Uncategorized

Worthy of Praise

grayscale photo of people raising their hands
Photo by Shelagh Murphy on Pexels.com

Exodus 15:1-18

Moses and the nation of Israel were singing….imagine you can hear them. It would be the biggest choir you would have ever heard. It has been estimated, based on a census taken at Sinai, that the Israelites numbered two million people when they left Egypt. Now they were praising God, exulting in all that makes Him great! Perhaps their words are your testimony today “The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation, He is my God and I will praise Him!” (Exodus 15:2). In those few words we get a glimpse of the character of God.

Strength. Have you ever felt weak? The Israelites had. They had been in slavery for about 400 years….many generations had not seen freedom. They felt totally helpless, but now they were free at last! God had done miraculous things. He brought them a leader, totally qualified by life experience in the Egyptian palace. The great Pharaoh had given way under the power of their God, after a series of miraculous plagues impacted his nation, and lastly his own son! Even his weak attempt to recapture his slaves at the Red Sea had been foiled by the Israelite God. The Egyptian army drowned on the very spot where God had dried up the waters to let His people cross.

Song. Out of the spirit of the moment their hearts swelled in song. Many hymns of praise have been written over centuries of time, focusing on the love of God, particularly since He gave His own Son as a sacrifice for sin. This song was all about power. God’s right hand was majestic in power. Do we see that in our lives? Do we believe that? Has God shattered our enemy? Who is the enemy of people of faith? Satan of course. Day by day are we aware of gaining victory over temptation and sin because we are kept by God’s powerful right hand? Jesus promised that no man could pluck us out of our Father’s hand (John 10:28-29). The “greatness of Your majesty” (:7) also became a theme in this hymn of praise. Do we understand the significance of majesty? It refers to the Sovereignty of God, upon which all of our faith is founded. Either “He is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all!” That is a catch phrase used by Dr John Moore, which is worth memorizing because it describes the essence of our God, who is worthy of all praise. Dr Moore wrote the song “Burdens are lifted at Calvary”. Calvary was seen, in that day, as a place of weakness and defeat, but it was the glorious means of the greatest victory ever seen, when Jesus defeated the power of death and hell! Praise God for the Lamb who was slain and who rose again! Moses’ song goes on, praising the certainty that God will lead the people whom He redeemed, right to His holy dwelling. This is prophetic. They were on their way back to the land of promise, where eventually the temple of God would be established as the place of worship, His holy dwelling (Exodus 15:12).

Salvation. Yes – only God could procure their salvation and today because Jesus lives we can face tomorrow. The Gaithers wrote those lyrics. Salvation is now, a glorious reality for today as well as hope for tomorrow:

And then one day I’ll cross that river, and fight life’s final war with pain

And then as death gives way to victory, I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He reigns!”

Salvation comes from the God who is “Majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders….the God of unfailing love” (Exodus 15:11, 13).

Reflection:

This song thrills our hearts with hope. Moses’ vision came true and now we, as did they, look forward to the day when “the Lord will reign forever and ever” (:18) and we with Him! (2 Timothy 2:12) Hallelujah!

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

A Desert Experience

desert
Photo by Boris Ulzibat on Pexels.com

Matthew 4:1-11

Before He began His formal ministry, Jesus was tempted in the desert. Drawn away by the Holy Spirit, there was a purpose in this time alone; He was there to fast and pray. Following Jesus’ baptism He needed time alone with God. Our young people sometimes attempt 40 days of fasting, but they do it together and it is not practised in the complete absence of food. The purpose of course is to feast one’s eyes on God, to hear His voice. Is this what Jesus was doing in the desert?

So much is made of the temptation which followed Jesus’ fasting that we sometimes forget to look at the amazing strength He received from talking with His Heavenly Father for 40 whole days! Think of it! How often do we spend 40 minutes dedicated to listening to God? Its hard to spend an hour in prayer – Jesus’ disciples couldn’t do it in Gethsemane; you and I aren’t, generally, much different.

