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.
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on July 14, 2019 at 4:25 PM|
Watching TV can be very educational….I was interested in the history of salt mines shown the other day. What a desperately important commodity. Widely used for a variety of purposes it was used as an antiseptic in medicine as well as to preserve and flavour food. In Bible times it was the custom to bath newborn babies before rubbing them with salt.
People had found many ways to provide themselves with salt – sometimes digging holes in the ground where salt water from the sea would be confined until it dried and then the salt could be harvested. Evaporation, in general, produced a poorer quality of salt than mining it from salt cliffs and flats.
Did you know that in the Old Testament there was a “Covenant of Salt”? This covenant was a perpetual obligation, a reminder of what we hold dear in our relationship with God! It required that every offering would be seasoned with salt, which speaks of permanence and incorruptibility. Offerings to Jehovah were to be “a covenant of salt forever before Jehovah” (Number 18:19). “Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings.” (Leviticus 2:13)
The permanency of the Davidic Covenant mentioned in 2 Chronicles 13:5 depended on this covenant of salt. ”…the God of Israel has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt.”
Old Testament Jews, as well as Arabs today demonstrate hospitality by sharing this treasured commodity as a token of friendship and protection. “To eat salt with…” different foods, became the established mode of showing trust.
Salt creates a thirst, in this case a thirst for the “living water” which Jesus claimed to be (John 7:37-38). Is there something about you which creates a longing, a thirst for righteousness? Salt also preserves. Do we preserve a walk that is holy, a spirit of righteousness seasoned by love. How often do we hear of people who season their speech, their beliefs with condemnation. Jesus expects better things of His followers. Salt was /is also used for cleansing. Try to get a tea stain out of a china cup with a bit of salt.
Jesus challenged His followers to be wholesome, Christ-like. Using the illustration of a fountain of water, James tells us that it cannot produce both water that is sweet and salt, at the same time (James 3:11). Curses cannot proceed from the same tongue as blesses God. There must be consistency in the taste. God’s purpose, and our privilege is to give to our needy world something they cannot live without – our lives give flavour, a living testimony to the Love of God that lifts and frees and brightens our world today. We are vessels in which the gospel is preserved forever, permanent and incorruptible. Jesus called you and me and all of His disciples “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13).
When we think of ourselves as “salt” what do we envision?
Does our presence in the office, in our homes, in our community of friends have a cleansing effect? i.e. Do people care about their language when they are with us?
What do we relish more and more because of the salt embedded in our souls?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on July 7, 2019 at 3:30 PM|
People! Does any man or woman have the capability of becoming a peacemaker? The job is assigned by governments to achieve international peace. What a glorious possibility!
Why then do both Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophecy a time when the word ‘peace’ will be really meaningless? (Jeremiah 6:14, Ezekiel 13:10) Ezekiel goes on to describe the frailty of what only looks good. “When a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall” (:10-11). In our present world, this could apply to efforts at International peace. Why?
In Ezekiel chapter 13 we read “Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing” (:3). Through the desire begun in the Garden of Eden, to be like God, Satan still attempts to deceive mankind today. We see through a glass darkly the Apostle Paul tells us (1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV). God, however, sees the end from the beginning, since He is the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 1:8). How could a created being possible aspire to such knowledge? There is only one way we could possibly see things from God’s perspective and that is by getting to know Him. Ezekiel repeats four times the desire of God’s heart – “Then you will know that I am the Lord” (:14, 21, 23) “the Sovereign Lord” (:9)
In scripture we see the Prince of Peace prophesied (Isaiah 9:6), then revealed (Luke 2:14). Jesus blessed His disciples with that special peace which only comes from knowing God (John 14:27). He promised that “…in Me you may have peace” (John 16:33). With this possibility in mind Jesus challenges us to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). Leaving us the mandate to make disciples, Jesus’ plan is for us who know Him to attract those who long for peace, by our peaceable way of life.
