Devotional

What Will You Do With Jesus?

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Acts 10:25-26

At the end of the day the only question that will matter is “What did you do with Jesus”. His representatives on earth may fall, but Jesus never fails. Lyricists have written songs about His amazing faithfulness to truth and righteousness. The Bible assures us He is the same yesterday, today and forever! (Hebrews 13:8). What a blessed promise in the face of human failure and disappointment.

We might ask another question “Who am I compared to the King of glory, the One who left the glory of heaven (Philippians 2:5-8)to suffer shame and disgrace at Calvary, taking my punishment for sins He never committed?” (Hebrews 10:10-14). Charles Goodman captured the truth as he asked:

Who am I that the King would bleed and die for?
Who am I that He would pray not my will, Thine Lord.
The answer I may never know
Why He ever loved me so
That to an old rugged cross He’d go…
For who am I?

When we see Jesus our gratitude sometimes takes a turn, and we begin to revere the instrument that brought the light of the gospel to us. The apostles leave us with a legacy which we do well to remember. In our scripture today we read that Cornelius called his household together, family, friends and servants to meet the great Apostle Peter.

Like Jonah, Peter resisted sharing his faith with Gentiles. The Gospel was for the Jews, surely. God rebuked Peter and finally he surrendered. It was a long journey from Jerusalem to Caesarea, but Peter had been called by God to go specifically to the home of this Italian military Commander (Acts 10).

What was Peter’s attitude when he arrived? Considering the important role he played in the development of the early Church in Jerusalem, this was a great concession involving time and energy. He could have been condescending, but we see Peter serving Jesus with humility. As Cornelius fell at his feet in the respect demanded by the custom of the day, Peter commanded him to “Get up”! Leaving the crowd in no doubt, Peter declared “I am only a man myself” (Acts 10:25-26).

Peter had learned to come to grips with the limitations of his own humanity. He had failed Jesus many times. He couldn’t stay awake to watch with Him prior to Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane. He denied that he knew Jesus immediately prior to His crucifixion. Here was another test. This time he didn’t fail. In spite of the Jewish laws which prevented association with Gentiles, God had shown Peter that He cared about the souls of all people, even Gentiles.

”I now realize how true it is that God does not show any favouritism” (Acts 10:34). This was an epiphany for Peter. Suddenly he got it! He found himself preaching about Jesus, sharing ”the good news of peace, through Jesus Christ who is Lord of all” (10:36). His focus was Jesus Christ! As a privileged witness of all that Christ was and did, Peter talked about His life and death as the fulfillment of prophecy and how, following His miraculous resurrection, Jesus ate and drank with His followers. As Paul reminds us “He lives to make intercession for us” (Hebrews 7:24-25) so to Him goes all the honour and glory forever and ever!

The power of the Holy Spirit came upon these Gentiles so that they believed and were baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. This is what happens when we see Christ Jesus lifted up by Godly men and women.

Reflection:

What are you doing with the precious, holy name of Jesus? Do you guard His reputation with your life?

by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)

Devotional

Love Begets Love

1 John 4

So many people today seem to be starving for love. How many men and women will go to almost any lengths to generate a love relationship? Sadly they are often motivated by a desire to have their felt needs met, in order to feel complete. This imposes the impossible on other people. Only God can fill this void. When we know Him we have a new self-image because we recognize all the potential He has created. Though some fear this looks like pride, in reality this celebrates the love with which He created us. Jesus understood this necessity when He instructed His listeners to “love your neighbour as [much as you love] yourself” (Mark 12:31).

The apostle John had seen this type of love in action, had witnessed the remarkable love of Jesus for people of every station in life, the poor and marginalized, those who were oppressed, those who were socially unclean, physically challenged, demon possessed, the rich and famous. Jesus’ loving spirit, His compassionate nature reached out to draw people to Him. People followed Him in droves all over the countryside. They even forgot they were hungry as they gathered on the hillsides to listen to Him. Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles alike sought Jesus for His wisdom, coming to Him by day or by night.

When our needs drive our passions, values we believe in can quickly erode away. There are a dangers in making such personal sacrifices while trying to make someone love you. Jesus was devoid of any such personal agenda. His ministry was for the people whose lives He touched. He didn’t fear what people thought, but rather was committed to doing the will of God, day by day, person to person. His motivation for coming to earth was love. Paul describes it as humble obedience, servant-like in Philippians chapter 2.

