Devotionals by Marilyn Daniels. Check back every week for a new posting...
|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?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on December 16, 2018 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
Whether putting it up or taking it down, what does the Christmas tree symbolize? As I sit there contemplating the job ahead of me, my mind reviews what this tree means to me. The shape of it points me to heaven. I love green because it is the colour of life! You guessed it! My Christmas tree is green! Although red is my favourite Christmas colour, the red beads and ornaments remind me of the deeper reason for the birth of my Lord, Jesus, over 2000 years ago. The lyricist captured it:
“Born to die that man might live”!
Hung with angels and stars, manger scenes and bells as well as balls labelled rejoice/hope/peace/love, I thrill with these poignant reminders of the reality of Christmas. Then there are other treasures too! An angel crafted from corn, from Kenya, reminds me of the many blessings I enjoy that many in poverty around the world do not have. Yet Christmas comes to us all because the babe is a gift to all nations (Luke 2:32). And Jesus’ birth was announced by Angels!
Sheep are part of the Christmas story for shepherds were the first to know about the baby Jesus, and to worship Him. I have a little sheep souvenir from New Zealand that reminds me of God’s unbelievable love! The babe in the manger became my sacrificial lamb!
A little sand dollar from New Jersey bears no reference to the Christmas story and yet reminds me that we have been given the priceless gift of salvation, a gift that money cannot buy because Jesus gave up His glory to come to earth (Philippians 2).
I always put candy canes on the tree. There are several stories about how the candy cane came to be, but my favourite one is tells me that it is a J shape, for Jesus. The white is a symbol of His purity, His sinlessness, whereas the red symbolizes his blood.
Friends and family have contributed to my tree over a life-time, confirming their love - from Indonesia a set of bamboo ornaments, pictures of my grans that give rise to praise for the family God has given to me, tiny plaques, handmade ornaments out of communion glasses, each a treasure for individual reasons!
There is no Christmas tree mentioned in scripture but the tree we do associate with the birth of Jesus is one prophesied in the Old Testament. Jesus referred to this event: “As Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life” (John 3:14). He knew from the beginning what His earthly end would be, but He steadfastly faced death on the cross for you and me.
Last but not least are the lights. Jesus is the light of the world! (John 8:12). What a beautiful reminder of God’s intention that we should live lives illuminated by His presence so that they would shine into the darkness of our hurting world.
Praise God for the meaning shown by my Christmas tree! Perhaps you will take time to pause over the meaning of all the traditions and symbols we hold so dear at Christmas time.
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on December 9, 2018 at 5:45 PM||comments (0)|
“He was born of a virgin one holy night
In the little town of Bethlehem.
Angels gathered round him underneath the stars
Singing praises to the great I Am.”
Invisible God is sometimes hard to understand, but Jesus came to reveal the Father to all nations, fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham “…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3)
When we go to church it is with the intention of worshiping God, isn’t it? We pray in Jesus’ name. Why? ….because He is the great “I AM” of David Phelps’ song. What joy it is when the light goes on and we recognize Jesus, the Holy One by whom all things were created, including you and me (John 1:1-3). John goes on to explain: “In Him was life and that life was the light of men” (:4)…”but men loved darkness rather than light “ Why?”....because their deeds were evil” (3:19).
Put these verses in the present tense….Jesus is still in the business of creating life and light. When He becomes “visible” we live in the light as He is in the light…”the true light that gives light to every man…who receives Him (Jesus), those who believe on His name” (John 1:9 & 12).
As much as we strive to do God’s will, to be Holy, principled people of God, we cannot succeed without Him, yet Jesus declared “With God, all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). Lyrics are penned, and paintings attempt to capture the “Light” which Jesus brought into a world of darkness, sin , violence and rebellion.
“If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another”. Stop there. Why do we find dissension within the church? “The blood of Jesus…. purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Perhaps the problem is we think others are greater sinners than we are and we draw our skirts around us in holy horror. Perhaps there is personal pain we have never dealt with, hiding our history in the darkness of denial. Jesus gets out of focus. If my intention is to worship the babe born in a manger, my grief and pain disappears in the glory of His majesty. In the presence of His Majesty there shines so great a light that the things of earth grow very dim.
What a miracle of God’s grace can be seen in church every Sunday when a bunch of imperfect human beings gather to give God the glory. How is this possible? The Light shines in the darkness and worship becomes all about that Light, for its all about Jesus. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”
Meditate on Colossians 1:15-20.
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on December 2, 2018 at 6:50 PM||comments (0)|
Isaiah 42, 49, 56
Isaiah is the longest, and probably most detailed of the Old Testament prophecies. Written during a time of great political upheaval, Isaiah warned of the inevitability of a Babylonian captivity. Did his hearers take him seriously? He prophesied through the reigns of several kings – Ahaz, Hezekiah and Manasseh.
