Devotional

The Panacea of Praise

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I will praise You, O Lord, with all my heart.” Psalm 138:1

Have you ever felt depressed, low in your spirit? Haven’t we all at some point or another? Where do these feelings come from? Many things can trigger nostalgia, – sensory perceptions as well as events are common triggers. Sometimes it’s hard to pin point the source, but the feeling is definitely there! Often the stresses we endure day by day crescendo gradually until we have reached the breaking point. At this point we might fail to see the build-up is enormous.

A very dear friend has been living with chronic pain as well as financial stress, She faces uncertainty about where she will live if she has to move. Add to that a serious let-down in the discovery that friends no longer share the same Christian perspectives, along with coping in a new job and I sense her cup of endurance is overflowing!

However, she has the joie de vivre of a saint! Her love for the Lord Jesus causes her to praise Him continually. What a panacea* for the overwhelming burdens of life! Grateful for all that God has done she looks beyond the events of today to see He is holding her close to his heart, through it all, and that the fiery darts of the evil one cannot touch her because God is shielding her with His gift of faith.

While we might justly grieve over our difficulties, the remedy often lies in our own hands. One cannot complain and praise at the same time. That is a choice we must make! We all know heroes of the faith who have suffered beyond anything we could imagine and yet they found a solution in reaching out. Imagine that we might reach out to the very heart of God! Music rising from hearts of gratitude blesses our Father!

Our strongest testimony occurs in those little seasons when we least expect that what we say or think will make any difference. It is the attitude that colours our world with joy, or buries it in misery. Confounding to our chaotic world is the incredible peace we find in Jesus Christ our Lord who suffered all things for us, and remains to this day the best icon of praise and virtue known by the world. He is our example:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before

Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down on the right hand of the throne of

God!” (Hebrews 12:2)

Reflection:

Describe a situation where you chose to praise God for the unknowns in your life.

What is the usual attitude of your heart – are you developing a positive persona?

Think about the impact a person who is joyful has on your life.

*Panacea: The solution or remedy for all difficulties

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

The Troubled Heart

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John 12:27, Mk 14:33, John 14:1, 27

We are in the season of Lent; Easter is upon us. What have been our remembrances throughout this period of time? Have our hearts resonated with the heart of our Saviour? How have we prepared our hearts to worship the God- Man who took upon Himself the sins of the world, yours and mine? What was the cost of His great sacrifice?

We read, in the last 9 chapters of John, that He prepared His disciples at great length for a grief mankind had never known before. Emmanuel would leave this earth after spending 3 short years teaching God’s love and majestic power, in word and deed. As Jesus talked intimately with the remaining 11 men He had chosen to be with Him through His formal ministry, (Judas had left the supper), He knew their hearts faced very troubling times. How would they cope?

“Let not your hearts be troubled” Jesus told them. Why so? His own heart had experienced trouble. John describes it for us (12:27). Greeks had come seeking Jesus. It seemed that suddenly this alerted Jesus to the fact His time had come. “I tell you the truth…” He said as He used a parable to tell them about His death and resurrection. “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24). He went on to explain how this troubled His heart. He is after all fully human, just as He is fully God. Did His followers understand? Did they care?

His following words might form a prayer for when we are faced with terrible trials. He questioned whether or not He should pray that His heavenly Father would save Him from this hour. How can we know the Father’s will when we face abuse, oppression, or rejection; when our hearts are troubled?

As a child I was taught that the Christian life is J.O.Y. meaning Jesus comes first, others second and myself last. Was this exemplified in Jesus’ sacrificial life? When we claim to follow Him, what will be the cost? Do I consider it a sacrifice to give Jesus my will, my time, my energy, my love? Will I render to Caesar that which is Caesar, but to God the things that are God’s? Can I love enough to give all my goods to the poor? Do I care about others within the family of God enough to restore them gently to fellowship when they have fallen?

I have discovered that when my heart is troubled the greatest panacea for healing is to encourage someone else, to draw alongside them and be, as someone wisely said “the only Jesus they may ever see”. What a challenge! This actually puts into practise what Paul experienced. He taught the Corinthian church to comfort others with the comfort with which God had comforted them (2 Corinthians 1:3).

Having a correct understanding of God brings me everlasting joy! My heart cannot remain troubled when I understand He has a plan for my life, one which may allow for moments of suffering, alienation or fear. He has promised He will not allow us to suffer anything beyond our ability to bear it, with His grace, in His miraculous strength! When we sing “Victory in Jesus” do we really mean it?

