Subtleties of Satan

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Matthew 26:26-28

Have you ever wrestled with a problem that just won’t go away? Sometimes we struggle with unforgiving thoughts, resentments, feeling that life just isn’t fair. Perhaps we are perplexed because we don’t understand what God is trying to teach us, or we are fearful about the future, unsure if we can fit in with God’s will. There are so many things that take our focus away from the Lord Jesus. Satan has no end of strategies.

Surely in Church our minds will be able to see Him, lifted up in worship. Communion, that holiest of ordinances, of course is one of those occasions. I have watched men handle the loaf of bread as tenderly as if it were the body of the Lord, prepared for burial; the reverence that is due Him may be seen, whether our thoughts would be worthy of examination.

It took me three days to ask God’s forgiveness for disrupting a communion service. Oh I doubt anyone but my immediate friend knew the struggle I was having, but the Lord knows everything. The little cup of wine was so cleverly devised that all we had to do was lift the cellophane off the wafer and then expose the tiny wine glass. I couldn’t get the wrapper off the wafer we were using in a COVID scenario; the problem just wouldn’t go away! I had used these before, but as I sat struggling, it never occurred to me that this was a battle against the Evil One.

Satan does not want us to celebrate Jesus. He sits at our elbow ready to turn our eyes away from the One who is Light and Life. On this particular Sunday where were my thoughts of reverence? Did I really need to use the wafer, to make me remember the dear body of my Lord, broken for me and my sins? Of course I am not forgetting the words of Jesus as He prepared His disciples for what was to come. “Take and eat; this is My body” (Matthew 26:26).

At that moment in time His words could not have held the same meaning for the men who listened, as they would have in future days and years to come. Two thousand years later what do Jesus’ words mean to you and to me today? As I celebrate the broken body of my Lord, is it in spirit and in truth, or has it become a ritual? The struggle I had that day was with something in my hand, but wasn’t it also with something in my mind? Where was the sadness about my Lord’s costly sacrifice? Where was the gladness for God’s free forgiveness of my sins? What was I thinking about God’s amazing grace, His unconditional love? Why was it so important to conform to tradition?

Thankfully the Holy Spirit brings to our minds opportunities that are lost, so that we can ask for God’s forgiveness. How precious it is to know “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9).


We need to be aware that issues of tradition might subtly distract us from the real goal of worship. Satan will use any ploy to dissuade us from tenderly recognizing the precious body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, broken and poured out for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28). Without His sacrifice there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22). How lost I would be without Jesus! Lesson learned? Let us fix our eyes on Him, forgetting the apparent struggles at hand.

by Marilyn Daniels (


Our Jealous God

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Joel 2:18

“Then the Lord will be jealous” (2:18). What does it mean to be jealous?  Jealousy carries the particular sense of “zealous vigilance” and tends to be applied more exclusively to feelings of protectiveness regarding one’s own advantages or attachments. It is not to be confused with envy, which covets what someone else has (Merriam-Webster).

Israel had been chosen by God to be His particular people. Throughout scripture we see the trend of God’s desire, to build a Holy nation from which would come the seed of Abraham, promised to bless all nations. God’s love for Israel was longsuffering throughout generations of rebelliousness and rejection, Oddly enough, they envied the lifestyle of other godless peoples, failing to appreciate all they had in their God! His covenant was eternal but discipline, and even punishment, was sometimes required for “children” who were so wayward. Yet His zealous vigilance continued. Joel records some remarkable statements made by God in Chapter 2.

“I will restore the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25 KJV). This reminds us of how Joel began, citing the desolation left behind repeated swarms of locusts! This promises that God’s judgment will pass. Israel’s jealous God takes pity on His people (2:18). This mighty Creator of all things views the helplessness, the weakness of His people, with compassion. Never again will they be such an object of scorn (2:19). In fact God will take on their cause, scattering the northern army into the desert (2:20).