Look around you at those people who have a lot of quality friendships. Why have they been so blessed? What is lacking in lives that are virtually friendless and desperately lonely. How often have I heard people complaining about the church as a cold and uncaring place? In reality that perspective is often held by those who find it difficult to love themselves. Without a confidence in who they are, people often find it difficult to reach out to others, or when they do they only talk about themselves.

Love is interested in what makes another tick. For most, this is the essence of Mother-love. Moms want to understand what things their kids will enjoy? In Church do we show interest in where people come from? What are some highlights of their lives, or is there anything they find challenging, need prayer for? Can you relate – laugh and cry together?

We can learn from the Apostle who writes that love is from God (1 John 4:16). He saw love teaching in the synagogue, challenging the heresies of that day, feeding 5,000, healing lepers, hanging on a cross. Perhaps you have never seen the love of God. When you do, you will understand how love begets love!

Reflection:

In our world today people crave attention and value the number of friends they have on social media. In the light of our discussion today, what would help them to resolve this tremendous “felt need”?

Do you have a positive outlook on life that attracts others, because of what God is doing in your life? Has the love of God overwhelmed you with its purity and peace? What qualities attract others to you, and therefore to Jesus?

by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)

Devotional

Judeo-Christian?

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Acts 11:26

Growing up I read several books about Jewish people who converted to Christianity. It became a subject of keen interest which carried over into my work as a nurse in a Jewish community. Wikipedia describes the term Judeo-Christian:

Judeo-Christian is a term used since the 1950s to encompass the common ethical standards

of Christianity and Judaism, such as the Ten Commandments. It has become part of American

civil religion and is often used to promote inter-religious cooperation.“

Since this was a reality in the 1950’s it saddens me to read in a more recent periodical that “The Jewish Community generally views Christianity as a threat because of the long history of ‘Christian’ anti-Semitism.”

One Christian author coined the phrase “Christianity is Jewish.” Since it is our primary authority, what does the Bible say? The first notation we have of the word Christian is in Acts 11:26 “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch”. By definition the word disciple means partisans, or followers – in this case of Christ. ‘Christian’ is a word which appears very few times in the New Testament. King Agrippa, after listening to Paul preach the gospel in his own defense, asked Paul if he thought he could persuade him to become a Christian. The only other time it is used is by Peter who clarifies “…if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear the name” (1 Peter 4:16). A Christian is one who bears Christ’s name.

We need to recognize that these first Christians, men and women who followed Jesus, were all Jews! Would becoming a Christian make them less Jewish? That question has been debated, even by the Jewish community itself, to this day. The President of ‘The Chosen People’ explains: “Jewish people like myself are raised knowing that Jesus is not for Jews….. I stepped over that line in 1970 and discovered to my great surprise, that I was still Jewish!”

Did becoming Christian, Christ-followers, mean they left the faith of their fathers? If the Messiah was anticipated by the Israelite nation as one sent from God to His own people, to free them from oppression, and if Jesus is that Messiah, following Him would not mean leaving the faith of their fathers.

Christianity must honour the roots of our faith revealed in Judaism. Gentiles have been included in prophecy as far back as Abraham (Genesis12:3), so it is not a nationalistic faith but an inclusive one. The Psalmist urges us to pray for peace in Jerusalem Why?

Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is most appropriate for a city whose name literally means “peaceful” and which is the residence of the God of peace. Further, Jerusalem will be the scene of Christ’s return (Acts 1:11; Zechariah 14:4), and at that time He will establish permanent peace within its walls. True Christians must be eagerly awaiting His return, and praying for the time when the Prince of Peace will reign in Jerusalem. “For unto us a Child is born….the Prince of Peace, of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, He will reign…..forever!” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

There is no room in the economy of God for anti-Semitism or anti-Christianity between Jews and Christians. We need to encourage one another in our faith because when one reads the Old Testament, under the Spirit of God, Jesus the Messiah is recognizable. Together we may be united under Christ!

Reflection:

What does the designation Judeo-Christian mean to you? Explain.

Does becoming a Christian make one less Jewish?

