Devotional

It Doesn’t Matter

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Revelation 9-10

The preacher actually said those words “It Doesn’t Matter”. To what was he referring? His passionate message was serious, actually about – and I quote – “life and death”. Reviewing recent studies in Revelation, he was pointing out the dangers of trying to attach significance to dates, times and places, causing us to lose the thrust of the entire book.

Revelation is not written in chronological order. It is like a picture, giving us different perspectives on the same story. It is the tale of completion – in God’s perfection His seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls present us with God’s judgment. In the midst of it all, God still warns people, calling them to repent, yet they refuse His mercy (Revelation 9:20-21). Revelation is not just about a seven-year period, but rather it is all about the battle between good and evil which has coloured the existence of mankind from the very beginning, when God created all things, and called them good (Genesis 1).

Interwoven into this picture is God’s amazing grace. The end of the story is glorious! We who know Him, whom to know is life eternal (1 John 5:13), will witness the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ who will reign forever and ever (Revelation 11:15). The Alpha and Omega will sign His painting with a great flourish! “Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). The timing doesn’t matter. Jesus told His followers to be ready – it might happen any day (Matthew 25:13).

Our focus is to be on Him….watching for His return. “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning…..It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when He comes…..even if He comes in the second or third watch of the night!” (Luke 12:35-38). This is what does matter…”The Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him” Surprise! Will you and I be watching? (Luke 12:40).

The danger for all people is that our hearts may become hardened to the Word of God. God’s children are not immune. Impacted by cultural norms we may stray away from the Truth, from the path (Way) Jesus laid down as He modelled purity of vision and purpose and practise. Someone said to me the other day “Lots of young people walking with God are living together (outside of marriage). Is this a reality that Christians today accept? Are we alive in Him, who came to give us Life? (John 14:16). We need that relationship to prepare us for the push-back Satan will bring against those who declare their faith. After we taste that the Lord is good, life may turn sour (Revelation 10:9). Our responsibility is to share the truth. Ezekiel was warned that it may not be received well (Ezekiel 3:1-7). Nothing has changed thousands of years later.

The blood of martyrs cries out: “When will the end come?” (Revelation 6:10). God is waiting for every tribe to enjoy the knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, because He is not willing that any should perish. He also must be true to His covenant with Abraham, promising to bless every nation through his descendants (Genesis 12:3). However, the time will come when “there is no more delay” (Revelation 10:6).

Reflection:

Sadly, the pastor noted, the Gospel has become soft, inoffensive, non-confrontational as we try to make it “seeker friendly”. When we read about the need for repentance, do we believe that God means business? Do we doom others to a lost eternity by sharing their terms guided by cultural sensitivity? In an age when “if it feels good, do it” is a norm, are we ready to talk about the lengths to which God has gone to make salvation possible? Sacrifice? Am I prepared to die for my faith? And in the midst of it all we misplace our energy by trying to figure out the symbols God has given to us as hints of things beyond the scope of our imagination. What is it that truly matters?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Uncategorized

Christlikeness

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Matthew 16:24-26

The long awaited Christ [Messiah] came to earth as a baby. Lost in the tinsel and twinkle of earthly celebrations today, the majesty of all that Christ is from eternity past, is often lost. That baby embodied all that is God – infinitude, wisdom and power. Yet as we sing “O come let us adore Him” what is it that we really mean? Do we envision the baby Jesus as “Christ the Lord”? What honour do we give to His Sovereignty? As we come face to face with Jesus do we surrender control of our lives to truly make Him “Lord” over all we are and have?

When we think about the baby in the manger, it is hard to comprehend that all the characteristics of the Godhead were wrapped up in that tiny bundle, so loved by Mary and Joseph. There lay the Creator of all things (John 1:3); yet He humbled Himself, scripture records. His humility cost. As a man, Jesus died on the cross, obedient to His Father’s plan to save you and me from the jaws of hell (Philippians 2:8).

Here’s a thought…..Jesus gave up His glory and majesty to become like you and me. We might reflect on how important our status is, in our family, community or church in comparison to His. However, He lived a life like no other recorded down through history. Born into humble circumstances Jesus was kind, caring, and forgiving. He encouraging goodness in others; His example is the mission of every believer. During His earthly sojourn He was Godly, connected intimately with His Father in heaven. They were never separated until that awful moment on the cross when sin, yours and mine, dragged Him out of the Father’s presence (Matthew 27:46).