God has called us to live in peace, to be of one mind. Only by yielding to the leading of the Holy Spirit can the mind of any man or woman be at peace with God, with self, and with others. It is impossible for anyone to have peace or to be a true peacemaker without the power of God first of all destroying our tendency to be little gods within ourselves – controlling, manipulating, deceiving. All glory goes to God for making possible the impossibility of my being His instrument of peace!
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called ‘sons’ of God” (Matthew 5:9)
Are you obviously a ‘son/daughter’ of God?
Have you burned any bridges or does God give you the power to make peace among the enemy?
How does your peacemaking bring glory to God?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on June 30, 2019 at 2:30 PM|
Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem. They were hungry, so sent on ahead for preparations to be made for a meal. We read that the group was not welcome in that particular village. Usually Jesus’ reputation as a preacher and healer preceded Him, making a certain wave of fame welcoming. When their request was refused James and John, His most bombastic followers wanted revenge. “Shall we call down fire from heaven?” (:54). Jesus gently rebuked them, and they moved on.
As usual, Jesus used this circumstance to teach His followers an important lesson. They needed to understand that as His disciples they would not be welcome everywhere. They would not have wealth and possessions that often commanded respect and honour because He, “the Son of Man” owned no place where He could lay His head (:58).
Their little group drew the attention of people who were curious, one of whom offered to follow Him. Jesus, knowing how fickle the human heart can be pointed out the principle of poverty, which might govern the lifestyle of His followers. “Follow me” Jesus called to another man. Was he casual or curious about, or interested in committing to Jesus? Hearing and perhaps fearing Jesus’ call, the crowd thinned. They remembered responsibilities that demanded attention before they could assume a place among His disciples. One had to go and bury his father (:59). Another needed to go to say good-bye to his family (:61). Were these valid excuses?
When Jesus called Peter and Andrew they were engaged in their fishing industry, but immediately left their boats, nets and father, to follow Jesus. For them there was no turning back. They were not committed because it was popular. They were men of loyal spirit, dedicating heart and soul to God. James and John were challenged by the reminder they would suffer in the service of Jesus. Who takes on a job like that? True followers.
This demands the question – what is a Christian? There are more questions. Is a Christian one who knows about Jesus? …or is a Christian one who knows Jesus? I know about the Queen of England, but she wouldn’t know me if we met. Does Jesus know you? What is it about Jesus Christ that draws our loyalty, our love?
Is heaven the main goal of a Christian? Where does pleasing God enter the picture? Does it involve counting the cost? How is my Christianity reflected in my lifestyle? How does the Bible describe a Christian? We are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). God has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us to do His will. David wrote “Your Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on June 24, 2019 at 11:05 AM|
The moon shining on new-fallen snow has an unearthly beauty; poets rave! When the snow has gone tiny flowers emerge, responding to the warming of Mother Earth. Cycles of nature! Designed by Creator God, tribes around the world honour Him for His genius.
Life! That is what God is all about. In the natural realm tides pulsate against the shores, teeming with life both plant and animal. Super novae explode causing humans to try to explore the infinitude of space. Microbes divide and multiply….and the list goes on and on. The world, created by God, is a living organism created for movement and multiplication.
Our God Himself is living, actively involved in all that He has created. The crowning glory of His creation is mankind, created in His image. Engaging with His pride and joy, God sustains everything around us here on earth to demonstrate the essence of His being, which is “Life”.
In our scripture reading today, God showed Ezekiel that He had the power to give life to dry bones. It is an allegory, describing what happens spiritually to those who are dead in sin when Christ comes to live in them. How does this happen? It is really an act of God, restoring a relationship that died in the Garden of Eden. Three times God emphasises the power of His will to make alive something that was dead. The purpose? “Then you will know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 37:5-6)
Jesus, visible form of the Trinity, declared Himself to be “The Life” (John 14:6) Only through His life flowing through us can we know the Father intimately “No one comes to the Father but by Me”. In Him is life, John writes, a life that is abundant (John 10:10 KJ). He gives us living water, making us conduits of that living water to others (John 7:37-38).
