Devotional · Uncategorized

Songs in the Night

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Acts 16:16-30

How often have you been awakened in the night with the strongest impression God wants to speak to you? Samuel and others are Biblical examples of such an experience. Job’s friend Elihu thought he knew the answer to Job’s problems, reminding him that God our Maker is the one who gives songs in the night (Job 35:10). What experience he was drawing upon we do not know, but I know what it is like to sing praises to God in the middle of the night. Do you?

Two thousand years ago, at midnight, though a strange choice of hour to sing praises to God, Paul and Silas were doing just that from a most unlikely place. They were in prison, but that did not stop them from glorifying the Lord their God. In the quiet of night, without officials rushing about and the clamour of daylight hours, it was a testimony to other prisoners at the very least. Imagine! God heard them and responded. He sent a violent earthquake which released them from their chains.

What chains bind us in the night? Are our hearts free from oppressive thoughts, resentment, disappointment or despair? What is it that keeps us awake at night? Do our hearts fail us for fear? Do we regret succumbing to temptation? Have we hurt someone we love, immeasurably? Do we care that we have displeased God? Does our faith waver?

Or – are our hearts overflowing with joy in the faithfulness of our mighty Saviour? Slowly dawning in the silence of night, spiritual truths take shape with spectacular joy as we meditate on our glorious Lord. Haven’t we heard the voice of God responding to our cries? Haven’t we felt the touch of His loving hand through the physical presence of a brother or sister in Christ? Hasn’t God’s Holy Spirit suddenly enlightened our understanding on a scripture with which we have been long familiar?

What marvellous sights have we seen, or sounds have we heard, that draw us to worship the Creator of all things? What thanksgiving replaces sorrow and loss! What hope pierces the darkness! Hallelujah!

Reflection:

It is often in the darkness of night that my spirit burns within as I see the Light of God, and listen to His voice. Whatever my cries may have been, healing comes in the sweetness of His presence. Thank God for the mercies of victory in Jesus that is only understood when all other distractions have been taken away!

Why are you downcast, O my soul?….by day the Lord directs His love; at night His song is with me”

(Psalm 42:5a & 8a)

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Favorite Scriptures

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1 John 4:7-19

If you were asked to give your favourite scripture verse or verses, what might they be? Would they be focused on the comfort of your faith, or the greatness of your God? There is no right or wrong answer to that question. However, the answer does demonstrate where you are on your faith journey, doesn’t it? Faith begins with our vision of God. The Psalmist wrote “The Lord is my light and my salvation! Of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1 KJV) “The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (NIV)

Some of my all-time favourite verses are 1 John 1:7-9. As long as I live in this mortal body I will need to come before God in a spirit of repentance, knowing that He, in His amazing love will cleanse me from all unrighteousness. “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us….” What great reassurance this is of His faithfulness and His fairness!

Along the way so many verses have spoken at my point of need. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). In fact that whole chapter has spoken to me since I was a young teen. Listen to this: “The mind of sinful man/woman is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (:6). “The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (:26). “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him…” (:28).

Who is this God? “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God” (1 John 3:1). He has given us His Holy Word, so that we can know Him. “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:11, 105). Jesus, God’s only begotten Son is “…the light of the world” (John 8:12). “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17). Do we understand the sacrificial nature of God’s great love?

Job describes Him: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth, and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I will see Him with my own eyes….How my heart yearns within me!” (19:25-27).

Then of course we all have favourite promises…”Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles [what a word picture!}; they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Now in my senior years I agree with King David – “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4).

Reflection:

It is encouraging to look back to verses that impacted our lives in younger years. As a teen I read the book “In His Steps” based on 1 Peter 2:21. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you and example, that you should follow in His steps”. Jesus Himself encourages us to fulfill the will of God, as He did in His life. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6).

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Eternity

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Psalm 93

The Lord Reigns! He is robed in majesty….and is armed with strength……Your throne is from long ago; You are from all eternity!” (:1-2)

Where and what is eternity? Those who read the New Testament are probably more familiar with the word eternal….God is eternal and longs to give us eternal life. To be completely accurate, we can never be eternal, though we may someday enjoy eternal life, because we are created beings. God alone is eternal, but scripture gives us hope that we will spend eternity with Him.

