Gladstone Christian Fellowship Church

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Blog features news items from our Church and also devotionals written by Marilyn Daniels.

Check back every week for a new posting.

Feel free to contact Marilyn directly about these devotionals or if you need prayer. 

www.marilyndaniels.net


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Love Begets Love

Posted by kelvinbueckert on May 12, 2019 at 3:10 PM

1 John 4

 

So many people today seem to be starving for love. How many men and women will go to almost any lengths to generate a love relationship? Sadly they are often motivated by a desire to have their felt needs met, in order to feel complete. This imposes the impossible on other people. Only God can fill this void. When we know Him we have a new self-image because we recognize all the potential He has created. Though some fear this looks like pride, in reality this celebrates the love with which He created us. Jesus understood this necessity when He instructed His listeners to “love your neighbour as [much as you love] yourself” (Mark 12:31).


The apostle John had seen this type of love in action, had witnessed the remarkable love of Jesus for people of every station in life, the poor and marginalized, those who were oppressed, those who were socially unclean, physically challenged, demon possessed, the rich and famous. Jesus’ loving spirit, His compassionate nature reached out to draw people to Him. People followed Him in droves all over the countryside. They even forgot they were hungry as they gathered on the hillsides to listen to Him. Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles alike sought Jesus for His wisdom, coming to Him by day or by night.


When our needs drive our passions, values we believe in can quickly erode away. There are a dangers in making such personal sacrifices while trying to make someone love you. Jesus was devoid of any such personal agenda. His ministry was for the people whose lives He touched. He didn’t fear what people thought, but rather was committed to doing the will of God, day by day, person to person. His motivation for coming to earth was love. Paul describes it as humble obedience, servant-like (Philippians 2).

 

Look around you at those people who have a lot of quality friendships. Why have they been so blessed? What is lacking in lives that are virtually friendless and desperately lonely. How often have I heard people complaining about the church as a cold and uncaring place? In reality that perspective is often held by those who find it difficult to love themselves. Without a confidence in who they are, people often find it difficult to reach out to others, or when they do they only talk about themselves.


Love is interested in what makes another tick. For most, this is the essence of Mother-love. Moms want to understand what things their kids will enjoy? In Church we show interest in where people come from? What are some highlights of their lives, or is there anything they find challenging, need prayer for? Can you relate - laugh and cry together? Do you have a positive outlook on life that attracts others, because of what God is doing in your life? Has the love of God overwhelmed you with its purity and peace?


We can learn from the Apostle who writes that love is from God (1 John 4:16). He saw love teaching in the synagogue, challenging the heresies of that day, feeding 5,000, healing lepers, hanging on a cross. Perhaps you have never seen the love of God. When you do, you will understand how love begets love!

 

Reflection:

In our world today people crave attention and value the number of friends they have on social media. In the light of our discussion today, what would help them to resolve this tremendous “felt need”?

The Gardener

Posted by kelvinbueckert on May 5, 2019 at 9:55 AM

John 15:1-6


Spring is the time of year when we focus on our gardens, isn’t it? In the words of our Lord Jesus, Himself, our heavenly Father is “the gardener”. He was speaking in regards to Himself being “the vine” off of which children of God grow as “the branches”.

“No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine” (John 15:4b)

What is the purpose of this unique garden?

“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendour”

(Isaiah 61:3).

This righteous person is like a tree planted by rivers of life-giving water (Psalm 1:3).

”You who are rooted and established in love may have power, together with all the saints to grasp

how wide and long, how high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses

knowledge” (Ephesians 3:17b-19a).

 

Rooted….God planted each person in an environment perfectly suited to their needs. In sandy soil, in arid ground, some seeds produce better fruit in a humid environment….He knows why He has specifically put us into the homes, families, and culture where we find ourselves. That is one thing over which we have absolutely no control, but yield to the will of our Sovereign God, who planted us there for His purposes. Not only is this for our best growth and development, but that we also may impact the area around us. A mighty oak tree provides shade and nuts. ….etc.

 

When we are firmly rooted, spiritually, we become like the Gardener – established in love. We have mentioned before how God’s character is the essence of love! In a world which often distorts the very concept of love, how reassuring it is to know that God is infinite and unchanging in His love. “Love does what is for another’s ultimate good”! Therefore the Gardener lovingly prunes the branches (:2) so they will bear more fruit. Discipline may be endured for the moment, if we realize that ultimately we will show God’s glorious character described by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5 as the (fruit of the Spirit”;).


Not only does God water His garden but life-giving nourishment comes from the Word of God planted in the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit (James 1:21). There are weeds of course to be dealt with. Jesus told His disciples that every plant not planted by the Father, would be pulled up by the roots (Matthew 15:13). In spite of the weeds, God faithfully tends the plants in His garden. His mercies are new every morning! (Lamentations 3:22-23).


Reflection:

Can you recognize the Divine Gardener had your best interests at heart when He planted you?

How have you endured the process of Divine pruning?

