Marilyn Daniels

Click here to edit subtitle

Didi's Devotionals

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

view:  full / summary

The Sermon on the Mount

Posted by kelvinbueckert on November 22, 2020 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Introduction Matthew 5:1-8:1

 

How long would it take you to read Matthew 5:1-8:1? How long did it take Jesus to preach that sermon, I wonder? How many people, since Matthew recorded Jesus’ words, have preached sermons on the various principles that enrich the text?

 

The beatitudes are perhaps more familiar than the rest of these chapters, but there are verses which some folks like to quote. For example: “Turn the other cheek” (5:39). That is a fine message, when pointing out someone else’s sins, but do we take it to heart when it applies to our own problems?

 

Someone has divided chapter 5 into sections labelled “the Law of…..”, highlighting topics such as murder, reconciliation, adultery, divorce, oaths, and even the law of non-resistance! Chapter 5 ends on a high note, when Jesus gives us the Law of love. Most of us are familiar with His instruction to “love your enemy” …and to “pray for those who persecute you” (5:44) It’s important to note there was no such teaching in the Old Testament. This is indeed a new law, given at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry! Ryrie calls these “The Precepts for Kingdom Life (Ryrie Study Bible, Page 1466).

 

We are now living in the Kingdom Age. When Jesus died and rose again, His Kingdom was officially ushered in. Those who follow Him are to live as examples of His character, following in His steps (1 Peter 2:21). Therefore the principles our leader laid down are of tremendous significance! The question is: ‘Do we know these principles?’ If we examine them we may find they run in contrast with the mores of society today, certainly the culture of North Americans. Just one example, that of turning the other cheek, does not align with the “me movement” which teaches my rights are of primary importance. Our Lord and Master exemplified humility, when He gave up His rights to His glory, as part of the Trinity.

 

Then there is the question of truth and honour. When we make a promise, is it conditional? Do we take vows which hold an escape clause? Can our word be trusted by our family and friends? In days gone by a person only needed to say “My word is my bond” to be trusted, but today there are documents needing signatures for so many transactions, including prenuptial agreements, which raises questions about the intentions of those involved. Do Jesus’ words apply today? “Do not swear [take an oath] at all….but let your Yes be yes and your no be no!” (5:34a, 37). After all, Jesus said: “I am the Truth” (John 14:6).

 

Reflection:

When Jesus spoke, He knew His message would be written down for generations to come. Do we treat his words as viable in our world today, or are we content to let society rule our attitudes, our intentions and our reactions? We have only brushed the surface of His instructions in Chapter 5. Before going on to study Chapter 6 we need to ask ourselves some questions about how far we are willing to go to walk in the steps of the Master. Eliza E. Hewitt wrote:

 

1. Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,

Trying to follow our Savior and King;

Shaping our lives by His blessed example,

Happy, how happy, the songs that we bring.

Refrain:

How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,

Stepping in the light, stepping in the light,

How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,

Led in paths of light.

2. Pressing more closely to Him Who is leading,

When we are tempted to turn from the way;

Trusting the arm that is strong to defend us,

Happy, how happy, our praises each day.

3. Walking in footsteps of gentle forbearance,

Footsteps of faithfulness, mercy, and love,

Looking to Him for the grace freely promised,

Happy, how happy, our journey above.

4. Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,

Upward, still upward, we follow our Guide;

When we shall see Him, “the King in His beauty,”

Happy, how happy, our place at His side.

 

Perfect Leadership

Posted by kelvinbueckert on November 15, 2020 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Matthew 4:1-11

 

In today’s world leadership around the world is being challenged. One might ask “What are the expectations of the populace based upon?” What might our own expectations for good governance be, and why?

 

We hear the word truth used a lot. What is truth, and who is completely truthful? Social absolutes have been fractured as pride and prejudice have taken over. How can anyone be true to a wavering ideology? There seem to be a lot more questions than there are answers.

 

God knows all about this. Having sent the Prince of Peace to this world, we should know more about truth, since He declared Himself to be the Truth (John 14:6). Knowing Him, leads us into all truth, through the power of the Holy Spirit, whom He sends to indwell the minds and hearts of God’s children (John 16:13).

