The Narrow Way

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Matthew 7:13, 14

Many people say they like the Sermon on the Mount, so they follow it. It guides them through the challenges of daily life. In fact some will declare it to be all the instruction they need for ethical living and decision-making.

In this lengthy lesson, Jesus says some rather difficult things such as: Consider yourself blessed when people insult you, or even when you find yourself persecuted (Matthew 5:11). He pronounced laws of reconciliation that require us to forgive others who have disappointed or offended us before we worship God (5:23-24). He told his listeners to turn the other cheek rather than resist those who would harm them (5:39). How easy is it for any of us to love our enemy? Yet He not only preached, but practised this precept (5:44). We must be challenged by His cry from the cross –“Father forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing!” (Luke 23:34)

Knowing man’s propensity to want recognition for his good deeds, Jesus suggested our givings should be private – so much so that even our left hand would not know what the right hand is doing! (6:3). Preaching the principle of forgiveness, Jesus told the crowd that the Father would forgive them in the same way as they forgave others (6:14-15). Another principle is “You cannot serve both God and money”(6:24). In our generation, striving to be wealthy is not just a worldly ambition. Believers have all sorts of reasons why their focus should be on gaining status in the business community. Jesus’ list goes on and on. These are the words of Jesus, Himself. Do we believe them? Would anyone recognize that we are on the narrow path He described, by living according to His words?

How many of us fear being seen as narrow-minded? Don’t we deceive ourselves if we say we believe but do not act upon the principles of God’s Word? Do we do unto others what we would like them to do for us? (7:12).

Do we really believe that a good God would send anyone to eternal destruction? Jesus clearly stated “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it” (7:13). “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (7:19). Scary proclamations! Yet Jesus is not vindictive. He came to bring hope to the hopeless. He has a solution. Those who do the will of His Father who is in heaven, will enter the kingdom of heaven (7:21). By following Jesus, who proclaimed Himself to be the Way, we will spend eternity in the mansions He has gone to prepare for us (John 14:2,6).

Meanwhile our journey will be on a narrow path wide enough to accommodate our Saviour and ourselves. We do not walk alone in paths of righteousness. The poem “Footprints” tells us that when the way gets too rough or narrow, it is then that Jesus carries us. What a precious love we enjoy – the love of one who paid the penalty of our sins so that we could spend eternity with Him. He made the way narrow to protect us from evil, just as the Massai make the entranceway into their homes narrow and curved so that lions cannot come into their huts on the attack.

In the English countryside there are some very narrow lanes; two cars could not pass. Often these by-ways are lined with hedgerows, so visibility is limited, but the air is perfumed with the scent of grass and flowers, and larks are singing. Peace and tranquility reigns, yet there is adventure around every curve. This gives us a visible picture of living on the narrow way. We wouldn’t want to miss the adventure or the fragrance of beauty that rewards our surrender to Jesus’ leadership. Praise God for the Narrow Way!


We’re pilgrims on the journey of the narrow way, wrote Steve Green, praying that all who come behind us would find us faithful.

What benefits have you enjoyed on the narrow road? Has the fire of your devotion ever got you into trouble?

Will God be pleased with your journey?

by Marilyn Daniels (


Through Faith, Shielded

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1 Peter 1:1-5

There are pertinent questions we need to ask ourselves when studying the Word of God. Who are the people involved? What does this teach me about God? How does this apply in my spiritual journey?

Peter writes to the elect – those “…who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” Just to refresh our memories, let us remember salvation applies to our past, present and future state before God.

Who are the people involved? Peter is writing to God’s elect, those who have been chosen by God for obedience to Jesus Christ, to be used of Him as they surrender to His leadership in their lives (:1-2). Peter praises God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as he identifies himself as one with this group! (:3).

They are described as exiles scattered throughout the then-known world. To prepare them for service God provided the Holy Spirit to sanctify them – purifying and setting them apart from worldly living. Their hearts were sprinkled/ purified by the Blood of Christ.

In referring to their former ignorance (:14), Peter warns them not to conform to the evil desires which once governed their behaviour. Probably many of them were Gentiles. “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God!” (1 Peter 2:10). Their faith in Jesus Christ would be a shield against the temptations of a previous lifestyle.

