Devotional

The Troubled Heart

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John 12:27, Mk 14:33, John 14:1, 27

We are in the season of Lent; Easter is upon us. What have been our remembrances throughout this period of time? Have our hearts resonated with the heart of our Saviour? How have we prepared our hearts to worship the God- Man who took upon Himself the sins of the world, yours and mine? What was the cost of His great sacrifice?

We read, in the last 9 chapters of John, that He prepared His disciples at great length for a grief mankind had never known before. Emmanuel would leave this earth after spending 3 short years teaching God’s love and majestic power, in word and deed. As Jesus talked intimately with the remaining 11 men He had chosen to be with Him through His formal ministry, (Judas had left the supper), He knew their hearts faced very troubling times. How would they cope?

“Let not your hearts be troubled” Jesus told them. Why so? His own heart had experienced trouble. John describes it for us (12:27). Greeks had come seeking Jesus. It seemed that suddenly this alerted Jesus to the fact His time had come. “I tell you the truth…” He said as He used a parable to tell them about His death and resurrection. “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24). He went on to explain how this troubled His heart. He is after all fully human, just as He is fully God. Did His followers understand? Did they care?

His following words might form a prayer for when we are faced with terrible trials. He questioned whether or not He should pray that His heavenly Father would save Him from this hour. How can we know the Father’s will when we face abuse, oppression, or rejection; when our hearts are troubled?

As a child I was taught that the Christian life is J.O.Y. meaning Jesus comes first, others second and myself last. Was this exemplified in Jesus’ sacrificial life? When we claim to follow Him, what will be the cost? Do I consider it a sacrifice to give Jesus my will, my time, my energy, my love? Will I render to Caesar that which is Caesar, but to God the things that are God’s? Can I love enough to give all my goods to the poor? Do I care about others within the family of God enough to restore them gently to fellowship when they have fallen?

I have discovered that when my heart is troubled the greatest panacea for healing is to encourage someone else, to draw alongside them and be, as someone wisely said “the only Jesus they may ever see”. What a challenge! This actually puts into practise what Paul experienced. He taught the Corinthian church to comfort others with the comfort with which God had comforted them (2 Corinthians 1:3).

Having a correct understanding of God brings me everlasting joy! My heart cannot remain troubled when I understand He has a plan for my life, one which may allow for moments of suffering, alienation or fear. He has promised He will not allow us to suffer anything beyond our ability to bear it, with His grace, in His miraculous strength! When we sing “Victory in Jesus” do we really mean it?

Reflection:

To struggle is human, to be victorious is Divine! In a sense we have the advantages of both, in that the Holy Spirit indwells the children of God, giving us all we need to endure in the moment. Are we willing to die to self, as our Lord and Saviour did, in order to see others enter into the family of God? Would this trouble your heart, or heal it?

by Marilyn Daniels (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

Uncategorized

Praise the King of Heaven!

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Psalm 24:7-10

The majestic strains of the organ thrilled one’s very soul! Walking down the aisle was a young woman on the arm of her father, glowing under her white veil. Why at such a time is she thinking about the King of Heaven? Ah! Her Prince is waiting at the altar and she knows he is a gift from heaven! Sometimes at these epic moments in our lives we remember to include praise to the source of all our joy. What joy!

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven; 2.Praise Him for His grace and favour
To his feet your tribute bring. To his people in distress.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, Praise him, still the same as ever,
Evermore his praises sing. Slow to chide and swift to bless.
Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King! Glorious in his faithfulness!

3 Father-like he tends and spares us; Angels, help us to adore him;
Well our feeble frame he knows. You behold him face to face.
In his hand he gently bears us, Sun and moon, bow down before him,
Rescues us from all our foes. Dwellers all in time and space.
Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia, alleluia!
Widely yet his mercy flows! Praise with us the God of grace!

