Devotionals by Marilyn Daniels. Check back every week for a new posting...
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on May 10, 2020 at 11:00 AM||comments (0)|
Before He began His formal ministry, Jesus was tempted in the desert. Drawn away by the Holy Spirit, there was a purpose in this time alone; He was there to fast and pray. Following Jesus’ baptism He needed time alone with God. Our young people sometimes attempt 40 days of fasting, but they do it together and it is not practised in the complete absence of food. The purpose of course is to feast one’s eyes on God, to hear His voice. Is this what Jesus was doing in the desert?
So much is made of the temptation which followed Jesus’ fasting that we sometimes forget to look at the amazing strength He received from talking with His Heavenly Father for 40 whole days! Think of it! How often do we spend 40 minutes dedicated to listening to God? Its hard to spend an hour in prayer – Jesus’ disciples couldn’t do it in Gethsemane; you and I aren’t, generally, much different.
We hear sermons about how Satan attacked Jesus when He was most vulnerable. Perhaps we forget the way God had nurtured His spirit for 40 days; given their precious communication, Jesus was able to meet Satan armed with the “sword of the spirit” which Paul talks about (Ephesians 6:17).
One pastor recently reminded his congregation that Satan took what was good, in an attempt to pervert Jesus’ calling. Jesus’ response demonstrated His commitment to that calling, based on the Word of God.
Satan didn’t stop until he had tempted Jesus to abandon His calling, twisting reality in the attempt to invert the whole experience of worship. Jesus knew Himself to be worthy of worship. This was, and is the truth. He, being the way, the TRUTH and the life (John 14:6), was not going to abdicate His royal position for any temptation here on earth.
Worship is to be God-centered. Sometimes in order to take our focus off of temporal things we need to be alone in the desert with God, where nothing will distract us from listening to His voice. Then, and only then will we know the joy of having the Holy Spirit minister to our innermost needs. Imagine the irony of Satan, a created being himself, trying to tempt the Omniscient, Almighty Creator with power.
Our prayers often exemplify what we believe about God’s power. Only in a desert experience can we know the reality of scripture “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Matthew records how this played out in the life of Christ. Can we, will we, see beyond the temporary to the eternal, in our desert experiences?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on May 3, 2020 at 11:30 AM||comments (0)|
Tell me the old, old story is a well-known hymn which was written as a poem by an English evangelist, Miss Katherine Hankey, in 1866 when she was recovering from a serious illness in London. (Wikipedia). It was recited at a YMCA convention in Montreal where it inspired Bishop Doane to set it to music. As a child I remember my heart thrilling as we sang the words of this old hymn.
Imagine our devotions inspiring us to write about unseen things above. Do we pause in our frenetic world long enough to actually see Jesus and His glory, to sense His love? In the fight to succeed do we recognize our tremendous need as little children in the faith, weakened and weary by the battle to survive feelings of helplessness and guilt?
Time is of the essence today. When might we find time to take the story of redemption in slowly, soaking up God’s remedy for sin through Jesus’ Christ our Lord? Ah! How soon we forget! Perhaps it is only in times of great fear that we recognize our need for comfort from the truths of scripture, and how dearly our pursuit of happiness has cost us in the realm of spiritual reality.
In my own life it has often been through the experience of being set aside that my own needs had been replaced by the deepest joy of abiding in Him. The cost of my personal peace procured at the cross is an old story, but one that I like to hear and tell often, one that I need to hear repeated.
1 Tell me the old, old story 2 Tell me the story slowly
Of unseen things above, That I may take it in -
Of Jesus and his glory, That wonderful redemption,
Of Jesus and his love. God’s remedy for sin.
Tell me the story simply, Tell me the story often,
As to a little child; For I forget so soon;
For I am weak and weary, The early dew of morning
And helpless and defiled. Has passed away at noon. [Refrain]
Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story,
Of Jesus and His love.
3 Tell me the same old story
When you have cause to fear
That this world's empty glory
Is costing me too dear.
Tell me the story always,
If you would really be,
In any time of trouble,
A comforter to me. [Refrain]
Which Biblical story (stories) brings you the greatest joy?
