Learn The Cost

You were bought at a price. —1 Corinthians 6:20

We gave our 2-year-old son a pair of new boots recently. He was so happy that he didn’t take them off until it was bedtime. But the next day he forgot all about the boots and put on his old sneakers. My husband said, “I wish he knew how much things cost.”

The boots were expensive, but a young child doesn’t know about working hours, salaries, and taxes. A child receives the gifts with open arms, but we know that he can’t be expected to fully appreciate the sacrifices his parents make to give him new things.

Sometimes I behave like a child. With open arms I receive God’s gifts through His many mercies, but am I thankful? Do I consider the price that was paid so I can live a full life?

The cost was expensive—more than “corruptible things, like silver or gold.” As we read in 1 Peter, it required “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1:18-19). Jesus gave His life, a high price to pay, to make us part of His family. And God raised Him from the dead (v.21). By Keila Ochoa

The description of Jesus as a “lamb” (1 Peter 1:19) is found throughout the New Testament, yet it has its roots in the Old Testament. John the Baptist announced Jesus’ arrival by calling Him “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). And Paul referred to Jesus as “our Passover” (1 Cor. 5:7), which points us back to the Passover lambs offered each year in Israel as a symbol of God’s rescue of His people from Egypt. This imagery finds its fullest voice in the book of Revelation where the word Lamb is found 30 times and where Jesus is seen as the Lion who laid down His life as the ultimate sacrificial Lamb (Rev. 5:5-6).

When we understand the cost of our salvation, we learn to be truly thankful.

Salvation is infinitely costly, but absolutely free.

Lord, help me to understand, to take in what it meant for You, the Holy One, to bear my sin. Remind me to give You thanks for salvation and for all the ways You show me Your love throughout my day today.

The Longest Shortcut Imaginable

Time is a precious gift, so we should spend every second of it wisely.

When my sister Alyssa and I were young, our father always took the longest route imaginable when he chauffeured us to school—driving from one part of Rolla, Mo., to another seemingly by way of the Yukon. While he claimed this deranged detour was faster than all other options, it made no sense to us.

A drive that felt like seconds to Dad seemed like eons to us. Alyssa’s elementary school sat one mile from our house. It required just two turns to get there. She and I knew this because as children, we walked everywhere—and took shortcuts whenever possible. My sister and I had to preserve our childhood, after all. We needed time to sort baseball cards by brand and watch Saturday morning cartoons. Even better, Dad and Grandpa Jack had handcrafted wooden Gatling rubber band guns for us; it took time to line up our action figures and mow them down.

As the children of a minister, we probably should have carefully considered the words of Colossians 3:12: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (NIV). We could have embraced patience and humored our hopeless father, whose inner odometer was clearly out of whack, but it wasn’t something that ever crossed our minds. Since becoming a dad, however, I have begun to understand that our father’s detour was never about shortcuts or promptness in the first place.

Now that I have a daughter of my own, people say things like, “She’s going to grow up so fast. Enjoy her while she’s this age.” They say this as if the years might coldcock me and leave me unconscious until her high school graduation in 2030. And part of me thinks they’re right. No one ever told me adult life moved at such a rapid clip. Each day whizzes by faster. How did Dad deal with this when he was my age? He had not one, but two unruly children tugging on his pant legs, and a congregation of people pulling on the tails of his suit coat at church.

I thought about this recently as I walked with my daughter to a park down the street from our house. Writing deadlines loomed. As Evie toddled down the street with me, marveling at mailboxes and flowers and other curbside wonders, part of me resisted her pace. I needed to hurry home and get to work. But then I felt her hand in mine—a tiny and trusting thing—and yielded to her leisurely gait.

As soon as we had returned from our scenic walk, Evie shouted, “Bubbles!”

I had recently purchased a pair of old-fashioned wands for her. We soon sat, coaxing shy bubbles out into the world one at a time. In that moment, I understood why Dad took the longest shortcut imaginable.

I asked him the next time we were together. “It was about slowing down, wasn’t it?”

“It really was,” he said. “I knew that the day would just get away from me as soon as I got to work. I needed that extra time to catch my breath and enjoy some time with you two.”

Each morning before school, I looked at my father and saw a man in a dress shirt, slacks, and shiny shoes. I could not see that he had also clothed himself in patience so he could deal with the demands of adulthood.