What binds Jews and Christians together?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Defection Described

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1 John 2:18-19
There is a phrase used by John the Apostle that is painful to read. “….even now many antichrists have come” (1 John 2:18). Prophesying about the last days, John tells us how to recognize the antichrist. The “last hour” (1 John 2:18) is described by one commentator as the time period between Christ’s first and second coming.
Throughout John’s references, the common factors are :
1. “This ….spirit of antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world….if they had belonged to us they would have remained” (1 John 2:19). They have exhibited a spirit of independence.
2. This antichrist can be recognized by his deception, his lies – “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ” (2:22).
3. They reject that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, which in effect is also a denial of God the Father (1 John 2:22, 2 John 7).
Where does this spirit originate? It is the satanic force behind all teachings and activity that would destroy Christianity. Sadly, we can clearly see this in our world today! We hear people talking about being “spiritual”, or about interacting with the Divine. Whatever that means, usually it applies to something emanating from inside mankind, without any acknowledgement that at the heart of every man is the deepest need, only fulfilled in a relationship with Jesus Christ!
In John’s day, as unfortunately today, many of these people belonged to the visible church but were not believers (2:19). How sad is it to realize that among the wheat there really are tares growing, subtly promoting their doctrine by watering down the truths of scripture. Jesus tells us – “While everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away” (Matthew 13:25).
The church has become sleepy. The enemy is planting his weeds among us. Unfortunately these seeds are hard to recognize until they have grown and by then to cut out the weeds would also injure or destroy the wheat. Paul warned the church in Ephesus: “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). It was serious enough for Paul to warn them repeatedly, and with tears! (20:31). What to do?
Paul says “Be on your guard” (Acts 2:31). Wake up! Smell the coffee! Be discerning! We are to be ready to confront lies. This takes courage, because obviously we will not be popular. It may even divide friends, friends who have given in to the gospel of love as a weak acceptance of evil. We need to know our Bibles well, to deal with those finer points of doctrine that some will so subtly, and some rather unknowingly, shift from the truth.
They went out from us, [they defected not necessarily physically, but cognitively] but they did not really belong to us” (1 John 2:19) for if they had they would have kept the faith. The journey of their thoughts, the promotion of their interpretation of scripture for their own advantage, proves that they do not belong to us!
However, John does not leave the believer without hope. “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth” (2:20). Believers are led by the Holy Spirit to know all truth (John 16:13). We need not be afraid!
Reflection:
Who are the key players in the scenario John describes? What is the problem?
Does this same scenario describe the church today? How does it differ?
Would you know how to discern the spirit of anti-Christ?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.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

John’s Joy!

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John 1:1-7

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflection:

Meditate on Jesus’ words:

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

Does your heart resonate with John’s joy?

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

Devotional · Uncategorized

Jumping to Conclusions!

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Mark 9:38

 

Christians, it would seem, often like to discuss controversial subjects. Sadly these topics are not always worthy of the time and energy expended on them. The disciples tried it with Jesus. What was His response?

 

“Teacher” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us” (Mark 9:38). On the surface this might look very orthodox. Surely it was a good thing to guard the purity of the faith, the message and the messenger.

 

However, given the background of what had just happened, the controversy might be cast in a different light. The disciples had just failed a test; they had not been successful in casting out a demon from the boy who suffered seizures. Immediately following this they got into an argument among themselves, which they were unwilling to acknowledge to Jesus, about who was greatest (:33-34). It was the human attempt to regain self-respect by putting someone else down.

 

Unfortunately it proved they had not been listening to Jesus, who picked up a child to illustrate that He knew about their dialogue. He chose the child to teach them a lesson on humility. The subject Jesus pursued was ‘Welcoming others, even a little child’ (Mark 9:37). Little children might refer to spiritually immature people. They didn’t get it! They changed the subject.

 

Just like little kids they returned to fight over the cookie jar. Someone else was stealing a cookie – casting out demons in Your name. Behind this accusation was pride. If we couldn’t do it, then this person shouldn’t be doing it because “he was not one of us” (:38). Pride of place! Perhaps we all have it, in some form or other.

 

What a put-down as Jesus answered them…. Unexpectedly He authorized anyone who did miracles in His name! (: 39). He continued His lesson on humility by recommending that even those who give cups of water in His name, will be rewarded. The truth is that “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except with knowledge given by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). Paul goes on to explain to the Philippians that it doesn’t matter if Christ is preached out of selfish ambition or out of love. “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice!” (Philippians 1:18).