Do you find it easy to share your life story with others, and what does it say about Jesus?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 26, 2020 at 10:20 AM||comments (0)|
The Garden of Eden was perfect. Created by the word of God’s mouth, when it was finished –
“God saw all that He had made and it was very good. And there was evening and morning – the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).
Think of it – pretty little flowers peeping out from under sprawling bushes of every kind, stately birds singing songs from perches in the greenery, tiny animals scurrying through forests of magnificent blossoms, fruit of every kind - fresh for the picking! It really is unimaginable! And there goes a talking animal, walking tall on its legs in order to show off its sleek long body…its name is “snake”. Wait a minute – animals don’t talk, and snakes crawl – right?
The Bible tells us that Satan used the snake as his mouthpiece to tempt Eve to disobey God. Satan still does that today – he speaks to us through nature to say that the sun, moon and stars are gods. He spreads that same lie through TV to say we ourselves are gods who have the right to “do it my way”. Satan’s attempts to become like God, know no bounds. Sadly everything he touches suffers the consequences.
The serpent was cursed to crawl on his belly in the dust (:14). Worse still there was now going to be enmity between snakes and man. There had been perfect harmony between man and even the most ferocious animals living in that garden, but now things had changed. In the bite of an apple (or whatever fruit it was) all that God called good was destroyed. This tension between God’s creatures will not be resolved until Satan is crushed.
The very ground was cursed. Eve would now bear her children in pain –
“I will increase your pains in child-bearing” (:16).
This raises questions – how long had Adam and Eve lived in the Eden? A thousand years? Had they other children brought into this world without pain? Some have asked “Where did Cain get his wife?” Was God being fair to resign Adam to working the ground by the sweat of his brow?
At Easter we see Satan at his worst. The only perfect Man who ever lived was unmercifully beaten, mocked by the very people who had just welcomed Him as their king. He suffered the ignominious death of a traitor/criminal, painfully hanging on a cross for all to see. Surely Satan was at the height of his glory now.
But wait! The temple veil was rent in 2 as the cosmos writhed in sympathy for the One who had created it. This was no Devilish victory. As only God would do, to whom time means nothing – wait and see. The drama unfolds over 3 days. Celebration and grief – which would win?
“Death has been swallowed up in victory! Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin….but thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Hebrews 15:54-56).
At Easter we celebrate not only death, but the crushing defeat of Satan in the mighty resurrection of Jesus.
Reflection: What is the single, most important thing you celebrated this Easter?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 19, 2020 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
We hear some interesting expressions from time to time and wonder where they came from. Some we think might be in the Bible but when we search, they are not. How often has someone describe a child as “The apple of the parent’s eye”? Is that a Biblical expression?
As it happens – Moses was singing a song that God had commanded him to write and to teach to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 31:19). The purpose of the song was that it would review their attitude towards God and be a witness against them. Always tender, in the midst of judgment, the heart of our Father God is mentioned. “Is He not your Father, your Creator?” (Deuteronomy 32:6).
The song goes on to describe the tender care this Father took of His people. He gave them an inheritance, dividing the land and making boundaries for each tribe. He shielded them and cared for them in the desert while bringing them out of slavery in Egypt. His people were fed and nourished with the choicest of meat and vegetables. Why? Because they were the “apple of His eye” (32:10).
Everyone needs to feel significant, accepted and secure. Here we see the significance of the Israelites! In spite of their waywardness, their Father loved them. He would have to discipline them – yes! Foolish and unwise, even corrupt, God’s people would be punished. But God – ever a God of hope, tells how He will care for them once again. God Himself would make atonement for them, and for the land He had given to them. Not only does He give His people cause to hope, but He calls the nations to rejoice with them (32:43).
At Easter we celebrate God’s atonement through Jesus Christ our Lord. Scripture tells us Jesus was made like His brothers…took on human flesh in order to make atonement for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:14-18). In fulfillment of the ancient prophecy made in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), He became the offspring of a woman, God with us (Matthew 1:23). By His death and resurrection He dealt a crushing blow to the head of Satan.
Oh how blessed to be “The Apple of His Eye”!
What gives you assurance that you are “the apple of God’s eye”?
