Devotionals by Marilyn Daniels. Check back every week for a new posting...
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 7, 2019 at 7:35 PM||comments (0)|
You have been traveling on a long journey with a crowd of people and are naturally tired. It’s called the journey of life. If only you could rest for a week! But the urgency of your mission drives you forward, so you continue on. Suddenly you are confronted with an insurmountable obstacle! You believed that God was leading you, until now. You were sure your goal was His goal. Now what?
There is absolutely no way, humanly speaking, that you can move forward. Not only is the path ahead obstructed, but as you look over your shoulder you discover you are being pursued. Is it your past catching up with you? Are these demons sent by the evil one to taunt you in an impossible situation? It doesn’t take long for panic to set in.
How many of us have been in a similar state? Certainly the children of Israel knew what it was like. They began to doubt themselves….had they misinterpreted God’s direction for their lives? Could they trust their leader Moses? For that matter, could they trust God? All that seemed so stable began to fall away. Better to have gone back to slavery in Egypt where the known was at least predictable, rather than the vast “unknown” facing them now.
In front was the Red Sea; behind, the Egyptians. They were terrified! Easy enough for Moses to say “Do not be afraid” (Exodus 14:13). Didn’t he realize they had risked everything they owned, even their lives, to follow him and now look where it got them? When we are distressed there are always those happy people who will give us reasons why we should stand still and see God work. Don’t they understand the beating of our heart is going to explode our chest wall? We can hardly breathe for fear of what is going to happen. Will this troop of Pharaoh’s men slaughter us in the wilderness? How could Moses remain so calm? Weren’t his own wife and children at risk?
As we look around us we see there are many different responses to similar situations. We learn from observation that people make choices regarding their reactions to hard times. Some people beat upon the rocks with their fists. Some scream epithets at God. Others collapse under the pressure, knowing in their tired state they cannot swim across the Red Sea….better to just lie down and die.
As we face our own calamities, what motivates us to respond? Fortunately Moses was listening to God. God spoke into the situation. “Raise your staff over the Red Sea”(:16). What? Why? How? Aren’t these our usual questions? Moses had expressed his complete reliance on his God to find a solution. “Stand firm and you will see the salvation the Lord will bring you today” (:13). Do not waver in your faith; God is able to deliver you, he told the Israelites. In fact “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (:14). Now how easy is that? We have this driving urge to “do” something, don’t we?
How often do we focus on the rock, the obstruction? Or we look at our own inadequacy, our fatigue, our poverty and decide it’s all too hard for God. So we will fix it? What a joke! Moses had it right. Fix your eyes on God because even the Egyptians will know [learn through this scenario] that I am God! (:18).
Jesus, who is our greatest example, fixed His eyes on God in order to endure all that mankind could hurl at Him. Are your eyes fixed on Him?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 31, 2019 at 10:25 AM||comments (0)|
2 Corinthians 5:6-8
Dianne Wilkinson wrote a beautiful song about the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The chorus goes like this:
“We shall see Jesus, just as they saw Him
There is no greater promise than this
When He returns in power and glory
We shall see Jesus, we shall see Jesus, just as He is.”
She summarized His life in the verses -
“Once on a hillside, people were gathered hoping to see Him, as thousands were fed.
He touched the blind eyes, healed broken spirits; He moved with compassion,
While He raised up the dead.
Once on a hillside, people were gathered watching as Jesus was crucified.
No one showed mercy, to the one who had healed them;
Yet, Jesus loved them, as He suffered and died.
Once on a hillside, people were gathered, for Jesus had risen and soon would ascend.
Then, as He blessed them, He rose to the heavens and gave them His promise
To come back again.”
Based on the angel’s words recorded in Acts we believe “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). However many of us will see Him before that. The hope of the Christian is to stand in His presence when we die. In fact the Paul the apostle, puts it this way ”As long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord….we are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).
Recently a friend said regarding her diagnosis “The worst thing that can happen is that I will see Jesus.” What joy is in that thought! What will it be like to actually see Him face to face? Of course we sense His gentle presence in our lives here on earth, day by day, but we who have been so confined by time and space, will actually be able to put our finger in the print of the nails in His hands. His resurrection body was very real. Although there was a supernatural element to it that enabled Him to suddenly appear in a room, He invited doubting Thomas to touch Him, to test the reality of His presence (John 20:26-27).
Probably our first response to His presence will be to fall on our faces before His majesty, but just think – we will have all eternity to experience the words of another hymn:
“And He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever know!”
I will see Jesus one day. Will you? Awesome!
While waiting for that day, are there times here on earth when His presence has been almost tangible? How did that feel?
