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

Devotional

Perfect Leadership

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Matthew 4:1-11

In today’s world leadership around the world is being challenged. One might ask “What are the expectations of the populace based upon?” What might our own expectations for good governance be, and why?

We hear the word truth used a lot. What is truth, and who is completely truthful? Social absolutes have been fractured as pride and prejudice have taken over. How can anyone be true to a wavering ideology? There seem to be a lot more questions than there are answers.

God knows all about this. Having sent the Prince of Peace to this world, we should know more about truth, since He declared Himself to be the Truth (John 14:6). Knowing Him, leads us into all truth, through the power of the Holy Spirit, whom He sends to indwell the minds and hearts of God’s children (John 16:13).

The truth is we have forgotten or perhaps denied the truth by which Jesus Himself lived. Matthew records the way He faced temptation in the wilderness. Note that Jesus was not led into the wilderness by the devil, but rather by the Holy Spirit. Isn’t that amazing? God was willing to put this unique God-man to the test, for your benefit and mine.

Three times Satan enticed Jesus to demonstrate signs of His power. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus did use bread as a sign of His power when the loaves and fishes were multiplied to feed 5000 people! (Mark 6:41). He didn’t need to turn stones into bread to prove Himself (Matthew 4:3-4). In the second test, Satan, who is not all-knowing, couldn’t have foreseen, as he was tempting God’s Son against the forces of gravity (4:5-6), that one day He would walk on water (Matthew 14:25ff).

The third test was about worship. Satan knew that Jesus was a man who had choices, just as we do today. Would He comply with the will of God when offered the kingdoms of this world? Tempting proposition! After all Jesus knew that temporarily Satan was the “Prince of this world” (John 12:31). His world is a system diametrically opposed to the things of God, and he wants to keep it that way. Think what Satan would have accomplished, had Jesus yielded!

However, we have been given an example of perfect leadership, given to us by this man, Jesus. Yes – He was also God, but coming to earth He divested Himself of all the glory that goes with being God, to walk this earth as a man (Philippians 2:6-8). He faced life with all the same potential God has given to you and to me – He had feelings, intelligence, volition (ability to make choices).

So what might we learn from His response to temptation? Quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus reminds us it is written….”man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. Three times Jesus relied on the truths of scripture to defend His choices. He refused to act independently of His Father’s perfect will. Today, this same Jesus, the only God-man, requires us as His disciples to follow His lead, to lean on the spoken and written word of God.

Reflection:

Perhaps you remember times of testing and temptation. What was the source that governed your response?

Do you understand, by faith, that Jesus is both God and man? This is why John writes to describe Him as “God’s only begotten Son” (John 3:16). We are also sons of God, but we are adopted into the family of God. We do not have His DNA. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are becoming more Christ-like, through the process of sanctification.

Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word” (Hebrews 1:3). As our example, Jesus led not only in word, but in deed (John 13:15). So “let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith”(Hebrews 12:2). What a perfect leader!

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional

Persecution?

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John 15:20

Your friend is a missionary in inland China. She writes that fellow missionaries in other cities are being killed, as are the Chinese Christians. They are hoping to get out alive, but fear grips their hearts every time they see rioters in the streets. Only a miracle can save them. Pray for their safety.

A young mother of 3 children is waiting, with dinner ready, for her husband to come home from work. It is Friday night. The kids are cowering in their rooms. Her heart is thumping with anticipation. Sadly, abuse is frequently visited upon this family.

A veteran employee has a meeting with his new boss, a young man who is very conscious of his position and who often takes advantage of those beneath him. Ethics are sometimes tossed to the wind in order to get ahead. What will his expectations demand this time?

A pastor has the reputation of being analytical of fellow servants of God. In his small flock he leads children of God to believe that critical thinking is an important sign of spirituality. Quite naturally this spirit impacts their worldview, as well as their testimony. They find a spirit of judgment and condemnation within their congregation and wonder why?

What does the Bible teach that would help in each of these situations? Jesus warned: “If they persecuted me they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). He spoke about the need to be rooted in our faith in order to be strong when persecution comes (Matthew 13:21). The Apostle Paul spoke from experience: “….everyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Persecution originates with Satan. How will we endure? Two words are often linked in scripture – persecution and perseverance. Immediately following the account of persecutions endured by early Christians (Hebrews 11:37) we read “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1) James assures us that the “testing of your faith develops perseverance”(1:3). Jesus commends the faithful “You have persevered and have endured hardships for My name” (Revelation 2:3).