Read Ezekiel 39 for details of this event, at which time “The Sovereign Lord declares…. The nations will know that I am the Lord, the Holy One of Israel” (Ezekiel 39:7). “I will display My glory among the nations”(39:21). This will not be a happy time for the nations, but “the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God” (39:22, 28). Whatever the circumstances, in the end God remains faithful! God continues “I will no longer hide My face from them, for I will pour out My Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord” (39:29).

Joel calls the people to rejoice and be glad (Joel 2:21, 23). The promise will remove their fear, filling them with hope. Men and women will receive God’s blessing as He pours out His Spirit on them all (2:28, 29). The wonders of their all-powerful God will be seen in the cosmos as well as on earth, but “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (2:32). When Joel wrote this he couldn’t have fully understood the import of his prophecy, but God gives us hindsight as we remember in Jerusalem, hundreds of years later, that promised deliverance came from Calvary (2:32). Zechariah prophesied the day would come when Israel would look on the One they had pierced and grieve bitterly for Him (12:10).


Who would want to live without the watch-care of our jealous God? Some prophecies have been fulfilled. Yet we still wait. As we have seen – “The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful” (2:11). Yet we are reminded that God “is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (2:13), creating an atmosphere of joy and gladness in a spirit of righteousness (2:23). What a day that will be when old men dream dreams and young men will see visions as God pours out His Spirit on His servants, both men and women! (2:28-29). Hallelujah!

by Marilyn Daniels (



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Joel 2:25

We found the Israelites in a state of terror at the beginning of chapter 2. Judgment was going to fall. “The Day of the Lord is coming….a day of darkness and gloom” (2:1-2) Destruction was promised by the very God they had chosen to ignore, and now they could see the signs clearly. The locusts have eaten everything. “The Day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful! Who can endure it?” (2:11).

God had been calling the people to repentance for a long time. He now calls the priests, whose actual service is “to the Lord” (2:17), not just for the people. God needs them to weep and pray for His mercy, to prove their hearts are in their worship. Their tone was to be not only repentant, but they were to beg God to save His glory. What a prayer! (2:17). What exactly did it mean?

These are conditions laid down by God through Joel. Once they were met the Lord had something positive to offer. In fact according to His zealous nature the Lord made a significant promise. “I will repay to you for the years the locusts have eaten” (2:25). Notice the Lord does not promise to keep them from the battle, but once it is over He will restore.

He is specific. His people will never be put to shame. They will know that God is in their midst! The Lord will pour out His Spirit in those days (post-judgement). Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (2:26-29). This must have sounded utopian to a nation writhing in its death-throes. What does it promise for us today?

The prophet continues. There will be judgment for the nations who had persecuted God’s people – those He calls “My Heritage”. Those responsible for the diaspora (3:2), will face God. The battle will take place in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, also referred to as the “Valley of Decision” (3:12 & 14). Here the Lord will be near. Usually that is a comforting phrase, but not in this instance. His very presences promotes danger. In His anger God will roar, so that the heavens and the earth will shake.

BUT! The Lord will protect His people. In this mighty battle the Israelite God will show His strength to the nations. There will be no shadow of doubt about whose side He is on. Israel and the world will know! (3:16-17). “Judah will abide forever and Jerusalem from generation to generation….for the Lord dwells in Zion” (3:20-21).

The great battle of Armageddon will be followed by peace like the world has never known because the Prince of Peace will reign, as prophecy has already announced. However, just as is written – this peace will only come after the battle (Revelation 16:16, 17:14).


Have you ever prayed that God would do something for His name’s sake?

Will you be on the side of restoration? Does your daily walk with God demonstrate this attitude today?

What battles in your life have prompted the peace of God in a demonstrable way?

by Marilyn Daniels (


God’s Invitation

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Joel 2

What does God’s grace mean to you today? Someone has described it as “unmerited favour”. If this definition is true it helps to explain God’s invitation to His wayward people. “Even now” in spite of everything, rejection, worshiping other gods, denying My Sovereignty, declares the Lord, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning” (Joel 2:12).

It was the custom of the Jewish people to tear their garments when overwhelmed by grief and sorrow, but through Joel God tells them their hearts need to be broken. “Rend your hearts, not your garments” (2:13). The reality of repentance is internal change, not external show.