Born into an influential family, Isaiah rubbed shoulders with royalty and even gave them advice re foreign affairs. However, it should be noted that the content of his message was consistent with God’s concern for the spiritual well-being of His people, the nation Israel. Subsequently, the redemptive work of the Messiah is the theme running through Isaiah’s writings.
Favoured as Israel was, the consequences of their disobedience eventually exhausted God’s patience, and took them into captivity. However, restoration was also prophesied and though these events didn’t take place until long after Isaiah died, God brought His people back to their land, as He had promised.
Isaiah also pronounced some fierce catastrophes would befall the nations responsible for Israel’s downfall and persecution. Where then is there hope for the Gentiles?...and why? God expressed His disgust and fierce anger at the folly of the nations, those who persecuted His people. However, it is quite apparent that His great heart of love bursts with longing for all mankind to come to Him. He planned for Messiah to bless the nations. “I will also make You a light to the Gentiles, that You may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth!” (Isaiah 49:6).
Between these pronounced judgments are glimpses of hope. Chapter 56 is full of hope for the Gentiles, including Millennial blessings. To those who hold fast to God’s covenant (Isaiah 56:4-7) “I will give them an everlasting name, that will not be cut off.” Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted and God’s house will be called a house of prayer for all nations, where Gentiles will celebrate with joy. Imagine!
In his great prophecy re the Messiah, Isaiah talked repeatedly about Jesus being a light to the Gentiles “I will keep You and make You to be a covenant for the people and a light to the Gentiles….to open eyes that are blind and to release from the dungeon, those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:6-7). All of this came about with the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that a child would be born, the Prince of Peace upon whom would rest the government of God’s Kingdom (Isaiah 9:6).
What glorious hope! As a Gentile I am assured of an everlasting name, of a place in God’s house of prayer where my sacrifices of praise will be acceptable to Him and where my prayers will rise as a sweet smelling fragrance, to God. What a privilege is this? Praise God there is hope for all nations, in Jesus Christ our Lord! What a mighty God we serve! His love never fails (Psalm 89:28).
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on November 25, 2018 at 10:45 AM||comments (0)|
Luke 11:1, 37-53
Very few of us like people who are confrontational. They make us nervous. However, as Solomon observed, there is a time for everything…..a time to speak and a time to be quiet.
We know that Jesus, for the most part was silent during His trial. Had He already said His piece? Was anyone listening? It seemed in the fickleness of human nature many listened as long as it suited their purpose. How many were really converted to His way of thinking? How many had the courage of their convictions, having listened to what He taught?
Take for example a discussion that took place at the dinner table. Jesus was the invited guest of a Pharisee. How refreshing and kind after a long day of preaching and teaching and driving out demons! In itself, this invite was remarkable since Pharisees did not usually extend table fellowship to those whom they condemned for questionable conduct. Jesus had been accused of making friends with sinners – by association contaminating Himself. He was accused of breaking the law by healing on the Sabbath. He was accused of blasphemy, claiming to be equal with God. This was the confrontation He faced almost daily from the Pharisees and religious leaders.
Luke records Jesus was reclining at the table (11:37). This is a picture of relaxed posture. Knowing all things as He did, He certainly was aware that this was a God-given opportunity. For what? Did He anticipate a grueling grilling on His theology, or on His practise of faith? How could He be so relaxed? Think of it – how relaxed do you feel on the verge of possible confrontation?
He didn’t have to wait long. Immediately His host noticed He didn’t wash before eating. Why we do not know, unless He orchestrated this to make a point. His point was very clear. Taking in all those who were present, Jesus declared “You Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people!....Woe… Woe… Woe”
(:42-52 – repeated 6 woes).
The Pharisees made a great show of cleanliness; tradition demanded it. They would not even eat with folks they felt were unclean physically or spiritually….demonstrating a high degree of superiority and judgment. It was easy to insult His host by not washing, but imagine how Jesus turned the situation around! Such courage, meeting them on their own turf and then risking their displeasure. Would you be willing to risk ridicule or even worse – we read the Pharisees and leaders of the law opposed Him fiercely and besieged Him with questions (:53).
Imagine yourself in the same situation as guest of an uncertain friend. Would you have courage to confront error in their thinking?
How was Jesus fortified for this encounter?
After such a busy day would we be inclined to excuse ourselves on the basis of fatigue?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on November 18, 2018 at 10:50 AM||comments (0)|
Freedom has been sought throughout the course of human history. It started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Even rebelled against God’s loving authority in order to make decisions on their own. Sometimes the desire for freedom is born of the fear we might miss out on something – like knowing about good and evil.