Bible Commentators amplify the truth by bringing various scriptures together to clarify a difficult point. We cannot ignore the differing situation in Acts where the sons of Sceva were punished for using the name of Jesus illegitimately. They were actually driving out demons by the power of evil, misusing the name of Jesus to achieve their magical exorcisms (Acts 19:13ff). The result of this event was a cleansing in the community where people who practiced sorcery brought the tools of their trade together to be burned. “In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” (Acts 19:20).

 

The lesson to be learned here is to let scripture explain scripture, before we jump to conclusions. Each situation requires careful consideration and discernment, a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is quite possible that those promoting Jesus’ name do so for either right or wrong reasons. Possibly those mentioned in Mark were followers of John the Baptist, not officially linked with the disciples of Jesus. How easy it is to misconstrue the motives of another person while overlooking the real concerns arising from our own personal pride. Therefore, let us not be hasty to jump to conclusions!

 

Reflection:

Would you be able to explain the difference between the exorcisms done by the sons of Sceva and those done by the unnamed man?

How would you research your answer?

Do you ever find yourself jumping to conclusions about difficult Bible passages? What would safeguard you from mis-interpretation?

Devotional · Uncategorized

Love Begets Love

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1 John 4

So many people today seem to be starving for love. How many men and women will go to almost any lengths to generate a love relationship? Sadly they are often motivated by a desire to have their felt needs met, in order to feel complete. This imposes the impossible on other people. Only God can fill this void. When we know Him we have a new self-image because we recognize all the potential He has created. Though some fear this looks like pride, in reality this celebrates the love with which He created us. Jesus understood this necessity when He instructed His listeners to “love your neighbour as [much as you love] yourself” (Mark 12:31).

The apostle John had seen this type of love in action, had witnessed the remarkable love of Jesus for people of every station in life, the poor and marginalized, those who were oppressed, those who were socially unclean, physically challenged, demon possessed, the rich and famous. Jesus’ loving spirit, His compassionate nature reached out to draw people to Him. People followed Him in droves all over the countryside. They even forgot they were hungry as they gathered on the hillsides to listen to Him. Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles alike sought Jesus for His wisdom, coming to Him by day or by night.

When our needs drive our passions, values we believe in can quickly erode away. There are a dangers in making such personal sacrifices while trying to make someone love you. Jesus was devoid of any such personal agenda. His ministry was for the people whose lives He touched. He didn’t fear what people thought, but rather was committed to doing the will of God, day by day, person to person. His motivation for coming to earth was love. Paul describes it as humble obedience, servant-like (Philippians 2).

Look around you at those people who have a lot of quality friendships. Why have they been so blessed? What is lacking in lives that are virtually friendless and desperately lonely. How often have I heard people complaining about the church as a cold and uncaring place? In reality that perspective is often held by those who find it difficult to love themselves. Without a confidence in who they are, people often find it difficult to reach out to others, or when they do they only talk about themselves.

Love is interested in what makes another tick. For most, this is the essence of Mother-love. Moms want to understand what things their kids will enjoy? In Church we show interest in where people come from? What are some highlights of their lives, or is there anything they find challenging, need prayer for? Can you relate – laugh and cry together? Do you have a positive outlook on life that attracts others, because of what God is doing in your life? Has the love of God overwhelmed you with its purity and peace?

We can learn from the Apostle who writes that love is from God (1 John 4:16). He saw love teaching in the synagogue, challenging the heresies of that day, feeding 5,000, healing lepers, hanging on a cross. Perhaps you have never seen the love of God. When you do, you will understand how love begets love!

Reflection:

In our world today people crave attention and value the number of friends they have on social media. In the light of our discussion today, what would help them to resolve this tremendous “felt need”?

Vist Marilyn at http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

The Gardener

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John 15:1-6

Spring is the time of year when we focus on our gardens, isn’t it? In the words of our Lord Jesus, Himself, our heavenly Father is “the gardener”. He was speaking in regards to Himself being “the vine” off of which children of God grow as “the branches”.

No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine” (John 15:4b)

What is the purpose of this unique garden?

“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendour

(Isaiah 61:3).