Reflection:

To struggle is human, to be victorious is Divine! In a sense we have the advantages of both, in that the Holy Spirit indwells the children of God, giving us all we need to endure in the moment. Are we willing to die to self, as our Lord and Saviour did, in order to see others enter into the family of God? Would this trouble your heart, or heal it?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Justice and Mercy

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Zechariah 7:9-10

Looking at Justice and Mercy first let us define our terms. Justice is seen as the quality of fairness, the principle of moral rightness, the process of fairly using law to judge and punish. It is equal in all cases when deciding what is fair. To be fair one must be honest, upright, honourable, trustworthy. Mercy, on the other hand, is compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

In the Bible we are told that God is just. Sometimes He links justice and mercy together. “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress….” (Zechariah 7:9-10). Jesus, pronouncing a woe upon the Pharisees, said: “…you neglect justice and the love of God” (Luke 11:42). Hosea also talks about maintaining love and justiceo (2:19). And so we see the prophets speak about the dangers of withholding justice from the poor and oppressed.

Let’s pose a question: How can mortal man bring justice and mercy together in the 21st century?

Mercy is an attitude of heart expressed in feelings of compassion. When we look at a criminal, for example, we might feel compassion for the situation in which that person finds themselves, knowing the judgment that will be a consequence of wrong choices. However, that feeling does not negate the consequences unless justice can be satisfied in some other way.

An example might be in the news account of a man jailed for murder. Having become a Christian while incarcerated, with a compassionate attitude would we not want to see him go free, now that his life had turned around? However, he suffered the death penalty for his crime, willingly acknowledging the mercy of God, while accepting the consequence of his murderous temper.

Divine justice and mercy factor into this account. Would we, with our finite wisdom, pervert the very mercy of God? We need to be wary of being guided by our feelings instead of maintaining a balance between cognitive and emotive understanding. Often our judgment is impacted by our own feelings more than we realize. Instead of facing the result of sin in our lives, we look for any escape from those ramifications.

How does God view each individual situation? There is the promise given through Isaiah “My justice will become a light to the nations” (51:4)! That means that God’s merciful provision for the sins of the nations, through Jesus Christ the Lord, will effectively save those who repent and receive God’s forgiveness. Our knowledge of God gives us a wonderful answer to the dilemma of sin. Divine Justice is not something to fear when tempered with His matchless mercy!

Reflection:

How often do we want to deal with our problems in our own way? Is this not a rejection of God’s mercy? What is the consequence? What is God’s perfect provision?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

The Judge Stands at the Door

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James 5

The news is full of judgment, whether it is political, criminal or even inspirational. Sports figures and artist are weighed by public opinion and everyone, we are told, is entitled to their own opinion. Strangely enough few people take God’s opinion to heart. However, as our scripture indicates He is the ultimate Judge and even now is waiting, withholding the inevitable judgment on mankind (James 5:9).

James paints a grim picture of the last days! Folks will be hoarding their wealth (James 5:3, 5). Having worked in developing countries where I have seen people picking through garbage to find food, along with storks and rats, I marvel at the waste of food and the self-indulgence as we sit down to tables groaning with plenty, day after day. James observes there is also an attitude which sometimes we see in the twenty-first century. How can we get the best bang for our buck? (James 5:4) Does cheating a workman of the wages he deserves, count as fair? The rich have taken advantage of the poor (James 5:6).

All is not lost. James challenges us to remember the Lord; He is full of compassion and mercy (James 5:11). He calls each of us to be as steadfast as Job was, in our moral integrity. In a day when everyone does what is right in their own eyes, will we find righteous living according to the standards God has clearly laid down in His Word?

Jesus gave us cause for reflection. When Jesus returns will He find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8). How can we call ourselves people of faith if we do not obey the Word of God? Faith is believing, “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Becoming a Christian is not saying a prayer asking for God’s forgiveness, if our lives do not follow the pattern laid down by Jesus. His life was one of obedience to the Father’s will “I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38).