God’s Word tell us believers were called to be free. What does that mean? Does it contradict itself? In writing to Titus Paul tells him to remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities (3:1). Does that sound like freedom? Then Paul draws a comparison between believers and what they were before they had a personal relationship with the Father God – foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures (3:3). Imagine being enslaved by pleasure!
That life-style can’t be as good as it sounds because apparently it brings with it malice and envy, being hated as well as hating one another. But God! The nature of God, kindly and loving, caused Him to intervene. Through Jesus Christ our Lord God saved us and freed us through the power of the Holy Spirit to devote ourselves to doing what is good (3:5-8). Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13), freeing us from eternal punishment and spreading the love of God to every nation, even to the Gentiles (:14).
Now there seems to be a little mystery here, because Paul wrote to the Corinthians church that even those who are slaves, but redeemed are called the Lord’s “freedman”. And conversely, those who are free, but become followers of Jesus are actually Christ’s slaves (1 Corinthians 7:22). It would seem that the attitude of our mind determines whether we are free or not. To be free in one’s spirit is far different from being free in the body.
As sometimes happens there are those who would pervert that truth however. The Apostle Paul might have been writing to people in our world today. He found it necessary to warn the Galatians not to use their freedom to indulge the sinful nature (5:13). The reality of freedom is not to do what I like, but to give me opportunity to serve others. Burdened with sin and self, I cannot see beyond my rights and privileges to help those in need. If this becomes a dilemma we might reflect on the fact that “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17), and we as follows of Jesus are being transformed into His likeness!
How do you know you are free? (John 8:32)
Romans 6:7 refers to someone who has died being freed from sin. What kind of death is Paul talking about? Check verse 11.
Have you ever used your freedom as a cover-up for evil? (1 Peter 2:16)
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on November 11, 2018 at 3:10 PM||comments (0)|
Holiness is the essence of God’s character. Purity in Divinity. What a matchless combination! No wonder the angelic creatures sang around the throne of God: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty” (Revelation 4:8). But how does one explain such an ethereal concept as holiness? Since the Lord requires His people to be holy, as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16) it must be definable. What is it that God expects to see in each of us who call ourselves Christian?
Habakkuk gives us a clue. While worshiping God “My God, my Holy One” he goes on to tell the Lord he recognizes “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; You cannot tolerate wrong” (Habakkuk 1:12-13). Without understanding, he then goes on to complain that God has been too tolerant while the wicked swallow up the righteous. Like us today, he didn’t understand that all our righteousness is like filthy rags compared to the Holiness of God. And so we find ourselves on the horns of a holiness dilemma!
In our heart of hearts we want to please God, but we send Him mixed messages by the things we look on that in reality are evil, or are rooted in evil. What then is evil? The contrast with God’s holiness is stark. The dictionary defines evil as:
“Profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, especially when regarded as a supernatural force. The world is stalked by evil” Synonyms: wickedness, badness, wrong-doing, sin, immorality, vice, iniquity, degeneracy, corruption, depravity, villainy, malevolence.
None of us would want our reputation to fall into any of these categories and yet we know our thoughts are not always “holy” when our emotions are aroused by people or circumstance. Jesus told us to pray “deliver us from evil”. The crux of the problem is one of dependency. Do we trust in God to deliver us? Or do we try to do it ourselves? Our walk with God is tested in the crucible of temptation, just as Jesus was taken by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. His humanity experienced the same things we go through, so we can never say God doesn’t understand. Yet, Jesus faced Satan without sin.
Jesus’ first and greatest line of defence was His reliance on God’s Word. “It is written…” Back to the first question : What is it that God expects of us who call ourselves Christian? He has given us His Word and He expects it will lead us into holy living.
God has given us His Holy Word and He expects it will lead us into Holy living. Thanks be to God for the power to become what He intends us to be! He revives the spirit of the lowly, the heart of the contrite and lifts us up to walk on mountains!
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on November 4, 2018 at 3:30 PM||comments (0)|
Probably the favourite book of the Bible is the Book of Psalms. It was the hymnal of the Jewish people, containing laments and petitions as well as praises and other songs. The majority were written in the 10 century BC by David, King of Israel, but even Solomon his son authored a couple. Most of his poetic writings are recorded as the Songs of Solomon and his works of wisdom as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Moses and others contributed to the book of Psalms.
The theme of many Psalms is the enthronement of Yahweh – the self-existent One, Redeemer, LORD. Psalm 16:11 gives us an example of the great joy to be found in God’s presence! Some contain prophetic references to the Messiah, others record the journey of God’s people - their penitence and history. Many relate to God through natural phenomenon.