What does this teach me about God? He is all-knowing “according to the foreknowledge of God” (1:2). His calling was predetermined by what He knew. The Trinity is at work in these verses. The Father chose, the Son sacrificed and rose again, the Holy Spirit sanctifies! The cumulative power of the Godhead protects us from sin, and provides us with assurance that our inheritance is indestructible.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians about the shield of faith, part of the armour of God used to ward off the fiery darts of the devil. Think of it – fiery darts would be very painful, if not deadly. Faith trusts God. Faith is measurable according to the words of Jesus who condemned people of little faith (Matthew 14:31) and commended those of great faith (Matthew 8:10). Seeing their lack of faith, Jesus didn’t waste His time doing miracles in Nazareth.

Our finite minds can hardly grasp the significance of the supernatural power about us, limited as we are by time and space. Our warfare is spiritual. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4) We often think in temporal terms; the physical becomes the measure of our faith. But God is protecting something even more precious. He has given us faith – the gift of God! (Ephesians 2:9) to protect our spirits!


A shield is a visible piece of equipment. I must ask if my faith is a visible sign to others around, a sign that I trust in God? Do I stand confidently holding the shield of faith, as I do battle with the enemy of my soul day by day, or do I cower behind it? Oh that our spirits may be at peace, knowing we are shielded from eternal disaster, by our faith.

by Marilyn Daniels (


Near the Cross

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Matthew 10:38

Sometimes our hearts can be challenged by the stories of others who have overcome great obstacles in life. Today, more than one hundred years after she was born, the life of Fanny Crosby continues to challenge us to hope that through God’s mercy and grace our lives might speak to others, in spite of the trials God allows. The secret to her success might lie in one of her more famous hymns:

Jesus, keep me near the cross, there a precious fountain;
Free to all, a healing stream, flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.

In the cross, in the cross be my glory ever,
Till my ransomed soul shall find rest beyond the river.

2 Near the cross, a trembling soul, love and mercy found me;
There the Bright and Morning Star shed His beams around me. [Refrain]

3 Near the cross! O lamb of God, bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day with its shadow o’er me. [Refrain]

 Fanny Crosby, who was blind from infancy said: “If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.” She also once said, “When I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior”.

From the age of 10 Fanny memorized five chapters of the Bible each week, with the encouragement of her grandmother; by age 15, she had memorized the four gospels, the Pentateuch, the Book of Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, and many of the Psalms.

Arguing for support of education for the blind, she was the first woman to speak in the United States Senate when she read a poem there. She appeared before the joint houses of Congress; what a testimony! 

Sometimes we refuse to try new things, using our limitations as the reason. She learned to play the piano, organ, harp, and guitar, and became a good soprano singer. She wrote thousands of hymns, remarking: “I never undertake a hymn without first asking the good Lord to be my inspiration”. Her capacity for work was incredible and she could often compose six or seven hymns a day, dictating them to an amanuensis. However, Fanny said that her chief occupation was working in missions.

“Rescue the Perishing” (1869), which became the “theme song of the home missions movement” shows us where her heart was. She was active in speaking engagements and missionary work among America’s urban poor almost until she died at the age of 94.

In her nineties in 1911, Crosby spoke to 5,000 people at the opening meeting of the Evangelistic Committee’s seventh annual campaign held in Carnegie Hall, after the crowd sang her songs for thirty minutes.

What lessons might we learn from this remarkable servant of God? Why did God allow her to struggle with blindness? Why does God allow our particular struggles? What is it that gives you and me the strength to overcome?

“Near the cross! I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever;
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river”. [Refrain]

Let us begin a New Year at the foot of Jesus’ cross, watching and waiting for His return!

by Marilyn Daniels (


The Christmas Story Unfolds

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Matthew 1:1, Genesis 3:14-15

Perhaps it will surprise you to know that the Christmas story begins in Genesis. We need to look at some background. The earth was not God’s first creation. Created beings lived with Him in heaven long before earth took shape. How long Lucifer, one of many angels, existed before the creation of man, we are not told.

