Devotionals by Marilyn Daniels. Check back every week for a new posting...
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 10, 2019 at 10:40 AM||comments (0)|
Our Life Group had been praying for a woman who has been in a coma for 2 years. What her family have endured during that time can never be told. But I was reminded of the verse that in the King James speaks of “bowels of compassion” – describing the depth of God’s interest in our lives. He calls us to emulate Him by our compassionate hearts, bowels of mercies, heartfelt compassion and other phrases descriptive in various versions of the Bible, of God’s generous nature.
This family is content to let their loved one linger on, but there are many today who would say it is a useless life, one that should be ended. As Christians we believe that matters of life and death rest in the hands of Almighty God – the God of all compassion (Psalm 116:5). On what grounds would a human being decide who should live and who should die; is that decision based on the diagnosis of a terminal or incurable Illness? Many, for example, would agree that ALS is a reason to end life, yet the ‘genius’ of our age, Stephen Hawking, continued to dazzle the world with his scientific mind for nearly 50 years, in spite of the fact he could not speak and was totally helpless to care for himself.
Our generation has been given so much knowledge that we face choices not faced by those who have gone before us. Should we pull the plug, for example and when? Well in days gone by there had been no plug to pull. Now we should be like gods – that very desire which caused Satan to be cast out of heaven has been fulfilled. God allowed man to have a peek into some of the deeper concerns regarding running the universe. If we misuse the knowledge we have now, what eternal damage might be done when we appropriate choices that still belong to God?
In the case of the lady and others like her in coma, how can we see God’s compassion at work? Perhaps we cannot, but her family still wait in hope and everyone will agree that hope is a wonderful thing! It turns bitter into sweet. We learn through our trials that God’s presence and strength are sufficient day by day. Only in truly difficult circumstances can we know the exquisite rest that comes when our hearts trust in His compassion. We might even marvel at the wisdom that is keeping her alive, without contributing to her community of family and friends.
It’s within the nature of man to want to know, but we cannot invent answers to a faith that trusts in the all-wise compassions of the Divine being whose ways often present us with unsolvable (by our finite wisdom) mysteries. In this we must let God be God.
Is it through the eyes of faith that we see the compassion of God at work in difficult circumstances?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 3, 2019 at 2:45 PM||comments (0)|
As a child growing up, the emphasis in church seemed to be on reverence. We were taught to keep still and to be quiet. We sang with enthusiasm, but not clapping and certainly no hands were in the air, nor did we move to the music. Rhythm to my childish mind, equated to sinfulness. God, the object of our worship, was veiled in a mystery that commanded awe. After all He is Spirit. I remember one elderly lady who interjected some Pentecostal exclamations of “Praise the Lord!” “Hallelujah” much to the amazement of the adults and to the amusement of the kids. Our music was joyful, but reverent – the organist was accompanied by 2 violinists and a pianist. We seldom sang choruses unless it was a Sunday School or Youth event.
However, I also had opportunities, as a child, to worship God as I lay on the grass of the upper field watching the clouds float by, listening to bird-songs and the babbling brook running through a little forest of trees just off a cow pasture, in the fields beyond our home. My parents encouraged me to worship the Creator – not the creation itself, but the great God who designed this magnificent world for our pleasure.
Worship formed an integral part of life itself. We were taught that God is everywhere. This gave us a sense of accountability, as well as the comfort of His presence when we were in trouble. Worship lifts us out of the here and now, into another realm, a place of purity and perfection. It is very hard to put such a supernatural experience into words. But worship is also practical because we offer our gifts as an act of worship (Hebrews 13:16).
Worship differs from praise. These themes are closely linked and too fine a point can be made of the difference. Both praise and worship centre on God in gratitude for who He is as well as for what He does. Surely the Holy Spirit will define our gratitude as genuine when it comes from the heart.
“Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that You’re my God!
Altogether lovely, altogether worthy, Altogether wonderful to me!”
There are many different ways to worship God. The Bible does not tell us we must always kneel. Sometimes we lift our hands towards heaven. At times we are awestruck into silence; at other times we must shout for joy to the Lord! Even the hills are described by the Psalmist as clapping their hands.
God requires only one thing when we come before Him in either praise or worship. Very clearly He demands we be genuine. “Stop bringing meaningless offerings (of praise)” (Isaiah 1:13). “These people…… honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me” (Isaiah 29:13). “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of Praise – the fruit of lips that confess His name” (Hebrews 13: 15). This genuine praise can only be born of love – that exquisite certainty which calls forth a human response prompted by the loving heart of God.