 

The truth is we have forgotten or perhaps denied the truth by which Jesus Himself lived. Matthew records the way He faced temptation in the wilderness. Note that Jesus was not led into the wilderness by the devil, but rather by the Holy Spirit. Isn’t that amazing? God was willing to put this unique God-man to the test, for your benefit and mine.

 

Three times Satan enticed Jesus to demonstrate signs of His power. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus did use bread as a sign of His power when the loaves and fishes were multiplied to feed 5000 people! (Mark 6:41). He didn’t need to turn stones into bread to prove Himself (Matthew 4:3-4). In the second test, Satan, who is not all-knowing, couldn’t have foreseen, as he was tempting God’s Son against the forces of gravity (4:5-6), that one day He would walk on water (Matthew 14:25ff).

 

The third test was about worship. Satan knew that Jesus was a man who had choices, just as we do today. Would He comply with the will of God when offered the kingdoms of this world? Tempting proposition! After all Jesus knew that temporarily Satan was the “Prince of this world” (John 12:31). His world is a system diametrically opposed to the things of God, and he wants to keep it that way. Think what Satan would have accomplished, had Jesus yielded!

 

However, we have been given an example of perfect leadership, given to us by this man, Jesus. Yes – He was also God, but coming to earth He divested Himself of all the glory that goes with being God, to walk this earth as a man (Philippians 2:6-8). He faced life with all the same potential God has given to you and to me – He had feelings, intelligence, volition (ability to make choices).

 

So what might we learn from His response to temptation? Quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus reminds us it is written….”man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. Three times Jesus relied on the truths of scripture to defend His choices. He refused to act independently of His Father’s perfect will. Today, this same Jesus, the only God-man, requires us as His disciples to follow His lead, to lean on the spoken and written word of God.

 

Reflection:

 

Perhaps you remember times of testing and temptation. What was the source that governed your response?

 

Do you understand, by faith, that Jesus is both God and man? This is why John writes to describe Him as “God’s only begotten Son” (John 3:16). We are also sons of God, but we are adopted into the family of God. We do not have His DNA. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are becoming more Christ-like, through the process of sanctification.

 

Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word” (Hebrews 1:3). As our example, Jesus led not only in word, but in deed (John 13:15). So “let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith”(Hebrews 12:2). What a perfect leader!

Bipartisanship

Posted by kelvinbueckert on November 8, 2020 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Matthew 5:3

 

Today we are hearing a lot about bipartisanship as the USA faces another election. It is a political term used to describe the relationship between two opposing political ideologies. However, it occurs to me that it represents much more than politics. It is about the deep underlying currents of belief which govern so many different relationships. For example, in a sense there needs to be a spirit of bipartisanship between denominations.

 

The question may arise, would that require compromise? Yes it might. How far can we go in accepting others who disagree with the details of our faith. One Pastor explained it to me like this “God only has one church, but there are different expressions of it”. Have you ever asked yourself what you have in common with those of another belief system, rather than what issues you differ on? Of course denominational differences are not the same as interfaith concerns, which are based on which god you worship. Within Christianity we presume everyone worships Christ.

 

When you meet a new friend, you usually build on things you have in common. Its really the same when it comes to sharing the gospel; the best evangelism draws on beliefs you share. When trust is built, there may be time to gently check out what the Bible says is true about things we disagree on. Oddly enough you may find your own perceptions are challenged. For example, is it’s God’s will for legalism to override love?

 

Legalism is the enemy of faith. It rests on the premise that our works define our eternal hope. Strict adherence to the law was the downfall of the Pharisees, whom Jesus condemned. God judges man on the condition of his/her heart. Do your feelings, and mine, please God? Are His expectations satisfied by the way in which we approach others with whom we differ?

 

The key to developing a powerful witness is respect. Respect for the environment in which your friend was nurtured, respect for the experiences God has allowed in their lives, respect for differences in opportunities. i.e. education, relationships, etc. We might even find there are positives to celebrate; after all each of us has been made in the image of God! Sometimes trouble, sorrow or pain creates a glaze over those very virtues, making them difficult to see. Let us be patient in our love.

