Devotional

Rewards

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Psalm 19:11, Colossians 3:23-24

Recently a friend caused me to think about new doctrinal teaching on rewards. It would take a lot of digging to check out all the Bible verses that speak to the topic, but speak they do. From both Old and New Testaments God’s people are assured of rewards. It is interesting to note that God Himself is spoken of as Abraham’s “very great reward” (Genesis 15:1). What might that mean?

Abraham had just declined taking anything that would obligate him to the King of Sodom, asserting his complete allegiance to “the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14:22), with whom he already had a covenant. Therefore God honoured him with His protection and presence.

The Psalmist reminds his readers that in keeping the ordinances [laws] of the Lord, there would be great reward (Psalm 19:7, 11). Old Testament theology demonstrates a conviction that people will be rewarded for their works, a point that Jesus clarifies in His teaching about the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:34 – “Come you [sheep] who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance – the kingdom prepared for you.” Not all rewards will be received on earth. Jesus warns that many will be persecuted for righteousness sake; these will receive their rewards in heaven (Matthew 5: 10-12). Paul speaks about rewards in heaven as a certainty. However, he mentions motivation. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for man!” Why? “….since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving!” (Colossians 3:23-24).

In our world today a prevailing attitude seems to be to put our best foot forward when we know we will get something out of it. However, out of a sense of commitment and loyalty the best work is done, done for the sake of the work itself. This is what Jesus was talking about when He spoke about rewards in Matthew 25. Those who were blessed by His Father were totally unaware – “Lord when did we see You hungry….thirsty….a stranger…..sick……in prison?” What a thrilling surprise when they were rewarded by the commendation of their precious Saviour! What a horrible shock that those who, labouring to keep up appearances were told to “Depart from Me you who are cursed” (Matthew 25:41), because they had not seen Jesus in the opportunity.

Let us not forget that prophecy anticipates Jesus’ return -“The Sovereign Lord comes with power ….see His reward is with Him” (Isaiah 40:10).

Reflection:

Can you imagine serving Jesus out of a competitive spirit?

Why do we want rewards?

Would we serve Him if there were no rewards promised?

What will these “rewards” look like?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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)

Uncategorized

Isaiah Talks About Moab

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Isaiah 15,16

Moab in ancient days was a kingdom east of Israel, in the Transjordan highlands. The nation arose from Lot’s incestuous child by his eldest daughter, named Moab (Genesis 19:38). They were often at war with their Israelite neighbours to the west. However events recorded in the book of Ruth testify to occasions of friendly interaction between the two nations, from time to time at least between Bethlehem and Moab.

Perhaps because he descended from Ruth, a Moabite, we know David also had friendly relations. He committed his parents to the protection of the Moabite King when pursued by King Saul (1 Samuel 22:3-4). However, once David became king he made the Moabites a tributary, while placing them under the rule of a governor. That was the end of all friendly relations.

One small incident remains to be told. When the Israelites were returning to the Promised Land from Egypt, the Moabites denied them passage through their land, causing them a long detour around, heaping God’s judgment upon themselves (Judges 11:17-18). In His judgment on them, God referred to Moab as His “washpot”, a place of accumulated filth (Psalm 60:8).

Israel suffered political upheaval under King Rehoboam. Under him the Moabites may have been absorbed into the northern kingdom of Israel, where they continued in vassalage until the death of Ahab. Eventually they refused to pay tribute, asserting their independence and making war on Israel. Later they assisted Nebuchadnezzar in his aggression against King Jehoiakim in Israel.

Isaiah and Jeremiah both refer to the burden that Moab had become (Isaiah 15-16, Jeremiah 48:42). Isaiah identifies their pride as an abomination to God, as well as their utter contempt for Israel.

At the time of Ruth we believe child sacrifices were still offered to one of their many deities. Chemosh was their chief god (2 Kings 23:13). Their religious influence reached as far into history as Solomon, who erected a “High place” for Chemosh (1 Kings 11:7). Sadly this was not destroyed until the reign of Josiah.