Our words must be matched by our deeds when the day of judgment comes. Look at this Judge once more. How much do we have to fear? Is it fear that drives us to do what is right? God has lavished His love on us by sacrificing His only begotten Son (1 John 3:1). That is a love He longs to have reciprocated. “There is no fear in love”, John writes (1 John 4:18). Fear has to do with punishment, and scripture assures us that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

So what does it mean to be “In Christ”? Sometimes we sign our letters with that phrase. What do we mean? Do our lives stand the test? Are we selfless, Christ-centered, generous and kind? Do we endure with patience, believing God allows suffering for a moment but “Joy comes in the morning”? (Psalm 30:5). Are we willing to endure persecution for the sake of our Lord and His gospel message? Do we return good for evil done to us? Can we forgive ourselves knowing the Spirit of God will help us to overcome our weaknesses and failures?

Reflection:

The Judge of all the earth can see deep into our hearts, yours and mine. What does He see?

by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)

Devotional

Valuing the Vulnerable

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Matthew 18:3

Jesus showed a tenderness towards children by both word and deed. Parents must have sensed this because they brought their children to Him to be blessed, for Him to lay His hands on them and to pray for them. (Matthew 19:13). When Jesus’ disciples protested He spoke words that over centuries of time have become famous. “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them” (:14).

Mark records a further demonstration of His love, saying that Jesus “took the children in His arms” (10:16). He cuddled them. Physical touch was important to Him. Just imagine the memories of those children in years to come. The actual touch of One who would become Saviour of the world!

Earlier as He was teaching His disciples about the kingdom of heaven and who would be “first” there, Jesus took a small child into His arms as an illustration of His point, saying: “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the One who sent me!” (Mark 9:37). This certainly prioritized the important deeds the disciples might have imagined themselves doing, in His name!

Jesus went on to explain: “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child, will never enter it” (Mark 10:15). Now that is humbling. What sort of intellectual assent could a child give to something of such magnitude as the kingdom of heaven? But that was just the point! Coming into the kingdom of God is “not by might nor by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6)….and His Spirit could reveal truth to a little child. I can attest to that since I knew Jesus was my Saviour at a very early age. I also knew I was naughty – a sinner who needed to ask God’s forgiveness for my daily sins – a wonderful habit to begin as a child.

A child has very little to offer in an adult world. They are learning. But what they do have to offer, no amount of education can teach. I have seen mentally challenged children, perhaps the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, giving gifts of love and trust to their adult counterparts. How amazing is that? We can learn from their innocence, from the very dependency of children, how to relate to God who views us as His children.

Jesus explains again: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). He goes on to say this would require humbling themselves in order to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (:4). John the Baptist understood this. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). There was no cousinly jealousy, no competition in ministry. Perhaps this is why Jesus described John as the greatest among those ever born of woman! (Luke 7:28).

As children of God we have the privilege of calling Him our Father! He knows us well – we are so vulnerable to feelings of pride, the need to control our lives (and perhaps the lives of others as well). We are weak in understanding the bigger picture and the plans God has for us. We see relationships from our own perspective, rather than through the eyes of Jesus. Yes – we are very vulnerable! But Jesus takes us in His arms and blesses us. He is in heaven right now praying for you and for me (Hebrews 7:25).

Reflection:

Why do we often turn away from those who are vulnerable? What does that tell us about the inner person?

When we truly love, how do we express that?

Do we love those who are vulnerable in words only, or in deeds?

by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)

Devotional

Fanning Into Flame

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2 Timothy 1:6

Timothy was Paul’s spiritual [true, dear] son (1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:2). His grandmother Lois and mother Eunice had been impacted by the gospel through Paul’s preaching, while he was in Lystra (Acts 16:1). It seems that Timothy also became a disciple then too.

Paul circumcised him because the Jews all knew that Timothy’s father was Greek. Perhaps in Paul’s mind this would prove Timothy’s conversion was genuine. This has given rise to controversy ever since, about the necessity of circumcision. We know that Paul wrote to the Romans “A man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code” (Romans 2:29).

Paul refers to Timothy’s faith, as a sincere conviction, a living faith! (:5). Just as fire is alive when it burns brightly, Paul uses this metaphor to describe Timothy’s role in the ministry. As a leader he is to fan into flame the gift of God. This gift is the very faith we are talking about (Ephesians 2:8.9). His passion would radically impact the lives of others. He must keep the flame burning brightly!

God, who calls us into His kingdom, will sanctify and seal us, will perfect us [complete what He started in us] until that day (Philippians 1:6). But we also are accountable to Him for how warm or lukewarm we become in the exercising of our faith. Jesus spares nothing when urging the church at Laodicea to overcome their propensity to dawdle at the game of faith. This gift of God could not, must not be taken lightly! To be lukewarm means to be uncommitted.