From cover to cover the Bible speaks about our Eternal God. Abraham called upon the name of the Eternal God (Genesis 21:33). The original form of the Hebrew word means “the God of Eternity”. We cannot look at eternity without understanding the nature of God. “The eternal God is your refuge” (Deuteronomy 33:27). Here is perfect security! “Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel He made you King” [Solomon] 1 Kings 10:9. Imagine a love that is eternal! “Your Word Oh Lord is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” Psalm 119:89. Imagine being able to trust someone’s unchanging promises! Through all that God has created He made known His “eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:20). God is the source of eternal blessings and pleasures according to the Psalmist (Psalms 16:11, 21:6), in His eternal kingdom (Daniel 4:3)

Coming from the Eternal God, the self-existent One, an angel proclaimed the Eternal Gospel to every nation, tribe, language and people (Revelation 14:6). Paul clarifies this for us. God’s intention was that the church would make known the wisdom of God, would testify or verify His eternal purposes accomplished through Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:11). The gospels are full of promises about eternal life, but at the same time include warnings from Jesus, Himself, about eternal fire (i.e. Matthew 18:8, 25:46). Our hope lies in Christ Jesus who became the “source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9).

So – where will we be spending eternity? The word encompasses more understanding than is humanly possibly, limited as we are by experiences in time and space. So God gives us clues. Jesus tells us we may be with Him in Paradise (Luke 23:43). Obviously this is a specific place; or is it the state of peace and joy that makes living anywhere, a paradise? He also said He was going to prepare a place – actually mansions, for His disciples who were grieving the news that He was going to leave them. That does create a vision of what our heavenly home might be like, doesn’t it? The crucial point of His promise is “I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3).

What is eternity?…. is a harder question. Within the framework of our language it is difficult to describe something as nebulous as eternity. It is a concept of time which exists outside of our known time frames. Think of the heavens – stars stretching beyond the reach of our strongest telescopes. How far do they go and what is beyond them? That is a forward look at what eternity is like. However, looking back – God existed before the world was formed. How far back can we go to find the origins of an eternal God? That is impossible, because He always existed.

For me this makes God absolutely glorious! Unfathomable! I must worship this Divine Creator Being, who for human understanding must be described in 3 unique persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit! The Eternal living throughout Eternity! What an awesome God!

Reflection:

How sad it is that man seems to have lost some of the awe owing to God. His glory coloured the creation of the world and still lights up the heavens! Curiosity about the heavens causes man to delve into technology, yet by Him, by Almighty God Himself we may be given understanding, not only into the methods of creation but also the purpose of His eternal design. What a privilege it is to have fellowship with Eternal God with the assurance that those who follow His ways will spend Eternity with Him. Forever and ever! Hallelujah! As we begin a New Year, may our reflections centre on God who is unlimited by time and space.

Devotional · Uncategorized

Overwhelmed With Dread

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Psalm 14

Technology takes us around the world today to where we can view the detailed sufferings of humankind. Should war and famine, abuses arising from anger or hatred, political unrest and persecution become an immediate threat to us in North America, we ourselves might be overwhelmed by dread.

David wrote that the Lord looks down on the sons of men, from heaven. His vantage point may seem external, but the Bible also tells us that God knows the thoughts and intentions of each heart. This is what He finds: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) How hopeless does that sound? Yet God who created humans, blesses the man/woman who trusts in Him, making him/her as secure as a tree planted by the water (Jeremiah 17:7).

God does not want you or me to feel overwhelmed by dread. He assures us through the Apostle Paul, who wrote: “God did not give us a spirit of timidity [fear], but a spirit of power, of love and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). What causes us to dread something? The knowledge that our hearts are not right before God may be a contributing factor. We do have a conscience that informs our psyche, allowing us to be a peace in the midst of turmoil and even suffering, but also condemning us when we are wrong.

Some people think God searches our hearts to punish us for our evil thoughts and desires, but really God is looking for righteousness, those who are seeking fellowship with Himself (Psalm 14:2). When He sees that, God will go to any lengths to ensure such fellowship is vibrant, real through a relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord. We see illustrations of that in the lives of the Centurion and Lydia, recorded for us in the book of Acts.

Certainly God will punish evildoers, those who persecute His people. These folks never seem to learn. They just don’t get it! We see the problem occurring over centuries of time. The tendency of that heart which denies God, is to “do what is right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25 KJV).The evil is not confined to what they do, but stems from the notion that they are their own god. This is what ought to fill us with overwhelming dread.

In this Psalm David yearns for the establishment of God’s Messianic kingdom (:6-7). When Jesus returns to earth the powers of evil will be overwhelmed by the radiance of His glory! Every knee shall bow (Romans 14:11). What a glorious hope that overwhelms every dreaded thought!

Reflection:

Who is it that searches your heart and mine? (Jeremiah 17:10)

What is God’s attitude towards evil?

How far will God go to provide a way for you and me to escape evil? (1 Corinthians 10:13)

What frees you from a spirit of dread?