It is easy to get carried away in the moment as we raise our voices in corporate worship, but God knows the intention of our hearts. This is at once challenging and comforting!
Jesus said: “God is a spirit and His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
When does worship bring you greatest pleasure? Are you conscious of the object being God?
What joy does the heart of God experience when we truly worship Him?
Do you distinguish between praise and worship? If so why?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on February 24, 2019 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
“Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning.
Give me oil in my lamp I pray.
Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning;
Keep me burning till the break of day.
Sing Hosannas, Sing Hosannas, Sing Hosannas to the King of Kings”
We used to sing this little chorus as kids. Generally speaking it meant we were dependant upon God to keep us on the right path by lighting the way before us in a dark world. Whether we actually understood all that might be rather doubtful, for a bunch of little children who had yet to taste of any real trouble.
"Oil in My Lamp", also known as "Give Me Oil in My Lamp" and "Sing Hosanna", is a traditional Christian hymn based on the Parable of the Ten Virgins. The song has been recorded many times and was a hit in Jamaica in 1964 for Eric "Monty" Morris. Written by A. Sevison in the 50’s, additional verses included “keep me praising, resting, serving and more recently a pastor recalls “we added some lyrics: give me wax on my board; keep me surfing for the Lord. Or, give me gas in my Ford, keep me truckin’ for the Lord.” I thought of this song as I read from Matthew chapter 25 recently.
In Matthew 25, 10 virgins were preparing for a wedding. Jewish custom at that time was for the bride and her attendants to be ready because the groom would suddenly appear once he had the home ready, to which he would take the bride. Jesus reminds His listeners that the virgin attendants must carry extra oil, for renewal of their lamps, during the festivities. Seriously, if they were not prepared with enough oil they would not be admitted to the feast (Matthew 25:10-12).
Considered sacred, oil was used for anointing kings, a sign they were chosen by God. The Psalmist saw it as a sign of God’s blessing “Thou anointest my head with oil – my cup runneth over (KJV - Psalm 23:5). Oil is referred to as precious (Psalm 133:2); it was also used to soothe wounds (Isaiah 1:6).
Oil represents the Holy Spirit in scripture. At the beginning of His ministry Jesus quoted verses from Isaiah “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor….” (Luke 4:18). Peter records “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power” siting subsequent healing of those under the power of the devil (Acts 10:38).
Is your lamp ready, filled with oil?
How does the oil of the Holy Spirit minister in and through your life today?
What hope does the symbol of oil bring to your future?
Was the gift of the Holy Spirit prompted by God’s love for mankind?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on February 15, 2019 at 11:55 AM||comments (0)|
What is a covenant?
Ecclesiastical: A solemn agreement between the members of a church to act together in harmony with the precepts of the gospel. There are national as well as legal covenants which bind people groups together for a stated purpose.
In the Bible it is an agreement between God and His people, upon whom He places covenantal blessings, conditioned by their obedience to His laws. A covenant binds two or more parties together….for example God made a covenant between the nation of Israel and Himself.
Chapter 16 of Ezekiel’s prophecy depicts Israel as an unfaithful wife. God reviews the nation’s sin (:3-34) and describes her punishment (:35-52)….not without hope. Verses 53-63 describe the restoration of His chosen people. True to God’s character of faithful love, He honours His everlasting covenant (:60) in the end. What is the purpose of God’s covenant with Israel? That “you will know that I am the LORD” (:62), declares the Sovereign LORD (:63).
God’s Sovereignty is a cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith. In spite of things seeming to be out of control, both in Ezekiel’s day as well as our own, God is in control. It is curious to reflect on the amazing way He brings about His purposes for our world as prophecies continue to be fulfilled. It would sometimes seem that Satan is winning the battle, but we must remember he cannot win the war. We must remind ourselves of the picture painted in Job 1 & 2, where Satan comes to God for permission to test His blameless servant Job. Who is in charge? God!
God’s thoughts are not like our thoughts. They are motivated by His purity. His ways are not like our ways….they are purposeful for the ultimate good of others. (Isaiah 55:8-9) Even in the midst of His disappointment and pain, God looks beyond our fault and sees our need.
