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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Favorite Scriptures

Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 15, 2020 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

1 John 4:7-19

 

If you were asked to give your favourite scripture verse or verses, what might they be? Would they be focused on the comfort of your faith, or the greatness of your God? There is no right or wrong answer to that question. However, the answer does demonstrate where you are on your faith journey, doesn’t it? Faith begins with our vision of God. The Psalmist wrote “The Lord is my light and my salvation! Of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1 KJV) “The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (NIV)

 

Some of my all-time favourite verses are 1 John 1:7-9. As long as I live in this mortal body I will need to come before God in a spirit of repentance, knowing that He, in His amazing love will cleanse me from all unrighteousness. “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us….” What great reassurance this is of His faithfulness and His fairness!

 

Along the way so many verses have spoken at my point of need. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). In fact that whole chapter has spoken to me since I was a young teen. Listen to this: “The mind of sinful man/woman is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (:6). “The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (:26). “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him…” (:28).

 

Who is this God? “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God” (1 John 3:1). He has given us His Holy Word, so that we can know Him. “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:11, 105). Jesus, God’s only begotten Son is “…the light of the world” (John 8:12). “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17). Do we understand the sacrificial nature of God’s great love?

 

Job describes Him: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth, and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I will see Him with my own eyes….How my heart yearns within me!” (19:25-27).

 

Then of course we all have favourite promises…”Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles [what a word picture!}; they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

 

Now in my senior years I agree with King David - “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4).

 

Reflection:

It is encouraging to look back to verses that impacted our lives in younger years. As a teen I read the book “In His Steps” based on 1 Peter 2:21. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you and example, that you should follow in His steps”. Jesus Himself encourages us to fulfill the will of God, as He did in His life. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6).

Convicted!

Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 8, 2020 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

John 3:16-17

I’m having a sleepless night! I have just discovered I’m not always fair in my assessment of folks, especially those I don’t like. Does that mean I’m judgmental? Yes! Prejudiced? Yes! But worst of all I am denying the power of God to correct a wrong, to perform a miracle. By looking at people, I’ve taken my eyes off of Almighty God.

We just celebrated the end of the Holocaust 75 years ago. Millions perished in a tragedy of epic proportions! We pray that this will never happen again. But - another people group is perishing right now – today! ….by the millions. Are we shocked? As believers we should be. What are we doing about it? Criticizing the agent God has chosen to use?

The Bible tells me God used a pagan king, Cyrus, to relieve the suffering of His chosen people, to return them to the land He had given to them. Our God is able – we like to sing that song when it means our own health and happiness, but what about the lives of others who are helpless to defend themselves. What about the unborn children who die by thousands, daily, in a civilized world?

I’m shocked that I actually believed for them it is too late. Legislation has gone too far to turn back. Somehow it no longer matters. Is that true? Of course not. Was I actually in denial of their human rights? Thankfully God’s arm is not too short to save, even those. God so loved the world…their world. Imagine!

No wonder Jesus warned His disciples not to judge. Our judgment is limited by what we know, or think we know. Do we know the mind of God? Not always, I must confess. He sees the bigger picture. He uses whom He will to accomplish His purposes. Dear God forgive me for failing to worship You for all You are doing in our world today. Today You are showing that You truly care about every person, born or unborn.

Thank You Father that You care enough to show me when my attitude would hinder the work You are doing. Instead of being critical I need to remember the power of prayer, the privilege of praying for everyone, especially those You have placed in positions of authority. May they make decisions that are pleasing in Your sight. May they be used to protect the vulnerable, the abused, the helpless. May they do it for Jesus’ sake.

Reflection:

When I think of how he came so far from glory,

Came and dwelled among the lonely such as I,

To suffer shame and such disgrace on Mount Calvary took my place,

Then I ask myself this question: Who am I?

 

Chorus:

Who am I that a 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,

And to an old rugged cross he'd go for who am I.