We hear sermons about how Satan attacked Jesus when He was most vulnerable. Perhaps we forget the way God had nurtured His spirit for 40 days; given their precious communication, Jesus was able to meet Satan armed with the “sword of the spirit” which Paul talks about (Ephesians 6:17).

One pastor recently reminded his congregation that Satan took what was good, in an attempt to pervert Jesus’ calling. Jesus’ response demonstrated His commitment to that calling, based on the Word of God.

Satan didn’t stop until he had tempted Jesus to abandon His calling, twisting reality in the attempt to invert the whole experience of worship. Jesus knew Himself to be worthy of worship. This was, and is the truth. He, being the way, the TRUTH and the life (John 14:6), was not going to abdicate His royal position for any temptation here on earth.

Worship is to be God-centered. Sometimes in order to take our focus off of temporal things we need to be alone in the desert with God, where nothing will distract us from listening to His voice. Then, and only then will we know the joy of having the Holy Spirit minister to our innermost needs. Imagine the irony of Satan, a created being himself, trying to tempt the Omniscient, Almighty Creator with power.

Reflection:

Our prayers often exemplify what we believe about God’s power. Only in a desert experience can we know the reality of scripture “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Matthew records how this played out in the life of Christ. Can we, will we, see beyond the temporary to the eternal, in our desert experiences?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Pondering the Puzzle!

assemble challenge combine creativity
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Isaiah 7:9-23

One of my favourite hobbies is doing jigsaw puzzles. I have friends who share this interest, so now family and friends have some exquisite scenery lining their walls, over which many happy hours were spent. What makes it so interesting? Tiny bits and pieces require minute examination to see if patterns and colours will match. It is so satisfying when the strangest shapes suddenly fall into place!

For me, sometimes scriptures are a puzzle. Take for example the sign given to Isaiah of the virgin conceiving and bearing a son. We need to look at the context to examine this puzzle piece. Israel had been continually disobedient. By Chapter 7 the Lord has already exclaimed “Stop” three times. “Stop bringing meaningless offerings” (1:13). “Stop doing wrong” (1:16). “Stop trusting in man” (2:22). He has pronounced more than seven woes descrying the varied sins of His people.

Now in the era of King Ahaz, an opportunity to test the nation’s faith presented itself in the design by Syrian and Israelite kings to overpower Jerusalem. (By this time Israel and Judah had split, becoming separate kingdoms.) Ahaz is warned by God “If you do not stand firm in your faith you will not stand at all!” (7:9). Having said that, the Lord challenges Ahaz to ask for a sign that will bolster his faith. He’s given great latitude “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights” (7:11). I wonder what I would have answered in the same situation….and you?

Ahaz refused, sounded very pious: “I will not put the Lord to the test” (7:12). How would you respond if one of your children refused the offer to ask for something you wanted to give them? Isaiah was exasperated! However, God was not taken by surprise. He had the puzzle piece ready to fit. A virgin will conceive. Some commentators suggest that Isaiah knew this referred to the young woman he was going to marry and that he was prophesying, under the power of the Holy Spirit, that she would bear a son. It is presumed that Isaiah’s first wife had died after the birth of his first son. The second son would not have reached the age of moral discrimination before the rest of the prophecy came true. The kings that Ahaz feared so much would both be dead and their kingdoms laid waste (7:16). Other puzzle pieces yet to be fitted in, include several references to “in that day” (7:18, 20, 21, 23).

Reflection:

Let’s think about this. What do we know about the nation Israel, or learn about God in this scripture? Does this prophecy fit into one time frame or does it cover past and present (for us), as well as future. This is where we require time to ponder. Puzzles were not put together in an instant. They require a right perspective, an overview, some experimentation, patience, and certainty that it will all fit together in the end.

In hind sight we know that Jesus was the future predication fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy – the babe born of a virgin! The fulfillment of this sign assures us that other prophecies will be completed in His time. As much as the reality of God’s outworking in the faith of Ahaz, so is this a reality when our own faith is tested.