Dotty Rambo wrote a beautiful song about His outlook on each individual. It is for this reason God sent His Son to save the world from sin…in that while we were yet sinners, Christ dies for us (Romans 5:8). True to His promise God’s covenant blessing of atonement has come to us in the twenty-first century, through Jesus Christ our LORD. (Ezekiel 16:63).
Let us examine our reactionary style of living. What is our response when we have been hurt or disappointed?
Are we emulating God’s mercy and grace when we are angry or sad with others who let us down?
What do we learn from our covenant-keeping God?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on February 10, 2019 at 10:50 AM||comments (0)|
2 Corinthians 13:14
Recently I became aware that many people attending church go for the sake of “worship”. This is not a bad thing. We know that our God takes pleasure in our worship when it is from the heart. Perhaps we take Paul’s words to heart as we proclaim ”the grace of the Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 13:14) In this one benediction Paul leads us into worship of One God, in 3 persons – blessed trinity.
Trinity is not a word used in the Bible, yet from Genesis to Revelation we see the Spirit moving; prophecy of the One who would “crush” the head of evil fulfilled as Jesus rose from the grave, all according to God the Father’s perfect plan. Majestic in His Sovereignty, this God we worship controls the world today, just as He did down through chaotic human history! Isn’t this cause for worship as we see Him bringing to fruition all that Jesus spoke of to His disciples, regarding that day when He would come again?
Yet what do we know about our God? At a recent Bible study we were exploring His incommunicable attributes. Do you know what they are? Sovereign we have already mentioned. We sing “…Holy! Lord God Almighty”. Sometimes we fear His omniscience, especially when we have failed to meet God’s standard in our thoughts and actions. How many people have given up on trying to understand God’s eternal being (Yahweh), denying Him infinite knowledge and wisdom and purpose because we find it hard to grasp? These are characteristics that make God “GOD”!
The Israelites worshiped this God. Listen to Moses’ song “Your right hand O Lord was majestic in power….In the greatness of Your majesty You threw down those who opposed You”! (Exodus 15:6-7). “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27). The Psalmist never ceases to be amazed at God: “God the King” is described as “greatness no one can fathom”, “glorious splendour of Your Majesty”, “Power of Your mighty works”,. He celebrates God’s “abundant goodness”, One who is “gracious and compassionate” and “good to all”. “All men may know of Your mighty acts” “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom”. This is true worship!
Our God does bless His children with Godly character provided as fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). However, we will never attain to His glorious attributes of eternality and infinitude. Our power is limited to the power with which He gifts us, to accomplish His purposes. He blesses us to be a blessing, channels of His grace and love as we become one with Him in fellowship through the Holy Spirit. Let us go into a New Year adoring this God in Whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Think about the privilege we have to know God as He has graciously revealed Himself, through nature, through scripture, through the Holy Babe in the manger, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God but humbled Himself to become obedient unto death for you and for me (Philippians 2:6-8). How does this impact your worship of His Majesty?
“To the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (Jude 25)
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on February 3, 2019 at 3:20 PM||comments (0)|
Today we are going to look at two scriptures, words of Jesus as He taught folks then and now, how to deal with a particular problem. First let’s identify that problem. We see a description of a man and a sheep, both going astray. It was a favourite them in Jesus’ sermons. John records: “All this I have told you that you will not go astray” (16:1). Why was this important to Jesus? He tells us…”The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
Sheep stray very easily so they make a good illustration. In Bible times shepherding required groups of men employed full-time to care for the sheep, leading them into safe places where they would find the richest grasses and plenty of water, as well as protecting them from predators. Shepherds today use specially trained dogs to round them up when they are going off the beaten track, and even have access to electronic devices as aids to keeping their sheep safe.
Jesus provides a word picture that has inspired famous paintings as well as musical compositions. In a flock of one hundred sheep one gets lost, wandering away. The shepherd will not rest until He finds it, bringing it home on His shoulders (Luke 15:5), where He calls friends and neighbours to celebrate the safe return of one lost sheep!
Jesus paints another word picture of a lost human being, one known as the Prodigal son. It seems the young man had no intention of returning home when he demanded his inheritance from his father prematurely. It was all about himself and his comfort and happiness. Surprisingly the Father gave him all that he demanded. He didn’t cling to his son, bargaining with him on behalf of the family business or to avoid hurting his mother’s feelings, or any of the other things with which we try to prevent painful change. He let him go.