Communication between God and man, is a two-way street - God speaking to man, in didactic psalms, edicts for living, promises, or man speaking to God, reviewing His goodness, His feelings towards an individual or a nation. Some psalms, referred to as imprecatory psalms, call down God’s judgment on an enemy’s head. The purpose of this particular format is to demonstrate faith in God’s justice and authority over the wicked, in hopes that those who have fallen away from God will be restored.
Today people who are grieving often seek comfort in the psalms because so many express the feelings natural to mankind when in trouble. In one Psalm alone we read: “Turn to me and be gracious to me for I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalm 25:16), “Guard my life and rescue me” (:20), “Forgive my iniquity though it is great” (: 11), “Show me your ways O Lord, teach my your paths”(:4), “Remember, O Lord, your great love and mercy for they are from of old” (:6), “Good and upright is the Lord” (:8).
From this Psalm David praises God for His character, expressing trust in His forgiveness and mercy. “My eyes are ever on the Lord for only He will release my feet from the snare” (:15). How often does it take a traumatic experience before we think to communicate with God? Even those who deny His existence will turn to Him in the extremity of need. Thankfully He is always ready to listen to our cries, when we come to Him in sincerity of heart.
However, there is another key to unlocking the mysteries of communicating with God. We must first listen to His voice. His word tells us how to approach Him – through the righteousness of Christ, we have been given access into the throne room of God (Romans 3:22). Without it we cannot enter. Do we believe the word God has given to us reminding us “all have sinned”? (Romans 3:23). If we do not hear/listen/believe what He has already told us there isn’t much hope for hearing His answer to our most recent prayers, is there?
“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:7).
How do you usually communicate with God, why and where?
When do you sense God is communicating with you?
What is crucial to your response?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on October 28, 2018 at 3:55 PM||comments (0)|
Recently this question came under discussion at a Bible Study Group I attend. In context we had been looking at the storm which Mark records in chapter 4. Jesus was asleep on a pillow while His disciples battled the storm in great fear, threatened by humungous waves. It is very easy to get carried away with our own wisdom instead of listening to that of others, and I found myself rambling on about the sea. The point I wanted to make was twofold:
1. What God made is good (Genesis 1:10). There is nowhere in scripture that indicates man has corrupted the sea. It remains morally neutral as an object of good or evil. Often, as human beings, we attribute good or evil to objects or circumstances because of the danger such things pose to our safety, or because they impede our success, when in reality, as with the sea, it is a force under God’s control.
2. Circumstances which threaten us may be seen as evil, but considering Jesus’ reaction to the buffeting sea, we learn that the sea itself was not. Rather, the disciples’ perception of the sea, under the influence of the wind, caused them great fear. The wind which caused the storm is a subject for another day. Jesus commanded “Peace be still” and the sea instantly calmed.
To appease my curiosity I checked out the particular sea under discussion. The Sea of Galilee is a fresh-water sea, exceptionally good for fishing, but frequently stormy. Note that fresh water is life-giving. The disciples were very familiar with the violence of storms caused by the geography of the land, since as fishermen, this was their place of business.
Perhaps it is stretching the question asked, but what is it about our place of business that causes us to fear? May it be that we fear the sea of relationships we are sailing on? Sometimes relationships look perfect; we agree on everything and feel a kindred spirit is the foundation of that particular relationship, then dissension whips the waters of our sea and we become confused, touchy and angry. Feelings erupt that we actually fear.
Or, on the sea of ministry, do we fear we won’t have the funds to cover what we think God wants us to do? Money is morally neutral. It is not bad to have it, nor is it bad to be poor. Paul said “In whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content”(Philippians 4:11). We could draw many other examples from life, I am sure.
God often uses adverse circumstances to teach us great lessons we might not otherwise learn, doesn’t He? How many times do we perceive the storms in our lives as something evil, to be feared, and would pray to escape? Yet the most wonderful truth is that God is with us through those storms, during which we learn more about what His character, His power, His dependability, what His presence means, and how we may trust Him in the midst of the storms He may have even created for our good.
What is your focus today? Are you looking at life’s stormy seas, or are you looking at the one man Who is at peace in your boat? The more significant question is asked in Mark’s gospel (4:41) “Who is this?”
The sea was a vehicle in this story, a medium through which God’s truth comes to us, more than 2,000 years later. We do not need to fear circumstances when God is in control. The sea represents an opportunity for God to stretch our faith. Whatever seas we are sailing on in our own experience may they serve the same purpose. Thankfully, God is with us!
First identify your “sea”. Is it rocking your boat?
Do you have Jesus in your boat? How does that affect your view of the waves?
What do you think God’s purpose is for you as you sail on this sea?