How does one approach this God of mercy?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 12, 2020 at 10:05 AM||comments (0)|
As we prepare our hearts for Easter let us consider why the sacrifice of Christ was necessary. I marvel at the cohesive message given in both Old and New Testaments.
As far back as Deuteronomy (21:22-23), hanging on a tree was a shameful thing. There the punishment differed from actual death on a tree…the already dead body would be exposed to shame and ridicule, for all to see. Interesting, isn’t it, how centuries later Jesus was put to death in this most shameful way?
In his letter to the Galatian church the Apostle Paul points out what will happen to those who do not keep the law perfectly. James tells us that those who sin in one point are guilty of all (James 2:10). Of course you and I will not likely commit murder, nor will we break other of the Ten Commandments, but how often do we think we get away with just a little coveting? Or - heaven forbid, what about slandering a neighbour? Do we worship at the shrine of health or wealth? These could cost us eternity in heaven, but for the redemption Christ purchased by His ignominious death.
His death was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3: “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you”. We might note that Paul, quoting from Moses’ writings, declared Abraham righteous by his faith. Galatians 3:6 “He believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness”.
Martin Luther discovered “The righteous will live by faith!” This glorious discovery which set Luther’s spirit free from so many laws that bound him, changed his whole life! But it cost. He was persecuted for his very faith.
He wanted others to understand that “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The Old Testament message of God’s love is consistent with the New, because love is the essence of our heavenly Father’s being. Moses wrote about how God in His unfailing love would redeem His people (Exodus 15:13). That love could last through 1,000 generations, conditioned on the obedient, love responses of His children (Deuteronomy 5:10).
John tells us that those who received Him, believing in Jesus’ name, to them [the Father] gives the right to be called children of God (John 1:12). That’s faith isn’t it?
Many of us are familiar with Lamentations 3:22 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for His compassions never fail – they are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness”!
The great love chapter of the Bible is really 1 John 4. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (:10). “We love Him because He first loved us” (:19). The apostle John knew Jesus personally. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (:18). His experience taught him that the sign of being called the children of God came from the great love the Father lavishes on us (John 3:1)! But it cost.
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).
Are you trying hard to be a good person? How far will that get you?
How effective is Jesus’ redemption? To whom does it apply? (John 1:12)
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 5, 2020 at 10:00 AM||comments (0)|
How often have you been awakened in the night with the strongest impression God wants to speak to you? Samuel and others are Biblical examples of such an experience. Job’s friend Elihu thought he knew the answer to Job’s problems, reminding him that God our Maker is the one who gives songs in the night (Job 35:10). What experience he was drawing upon we do not know, but I know what it is like to sing praises to God in the middle of the night. Do you?
Two thousand years ago, at midnight, though a strange choice of hour to sing praises to God, Paul and Silas were doing just that from a most unlikely place. They were in prison, but that did not stop them from glorifying the Lord their God. In the quiet of night, without officials rushing about and the clamour of daylight hours, it was a testimony to other prisoners at the very least. Imagine! God heard them and responded. He sent a violent earthquake which released them from their chains.
What chains bind us in the night? Are our hearts free from oppressive thoughts, resentment, disappointment or despair? What is it that keeps us awake at night? Do our hearts fail us for fear? Do we regret succumbing to temptation? Have we hurt someone we love, immeasurably? Do we care that we have displeased God? Does our faith waver?
Or - are our hearts overflowing with joy in the faithfulness of our mighty Saviour? Slowly dawning in the silence of night, spiritual truths take shape with spectacular joy as we meditate on our glorious Lord. Haven’t we heard the voice of God responding to our cries? Haven’t we felt the touch of His loving hand through the physical presence of a brother or sister in Christ? Hasn’t God’s Holy Spirit suddenly enlightened our understanding on a scripture with which we have been long familiar?
What marvellous sights have we seen, or sounds have we heard, that draw us to worship the Creator of all things? What thanksgiving replaces sorrow and loss! What hope pierces the darkness! Hallelujah!
It is often in the darkness of night that my spirit burns within as I see the Light of God, and listen to His voice. Whatever my cries may have been, healing comes in the sweetness of His presence. Thank God for the mercies of victory in Jesus that is only understood when all other distractions have been taken away!