Did this father know the Good Shepherd would bring his son home safely? We are not told. We do know that God effected a change in the young man’s heart. “He came to his senses”. This is the only solution to a straying child of God. The Good Shepherd loves His sheep much more than we do and is able to do abundantly more than we can ask or even imagine! (Ephesians 3:20). When his son returned the father’s joy was complete! He hadn’t forced it but had left it up to God, to whom all the glory went for bringing his son to his senses. Hallelujah!
Who is responsible for bringing the lost sheep home?
Why do we act as if significant change depends on us?
How do we face these tests of faith?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on January 27, 2019 at 10:35 AM||comments (0)|
Most of us are familiar with the Lord’s Prayer. In some churches it is repeated every Sunday. Each phrase is very meaningful when we examine them individually. This prayer teaches us first to honour our Father who is in heaven. His name represents the essence of His being – that which is holy. What a challenge in our world today, to think about holiness!
Our focus for today is on the end of this prayer when Jesus taught His disciples to pray “deliver us from evil”. This is a crucial request, for many reasons. It involves our perception of what is acceptable in God’s eyes. What exactly is evil? Adam and Eve did not know what evil was until they yielded to temptation. Now that we inherited their vulnerability to temptation we need the power of Almighty God to deliver us from both temptation and evil….”lead us not into temptation”.
It is worthy of note that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for 40 days of temptation but He did not succumb. What was it that gave Jesus the strength to endure without falling into sin? Was it the knowledge that He had come to do the Father’s will? (John 6:38).
What is the source of evil? We think temptation comes from the devil, and so it often does, but Jesus describes our hearts as the source of “evil thoughts…” He includes murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander (Matthew 15:19).
These things that make a person unclean in God’s holy eyes, require a cleansing that we ourselves are incapable of and so God sent Jesus the Christ to save us from ourselves, and our own inherent tendency towards evil.
If we saw ourselves as God sees us we might be appalled! The writer to the Hebrews tells us we need supernatural help…”The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any sword it penetrates….it judges the thoughts and intent (KJV), attitudes (NIV) of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Perhaps this is another reason Jesus was tempted – so that He could identify with us in our weakness, yet without sin (:15). He does not want us to fail, so with the temptation He has made a way to escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).
How often do we deplore the evils of our society, and stand in judgment on the actions of others. Would we have done any better, given their circumstances? Wouldn’t we have eaten the apple in the Garden of Eden? Paul warned the Corinthian church “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Even in the process of restoring a fallen brother or sister Paul warns us to be careful, lest we ourselves are tempted in the same way (Galatians 6:1).
How often when we think of evil do we think outside of ourselves? Would we be ready to ask God to search our own hearts?
Read Matthew 7:3-5.
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on January 20, 2019 at 4:40 PM||comments (0)|
We have just celebrated the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Before He was born God prepared the way. Consider the connection between Hanukkah and Christmas.
Isaiah wrote, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name”…. what? “Immanuel” means God with us! Now in Jewish tradition God could not become flesh because this was tantamount to idolatry…any image of God is idolatry, contrary to the first and second commandments (Exodus 20).
Antiochus 3rd began a program of Hellenization that threatened to force the Jews into Greek paganism, abandoning their monotheistic religion. Antiochus 4th outlawed central tenets of Judaism such as Sabbath and circumcision, defiling their holy temple by erecting an altar to the god Zeus, allowing the sacrifice of pigs as well as opening the temple to non-Jews!
By turning Jews into idol-worshiping Greeks who tossed out their holy scriptures in favour of man-made thought, Satan would have made it impossible for the Messiah to come in fulfilment of God’s promise to His own chosen people. In fact, without the Jewish scriptures, no one would be watching for the coming of the Jewish Messiah; they would not have known to look for this virgin birth. Enter the Maccabees into history: This family of Jewish warriors saved their people from the Greek leader Antiochus. Hanukkah celebrates their glorious victory! This Feast of Dedication, mentioned by John (10:22), was celebrated by Jesus Himself, in the temple.
The Maccabees were used by God to bring back temple worship in the midst of pagan idolatry. Into this religious milieu, Jesus was born. To Him being Jewish was vital! His lineage was the fulfillment of prophecy (Genesis 12:3, 2 Samuel 7:16 - to name a couple). About 200 years after the Maccabean revolt, Jewish people gathered around Jesus in the temple court, asking if He was indeed the Messiah. His answer? “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
Only God could orchestrate such a sequence of events, ensuring the fulfillment of prophecies He made hundreds of years before. As we go into a new year, let us celebrate with confidence, that this same God is bringing about events in our world today which will bless His people with the ultimate fulfillment of prophecy, when Jesus comes again!