God created Lucifer [meaning “Shining One”]. Ezekiel describes him as chief among the angels, powerful, intelligent and very beautiful (Ezekiel 28:13-17). What we learn from Ezekiel and Isaiah is that rivalry developed; Satan wanted not just to be like God, but to be in control (Isaiah 14:12-14). That is when things began to fall apart. It is important for us to understand that God did not create evil in the person of Satan [meaning “accuser”]. Privileges were taken for granted, as power was coveted, and Satan’s attempt to seduce Eve and Adam demonstrated his continuing efforts to control God’s creation.

How does this relate to Christmas? As God cursed the serpent, the creature used by Satan to tempt Eve, He predicted that Satan would bruise the heel of One who would actually extinguish any power the Devil gained in the intervening years, by crushing Satan’s head (Genesis 3:14-15). From the beginning, God had the plan.

We know of course, that this is what happened during the Easter event when Jesus was crucified (bruised seems a light term for His great suffering). But wait! Jesus rose from the dead – the Divine Conqueror of death! His resurrection crushed the determined efforts of the “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10). This chapter describes that final battle in heaven. As the Devil is hurled to the earth, salvation is complete; the power of the Kingdom of God, authorized by the blood of Christ, overcomes Satan at last!

How is all of this possible? God sent a tiny baby, born of a virgin to bless all nations of the earth (Isaiah 7:14). God’s Kingdom would be ruled by this baby, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas time! He was also fulfillment of a prophecy given thousands of years before to a man named Abram. The author of Genesis writes the promise of God to this man He renamed Abraham [meaning “father of a great number”]. “I will make you a great nation….and all people on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3). That promise was repeated to God’s covenant people, the nation He promised Abraham’s progeny would become.

Matthew begins his gospel “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac…..” (Matthew 1:1). Writing specifically to the Jews, it was crucial for Matthew to begin with the one they called ‘Father Abraham’. Ryrie explains: “The common teaching of that day said the Jews participated in the merits of Abraham, which made their prayers acceptable, helped in war, expiated sins, appeased the wrath of God and ensured a share in God’s eternal kingdom” (Page 1463 Ryrie Study Bible) No wonder they were so shocked when John and Jesus preached the need for personal repentance! All along they had depended on Abraham to ensure their eternal destiny.

The Apostle John records the dissension caused by Jesus, claiming God as His Father (John 8:33-58). His statement that He existed before Abraham was the final straw. This was blasphemy in the ears of orthodox Jews. Yet here we are celebrating Jesus! Not only do we rejoice in His birth, but His life has given each believer eternal life! So at Christmas it really is impossible to remember His birth, miraculous as it was, without thinking of His death on a cross. Hallelujah! That was not the end; He rose again to bring spiritual healing and glorious hope to all who would believe and receive Him! (John 1:12-13).


Isn’t it exciting to see how the Bible draws together events that have been planned in the mind of God from the very beginning of time! This gives me great hope for the future, even when times are tough. Our God is an awesome God!

by Marilyn Daniels (


Execution of Hopes and Dreams

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Matthew 14:1-14

Isaiah prophesied about “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (KJV). In Chapter 53 (:3) he writes about the sufferings, fulfilled at the time of our Lord’s crucifixion. However, Jesus was not wrapped up in His own suffering; He grieved at other times. He wept when Lazarus died, and folks with Him marvelled at how much He loved Lazarus. Perhaps that was a small indication of how much He loved all His followers, then and now. Jesus also grieved over the city of Jerusalem because they would not receive Him as their Messiah (Matthew 23:37).

Today we are looking at another situation which caused him grief. Jesus had a deep respect for His cousin John. He described him as a man of truth, a shining light, bearing witness to His own entry into ministry (John 5:33-35). Matthew records words of highest praise: “Among those born of women, there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (11:11).

Just a short while later Herod had John imprisoned because John had openly rebuked his marriage to Herodias. She had been his brother Philip’s wife but had been persuaded to leave her husband, and to marry Herod Antipas. This was tantamount to incest (Leviticus 18:16). John called their marriage unlawful (Matthew 14:4).

John didn’t languish in prison long. The royals had a party to celebrate King Herod’s birthday. The stakes were high, as his step-daughter danced before the crowd. He promised her with an oath, to give her whatever she asked, because her dancing was so exotic. You know the story. Prompted by her mother, the girl asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. How gory is that?!