 

The Bible tells us: “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him”. (John 3:17)

The Gospel of John

Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 1, 2020 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

As I prepared to study the Gospel of John I realized my approach has always been to use it as a tool for evangelism. So many verses from John’s gospel have been committed to memory, perhaps the best known being “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). What is the thrust of that verse? God’s character, His love. The world is secondary, though it is very important to know His love encompasses everyone – the whole world! Suddenly I am reading this well-known gospel with fresh eyes. Jesus, who is God incarnate [in the flesh] reveals to us the heart and mind of God, as John records His life and ministry, His prayers and His passion.

 

What does this mean for us 2,000 years later? God’s love forms the foundation for all that I am as a Christian. His love is supernatural, sacrificial, and strong. God’s love really defies description, so we needed the only begotten Son to demonstrate the purity, and purposefulness of Divine love. More than any other of the gospels this one reveals the deity of Christ; John’s starting point takes us back to before Creation! There was the WORD who is God, the Creator of all things, the giver of life, both physical and spiritual. Awesome!

 

Ryrie reminds us that Jesus’ deity is asserted “in the series of “I AM…” claims which Jesus made (6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5).[P. 1615 Ryrie Study Bible]. John’s purpose in writing as he did was “…these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). In his epistle John again refers to the importance of knowing that we have eternal life, because we trust God’s revelation through His Son (1 John 5:13).

 

“New birth” is one of John’s themes. John 3:6 is not as well known as verse 16, but clearly is key in Jesus’ teaching. John quotes Jesus “…no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (3:5-6). Prefaced by “I tell you the truth” Jesus thunders down through the ages this truth which still stands today “You must be born again” (3:7).

 

Babies who are born and neglected, sometimes die. John’s gospel perpetuates themes that nurture the growth of spiritual infants. For example we are completely dependant on the Holy Spirit. This member of the Trinity is often ignored. How is that possible when He is the source of all comfort, the One who guides us in our decision-making, and teaches us the meaning of all that scripture records?

 

Jesus’ dependency upon God His Father is an example to us. “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (5:19). Should you and I call ourselves children of God if we do not follow His example? At the end of the day will our Heavenly Father say “This is My son/daughter in whom I am well pleased”? (Matthew 17:5). John identifies sufficient of Jesus’ works for us to grasp the idea of what God reasonably expects. However, Paul expands that concept “ I urge you…..to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your reasonable service” (Romans 1:1-2).

 

John did not call Jesus the “Word” carelessly. Jesus said “Just as the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me….the words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:57, 63). Nurturing babes in Christ was important to Jesus. Three times He told Peter to “Feed My sheep” (John 21:15,16,17).

 

Reflection:

Are we listening to the truth of scripture, of Jesus’ words?

Does it matter that our lives are pleasing to our Father in heaven?

What motivates us to feast on the Bread of Life? (John 6:35)

What happens to babies who are not fed?

Growing a Church

Posted by kelvinbueckert on February 23, 2020 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Colossians 1:24-29

The new “church” in Jerusalem was founded on Holy Scripture because of the fulfillment of prophecy in the Messiah, Jesus the Christ (Isaiah 7:14, Chapter 53). Jesus’ intimate 12 saw their primary function as ministering the gospel to the Jews; they risked their lives to remain in Jerusalem where they faced daily hostility. However, after Jesus’ ascension, persecution of the Jerusalem church forced a multitude of Jesus’ followers to leave the city, just after the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1).

Led by God, those who left the city carried this message to other parts of the world. In so doing they fulfilled the second part of the Abrahamic Covenant. It is difficult to know if the 12 disciples at that time defined that covenant as twofold, but clearly, reading Genesis 12:2 there are two parts to God’s promise. “I will make you as great nation” [Israel] and “all peoples on earth will be blessed by you” (Gentiles, through Abraham). We must not forget that Christ was that promised seed.

Our faith is grounded in both Old and New Testaments. Peter reminds us that we (the church) are shielded by God’s power (1 Peter 1:5). We must remember that “to whom much is given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48). Amazing how the Word of God is as relevant today as it was two thousand years and more ago! Man’s nature and needs have not changed much over that period of time. The tendency is evermore towards self-centered living, personal opinions, control, creature comforts, all which center on me, myself and I.