What is it that gives us strength to face the future, whether it is turbulent or peaceful? We often waste energy fearing what might happen. Rather we need to develop an attitude of gratitude. I’ve lived among folks who have very little of this world’s goods. They are uncertain where their next meal will come from and yet they give thanks when it did come and day by day found many things for which to praise God.

Take heart! Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution….?” (Romans 8:35) Jesus said we should consider ourselves “Blessed” (Matthew 5:11) when we are persecuted. This gives us an opportunity to “pray for those who persecute you” (5:44). He Himself gave us an example as He prayed from the cross “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Paul’s attitude was “When we are cursed we bless; when we are persecuted we endure it”(1 Corinthians 4:12).

Reflection:

Writing to the Thessalonian Church Paul told them he thanked God always for their testimony of faith. Who can you lift up in prayers of thanksgiving? Persecution doesn’t seem to fit a celebration of thanksgiving, but it does force us to look at what is most important in our lives…our steadfast God who draws us close to His loving heart, especially when things are tough! Looking at the future when Jesus will return, we might ask ourselves: How will we react in the face of persecution? Are we prepared for what must come?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Uncategorized

Praise the King of Heaven!

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Psalm 24:7-10

The majestic strains of the organ thrilled one’s very soul! Walking down the aisle was a young woman on the arm of her father, glowing under her white veil. Why at such a time is she thinking about the King of Heaven? Ah! Her Prince is waiting at the altar and she knows he is a gift from heaven! Sometimes at these epic moments in our lives we remember to include praise to the source of all our joy. What joy!

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven; 2.Praise Him for His grace and favour
To his feet your tribute bring. To his people in distress.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, Praise him, still the same as ever,
Evermore his praises sing. Slow to chide and swift to bless.
Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King! Glorious in his faithfulness!

3 Father-like he tends and spares us; Angels, help us to adore him;
Well our feeble frame he knows. You behold him face to face.
In his hand he gently bears us, Sun and moon, bow down before him,
Rescues us from all our foes. Dwellers all in time and space.
Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia, alleluia!
Widely yet his mercy flows! Praise with us the God of grace!

Lyte’s text speaks to the love of God and our dependence on Him in a clear and imaginative way. Think of what might happen if we woke up every day with these words on our lips: “Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, evermore His praises sing.” How would our lives change if we walked through our days singing “Alleluia!” or through our times of sorrow declaring that we rest in the gentle hand of God? This is a text with beautiful imagery and thoughtful prose that, like Psalm 103, gives us words to praise our God with heart, mind, and soul.

Lyte understood the necessity of leaning on God throughout a life-time of suffering. He spent a lot of time on the European continent in the early 1800’s for treatment of chronic asthma and bronchitis, and died there before he was old. A poet at heart, as a clergyman he also wrote many beloved hymns, the most famous of which is perhaps “Abide With Me”. What inspired such a life of dedication to God?

The Psalmist, also a poet, challenges us to lift up our heads that the King of Glory may come in. He asks “Who is this King of Glory?” and goes on to answer his own question. Clearly David has had a vision! The Lord is strong and mighty!

In his day the glory of the Lord was represented by a procession as the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the sanctuary. No coffee cups or water bottles in that service! Total focus was on this great and glorious King! There is passion in true worship! Only those with clean hands and pure hearts would participate. He or she will receive blessings from the Lord, and vindication from God his/her Saviour (Psalm 24:4-5). There is a reward awaiting for those who truly seek the face of God. That exquisite yearning of the heart will be fulfilled! (:6).

Reflection:

What is it that brings us to our knees in an attitude of worship? Is it, as David wrote, because “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it”? (24:1) Is it a clear vision of God’s glory? It requires some meditation to actually “see” Him in all His glory. Then of course we desperately want to go back for more; when we are compelled by the Holy Spirit, we cannot get enough. That is what heaven will be like. That is what heaven on earth might be like!