When we look at the baby who gave Himself so that you and I might live (John 10:18), we celebrate the reality of Christmas. Recently a pastor proclaimed “Christmas is not all about family because it is all about Jesus”. Within this reality there is both a call and a cost. We, who claim Jesus to be our Saviour, are called to represent Christ here on earth, if we say we follow Him – if we declare ourselves to be “Christian”. Do we look and act and talk like the Lord Jesus Christ? (John 13:35).

Here on earth Jesus entered into every aspect of life along with His fellowman. He met folks at weddings and worshiped according to Jewish law, in the synagogue. Jesus began at a very early age to be “about My Father’s business” – found teaching in the temple at the tender age of 12 (Luke 2:49). He continued traveling throughout Israel, teaching, eating, praying, fishing, serving on His Father’s business.

Reflection:

What is God calling us to do, since we say we know Jesus? Do we fear the cost of His call? Do we find ourselves changed by the indwelling Holy Spirit, becoming more Christlike as we look at others? Are we accepting, forgiving, loving our neighbours as ourselves? What are we willing to sacrifice in order to serve our Lord, to be “the only Jesus” another might ever see? Are we becoming hardened to the needs within our world today – physical, material, emotional, as well as spiritual needs?

I sometimes wonder: What would Christ be doing about the environment, the pandemic, the anger, fear, hostility and abuse to be found in every corner of our globe? Derived from His loving character, Jesus laid down His very life for others, including you and me. Might this be written on our tomb stones?

“Here lies the most Christlike person who ever lived”.

MarilynDaniels.net

Devotional

The Fruit of Self-Control

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Galatians 5:22-23

My sense of right and wrong has been offended. I am grieving injustice. I am tempted, so my conscience is in conflict. My feelings have been seriously hurt and I don’t think I will ever forgive the wrong done to me. I am angry to find my world in chaos. There are so many individual responses to the circumstances in which we find ourselves, aren’t there? And for these our Mighty God has given to us the unique indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The list of benefits we receive when we yield to His leading is long. We know He gives us love, joy and peace. We might even remember that He, the Holy Spirit seeks to make us kind, gentle and patient. Do we credit Him for the goodness with which we serve those in need, or do we claim some of that glory for ourselves? When we are faithful are we aware that it is conditioned by the power of God or conversely, the lack thereof? But how often does our list end there?

What exactly does the fruit of self-control look like? How many sermons have you heard on the topic of self-control? Is it difficult because we don’t understand it, or is it difficult because we don’t know how to glorify God for the fruit He is growing inside of us? Are we willing to ponder the “difficult”?

God’s Word is very realistic. We see the contrasts clearly, between good and evil. Humankind struggles with our capability for reason, and tries to justify the reactions that so often colour our world. What is our guide? In only a few generations, mankind had wandered far away from the path of fellowship with God; only Noah’s family remained true to their heavenly Father. Clearly there was no desire for self-control as folks gave in to every desire of the flesh and the devil, and we know what happened to them.

Today as we look around us things don’t seem much different. Every man is doing what is right in his own eyes – the very problem seen twice in the book of Judges where God records the reason for existing sin. “Israel had no king”. Because there was no accountability to God, “Everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 17:6, 21:25). In order to control ourselves, we need to recognize the only One who can make us in His image, as “King”. Oh – physically we have been made in his image, having been given heart and mind and soul, but to control the self, we desperately need the love and the goodness of God poured into our lives day by day…to become a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)

It goes against the grain to recognize our need. Many today think we should be autonomous.

“Autonomous motivation is defined as engaging in a behavior because it is perceived to be consistent with

intrinsic goals or outcomes and emanates from the self.”(Google)

The only problem with this idea is that we do not emanate from ourselves – we are created beings, with accountability to our Creator. He is the One who created us for His purposes, with goals and outcomes planned for each individual. “I know the plans I have for you….plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). Looking down through time God sees all that is glorious for His children throughout eternity, in that little word future. When most humans think of the future it is with the hope that when I grow up I will become….., or when I get married I will start a family, or when I retire I will be able to do so and so. God’s vision is limitless. Eternal!

Reflection:

Would you agree then that self-control is achieved by using the supernatural power given to us by God, through the Holy Spirit, who gives us insights into who we might become and the Divine wisdom and power to do so? Self-control gives us victory over those very things that would separate us eternally from our God, as well as victory over the flesh and the devil.

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional · Uncategorized

James, God’s Servant

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James 1

James is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Jacob, which means supplanter, or one who follows. Several men in the Bible bore the name James; only two were possible authors of the book of James, but one was martyred in A.D. 44 , leaving James the half brother of Jesus as the only other possibility, within that time frame. This brother of Jesus became the recognized church leader in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13-21). This speech, at the council of Jerusalem, very much resembles the wording of this text and therefore is taken as conclusive evidence of his authorship.