Releasing control of our lives to God is very difficult! So when Peter writes that God’s elect have been chosen and sanctified for obedience to Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:2), this message often meets with resistance and resentment. While we refuse to obey His principles and precepts, we are actually placing ourselves in the hand of the enemy Satan, or making ourselves vulnerable to his attacks. God’s warnings and laws are for our protection!

Peter describes God in His Holiness, as merciful and gracious, faithful to His promises, One who has provided for us now and through eternity, through redemption in Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Peter 1:18). Peter challenges us today to prepare our minds to follow Jesus as obedient children, in the way of holiness.

That might involve suffering. Paul told the Colossian church he rejoiced in suffering for the sake of the body of Christ, which is the church, because his goal was to build them up,, to present the Word of God to them in all its fulness. What glorious riches God had chosen to reveal to His children, both Jew and Gentile! As God’s instrument, Paul laboured “Struggling with all his energy which so powerfully works in me”! (Colossians 1:29).

Reflection:

Paul sought to live a Godly life, as an example to the Church. If the distinguishing characteristic of God’s Church is holiness, what does that look like today? When I was growing up we had a list of do’s and don’ts provided by the Church to keep us on the straight and narrow. However, today that list has largely been discarded by a “Church” that is feeling liberated , enlightened by societal norms of our day. Is this Church any more holy? Is the Church willing to suffer for righteousness sake? Is our love for God pure and selfless? Do we concern ourselves in the lives of others who need to know Jesus? Are we anxious to receive from God each day what He desires in us, of us and through us, in the way of holiness? Is Satan a regular attender in the Church of today?

“Since we have these promises, dear friends [church of the twenty-first century] let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God”.

(2 Corinthians 7:1)

The Perfect Man

Posted by kelvinbueckert on February 16, 2020 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Job 42:1-6

The Bible spells out the realities of man’s sin nature in every example. Thankfully it doesn’t drop a veil over human folly, but rather gives hope to you and me. Even in the case of Job, described as blameless and continually devout, we find him repenting in dust and ashes. Why? What was his sin? We know he suffered cruelly from loss and bereavement, from physical illness and mental cruelty. When his wife advised him to curse God and die, she attacked the thing most precious to him – his faith.

 

What then did he repent of, in Job 42:6? Was he humbled by the greatness of a God he could never fully comprehend, God who had blessed him so abundantly in the past, a God who was personal in spite of his own lack of knowledge and understanding? Job now saw God whereas before he had only heard of Him.

 

Perhaps Job realized how deeply he may have offended God by cursing the day of his birth. We can only guess at thoughts and feelings arising from his renewed understanding of the supreme God he worshiped.

Like David, Job’s adoration and intentionality toward God had never failed. In this regard he was blameless. However, he now saw the difference between himself as a created being, and the Creator of a design far beyond his understanding. God, seeing his heart, through suffering opened his mind to greater things than Job would have perhaps ever explored in the normal course of everyday living.

 

We know scripture tells us Jesus was without sin; the only human form that can claim that distinction. Was this because He knew the mind of God and fully understood His heart and will? Certainly no other human being ever has.

 

However, as we struggle here on earth, let us rejoice that we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to guide our hearts and minds. Having placed our feet upon the Way of Jesus Christ, and with Him as our supreme example, we have every cause to hope that we might be found blameless of intentionally rebelling against God Almighty, even if we do not achieve perfection in this life.

 

Reflection:

Describe in your own words what a perfect man would look like? Example?

How has God gifted us in order to achieve perfection?

Does God demand perfection?

God's Justice

Posted by kelvinbueckert on February 9, 2020 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Isaiah 5:9-17

“But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by His justice” (Isaiah 5:16)

 

Many people fear the wrath of God. They perceive Him as an angry judge. True – we are accountable to Him whether or not we acknowledge His supremacy, and for our response to Him, one day all people will be judged (Philippians 2:10, Hebrews 12:23). For that reason, if we are not right with God, one might well fear Him.