The Samaritan woman begged Jesus to give her the water He promised would quench her thirst forever (John 4:15). He was referring to spiritual thirst. He told His disciples ”Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). I’ve watched desperate people in Kenya digging into a dry riverbed hoping to source water from parched ground. Has our thirst driven us to the right source?
What makes us seek water?
Which spiritual resources do you draw upon to have a healthy spiritual life?
Do you believe God can make dry bones live?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on June 16, 2019 at 10:50 AM|
The subject of election (predestination), which is very deep and over which theologians have battled for centuries, came up recently in Bible Study. It caused me to review Jesus' words in Matthew 22:14 and what led Him to make this proclamation.
Tension existed between Jesus and the religious leaders of the Jews. In chapter 21, Matthew notes they were looking for ways to arrest him, but they feared His popularity with the crowds. Jesus spoke to them in parables about the Kingdom of heaven; in this instance the King invited guests to the wedding of his son, but many of them found excuse in business prevented them from attending. Eventually others were invited.
This was prophetic. Jesus knew He had come, the Son of our heavenly Father, to establish an eternal Kingdom to which many who were invited would decline, for a variety of reasons. Gentiles would be included in an invitation first given to the Jews, to be the children of God. The many who were first called refers to the nation of Israel.
Ryrie makes a pertinent comment on that particular verse: "Here it indicates there is a general call of God to sinners inviting them to receive His salvation, and there is also a specific election that brings some to Him" (Ryrie Study notes). The Apostle Paul told the Roman church there was no excuse for anyone not knowing about God – His very handiwork in nature reveals to us there is a Designer and Creator. However, in his own experience Paul had to be struck blind in order for him to "see" God. He was specifically “chosen” to do a task, according to God’s will.
Paul’s message?.... Jesus died for all (1 Corinthians 5:15) so God offers the gift of salvation to all who will receive it..... believing (John 1:12)
Jesus' parable about the rejection of the nation Israel ( Matthew 22:1-14) serves as a serious warning that an invitation has been extended to everyone. “For God so loved the world….”! (John 3:16)
”The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise….He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Have you accepted the invitation to the wedding of the Lamb? Revelation 19:9
How many of your loved ones will be joining you at this celebration feast?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on June 9, 2019 at 10:30 AM|
The Apostle John is excited! His joy overflows as he writes. All the way down through the history of the Church, even into the twenty-first century, we recognize the source of John’s enthusiasm, from his introductory words.
He is writing to his “dear children” (2:1)…..children of the faith who have responded to the message that he declares in verses 5-7. It is a message about light. Jesus Himself claimed to be “the light” (John 8:12) in a world darkened by sin.
Turning back to John’s introduction: This specific “Light” existed from the beginning. Yet John had seen the Light with his own eyes. He had walked and talked with this man famous for preaching, teaching and healing. Did he recognize the challenges Jesus would send into the faith community of John’s day?
Standing at the foot of the cross, seeing all of his hopes for future ministry with Jesus nailed to a cross, what were John’s thoughts? Now his perspective has obviously changed! The “Life” had appeared! Jesus claimed to be the “Life” (John 14:6). John describes a distinguishing factor about that “life”….it is eternal (1 John 1:2). That phrase “eternal life” wasn’t familiar to Jewish worshipers. In the Old Testament God is described as eternal (Genesis 21:33); His love is an eternal blessing(Psalm 21:6-7). Daniel even makes reference to God’s eternal kingdom (4:3) but what that meant was rather vague.
Twice John’s excitement causes him to proclaim that which he is intimately acquainted with. He knew Jesus, the man, but now the resurrection revealed His glorious deity! All that the disciples had seen and heard must be preached “so that you also may have fellowship with us” (:3). Imagine – our identity as believers means we are in fellowship with those very disciples who walked and talked with Jesus.
Listen to Jesus’ prayer, recorded by John: “My prayer is not for them alone (the disciples of his day). I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message (you and me), that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have Sent Me” (John 17:20-21). This is the Kingdom of God in all its reality, formed through centuries of time! No wonder John is excited! Eternal life, in Jesus Christ our Lord, is as present today as it was 2000 years ago, making us one in the body of Christ.