Lyte’s text speaks to the love of God and our dependence on Him in a clear and imaginative way. Think of what might happen if we woke up every day with these words on our lips: “Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, evermore His praises sing.” How would our lives change if we walked through our days singing “Alleluia!” or through our times of sorrow declaring that we rest in the gentle hand of God? This is a text with beautiful imagery and thoughtful prose that, like Psalm 103, gives us words to praise our God with heart, mind, and soul.

Lyte understood the necessity of leaning on God throughout a life-time of suffering. He spent a lot of time on the European continent in the early 1800’s for treatment of chronic asthma and bronchitis, and died there before he was old. A poet at heart, as a clergyman he also wrote many beloved hymns, the most famous of which is perhaps “Abide With Me”. What inspired such a life of dedication to God?

The Psalmist, also a poet, challenges us to lift up our heads that the King of Glory may come in. He asks “Who is this King of Glory?” and goes on to answer his own question. Clearly David has had a vision! The Lord is strong and mighty!

In his day the glory of the Lord was represented by a procession as the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the sanctuary. No coffee cups or water bottles in that service! Total focus was on this great and glorious King! There is passion in true worship! Only those with clean hands and pure hearts would participate. He or she will receive blessings from the Lord, and vindication from God his/her Saviour (Psalm 24:4-5). There is a reward awaiting for those who truly seek the face of God. That exquisite yearning of the heart will be fulfilled! (:6).

Reflection:

What is it that brings us to our knees in an attitude of worship? Is it, as David wrote, because “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it”? (24:1) Is it a clear vision of God’s glory? It requires some meditation to actually “see” Him in all His glory. Then of course we desperately want to go back for more; when we are compelled by the Holy Spirit, we cannot get enough. That is what heaven will be like. That is what heaven on earth might be like!

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

A Prayer for COVID

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Nehemiah 1

Recently I received a list of prayers that might take us through the difficulties we are presently facing with restrictions in our life-style, during the present global pandemic. It started well. “Our great physician, we ask for Your healing touch for those infected with the virus. For those facing quarantine and feelings of isolation, comfort them with the promise of Your presence. We declare Psalm 91:10-11 – that no plague shall come near our dwelling for You shall give Your angels charge over us, to keep us in all Your ways”.

Prayer for me, is a learning experience, even after a life-time of talking with my Heavenly Father. Something about this prayer bothered me. When Jesus was asked how we should pray He began with the tender reminder that God is our Father, great and majestic, sitting on His throne in heaven “Our Father who art in heaven….hallowed be Thy name” (Matthew 6:9). Now this puts us in the right frame of mind as we approach a Holy God.

This is, after all, the God who can bring either blessings or curses upon His people depending on their obedience to Him. And indeed He did just that back in Nehemiah’s day– the Israelites tried the patience of God until He was forced to bring consequences of their choices upon them. They were in exile when Nehemiah discovered things back home in Jerusalem were deteriorating, and he wept. Many folks are weeping because of the impact of COVID internationally today. Things are deteriorating around the world. Does God see? Know? Care?

How did Nehemiah deal with his painful thoughts, with his grief? Did he shake his fist and ask “How could a loving God let this happen?” or did he claim the promises of God? What comes first when we want to claim God’s blessings? Our heart attitude must be scrutinized. “Search me O God and know my heart…..see if there is any offensive way in me” (Psalm 139:23-24). Nehemiah’s first thoughts are of confession, nationally, personally and communally; he and his father’s house and all of Israel had earned the wrath of God (Nehemiah 1:6-7). When we are in distress do we remember to examine our hearts before God and then confess our sins?

Carrying on where we left the Lord’s Prayer….then Jesus taught His disciples to pray that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. God’s will does not allow wickedness to run rampant, unchecked. His disciplinary actions may be hard to bear, but very necessary nonetheless.

Looking at our world today it would seem that everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes. If we saw the chaos and hatred, violence or neglect through the eyes of God, perhaps our prayers would take a different shape. People are dying without understanding God’s love. Have those of us who enjoy it let our world down? What can we do, or pray for, that will remedy the situation?