How did Jesus deal with sorrow when He heard about His beloved cousin? He withdrew into a quiet place to be alone (Matthew 14:13) – from His history we could assume He needed time with His heavenly Father. How do we deal with grief? Do we “take it to the Lord in prayer”? The lyricist goes on –

“In His arms He’ll take and shield Thee

Thou wilt find a solace there”.

However, the story doesn’t end there. Jesus was not allowed to grieve alone. The crowds discovered where He was. Most of us would have our friends drive them away. Not Jesus! He had compassion on them and fed them, healing their sick. (Matthew 14:15-16)

It was not an execution as such, but recently a friend was found by his young wife, dead in their bed. Another friends described it this way “She went to bed a happily married Mom and woke up a single Mom”. Her life, as she had known it had been chopped, a dreadful execution of all she had known. How will she ever manage such grief?


When we are in shock, can we acknowledge our feelings to God or do we try to hide them? The reality is no one can explain this kind of tragedy. Perhaps it doesn’t equate with what happened to John who perished at the hands of an evil man, but we can learn a lesson from the ways in which Jesus faced His grief. With Lazarus He shed tears. He listened to the weeping sisters and He spent time with them. He continued ministering the truths of God’s Word to crowds in Jerusalem, gathered at the temple, fickle as He knew them to be. At John’s death, working, doing what God sent Him to do, took precedence over His personal grief. Once again I am challenged by the life of my Lord!

by Marilyn Daniels (


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).


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 (



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Numbers 14:18-24

Numbers are often used as a measure of success. What marks did you get? How much do you earn? How many attended a certain function? How old are you? Our great Omniscient God attends to detail, counting the very number of hairs on each person’s head. He also created vast expanses of stars, and angels without number. He numbered the tribes of Israel exactly one year after they left Egypt. They gathered in the desert near Mt Sinai to receive instructions from the Lord, through His servant Moses (Numbers 1:1-2).

Are numbers important to God? The Bible answers that question for us. The Lord Jesus talked about the importance of one sheep that was lost and how the good shepherd left ninety-nine to recover that one (Luke 15:3-7). He used this to illustrate the rejoicing which takes place in heaven over one person who comes into the family of God (Luke 15:7-10).

When is the last time you heard a sermon from the book of Numbers? Yet – the theme of this book is relevant to our day and age. God’s intention was for His people to walk by faith, trusting in His promises. They did not have Bibles tucked under their arms when they went to church, but rather stood in the sun for hours, to hear the Word of the Lord, thundered by His prophet Moses. The book is very real, since it describes the weaknesses of the nation’s leaders; Moses, Aaron and Miriam did not always measure up to God’s standard. Ryrie notes “God miraculously supported them during those years of rebellion and wandering and finally brought them [the nation] to the Promised Land” (Ryrie Study Bible Page 197).

The first chapters of this book deal with the sanctification of God’s chosen people. One event had Messianic overtones, when Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness to heal folks bitten by snakes (Number 21:9) Compare this scripture with John 3:14. Only God could turn that evil into good. Paul understood this principle when he wrote “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

In this remarkably honest book we find the nation celebrating the first Passover. Just after the completion of the Tabernacle, designed to foster worship, God spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai (9:1) laying out the details of this specific celebration. And so “The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses” (9:5). We also find the Holy Spirit in this Old Testament book! Moses gathered 70 elders together and the Lord descended in a cloud to speak to him. Then “He took the Spirit that was on him [Moses] and put the Spirit on the seventy Elders “. Under the power of the Spirit of God, they prophesied – a one-time only event (11:25).

Throughout their journey, the Israelites often grumbled. We read that in spite of this “The Lord was slow to anger, abounding in love, and forgiving sin and rebellion” (14:18). It is this same God who grows patience and kindness and love in His children today through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). However, lest we take God’s mercy for granted He warned “no one who has treated Me with contempt will ever see it [the Promised land] (Numbers 14:23). There are consequences for our choices, even today.


There are so many lessons to be learned from the Book of Numbers. Here the character of our faithful, covenant-keeping God is confirmed in the experience of wayward Israel.

