Marilyn Daniels

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Didi's Devotionals

Devotionals by Marilyn Daniels. Check back every week for a new posting...

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The Tale of Three Women

Posted by kelvinbueckert on May 15, 2021 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Genesis 26-27

 

It is believed he was born sometime between 2,000 – 1,500 BC. He was the apple of his mother’s eye, but had to compete for his father’s favour with his older half-brother. He grew up with significant tensions in his home, sibling rivalries exacerbated by competition between the mothers of two sons. Add to this that when a young teenager, his father felt led by God to sacrifice him on an altar and we have all that is needed for making one very insecure and perhaps rebellious son.

 

As God so often did, in the Old Testament, and perhaps even today, He gave people what they asked for. However, it took time! Abram needed a son and heir. Sarah longed to bear his child. They were visited by the angel of the Lord who promised them the desire of their hearts. However, they still had to wait – another 25 years must have seemed interminable considering their age when the promise was first given. Belief faltered. Sarah laughed at the idea and so Abraham gave in to her suggestion that they practise the custom of the day, since it seemed God had made no way for them to share a child, since she was beyond child-bearing age.

 

And so, her maid-servant Hagar bore Abraham’s child. There is no indication that Ishmael was ever adopted by Sarah as originally intended. Eventually he was banned from the home where he had enjoyed being the son of a wealthy patriarch, sent to make his home and to find his way among desert nomads. His mother wept.

 

Isaac was the son of promise. God clearly told Abraham that Isaac would be born of Sarah for the purpose of His eternal covenant continuing down his ancestral line (Genesis 17:19). As a baby Isaac was circumcised, the sign of that covenant relationship (Genesis 21:4). God ordained his name (Genesis 17:19), to signify the laughter and joy his miraculous birth would bring.

 

Isaac never seemed to have much control over major events in his life. He was nearly 30 when his father’s servant went to find him a wife. Thankfully Eliezer was a man of prayer (Genesis 24:12-14). Isaac had grown up a witness to his father’s faith in God. When did that faith become his own? Was it when the voice of God thundered from the heavens at the moment of his pending sacrifice? Was it when his mother died and he needed to be comforted? We know that Isaac built an altar at one point in his life, where he called on the name of the Lord (Genesis 26:25).

 

Rebekah willingly returned with Eliezer to become Isaac’s wife. After many barren years Isaac prayed for a child and she bore twins, Jacob and Esau renowned as totally different characters. As his father had done before him, Isaac feared the king of the Philistines so lied, saying Rebekah was his sister, in case they would kill him to get her.

 

Still God blessed him as a successful farmer (Genesis 26:12-13), and with long life. Even after he blessed his sons, thinking he was dying, Isaac lived another 43 years (Genesis 27:2, 35:28). In his old age Isaac became blind. Instigated by a suggestion from his Mother, Jacob was able to use this blindness to trick Isaac into giving him the blessing that rightly belonged to his older twin Esau. Many years later they reconciled and together they buried their father at the age of 180.

 

To all intense and purposes, Isaac was a very ordinary man. He survived a tumultuous childhood. All along the way he was led by others, his mother, his father, his wife and sons. Even Abimelech directed where he lived. He prospered from the land which he faithfully cultivated. Perhaps his one claim to fame was that God entrusted the covenantal promises to him that linked him to Abraham and Jacob, in the development of the nation of Israel.

 

Reflection:

The tale of three women – Sarah, Hagar, Rebekah! What characteristic did they all share? Was their contribution to family life a positive or negative one? What impact did each have on their husbands and sons? How would you determine who truly believed in God? Compare yourself to each of these women – what can you learn? Is there a woman whose life of faith has made a difference to your spiritual journey?

Here Am I Lord

Posted by kelvinbueckert on May 9, 2021 at 7:45 PM Comments comments (1)

1 Samuel 3 (1:10-18, 20)

 

Most of us will be familiar with Hannah’s story. One of Elkanah’s two wives, she was favoured by her husband, but sadly was barren. Desperate for a child, she sought the Lord with tears. It is significant to the story that she went to the source, the only One who could help her. She worshiped God in the Sanctuary at Shiloh, the religious centre of Israel until they lost the ark of the covenant to the Philistines. These are clues that Hannah was a Godly woman.

 

In due time God gave Hannah a son. She kept the baby with her for the first few years, but true to the vow she had made, she presented the child to the Lord after he was weaned, when he was about 3 years old. At that time she left him, to be brought up for service to God (1 Samuel 1:22).

 

What sort of impact did this sudden wrenching away from his mother have on little Samuel? We are only told that he ministered before the Lord, under Eli the priest (1 Samuel 2:11). Since we read Samuel wore the linen ephod when he was ministering before the Lord (2:18) we must assume he had been consecrated before the Lord. Now this seemed to be Eli’s second chance. His own sons were a grave disappointment, wicked men with no regard for the Lord (:12). Although they were priests according to their Aaronic lineage, they treated their responsibilities with contempt and then ignored their father’s rebuke.