Reflection:

Our words display what is on our hearts. How awful is it to offend God? In a world that focuses on my rights, we sometimes act as though God owes us something…they call that entitlement. Is this approach we take with the Supreme God, Lord Jehovah, Yahweh? It is a great eye-opener on what sort of a God we worship when we come to Him demanding, rather than humbly beseeching His favour. Of course we want COVID to end – it’s a plague, the very pestilence Jesus said would be a sign of His return (Luke 21:10-11). What is foremost on our minds when we think about COVID?

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Uncategorized

Worthy of Praise

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Exodus 15:1-18

Moses and the nation of Israel were singing….imagine you can hear them. It would be the biggest choir you would have ever heard. It has been estimated, based on a census taken at Sinai, that the Israelites numbered two million people when they left Egypt. Now they were praising God, exulting in all that makes Him great! Perhaps their words are your testimony today “The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation, He is my God and I will praise Him!” (Exodus 15:2). In those few words we get a glimpse of the character of God.

Strength. Have you ever felt weak? The Israelites had. They had been in slavery for about 400 years….many generations had not seen freedom. They felt totally helpless, but now they were free at last! God had done miraculous things. He brought them a leader, totally qualified by life experience in the Egyptian palace. The great Pharaoh had given way under the power of their God, after a series of miraculous plagues impacted his nation, and lastly his own son! Even his weak attempt to recapture his slaves at the Red Sea had been foiled by the Israelite God. The Egyptian army drowned on the very spot where God had dried up the waters to let His people cross.

Song. Out of the spirit of the moment their hearts swelled in song. Many hymns of praise have been written over centuries of time, focusing on the love of God, particularly since He gave His own Son as a sacrifice for sin. This song was all about power. God’s right hand was majestic in power. Do we see that in our lives? Do we believe that? Has God shattered our enemy? Who is the enemy of people of faith? Satan of course. Day by day are we aware of gaining victory over temptation and sin because we are kept by God’s powerful right hand? Jesus promised that no man could pluck us out of our Father’s hand (John 10:28-29). The “greatness of Your majesty” (:7) also became a theme in this hymn of praise. Do we understand the significance of majesty? It refers to the Sovereignty of God, upon which all of our faith is founded. Either “He is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all!” That is a catch phrase used by Dr John Moore, which is worth memorizing because it describes the essence of our God, who is worthy of all praise. Dr Moore wrote the song “Burdens are lifted at Calvary”. Calvary was seen, in that day, as a place of weakness and defeat, but it was the glorious means of the greatest victory ever seen, when Jesus defeated the power of death and hell! Praise God for the Lamb who was slain and who rose again! Moses’ song goes on, praising the certainty that God will lead the people whom He redeemed, right to His holy dwelling. This is prophetic. They were on their way back to the land of promise, where eventually the temple of God would be established as the place of worship, His holy dwelling (Exodus 15:12).

Salvation. Yes – only God could procure their salvation and today because Jesus lives we can face tomorrow. The Gaithers wrote those lyrics. Salvation is now, a glorious reality for today as well as hope for tomorrow:

And then one day I’ll cross that river, and fight life’s final war with pain

And then as death gives way to victory, I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He reigns!”

Salvation comes from the God who is “Majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders….the God of unfailing love” (Exodus 15:11, 13).

Reflection:

This song thrills our hearts with hope. Moses’ vision came true and now we, as did they, look forward to the day when “the Lord will reign forever and ever” (:18) and we with Him! (2 Timothy 2:12) Hallelujah!

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

A Desert Experience

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Matthew 4:1-11

Before He began His formal ministry, Jesus was tempted in the desert. Drawn away by the Holy Spirit, there was a purpose in this time alone; He was there to fast and pray. Following Jesus’ baptism He needed time alone with God. Our young people sometimes attempt 40 days of fasting, but they do it together and it is not practised in the complete absence of food. The purpose of course is to feast one’s eyes on God, to hear His voice. Is this what Jesus was doing in the desert?