Meditate on Jesus’ words:
“In Him (Jesus) was life and that life was the light of men” John 1:4)
Does your heart resonate with John’s joy?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on June 2, 2019 at 10:55 AM|
Theologians have come up with a big word to describe one aspect of God. He is omniscient. Big words expand our vocabulary but when we are talking with one another about God we seldom use them.
Omniscience strikes awe into the heart of anyone who understands what it means, so what does it mean?
As I bowed in prayer this morning I was compelled to worship God because He hears and answers prayer based on all that He knows about me and those for whom I am praying. It really is a privilege for us to bring our cares to God, isn’t it? - our God who understands the bigger picture and all the forces that have caused us joy or pain.
Knowing the workings of the human heart, God can give direction that suits our particular need, and does so through the power of the Holy Spirit. The thought occurs – how does God who is perfect and Holy understand man’s propensity to sin? He is our Creator. As the great designer of mankind, God sees the weaknesses that cause failure and He tests our weak points to demonstrate His strength, which is made perfect in weakness! (2 Corinthians 12:9)
God knows us in every detail – physically, emotionally, spiritually, better even than we know ourselves. Throughout the Old Testament we see this all-knowing God providing for His people out of the wealth of His nature – rich in love, wisdom, mercy and patience. Time and again when His children cried out to Him God responded gently, kindly, in spite of the superficiality of their tears.
Often it was a matter of personal comfort that drove folks to prayer, then, just as now. With a deep sense of entitlement God’s people come to Him, knowing that He knows and cares about our welfare. What gives us that confidence when so much of the time we ignore His longing to be loved, to be in intimate fellowship, to communicate with joy? Is it because we know God is Omniscient?
The Bible is explicit:
Psalm 147:5 - God’s knowledge is infinite, endless, limitless.
1 John 3:20 – God knows all things
Matthew 10:30 – hairs of our heads are numbered – nothing is too small
Psalm 147:4 - nothing (universe) is too vast, beyond His knowledge
Hebrews 4:13 – no creatures are hidden from God – all things are open to Him
Psalm 44:21 – He knows the secrets of our hearts
1 Chronicles 28:9 – He knows our intentions, our thoughts!
Imagine that this omniscient God wants to be known by His creatures. He makes His righteousness and salvation known so that we can have a personal relationship with him (Psalm 98:2). God even wants His greatness and holiness to be known by the nations (Ezekiel 38:23). He is an inclusive God because love is the very essence of His nature!
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on May 25, 2019 at 10:55 AM|
Christians, it would seem, often like to discuss controversial subjects. Sadly these topics are not always worthy of the time and energy expended on them. The disciples tried it with Jesus. What was His response?
“Teacher” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us” (Mark 9:38). On the surface this might look very orthodox. Surely it was a good thing to guard the purity of the faith, the message and the messenger.
However, given the background of what had just happened, the controversy might be cast in a different light. The disciples had just failed a test; they had not been successful in casting out a demon from the boy who suffered seizures. Immediately following this they got into an argument among themselves, which they were unwilling to acknowledge to Jesus, about who was greatest (:33-34). It was the human attempt to regain self-respect by putting someone else down.
Unfortunately it proved they had not been listening to Jesus, who picked up a child to illustrate that He knew about their dialogue. He chose the child to teach them a lesson on humility. The subject Jesus pursued was ‘Welcoming others, even a little child’ (Mark 9:37). Little children might refer to spiritually immature people. They didn’t get it! They changed the subject.
Just like little kids they returned to fight over the cookie jar. Someone else was stealing a cookie – casting out demons in Your name. Behind this accusation was pride. If we couldn’t do it, then this person shouldn’t be doing it because “he was not one of us” (:38). Pride of place! Perhaps we all have it, in some form or other.
