Devotional

A Worshipping Man

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Acts 10

Cornelius was a devout man. His devotion to God was highly unusual for a Roman, especially one who had risen in the ranks of the Italian Regiment to the position of centurion. The fact that he believed in the Jewish God indicates he had become a proselyte of Judaism. Not only the man himself, but also his family worshiped God. His faith had impacted some of his servants as well as his military personnel (Acts 10:7). He practised his faith by giving and praying regularly. We might do well to follow his example.

However, in spite of his faithfulness and zeal, something was lacking. God had seen his giving, and heard his prayers. An angel appeared to Cornelius about 3 one afternoon. The angel instructed him to send to Joppa for the man Simon Peter. Without explanation this might have seemed a rather mysterious command. Apparently Cornelius trusted God enough to send for Simon Peter.

Peter’s own experience in preparation for this encounter is a story for another day. Sufficient to say he recognized the call of God and went to Caesarea. Cornelius met him in a spirit of reverence. In fact he fell at Peter’s feet in worship. Immediately Peter raised him to his feet reminding him that he was only a man, just like Cornelius.

Peter knew his Bible. The law given to Moses instructed God’s people to worship only the Lord God, Yahweh. The fullness of this thought required 3 commandments – there was to be no other God, they were not to worship anything animate or inanimate, and even the name of God was to be revered, kept sacred (Exodus 20:3-5). Joshua reinforces this theme in his parting address to Israel: “Do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve then or bow down to them” (Joshua 23:7).

However, tribal customs in some countries call for a show of deep respect for visitors, for teachers, preachers and other noteworthy persons. When I tried to raise an elderly lady to her feet on one occasion, I was rebuked for resisting tribal tradition; she would not budge and I felt guilty.

At this point we need a clear understanding of what worship is, in the eyes of God. Does it preclude a respectful appreciation for other human beings in authority, or positions of leadership? When Jesus talked about worship He said: “God is a spirit and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Worship includes ascribing “to the Lord the glory due His name…..worship the Lord in the splendour of His holiness” (1 Chronicles 16:29).

Reflection:

Clearly worship is defined by one’s attitude. It is exercised in a variety of ways, but essentially is an act of our spirit, as it seeks God. Bowing to man might be an act of misplaced veneration, but God recognizes the attitude of the heart, and judges us on that point alone. Taking Cornelius as our Biblical example, we see that God, knowing his heart was truly seeking God, gave him the privilege of knowing Jesus by bringing Peter into his life. Our relationship with God is defined by Jesus Himself, in a verse with which we are all familiar: “I am the way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6).

What attitude defines your worship and mine?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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

Praise and Worship

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Isaiah 66:1-2

Dear Lord,

There are so many people on my mind for whom I would pray this morning, people in need physically and spiritually. Yet as I bow before You, my spirit is reminded of the great privilege You have given to Your people of coming to You in the name of Jesus.

He, who is the personification of true love, is the “Way”…the way to You, our heavenly Father. He came to earth to show us how to worship as well as the way we should treat one another. Oh Father! As we celebrate His advent, I must praise You for Your perfect plan – that marvellous revelation of the heart of God, yearning sacrificially for relationship with mankind! If only Your children could follow Jesus’ perfect example, what a different place this world would be! Your great heart must be often disappointed. Father forgive me please.

Thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit, who dwells within each of Your children, offering guidance and comfort, and even rebuke, so that I may confess my sins and be freed daily of the guilt with which Satan immobilizes me. Your love is so forgiving. May I be also.

Thank You for showing me unconditional love. I know that I could never earn the approval of Omniscient, Almighty God, yet Your love has given me grace and mercy, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Oh Lord! May I be filled to overflowing, in order to pass this good news on to others.

The depth of Your love inspires me to walk in the steps of my Saviour, but it is sometimes with the fear that I might fail to live up to His example. Thank You that Your strength is made perfect in weakness!

Your love has all the hallmarks of a perfect parent; Your wisdom is wonderful! Your love disciplines me for my own good. Thank you Father!

You are so kind, and sensitive to the pitfalls on this earthly journey, and to my human frailty. I read in scripture that kindness and patience are the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit. I need Your touch to deal kindly with those who try my patience. Thank You for Your word that assures me my prayers will be answered.

Oh Father – You are Holy. Surrounded by temptation, the Devil assaults my mind and heart with suggestions that do not glorify the values You have given to me, in Your most Holy Word. Forgive me! Holy Spirit teach my wayward heart the purity that is Your very essence!

Thank you for challenging the Church to love holiness with a passion. May we be people of truth and honour, in order to glorify Your most Holy Name.

You have promised to empower Your children to do exploits in the name of Jesus! Your love for others compels me to see them through Your eyes. However, it is not always easy. Let me see others from Your perspective when they sin against me, so that I may use what I have learned at the feet of Jesus, to bless them in return.

Thank You Father for giving me quiet moments of solitude to spend at Your feet. Thank You for restoring my soul! Thank You for the peace that comes over my spirit when it is in tune with Yours. Thank You for Jesus, the visible reflection of all that You are. Thank You for the joy of my salvation! Thank You for the eternal hope I have that one day I will stand in Your glorious presence. Thank You for opening up doors of service. Thank You for the fellowship and encouragement of brothers and sisters in the family of God. Thank You for lessons learned through sorrow and pain, through disappointment and heartache. Thank You for the privilege of sharing Jesus.

Dear God, may my worship be acceptable in Your sight. Amen

Reflection:

As we pray, let us check our beliefs. Is this the God who can move mountains, Who in fact created those mountains? Did He really raise Lazarus and Jesus from the dead? Is He raising those who are spiritually dead in this the twenty-first century? Does He have the right to place people in the environment of His choosing? Does His power and His passion for what is right, generate awe in my heart? Is God truly good and fair and loving? It is important to know the One we say we trust, and to examine the extent to which we really trust Him. Do we come to God demanding things for our comfort and pleasure, or do we want to align our hearts and minds with His good pleasure? Does the sacrifice of my contrite heart bring joy to the heart of the God I love? Does God need me in order to accomplish His purposes; does He give me the privilege of coming alongside, to join in the joy of seeing Him at work?

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

Uncategorized

Worthy of Praise

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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)

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