 

Jewish history records that Eli wore two crowns; he was both priest and judge, becoming Judge after the death of Samson. He held that position for 40 years until his tragic death at the age of 98. Eventually Samuel succeeded him as judge. Both his people and the child Samuel warmed to Eli’s loving nature. Perhaps he erred with his sons because he was too soft.

 

Meanwhile God made His purpose clear to Samuel. We are not told how old he was when God called him, but this calling confirmed the role for which God had prepared him. The ground was laid at the knee of a Godly mother who taught him he was an answer to her prayers, that indeed God is faithful to hear our every cry and to answer in the best possible way! Continuing with our story - Three times the boy answered the voice waking him from sleep: “Here am I”. The third time he ran in to see if Eli had called, the old man recognized God was calling Samuel and instructed him how to answer. “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” (3:9).

 

“Speak Lord!” What anticipation! With expectancy this young lad waited on God. How often do we pause in the midst of our busy lives to hear what God has to say? Did this child really believe that God had a message for him? Who was he? Nobody special really, and just a kid. If God gave a young person a message for us would we accept that it came from God? How many ways would we test it first? Do we believe that God speaks to ordinary people like you and me today?

 

Clearly there are lessons to be learned from Samuel’s life. The boy had a deep respect for his mother’s faith as well as that of his teacher. He was not sheltered from the evil influence of Eli’s sons, but rather learned as he watched them, to abhor that which was evil. When God calls we may mistake His voice for that of someone else, as Samuel did. Usually God confirms His call by repeating it, sometimes by another person’s confirmation. Eli recognized God was trying to get Samuel’s attention. In a day when visions from God were rare, God entrusted this boy with a terrible message of the judgment about to fall on Eli and his sons.

 

Reflection:

 

Which do we most resemble, Hannah, Eli, Eli’s sons or Samuel? More personally, have we answered the Lord’s call with “Here am I”? Are we afraid of consecrating our lives to Him? The question lingering in my mind is whether or not I want to hear from God? And if so, why do I not spend more time listening for His voice?

 

Speak, Lord, in the stillness, speak your word to me; hushed my heart to listen in expectancy.

Speak, O gracious Master, in this quiet hour; let me see your face, Lord, feel your touch of power.

For the words you give me they are life indeed; living bread from heaven, now my spirit feed.

Speak, your servant listens, be not silent, Lord; let me know your presence; let your voice be heard.

Fill me with the knowledge of your glorious will; all your own good pleasure in my life fulfil.

The Fruit of the Spirit is...

Posted by kelvinbueckert on May 2, 2021 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Galatians 5:22

 

In Bible study one day a very interesting statement was made to the effect that we have to activate the Holy Spirit in order to see His fruit in our lives. True or false? How might one go about activating the Holy Spirit?

 

A thought occurred to me that we cannot earn our salvation by anything we do. Neither do we earn the fruit of the Spirit. Paul under inspiration of that very same Spirit, the Divine third person of the Godhead, tells us the fruit of the Spirit is. It is there for us; once we surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit the seed planted by the Holy Spirit germinates, eventually producing fruit.

 

Yielding doesn’t come naturally to human beings. So many life situations trigger a natural urge to control; it may be subtle. To give up striving for sanctification, for perfection, even for righteousness puts us exactly where God wants us to be. Then, and only then, can we see His mighty hands at work, reshaping us into the image of Christ, demonstrating His power to make us loving, joyful, peaceable and so forth (Galatians 5:22-23). Have you ever marvelled to find you are a more patient, gentler type of person since you became a child of God? What brought about that change?

 

When we reject the forgiveness, the freedom, and the faith offered to us by the Holy Spirit we grieve God. He “quickens” those who are dead in trespasses and in sins, with a Holy jolt that activates you and me to a conscious awareness of our need for Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:1 & 5). There is no eternal hope outside of accepting these promptings by the Holy Spirit! It is also a very dangerous thing to suppose we, the created ones, might in any way manipulate God the Creator into a fast fix.

 

You see, the fruit of the Spirit developing from the flower of your salvation, is exactly that – something derived from the power of the root, from the essence of all that is essentially Godly. Paul has just contrasted the acts of our sinful nature (Ephesians 5:19-21) with the pure realities of being controlled, directed, empowered by the Holy Spirit, living in us. He knows our needs better than we know ourselves. His perfect nature covers our filthy rags with the righteousness of Christ! (Isaiah 64:6).