So much is made of the temptation which followed Jesus’ fasting that we sometimes forget to look at the amazing strength He received from talking with His Heavenly Father for 40 whole days! Think of it! How often do we spend 40 minutes dedicated to listening to God? Its hard to spend an hour in prayer – Jesus’ disciples couldn’t do it in Gethsemane; you and I aren’t, generally, much different.

We hear sermons about how Satan attacked Jesus when He was most vulnerable. Perhaps we forget the way God had nurtured His spirit for 40 days; given their precious communication, Jesus was able to meet Satan armed with the “sword of the spirit” which Paul talks about (Ephesians 6:17).

One pastor recently reminded his congregation that Satan took what was good, in an attempt to pervert Jesus’ calling. Jesus’ response demonstrated His commitment to that calling, based on the Word of God.

Satan didn’t stop until he had tempted Jesus to abandon His calling, twisting reality in the attempt to invert the whole experience of worship. Jesus knew Himself to be worthy of worship. This was, and is the truth. He, being the way, the TRUTH and the life (John 14:6), was not going to abdicate His royal position for any temptation here on earth.

Worship is to be God-centered. Sometimes in order to take our focus off of temporal things we need to be alone in the desert with God, where nothing will distract us from listening to His voice. Then, and only then will we know the joy of having the Holy Spirit minister to our innermost needs. Imagine the irony of Satan, a created being himself, trying to tempt the Omniscient, Almighty Creator with power.

Reflection:

Our prayers often exemplify what we believe about God’s power. Only in a desert experience can we know the reality of scripture “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Matthew records how this played out in the life of Christ. Can we, will we, see beyond the temporary to the eternal, in our desert experiences?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

John’s Joy!

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John 1:1-7

The Apostle John is excited! His joy overflows as he writes. All the way down through the history of the Church, even into the twenty-first century, we recognize the source of John’s enthusiasm, from his introductory words.

He is writing to his “dear children” (2:1)…..children of the faith who have responded to the message that he declares in verses 5-7. It is a message about light. Jesus Himself claimed to be “the light” (John 8:12) in a world darkened by sin.

Turning back to John’s introduction: This specific “Light” existed from the beginning. Yet John had seen the Light with his own eyes. He had walked and talked with this man famous for preaching, teaching and healing. Did he recognize the challenges Jesus would send into the faith community of John’s day?

Standing at the foot of the cross, seeing all of his hopes for future ministry with Jesus nailed to a cross, what were John’s thoughts? Now his perspective has obviously changed! The “Life” had appeared! Jesus claimed to be the “Life” (John 14:6). John describes a distinguishing factor about that “life”….it is eternal (1 John 1:2). That phrase “eternal life” wasn’t familiar to Jewish worshipers. In the Old Testament God is described as eternal (Genesis 21:33); His love is an eternal blessing(Psalm 21:6-7). Daniel even makes reference to God’s eternal kingdom (4:3) but what that meant was rather vague.

Twice John’s excitement causes him to proclaim that which he is intimately acquainted with. He knew Jesus, the man, but now the resurrection revealed His glorious deity! All that the disciples had seen and heard must be preached “so that you also may have fellowship with us” (:3). Imagine – our identity as believers means we are in fellowship with those very disciples who walked and talked with Jesus.

Listen to Jesus’ prayer, recorded by John: “My prayer is not for them alone (the disciples of his day). I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message (you and me), that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have Sent Me” (John 17:20-21). This is the Kingdom of God in all its reality, formed through centuries of time! No wonder John is excited! Eternal life, in Jesus Christ our Lord, is as present today as it was 2000 years ago, making us one in the body of Christ.

Reflection:

Meditate on Jesus’ words:

In Him (Jesus) was life and that life was the light of men” John 1:4)

Does your heart resonate with John’s joy?

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