This righteous person is like a tree planted by rivers of life-giving water (Psalm 1:3).

You who are rooted and established in love may have power, together with all the saints to grasp

how wide and long, how high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses

knowledge” (Ephesians 3:17b-19a).

Rooted….God planted each person in an environment perfectly suited to their needs. In sandy soil, in arid ground, some seeds produce better fruit in a humid environment….He knows why He has specifically put us into the homes, families, and culture where we find ourselves. That is one thing over which we have absolutely no control, but yield to the will of our Sovereign God, who planted us there for His purposes. Not only is this for our best growth and development, but that we also may impact the area around us. A mighty oak tree provides shade and nuts. ….etc.

When we are firmly rooted, spiritually, we become like the Gardener – established in love. We have mentioned before how God’s character is the essence of love! In a world which often distorts the very concept of love, how reassuring it is to know that God is infinite and unchanging in His love. “Love does what is for another’s ultimate good”! Therefore the Gardener lovingly prunes the branches (:2) so they will bear more fruit. Discipline may be endured for the moment, if we realize that ultimately we will show God’s glorious character described by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5 as the (fruit of the Spirit”).

Not only does God water His garden but life-giving nourishment comes from the Word of God planted in the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit (James 1:21). There are weeds of course to be dealt with. Jesus told His disciples that every plant not planted by the Father, would be pulled up by the roots (Matthew 15:13). In spite of the weeds, God faithfully tends the plants in His garden. His mercies are new every morning! (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Reflection:

Can you recognize the Divine Gardener had your best interests at heart when He planted you?

How have you endured the process of Divine pruning?

Let us ask ourselves: What impact are we making on our present environment?

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

Devotional · Uncategorized

My Gentle Shepherd

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Isaiah 40:1-5, 10-11

Many years ago the Gaithers wrote beautiful lyrics addressing the need people have of a Shepherd. They perceived a need for strength, provision and guidance that comes from God alone. Like Martin Luther, they recognized there was no other that we can turn to for answers to the problems in our lives today. This Shepherd, they knew from scripture would be gentle.

 

Isaiah makes an astonishing contrast as he describes God’s power. “See the Sovereign Lord comes with power and His arm rules for Him” (40:10). Then, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah also describes God as a Shepherd, One who gathers the lambs in His arms and carried them close to His heart. What a tender picture! This Shepherd also “gently leads” (40:11).

 

Isaiah chapter 40 is described as one of consolation, reviewing the greatness of God. We do not often equate gentleness with greatness, but here it is. Paul also tells us the fruit of the Holy Spirit living within each believer, produces gentleness, among a host of other qualities derived from the greatness of God’s character. Isaiah begins the chapter with an injunction from God to “comfort My people” (:1), to “speak tenderly to Jerusalem” (:2).

 

There are hints of salvation as God’s voice calls “prepare the way for the Lord” (:3). Whatever did that mean? Matthew enlightens us in his gospel. John the Baptist, hundreds of year after Isaiah’s prophecy, was identified as the one who came to prepare the way for the Messiah. How did he accomplish this? By preaching repentance (Matthew 3:8).

 

Jacob was the first person who called God his Shepherd. As he blessed his sons on his deathbed he told them “God has been my Shepherd all my life to this day” (Genesis 48:15). Centuries later King David is famous for saying “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). The Magi, visiting baby Jesus identified Him as the fulfillment of prophecy “who will be the Shepherd of My people Israel” (Matthew 2:6).

Jesus confirmed that “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). “No one can snatch them out of My hand” (10:28). “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow Me” (10:27). Mark records Jesus’ rebuke when the disciples wanted to shoo little children away, thinking He would be too busy for kids. “He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them”(Mark 10:16) What a sweet picture of my Gentle Shepherd!

Reflection:

Do you need a Shepherd in your life? Why or why not?

“Dear Father, What a comfort it is to be held close to Your heart. Thank You for loving me as only God can love, unconditionally. Thank You for forgiving me for all my failures and wrong choices. I pray that You will strengthen my faith as day by day I learn to lean on You for guidance. Help me to discern Your will for my life, day by day. Thank You for Your Holy Word that nourishes my soul! Thank You for protecting me from evil, as I follow Jesus day by day. May my life be pleasing in Your sight. Thank You for being such a gentle Shepherd”

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