The words of Balaam remind us of the committed life “I must speak only what God puts in my mouth” (22:38). Would to God we stayed by this principle, letting our yea be yea and our nay mean nay (Matthew 5:37).

God desires to make a covenant of peace with those who are zealous for the honour of the Lord (25:12-13). This reminds us of the cost to the One who purchased our peace at Calvary, doesn’t it?

by Marilyn Daniels (


The Old, Old Story

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Matthew 28:19-20

Jesus said “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). He said this on the basis of authority given to Him by the Father, to rule in heaven and earth. Therefore….!

John recalls Jesus’ High Priestly prayer, addressed to His Father: “Father the time has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You”. Jesus was facing the cross. He needed strength of purpose, knowing His Divine calling was to bring peace and rest to hurting hearts, through restored fellowship with His Father. His prayer goes on – “For you granted Him [the Son] authority over all people, that He might give eternal life to all those You have given to Him”. That sweet fellowship, beginning at the moment of conversion, will continue throughout eternity! So that we really understand what eternal life is, Jesus defines if for us – it is knowing God and Jesus Christ (John 17:1-3).

The visiting preacher was passionate! Folks – he reminded us, you can go and baptized, as well as teach people about Jesus Christ, without making disciples! How many people have said the sinner’s prayer, thinking that meant they were going to heaven, but the seed planted produced no growth and certainly no beautiful flowers. Some seed died because it landed on stony ground, other seed was choked by weeds growing in the same patch (Matthew 13).

Making sure the seed grows takes time and careful tending; it needs to be watered, perhaps even fertilized, and many gardeners carefully remove weeds. Jesus illustrates nurturing spiritual growth by discussing the need to prune branches in order to produce fruit (John 15:1-2). If we are to see growth we need the ministry of presence. Walking alongside, as Jesus did with His disciples for 3 years! We get impatient for souls. In the urgency of evangelism, we forget sometimes to nurture by loving and learning more about God, together. Sharing the joy of the Lord is one of the privileges of the Church! There is nothing more satisfying than encouraging brothers and sisters in their faith!

The key to discipleship is given by Jesus, in these verses. We are teaching others to obey His commands, to think “God thoughts”. What are they? They shape our entire worldview. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37-38). This is the first and greatest commandment, summarizing the first 4 of the ten commandments given to Moses. We are not to worship any other gods, or to take the name of God lightly [in vain]. The rest of those (Exodus 20) are summarized in the way we treat our neighbour .

Jesus commands us to love our brothers and sisters, our neighbours and even our enemies – the way we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). If we are honest we are often self-indulgent, with our time, our money and our possessions. If generosity of spirit is the hallmark of discipleship, a lot would change in our world today. Even of those who do not follow Him, many are willing to label Jesus as a “good” man.


Would they say the same about us, giving us kudos for the way we celebrate humanity? Are we known for acts of kindness? Are we selfless? Some of us are blessed to remember earthly fathers who looked like Jesus, who went out of their way to bless others! It is the “Old, Old Story”, captured in the words of the song and challenging us to identify with Jesus in thought, word and deed!

Tell me the old, old story,
  Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory,
  Of Jesus and His love;

by Marilyn Daniels (


Encouraging Who?

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Hebrews 3:12-14

We know that encouragement is a Biblical principle. Remarkable isn’t it, to consider that God not only lays down principles by which to live, but also provides all that we need in order to abide by them. Encouragement is listed among the gifts given to believers by the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:8). Perhaps knowing we need the Holy Spirit in order to exercise this gift, will prompt us to lean more on God, in order to meet the needs of others.

Encouragement is regarded throughout both Testaments as necessary to spiritual development. “We sent Timothy who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith” (1 Thessalonians 3:2). In the Old Testament we read – “Stop doing wrong; learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed” (Isaiah 1:17) How often it is easy to overlook those who are quiet and shy. Paul recommends, among other things, that we not forget to strengthen the timid (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Encouragement, like many other Christian virtues needs renewing day by day “Encourage one another daily….so that none of you may be hardened by sins deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13). It is needed by leaders. In training Joshua to take his place, the Lord instructed Moses “Encourage him, because he will lead Israel” (Deuteronomy 1:38). It is needed by brothers in the Lord, and was even needed by Jesus Himself (Matthew 26:38). “He [an elder] must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9).