Isaiah is given denunciations by God against other nations, Moab included. Some hold no hope…certain nations will be cut off forever, once God’s judgment falls. However, Isaiah records a couple of very interesting phrases regarding Moab. God says “My heart cries out over Moab.” (Isaiah 15:5). “My heart laments for Moab (Isaiah 16:11).

Reflection:

What is it about this particular nation of Moab, that created angst in the heart of God? (Jeremiah 48:36)

What is it about any of us that generates His great love?

Let us remember that the essence of God’s character is love. His heart is pained when He has to declare judgment, because His intention is for His people to walk with Him in paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake! (Psalm 23).

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Creator God

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Isaiah 6:1-3

Outside my window is the most beautiful tree. Its graceful shape and glorious fall colours stimulate my very soul to worship the Creator! In every season this tree represents the genius of God’s design and reminds me of the glory of His Sovereignty over all creation. Our minds, so limited by time and space, find it hard to understand anything outside those limits; mankind is just beginning to grasp the expanse of our universe yet the reality of other universes is also beginning to dawn in recent times. This raises a question: Where was Jesus before the world began?

In His high priestly prayer Jesus asks the Father to glorify Him “in His presence with the glory I had with You before the world began” (John 17:5). How often do we limit the person of the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the figure who walked our earth for 33 short years? Have you ever tried to imagine what His pre-incarnate glory was really like?

Isaiah had a glimpse of this glory. In fact, the whole earth, in his vision, was “full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). If we allow God to be God, we might just see Him outside of the part of creation we experience day to day. His presence not only fills the earth, a concept pretty hard for mere humans to understand, but also fills the universe, beyond what we can see.

Paul clarifies this picture. “He who descended”…this Jesus who came to us as a baby in a manger, “is the very one who ascended higher than the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe” (Ephesians 4:10). This Jesus, God’s “Son, whom He appointed heir of all things,” is the One “through whom He made the universe” (Hebrews 1:2). According to the Bible God’s “Son is the radiance of God’s glory” and He sustains all things by His powerful Word” (Hebrews 1:3). This is the Creator God whom John identifies as the “Word” (John 1:1).

When we worship the Holy Baby in Mary’s arms, do we give ourselves time to contemplate the Majesty that prevailed on the day when God declared His creation “good”? (Genesis 1:31). According to the Biblical record that declaration covered everything – the separation of light and darkness, the sky, the seas and dry land producing vegetation like my tree, the universe with sun, moon and stars, the bewildering variety of birds and fish, all living creatures, the crowning glory of which was man, made in God’s own image! What a quotable quote: “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26)!

I like to imagine that the majesty of Creator God appeals to every one of mans’ senses, as well as to the delight of knowing that He calls us into fellowship with Himself. What an honour it is to be called the child of Almighty God! The whole purpose of Creation was to mingle with His creation…and so we read that God walked with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8). He brought the woman He created, to the man (Genesis 2:22). He also brought the animals to the man to see what he would name them (Genesis 2:19). He was and is personally engaged!

Reflection:

Creator, sustainer – our Creator God is an awesome God! Will we allow Him to be greater than our comprehension can see? It was Satan’s desire to be like God which caused his expulsion from heaven. We have been given the privilege of serving God, but even in heaven we will not be like the One who is eternal, since we are created beings. Neither we will ever know all things, or have all power. Even Satan has to operate through his demon host, since he, as a created being, can only be in one place at a time. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, children of God can celebrate Creator God as He takes us on a voyage of discovery day by day! Hallelujah!

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)

Uncategorized

Be of Good Cheer

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Isaiah 32 John 16:31-33 KJV

All around us the world is changing. Even as I write, one can see the possibility of another great world war looming before us as nation aggravates nation. Nature rises up against mankind as floods or hurricanes, earthquakes or mudslides take the lives of hundreds of people. Closer to home, relationships fracture so easily. Where is the glue that holds things together as spouses part, and children run from home? Even friendship has taken on a new dimension, because isolation reigns in developed countries.