Will you allow yourself the necessary solitude to enjoy meeting with Jesus, face to face today?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 24, 2019 at 2:50 PM||comments (0)|
Forfeiture is the loss of rights to one’s property and most often occurs because one has neglected one’s duty. Jesus cautioned His disciples against forfeiting something that is infinitely precious…one’s soul. The soul is not referred to much today. Many people want to be known as “spiritual” but where does the soul enter the picture? Why would these words of Jesus matter to people living in the 21st century? Is the soul something precious?
First of all, what is the soul? The dictionary defines it as the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being, that which is immortal, which will live forever. Where does this idea come from? In Genesis, in the Garden of Eden, God breathed life into Adam and he became a living soul (KJV).
This soul is of great value to God, for it is with the soul one worships God (Psalm 103:1), loves God (Deuteronomy 6:5), serves God (Joshua 22:5), yearns for God (Psalm 42:1), clings to God (Psalm 63:8) and so forth. The soul finds rest in God alone, according to the Psalmist (Psalm 62:5) and Jesus reiterated that in Matthew 11:29. The connection of our soul with God is unique to human beings who were made in His image.
When some part of the body is amputated, there is significant pain. When we ignore the needs of the soul or neglect to nurture it, our spirits become vulnerable to spiritual pain. Without recognizing it, this may become the most severe form of separation anxiety. We are choked by the cares of this world (Mark 4:19) and slowly the soul loses its vibrant life-force. We may even try to fill the void by using artificial limbs, but nothing can take the place of the real thing. Jesus identifies the frustration of such an attempt. “What can a man give in exchange for his own soul?” What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
What happens to lost souls? Jesus is coming again. “He will reward each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:27). On the surface that might appear to be achievable…by our works we can then enter into heaven. Right? Wrong. God looks deep into the soul, judging it on the motivation for its deeds. The superficial action may look good to other people, but how does God see our hearts? Do we seek to bring Him glory by what we do? Has this good deed cost us anything? (Matthew 16:24).
Today so many are suffering spiritual pain – anxiety, depression, unresolved anger. Jesus longs to give these people rest. The man known for his wisdom wrote: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). A principle is spelled out by Jeremiah: “Stand at the crossroads and look [this is where we make choices]…ask where the good way is and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls”(Jeremiah 6:16).
Jesus, challenging His followers then and now, references our choices. Do we want to save our lives, do we fear death at the hands of our enemies so much that we might renounce the gospel? There are modern martyrs being beaten and imprisoned, and even put to death because they have refused to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ.
Or – are we willing to lose our lives in order to save them for eternity in heaven with Him, by remaining true to our faith? (Matthew 16:25).
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 16, 2019 at 1:05 PM||comments (0)|
He is an old man. He just discovered what it means to be born again. After a life-time of going to church, why does he need such a unique relationship with God? He lived a good life. He doesn’t hate anyone, and isn’t angry with anyone. He doesn’t swear any more. According to a certain code of Christian ethics he should qualify to go to heaven.
Looking back, this man can see where the hand of God was always on his life. He lived after a serious accident when he was just a small child. In and out of hospital for years, he had no idea at the time that an invisible God was looking after him. He grew up in a good home. Even after his mother died following the birth of her 8th child, his father was able to keep the family together and God provided nurturing through his mother’s sister. Without advanced education he got a good job through which he rose over the years to a position of supervisor. God provided for him financially so that in retirement he and his wife were able to enjoy traveling. Altogether it was the good life! Why did he need God?
The miracle of rebirth is when we come to a place where we can see that we needed God all along. He guarded and guided, protected and provided without our realizing, but for the grace of God things might have been so different. We might have been born on the other side of the world and never have met those people we know and love. We might have suffered abandonment, under-privilege, hunger and thirst, or financial desperation, but for where God placed us. Without realizing how needy we were, we did need God.
Jesus talked specifically about our relationship with God. He told a parable about a pearl of great value that a man found and desperately coveted. He actually sold everything he had to pay for this beautiful pearl. This parable can tell two stories. Jesus sold all that He had to purchase His people, those who would form the kingdom of God. He gave up His status in heaven as well as His human life on earth. One cannot give more than that to any cause. This He did for you and me.
Another interpretation calls us to follow the Master in self-sacrifice. What might we be willing to give up in order to follow Jesus? Do we really want to be a part of His great kingdom? Would He really call us to serve Him in a foreign country? Or would He just ask us to go across the hall in our apartment building to share His love with foreign neighbours? How do we express our gratitude to God for keeping His hand upon our lives, blessing us with so many spiritual blessings, not to mention the material things we enjoy?
