sacrifice, spreading everywhere “the fragrance of the knowledge of Him [Christ]..…and blessing God because “we are to God the aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).

Reflection:

Through His Holy Word God reassures us that, though we are prone to wander, He is ever faithful to those who call upon His name for their salvation. We trust Him to exemplify the kindness to which He calls us, as representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ here on earth. He gives meaning and purpose to each of His children and through the power of His Holy forgiveness enables us to pass on to others all that we have received from Him – grace, mercy, peace, joy and love. Praise the Lord! (1 John 1:8-10)

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Speak Lord in Stillness

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Psalm 46

We were in the depths of darkness in the savannahs of Guyana. I had never seen so many stars! Fascinated by the sight, our team piled out of their quarters to stare at the sky. Quietness ensued. We were awestruck by the hand of God! Away from the hustle and bustle, the blurring brightness of city lights, we could actually pause to see what God has made and in so doing, to truly worship Him. What a privilege!

We probably have read in the news “Nations are in an uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice and the earth melts.” Psalm 46: 6 could have been written just yesterday. But the Psalmist also pens words of trust:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear,

though the earth give way (:1).

In the varying cadences of this Psalm our hearts are lifted to worship as we pause to consider the works of the Lord (:8). In so doing we too can determine to shut out the fears that naturally possess us when faced with trauma or possible persecution. I read recently how a soldier returning home to drown nightmares from PTSD in alcoholism, was impacted by the Spirit of God. He waited for God to speak, as he hungered for the Word of God, like the starving POW he had once been. In the stillness, he was healed.

These verses were inspired by God to heal the souls of those around the world who are persecuted for their faith. In the awful silence of a prison cell the still small voice of God can be heard echoing the reality of the presence of our Creator God. The Holy Spirit quietly releases prisoners from bondage in the soul. Isaiah writes about this ministry where the Spirit of God binds up the broken-hearted, proclaims freedom for the captives and releases prisoners from darkness (Isaiah 61:1).

Shining in the blackness of the night sky millions of stars pierced the consciousness of men and women with sparkling light! There is a God! He speaks in the beauty of holiness, and in the stillness, sometimes without words!

Reflection:

Reflect on a time when you have become aware of the voice of God.

By what means did He speak to you? What did that experience teach you?

How does the reality of God’s presence allay your fears?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Uncategorized

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)

Uncategorized

Weapons of Love

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Matthew 5:44

Long ago a holy man set the record straight. Instead of revenge or retaliation, when we are persecuted we are to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). In the twenty-first century what might that look like? In modern society we see every rule of God broken with impunity (expectation of freedom from the consequences of our choices). Babies are murdered before they are born, marriage is no longer required as the established ground for raising a family, slander and lying are rampant, and the list goes on. The question is – how do we correct these evils?

A man-child was born to demonstrate the answer to that question. Fully human, Jesus the Son of God, lived only a few years, but His life lives on more than two millennia later, in those who follow His way (John 14:6). How often do we excuse ourselves on the basis of being “only human”. That phrase recognizes the weaknesses and limitations with which each of us has been born. Jesus also experienced human temptation and suffering, such suffering that He sweat drops of blood as he wrestled with the crisis He was facing, in Gethsemane.

Why did He suffer? He knew He had powerful enemies. The faith leaders of His day had walked away from God. They were teaching rules instead of relationship. Love! That was what the world needed, way back then. Even today our witnessing must be born of love. Jesus spoke words that challenge each of us with a love not known in most human terms: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).

First this brings us a recognition of God, Creator of the world. “In the beginning God” (Genesis 1:1). A New Testament verse reveals to us that Jesus was not just man, but equally He was God ( John 1:1). The only begotten – unique God-man. God’s greatest weapon against evil was His relational Being, His Son Jesus (Hebrews 1:3). As we read John 3 we know that love ruled God’s decision to send His Son. His love blanketed the world…inclusive of race or gender. “Whosever believes” will receive the right to become children of God (John 3:16, 1:12).

In an age when evil reigned, when folks were violent and hateful, angry and greedy, Jesus came to bring what? Love! He cautioned His followers that they would be recognized by their love (John 13:35). As Jesus combatted the evils of demonic oppression, He loved. His heart was drawn towards suffering of every kind as He met with rich and poor, feeble and sick, male and female. He fed and healed and served because He loved everyone. He even loved those who rejected Him (Mark 10:21) and those who crucified Him.

As we serve Jesus, do our hearts cry out to our heavenly Father “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”? (Luke 23:34). Folks are making choices today which reject God’s laws of morality. What is our attitude towards them? Can we change them by nagging or demanding change? What would Jesus do and say if He lived on earth today?