For example – what signs have been fulfilled in your life and mine? Do we know we have been freed from our sins by the blood of Christ? Do we know the power of the Holy Spirit when we are tempted and tried? Have we seen the hand of God leading us into paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake? Looking back, how has God fit the puzzle pieces of your life together?

by Marilyn Daniels

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

A Challenge For Today

notebook
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Ezekiel 33

Recently the news media made us aware of child abuse taking place in another country where young girls are “married” according to the rules of their religion, for short periods of time. Essentially this was one way of covering sexual abuse that is becoming increasingly more prevalent, in a place where poverty makes girls helpless victims as young as the age of 9.

One girl being interviewed with her face covered, told the interviewer that life for her ended, once this abuse began. There was no hope for a normal life once she was victimized. One wonders how any religious group might believe that God is pleased with the destruction of a child’s future hopes and prospects. Yet it is happening around our civilized world today. What does God’s Word tell us?

Luke records Jesus’ woe: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through which they come. It would be much better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck, than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin” (Luke 17:1-2).

Jesus also calls little children to come to Him. Many of us may be familiar with his words: “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). He demonstrated His personal love and concern for children.

What happens to abused children in our world today? How responsible are Christians for social injustices? Will it do when we stand before God to tell Him we felt helpless? That we prayed for them? What fuels our passion? Do we take comfort in the fact that God will take care of them? Truly we believe His mercy and justice will, in the end, take care of all those who are victims of man’s violence. But will we be held responsible in any way? Must we not engage in yet another form of warfare in the twenty-first century?

Ezekiel’s words are forever a challenge to my heart. “Son of man, I have made you a watchman….so hear the Word I speak and give warning from Me….. If you have warned the wicked man to turn from his ways, and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself” (Ezekiel 33:7, 9).

How effective has our sense of mission been around the world? Do we truly believe the gospel, given in Jesus’ words “I am the way the truth and the life…no one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6)? Does the World, for whom Jesus gave His life, know or care that life is sacred, a gift from God not to be violated in any way?

Children are the future of every nation. What must be done, what can we do, to protect them for Jesus’ sake? Their abuse is only a symptom of an even greater evil; buried in the heart of man is rebelliousness against the very God some folks claim to serve. That is spelled out in Frank Sinatra’s song: “I did it my way”. Is this then the challenge for our world today?

Reflection:

How much effort have I made to warn my world about the consequences of evil?

Have I demonstrated the love of Christ in such a way as to win others to the cause of Christ?

Does Ezekiel’s warning apply to the Church of the twenty-first century?

How practical is it to pray for victims of abuse around our world? Is there anything else we must do?

by Marilyn Daniels.

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

The Dead Will Hear

technology-music-sound-things.jpg
Photo by SplitShire on Pexels.com

John 6:24-29

 

Again we are privileged to listen in as Jesus is speaking to the crowds. We need to look at the context to understand what He means when He says “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God” (:25). First of all notice that He identifies Himself as the Son of God throughout this chapter. Nearly 20 times, Jesus refers to His special Father-Son relationship with God. Secondly He is talking about eternal life (:24). He uses the present tense to describe crossing from death to life.

 

Now, as so often John records, Jesus prefaces His message with “I tell you the truth….” (6:25). Only God is the essence of truth. Here on earth our truth is motivated so often by self-interest, but God’s is pure truth and this is what His only begotten Son will tell people then, and now.

 

Jesus says the time has come, in fact it is now – when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. Who are the dead? Surely Jesus didn’t mean those buried in the ground. Of course not! He is talking about spiritually dead people. Paul spelled it out for the Ephesian church “You were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live” (2:1). That describes spiritual death in the midst of physical life, separation from God who cannot be in the presence of sin.

 

To further prove He is talking about spiritual life and death, Jesus clarified His Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him, should have eternal life…and I will raise him/her up in the last day” (6:40). Note that eternal life begins at the moment when a person puts their faith in God’s Holy Son! It is not something we wait to receive when we die. That eternal life is sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).