Why did Jesus write in parables? How does this one speak to you?
Would you say your faith is of such great value that you would give up everything, or even sell everything, if it could be bought?
Contemplate the free gift of salvation that God is offering the world today through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What would life look like for us without God?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 10, 2019 at 10:40 AM||comments (0)|
Our Life Group had been praying for a woman who has been in a coma for 2 years. What her family have endured during that time can never be told. But I was reminded of the verse that in the King James speaks of “bowels of compassion” – describing the depth of God’s interest in our lives. He calls us to emulate Him by our compassionate hearts, bowels of mercies, heartfelt compassion and other phrases descriptive in various versions of the Bible, of God’s generous nature.
This family is content to let their loved one linger on, but there are many today who would say it is a useless life, one that should be ended. As Christians we believe that matters of life and death rest in the hands of Almighty God – the God of all compassion (Psalm 116:5). On what grounds would a human being decide who should live and who should die; is that decision based on the diagnosis of a terminal or incurable Illness? Many, for example, would agree that ALS is a reason to end life, yet the ‘genius’ of our age, Stephen Hawking, continued to dazzle the world with his scientific mind for nearly 50 years, in spite of the fact he could not speak and was totally helpless to care for himself.
Our generation has been given so much knowledge that we face choices not faced by those who have gone before us. Should we pull the plug, for example and when? Well in days gone by there had been no plug to pull. Now we should be like gods – that very desire which caused Satan to be cast out of heaven has been fulfilled. God allowed man to have a peek into some of the deeper concerns regarding running the universe. If we misuse the knowledge we have now, what eternal damage might be done when we appropriate choices that still belong to God?
In the case of the lady and others like her in coma, how can we see God’s compassion at work? Perhaps we cannot, but her family still wait in hope and everyone will agree that hope is a wonderful thing! It turns bitter into sweet. We learn through our trials that God’s presence and strength are sufficient day by day. Only in truly difficult circumstances can we know the exquisite rest that comes when our hearts trust in His compassion. We might even marvel at the wisdom that is keeping her alive, without contributing to her community of family and friends.
It’s within the nature of man to want to know, but we cannot invent answers to a faith that trusts in the all-wise compassions of the Divine being whose ways often present us with unsolvable (by our finite wisdom) mysteries. In this we must let God be God.
Is it through the eyes of faith that we see the compassion of God at work in difficult circumstances?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 3, 2019 at 2:45 PM||comments (0)|
As a child growing up, the emphasis in church seemed to be on reverence. We were taught to keep still and to be quiet. We sang with enthusiasm, but not clapping and certainly no hands were in the air, nor did we move to the music. Rhythm to my childish mind, equated to sinfulness. God, the object of our worship, was veiled in a mystery that commanded awe. After all He is Spirit. I remember one elderly lady who interjected some Pentecostal exclamations of “Praise the Lord!” “Hallelujah” much to the amazement of the adults and to the amusement of the kids. Our music was joyful, but reverent – the organist was accompanied by 2 violinists and a pianist. We seldom sang choruses unless it was a Sunday School or Youth event.
However, I also had opportunities, as a child, to worship God as I lay on the grass of the upper field watching the clouds float by, listening to bird-songs and the babbling brook running through a little forest of trees just off a cow pasture, in the fields beyond our home. My parents encouraged me to worship the Creator – not the creation itself, but the great God who designed this magnificent world for our pleasure.
Worship formed an integral part of life itself. We were taught that God is everywhere. This gave us a sense of accountability, as well as the comfort of His presence when we were in trouble. Worship lifts us out of the here and now, into another realm, a place of purity and perfection. It is very hard to put such a supernatural experience into words. But worship is also practical because we offer our gifts as an act of worship (Hebrews 13:16).
Worship differs from praise. These themes are closely linked and too fine a point can be made of the difference. Both praise and worship centre on God in gratitude for who He is as well as for what He does. Surely the Holy Spirit will define our gratitude as genuine when it comes from the heart.
“Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that You’re my God!
Altogether lovely, altogether worthy, Altogether wonderful to me!”
There are many different ways to worship God. The Bible does not tell us we must always kneel. Sometimes we lift our hands towards heaven. At times we are awestruck into silence; at other times we must shout for joy to the Lord! Even the hills are described by the Psalmist as clapping their hands.
God requires only one thing when we come before Him in either praise or worship. Very clearly He demands we be genuine. “Stop bringing meaningless offerings (of praise)” (Isaiah 1:13). “These people…… honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me” (Isaiah 29:13). “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of Praise – the fruit of lips that confess His name” (Hebrews 13: 15). This genuine praise can only be born of love – that exquisite certainty which calls forth a human response prompted by the loving heart of God.