God’s passion for each human He creates is so great that He sacrificed His only begotten Son out of a deep abiding love, only characteristic of our God. That love is the oxygen which fans the flames of our devotion to God as well as our commitment to others! Does God’s love flowing through us find us setting the world on fire? Why or why not?

Jesus explains His chastisement is based on love “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent!” (Revelation 3:19). He then tenderly invites the wayward believer into renewed fellowship with Himself – “table fellowship” (Revelation 3:20). Those who fan the flame will “sit with me on my throne” (:21). What joy such a hope brings! There is always hope in the life of a believer who is willing to fan the flames of faith – even dying embers can be revived!!

Reflection:

Do we recognize the dangers of being lukewarm Christians?

Can you remember times when your spiritual ardour was waning, when someone fanned into flame the passion you once had for Jesus Christ and the written word of God? What challenges did that provide for you? What did you feel?

How would you like to be the catalyst for others to be spiritually revived?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

I Have Seen Your Tears

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2 Kings 20:5

Weeping is for a season, the Psalmist suggests, but morning brings joy (Psalm 30:5). Why is it then that for many people morning never seems to come? Tears and sorrow seem to last forever! Does God really see our tears?

Tears are a marvellous release of tension. However, some people fear that crying will make them vulnerable. There is some truth to that, but the fact is confronting one’s feelings makes it easier to move forward in life. Actual breaking down into tears may help us to let go of baggage, the beginning of healing. A Jewish proverb tells us “What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul.”

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving

There are many reasons for tears – tears of intercession, like King Josiah shed when he realized God’s wrath would fall upon his disobedient people (2 Kings 22:19). God’s people wept for release from slavery in Egypt. Hannah wept before the Lord as she asked for a child (1 Samuel 1:7, 10-15). The woman pouring ointment over the feet of Jesus, wept with tears of love as she kissed His feet. (Luke 7:37ff). Those who pray with tears over the lost, “Go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him!” What a promise! (Psalm 126:6).

Implying that God is attentive to every detail of our lives, the Psalmist prays that God will record his lament, by listing his tears on a scroll. KJV says “Put my tears in Your bottle” (Psalm 56:8). Why is this important? Tears are to be remembered. There are lessons to be learned as we weep. We identify ourselves with the sufferings of Jesus Christ when we weep. Our shame is taken away when we weep over our sins. We release ourselves into the exquisite comfort of God’s love as we sorrow in our disappointment, hurt or loneliness.

As we look at scripture we notice that whether a nation or an individual is suffering, throughout history God has seen their tears. Whatever it takes our Father provides, so that we can be His representatives here on earth. In the Millennial Kingdom we read both death and tears will vanish. “The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces” (Isaiah 25:8). “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order has passed way” (Revelation 21:4). Until that time, the Holy Spirit will sustain us in our griefs and sorrows by His gentle presence. God does not just see our tears but goes to the utmost to relieve them. Praise the Lord for the fullness of joy when it does come through our Father’s miraculous intervention.

Reflection:

How does it comfort you to know God sees your tears? Does that evoke any other feelings?

Are you uncomfortable when others weep in your presence? If so – why?

Since God allows us to cry in His presence, how might we bring comfort to those who are sad?

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

Do You Know?

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Luke 2:13-20

How much our witnessing has changed during the course of one short life-time. Today if we want to tell people about Jesus, we cannot start from the premise that everyone knows who He is. There is now a whole generation of children who have not gone to Sunday School, for example. Subtly, distractions and responsibilities have taken over a society with more time on their hands than ever before, disabling well meant intentions to give God one hour on Sunday.

Christmas was once a time when most people went to church, if only to hear the carols. Now, however, Christmas has become so commercialized and carols so secular, that even that witness to the birth of Jesus has become virtually ineffective. Everyone knows Santa. Sadly the very virtues once attributed to the Saviour of our world, are now seen in a jolly fat man, garbed in red. “He knows when you are sleeping; he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good….” Is Santa really omniscient?

In my childhood memories the sweetness of Christmas songs plays a big role! One song is a particular favourite, inspiring awe at the whole event:

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope! the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;
Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born.
O night, O holy night, O night divine.