Devotional · Uncategorized

The God Who Knows!

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Psalm 139:1-4

Theologians have come up with a big word to describe one aspect of God. He is omniscient. Big words expand our vocabulary but when we are talking with one another about God we seldom use them.

Omniscience strikes awe into the heart of anyone who understands what it means, so what does it mean?

As I bowed in prayer this morning I was compelled to worship God because He hears and answers prayer based on all that He knows about me and those for whom I am praying. It really is a privilege for us to bring our cares to God, isn’t it? – our God who understands the bigger picture and all the forces that have caused us joy or pain.

Knowing the workings of the human heart, God can give direction that suits our particular need, and does so through the power of the Holy Spirit. The thought occurs – how does God who is perfect and Holy understand man’s propensity to sin? He is our Creator. As the great designer of mankind, God sees the weaknesses that cause failure and He tests our weak points to demonstrate His strength, which is made perfect in weakness! (2 Corinthians 12:9)

God knows us in every detail – physically, emotionally, spiritually, better even than we know ourselves. Throughout the Old Testament we see this all-knowing God providing for His people out of the wealth of His nature – rich in love, wisdom, mercy and patience. Time and again when His children cried out to Him God responded gently, kindly, in spite of the superficiality of their tears.

Often it was a matter of personal comfort that drove folks to prayer, then, just as now. With a deep sense of entitlement God’s people come to Him, knowing that He knows and cares about our welfare. What gives us that confidence when so much of the time we ignore His longing to be loved, to be in intimate fellowship, to communicate with joy? Is it because we know God is Omniscient?

The Bible is explicit:

Psalm 147:5 – God’s knowledge is infinite, endless, limitless.

1 John 3:20 – God knows all things

Matthew 10:30 – hairs of our heads are numbered – nothing is too small

Psalm 147:4 – nothing (universe) is too vast, beyond His knowledge

Hebrews 4:13 – no creatures are hidden from God – all things are open to Him

Psalm 44:21 – He knows the secrets of our hearts

1 Chronicles 28:9 – He knows our intentions, our thoughts!

Reflection:

Imagine that this omniscient God wants to be known by His creatures. He makes His righteousness and salvation known so that we can have a personal relationship with him (Psalm 98:2). God even wants His greatness and holiness to be known by the nations (Ezekiel 38:23). He is an inclusive God because love is the very essence of His nature!

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

Devotional · Uncategorized

God’s Compassion

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Psalm 116:5-9

Our Life Group had been praying for a woman who has been in a coma for 2 years. What her family have endured during that time can never be told. But I was reminded of the verse that in the King James speaks of “bowels of compassion” – describing the depth of God’s interest in our lives. He calls us to emulate Him by our compassionate hearts, bowels of mercies, heartfelt compassion and other phrases descriptive in various versions of the Bible, of God’s generous nature.

This family is content to let their loved one linger on, but there are many today who would say it is a useless life, one that should be ended. As Christians we believe that matters of life and death rest in the hands of Almighty God – the God of all compassion (Psalm 116:5). On what grounds would a human being decide who should live and who should die; is that decision based on the diagnosis of a terminal or incurable Illness? Many, for example, would agree that ALS is a reason to end life, yet the ‘genius’ of our age, Stephen Hawking, continued to dazzle the world with his scientific mind for nearly 50 years, in spite of the fact he could not speak and was totally helpless to care for himself.

Our generation has been given so much knowledge that we face choices not faced by those who have gone before us. Should we pull the plug, for example and when? Well in days gone by there had been no plug to pull. Now we should be like gods – that very desire which caused Satan to be cast out of heaven has been fulfilled. God allowed man to have a peek into some of the deeper concerns regarding running the universe. If we misuse the knowledge we have now, what eternal damage might be done when we appropriate choices that still belong to God?

In the case of the lady and others like her in coma, how can we see God’s compassion at work? Perhaps we cannot, but her family still wait in hope and everyone will agree that hope is a wonderful thing! It turns bitter into sweet. We learn through our trials that God’s presence and strength are sufficient day by day. Only in truly difficult circumstances can we know the exquisite rest that comes when our hearts trust in His compassion. We might even marvel at the wisdom that is keeping her alive, without contributing to her community of family and friends.

Reflection:

It’s within the nature of man to want to know, but we cannot invent answers to a faith that trusts in the all-wise compassions of the Divine being whose ways often present us with unsolvable (by our finite wisdom) mysteries. In this we must let God be God.

Is it through the eyes of faith that we see the compassion of God at work in difficult circumstances?

Visit me at: http://www.marilyndaniels.net