 

The Jews kept asking Jesus for a sign to prove His deity (6:30). One might wonder what they expected. After all He was known for His miracles, so much so that crowds followed Him (6:24). How many of those who followed Him then were still dead, looking for excitement because of this miracle-worker new in town? Curious? Wanting to be fed, healed, to be seen as good because they were allied with a Holy man? How many things motivate a human being’s loyalties? We know the crowd was fickle. After lauding Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, within a week they turned to shout “Crucify Him”! What caused their change of heart? They were dead spiritually. Those who were alive followed Christ to the tomb, grieving over His suffering and sacrifice.

 

It is a mystery how some folks go to church all their lives, but never hear the voice of the Son of God. We cannot judge another human heart, but Jesus knows, and the final judgment has been given to Him (5:22). Its never too late to hear, while physical life lasts. The thief on the cross was promised eternal life in Paradise that very day. How merciful is God to forgive at the eleventh hour, but oh what a waste of life in which one might have found such joy and peace through Jesus Christ our Lord!

 

Reflection:

“Come Holy Spirit, dark is the hour.

We need Your filling your love and Your mighty power.

Move now among us, stir us today.

Come Holy Spirit – Revive Your church today!” John W. Peterson

Devotional · Uncategorized

Seeing Through Stained Glass

assorted color stained glass
Photo by Matthew T Rader on Pexels.com

1 Corinthians 13:8-12

Someone coined the phrase “looking at life through rose-tinted glasses”. This is described as an unduly idealistic, optimistic, sentimental, or wistful perspective on or about something. People looking through rose-tinted glasses only notice the good things about them, a view that is unrealistic. Its good to be positive in one’s outlook, but it is also important to be balanced.

The Apostle Paul was aware of mankind’s tendency to look through a glass darkly – a view through which our judgment is somewhat clouded. God gave Paul the reason why we do not see things clearly, which thankfully he recorded for our own understanding. In his first letter to the Corinthians church, Paul explains that our knowledge is only partial (:9). God who is omniscient, needs you and me to rely on His wisdom, knowledge and love. Sometimes we see in part because we don’t want to accept responsibility for things we do; as with the first people on earth, its easier to blame someone else than to accept the rebuke of a friend. “Rebuke a wise man and he will love you” (Proverbs 9:8).

It is common for us to see a poor reflection of ourselves in a mirror, rose-tinted or otherwise darkened by sin. James gives us some further insights on how to deal with this problem. When looking at oneself in a mirror there are two options. If we don’t like what we see, we can do something about it, or we can go into denial. The Holy Spirit gave James an important truth – humans have the tendency to immediately forget what they might recognize and work to improve (James 1:24). Is this wise?

God longs for us to be pure, when we claim to follow Jesus. His Word gives us the direction we need, clarifying His will for our lives. When we spend time studying the Bible we are freed, James goes on to say (1:25), and blessed by the liberty God gives to us, from the sin that so easily bests us. Once our spirits have soared into the heavenlies , let loose like a balloon floating up into the sky, who would return to the darkness of this world’s thinking and degrading behaviours?

Paul and James agree that maturity, gained through love and perseverance is the Christian’s goal…..mature in understanding God’s character, we grow to be more like Him…..mature in our understanding of what true love looks like – that amazing love of God which is more than compassionate, which is impossible without His unconditional love flowing through us.

Growing in our faith requires action on our part. He has given us the means to know Him….His Word, David said, saved him from sinning against God (Psalm 119:11). It wasn’t just reading it or hiding it in his heart, but by obeying God’s word, David was blessed. God in turn blesses us, wiping away the darkness that clouds our vision, as we persevere. Its hard to do God’s will, to be obedient but He stands ready to give us all the wisdom and knowledge required to do His will. He doesn’t leave us to flounder alone!

Reflection:

Will you accept responsibility for your own sins? How does God want you to deal with them?

Does your life and mine bring joy to the heart of God?

Have you been freed by the perfect law of God?

Do you understand what God requires of you in His perfect law? Its not complicated –

If anyone considers himself/herself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his/her tongue, he/she

deceives themselves and his/her religion is worthless” (James 1:26)

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Vive la Difference!

inside photography of church
Photo by Adrien Olichon on Pexels.com

Romans 12:3-16

Some time ago I was watching a TV series in which a young white woman attempted to seduce a handsome young black man using the phrase “Vive la Difference”. She wanted to “live in the moment” by celebrating those differences. In our world today there seems to be a growing acceptance of this philosophy. Counter-productively there is also less acceptance of those differences that might lend permanency to our relationships. Critical appraisals fracture friendships and marriages. How is it possible to live in a world so divided?