“Why are you downcast, O my soul?....by day the Lord directs His love; at night His song is with me”
(Psalm 42:5a & 8a)
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 29, 2020 at 10:15 AM||comments (0)|
In my early morning prayer my imagination was smitten by the reality of God’s amazing design for our world and stretching beyond – the universes mankind is just discovering! I awoke to the gorgeous purity of freshly fallen snow! Imagine! God creates each flake different from another; is it because His creative genius delights in intrigue, as well as in beauty? Imagine the same attention to detail, included in creating the Milky Way!
I enjoy nature programs on TV because they bring me so much closer to the Creator of all things. Fascinating! Colours and shapes, as well as function, never cease to amaze me. But then there is the majesty of mountains, contrasting with the depths of fiords and seas Why? we might ask; man does ask that question and spends much time and energy to find out the answers. Sadly many scientific minds put their own spin on the reasons behind creation….and God answers back with His own questions.
“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand?” (40:12). Through the prophet Isaiah, God reveals Himself as “the Sovereign Lord [who] comes with power” (40:10). He reminds Israel “…Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket or weighed the mountains on the scales….”? (:12). “Who has understood the mind of the Lord?” (:13).
Job expressed awe of God “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (5:9). “He moves mountains…..He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble. He speaks to the sun and it does not shine….. He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south (9:5-7, 9). “Who can say to Him [the Lord] – ‘What are you doing?’ “ (9:12) Job is surprised that such a God would be mindful of a mere human being (7:17).
Recently I was reminded that children of God have a great treasure in nature. It stretches our imagination to explore the creative handiwork of God, in which His majesty and might are very clearly seen! In that nature excites our pious thoughts and increases our devotion to God, it might be said to be sacramental. Let your imagination roam! How big is your God?
Limited by time and space, as we humans are, it is very hard to imagine the extent of God who is not confined by either time or space. If we cannot physically see Him, what then are His thoughts? How privileged we are to live after He revealed Himself through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ! Since Jesus walked the earth, we have been able to understand the very heart of God, who loves His created beings with an everlasting love. Every detail of His creation is for a purpose, from those things which are invisible to the naked eye as well as in the spectacle of a starry night stretching beyond the beyond.
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 23, 2020 at 12:35 AM||comments (0)|
A popular song today describes the uniqueness of the Christian God.
There is none like You,
No one else can touch my heart like You do,
I can search for all eternity Lord
And find, there is none like You.
Your mercy flows like a river so wide,
And healing comes from Your hand.
Suffering children are safe in Your arms,
There is none like You.
In a world threatened by political instability, one might ask where can we find security? What is truth? Who can we believe, rely on? Then suddenly the words of this simple song spring to mind and we know! God is our Rock! (Isaiah 26:4). He never wavers (Psalm 110:4). His word is truth (John 17:17) and it endures forever (Hebrews 13:8). There is none like YOU!
Just imagine the condemnation our world faces because it has ignored or rebelled against the will of God. Yet His mercy continues to flow. Today He is saving people from every tribe and nation, sometimes through the reading of His most Holy Word. By sending visions, or sometimes sending missionaries to share about His mercy and His love, the Holy Spirit is moving to draw men, women and children to Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).
Indeed He is the only one who can touch hearts with His incredible love. What other god declares He is love? Did you know there are 18 Bible verses that reassure us of God’s unconditional love? What is that like? It means He loves us while we are still sinners (Romans 5:8). We did nothing, nor can we do anything to earn God’s love – faith is a free gift, born of God’s love (Ephesians 2:8-9). We just need to receive and believe (John 1:12-13).
As we, God’s children, suffer anxious thoughts about the conditions in our world, we are reminded that God’s love is eternal….that He is faithful to His covenant love, so we are safe in His arms. That is eternal security, not physical. Bad things happen. People get sick in our fallen world, but believers know that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. The most important healing of all is cleansing of our souls from evil. This only God can do, through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!
Do you believe “there is none like YOU”? How is that demonstrated in your daily walk? Does God know your faith wavers? Do others see you stable and secure in His love? Would others envy the security and peace you bring into situations that would rock their boats?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 15, 2020 at 3:30 PM||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).
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).
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 8, 2020 at 3:00 PM||comments (0)|
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.
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?
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)