What Are Your Strengths?

We all have different gifts, each of which came because of the grace God gave us. ROMANS 12:6

There are some things we want to do but simply aren’t equipped to accomplish. I, for example, have the desire to sing. Singing for others would give me wonderful satisfaction. The problem is, it wouldn’t give the same satisfaction to my audience.…

Paul gives good advice in Romans 12:3: “Have a sane estimate of your capabilities” (PHILLIPS). In other words, be aware of your strengths. When you teach, do people listen? When you lead, do people follow? When you administer, do things improve? Where are you most productive? Identify your strengths, and then … major in them.… Failing to focus on our strengths may prevent us from accomplishing the unique tasks God has called us to do.

Just Like Jesus

The Offer of a Second Chance

John 8:1-11

I’ve never met a person who didn’t have a past. Never have I spoken with a man or a woman whose life didn’t include a “yesterday”, a “last week,” or a “last year.” And if someone has a past, you can be sure he or she has some mistakes scattered throughout it.

If every one of us has a past, then why do we so often feel isolated, alone, and ashamed of what was done “once upon a time”? Why do we allow the shadows of our long-ago to darken our today?

The answer is a matter of perspective. When we look back at our lives, we usually see mistakes through the lens of guilt, remorse, or fear of judgment. The old axiom says that hindsight is 20/20—what we once accepted as permissible behavior may now shock us as we realize the gravity of those actions.

But how does our heavenly Father perceive us? Is He hampered or even influenced by the same dirty lenses through which we tend to look? No, He sees us with crystal clarity. That means He sees us completely, but He is free of the guilt and remorse that tend to color our perceptions.

More than that, our loving Father looks upon us with the perfect grace and forgiveness that only He can offer. Though our mistakes may hurt Him, the Lord regards us in love. If you have faced your sin problem and accepted the forgiveness that is available in Jesus Christ, then you can be certain you are now living a life of second chances. For the rest of your days on earth, you can have the joy of knowing that you are forgiven.

The Two Hosts of Heaven

“Therefore hear the word of the LORD; I saw the LORD sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left.” (2 Chronicles 18:18)

This remarkable vision was granted to the prophet Micaiah, the only true prophet at the court of the evil King Ahab of Israel. Other Scriptures confirm that there really is a great host of angels at God’s throne in heaven (Job 1:6; Daniel 7:10; Revelation 5:11; etc.). These are mighty angels, and they go forth at God’s command (Psalm 103:20-21), especially in connection with their primary function as “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).

In addition to the angels, there is another “host of heaven”—the stars, which “cannot be numbered” (Jeremiah 33:22). Like the stars, the angels also are said to be “innumerable” (Hebrews 12:22). Both “hosts” are mentioned in Nehemiah 9:6. Angels are often associated with stars in the Bible, and are even likened to stars on a number of occasions. However, a third of the angels “kept not their first estate” (Jude 6; Revelation 12:3-9). Although angels are not to be worshipped (Revelation 22:8-9), Satan, the “anointed cherub” (Ezekiel 28:14), desired to be “like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14) and led these now-fallen angels into a cosmic rebellion against their Creator which continues to this day. They have, in fact, become associated with both the sky-images of astrology and the corresponding graven images of paganism. Paul warned that such idol worship was, in reality, demon worship (1 Corinthians 10:20). It is this particular “host of heaven” which all devotees of false religions, ancient and modern, have really worshipped when they reject the true God of creation and put their faith in some aspect of the cosmos itself. The faithful and obedient host of heaven worships God alone, and so should we. HMM

Thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above

“Thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” (John 19:11.)

NOTHING that is not God’s will can come into the life of one who trusts and obeys God. This fact is enough to make our life one of ceaseless thanksgiving and joy. For “God’s will is the one hopeful, glad, and glorious thing in the world”; and it is working in the omnipotence for us all the time, with nothing to prevent it if we are surrendered and believing.