When we used to sing “Who is He in yonder stall?” people knew the miracle baby, Jesus, had been laid in a manger.

Amazingly His birth was announced by a choir of angels, a once-only event. Shepherds heard them and instantly responded with great joy! What was it about a baby in the most humble of circumstances, lying in the feeding trough of some cattle, in a smelly stable, which caused them to glorify and to praise Almighty God? (Luke 2:20). And so – the lyrics go on to tell us more. “At whose feet [the baby Jesus] the shepherds fall”.

Stories of angels and shepherds and wiseman were common knowledge. The thunderous response to the question “Who is He” came back, identifying this holy Babe as:

The Lord! O wondrous story! ‘Tis the Lord the King of glory!”

In my youth, once a year at least, folks were encouraged to consider, to worship and to respond! The thrill of that proclamation warmed even the coldest hearts in December! But the question still remains: Do you know the reason behind your response?

Reflection:

Do you know what, if anything, prevents you from truly worshiping this baby who became the Lamb of God?

Does knowing Him as the Son of God, cause you to fall at His feet in worship?

What is the most beautiful aspect of the Christmas revelation that stirs your heart?

What is it about Jesus Christ that caused a hymnologist to write:

“At His feet we humbly fall. Crown Him! Crown Him Lord of all!”

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

God’s Invitation

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Isaiah 55

What a mighty God we serve! The Bible tells us angels bow before Him, worshiping Him for His wisdom and power (Revelation 7:11). Hundreds of years before the Apostle John had this heavenly vision, God gave Isaiah a vision of David’s continuing dynasty. After delivering denunciations against Judah and other nations God gave Isaiah a glimpse of future tribulation, along with further woes and blessings. But then this all-wise, all-powerful God revealed His program for peace, which included salvation through the Servant-Messiah, One who would be of David’s line (2 Samuel 7:16, Luke 1:32).

Sometimes we hear what we want to hear, and see what we want to see. The Israelites lost the vision of the promised Servant and clung only to that of the Messiah, a deliverer who would relieve them of oppression and suffering. Therefore when a baby was born, fulfilling prophecy, the nation to which the babe was sent, didn’t recognize the significance of God’s faithfulness to His promise. “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call Him Immanuel [God with us]” (Isaiah 7:14).

Think of this. God who is Almighty, is designer of the universe. According to His plan, God created great and small, things too small for the eye to see, as well as things too large for our human understanding to take in! With all the conceit of the twenty-first century, humans are discovering what God already knows about such contrasting things such as DNA and outer galaxies. This great God chose to speak to His people through this Man, born in obscurity.

And so we celebrate, at Christmas time, the birth of a little baby! God could have come with crashing cymbals and trumpets blaring, filling the sky with the brightness of His glory, to announce His plan of salvation. Why did He choose to use a baby in the humblest of circumstances, to eventually die on a cross, providing us with eternal hope? Here, in Bethlehem’s manger lay a wee scrap of a human being. Who could have imagined that He, “being in very nature God…made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a Servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7)?

Notice He was made in human likeness. He was not just a human, but was unique in every way. Immanuel is the only God-man. You and I will be given perfect bodies one day, but we will never be God. Jesus is God. Yet He was not daunted by the prospect of taking on the form of man.

God told Isaiah to write it twice to keep in mind “My thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways My ways” (Isaiah 55:8-9). This amazing God invites us to “Come” (Isaiah 55:1). Jesus repeated that call “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Which of us today isn’t weary of conflict and chaos, suffering and sorrow? Isaiah went on to say God would bless those who came, with food and drink. Jesus blessed those who hungered and thirsted [sought] after righteousness (Matthew 5:6). The invitation is music to our ears. “Listen”…”Hear Me that your soul may live” (Isaiah 55:2-3). There is a promise from God that if we “Seek the Lord while He may be found…you will go out with joy and be led forth in peace” (Isaiah 55:6 & 12).

Reflection:

What has been your response and mine to God’s invitation?

One day, Isaiah tells us, the mountains and the hills will burst forth into song before God, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands! (Isaiah 55:12). This should not seem unusual. Even today we celebrate the greatness of our God through the awesome beauty and power of nature! Paul understood this when he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what was made” (Romans 1:20). God made a baby to house His only begotten Son “that whosever [all inclusive invitation!] believes on Him will have everlasting life”! (John 3:16).

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net