 

Facing His crucifixion, Jesus comforted His disciples with a very important promise. He would not be a visible presence in their lives, but He would send the Holy Spirit, not just for them, but for all of His followers down through centuries of time. The characteristics of God would flow into our lives as we turn our thoughts towards the Lord Jesus Christ. “Fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). It is Christ alone who saves and sanctifies and fills us with the capacity to be what God wants us to be! Hallelujah!

 

 

Reflection:

It is Satan’s ploy to make us think we have any part to play as we live the Christian life. It is terribly humbling to understand I am nothing, but God is everything. Yet we know that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). The thrill comes when we recognize that God has been working in and through us to accomplish His eternal purpose and that we see this without any anxious striving on our part! That of course does not mean we throw out living according to Biblical principles, but God gets the glory for enabling us to do so!

The Joy of the Lord

Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 25, 2021 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Nehemiah 8:1-12

It had been a very long time since the Israelites had worshiped God, as a nation, in Jerusalem. In 605 BC Nebuchadnezzar had taken the Jews captive to Babylon. In 539 Cyrus overthrew Babylon and as was his custom , he encouraged expats to return to their homelands. Fifty thousand Jews returned under the leadership of Zerubbabel, to rebuild their temple, although it was not finished until more than 20 years later, under the reign of Darius.

Meanwhile Nehemiah was moved by God to return to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The book of Nehemiah reveals the heart of a man of prayer! Through opposition from within and without, he persevered , faithful to God’s calling upon his life. The nation was blessed by this one man and in our chapter we find them gathered, at last, to worship God. Ezra the priest brought the book of the law; in the spirit of renewal these people were once again touched by the words of God.

We would hardly think of rules and regulations as something worthy of worship, but it was so much more than that…the law demonstrated God’s love! How much He cared for every detail of each person’s life! How often is the God of the Old Testament seen as a God of wrath and yet He was so very longsuffering, faithful to His covenant of love! (Nehemiah 1:5). We find these same qualities in the God we worship today. How longsuffering is He with a church that is lukewarm, casual in its worship?

These people, coming out of loss, hardship and suffering had much to worship God for! They stood with hands raised towards heaven out of reverence for the scriptures Ezra was reading (Nehemiah 8:5). They stood for hours while the words of God were read and discussed. The Levites were eager to make sure they understood the law (:8). Then the people “bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground” (:6). As we lounge in padded seats with our coffee during church, how does our body language speak to God of our enthusiasm for His Word?

The Israelites were celebrating the privilege they had lost! Their hearts were deeply stirred! At last the joy of the Lord, described by Nehemiah himself, “is your strength” (:10)! Celebrate without grieving; he urged them not to weep (:9,10). This was a new season of joy. The time, which Solomon later referred to for weeping, had passed. Now it was time for “great joy” (:12, 17), to honour the greatness of their God, and all that He had done to restore them to fellowship with Himself!

Jesus came to restore our fellowship with God, sent by the Father in heaven to suffer and die on our behalf – yours and mine. As we celebrate Easter, Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection let us not forget that joy does not require the absence of pain. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Reflection:

The Israelites had been disciplined by God who must remain true to His word. He had warned them repeatedly about their rebellious hearts, their unfaithfulness to Him as they turned to worship idols. Had they taken Him seriously? Do we today take God at His word? Why do we believe that a loving God will not also be just? He must be true to His character and so, let us question if it is possible we stand at the edge of a precipice, inviting His discipline, even His wrath, by the way we treat His law? His goal is to give us joy born out of freedom from sin! It is our joy that is contagious as we seek to win others to our Lord Jesus Christ. The early church welcomed the gospel message with great joy (1 Thessalonians 1:6). It is joy in the Lord which keeps us from sin.

Perhaps you would like to do a personal study on the number of situations in which joy is mentioned in both Old and New Testaments!

Raise the Standard High

Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 18, 2021 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Luke 23:34

 

In olden days as men marched into war they kept their eyes open for the standard which was a visual signal for where you were to go. The standard-bearer would be close to the leader, providing a rallying point. If anything happened to the standard-bearer and he went down, the whole battle could be lost, since the army would be without direction. If the enemy captured your standard, the honour of the unit was lost.

 

Today believers are in a spiritual battle and God has given us a standard. The rally point is around God’s Word. It keeps us close to the leader, to our Heavenly Father. It brings the church together with one vision and purpose. Without this Holy book we wouldn’t know Jesus, who must be lifted up to draw all people to Himself. Why is that important?

 

Jesus’ life demonstrates the principles of spiritual warfare. In purity, faithfulness and love Jesus marches the troops forward, following Him who set the highest of all possible standards. We are to walk in the ways of truth, honour and kindness. We are equipped by God for the battle. First of all He motivates us through the indwelling Holy Spirit to have the right attitudes. Not too many people have gone to war loving their enemies, but Biblical principles clearly state we are to do just that (Matthew 5:44). This remarkable deviation from what is “human” makes a spectacular statement to a world filled with anger, hate and fear.