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

Heaven

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Revelation 22
There seem to be many more questions than answers, on the subject of heaven. Where is it? What will it be like? What will we do there? There are 3 levels of heaven described in scripture – the firmament where the birds fly – what we now refer to as sky. The second is the heavenlies where galaxies go on, into infinitude. And then there is the dwelling place of God where He sits on His throne, a visible presence of the One who until now is the invisible God.
Martyrs and saints who have passed from this life, are with the Father, as is the Son who is seated on a throne at the Father’s right hand. Surrounded by angels, singing praise to the holiness of our triune God, we might envision heaven as just a bright and happy place to be. We are not told a lot in scripture about heaven – just enough to make us curious. We are given some idea of things that will be missing – no more death or crying or pain; no longer will one have to fear evil, nothing impure, no restrictions in a physical, visible temple, no longer any curse, no more night, (21:4, 8, 25, 27, 22; 22:3, 5).
However, the New Jerusalem is described in detail as a city of brilliance and beauty! Coming out of heaven this holy city will be as breath-taking as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:2). It will be the abode of the saints according to Hebrews 12:22-24 “the church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven.”
There will be work to be done in heaven. “His servants will serve Him” (Revelation 22:3). Where did we ever get the idea that we would be completely idle, sitting on a cloud, strumming a harp? Jokes have been made about this, but the truth is, we will be busy. Having experienced a life-time of challenges as God stretches and teaches us in His service here on earth, one might wonder what sort of service will there be in heaven? Will there be lessons to learn?
Perhaps the greatest joy will be the Father dwelling visibly with men. “They will be His people and God, Himself, will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3). Just imagine! God in visible form – majestic, loving, accessible! What greater prospect could any human being have than to live in the visible presence of Almighty God?
But…. There is often a “but” in life and here it is. Day by day, those of us who know God personally here on earth will continue in His presence, in heaven. However, many have chosen to live in a world of their own making here without God as part of their daily experience. For many this seems to be a hell on earth. Just so – it will continue in the after-life, living in the absence of the glory of our Father. The choice is ours to make now.
When our thoughts accuse us, when circumstances aren’t to our liking, when we are angry and afraid, when we are vulnerable and hurt, or disappointed by others, life can feel very bleak. Even black! Darkness enters the soul. This is certainly not God’s will. Jesus came to bring light (John 1:4). Sometimes our responses to situations make life anything but heavenly. Yet that was God’s intention when He sent Jesus to show us the way to eternal life. “In Him was life and that life was the light of men!”
Reflection:
Why would anyone choose to live in darkness?
Is it really possible to experience “heaven on earth”?
What might that look like?
What do you look forward to most when you get to heaven?
Devotional · Uncategorized

My Sin is Ever Before Me

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Psalm 51

In this Psalm of penitence David pleads for forgiveness and cleansing. He fears what life would be like without the presence of God. The distress causing David to pray this way is the very real understanding of how his life had failed to please God. His sin was ever in his face. Was he not forgiven?

The Bible tells us that all children of God are saints. The word “saint” comes from the Greek word hagios, which means “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious.” So who is a saint today? Paul talks about equipping the saints (KJV) [‘God’s people’ NIV] for works of service, for the purpose of maturing His Church (Ephesians 4:12). However the saints need prayer (Ephesians 6:18) Why?

Paul answers this question. In the passage where he addresses the equipment needed by children of God to fight the enemy of our souls (Ephesians 6:11), Paul warns the church at Ephesus to always keep on praying for the saints; in other words for one another, even for him (6:18-19a). Isn’t it comforting to know that the Holy Spirit intercedes for the saints (Romans 8:27). We also read that God guards the feet of His saints (1 Samuel 2:9).

Both Old Testament and New tell us about saints who sing God’s praises (Psalm 30:4), who love and fear the Lord. In a triumphant song of praise the Psalmist writes “The Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in this honour!” (Psalm 149:5). They “will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever – yes! Forever and ever” (Daniel 7:18). In the end saints will be given the privilege of judging (1 Corinthians 6:2). With all of this in mind, let’s not be deceived. Sainthood is not for a special few. Neither do we pray to saints for their support – there is nothing in scripture about that. Jesus is the one and only intercessor when we sin, with whom we share our joys and sorrows (Hebrews 7:25).