 

We must be mindful that when our thoughts are disparaged or, in any other way we are discredited, our reaction is often to withdraw. We do not want to create that response when interacting with anyone who needs to know Jesus personally, do we? Our Lord Jesus is the perfect example of One who humbled Himself, taking on the form of man in order to deliver God’s message of salvation to a needy and rebellious people. That might be seen as compromising His glory, but He did it out of love. It was a bipartisan move.

 

Reflection:

Let us not be afraid to connect with people with all of the meekness shown by our Saviour who said: ”Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:3). May we be willing to “step across the aisle” [across the hall, across the street, across the ocean] to welcome folks into the family of God. “Beginning in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”, Jesus calls us to be His witnesses. (Acts 1:8)

Would My Love Be Enough?

Posted by kelvinbueckert on November 3, 2020 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

1 John 4

 

A woman knelt by her bed to declare her love for God. She was very thankful for all her many blessings and after a short prayer of praise was ready to rise to meet the day. However, the Lord had a question for her. If all this was taken away from you, would My love be enough?

 

For those of us blessed to have a love-relationship with God, that question bears some consideration. What expectations do we have? What comprises a love relationship? Is our love for God based on our feelings or on our blessings, or does it emanate from respect and trust, knowledge and truth?

 

The Apostle John had a unique relationship with the Lord Jesus. He was one of the inner circle, one of three disciples who were chosen to be with Jesus on a couple of significant occasions. The last one was when Jesus asked John and James and Peter to watch with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He claimed to be the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23).

 

Years later John wrote about love in a short letter written to his “little children” (2:1,18), children in the faith. He knew all too well how weak human love is. His had failed Jesus in the desperation of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:40, 43). His frail humanity took over and he fell asleep just when Jesus needed him most. When we claim to love God would we be ready, willing and able to watch with Him one hour?

 

The interesting thing about John’s understanding of love is his discovery that real love exists within the Godhead. “We know and rely on the love God has for us ”because God is love”. It is the very essence of His being. Our love is acquired, learned. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:16. 19).

 

The question prompted by the Holy Spirit and faced by the woman in her devotions asked if she believed her love for God was impacted by circumstance or character. Is God’s love enough for any situation? We have a great Biblical example in the life of Job. Wealth and health were taken away; he even lost his family. Left to scrape his boils with a broken piece of a clay pot, what did Job know about God? He had a support network that was useless. His wife urged him to “Curse God and die” (1:9). One of his friends questioned the purity of his heart (8:6). Another suggested that if he put away his sin there would be hope (11:14,18).

 

It’s no wonder Job was seen as blameless before God (Job 1:1)! His answers to his friends indicated complete trust. “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him” (Job 13:15). He prayed with hope “My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; You [God] will cover over my sin” (Job 14:17). His faith was secure in the knowledge that “my Redeemer lives…that in the end…. I will see God….with my own eyes…..How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27). Isn’t that heart-yearning born out of the security Job knew in his relationship with God?

 

Reflection:

When everything was stripped away, this wealthy man found the love of God was enough to meet the adversity of his circumstances. “You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in Your providence watched over my spirit” (Job 10:12). At the moment of writing, our world is in a global crisis with the pandemic of COVID-19. Many of those everyday comforts we take so much for granted have been stripped away. It is fascinating to see the differing responses to what God has allowed in our world today. What is your response? Do we question God’s love? Do we trust His plan to work all things for our good? (Romans 8:28).

The Morning Star

Posted by kelvinbueckert on October 18, 2020 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Read: Rev. 22:16 2 Peter 1:19 Isaiah 14:12-15

Question: "Why are both Jesus and Satan referred to as the ‘Morning Star’?"

 

In my recent morning reading Isaiah refers to Satan “the morning star, son of the dawn.” (14:12) The verses following describe the power Satan held in his heavenly experience. Created the most beautiful of all angels, Satan was given great privileges. These he abdicated when he chose to aspire to God’s greatness, indeed to become greater than God (Isaiah 14:13).