What would give them the confidence to return to God after years of apostacy? God Himself reminds them of His character which is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love”(2:13). What an awesome God! All He requires is sincerity of heart, as we have seen. The heart was considered to be the seat of emotions and intellect. Perhaps, if repentance measures up to God’s standard He will even bless His people once again (2:14).

There is a wonderful celebratory aspect to Joel’s prophecy. With trumpets, the people will gather together to fast and pray, consecrating themselves together in a holy assembly. Perhaps they will then hold one another accountable to the covenant they make with the Lord their God. Everyone including nursing babies is included in the call of God. As they weep, the priests must acknowledge their total dependence upon God [Yahweh]. Suddenly they will be gripped with the realization they need to bear witness to the nations around them! Theirs is the only true GOD (2:17). As we have noted before, it is through Israel the seed of Abraham, that all nations of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3). This happy promise has been fulfilled through the Messiah, Jesus (Galatians 3:8).

God’s invitation comes to us twofold today, since we have this stunning call from ages past. We also have the words from the lips of our precious Lord and Saviour: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). His rest isn’t calling us to idleness, but rather to that exquisite peace of mind which being right with God provides.

Jesus reminds us there are only two important goals in life. The health and wealth we so often see as a measure of success cannot compare with that heartfelt worship we owe to God, which flows out of hearts filled with gratitude. Nor do they demonstrate that we are indeed followers of the One we say we worship; He does not exist to make me healthy and wealthy. Jesus gave up every right in order to provide mankind with a relationship with His heavenly Father.


God not only invites us into His service, but He also empowers us to know and do His will. In the most magnificent ways little things take on new meaning – kindness and sharing. We will be rewarded for things in heaven that we weren’t even aware pleased God here on earth, when our hearts are right with God.

If we accept God’s invitation to love Him with all our heart and soul and mind, we will find ourselves loving our neighbour that much, and even more than we love ourselves. (Matthew 22:37-39).

by Marilyn Daniels (



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Joel 1

From chapter 1, in the book of Joel, we learn something about desolation. One commentator describes it in three different ways – the character of desolation, the reaction to desolation and the picture of coming desolation. Let us review: Locust swarms have devastated the land; famine ensues. Even the bark of the fig trees has been eaten, laying bare the branches (1:4, 7). Their destruction leaves nothing untouched; the loss of grain, wine, oil, fruit, is unprecedented. We are left to wonder which would be worse, the physical hunger or the spiritual wasteland. There is nothing left to sacrifice to God, resulting in spiritual barrenness.

Joel, led by God, recommends official mourning with sackcloth and fasting. He knows their only hope is in God. “Cry out to the Lord” (1:13, 14). The nation is called to repent as they gather before their Holy God! This is the reaction God desires when anyone falls away from Him. His heart is full of mercy and grace! He remains faithful to His covenant of love, in spite of momentary punishment. Joel went on to describe how future apostacy would remove all joy (1:16) just as fires ravage the land (1:19-20). The day of the Lord has come! This “Day of the Lord” is the theme of Joel’s prophecy. He explains it in three ways.

1.Chapter one links historically, with prophecies from Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel:

“Wail for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Because of this, all

hands will go limp, every man’s heart will melt. Terror will seize them….”(Isaiah 13:6-8a).

“But that day belongs to the Lord, the Lord Almighty – a day of vengeance….the sword will devour ‘til it is satisfied” (Jeremiah 46:10).

Alas for that day! For the day is near, the day of the Lord is near – a day of clouds, a time of doom for

the nations” (Ezekiel 30:2b-3).

We must note that the Day of the Lord will bring much fear and desolation! (Joel 2:11b). Jesus also warned about the Day of the Lord. Luke records His prophecy – wars, earthquakes, famine and pestilence will precede His return (Luke 21).

