Two Men

He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. . . . Jesus wept. —John 11:33,35

Two men were killed in our city on the same day. The first, a police officer, was shot down while trying to help a family. The other was a homeless man who was shot while drinking with friends early that day.

The whole city grieved for the police officer. He was a fine young man who cared for others and was loved by the neighborhood he served. A few homeless people grieved for the friend they loved and lost.

I think the Lord grieved with them all.

When Jesus saw Mary and Martha and their friends weeping over the death of Lazarus, “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (John 11:33). He loved Lazarus and his sisters. Even though He knew that He would soon be raising Lazarus from the dead, He wept with them (v.35). Some Bible scholars think that part of Jesus’ weeping also may have been over death itself and the pain and sadness it causes in people’s hearts.

Loss is a part of life. But because Jesus is “the resurrection and the life” (v.25), those who believe in Him will one day experience an end of all death and sorrow. In the meantime, He weeps with us over our losses and asks us to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). by Anne Cetas

Give me a heart sympathetic and tender;
Jesus, like Thine, Jesus, like Thine,
Touched by the needs that are surging around me,
And filled with compassion divine. —Anon.

Compassion helps to heal the hurts of others.

Thankful for the Night

We’re grateful when all is well, but can we say the same on disastrous days?

Some things were not made to coexist. Long-tailed cats and rocking chairs? Bad combination. Bulls in a china closet? Not a good idea. Blessings and bitterness? That mixture doesn’t go over well with God. Combine heavenly kindness with earthly ingratitude, and expect a sour concoction. Gratitude doesn’t come naturally, but self-pity does. Grumbles and mumbles—no one has to remind us to offer them. Yet they don’t mix well with the kindness we have been given. A spoonful of gratitude is what we need.

In the book of Genesis, we read about Joseph, a man who had more than a spoonful. He had many reasons to be ungrateful. Yet, try as we might to find tinges of bitterness in his story, we don’t succeed. What we do discover, however, are two dramatic gestures of gratitude.

“And to Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, whom Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Phera priest of On, bore to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: ‘For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house.’ And the name of the second he called Ephraim: ‘For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction’” (Gen. 41:50–52 NKJV).

Do you think God noticed Joseph’s gesture? A New Testament story can help us understand how the Almighty feels about thankfulness. Many centuries later, Jesus “reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’” (Luke 17:11–13 NLT).

Though we don’t know how they came, we can be sure what they yelled. “Unclean! Unclean!” The warning was unnecessary. Their appearance—the ulcerated skin, truncated limbs, and lumpy faces—drove people away. Jesus heard their cry; He told them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests” (v. 14). The lepers understood the significance of the instructions. Only the priest could declare them clean. To their credit, the lepers obeyed. To the credit of Jesus, they were healed, and the mass of human misery became a leaping, jumping, celebrating chorus of health.

Jesus watched them dance their way over the horizon and waited for their return. Why? He wanted to hear the reunion stories. But only one of them came back. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell face down on the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him for what He had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” (vv. 15–18).

Even Jesus was astonished. Where were the other nine? It’s easy to speculate. Some were too busy to be thankful. They planned to express thanks. But first they needed to find family members, doctors, dogs, parakeets, and neighbors. Some were too cautious to be thankful. They guarded against joy, kept their hopes down—After all, what’s too good to be true usually is. Others were too self-centered to be thankful. The sick life was simpler. Now they had to get a job, play a role in society. Others were too arrogant: We never were that sick. Given enough time, we would have recovered.

Too busy, too cautious, too self-centered, too arrogant . . . too close to home? If this story is any indication, nine out of ten people suffer from ingratitude. Epidemic proportions. Why? Why the appreciation depreciation?

I may have discovered the answer on a recent trip. I was flying home from the Midwest when a snowstorm delayed my arrival in Dallas. I raced to the gate in hopes of catching the final flight for San Antonio that night. The airline had already loaded extra passengers on my plane. With all the charm I could muster, I asked the attendant, “Are any seats left?”

She looked at her computer screen. “No,” she replied, “I’m afraid . . .”

I just knew she would tell me I was going to have to take a flight the next morning. Instead, she looked up and smiled. “I’m afraid there are no more seats in coach. We are going to have to bump you up to first class.”

Color me thankful.

Not every passenger was as appreciative as I was. A fellow across the aisle was angry because he had only one pillow. With the attendants scrambling to lock doors and prepare for the delayed departure, he was complaining about insufficient service. On the other side of the aisle, yours truly smiled like a guy who had won the lottery without buying a ticket.

