The majestic African cheetah is known for reaching speeds of 112 kph (70 mph) in short bursts, but it doesn’t do so well over distances. A BBC news item reports that four members of a northeast Kenyan village actually outran two cheetahs in a 4-mile footrace.
It seems that two large cheetahs had been feeding on village goats. So the four men came up with a plan to stop them. They waited until the hottest part of the day and then gave chase to the cats, tracking them down when the animals couldn’t run any farther. The exhausted cheetahs were safely captured and turned over to the Kenyan wildlife service for relocation.
Can we see ourselves in the cheetah? Our strengths might seem impressive, but they are short-lived. As the prophet Isaiah reminds us, we are like wildflowers that soon wither under the heat of the sun (40:6-8).
Yet it is at the end of ourselves that our God offers us comfort. A surprise rises up to meet those who wait on the Lord. In His time and ways, He can renew our strength. By His Spirit He can enable us to rise up on “wings like eagles” or to “run and not be weary, [to] walk and not faint” (v.31).
The prophets often carry a message of doom. Today’s passage, however, is one of encouragement. Isaiah tells God’s people to have hope because the God whose power created the ends of the earth is the God who lifts them up when they are weary.
Lord, forgive us for the many times that we rely on our short-lived strength. Help us see that all good gifts come from You, and that You are the never-failing source of our strength, hope, and joy.
When we draw near to God, our minds are refreshed and our strength is renewed.
By Mart DeHaan
Deepening our relationship with God—through discovering His character and His will for our lives—is achieved in several ways. Each one, while familiar, represents an important discipline in pursuing the Lord.
Meditation is an excellent way to build our relationship with God. It involves reading a Bible passage several times with the express purpose of hearing from the Lord. Then, as we keep up diligent, sustained concentration, the Holy Spirit will communicate to us through the verses. Studying the Scriptures allows us to draw from many passages to gain a broader, deeper understanding of God’s character, plans, and promises. We benefit by asking ourselves questions such as, What does this study reveal about His nature? Is there a divine promise to remember? A command to obey? An example to follow?
Another key spiritual discipline—prayer—must undergird our meditation and study. Encountering God requires both a listening ear and receptive heart.
Recognizing how God operates in our lives and in others’ circumstances will help us desire to pursue Him. My granddad told me how the Lord had worked in his life, and his testimony created in me a deep, abiding hunger to seek after God. I wanted the Lord to work in my life the way He had in my grandfather’s.
We are seeking God when 1) we spend time discovering who He is and what pleases Him; 2) our day is not complete without fellowship with Him; and 3) we find ourselves trusting Him more and leaving behind ungodly habits.
“The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” (Psalm 118:22)
That this enigmatic verse is really a Messianic prophecy is evident from the fact that Christ Himself applied it thus. “Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?” (Matthew 21:42). The Jewish leaders had refused Him as their Messiah, but the day would come when they would have to confess their sad mistake.
Later, addressing them concerning “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead,” the apostle Peter said: “This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner” (Acts 4:10-11).
This analogy evidently refers back to the building of Solomon’s great temple a thousand years earlier. At that time, each of the great stones for its beautiful walls was “made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building” (1 Kings 6:7). According to tradition, there was one stone which didn’t fit with the others, so the builders moved it out of the way. At last, when the temple tower was almost complete, they found they were missing the pinnacle stone which would cap all the rest. Finally they realized that the stone they had rejected had been shaped to be the head stone at the topmost corner of the tower.
Peter referred to it again in his epistle: “Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: . . . Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient”
(1 Peter 2:6-8). HMM
Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and mere is nothing too hard for thee. —Jeremiah 32:17
When Tennyson wrote “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of,” he probably uttered a truth of vaster significance than even he understood. While it is not always possible to trace an act of God to its prayercause, it is yet safe to say that prayer is back of everything that God does for the sons of men here upon earth. One would gather as much from a simple reading of the Scriptures.
What profit is there in prayer? “Much every way.” Whatever God can do faith can do, and whatever faith can do prayer can do when it is offered in faith. An invitation to prayer is, therefore, an invitation to omnipotence, for prayer engages the Omnipotent God and brings Him into our human affairs. Nothing is impossible to the man who prays in faith, just as nothing is impossible with God. This generation has yet to prove all that prayer can do for believing men and women.
Lord, this is a truth with implications too vast for our finite comprehension. Thank You that you use the prayers of believers to engage Your omnipotence. Amen.
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. Galatians 5:24.
To go along with Christ step by step and point by point in identical suffering of Roman crucifixion is not possible for any of us, and certainly is not intended by our Lord.
An earnest Christian woman long ago sought help from Henry Suso concerning her spiritual life. She had been imposing austerities upon herself in an effort to feel the sufferings that Christ had felt on the cross. Things were not going so well with her and Suso knew why.
The old saint wrote his spiritual daughter and reminded her that our Lord had not said, “If any man will come after me let him deny himself, and take up MY cross.” He had said, “Let him… take up his cross.” There is a difference of only one small pronoun; but that difference is vast and important.
Crosses are all alike, but no two are identical. Never before nor since has there been a cross experience just like that endured by the Saviour. The whole dreadful work of dying which Christ suffered was something unique in the experience of
mankind. It had to be so if the cross was to mean life for the world. The sinbearing, the darkness, the rejection by the Father were agonies peculiar to the Person of the holy sacrifice. For anyone to claim that experience of Christ would be sacrilege.
Every cross was and is an instrument of death, but no man could die on the cross of another; hence Jesus said, “Let him… take up his cross, and follow me!”
Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. MATTHEW 28:20
Do not try to short-circuit God’s plans for your discipleship and spiritual maturity here. If you and I were already prepared for heaven in the moment of our conversion, God would have taken us home instantly!
We must remember that God exists in Himself. His holy nature is such that we cannot comprehend Him with our minds. He is of a substance not shared by any other being. Hence, God can be known only as He reveals Himself!
I have found this to be a fact: Every redeemed human being needs the humility of spirit that can only be brought about by the manifest presence of God.
This mysterious yet gracious Presence is the air of life eternal. It is the music of existence, the poetry of the Christian life. It is the beauty and wonder of being one of Christ’s own—a sinner born again, regenerated, created anew to bring glory to God!
To live surrounded by this sense of God is not only beautiful and desirable, but it is imperative!
Lord, I am so grateful that You have revealed some of Your nature to Your children. But I want to know You even more!