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on January 13, 2019 at 10:10 AM||comments (0)|
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” Hebrews 11:1 (Kings James Version)
Terms such as hopes and dreams are somewhat ethereal, aren’t they? Celestial, heavenly, spiritual, unworldly, lacking material substance, intangible. These are other words used to define what is ethereal. Certainly that which is “faith” comes into the category of the supernatural, that which is hard to put one’s finger on.
Yet in the Bible we have Paul, clearly under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, describing our hope as something with substance. This is also described as faith….a word which depends on the reality of things unseen. The unseen hand of God, for thousands of years was the guide to multitudes of people. Then He became flesh in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, confirming all that Jews for centuries had believed about God. Faith had substance after all!
The Amplified Bible puts it this way: “Now Faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as a real fact what is not revealed to the senses]”.
What is it that determines where we place our dearest hopes? It is being sure of what we hope for, isn’t it? The convictions of our faith determine what we think and how we act. The assurance of our belief in God directs our feelings into positive channels, making relationships here on earth sweeter and stronger because our relationship with our heavenly Father is the model of all we treasure in our hearts.
We are in a covenant relationship with a God whom we cannot see, but whom we trust because we hold His Holy Word in our hands. The Holy Spirit, living in our hearts, interprets that Word for us, opening our eyes to heavenly realities that actually make a difference to life here on earth. Consider turning the other cheek. That is one reality of faith. Consider doing unto others what you would like them to do to you. Consider forgiving others because God will, in the same way, forgive you. Consider dying to self in order to do the will of God.
This gives substance to hope, does it not? Others will see our hope put into action and will know our God is the LORD. Paul records a host of folks who “by faith” witness to the reality of God to our world centuries after they died. Read Hebrews 11.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on December 23, 2018 at 10:40 AM||comments (0)|
Most of us are familiar with the term “Messiah”. At Christmas we are reminded of the Messianic prophecies fulfilled by the babe in Bethlehem. Micah has been given specific insights since he is the prophet who spells out blessings on Bethlehem, birth place of King David, of the line of Boaz and Ruth. Bethlehem means “House of Bread” and Ephrathah, the ancient name for Bethlehem means fruitful. Out of the “House of Bread” has come the “Bread of Life” (John 6:35).
Our verse today begins “He”. At Christmas we sing “Who is He in yonder stall, at whose feet the shepherds fall?” Micah tells us that “He” will be ruler over Israel (5:2). He describes this person as one whose origins are from of old, referring to Christ’s pre-incarnate appearances throughout the Old Testament. Habakkuk tells it this way “O Lord, are you not from everlasting?” (1:12). Jesus declared: "I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58). Therefore He is Eternal, and Deity.
“He will stand” (Micah 5:4). In the face of a historic crucifixion, does this describe Christ Jesus? Yes! He arose. Many people were witness to this fact….too many to be fabled. History itself attests to this reality. It has taken more than 2,000 years for man to become clever enough to try to change the dating system founded on Jesus’ death and resurrection. Is it any wonder that our world is no longer at peace when it questions God’s word and even denies the veracity of historic fact? However, Zechariah also indicates the significance of a future date, when the Lord will stand on the Mt of Olives causing it to split – a dreadful, dark day of battle, after which there will be a reign of peace (Zechariah 14).
Messiah endured more suffering than any one man has born, before or since. It wasn’t all about physical suffering, but His great heart was broken by the sins of mankind, then and now. Those sins caused him not only emotional anguish, but separation from His heavenly father. For those of us who grieve over separation from loved ones, we have a brief glimpse into what this meant for Jesus Christ. He did this so that He could bring the covenant of peace to God’s people, about which Malachi wrote (2:5).
Micah says Messiah will stand in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the Lord. Here is power to rule, in peace. No one has achieved that since the Garden of Eden. Many world leaders have begun ruling, intent on achieving a better world, but only when the feet of the Prince of Peace return to Jerusalem will the world experience that glorious peace of God that does pass all present understanding….. “And He will be their peace” (Micah 5:5).
What hope does a man or woman have of achieving peace?
Although impossible to achieve, should believers strive for peace? Why? How?
Who is the foundation of our personal sense of peace? How does this help you when enduring life’s storms?