It is easy to get carried away in the moment as we raise our voices in corporate worship, but God knows the intention of our hearts. This is at once challenging and comforting!
Jesus said: “God is a spirit and His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
When does worship bring you greatest pleasure? Are you conscious of the object being God?
What joy does the heart of God experience when we truly worship Him?
Do you distinguish between praise and worship? If so why?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on February 24, 2019 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
“Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning.
Give me oil in my lamp I pray.
Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning;
Keep me burning till the break of day.
Sing Hosannas, Sing Hosannas, Sing Hosannas to the King of Kings”
We used to sing this little chorus as kids. Generally speaking it meant we were dependant upon God to keep us on the right path by lighting the way before us in a dark world. Whether we actually understood all that might be rather doubtful, for a bunch of little children who had yet to taste of any real trouble.
"Oil in My Lamp", also known as "Give Me Oil in My Lamp" and "Sing Hosanna", is a traditional Christian hymn based on the Parable of the Ten Virgins. The song has been recorded many times and was a hit in Jamaica in 1964 for Eric "Monty" Morris. Written by A. Sevison in the 50’s, additional verses included “keep me praising, resting, serving and more recently a pastor recalls “we added some lyrics: give me wax on my board; keep me surfing for the Lord. Or, give me gas in my Ford, keep me truckin’ for the Lord.” I thought of this song as I read from Matthew chapter 25 recently.
In Matthew 25, 10 virgins were preparing for a wedding. Jewish custom at that time was for the bride and her attendants to be ready because the groom would suddenly appear once he had the home ready, to which he would take the bride. Jesus reminds His listeners that the virgin attendants must carry extra oil, for renewal of their lamps, during the festivities. Seriously, if they were not prepared with enough oil they would not be admitted to the feast (Matthew 25:10-12).
Considered sacred, oil was used for anointing kings, a sign they were chosen by God. The Psalmist saw it as a sign of God’s blessing “Thou anointest my head with oil – my cup runneth over (KJV - Psalm 23:5). Oil is referred to as precious (Psalm 133:2); it was also used to soothe wounds (Isaiah 1:6).
Oil represents the Holy Spirit in scripture. At the beginning of His ministry Jesus quoted verses from Isaiah “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor….” (Luke 4:18). Peter records “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power” siting subsequent healing of those under the power of the devil (Acts 10:38).
Is your lamp ready, filled with oil?
How does the oil of the Holy Spirit minister in and through your life today?
What hope does the symbol of oil bring to your future?
Was the gift of the Holy Spirit prompted by God’s love for mankind?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on February 15, 2019 at 11:55 AM||comments (0)|
What is a covenant?
Ecclesiastical: A solemn agreement between the members of a church to act together in harmony with the precepts of the gospel. There are national as well as legal covenants which bind people groups together for a stated purpose.
In the Bible it is an agreement between God and His people, upon whom He places covenantal blessings, conditioned by their obedience to His laws. A covenant binds two or more parties together….for example God made a covenant between the nation of Israel and Himself.
Chapter 16 of Ezekiel’s prophecy depicts Israel as an unfaithful wife. God reviews the nation’s sin (:3-34) and describes her punishment (:35-52)….not without hope. Verses 53-63 describe the restoration of His chosen people. True to God’s character of faithful love, He honours His everlasting covenant (:60) in the end. What is the purpose of God’s covenant with Israel? That “you will know that I am the LORD” (:62), declares the Sovereign LORD (:63).
God’s Sovereignty is a cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith. In spite of things seeming to be out of control, both in Ezekiel’s day as well as our own, God is in control. It is curious to reflect on the amazing way He brings about His purposes for our world as prophecies continue to be fulfilled. It would sometimes seem that Satan is winning the battle, but we must remember he cannot win the war. We must remind ourselves of the picture painted in Job 1 & 2, where Satan comes to God for permission to test His blameless servant Job. Who is in charge? God!
God’s thoughts are not like our thoughts. They are motivated by His purity. His ways are not like our ways….they are purposeful for the ultimate good of others. (Isaiah 55:8-9) Even in the midst of His disappointment and pain, God looks beyond our fault and sees our need.
Dotty Rambo wrote a beautiful song about His outlook on each individual. It is for this reason God sent His Son to save the world from sin…in that while we were yet sinners, Christ dies for us (Romans 5:8). True to His promise God’s covenant blessing of atonement has come to us in the twenty-first century, through Jesus Christ our LORD. (Ezekiel 16:63).
