Devotional

Near the Cross

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

Refrain:
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.

Reflection:
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 (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

The Battle is God’s

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

1 Timothy 1:18

Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them, you may fight the good fight.”

Apparently, as was the custom (Acts 6:4), Godly men had commissioned Timothy to ministry by the laying on of hands. At that time they recognized his particular gift to be used in the Lord’s service (1 Timothy 4:14).

When you read 1 Timothy 1:18 what do you understand about the battle Paul is warning young Timothy against? In daily life do you sometimes feel like you are at war? What is going to give you the victory over that feeling? Paul recommends holding onto faith and a good conscience will do it. To me that means I must live up to God’s expectations, not to qualify but rather to quantify what a Christian is. In Him I must live and move and have my being (Acts 17:28).

In his famous sermon on Mars Hill, the Apostle Paul reviewed all that God had done from the creation of the world in order for man to seek Him, and even find Him – this great omnipotent God! The Greeks were worshiping gold and silver, or stone – images made by man’s genius (Acts 17:29). Now Paul challenged them to look to someone far greater than they could imagine, One who would eventually judge the world through Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son.

The battle, even in Paul’s day was against false doctrine. Myths and endless genealogies promoted controversy. Is it possible to over-examine God’s Word? What considerations take over truth, if we do not take it at face value, trusting the Holy Spirit to make it clear enough for even a child to understand. Jesus warns we need to become like little children, humble, trusting (Matthew 18:2-4). The greatest defence a child or adult could have is trusting God. We sing:

In heavenly armour we’ll enter the land -The battle belongs to the Lord!
No weapon that’s fashioned against us shall stand -The battle belongs to the Lord!

The power of darkness comes in like a flood -The battle belongs to the Lord –
He’s raised up a standard, the power of His blood -The battle belongs to the Lord!

When your enemy presses in hard do not fear -The battle belongs to the Lord!
Take courage my friend, your redemption is near – The battle belongs to the Lord!

We sing glory and honor, power in strength to the Lord!
Songwriters: Collins Jamie (sue)

Paul reminds Timothy that the weapon of prayer is to be used in this battle. When we pray for kings and all those in authority, it pleases God (1 Timothy 2:3). The battle for lost souls, whether they be in leadership or just your neighbour, concerns our heavenly Father because God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (:4). Let’s not forget God loves all people, [individuals in our families or communities, kings and bishops, of every tribe and nation] even more than we do.

Reflection:

When you read about anger and strife do you read from a defensive position? Who is the enemy? Who is the protagonist? In November we remember those who were lost in the great World Wars, but let us not forget we also are in a battle against evil!

As a herald and apostle of the true faith, Paul knew what it was to fight the good fight. He brought glory to God by engaging, in love, with those who held him prisoner. Was it really God’s purpose to appoint someone to suffer (2:7)? How would you respond to such a situation? Would you, could you completely trust God?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

My Peace

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on Pexels.com

Isaiah 26:1-13

When my heart is troubled, how do I deal with failure feelings or challenges to my rights? Is there a human being who has not felt the sting of rejection or the pain of discrimination in big ways or in little? Injustice hits a raw nerve in all of us from time to time, doesn’t it? When feelings overwhelm us where can we turn?

Thankfully the Word of God speaks to our hurting hearts. I’ve mentioned this many times before: “You [God] will keep him /her in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast because he/she trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3 MDV). No wonder Jesus was able to reassure His disciples: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives”. His peace was beyond anything the world could ever know. Have you ever experienced it? ….that exquisite moment when worldly cares just melt away and your heart is truly at rest? God doesn’t want our hearts to be troubled. Twice in John 14, Jesus cautions His followers “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (14:1, 27).

Troubled hearts aren’t able to rest. Hearts which are not resting in God do not have the same impact on our troubled world as hearts which are at peace. Satan is happy to ruffle our feathers because that renders us useless to God. Jesus adds another thought that troubled hearts are really afraid (John 14:27). He doesn’t want us to be afraid, but rather to be fully trusting, in spite of circumstances beyond our control. That is hard, but not impossible. Notice He is saying it in the imperative “Do not…!” It is not a suggestion. It takes determination and hard work!

Here is how it is done…”Trust in the Lord forever” (Isaiah 26:4). What do we really mean when we say we trust God? Do we let Him control the happenings in our lives, or do our plans even include Him, as we go about our daily lives? Do we live on automatic pilot, thereby not even seeing those exciting surprises that we so often miss because we are focused on what we want?

The Lord is our Rock, according to Isaiah (26:4). When we recognize the amazing stability He lends to us each day, we may find our souls yearning for Him in the night! Have you ever wakened with a sense of His presence in the darkness? What an illustration of His presence in the darkness of our world today! “In the morning my spirit longs for You” (Isaiah 26:9). Both soul and spirit rest in Him, the One through whom the world learns about righteousness (:9).

Reflection:

The subject of peace is crucial in our war-torn world today. So many families are split apart. Political leaders are torn from their posts. Violence is entering our schools making them unsafe for our precious children….and the fear grows. If only people knew the Lord. Yet, even in our churches we find competition and resentment, unfaithfulness and unforgiveness, disapproval and unacceptance. We need revival! Oh that the Spirit of our dear Lord would reign in our hearts and minds, exhibited by His amazing mercy and grace; lived out in lives of service and love. Then we would know His peace and truly be representatives of Almighty God!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Uncategorized

Victorious

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com

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!

Reflection:

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 (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional · Uncategorized

The Haves and Have-nots

flat lay photography of white mug beside green leafed plants
Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

Job 1:21

We have heard this expression used when calculating global economies, but how does it apply to the world of 2020?

The book of Job is written about a man favoured by God. Not only was Job wealthy, but he had a large family. The Bible records “He was the greatest man among all the people of the East” (Job 1:3). Apparently his lifestyle pleased God, for we are given a glimpse into a conversation taking place before the throne of God. The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and up-right, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8).

In 2020 I wonder how the conversation has gone between God and Satan. God could challenge Satan again to look at the world He created and the people whom He loves. (Let’s remember, since we just celebrated Easter, God sent His only begotten Son to pay the price of the sins of all people.) Hypothetically, would it have gone something like this? God: Have you considered my servants in North America? They have been reading their Bibles and praying, giving selflessly to the poor, caring for the disadvantaged at home and abroad, welcoming strangers into their hearts and homes, so they could tell them about the love of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. They have been straining to look after the environment, even at the cost of their own comfort and convenience. There is no other nation on earth like them!

Or, would God looking down see self-indulgence, greed, hatred and a spirit of entitlement? In this “me” generation does God care about our human rights, yours and mine, or has He called His children to care about the rights of those less fortunate? Surely as the world trembles in the face of an invisible enemy today, we might do some soul-searching.

Faced with the overthrow of all his good fortune, God had allowed Satan to test Job to the limit. He lost his property, his family and his health. Wouldn’t that make most people scream that God is ‘unfair’? Perhaps Job’s worldview may mean something to anyone facing the loss of all they hold dear. The Bible tells us he did not lose his faith in God, but rather fell to the ground and worshiped, saying: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised!” (Job 1:21).

Hundreds of years later, the Apostle Paul knew something of Job’s experience. He tells us “I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11-12).

Reflection:

Does our happiness depend on what we have, or does the attitude of gratitude colour our world rosy?

When do we most often find ourselves on our knees? Usually it is when we are in need.

Can we, do we trust God to supply all our needs through His riches in glory in Christ Jesus? (Philippians

4:19)

Do we count our relationship with God among our riches? Do you have, or have not?

Let us pray the prayer of David – Psalm 51:10-12.