There is debate as to when James’ actual conversion took place. One thing we know for certain – he, with his other brothers, his mother and the disciples were all found together in the upper room constantly in prayer, following Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:13-14). What were their expectations at this time? Jesus had clearly told them not to leave Jerusalem but to “wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about” (Acts 1:4, Luke 24:49). Here was James, [obedient] servant of the Lord Jesus Christ (James 1:1).

It is interesting to note that James’ brother Jude also identifies himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James” (Jude 1). Was it deference which prevented these men from identifying their relationship as half-brothers of Jesus? Looking at the meaning of James’ name, one can see how easy it would have been for him to take advantage of his relationship to Jesus, to perhaps even supplant Him as the leader of the new church in Jerusalem. By humbly identifying himself as a servant we see James does not live up to his name.

Was it because servanthood was a key principle in the new kingdom? Jesus said: ”….the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Peter instructed God’s elect to ”…use whatever gift he has received to serve others faithfully, administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). Paul asks the question “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe” (1 Corinthians 3:5) .

James was among those considered to be “Fathers” of the church. As such they led as they had learned leadership from Jesus, who actually humbled Himself in obedience (Philippians 2:8). Fathers today sometimes abdicate their leadership but the Bible gives us some pertinent pictures of what God expects. Leadership in the home isn’t much different from leading the church. There are children involved…children of God to be treated with dignity and respect. We are not to provoke one another, but to think of one another as better than ourselves (Romans 12:3, John 12:43).

Characteristics of James might be copied by believers today. He was obedient, and relied on God’s wisdom (1:5). Although he led the new church in Jerusalem he had a servant heart. He was a man of action as well as gifted with words (1:22-24, 27). He was affectionate and exercised the gift of encouragement (1:16, 19). James had learned that a good leader listens (1:19, 26), taking care that his speech does not offend the Lord or God’s people.

Reflection:

What is your attitude towards the privileged position you hold as a Child of God?

Are you content to emulate James as a minister of the gospel today? (We are each part of a royal priesthood -2 Peter 2:9).

Describe the key principle in the new kingdom Jesus is creating.

Devotional · Uncategorized

The Mind of God

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Micah 7:18 1 Corinthians 2:18

What do we know about the mind of God – He who created the universe, all things large and small? Mankind is discovering a lot about the electric impulses of the brain, how the sun and planets function, disease management, and the secrets of our earth. These discoveries are to be celebrated, but if we think about it, God knows already every detail we are uncovering.

Jesus who revealed the mind of God to His generation, also majored on relationships – that part of life which in the twenty-first century causes so much international angst and individual pain. Is this suffering within the plan of God? Surely not! Jesus told His disciples He came to set them free from guilt and shame. He came to bring peace and joy. Because of His great love, through the Holy Spirit the triune God comforts and directs us. However, we must receive His gift. He is still accomplishing His purposes upon this care-worn world. And….there are consequences for making choices outside of the will of God.

When we lose sight of the magnificence of His will, as it was seen in the creation process as well as in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we lose heart and hope. That certainly isn’t the design of the God who is relational, loving, provisional, forgiving and kind. It seems “Katie” Wilkinson as she was known, grasped something of this when she wrote the following song.

May the mind of Christ, my Saviour live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly in my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph only through His power.

May the peace of God my Father rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me, as the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing, this is victory.

May I run the race before me, strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus as I onward go.

May His beauty rest upon me as I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel, seeing only Him.

A member of the Church of England, she was involved in a ministry to the girls in London. She also participated in the Keswick Convention Movement. She would have struggled with the reality of human suffering, but the hope she knew as the greatest reality was to be found in the mind of Christ her Saviour!

Look at what it meant to her to have the mind of Christ:

Triumph through His power! The peace of her heavenly Father ruled her choices giving her calm to comfort others who suffered and grieved. The love of Jesus obviously humbled Katie, but by looking to Him she was strong enough to continue in the race, even to the point of facing enemies. Only then did the beauty which draws others to our Lord, rest upon her, and her ministry to girls.

Reflection:

How does one get to know the mind of God? Certainly we hold His guide in our hands – that Holy Word which reveals His character and His will to us. But I have discovered there is nothing that brings me greater joy than to wait upon Him as I listen for His voice, while on my knees. Worshiping Him for all He is takes practice. Are we willing to spend the time in order to know the mind of God?

Perhaps this hymn will be our prayer.

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net