So, just as David struggled with the memory of his sin, do we also? Yes. The Apostle Paul did; he describes the struggle in Romans 6. However, there is something protective about remembering the awfulness of our sins. If we forget that taking another drink will put us over the edge, that just an innocent flirtation endangers our sexual purity, that overeating is hard on the body, that gossip ruins another’s reputation, may we not yield to temptation more easily?

Psalm 51 is a cry for mercy according to God’s unfailing love! (:1) As much as our sins impact the lives of others, it is against God alone that we have truly sinned (:4). God desires truth – and the truth is I am vulnerable to attack from within and without….but God! He is the source of wisdom and allows us to distinguish between our sinfulness and His holiness. He is the only One who can wash away all my iniquity (:2), who longs to create a new heart in each of us (:10), who saves me from guilt (:14), who knows if my repentance is genuine (:17).

Reflection:
Have you ever done anything that you hate with a passion? How did you deal with it? Are you forgiven? Do you remember it? How does that memory protect you from a repeat performance? Do you come before God with a broken spirit and a contrite heart? How does God promise to receive you in that attitude? Are you a saint or a sinner? Isn’t the answer “both”?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Show Us the Father

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John 14:6-14

Jesus was disappointed. He had been working and walking, eating and drinking with His disciples for three years. They were His intimate friends. As such He expected them to know Him very well, yet here was Philip asking Him to show them the Father. Why did that matter?

Jesus had talked about God the Father continuously throughout His ministry, primarily to identify Himself with His Father in heaven. He even taught His disciples to pray to God as “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Now, in the present moment Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure to God the Father. The crucial message He was leaving with them was that no one could get to God in heaven unless they followed the Way, the Truth and the Life, new names He gave Himself (John 14:6).

In the face of Philip’s question Jesus patiently explained again that “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (14:9). John the Baptist had already prepared the way, years before, by preaching that “No one has ever seen God [in His invisible Spirit-being], but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known” (John 1:18). Jesus declared to Philip and the other disciples: “It is the Father, living in Me, who is doing His work” (14:10). The mystery of how He is in the Father and the Father is in Him needed explanation once again, since Jesus’ purpose was to bring glory to God the Father.

Let’s consider briefly the life of Jesus. In His ministry He was often prophetic about His immediate future, things fulfilled in His life-time, as well as events to which we still look forward (i.e. John 6:62). He demonstrated His foreknowledge when He saw Nathanael under the fig tree, prior to speaking with him. Jesus declared God to be a loving Father, challenging His followers to love one another as a sign they were Christ-followers (John 13:34-35).

Jesus Himself was an emotional being, weeping at the grave of Lazarus, angry with the moneychangers in the temple, compassionate towards sinners, loving people who didn’t always respond to Him such as the rich young ruler. If nothing else, Jesus showed us the Father is a relational Being. Created to be like God, people need to be secure in relationship with Him. Within that significance and security, all our relationships benefit.

Then there were the miracles which He often used to illustrate His Divinity. He healed the sick, raised the dead, fed thousands with few resources, made the blind to see, lepers clean, and the lame walked. His disciples witnessed how the winds and waves were subject to His voice, this One who is also Creator God. He escaped out of crowds who sought to kill him and walked on water. God doesn’t call us to walk on water; He just calls us to love! Perhaps the greatest miracle of all was the forgiveness He freely expounded towards the very folks who nailed Him to the cross.

If in three years of talking about His Father the disciples still didn’t ‘get it’, its impossible for us to exhaust the riches of scripture, in our search for understanding of an Omniscient, Almighty, Eternal, Omnipresent, and Infinite God. Do we still ask “Show us the Father” when doing our daily devotions? Shouldn’t that be our prayer? It will take eternity for us to fathom the riches of His grace and mercy, to see clearly the mind of God in all its justice, and to interpret His wisdom.

Reflection:

Since man was made in the image of God its important to understand God’s heart and mind. How often did Jesus talk about doing the will of His Father? Are we challenged to do the will of “Our Father”?

Perhaps the greatest demonstration of the heart of God was when Jesus wept over Jerusalem. If He is in the Father and we are in Him, do we weep over our Jerusalem? Where has God planted us? Why, how and when do our lives, yours and mine, reveal the Father to these dear people?