What a put-down as Jesus answered them…. Unexpectedly He authorized anyone who did miracles in His name! (: 39). He continued His lesson on humility by recommending that even those who give cups of water in His name, will be rewarded. The truth is that “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except with knowledge given by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). Paul goes on to explain to the Philippians that it doesn’t matter if Christ is preached out of selfish ambition or out of love. “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice!” (Philippians 1:18).
Bible Commentators amplify the truth by bringing various scriptures together to clarify a difficult point. We cannot ignore the differing situation in Acts where the sons of Sceva were punished for using the name of Jesus illegitimately. They were actually driving out demons by the power of evil, misusing the name of Jesus to achieve their magical exorcisms (Acts 19:13ff). The result of this event was a cleansing in the community where people who practiced sorcery brought the tools of their trade together to be burned. “In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” (Acts 19:20).
The lesson to be learned here is to let scripture explain scripture, before we jump to conclusions. Each situation requires careful consideration and discernment, a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is quite possible that those promoting Jesus’ name do so for either right or wrong reasons. Possibly those mentioned in Mark were followers of John the Baptist, not officially linked with the disciples of Jesus. How easy it is to misconstrue the motives of another person while overlooking the real concerns arising from our own personal pride. Therefore, let us not be hasty to jump to conclusions!
Would you be able to explain the difference between the exorcisms done by the sons of Sceva and those done by the unnamed man?
How would you research your answer?
Do you ever find yourself jumping to conclusions about difficult Bible passages? What would safeguard you from mis-interpretation?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on May 19, 2019 at 5:05 PM|
History carries a certain charm for some folks, myself included. I love to study the nature of human beings throughout the ages, their intellectual accomplishments, the passions that drove them to do exploits, their gifts in art and music. It is fascinating to review how environment, education and experience form waves of thought that colour culture through eons of time.
Yesterday I watched a program on Alexandria in Egypt, developed and named after the great Alexander of Greece. Here, in the place where he put his name Alexander planned to bring all knowledge, to build a library like no other, complete in science, medicine, history, education and the arts. What a goal! Brilliant minds of men and women were drawn into his vision, making Alexandria the hub of the intelligentia of that day.
The hostess of my TV program enthusiastically led us step by step through stages of growth in this great city. Of course there was reference to religious ideology and the role it played. Many studied a variety of religious philosophies. When the new religion Christianity was brought by Mark, many converts were won to this faith. He became one of the first Christian martyrs because exception was taken to his preaching. Mark announced Jesus is the only way to God, in the midst of a multi-religious milieu. How daring! After all, it would seem, said our young hostess, that for centuries many religions had lived together there in peace and harmony, so why disrupt the status quo?
Years later a Christian leader came who was interested in more than just religion – he wedded it with politics, causing uproar in the city. This culminated in its final destruction. In the ensuing riots treasured historical artifacts were destroyed, and unfortunately, lives were lost.
I asked myself what our gentle Saviour would have thought. He came to bring love and peace and joy; the Holy Spirit produces this fruit in the lives of believers does He not? Was this the way Jesus recommended when He told His followers to live peaceably with all men as much as possible? (Mark 9:50).
Forward 2000 years. Today! Our world is in chaos. Even Canada has been under attack. There is uproar by the media when someone mentions the truth about one way to God.
The question is – How are we going to respond? Sadly I hear Christians talking hatefully about those people groups who disagree with the Bible. Jesus recommended a practical point. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45). This was a new doctrine, unknown in the Old Testament, where an eye for an eye was practised.
Today I remember that more than 65 years ago the love of Jesus touched my heart. I was well aware I was a naughty child. I have made bad choices from time to time and am sure I have grieved the heart of God. Did He give up on me? No!...and among those who do not yet know Jesus, even those who like Paul are persecuting Christians, there may be those who will become children of the kingdom. For this reason alone we must love them enough to pray for them.
But the Lord Jesus didn’t just sit in heaven praying for the Israelites to get their perspective on God right. He became personally engaged in their spiritual struggle. He loved, to the death. Is it possible that today He calls us, His representatives on earth to do the same?
How do Jesus’ ambassadors represent Him on earth today?
Are you His representative in word and in deed?