Recently I heard a young man parroting what he had likely heard someone else say negatively about the values of an older man. It caused me to wonder where we place our emphasis. Do we appreciate the strengths in our individual family and friends, or are we anxious to shape them into something else? Would we like them to be what someone else appears to be? What does the word of God tell us? Solomon gives us some suggestions. “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). “Wounds of a friend can be trusted” (Proverbs 27:6). How is this type of friendship possible?

Jesus Himself was known as the friend of tax collectors and sinners….both were groups of people who were totally unacceptable to the religious establishment (Pharisees) because they didn’t conform to their image of how people should live. Certainly they did not exemplify those values Jesus preached. So – what did He find so compelling that He would eat with them? Sharing meals demonstrated social acceptance, in that era.

Jesus’ philosophy of life was grounded on love. Love that always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:7). What did His love protect? Those individual characteristics that are at the same time charming and disarming? His love covers a multitude of sins because underneath there is potential to be developed, by building a sense of hope. When the possibilities that God has given to us are recognized, even after failure, as was the case with the Samaritan woman (John 4), any person can be transformed by God! Persevering love and acceptance form the greatest catalyst for developing one’s potential.

High in the list of controversies popular today is the issue of racial discrimination. Surely we can see how God has made all peoples of the earth beautiful. Different? Yes! But isn’t that what lends harmony in music – the differences of each instrument! How boring it would be if the were all cellos or trumpets. It is the diversities that we celebrate as we examine our earth scientifically! It is unique ideas shared that bring progress to any movement.

In business, successful upper management recognizes the need for diversity within its leadership, as might a church within its leadership. The richness of diversity encourages growth. This is why Paul recommends the church takes advantage of the various gifts God has given to individuals (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). We need each other to create a network of encouragement and support.

Vive la Difference!

Reflection:

Do we have a friendly world view towards our fellowman?

Can we look beyond their fault to see their need? (Song by Dotty Rambo).

Dear Lord. Help me to celebrate those differences within the Body of Christ that are so essential to a healthy body. Thank you for the beauty of all You have created! Let me rejoice in the vision that You have given to some very gifted people. May I be in tune with those who have learned to listen to Your still small voice saying “This is the way. Walk in it.” Bless me with the means to help those with hands held out, in service to these who are so needy. May my thoughts be pure and my heart loving as a peacemaker, representing Jesus Christ in this world. Guide my feet in paths of righteousness with a spirit of cooperation. Oh God give unity in the midst of the precious diversity You have created, I pray.”

Devotional · Uncategorized

Thy Kingdom Come

man holding sheep statuette
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Matthew 6:10

In the prayer we call “the Lord’s Prayer” which Jesus taught His disciples, He makes reference to the Kingdom of God….a kingdom that belongs to Him “Thy Kingdom” (Matthew 6:10). This little phrase carries great meaning for it recognizes not only God’s ownership but the glory that ownership bestows on His kingdom! Forever! This kingdom will never end, according to Luke 1:33.

Moses wrote some rather detailed instructions about God’s kingdom (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). Until Samuel died God was revered as the King of Israel but when he was old the Israelites asked Samuel to appoint a king over them. Clearly they wanted a visible leader. Knowing Samuel wouldn’t live forever, caused them concern.

Their request displeased Samuel who had leaned heavily on the Lord to lead this unpredictable nation. 1 Samuel 8:4-6. The Lord explained it to Samuel: “It is not you they have rejected; but they have rejected Me as their king” (1 Samuel 8:7).

Hundreds of years later Jesus taught His disciples to pray that God’s kingdom would come. During His life-time the nation was under Roman rule. They had a puppet king in Herod, who thought little of the careful instructions God had given to Moses. In actual fact those details were ignored as early as the reign of Solomon! Solomon was rich, with many horses. He also had many wives some of whom had come from foreign countries including Egypt, a nation specified by God as a danger to their spiritual well-being.