Thousands of years ago life also seemed very harsh. Nations were at war. The prevailing atmosphere was one of gloom, even hopelessness. However, the ancients were given a vision of a better world where each man would be as strong as a refuge from the storm. There would be a sense of protection, like the shadow of a rock in a thirsty land. Those who had been blind would see; the deaf would hear. Minds would be healed, enabling them to know and understand. Even those with speech difficulties would be fluent and clear (Isaiah 32).

Written as prophecy, Isaiah was giving Israel a message from the Lord about Messiah and His Kingdom (Isaiah 32). What an ideal all of the above represents. It will come to pass only when the King reigns in righteousness. Would it be stretching truth too far to suppose that if the “King” (Jesus) truly reigned in the hearts of His people today the world would be a different place? At least we know that “the fool would no longer be called noble, nor the scoundrel be highly respected” (Isaiah 32:4-5).

Isaiah depicts the wasteland of a society that makes up evil schemes, and destroys the weak with lies, leaving them hungry and thirsty, without compassion. Complacency will give way to trembling fear and even mourning in sackcloth. The fortress, and the citadel will become a wasteland until…!

“Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high” (Isaiah 32:15). There is hope! Picture justice dwelling in a desert which was produced by the folly of man. Now righteousness would live in a fertile field. What makes the difference? It is the fruit of righteousness.

In our world today it might seem that many principles treasured by Godly people, are being violated by the opinions of man. For example, mankind, without seeing ahead, claims to be more compassionate than God. Did God really say “Come out from among them and be separate”? (2 Corinthians 6:17). What does this mean? In a day when God’s Word is devalued, perhaps it means we should be bold enough to stand for our belief in Biblical truth. We are different from the world in our thoughts toward God and man. Compassion might take the form of tough-love. When will we allow our “rights” as believers to be taken away, discredited? Will we take a firm stand for righteousness?

Jesus warned His disciples that they would be scattered. It’s easier to be strong when you are joined together. Perhaps this is why Jesus taught there must be unity in the faith (John 17:20-23). Paul reinforced Jesus’ teaching by addressing unity in the church (Ephesians 4:13). Isaiah leaves us with cause for good cheer. He writes that the fruit of righteousness will be peace (32:17). Within our own spirits the possibility of peace in the midst of life’s storms comes to us when the righteousness of Christ rules in our lives.

Reflection:

Jesus promised His disciples they would have trouble in this world. We don’t want to think about that. However, He links trouble to an experience of His peace….”So that in Me you may have peace” (John 16:33). Are we willing to pay the price for His peace? Our confidence comes from the reality of His resurrection when He proved to the world there is greater life beyond what we know and experience here! Will we be a part of His millennial kingdom? Take heart! “Be of Good cheer!” (KJV) “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

The effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever” (Isaiah 32:17)

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Isaiah Talks About Moab

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Isaiah 15,16

Moab in ancient days was a kingdom east of Israel, in the Transjordan highlands. The nation arose from Lot’s incestuous child by his eldest daughter, named Moab (Genesis 19:38). They were often at war with their Israelite neighbours to the west. However events recorded in the book of Ruth testify to occasions of friendly interaction between the two nations, from time to time at least between Bethlehem and Moab.

Perhaps because he descended from Ruth, a Moabite, we know David also had friendly relations. He committed his parents to the protection of the Moabite King when pursued by King Saul (1 Samuel 22:3-4). However, once David became king he made the Moabites a tributary, while placing them under the rule of a governor. That was the end of all friendly relations.

One small incident remains to be told. When the Israelites were returning to the Promised Land from Egypt, the Moabites denied them passage through their land, causing them a long detour around, heaping God’s judgment upon themselves (Judges 11:17-18). In His judgment on them, God referred to Moab as His “washpot”, a place of accumulated filth (Psalm 60:8).

Israel suffered political upheaval under King Rehoboam. Under him the Moabites may have been absorbed into the northern kingdom of Israel, where they continued in vassalage until the death of Ahab. Eventually they refused to pay tribute, asserting their independence and making war on Israel. Later they assisted Nebuchadnezzar in his aggression against King Jehoiakim in Israel.

Isaiah and Jeremiah both refer to the burden that Moab had become (Isaiah 15-16, Jeremiah 48:42). Isaiah identifies their pride as an abomination to God, as well as their utter contempt for Israel.