 

This ambition was frustrated by the hand of God which brought him low “…you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit” (Isaiah 14:15). Seventy-two disciples of Jesus were reporting back with great joy. They had been sent by Jesus to do His work and had seen demons submit to them in the Holy name of Jesus! He confirmed His authority to give them the power to overcome ever effort of Satan to separate man from God. Jesus, Himself testified “I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven” (Luke 10:18). Satan may have been a bright morning star, but he is only a poor imitation of the one true bright morning star, Jesus Christ, the Light of the whole world (John 1:3-5).

 

Ezekiel makes reference to the incredible privileges Satan enjoyed. “You were the model of perfection…full of wisdom and perfect in beauty! ….Every precious stone adorned you….You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount with God. You were blameless from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you” (Ezekiel 28:12-15).

 

It is interesting to note that the idea of the “morning star” is not the only concept that is applied to both Jesus and Satan. In Revelation 5:5, Jesus is referred to as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. In 1 Peter 5:8, Satan is compared to a lion, seeking someone to devour. The point is this, both Jesus and Satan, to a certain extent, bear some similarity to lions. Jesus is similar to a lion in that He is the King, He is royal and majestic. Satan is similar to a lion in that he seeks to devour other creatures. That is where the similarities between Jesus, Satan, and lions end, however. Jesus and Satan are like lions in very different ways.

 

The Morning Star is the precursor of a new day. As this term describes our Lord Jesus Christ, we see Him on the verge of a new day – “That day” so often refers in scripture to His return. But first let us consider the source of His brightness. It is the essence of His Being, as God. John 9:6 reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world. Satan, as a created being, is one of many angels whose light simply reflects the glory of God. Jesus, on the other hand, as God Incarnate, is the bright and morning star, exclusively. His light is self-existent. Satan could never be more than a poor imitation of that celestial light.

 

The Bible ends with the glorious words of Christ Jesus Himself “I am the root and the offspring of David and the Bright Morning Star” (Revelation 22:15). What a thrilling revelation, with the promise of things to come, when we will live in His light for all eternity!

 

Reflection:

How do Satan’s aspirations differ from that of mankind in general today?

Differentiate, if you can, between the essence of light and the reflection of light.

To which does the title Morning Star truly belong?

Persecution?

Posted by kelvinbueckert on October 11, 2020 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (0)

John 15:20

 

Your friend is a missionary in inland China. She writes that fellow missionaries in other cities are being killed, as are the Chinese Christians. They are hoping to get out alive, but fear grips their hearts every time they see rioters in the streets. Only a miracle can save them. Pray for their safety.

 

A young mother of 3 children is waiting, with dinner ready, for her husband to come home from work. It is Friday night. The kids are cowering in their rooms. Her heart is thumping with anticipation. Sadly, abuse is frequently visited upon this family.

 

A veteran employee has a meeting with his new boss, a young man who is very conscious of his position and who often takes advantage of those beneath him. Ethics are sometimes tossed to the wind in order to get ahead. What will his expectations demand this time?

 

A pastor has the reputation of being analytical of fellow servants of God. In his small flock he leads children of God to believe that critical thinking is an important sign of spirituality. Quite naturally this spirit impacts their worldview, as well as their testimony. They find a spirit of judgment and condemnation within their congregation and wonder why?

 

What does the Bible teach that would help in each of these situations? Jesus warned: “If they persecuted me they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). He spoke about the need to be rooted in our faith in order to be strong when persecution comes (Matthew 13:21). The Apostle Paul spoke from experience: “….everyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

 

Persecution originates with Satan. How will we endure? Two words are often linked in scripture – persecution and perseverance. Immediately following the account of persecutions endured by early Christians (Hebrews 11:37) we read “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1) James assures us that the “testing of your faith develops perseverance”(1:3). Jesus commends the faithful “You have persevered and have endured hardships for My name” (Revelation 2:3).

 

What is it that gives us strength to face the future, whether it is turbulent or peaceful? We often waste energy fearing what might happen. Rather we need to develop an attitude of gratitude. I’ve lived among folks who have very little of this world’s goods. They are uncertain where their next meal will come from and yet they give thanks when it did come and day by day found many things for which to praise God.