One passenger grumbled; the other was grateful. The difference? The crank paid his way into first class. My seat was a gift. On which side of the aisle do you find yourself?

If you feel the world owes you something, brace yourself for a life of sour hours. You’ll never get reimbursed. The sky will never be blue enough; the steak won’t be cooked enough; the universe won’t be good enough to deserve a human being like you. You’ll snap and snarl your way to an early grave. However, thankful people focus less on the pillows they lack and more on the privileges they have. And why shouldn’t we be grateful? Jesus cured our leprosy. Sin cankered our souls and benumbed our senses. Yet the Man on the path told us we were healed, and, lo and behold, we were!

But what of the disastrous days? The nights we can’t sleep and the hours we can’t rest? What of the painful and pain-filled days when the economy crashes, your friend forgets, or your parent leaves? Grateful then? Jesus was. “The Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it . . . ” (1 Cor. 11:23–24).

Not often do you see the words “betrayed” and “thanks” in the same sentence, much less in the same heart. Jesus and the disciples were in the upper room. Sly Judas sat in the corner. Impetuous Peter sat at the table. One would soon betray Jesus; the other would soon deny Him. Jesus knew this, yet on the night He was betrayed, He gave thanks. In the midst of the darkest night of the human soul, Jesus found a way to give thanks. Anyone can thank God for the light. Jesus teaches us to thank God for the night.

Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff. To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse God’s accomplishments is to discover His heart. To discover His heart is to discover not just good gifts but the Good Giver. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and helps us exchange bitterness for something better.

by Max Lucado

Where Is Jesus Now?

“Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” (Matthew 24:26)

The above warning was given by Christ in His famous Olivet discourse about His future second coming, right after He had predicted that many “false Christs” would first come, deceiving many (v. 24). That prediction has been fulfilled many times during the following centuries, but He Himself has not yet returned, in spite of the claims of these latter days.

However, His present location is no secret. After His resurrection and final instructions to His disciples, “he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19). We must remember that He arose bodily from the grave, then ascended bodily to God’s throne, and that “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven” (Acts 1:11), will return. Until He returns, therefore, He is seated bodily at the right hand of the presence of the triune God in heaven. In fact, there are no less than 21 references in the Bible to the Lord Jesus now being at the right hand of God.

It is not strictly correct to say or sing that Jesus can come into our hearts, unless it is clearly understood that He is there symbolically in the presence of the indwelling Spirit of Christ. In this way, “God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts” (Galatians 4:6) so that “Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Ephesians 3:17).

In the physical sense, however, the Lord Jesus Christ, still in His physical, but now immortal, body, is at “the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3) and will remain there until He returns physically back to fulfill all the remaining promises in the Scriptures and to establish the kingdom for which He created us. HMM

Love God with all your heart

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets.—Matthew 7:12.

TAKE the trouble to spend only one single day according to God’s commandments, and you will see yourself, you will feel by your own heart, how good it is to fulfill God’s will (and God’s will in relation to us is our life, our eternal blessedness). Love God with all your heart; value with all your strength His love and His benefits to you, enumerate His mercies, which are endlessly great and manifold.

Furthermore, love every man as yourself,—that is, do not wish him anything that you would not wish for yourself; do not let your memory keep in it any evil caused to you by others, even as you would wish that the evil done by yourself should be forgotten by others; do unto them as you would do unto yourself, or even do not do unto them as you would not do unto yourself; and then you will see what you will obtain in your heart,—what peace, what blessedness! You will be in paradise before reaching it,—that is, before the paradise in heaven, you will be in the paradise on earth.
FATHER JOHN

We have turned every one to his own way

We have turned every one to his own way. Isaiah 53:6

Noah … planted a vineyard: and he drank of the wine, and was drunken. — Abram … said unto Sara his wife, … Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake. — Isaac said unto Jacob, … Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am. — Moses … spake unadvisedly with his lips. — The men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD. And Joshua made peace with them. — David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.

These all … obtained a good report through faith. — Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. — The LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways.

Genesis 9:20,21. Genesis 12:11,13. Genesis 27:21,24. Psalm 106:32,33. Joshua 9:14,15. 1 Kings 15:5. Hebrews 11:39. Romans 3:24. Isaiah 53:8. Ezekiel 36:32.

Serving the Lord with all humility of mind

Serving the Lord with all humility of mind. Acts 20:19

Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

If a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. — I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man, … not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. — When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

Our rejoicing is this, … that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world. — We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Matthew 20:26-28. Galatians 6:3. Romans 12:3. Luke 17:10. 2 Corinthians 1:12. 2 Corinthians 4:7.