 

Following our Saviour’s example, God strengthens followers of Jesus to be joyful in the midst of adversity. Haven’t you noticed how contagious real joy is? People who are always venting over some disappointment, or complaining they haven’t been treated well, often make us nervous because we don’t know when they will begin to see us as their enemy. Joy isn’t about laughter, but it is a deep-seated satisfaction derived from being in the will of God, pleasing Him by our holy thoughts, our intentional choices, and our selflessness.

 

Selflessness does not mean we become a doormat, or that we succumb to abuse. It is comprised of the intentional deeds we do to help others, to lift them up physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Everyone can encourage those who have fallen. Jesus Himself said he came, not to heal those who are well, but those who are sick (Luke 5:31). Can we see the soul-sickness of those about us? What might we do to help?

 

Solomon taught “A soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). Spiritual warfare is not for the purpose of gaining ground, but rather for giving grace. Paul taught “Do not take revenge….but leave room for God’s wrath….On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink” (Romans 12:19-20). Our Lord showed grace to His abusers as He cried from the cross “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

 

Reflection:

Recognizing our own sinful state before we were saved by the love of Christ, provides us with a spirit of empathy. Surely all humans come to the foot of the cross equal in guilt and shame. The exquisite relief of God’s forgiveness must then become the catalyst for us to share His mercy and grace, even with those who are our enemies. Paul continued teaching the Roman church “…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good!” (12:21).

The Panacea of Praise

Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 11, 2021 at 7:55 PM Comments comments (0)

“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

The Troubled Heart

Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 4, 2021 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (0)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Reflection:

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

 

Justice and Mercy

Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 28, 2021 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Zechariah 7:9-10

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Reflection:

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

What Will You Do With Jesus?

Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 21, 2021 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Acts 10:25-26

 

At the end of the day the only question that will matter is “What did you do with Jesus”. His representatives on earth may fall, but Jesus never fails. Lyricists have written songs about His amazing faithfulness to truth and righteousness. The Bible assures us He is the same yesterday, today and forever! (Hebrews 13:8). What a blessed promise in the face of human failure and disappointment.

 

We might ask another question “Who am I compared to the King of glory, the One who left the glory of heaven (Philippians 2:5-8) to suffer shame and disgrace at Calvary, taking my punishment for sins He never committed?” (Hebrews 10:10-14). Charles Goodman captured the truth as he asked:

Who am I that the King would bleed and die for?

Who am I that He would pray not my will, Thine Lord.

The answer I may never know

Why He ever loved me so

That to an old rugged cross He'd go…

For who am I?

When we see Jesus our gratitude sometimes takes a turn, and we begin to revere the instrument that brought the light of the gospel to us. The apostles leave us with a legacy which we do well to remember. In our scripture today we read that Cornelius called his household together, family, friends and servants to meet the great Apostle Peter.

Like Jonah, Peter resisted sharing his faith with Gentiles. The Gospel was for the Jews, surely. God rebuked Peter and finally he surrendered. It was a long journey from Jerusalem to Caesarea, but Peter had been called by God to go specifically to the home of this Italian military Commander (Acts 10).

What was Peter’s attitude when he arrived? Considering the important role he played in the development of the early Church in Jerusalem, this was a great concession involving time and energy. He could have been condescending, but we see Peter serving Jesus with humility. As Cornelius fell at his feet in the respect demanded by the custom of the day, Peter commanded him to “Get up”! Leaving the crowd in no doubt, Peter declared “I am only a man myself” (Acts 10:25-26).

Peter had learned to come to grips with the limitations of his own humanity. He had failed Jesus many times. He couldn’t stay awake to watch with Him prior to Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane. He denied that he knew Jesus immediately prior to His crucifixion. Here was another test. This time he didn’t fail. In spite of the Jewish laws which prevented association with Gentiles, God had shown Peter that He cared about the souls of all people, even Gentiles.

”I now realize how true it is that God does not show any favouritism” (Acts 10:34). This was an epiphany for Peter. Suddenly he got it! He found himself preaching about Jesus, sharing ”the good news of peace, through Jesus Christ who is Lord of all” (10:36). His focus was Jesus Christ! As a privileged witness of all that Christ was and did, Peter talked about His life and death as the fulfillment of prophecy and how, following His miraculous resurrection, Jesus ate and drank with His followers. As Paul reminds us “He lives to make intercession for us” (Hebrews 7:24-25) so to Him goes all the honour and glory forever and ever!

The power of the Holy Spirit came upon these Gentiles so that they believed and were baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. This is what happens when we see Christ Jesus lifted up by Godly men and women.

Reflection:

What are you doing with the precious, holy name of Jesus? Do you guard His reputation with your life?

The Judge Stands at the Door

Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 14, 2021 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

James 5

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Reflection:

 

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


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