 

Take heart! Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution….?” (Romans 8:35) Jesus said we should consider ourselves “Blessed” (Matthew 5:11) when we are persecuted. This gives us an opportunity to “pray for those who persecute you” (5:44). He Himself gave us an example as He prayed from the cross “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Paul’s attitude was “When we are cursed we bless; when we are persecuted we endure it”(1 Corinthians 4:12).

 

Reflection:

Writing to the Thessalonian Church Paul told them he thanked God always for their testimony of faith. Who can you lift up in prayers of thanksgiving? Persecution doesn’t seem to fit a celebration of thanksgiving, but it does force us to look at what is most important in our lives…our steadfast God who draws us close to His loving heart, especially when things are tough! Looking at the future when Jesus will return, we might ask ourselves: How will we react in the face of persecution? Are we prepared for what must come?

Praying With Tears

Posted by kelvinbueckert on October 5, 2020 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Isaiah 25:8

 

Recently I was reminded of something I heard many years before – that we are not sinners because we commit sinful acts, but we commit sinful acts because we are sinners. This reflects back to the truth that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Jesus gave us hope when He claimed those who mourned would be blessed….not speaking of grieving over a loved one’s death, but rather grieving over one’s sinful disposition. Only then do we enter into the blessings of God’s Kingdom (Matthew 5:4).

 

John the Baptist began the theme of repentance prior to Jesus’ ministry, after 400 years of silence from God, warning that the Kingdom of God was at hand (Matthew 3:2). Following Jesus’ ascension Peter preached the gospel of repentance, launching this foundational truth of Christianity on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38). Jesus talked about repentance during His ministry, but we have some prophetic words from Him recorded by John in the Book of Revelation, when Jesus calls the seven churches to repent (Revelation 2 & 3)!

 

The Apostle Paul expands on the theme: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). David knew what it meant to repent so he wrote “weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). When the sincerity of our tears is assessed by God as genuine, there is an overwhelming joy in the restoration of our Father-child relationship!

 

Richard Foster believes that “tears are God’s way of helping us descend with the mind into the heart and there bow in perpetual adoration and worship” (Prayer, Page 41, italics mine). We really cannot worship in spirit and in truth while our hearts are separated from God by unconfessed sin. We worry about what people will think, so often try to hide our sins from those we know and love, but God knows everything. There is nowhere to hide from our eternal and infinite God (Psalm 139:7).

 

There might be a progression in our spiritual growth if we consider the fear of the Lord means holding Him in awe, in the deepest possible respect. Like Isaiah we might fall on our faces before this Majestic Being who is ruler of all, praying “Woe is me….my eyes have seen the King” (Isaiah 6:5). Having compared God with himself, Isaiah recognized that even as God’s prophet he was impure! As his tears fell the Lord raised him up, knowing the sincerity of his heart.

 

Isaiah knew a lot about tears. He wept on behalf of the obstinate, rebellious nation of Israel, but God assured him that one day, when death {separation from God] was swallowed up forever, the Sovereign Lord would wipe away all tears! What a glorious hope! (Isaiah 25:8).

 

Reflection:

Can you identify with the Psalmist who wrote: “My eyes shed streams of tears because Your law is not kept” (Psalm 119:136)?

Do you pray with tears over the sins of the world, or of the church, or even of your family?

Have you ever wept over your own sins? (Psalm 51:1-9)

Is your hope based on God’s promise that joy will come after tears of repentance? (Psalm 30:5)

Praise the King of Heaven!

Posted by kelvinbueckert on September 27, 2020 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Psalm 24:7-10

 

The majestic strains of the organ thrilled one’s very soul! Walking down the aisle was a young woman on the arm of her father, glowing under her white veil. Why at such a time is she thinking about the King of Heaven? Ah! Her Prince is waiting at the altar and she knows he is a gift from heaven! Sometimes at these epic moments in our lives we remember to include praise to the source of all our joy. What joy!

 

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven; 2.Praise Him for His grace and favour

To his feet your tribute bring. To his people in distress.

Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, Praise him, still the same as ever,

Evermore his praises sing. Slow to chide and swift to bless.

Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia, alleluia!

Praise the everlasting King! Glorious in his faithfulness!

3 Father-like he tends and spares us; Angels, help us to adore him;

Well our feeble frame he knows. You behold him face to face.

In his hand he gently bears us, Sun and moon, bow down before him,

Rescues us from all our foes. Dwellers all in time and space.

Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia, alleluia!

Widely yet his mercy flows! Praise with us the God of grace!

 

Lyte’s text speaks to the love of God and our dependence on Him in a clear and imaginative way. Think of what might happen if we woke up every day with these words on our lips: “Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, evermore His praises sing.” How would our lives change if we walked through our days singing “Alleluia!” or through our times of sorrow declaring that we rest in the gentle hand of God? This is a text with beautiful imagery and thoughtful prose that, like Psalm 103, gives us words to praise our God with heart, mind, and soul.

 

Lyte understood the necessity of leaning on God throughout a life-time of suffering. He spent a lot of time on the European continent in the early 1800’s for treatment of chronic asthma and bronchitis, and died there before he was old. A poet at heart, as a clergyman he also wrote many beloved hymns, the most famous of which is perhaps “Abide With Me”. What inspired such a life of dedication to God?

 

The Psalmist, also a poet, challenges us to lift up our heads that the King of Glory may come in. He asks “Who is this King of Glory?” and goes on to answer his own question. Clearly David has had a vision! The Lord is strong and mighty!

 

In his day the glory of the Lord was represented by a procession as the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the sanctuary. No coffee cups or water bottles in that service! Total focus was on this great and glorious King! There is passion in true worship! Only those with clean hands and pure hearts would participate. He or she will receive blessings from the Lord, and vindication from God his/her Saviour (Psalm 24:4-5). There is a reward awaiting for those who truly seek the face of God. That exquisite yearning of the heart will be fulfilled! (:6).

 

Reflection:

What is it that brings us to our knees in an attitude of worship? Is it, as David wrote, because “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it”? (24:1) Is it a clear vision of God’s glory? It requires some meditation to actually “see” Him in all His glory. Then of course we desperately want to go back for more; when we are compelled by the Holy Spirit, we cannot get enough. That is what heaven will be like. That is what heaven on earth might be like!

Height of Hypocrisy

Posted by kelvinbueckert on August 30, 2020 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Luke 18:9-14

 

How often have you and I thanked God for our blessings? It’s a critical part of worship isn’t it? First we adore God for His character – all that He is in infinitude, eternality, omniscience and might. That’s a mouthful isn’t it? In other words when we praise God we remember He is so superior to anyone we know, unfathomable really in His wisdom, power and love!

 

Then we thank God for how He works among the people He has created, sustaining us by His powerful word (Hebrews 1:3). In many countries temporal blessings are so abundant that folks begin to think these are their right. Recently I’ve heard people saying no one can take away their rights. Have they forgotten those around our globe who don’t enjoy the same unalienable rights?

 

Why then have rights to life and liberty been denied so many people? It’s heart-breaking to see babies and little children who will never enjoy the practical sustenance we believe all children need. Doesn’t God care? Yes, He does. He has given us so much that if we shared a portion of it regularly with others, this world would be a different place. How sacrificially might we love others? When we say we love God how does that play out on the horizontal level, here on earth?

 

Jesus often talked in parables. One such story might relate to us today. A Pharisee stood up to pray in the temple. Notice his posture. Notice his attitude. “Thank God I am not like other men”! What was his perspective on other people? It was very negative. He would have made a great reporter in the twenty-first century. Look at our society – on the streets of our cities there are robbers, drunks, prostitutes, murderers, drug addicts, adulterers and those who cheat on their taxes. There are even crooks in government! (Luke 18:11). Surely I’m not like them!

 

He continued: “Look God at how good I have been, tithing and fasting regularly – twice a week!” Now to me that statement smacks of pride. Paul reminds people of faith that the universe was made by God (Hebrews 11:1). God asked Job where he was when He laid the foundation of the earth? (Job 38:4-7). Let’s keep our perspectives about God and man in balance. What impact can my fasting and tithing or any other good works have on the God who created all things? It’s like an ant bragging to me about building its anthill.