2.Joel also uses this historic plague as an illustration of the gravity of the ‘day of the Lord’ (Joel 2:1). Isaiah goes on to detail the day of the Lord as “a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger – to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it” (Isaiah 13:9). He goes on to say that God will punish the world for its evil, putting an end to man’s arrogance. Through it all there will be cosmic disturbances as God gives vent to His “burning anger” (Isaiah 13:10-13). It is not a pretty sight! This illustrates the partial fulfillment of prophecy of things yet to come.

3. There is an eschatological “day” coming when the great tribulation will take place followed by the Millennial reign. “In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel” (Isaiah 4:2). Joel has been sent to warn God’s people “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill…for the day of the Lord is coming” (Joel 2:1). Ezekiel warned the nation of Israel to become watchmen (Ezekiel :33). This is the holy responsibility of all children of God.


We must realize we have not been chosen by God simply for us to go to heaven, but rather to be used to accomplish God’s purposes here on earth! Lest we get too caught up in watching for the “Day of the Lord“ let us remember Jesus’ words warning that the fields are ripe unto harvest, but the workers are few (John 4:35, Matthew 9:31). Spiritual desolation is all around us! Let us, like Him, be about our Father’s business (Luke 2:49).

by Marilyn Daniels (


Four Locusts

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Joel 1 & 2

The picture is not a pretty one. “A nation has come up against My land…strong and without number…it has laid waste to My vine and ruined My fig tree” (Joel 1:6-7). This is the word of the Lord God Almighty. Why did He not stop this attack? Why would He allow something that grieved Him at His very heart? Worship had ceased – actually all those things necessary for sacrifice had been “cut off”. Priests mourned, and joy had withered away from the hearts of the people (1:9 & 12).

There is an explanation. This is destruction brought about by God Himself. Isn’t it interesting to note that the great heart of our God grieves, as does any parent’s heart when discipline has to be applied? This didn’t happen without warning. The chewing locust had come. Little by little their faith had been whittled away. Now “Rend your heart and not your garments” (2:13) cries the heart of God. Do not bring destruction upon yourselves.

What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. Apparently Judah was having trouble reading the results of Israel’s apostasy. You may remember that the nation of Israel was split in two when Solomon died (1 Kings 12). Israel’s leadership had been corrupt for years, so judgment fell on them first. Was it possible that evil was infiltrating from this brother nation into Judah? Now years of disobedience and rebellious leadership threatened the peace of their land, actually God’s land (1:6). They would be held accountable for what they did with that land.

What the swarming locust left the crawling locust attacked. What was left at this point? For one thing the people needed to turn to God with fasting, weeping and mourning over their sins. At this early stage in the history of prophecy, what exactly were those sins? Twice God called the people to consecrate a fast. Had they not been fasting? Had they only been going through the motions? Was consecration required as a testimony to the meaning fasting held? God calls the priests to lament and wail (1:13); all the elders are to come together (1:14), to cry out for mercy from the Lord. Might we assume there was spiritual disease among the leaders? First their hearts must be in tune with God before they were ready for “The Day of the Lord (which is near)” (1:15).

With the consuming locusts waiting for what the crawling locusts had left, God warns of an invading army. That army will destroy everything, with strength such as has never been seen before (2:2). Thick darkness and gloom; flaming fire will leave the land desolate and the people trembling, writhing in fear. Even the earth will quake and the cosmos will grow dark. Chapter 2 describes the terrors of the Day of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be cut off from the house of God (1:16).


Considering the fears rampant in our world today, can we relate to this picture of global distress? Do we grieve?

What do we read about the character of our God in these two chapters that might bring us hope?

Are we brave enough to blow the trumpet in our world today – to sound a warning? (2:1)

by Marilyn Daniel (


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?


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)


The Millennial Reign

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Isaiah 24-27

Seldom do we hear sermons on issues of eschatology, yet the millennial reign is a Biblical subject dealt with in both Old and New Testaments. What do we know about this subject? Why is it important?

Perhaps we should begin with Isaiah who clearly prophesied about the judgments of the tribulation period as well as the blessings of the Millennial reign, in chapters 24-27. From these chapters we understand that God’s judgment will fall, laying waste completely to all He created (Isaiah 24:1-3). By disobeying God’s laws the people have severed their covenant relationship with God, bringing a curse upon the whole earth (24:5-6). In that day God will punish even the “powers in the heavens” (24:21), probably a reference to fallen angels who will also be judged (1 Corinthians 6:3).