Let us ask ourselves: What impact are we making on our present environment?

Women of the Bible

Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 28, 2019 at 3:30 PM

Proverbs 1:5-7

 

Now hold on! This could be a book! Yes – but we are going to look at a few women in general, not specifically, for principles we are taught through their lives as recorded for us, in scripture. May is the month when we celebrate womanhood through motherhood. Let’s discover God’s plan.

 

In the beginning God created male and female, blessed both and consigned them to filling the earth and subduing it. Genesis clearly labels this woman as man’s helper. She shared the same DNA as Adam who found pleasure in calling her “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” (Genesis 2:23) He then named her “Eve, because she would be the mother of all living.” (3:20) Eve apparently shared with Adam the ability to make choices. She chose to believe the serpent rather than God, though He had not given the commandment directly to her; it had come through Adam (2:15-18). This was not the last time woman questioned the word of her husband.


Noah is remembered for his courage in the face of ridicule, willing to obey God rather than to succumb to the opinion of man. He had a wife, who is not named, but we must be sure that she supported him in his boat-building project, since she was privileged to be one of those saved on the ark. What was her relationship to God? Her sons Shem, Ham and Japheth give us a clue to the fact they lived in a Godly home. Even the wives they had chosen were saved in the ark, while evil men and women all around them perished in the flood! (Genesis 7:1, 8:18).


Many years later, the story of Sarai is told. She was barren (11:30). What untold sorrow is recorded in those few words. Sarai lived in an era when the main function of women was to produce children to carry on the family name and fortune. Whether it was more than her physical beauty that attracted Abram, we only know that he remained faithful to this woman who had not yet born him a son. Perhaps her beauty was a curse, because twice she was put into a compromising position – with Pharaoh and later, Abimelech. How did she endure such an experience? What did she think of a husband who didn’t have the courage to protect her from the advances of heathen kings, preferring instead to save his own neck? (Genesis 12:18-19, 20:5).

 

As the years rolled on Sarai became desperate. God had promised her a child, but perhaps He intended her to be proactive. Perhaps she would have a child according to the customs of her culture. So she did what certainly couldn’t have been easy, and shared the intimacies of her marital relationship with Abram, with her Egyptian maid, Hagar. We may never know if this was a lack of faith in God’s promise or a mistaken attempt to “help” the Almighty bring about His purposes. Sadly her maid gained what Sarai lost, and Hagar mocked her for her childlessness, once she became pregnant. Sarai paid dearly for her indiscretion and so do we, even today as the world turns upside-down with Arab/Israeli conflict. 


We believe God has a plan for every life. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you…” (Jeremiah 1:5) This was God’s plan for Jeremiah. The Psalmist says with assurance –“My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place…..Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:15-16) Male or female, our days are ordered by the Lord.


Might we conclude that some women in the Bible still make an impact on our world today? The consequence of Eve’s choice was pain in childbirth, as well as passing on a genetic flaw (sinful nature) to every human being. Noah’s wife helped to sustain the human race from annihilation and taught us team work within marriage. Sarai’s decision to have a child through her pagan maid has affected religious practices between Jew, Muslim and Christian until now.

 

One lesson each of these women teaches us is to listen carefully to the word of the Lord. When He speaks restraint, He means restraint – don’t eat it! When He predicts a flood He warns against disobedience and death. When He promises a baby, or anything else, let Him work it out in His own timing, in His own way.


Reflection:

How are we different from these women in the Bible? How the same?

Will we honour God’s Word written down through centuries of time for us to read today?

Do we believe God’s protection, predictions and promises?

My Gentle Shepherd

Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 21, 2019 at 4:10 PM

Isaiah 40:1-5, 10-11


Many years ago the Gaithers wrote beautiful lyrics addressing the need people have of a Shepherd. They perceived a need for strength, provision and guidance that comes from God alone. Like Martin Luther, they recognized there was no other that we can turn to for answers to the problems in our lives today. This Shepherd, they knew from scripture would be gentle.

 

Isaiah makes an astonishing contrast as he describes God’s power. “See the Sovereign Lord comes with power and His arm rules for Him” (40:10). Then, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah also describes God as a Shepherd, One who gathers the lambs in His arms and carried them close to His heart. What a tender picture! This Shepherd also “gently leads” (40:11).

 

Isaiah chapter 40 is described as one of consolation, reviewing the greatness of God. We do not often equate gentleness with greatness, but here it is. Paul also tells us the fruit of the Holy Spirit living within each believer, produces gentleness, among a host of other qualities derived from the greatness of God’s character. Isaiah begins the chapter with an injunction from God to “comfort My people” (:1), to “speak tenderly to Jerusalem” (:2).

 

There are hints of salvation as God’s voice calls “prepare the way for the Lord” (:3). Whatever did that mean? Matthew enlightens us in his gospel. John the Baptist, hundreds of year after Isaiah’s prophecy, was identified as the one who came to prepare the way for the Messiah. How did he accomplish this? By preaching repentance (Matthew 3:8).