 

It is interesting then to explore the words of Isaiah. “God will be exalted by His justice” (Isaiah 5:16) This quality is one that brings us to reverential worship. Why? Because we know He will be fair in His judgment. Since God is all-knowing, He views a bigger picture than our finite vision allows. He knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts (Psalm 94:11), when sometimes even we do not understand ourselves. Paul spoke of that dilemma when he exclaimed “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15).

 

Perhaps this is why scripture instructs us not to judge others. Jesus warned: “Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged” ( Matthew 7:1). Our understanding is obstructed by the plank in our own eye through which we try to assess the sawdust in our brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3ff).

 

Notice that Isaiah’s prophecy begins with a “but”. Looking at the previous verses we see that in spite of all that Israel had done to displease God, and the punishment they had therefore brought down upon their own heads, “God would show Himself Holy by His righteousness” (Isaiah 5:16).

 

Contrasting verses 15 and 17 we see man brought low, humbled (:15) but then as God exercises His justice, the nation, redeemed because of His righteousness “will graze as in their own pasture” (:17). This is a picture resembling Psalm 23 which so many people find comforting in times of trouble. “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul” (:2-3). What a beautiful picture of peace and contentment in the place designed for restoration!

 

This is what exalts our God above every other God – the mercy and grace of His tender Spirit towards fallen man. You see – justice has been served. Jesus Christ died on the cross, taking the sins of mankind on Himself – paying that awful penalty, so that we might be freed from guilt and condemnation (Romans 8:1). “He sacrificed for their sins, once for all when He offered Himself” (Hebrews 7:27). This is the ultimate expression of love – God’s love which tempers His justice with mercy and grace.

 

Reflection:

How much does mankind know of real love today?

Are we fair in our perception of our great God or does our fear of His justice, often born of unresolved

guilt, colour our response to His great gift of love?

Do we fear God out of respect for the qualities in His character which links wisdom with love, exalting His

supremacy in all that is worthy of worship?

On That Day

Posted by kelvinbueckert on February 2, 2020 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Isaiah 25-6

 

In these chapters Isaiah is talking with God. In his prayer Isaiah exulted in His personal God, the One worthy of exaltation and praise. He had done marvelous things in perfect faithfulness, according to His perfect plan (25:1). God had been a refuge for the poor and needy, a shelter from the storm (25:4).

 

From the past, Isaiah looked into the future. “In that day” His people, Israel, will recognize their God as One who is trustworthy, the One who saved them, the One in whom they rejoice (25:9). On this mountain they will enjoy a great feast provided by God, celebrating the end of the Millennial reign of Christ. Death will be swallowed up forever, and the Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears (25:6-8).

 

Many of us are familiar with Isaiah’s words: “You will keep in perfect peace him [her] whose mind is steadfast, because he [she] trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3). Isaiah was still rejoicing in his God.

 

All around the Israelites, nations raged. Ruthless nations. Nations whose very breath is like a storm driving against a wall! (Isaiah 25:4). Not only was God a shelter from that storm, but He shaded them from the heat – just desert heat? No, heat also from the breath of the ruthless. That conjures up a real picture in our minds of the fear with which the Israelites lived, doesn’t it? (:4).

 

We can only imagine what desert heat is like. Slowly taking a caravan across the hot sands, moving through a sand storm with nowhere to hide – must have had its moments of terror and panic, deeper perhaps than any anxiety we have known. Sand in the eyes and ears, gritting in their teeth; smothered in its cloud, with unbelievable heat coming in waves. This picture depicts the troubles of life, swirling around us, overwhelming us!

 

But then God! “You silence the uproar…as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud”. Isaiah is celebrating God who, with inexplicable power and precision stills the song of the ruthless (25:5), removes the shroud that covers all nations (:7) and even swallows up death (:8). Amazingly all nations – even the ruthless ones will eventually reverence God for who He is! (25:3). Let us be clear….this does not mean everyone will spend eternity in heaven. Who then will? Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 20:15).

