A Letter of Joy

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! PHILIPPIANS 4:4

Go with me back in history a couple of thousand years. Let’s go to Rome … to a rather drab little room, surrounded by high walls.… Inside we see a man seated on the floor. He’s an older fellow, shoulders stooped and balding. Chains are on his hands and feet.…

It is the apostle Paul.… The apostle who was bound only by the will of God is now in chains—stuck in a dingy house—attached to a Roman officer.…

He is writing a letter. No doubt it is a complaint letter to God. No doubt it is a list of grievances.… He has every reason to be bitter and complain. But he doesn’t. Instead, he writes a letter that two thousand years later is still known as the treatise on joy—Philippians.…

Why don’t you spend some time with it?

The Inspirational Study Bible

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UNIQUELY YOU

“He gave … to each one as much as he could handle.” MATTHEW 25:15

Da Vinci painted one Mona Lisa. Beethoven composed one Fifth Symphony. And God made one version of you. He custom designed you for a one-of-a-kind assignment. Mine like a gold digger the unique-to-you nuggets from your life …

When God gives an assignment, he also gives the skill. Study your skills, then, to reveal your assignment.

Look at you. Your uncanny ease with numbers. Your quenchless curiosity about chemistry. Others stare at blueprints and yawn; you read them and drool. “I was made to do this,” you say.

Our Maker gives assignments to people, to each according to each one’s unique ability. As he calls, he equips. Look back over your life. What have you consistently done well? What have you loved to do? Stand at the intersection of your affections and successes and find your uniqueness.

from CURE FOR THE COMMON LIFE

Salvation in the Details

“Make thee an ark of gopher wood. . . . The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.” (Genesis 6:14-15)

The Bible is a unified book with one Author, God, who uses words interconnected in specific literary ways to communicate His message. The Flood perfectly exemplifies how truth can be gleaned from careful study of literary clues in the text.

Genesis 6-9 are unusual in their level of careful detail, compared to all the preceding chapters. In Genesis 1-5, God accounts for about 1,600 years of history with very little narrative detail. Yet God takes four chapters–a snail’s pace–to set the stage for and describe the single year of the Flood. Several clues point us to the reason why:

(1) The exclusivity of God’s salvation: Only Noah and his family were saved out of an entire world of people that were in rebellion and under judgment.

(2) The grace in God’s salvation: Surprisingly, God spared the animal “kinds” that lived on land. God could have destroyed the animal world and then re-created it, yet He chose to save the animals on the Ark.

(3) The success of God’s salvation: Judgment and salvation were accomplished exactly as God planned. The Ark didn’t sink, the animals didn’t starve, and the passengers and crew didn’t suffocate because God knew and planned for every detail of the Flood–including the exact size of the Ark to hold all the animals and people for a year (today’s verses).

Peter echoed this message (2 Peter 2:1-9) to encourage his readers to trust God. If God didn’t miss a detail in Noah’s salvation, surely He can save you. God doubly encourages us to trust Him, both by Peter’s exhortation and by the level of careful detail in Genesis 6-8.

by Nathaniel T. Jeanson, Ph.D.

Be of good cheer

“He answered her not a word.” (Matt. 15:23.)
“He will be silent in his love.” (Zeph. 3:17.)

IT may be a child of God is reading these words who has had some great crushing sorrow, some bitter disappointment, some heart-breaking blow from a totally unexpected quarter. You are longing for your Master’s voice bidding you “Be of good cheer,” but only silence and a sense of mystery and misery meet you—”He answered her not a word.”

God’s tender heart must often ache listening to all the sad, complaining cries which arise from our weak, impatient hearts, because we do not see that for our own sakes He answers not at all or otherwise than seems best to our tear-blinded, short-sighted eyes.

The silences of Jesus are as eloquent as His speech and may be a sign, not of His disapproval, but of His approval and of a deep purpose of blessing for you.

“Why art thou cast down, O… soul?” Thou shalt yet praise Him, yes, even for His silence. Listen to an old and beautiful story of how one Christian dreamed that she saw three others at prayer. As they knelt the Master drew near to them.

As He approached the first of the three, He bent over her in tenderness and grace, with smiles full of radiant love and spoke to her in accents of purest, sweetest music.

Leaving her, He came to the next, but only placed His hand upon her bowed head, and gave her one look of loving approval.

The third woman He passed almost abruptly without stopping for a word or glance. The woman in her dream said to herself, “How greatly He must love the first one, to the second He gave His approval, but none of the special demonstrations of love He gave the first; and the third must have grieved Him deeply, for He gave her no word at all and not even a passing look.

“I wonder what she has done, and why He made so much difference between them?” As she tried to account for the action of her Lord, He Himself stood by her and said: “O woman! how wrongly hast thou interpreted Me. The first kneeling woman needs all the weight of My tenderness and care to keep her feet in My narrow way. She needs My love, thought and help every moment of the day. Without it she would fail and fall.

“The second has stronger faith and deeper love, and I can trust her to trust Me however things may go and whatever people do.

“The third, whom I seemed not to notice, and even to neglect, has faith and love of the finest quality, and her I am training by quick and drastic processes for the highest and holiest service.

“She knows Me so intimately, and trusts Me so utterly, that she is independent of words or looks or any outward intimation of My approval. She is not dismayed nor discouraged by any circumstances through which I arrange that she shall pass; she trusts Me when sense and reason and every finer instinct of the natural heart would rebel;—because she knows that I am working in her for eternity, and that what I do, though she knows not the explanation now, she will understand hereafter.

“I am silent in My love because I love beyond the power of words to express, or of human hearts to understand, and also for your sakes that you may learn to love and trust Me in Spirit taught, spontaneous response to My love, without the spur of anything outward to call it forth.”

He “will do marvels” if you will learn the mystery of His silence, and praise Him, for every time He withdraws His gifts that you may better know and love the Giver.—Selected.