Reflection:

Jesus does live on earth today…in broken vessels, but He has chosen you and me to represent Him, using the weapons He used. We have been given the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 617), who equips us to love and to live at peace, with kindness, gentleness, patience and even self-control! (Galatians 5:22-23). He helps us to do good to those who spitefully use us (Matthew 5:44). Let us always remember our enemies lack the holy hope which sustains children of God in lives of love, faithfulness and gratitude. What does my life witness to a weary, wounded world? Paul gave a benediction to the Romans:


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Eternal Hope

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Psalm 62

Recent research on nurses in the workplace has found that the need for resilience is critical, linking resilience, hope and optimism together. Other psychological studies demonstrate this linkage in the development of emerging positive organizational behaviour, which simply means happiness in the workplace.

What is your greatest hope today? Health? Happiness? Strength? Wisdom? Love? There is a multitude of things we as Christians pray for, but do we recognize the depth of the hope that we have in Jesus Christ?

Let’s look at David’s hope. In Psalm 62 he describes its source. “My hope come from Him”….from God alone in whom his soul finds rest (:5). What is it about David’s God that differs from other gods of his era? Twice he refers to God as his rock and his salvation (:2, 6). In the challenges of change we all need to know our souls are resting on the solid rock, don’t we?

This God is a “mighty rock” which forms a fortress or a refuge for the King of Israel. David’s job is not an easy one. His people are wayward, his sons rebellious (:3,4). Facing all of this, plus international warfare, we must not be surprised to learn that he became disheartened. At such a low point in his life, David seeks strength and security in God, knowing he can trust His faithful love (:12). Where do we go when needing consolation and direction?

David’s testimony declares God to be One who listens, and he encourages others, including you and me today to “pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge”! (:8). As I examined my own hopes for today I wondered if I could affirm what David says: “My salvation and my honour depend on God” (:7)?

Billy Graham spent his long life teaching and preaching hope to a world writhing in pain. “For the believer there is hope beyond the grave, because Jesus Christ has opened the door to heaven for us by His death and resurrection”, he reminded his listeners. We often celebrate this hope at Easter, but do we consider the cost that put a baby in a manger? Facing a life of distrust and even persecution and death, Jesus came to give us eternal hope.

Reflection;

Do we ever look at hope from God’s perspective? It actually is a gift to us voiced through the prophet Jeremiah who, on God’s behalf declared “I know the plans I have for you…plans to give you hope and a future” (29:11). Eternal hope! God doesn’t intend for mankind to feel hopeless. He created an eternal home for all those who love Him and follow Jesus (John 14:1-3). Eternity is a long time – much too long for our finite minds to comprehend. God, the author of hope, looks forward to our fellowship with Him throughout eternity. He sent His Holy Son to make a way for this dream of eternal life to come true. At Christmas time our thoughts turn to gifts. What an exquisite gift we have in Jesus Christ. Eternal Hope!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Important to God

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Isaiah 41:10

In today’s world believers need strength, perhaps more than ever before. I was thrilled by the challenge a pastor gave recently. It actually strengthened me in my resolve to share my Lord Jesus with the world! It was a simple statement really. Speaking about man made in God’s image, he reminded us that “You are important to God”. There it is – the gospel in a nutshell. If we ever needed an introductory statement, doesn’t that say it all?

Here’s the thing – your relationship with God, and mine, is founded upon a love beyond anything we can experience here between friends and family. We all disappoint one another, but God – never! Oh sometimes He has to rebuke us, which He gently does through the indwelling Holy Spirit, but if we are honest, in our heart of hearts we know more than rebuke is deserved. Rebuke is very different from condemnation because it gives us opportunity to repent….and God, Himself, gives us the strength to face the realities of conviction. He longs for fellowship with each of us because we are important to God.

Christianity is based on relationship, for that very reason. It is not just another religious ideology, but it an actual relationship with the one and only personal God, in whose image we are made. The joy this generates, gives us holy boldness to share the good news with others!

So what do we do with this information? How do we live out the gospel? Do we impose rules and regulations on others, standards that seem impossible to meet? Does God do that with us? For example I was brought up to believe that Christians do not smoke, so when I discovered a picture of my great grandfather holding a cigar, I was shocked – disappointed! Why, when I knew he regularly held church in his home during his 72-year marriage to my great grandma, would I allow something like that to colour my esteem of this dear grandpa? How quick we are to judge based on human standards!

The Pharisees spent a lot of time condemning folks who didn’t measure up to their ideology. Did they forget that every person, made in the image of God is “important to God”? Certainly they judged folks on outward appearances, something which Jesus Christ frequently challenged. In our scripture verse, Isaiah cautioned the Israelites not to be afraid, adding magnificent promises that God Himself is with them, as He is with those who believe and receive Him today. Furthermore “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Our strength doesn’t come from how we behave, but derives from His righteousness! Of course how we live reflects on what we say we believe about God. Does our lifestyle bring glory to His holy name?

Reflection:

God inspired Isaiah to record a picture of his own journey with God. “For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me with a robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). Can you relate to that? Do others understand the joy that being “important to God” brings you?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)