 

“In that day” at the end of the Millennial reign, when death is cast into the lake of fire forever (Revelation 20:14), peoples of the earth will celebrate the salvation of the Lord, with joy and gladness! It is in that day that the song of peace will be sung (26:1-3).

 

Isaiah has just painted a picture of God for us. He is gentle and caring, a comforter of tears (:8). He is all-powerful, tearing down and building up according to His will (25:10, 26:5, 26:1). He protects His vineyard, continually watering and guarding it (Isaiah 27:2-3). He is also a God of hope, of forgiveness. Those who were perishing in Assyria, who were exiled in Egypt, will come and worship the Lord on the Holy mountain” (27:13). “In that day” judgment will fall on the ungodly. But God Himself will be a ”glorious crown….a spirit of justice….a source of strength” for the remnant of His people (28:5-6). Praise be to God!

 

Reflection:

Describe the God you worship personally. What faithful deeds make Him worthy of your praise?

How might this prayer of Isaiah’s become an example for our prayer life?

What triumphs of the Kingdom age do you look forward to?

 

A Proverb for Today

Posted by kelvinbueckert on January 25, 2020 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (0)

“When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.”

(Proverbs 16:7)

 

What constitutes an enemy? The dictionary defines the word as anyone who is hostile, hateful or unfriendly, who intends to injure and oppose. Think of the feelings an enemy evokes.

 

Generally the Psalms are beloved. However, there are verses that might confuse us, when the Psalmist describes the enemy as those bloodthirsty people rising up against God, in a spirit of hatred. In return, are these people worthy of hate? (Psalm 139:19, 21-22). Some Old Testament references take us down quite a different path from what Jesus recommends.

 

Diametrically opposed to hating our enemy, Jesus teaches a new way – a better way. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Is this contradictory to the instruction of the Old Testament? No – it is now possible because Jesus was leaving the Holy Spirit to dwell within His disciples, to strengthen and encourage in “the way” of love. Jesus demonstrated how far He was willing to go (remember He said “I am the Way”?), by dying on the cross at the hands of His enemies, in order that we might be freed from sin and guilt. Are we really willing to follow our leader?

 

Jesus repeatedly exhorts His followers to do good towards those who hate us, to pray for those who curse us or mistreat us; even lend them [money] without expecting any return! (Luke 6:28, 35) WOW! How far from these teachings has the church moved today?

 

Solomon got it right when he said “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles do not let your heart rejoice.” Or – there would be consequences for you! (Proverbs 24:17). Yet how often do we, driven by feelings of revenge or fear, pray imprecatory prayers over our enemies?

 

Paul who suffered untold persecution left us with the solution, one that eradicates those reciprocal feelings of hostility when we have been wronged, or when we fear being wronged. Quoting from the book of Proverbs, Paul’s recipe was a reminder from the Holy Spirit Himself: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink” (Romans 12:20). In so doing it is just possible to bring him/her into repentance and peace! Praise God!

 

Reflection:

Do we feel smug when an enemy goes down, or do we grieve for the loss of a soul for whom Jesus died?

How have you treated those God has placed in your path who are disagreeable and even hostile?

How do you hope people will treat you when you have made wrong choices or been just plain difficult?

Eschatology

Posted by kelvinbueckert on January 19, 2020 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Revelation 20:2-15, 22:7 & 12

 

What a big word! Often thrown around in academic circles, what does it mean? Defined by theologians themselves, eschatology is the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul, and of humankind. It is a branch of theology designed to reassure the saints, but unfortunately an emphasis on end time events has often served to confuse them.

 

Discussion began when Jesus tenderly prepared His disciples for His death. He reassured them there was a purpose in His going away…. He would be preparing a place for them, so that He could return to take them to live with Him forever (John 14:2-3). Between then and now there has been a lot of debate about when and how this will come to pass. Schools of thought within Eschatology question whether Jesus will return before the tribulation or in the middle of it, or even afterwards. That information is veiled, but let us look at what we do know.