Without patience, obligations—and the joys that come along with them—whiz by without registering in our minds. Like bubbles, they hover before us for a second before vanishing forever. When we clothe ourselves in patience, however, time ceases to be something we measure with a miser’s ruler and becomes the sacred space in which we live and breathe.

by Chad Thomas Johnston

Signs and Seasons, Days and Years

“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.” (Genesis 1:14)

The subject of “time” is enigmatic. Everyone seems to know what is meant by time, but no one can define it. We may complain about time going too slow or too fast, but time doesn’t go anywhere. But neither does it “stand still.”

At least we can measure time intervals—seconds, hours, centuries, etc. This is because of God’s gracious forethought in providing means for doing this. He was not a “blind watchmaker,” as some evolutionists have called Him. He actually created time “in the beginning” (Genesis 1:1).

Then He set the sun and the moon in the sky, and made the earth to assume a global shape and to rotate on an axis, making the measurement of time in “days” possible. Next He placed stars in the far heavens in various locations and combinations and the earth to orbit around the sun, enabling us to tell how many “days” make up a “year.” Then, once the earth’s rotational axis was “tilted,” that made “seasons” measurable. So we can at least identify time durations in days and years with their seasons, and we can subdivide or combine these in whatever ways we find convenient (minutes, decades, summer, winter, etc.).

But what about the “signs”? Although this is a controversial question, certain ancient Jewish scholars believed that God named the stars and their groupings (Isaiah 40:26; Job 38:31-32; etc.) and then revealed their prophetic meanings to patriarchs Seth and Enoch in order to record His great plan and purpose in creation permanently in the heavens. If so, it is no longer needed, since the written Word of God, “for ever . . . settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89), has now been transmitted “unto the fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1) and “shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). HMM

A Different Man in the Pulpit

Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe. —1 Thessalonians 2:10

I am afraid of the pastor that is another man when he enters the pulpit from what he was before. Reverend, you should never think a thought or do a deed or be caught in any situation that you couldn’t carry into the pulpit with you without embarrassment. You should never have to be a different man or get a new voice and a new sense of solemnity when you enter the pulpit. You should be able to enter the pulpit with the same spirit and the same sense of reverence that you had just before when you were talking to someone about the common affairs of life.

Lord, help me to be a man of impeccable integrity. Give me the grace to be the same man, whether in the pulpit, in a board meeting, caught in rush hour traffic or at dinner with my wife. Amen.

God Expects Gratitude When He Gives Us Gifts

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:15

Because we are so very human there is real danger that we may inadvertently do the human thing and turn our blessings upside down. Unless we watch and pray in dead earnest we may turn our good into evil and make the grace of God a trap instead of a benefit!

Men are notoriously lacking in gratitude. Bible history reveals that Israel often took God’s gifts too casually and so turned their blessings into a curse. This human fault appears also in the New Testament, and the activities of Christians through the centuries show that as Christ was followed by Satan in the wilderness so truth is often accompanied by a strong temptation to pride.

Among the purest gifts we have received from God is truth. Another gift, almost as precious, and without which the first would be meaningless, is our ability to grasp truth and appreciate it.

For these priceless treasures we should be profoundly grateful; for them our thanks should rise to the Giver of all good gifts throughout the day and in the night seasons. And because these and all other blessings flow to us by grace without merit or worth on our part, we should be very humble and watch with care lest such undeserved favors, if unappreciated, be taken from us!

The very truth that makes men free may be and often is fashioned into chains to keep them in bondage. Never forget that there is no pride so insidious and yet so powerful as the pride of religion.

Begin with God

Not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. 1 THESSALONIANS 2:4

I am really sad for the great throngs of men and women who have never known the satisfaction of believing what God says about all of the good things He has created—and everything having its purpose!

This is an area in which you must begin with God. Then you begin to understand everything in its proper context. All things fit into shape and form when you begin with God!

In Christian circles, there is now an undue deference to intellectual knowledge and accomplishment. I insist that it ought to be balanced out. We appreciate the efforts and hours that go into academic progress, but we must always keep God’s wisdom and God’s admonitions in mind.

Search and study as we will and we discover that we have only learned fragments of truth. On the other hand, the newest Christian believer has already learned many marvelous things at the center of truth. He has met and knows God!

That is the primary issue, my brother and sister. That is why we earnestly invite men and women to become converted, taking Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord!

Lord, I am privileged to know You—the beginning and the end of everything in this world. Allow me to share Your truth with someone who needs to hear it today.