However, a small remnant of believers will survive (Isaiah 24:6b). In the midst of devastation and desolation they will still rejoice in the majesty of their God! (24:14-16a). Isaiah exalts “my God” (25:1) for His perfect faithfulness, planned long ago. The judgment falling is not a knee-jerk reaction to a rebellious people….God knew the end from the beginning, yet He created man in His own imagine, with the power of choice [volition].

Although Babylon is made a heap of rubble (Isaiah 25:2), strong believers from every nation, even the enemies who ruthlessly pursued God’s people, will honour the Lord (25:3). It is important to note that God, faithful to His promise, rescued all who believe on His name! Isaiah goes on to describe the Millennial reign as one of great blessing, feasting and celebration, as God wipes away the tears from all faces (25:6-8).

In that day God will be celebrated for His salvation – the only God who could be entirely trusted! He is the One who keeps His children in perfect peace (Isaiah 25:9, 26:3-4, 12). The Spirit of the Lord is finally appreciated, as the faithful yearn for Him day and night. He is the desire of their hearts (26:8-9).

Several other prophets refer to the Millennial reign of Christ. Zechariah has a lot to say. Regarding the location we learn that the Lord will dwell in Jerusalem (8:3) where all nations will worship the King (14:16). As Jesus’ feet stand on the Mount of Olives it will be split into two parts (14:4). Isaiah adds – there will be no more war as the nations flow into Jerusalem to worship the Lord (2:2-4). He goes on to tell us that nature will flourish showing the glory and majesty of God, while healing takes place (35:1-10). Amos tells us this will be a time of restoration and rebuilding (9:11-25).

Where is Satan during this 1000 year reign? He is bound, sealed in a pit (Revelation 20:1-10). Powerless! Jesus will reign with an iron sceptre (Psalm 2:9, Revelation 2:27, 12:5, 19:15). Who will reign with Him? Those who were beheaded, who did not accept the mark of the beast during the tribulation period, will come to life and reign with Him (Revelation 10:4). The rest of those who are dead in Christ will come to life after this 1000 year period ends (Revelation 20:1-15).. Then we will enjoy the place Jesus has gone to prepare for us (John 14:3). At some time after this God will create a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1-27).


We have no idea of God’s exact time line. We have been encouraged to be watchful and vigilant, waiting the Lord Jesus’ return at any time. The joy of seeing Him will surpass anything we have ever known. Our Saviour! Redeemer! and Friend! Will we perhaps be those who reign with Him? That will not be something to covet, since it does involve tremendous suffering beforehand. This is why we must search the scriptures, as the Bereans did, to see if these things are true. Our anticipation of Jesus’ return may be tested. Are we ready?

by Marilyn daniels (


Our Father

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Ephesians 1:5

Who qualifies to address God as ‘My Father’? First of all, the Bible tells us that God has only one begotten Son (John 3:16). He is called that because His birth was generated by the Holy Spirit, making Him the one and only unique God-man (Matthew 1:20). There are however other children of God, who have been adopted into His Holy family. These are born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5), regenerated from the sinful state which prohibited being part of God’s family. As humans who inherited the sinful nature of Adam, peopleall have been invited by God’s Spirit to join the family by believing and receiving grace and mercy from the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ (Luke 5:32).

Now the Father intentionally brings up His children to be representatives of His character. Scripture lays out what that looks like as we get glimpses of God’s love and wrath, His wisdom and faithfulness, His pure and forgiving heart. The life of Jesus is “the exact representation of God’s being”. There are glimpses of Godliness among those who follow Jesus Christ, but since His life on earth ended, there has been no other about whom it could be said “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory” (Hebrews 1:3).