 

Just to keep us focused, Jesus contrasts the Pharisee’s prayer with the prayer of a tax collector – a man the Pharisee has just mocked. This man didn’t even raise his eyes to heaven, but “beat upon his breast and said ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’ “ (Luke 18:13).

 

Which man do you think was justified before God? Looking at our world today, it’s shocking to see Christians caught up in what once might have been called a “worldly” perspective. I was told once by a professing believer, that God only wanted the best for me and therefore my old, ramshackle car was an affront to Him. I almost bought it!! However, I knew that God had provided me with a vehicle that got me where I needed to go, freeing me to share with others some of the wealth of this world that still remained in my pocket. This was my comfort in the face of ridicule.

 

One more lesson might be learned from this parable. Had the Pharisee forgotten that to judge others is a sin in the eyes of God? Along with his insatiable pride, he was as much a sinner as those he criticized. God could judge his heart, even if his life looked good on the outside. We who know God the Father intimately have the unalienable right and privilege to spread His love to those who have lost heart and hope. Just as God lifts us up when we are weary, so we must lift up others with words and deeds of encouragement. May God forgive us if we don’t!

 

Reflection:

Do I feel accountable to God for all that He has blessed me with?

Which man’s life does mine resemble?

How do others see me, and is it the same as the way God sees me?

Who might you view as society’s outcasts? Would you be willing to come along side them in love?

Defection Described

Posted by kelvinbueckert on August 23, 2020 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (1)

1 John 2:18-19

 

There is a phrase used by John the Apostle that is painful to read. “….even now many antichrists have come” (1 John 2:18). Prophesying about the last days, John tells us how to recognize the antichrist. The “last hour” (1 John 2:18) is described by one commentator as the time period between Christ’s first and second coming.

 

Throughout John’s references, the common factors are :

1. “This ….spirit of antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world….if they had belonged to us they would have remained” (1 John 2:19). They have exhibited a spirit of independence.

2. This antichrist can be recognized by his deception, his lies - “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ” (2:22).

3. They reject that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, which in effect is also a denial of God the Father (1 John 2:22, 2 John 7).

 

Where does this spirit originate? It is the satanic force behind all teachings and activity that would destroy Christianity. Sadly, we can clearly see this in our world today! We hear people talking about being “spiritual”, or about interacting with the Divine. Whatever that means, usually it applies to something emanating from inside mankind, without any acknowledgement that at the heart of every man is the deepest need, only fulfilled in a relationship with Jesus Christ!

 

In John’s day, as unfortunately today, many of these people belonged to the visible church but were not believers (2:19). How sad is it to realize that among the wheat there really are tares growing, subtly promoting their doctrine by watering down the truths of scripture. Jesus tells us - “While everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away” (Matthew 13:25).

 

The church has become sleepy. The enemy is planting his weeds among us. Unfortunately these seeds are hard to recognize until they have grown and by then to cut out the weeds would also injure or destroy the wheat. Paul warned the church in Ephesus: “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). It was serious enough for Paul to warn them repeatedly, and with tears! (20:31). What to do?

 

Paul says “Be on your guard” (Acts 2:31). Wake up! Smell the coffee! Be discerning! We are to be ready to confront lies. This takes courage, because obviously we will not be popular. It may even divide friends, friends who have given in to the gospel of love as a weak acceptance of evil. We need to know our Bibles well, to deal with those finer points of doctrine that some will so subtly, and some rather unknowingly, shift from the truth.

 

“They went out from us, [they defected not necessarily physically, but cognitively] but they did not really belong to us” (1 John 2:19) for if they had they would have kept the faith. The journey of their thoughts, the promotion of their interpretation of scripture for their own advantage, proves that they do not belong to us!

 

However, John does not leave the believer without hope. “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth” (2:20). Believers are led by the Holy Spirit to know all truth (John 16:13). We need not be afraid!

 

Reflection:

 

Who are the key players in the scenario John describes? What is the problem?

Does this same scenario describe the church today? How does it differ?

Would you know how to discern the spirit of anti-Christ?


Rss_feed