One requires great patience to encourage others. It can be emotionally draining (2 Timothy 4:2). Serving others requires that gift of the Spirit. “Patience” (Galatians 5:22, 2 Timothy 4:2). Also, those who form the support network for aging relatives or grieving friends know how much energy it takes to be a reliable presence in the face of such great need.

Josiah, King of Israel encouraged the priests in their temple duties. How important it is when we see encouragement coming from the top down! Paul found that in exercising praise he encouraged himself. Today he might have written a book on self-help! Barnabas fulfilled the meaning of his name, “Son of Encouragement”, by his ministry to others (Acts 4:36). Endurance and encouragement from the scriptures brought about a spirit of unity in the early Church.

If the truth were known there probably isn’t anyone living who has never needed an encouraging word, a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on. We who have been recipients of such a ministry, understand the magnitude of the miniscule….it is little things that mean so much in times of crisis. Jesus said “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me (Matthew 25:40). Therefore all of us can do something to encourage others, if we would only be sensitive to their moments of need.


Remember a time when God used someone to encourage you. How did that feel?

Would you like to have the reputation of making others feel the same?

What is it that prevents you and me from seizing the opportunities that God places before us?

Would you be willing commit to a ministry of encouragement?

by Marilyn Daniels (



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It began in heaven. The decision was made within the Godhead to send Jesus to earth to accomplish the “salvation plan”. Here’s how it went. Paul enlightened the Philippian Church, writing that Christ Jesus “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (2:6-7). Jesus demonstrates to us how to control pride of place. Status often means so much to us as human beings, doesn’t it? Victory number one!

The story continues. Jesus’ parents found Him in the temple, where according to the custom He had celebrated His ‘Bar Mitzvah’ at twelve years of age. Returning home, the missed him and returned to find Him discussing theology with the Rabbis. “Everyone who heard Him was amazed at His understanding and His answers”! (Matthew 2:42-47). We might have thought a young boy, quizzed by the religious leaders of his day might have been timid, but not so for the One who created the system, and the people who were practising it. Victory over fear of what people might think!

We’re all familiar with the “temptations” which Jesus endured during 40 days of fasting in the wilderness (Matthew 4). Satan tried his best to weaken Jesus’ resolve to do His Father’s will, but “Hallelujah” failed to deter Him. Victory #3.

Throughout His life, short as His ministry experience was, Satan tried to taunt Him, ridiculing Him for making Himself equal with God, for calling God His “Father”. The final blow might have been when people mocked Him for saving others, but not saving Himself. He had wrestled, as He faced the awful trauma of crucifixion which lay ahead of Him, as He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. How well do we handle our own fears? If we knew we would suffer pain and humiliation, would we pass the test? The miracle of calling it all off at any point would have devalued the very reason for Jesus coming to earth in the first place – Victory #4 overcame fear of personal pain!

Folks gathering around the foot of the cross failed to see the victory that Jesus experienced by His very death. The reality was He could have saved Himself, but immediate satisfaction would have destroyed His purpose. He had to die that man might live! Hadn’t the angel prophesied to Joseph “She will give birth to a Son and you are to give Him the name ‘Jesus’ because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). And so for us today, we read: “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all” (2 Corinthians 15:14-15). Victory #5. Will we take up Peter’s challenge “Christ suffered for you, leaving an example, that you should follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21)?

We know that we will live eternally with Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Our certain hope is based on His resurrection. Imagine life without such joyous anticipation? And He was seen, over a period of 40 days, “giving many convincing proofs that He was alive” (Acts 1:3). Again we read Peter’s words “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact” (Acts 2:32). Victory #6!


If we have put our trust in what Jesus has done, then do we trust His promise that He will come again? Are we preparing for His return? At that time He will have His final victory of evil! Sin and death will no longer provoke us because Satan and his angels will be cast into the Lake of fire to stay, forever (Revelation 20:10). Praise God! Seven, the perfect number – seven victorious moments in the life of Christ, bring us the greatest of all possible joy!

by Marilyn Daniels (