Yet Jesus taught His disciples to call upon “Our Father who is in heaven” with the confidence that if we ask anything in His [Jesus’] name we will receive it (John 16:24). Now let us be clear….disciples are those who are also intentional about their relationship with the Father. It isn’t just to escape hell fire that people ask Jesus into their hearts. It is with the vision of what a glorious thing it is to be adopted into God’s family, to “belong”, and to serve Him.

Paul knew all about that when he was saved from a life of conscientious objecting to Christ, to becoming a child of God through belief in Jesus, himself. He wrote that God “predestined us to be adopted as His sons, through Jesus Christ, in accordance to His pleasure and will (Ephesians 1:5). This sounds a bit like the Apostle John who wrote that “to all who received Him [Jesus], to those who believed in His name, He [the Father] gave the right to become children of God – children born, not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:12-13). How much do we work towards becoming like Jesus, then, once we claim to be children of God? His life is the template for us in the twenty-first century, is it not?

It is very kind of our Father not to leave us to struggle on our own. We have the example of Jesus , but we also have the indwelling Holy Spirit, sent by the Father to teach and to guide (John 14:16, 26). We know that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man/woman of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Training takes discipline and so our Father disciplines those He loves, and even punishes us when we sin (Hebrews 12:6). The writer of Hebrews goes on to explain “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, “it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11). It is the Father’s will that the Prince of Peace rules in our hearts. Therefore we are called to “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace!” (Colossians 3:15). What a message for today!


I am so thankful to know God as my heavenly Father. He can be trusted to keep His word, whether it be warnings of judgment, or promises of answered prayer with blessings. His love surpasses anything on the human level because it is not dependant upon my performance. And knowing I am in right relationship with Him brings exquisite peace!

by Marilyn Daniels (Marilyn


God’s Arms

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Isaiah 40:11

Following a series of personal calamities, Handel was encouraged, at the very point of giving up, by reading Charles Jennen’s libretto, which included scripture. Inspired by prophecy as well as by Christ’s life, Handel was moved to begin again. When he wrote “Messiah” no one could foresee its popularity over centuries of time.

When first played it blessed King George 2 so greatly that he stood during the Hallelujah chorus, recognizing Christ as King of Kings, a tradition followed to this day. This Messiah gathered the lambs in His arms, a picture of God’s caring and protection. Therefore we see this scripture engaging men of fame and power – a noted musician as well as the king. Most men might not acknowledge their need of a shepherd’s care, but these men acknowledged their personal need of God to guide them, to comfort them, as though they were His lambs.

Handel must have been reading: “He gathers His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart” (Isaiah 40:11). What a tender picture of God sustaining, providing for, and protecting His sheep. Those who are most vulnerable, the marginalized, the very young and very old are held close to His heart! We cannot forget that Jesus, Himself, tenderly took little children in His arms to bless them (Mark 10:16). During his own suffering was this Handel’s experience of God?

The Bible tells us many things about God’s arms. His power is demonstrated by the strength of His arms and hands (Deuteronomy 3:24), a strength visible among the nations. His arms are holy, the source of salvation (Isaiah 52:10). The Psalmist concurs when he writes “Sing to the Lord….for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him!” (Psalm 98:1).

God’s arms are everlasting. How many people have found comfort in verses written so long ago by Moses? “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27). Through generations of human history God remains the same, tender and loving to all who will receive Him.

More than once the question is asked in scripture whether or not the Lord’s arm is too short to save His people? (Numbers 11:23, Isaiah 50:2). Notice it is God who is proactive, stretching out His arm to save the Israelites on different occasions, as no other god had done before (Deuteronomy 4:34).

Perhaps we might emulate God’s example as we meet people today. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we are equipped to bear His love towards those who are hurting, and those who struggle to understand God. Will His gentle Spirit working in and through us give occasion for us to proclaim the strong and yet tender arm of God to those in need?


Have you ever had occasion to depend upon an arm to help you get up or to walk? How often when we are grieving does a gentle arm around the shoulders bring us comfort. Arms were also designed by God as messengers of love. Imagine as you draw close to someone in trouble how valuable your arm is to them. Let your arms be God’s arms to others in need.

by Marilyn Daniels (