Comparing the kingdom of God in Samuel’s time with the kingdom Jesus taught His followers to pray for, we recognize a significant similarity – it is a spiritual kingdom, one that follows the leadership of the invisible King, God. Does Jesus want to take them back to the “good old days”? Of course not – those days were not without their challenges and disasters when people failed to follow God.

The angel, announcing the birth of Jesus to Mary, specified her baby would be king. “The Lord will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:32). With His birth the Kingdom came, but there is a present tense today, as well as future. John wrote of his revelation:

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ’ “ (Revelation 12:10).

Jesus was looking ahead. He had in mind the Kingship of God would be stabilized in the hearts of repentant and surrendered individuals through the power of the indwelling Spirit of God – a significant difference from the old ways. “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end!” (Luke 1:33). His Kingdom began at the resurrection. Jesus told His disciples at the last supper He would not share a meal with them until they were in His Father’s Kingdom (Matthew 26:29) Note how that took place on the shores of Galilee after a post-resurrection fishing miracle (John 21:13).

Reflection:

What do you know about the Kingdom of God?

Where is the Kingdom of God?

What part in the Kingdom of God do you play?

Are you thankful to be a part of the Kingdom?

Written by Maryilyn Daniels.

http://www.marilyndaniels.net

Devotional · Uncategorized

Overwhelmed With Dread

starry sky over mountains
Photo by Cliford Mervil on Pexels.com

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

This Sickness

person sitting on a chair holding book
Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

John 11:1-14

 

Jesus wasn’t worried. He knew God had a plan. As always, God’s plan was perfect. Lazarus died. I asked myself – “How do I respond when bad things come into my life?” Quite naturally, Mary and Martha and their family friends grieved over the death of a beloved brother. They could not have hoped that Lazarus would be raised from the dead – nothing like that had ever happened like that before.

 

Meanwhile the disciples who were with Jesus were astonished at His reaction to the news that Lazarus was seriously ill! Here was this marvellous healer lingering where He was for 2 days (:5). They knew He loved Lazarus and Mary and Martha. He demonstrated time and again such compassion for people He didn’t know, in the face of physical suffering. Why did He delay?

 

“This sickness” Jesus told them, “will not end in death” (:4). But then on their way back to Bethany, Jesus revealed what they could not know. “Lazarus is dead” (:14). What a contradiction! Jesus did give them a clue, but did the disciples understand it? He told them up front that this sickness was for God’s glory. How could that possibly be if He didn’t heal Lazarus…..and now it was hopeless – Lazarus was dead.

 

By the time Jesus journeyed back to Judea Lazarus had been dead for 4 days. In a hot country the body quickly decomposes so when He wanted to go to the grave, Martha warned Jesus there would be a very bad odour (11:39).

 

What no one understood was the purpose of this disaster. What questions ran through the minds of the disciples as they travelled to Bethany? What expectations did Mary and Martha have when Jesus arrived? On the way to see the grieving family, Jesus told the disciples He was glad He was not there at the time of Lazarus’ death (:15). They probably attributed that to those common human feelings which come when we face pain. He did tell them He was going to wake Lazarus up – whatever did He mean? (:11)

Jesus also told those who followed Him that this was a test of faith….”that you may believe” (:15). Often a man of mystery, Jesus even today calls us to trust Him when we do not understand what God is doing. What happened to Lazarus demonstrated the glory of God much more than restoration from a sick bed (:41-44). What a glorious revelation of the power of God.

 

This account not only brought glory to God in the days of Jesus, but it encourages our belief today, does it now? Belief in God’s power, and ability to bring to fruition His plans, which, if we read this correctly is simply to make us aware of His magnificence in order to worship the One who is often beyond our finite understanding.

 

Reflection:

When you and I are faced with disaster, do we believe that God will bring glory to Himself through an unbelievable situation?

What situations do we face that seem to be hopeless, and how does our faith in God strengthen us?

Do we truly understand the God we say we worship?