 

1. Jesus will return (Matthew 16:27, Acts 1:11, Revelation 22:7 & 12).

2. The dead in Christ will rise first and then those who are alive at His coming will be gathered up to meet them with Jesus, in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

3. At the end of the tribulation those who did not bow down to worship the beast will reign with Jesus for 1000 years, after Satan and his angels have been locked up and sealed in the Abyss (Revelation 20:2-3).

4. At the end of the Millennial reign of Christ on earth, the rest of the dead – those who did not believe, will be raised to face judgment (Revelation 20:5, 11-15).

 

Jesus repeatedly told his disciples they would not know the day nor the hour of His return (Matthew 24:36). His concern was that they/we be watching, that they/we be ready (Matthew 25:13), waiting for our heavenly bridegroom to come.

 

God must be understood by individuals, and by nations, as the God with a perfect strategy for the end times. Satan has another game plan. If he can deter mankind from spreading the gospel, from reclaiming lives for Jesus’ sake, he will have more followers when the end does come. There is nothing wrong with the study of end times; however when it comes to spending time and energy, one might ask if those would be better expended on winning the lost, before it is too late? Eschatology must demonstrate that the plan of God is relevant to the very end of human history.

 

Reflection:

Why do you suppose so many people are caught up in the theology of the ends times?

How does this win an argument for Satan’s purposes?

Held Hostage

Posted by kelvinbueckert on January 13, 2020 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Acts 23-25

 

My heart burst with excitement as I watched it happen on TV! God was at work! It was impossible to escape the passion of the speaker. Neither I, nor those held hostage in his presence, could change the situation in order to avoid the gospel.

 

In the book of Acts we read of a similar situation. A man impassioned by his relationship with Jesus Christ gave it all he had. Paul was brought as a prisoner before several heads of state in succession, to defend himself as a Roman citizen against charges of corruption which could amount to treason against Caesar. He was not afraid, or if he feared anything it was the spiritual state of these leaders, whom he knew would one day stand before God.

 

Bound in chains Paul testified before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. When a plot against his life was discovered, Paul was quickly spirited away to Caesarea to testify before Felix, the Roman procurator of Judea. Two years went by and Paul still waited. Now Festus was in charge, Paul was required to make his defense once again. Herod Agrippa 2, great-grandson of Herod the Great, and his wife Bernice travelled to Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus. They had heard about the drama of Paul’s conviction and asked to hear him, so Paul was brought in.

 

Was this a terrible trial to Paul? No! Grasping the opportunity, Paul talked about his faith. He told Felix: “I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way” (Acts 24:14). Felix was married to a Jewess and listened to Paul as he spoke about faith in Jesus Christ. Perhaps Felix remembered Jesus had said “I am The Way…”? (John 14:6). Finally Felix had heard enough; gripped by fear he told Paul to stop.

 

Paul had not been so polite to the High Priest in Jerusalem to whom he said “God will strike you, you white-washed wall! You sit there to judge me…yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck” (Acts 23:3).

 

Great pomp and ceremony took place as the King swept into a courtroom filled with high-ranking officers and politicians (Acts 25:23). At the outset, Paul told the crowd he considered himself fortunate to stand before these officials who were so well acquainted with Jewish customs (Acts 26:3). His message was filled with hope, but he did not fail to mention repentance in his preaching (26:20) and drew to their attention Christ was the fulfillment of prophecy (26:22-23). King Agrippa countered with the question “Do you think in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” (26:28).

 

Two thousand years later at a royal wedding where heads of state mingled with the intelligentsia of the day, a preacher joyfully presented Christ’s claim to love the whole world, for which He died! I was reminded of Paul. Though visibly in chains, his spirit was free. These people, centuries later, were held hostage by another man whose spirit had been set free by God! Bold? Yes! A man with a holy mission vindicated our Sovereign God, whose love reaches down to free all nations. King of Kings!

 

Reflection:

Excitement fills the air when we see God’s hand at work! Imagine yourself being used by God to deliver, with holy boldness, the message of His love. What can we possibly fear? Jesus warned “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Are you a prisoner of God’s love? What is it that holds you hostage today?


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