At the time of Ruth we believe child sacrifices were still offered to one of their many deities. Chemosh was their chief god (2 Kings 23:13). Their religious influence reached as far into history as Solomon, who erected a “High place” for Chemosh (1 Kings 11:7). Sadly this was not destroyed until the reign of Josiah.

Isaiah is given denunciations by God against other nations, Moab included. Some hold no hope…certain nations will be cut off forever, once God’s judgment falls. However, Isaiah records a couple of very interesting phrases regarding Moab. God says “My heart cries out over Moab.” (Isaiah 15:5). “My heart laments for Moab (Isaiah 16:11).

Reflection:

What is it about this particular nation of Moab, that created angst in the heart of God? (Jeremiah 48:36)

What is it about any of us that generates His great love?

Let us remember that the essence of God’s character is love. His heart is pained when He has to declare judgment, because His intention is for His people to walk with Him in paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake! (Psalm 23).

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

God’s Invitation

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Isaiah 55

What a mighty God we serve! The Bible tells us angels bow before Him, worshiping Him for His wisdom and power (Revelation 7:11). Hundreds of years before the Apostle John had this heavenly vision, God gave Isaiah a vision of David’s continuing dynasty. After delivering denunciations against Judah and other nations God gave Isaiah a glimpse of future tribulation, along with further woes and blessings. But then this all-wise, all-powerful God revealed His program for peace, which included salvation through the Servant-Messiah, One who would be of David’s line (2 Samuel 7:16, Luke 1:32).

Sometimes we hear what we want to hear, and see what we want to see. The Israelites lost the vision of the promised Servant and clung only to that of the Messiah, a deliverer who would relieve them of oppression and suffering. Therefore when a baby was born, fulfilling prophecy, the nation to which the babe was sent, didn’t recognize the significance of God’s faithfulness to His promise. “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call Him Immanuel [God with us]” (Isaiah 7:14).

Think of this. God who is Almighty, is designer of the universe. According to His plan, God created great and small, things too small for the eye to see, as well as things too large for our human understanding to take in! With all the conceit of the twenty-first century, humans are discovering what God already knows about such contrasting things such as DNA and outer galaxies. This great God chose to speak to His people through this Man, born in obscurity.

And so we celebrate, at Christmas time, the birth of a little baby! God could have come with crashing cymbals and trumpets blaring, filling the sky with the brightness of His glory, to announce His plan of salvation. Why did He choose to use a baby in the humblest of circumstances, to eventually die on a cross, providing us with eternal hope? Here, in Bethlehem’s manger lay a wee scrap of a human being. Who could have imagined that He, “being in very nature God…made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a Servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7)?

Notice He was made in human likeness. He was not just a human, but was unique in every way. Immanuel is the only God-man. You and I will be given perfect bodies one day, but we will never be God. Jesus is God. Yet He was not daunted by the prospect of taking on the form of man.

God told Isaiah to write it twice to keep in mind “My thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways My ways” (Isaiah 55:8-9). This amazing God invites us to “Come” (Isaiah 55:1). Jesus repeated that call “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Which of us today isn’t weary of conflict and chaos, suffering and sorrow? Isaiah went on to say God would bless those who came, with food and drink. Jesus blessed those who hungered and thirsted [sought] after righteousness (Matthew 5:6). The invitation is music to our ears. “Listen”…”Hear Me that your soul may live” (Isaiah 55:2-3). There is a promise from God that if we “Seek the Lord while He may be found…you will go out with joy and be led forth in peace” (Isaiah 55:6 & 12).

Reflection:

What has been your response and mine to God’s invitation?

One day, Isaiah tells us, the mountains and the hills will burst forth into song before God, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands! (Isaiah 55:12). This should not seem unusual. Even today we celebrate the greatness of our God through the awesome beauty and power of nature! Paul understood this when he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what was made” (Romans 1:20). God made a baby to house His only begotten Son “that whosever [all inclusive invitation!] believes on Him will have everlasting life”! (John 3:16).

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net