Let us examine our reactionary style of living. What is our response when we have been hurt or disappointed?
Are we emulating God’s mercy and grace when we are angry or sad with others who let us down?
What do we learn from our covenant-keeping God?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on February 10, 2019 at 10:50 AM||comments (0)|
2 Corinthians 13:14
Recently I became aware that many people attending church go for the sake of “worship”. This is not a bad thing. We know that our God takes pleasure in our worship when it is from the heart. Perhaps we take Paul’s words to heart as we proclaim ”the grace of the Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 13:14) In this one benediction Paul leads us into worship of One God, in 3 persons – blessed trinity.
Trinity is not a word used in the Bible, yet from Genesis to Revelation we see the Spirit moving; prophecy of the One who would “crush” the head of evil fulfilled as Jesus rose from the grave, all according to God the Father’s perfect plan. Majestic in His Sovereignty, this God we worship controls the world today, just as He did down through chaotic human history! Isn’t this cause for worship as we see Him bringing to fruition all that Jesus spoke of to His disciples, regarding that day when He would come again?
Yet what do we know about our God? At a recent Bible study we were exploring His incommunicable attributes. Do you know what they are? Sovereign we have already mentioned. We sing “…Holy! Lord God Almighty”. Sometimes we fear His omniscience, especially when we have failed to meet God’s standard in our thoughts and actions. How many people have given up on trying to understand God’s eternal being (Yahweh), denying Him infinite knowledge and wisdom and purpose because we find it hard to grasp? These are characteristics that make God “GOD”!
The Israelites worshiped this God. Listen to Moses’ song “Your right hand O Lord was majestic in power….In the greatness of Your majesty You threw down those who opposed You”! (Exodus 15:6-7). “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27). The Psalmist never ceases to be amazed at God: “God the King” is described as “greatness no one can fathom”, “glorious splendour of Your Majesty”, “Power of Your mighty works”,. He celebrates God’s “abundant goodness”, One who is “gracious and compassionate” and “good to all”. “All men may know of Your mighty acts” “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom”. This is true worship!
Our God does bless His children with Godly character provided as fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). However, we will never attain to His glorious attributes of eternality and infinitude. Our power is limited to the power with which He gifts us, to accomplish His purposes. He blesses us to be a blessing, channels of His grace and love as we become one with Him in fellowship through the Holy Spirit. Let us go into a New Year adoring this God in Whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Think about the privilege we have to know God as He has graciously revealed Himself, through nature, through scripture, through the Holy Babe in the manger, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God but humbled Himself to become obedient unto death for you and for me (Philippians 2:6-8). How does this impact your worship of His Majesty?
“To the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (Jude 25)
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on February 3, 2019 at 3:20 PM||comments (0)|
Today we are going to look at two scriptures, words of Jesus as He taught folks then and now, how to deal with a particular problem. First let’s identify that problem. We see a description of a man and a sheep, both going astray. It was a favourite them in Jesus’ sermons. John records: “All this I have told you that you will not go astray” (16:1). Why was this important to Jesus? He tells us…”The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
Sheep stray very easily so they make a good illustration. In Bible times shepherding required groups of men employed full-time to care for the sheep, leading them into safe places where they would find the richest grasses and plenty of water, as well as protecting them from predators. Shepherds today use specially trained dogs to round them up when they are going off the beaten track, and even have access to electronic devices as aids to keeping their sheep safe.
Jesus provides a word picture that has inspired famous paintings as well as musical compositions. In a flock of one hundred sheep one gets lost, wandering away. The shepherd will not rest until He finds it, bringing it home on His shoulders (Luke 15:5), where He calls friends and neighbours to celebrate the safe return of one lost sheep!
Jesus paints another word picture of a lost human being, one known as the Prodigal son. It seems the young man had no intention of returning home when he demanded his inheritance from his father prematurely. It was all about himself and his comfort and happiness. Surprisingly the Father gave him all that he demanded. He didn’t cling to his son, bargaining with him on behalf of the family business or to avoid hurting his mother’s feelings, or any of the other things with which we try to prevent painful change. He let him go.
Did this father know the Good Shepherd would bring his son home safely? We are not told. We do know that God effected a change in the young man’s heart. “He came to his senses”. This is the only solution to a straying child of God. The Good Shepherd loves His sheep much more than we do and is able to do abundantly more than we can ask or even imagine! (Ephesians 3:20). When his son returned the father’s joy was complete! He hadn’t forced it but had left it up to God, to whom all the glory went for bringing his son to his senses. Hallelujah!
Who is responsible for bringing the lost sheep home?
Why do we act as if significant change depends on us?
How do we face these tests of faith?