One who was passing through deep waters of affliction wrote to a friend: “Is it not a glorious thing to know that, no difference how unjust a thing may be, or how absolutely it may seem to be from Satan, by the time it reaches us it is God’s will for us, and will work for good to us? For all things work together for good to us who love God. And even of the betrayal, Christ said, “The cup which my Father gave me, shall I not drink it?” We live charmed lives if we are living in the center of God’s will. All the attacks that Satan, through others’ sin, can hurl against us are not only powerless to harm us, but are turned into blessings on the way.—H. W. S.

In the center of the circle
Of the Will of God I stand:
There can come no second causes,
All must come from His dear hand.
All is well! for ’tis my Father
Who my life hath planned.

Shall I pass through waves of sorrow?
Then I know it will be best;
Though I cannot tell the reason,
I can trust, and so am blest.
God is Love, and God is faithful,
So in perfect Peace I rest.

With the shade and with the sunshine,
With the joy and with the pain,
Lord, I trust Thee! both are needed,
Each Thy wayward child to train,
Earthly loss, did we but know it,
Often means our heavenly gain.
—I. G. W.

I know their sorrows

“I know their sorrows.” Exodus 3:7

The child is cheered as he sings, “This my father knows”; and shall not we be comforted as we discern that our dear Friend and tender soul-husband knows all about us?

1. He is the Physician, and if He knows all, there is no need that the patient should know. Hush, thou silly, fluttering heart, prying, peeping, and suspecting! What thou knowest not now, thou shalt know hereafter, and meanwhile Jesus, the beloved Physician, knows thy soul in adversities. Why need the patient analyze all the medicine, or estimate all the symptoms? This is the Physician’s work, not mine; it is my business to trust, and His to prescribe. If He shall write His prescription in uncouth characters which I cannot read, I will not be uneasy on that account, but rely upon His unfailing skill to make all plain in the result, however mysterious in the working.

2. He is the Master, and His knowledge is to serve us instead of our own; we are to obey, not to judge: “The servant knoweth not what his lord doeth.” Shall the architect explain his plans to every hodman on the works? If he knows his own intent, is it not enough? The vessel on the wheel cannot guess to what pattern it shall be conformed, but if the potter understands his art, what matters the ignorance of the clay? My Lord must not be cross-questioned any more by one so ignorant as I am.

3. He is the Head. All understanding centres there. What judgment has the arm? What comprehension has the foot? All the power to know lies in the head. Why should the member have a brain of its own when the head fulfils for it every intellectual office? Here, then, must the believer rest his comfort in sickness, not that he himself can see the end, but that Jesus knows all. Sweet Lord, be thou for ever eye, and soul, and head for us, and let us be content to know only what Thou choosest to reveal.

Thou, Lord, hast made me glad through Thy work

“Thou, Lord, hast made me glad through Thy work.” Psalm 92:4

Do you believe that your sins are forgiven, and that Christ has made a full atonement for them? Then what a joyful Christian you ought to be! How you should live above the common trials and troubles of the world! Since sin is forgiven, can it matter what happens to you now? Luther said, “Smite, Lord, smite, for my sin is forgiven; if Thou hast but forgiven me, smite as hard as Thou wilt”; and in a similar spirit you may say, “Send sickness, poverty, losses, crosses, persecution, what Thou wilt, Thou hast forgiven me, and my soul is glad.”

Christian, if thou art thus saved, whilst thou art glad, be grateful and loving. Cling to that cross which took thy sin away; serve thou Him who served thee. “I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Let not your zeal evaporate in some little ebullition of song. Show your love in expressive tokens. Love the brethren of Him who loved you. If there be a Mephibosheth anywhere who is lame or halt, help him for Jonathan’s sake. If there be a poor tried believer, weep with him, and bear his cross for the sake of Him who wept for thee and carried thy sins.

Since thou art thus forgiven freely for Christ’s sake, go and tell to others the joyful news of pardoning mercy. Be not contented with this unspeakable blessing for thyself alone, but publish abroad the story of the cross. Holy gladness and holy boldness will make you a good preacher, and all the world will be a pulpit for you to preach in. Cheerful holiness is the most forcible of sermons, but the Lord must give it you. Seek it this morning before you go into the world. When it is the Lord’s work in which we rejoice, we need not be afraid of being too glad.