 

Jacob was the first person who called God his Shepherd. As he blessed his sons on his deathbed he told them “God has been my Shepherd all my life to this day” (Genesis 48:15). Centuries later King David is famous for saying “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). The Magi, visiting baby Jesus identified Him as the fulfillment of prophecy “who will be the Shepherd of My people Israel” (Matthew 2:6).


Jesus confirmed that “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). “No one can snatch them out of My hand” (10:28). “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow Me” (10:27). Mark records Jesus’ rebuke when the disciples wanted to shoo little children away, thinking He would be too busy for kids. “He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them”(Mark 10:16) What a sweet picture of my Gentle Shepherd!


Reflection:

Do you need a Shepherd in your life? Why or why not?

“Dear Father, What a comfort it is to be held close to Your heart. Thank You for loving me as only God can love, unconditionally. Thank You for forgiving me for all my failures and wrong choices. I pray that You will strengthen my faith as day by day I learn to lean on You for guidance. Help me to discern Your will for my life, day by day. Thank You for Your Holy Word that nourishes my soul! Thank You for protecting me from evil, as I follow Jesus day by day. May my life be pleasing in Your sight. Thank You for being such a gentle Shepherd”

Challenges!

Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 14, 2019 at 4:45 PM

Mark 14:32-41


I have often been challenged by Jesus’ question in the garden of Gethsemane asking “Couldn’t you watch with me one hour?” Today He might ask “Couldn’t you watch with me for 5 minutes?” Perhaps this is our #1 challenge. How much time do we spend each day watching for His will to be revealed, watching for His return?

 

The Bible records how He healed lepers, restored sight, made the lame to walk, delivered those possessed by demons, pointed adulteresses to a better life-style, even making a missionary out of the Samaritan woman. Samaritans and Jews weren’t supposed to mingle, but Jesus broke that taboo as He did in so many other instances. He was not inhibited by traditions or fears about what people would think. Our second challenge must be to fight our fears in the name of Jesus!

 

He hung out with losers, prostitutes, recovered demoniacs, tax collectors. He healed Jews and Gentiles alike, even honouring the faith of the Roman Centurion by healing his servant without seeing him. What kind of people would we find it difficult to visit? An atheist? A homosexual? A person with AIDS? “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these….” (Matthew 25:40)

 

I was in a social setting with people of the youth sub-culture, when a young man tattooed and pierced, with spiked colourful hair discovered I had been a missionary. He sat down with me, showing the keenest interest in what I had been doing. Was I surprised! Do we understand our own unsettled feelings?? Do we fear being tainted by association? Do we feel a bit hostile towards those who mark their bodies? Are we disgusted by a foreign life-style? Have we compassion on those who have made such unusual choices? Jesus could say some rather challenging things. He called the Pharisees white-washed sepulchres, a brood of vipers, blind guides, fools, hypocrites, and serpents. I wonder if He could call me any of those things for the way I judge others?


A question came up at my Bible Study recently - who was the first Gentile convert to Christianity? Was it the Syrophoenician woman? Was it the Roman Centurion? Was it the Samaritan woman? Was it the Italian Centurion Cornelius? One important thing to note is that Jesus was not a respecter of persons. He met people at their point of need. Although criticized for hob-knobbing with out-of-favour Israelites like Zacchaeus, such criticism didn’t faze our Lord when it came to associating with other nationalities, with women, with the marginalized and oppressed (1 Peter 1:21).


Was the big challenge behind Jesus’ admonishment to “watch”, to check out the depth of His disciples’ commitment? Are we tempted to think God understands if we are too rushed to pray, to daily praise Him for who He is and for all that He does? What is our commitment to our Lord Jesus today?

 

Temptations hit us at our weakest point. Satan is an expert at zeroing into the most vulnerable areas of our lives and further weakening our confidence, through failure. Jesus knew the temptations that would face His disciples in the days ahead. He wanted them to be strengthened by watching, not so much for His sake as for their own. Let His words challenge each of His disciples today. “Watch and pray!” (Matthew 26:41).


Reflection:

How often do we react out of fear for what other people will think, will say?

How often are we challenged by our own assumptions?

Are we challenged to be more like Jesus when we read about His radical approach to everyday living?

What fears are holding you back?

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 7, 2019 at 7:25 PM

Exodus 14

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?

Reflection:

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?

I Will See Jesus

Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 31, 2019 at 10:20 AM

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.”

DIANNE WILKINSON

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!”

Reflection:

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?

Forfeit and Loss

Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 24, 2019 at 2:50 PM

Matthew 16:24-28


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).


Reflection:

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).

Why Do We Need God?

Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 16, 2019 at 1:00 PM

Matthew 13:45-46

 

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?

 

Reflection:

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?

God's Compassion

Posted by kelvinbueckert on March 10, 2019 at 10:35 AM

Psalm 116:5-9

 

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.

 

Reflection:

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?

 


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