Perhaps no greater wonder exists than a human life growing within another human life. Mother and baby are deeply connected yet two very separate beings. God put many special features in place so that we could not only survive, but thrive!
We love [God] because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19
One evening my friend showed me one of the three decorative plaques that would be part of a wall arrangement in her living room. “See, I’ve already got Love,” she said, holding up the plaque with the word written on it. “Faith and Hope are on order.”
So Love comes first, I thought. Faith and Hope soon follow!
Love did come first. In fact, it originated with God. First John 4:19 reminds us that “We love [God] because he first loved us.” God’s love, described in 1 Corinthians 13 (known as the “love chapter”), explains a characteristic of real love when it says, “Love never fails” (v. 8).
Faith and hope are essential to the believer. It is only because we are justified by faith that “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). And hope is described in Hebrews 6 as “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (v. 19).
One day we will have no need of faith and hope. Faith will become sight and our hope will be realized when we see our Savior face to face. But love is eternal, for love is of God and God is love (1 John 4:7-8). “Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”—it’s first and last (1 Cor. 13:13).
Thank You, Lord, for Your faithful love and for the love of family and friends. Please help me find ways to show Your love to others today.
We love because God first loved us.
Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father…that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.” —Matthew 11:25
We do not grow into a spiritual relationship step by step— we either have a relationship or we do not. God does not continue to cleanse us more and more from sin— “But if we walk in the light,” we are cleansed “from all sin” (1 John 1:7). It is a matter of obedience, and once we obey, the relationship is instantly perfected. But if we turn away from obedience for even one second, darkness and death are immediately at work again.
All of God’s revealed truths are sealed until they are opened to us through obedience. You will never open them through philosophy or thinking. But once you obey, a flash of light comes immediately. Let God’s truth work into you by immersing yourself in it, not by worrying into it. The only way you can get to know the truth of God is to stop trying to find out and by being born again. If you obey God in the first thing He shows you, then He instantly opens up the next truth to you.
You could read volumes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when five minutes of total, uncompromising obedience would make things as clear as sunlight. Don’t say, “I suppose I will understand these things someday!” You can understand them now. And it is not study that brings understanding to you, but obedience. Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours. Yet God will never reveal more truth about Himself to you, until you have obeyed what you know already. Beware of becoming one of the “wise and prudent.” “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know…” (John 7:17).
Much of the misery in our Christian life comes not because the devil tackles us, but because we have never understood the simple laws of our make-up. We have to treat the body as the servant of Jesus Christ: when the body says “Sit,” and He says “Go,” go! When the body says “Eat,” and He says “Fast,” fast! When the body says “Yawn,” and He says “Pray,” pray! Biblical Ethics, 107 R
To build a defense against temptation, we must understand how it works. Every sin originates as a thought, often the result of a flaming arrow Satan shoots our way (Eph. 6:16). If a believer holds on to the thought, it becomes a fantasy—the chance to imagine what it would be like to pursue that notion, without actually doing so. The problem with fantasies is that they can easily become entangled with a person’s emotions. This creates a desire, which brings the believer to the point where a choice must be made. And he or she must either consent to the sin or refuse. This process is quite dangerous, as the progression from thought to choice can be almost instantaneous.
Wise believers determine ahead of time to resist temptation—before it enters their consciousness. There are two cornerstones to a good defense: the commitment to obey God, and the recognition that He is in control and has limited what Satan can do (1 Cor. 10:13).
We can further fortify our defense when temptation actually comes. Satan has a way of spotlighting the pleasure of sin until it’s all we see. But with conscious effort, we can retrain our focus to take in the bigger picture: Is this choice a violation of God’s Word? What are the consequences? Am I prepared to pay that price?
No defense against temptation is complete without Scripture and prayer. Every moment spent meditating on the Word and communicating with God builds our faith. As the bulwark around our mind and heart strengthens, we are ever more prepared to douse Satan’s flaming arrows.
“But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” (Matthew 9:12)
It almost goes without saying that a person who is seriously ill would do anything to regain health. But the sad fact is, few people really pay attention to their health until they are threatened with its loss.
On the other hand, testimonies without number have been chronicled which relate an individual’s refusal to acknowledge the claims of Christ until he or she had been stricken with personal problems or physical illness. “You’ve got to be on your back before you will look up,” so the saying goes. But what does the Great Physician have to offer the one whose health seems to be strong from an outward perspective?
Instead of being well, however, the Bible says that everyone is born into this world with a dreadful disease in our souls called sin. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), “and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15). The sin disease is most tragic when we do not feel it and do not know we have it. “Because thou sayest, I . . . have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). Jesus Christ is the only One who can heal us: “Neither is there salvation in any other” (Acts 4:12). And just as He never sent anyone away who came to Him on Earth for physical healing (Matthew 12:15), so “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37) when he comes seeking salvation.
Certainly one of the most important steps in this process of being healed of our sin sickness is recognizing our desperate need for healing. When we say, “Be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee” (Psalm 41:4), He will respond with forgiveness, grace, and healing. JDM
Blessed are ye, when men shall re—vile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for
my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. —Matthew 5:11-12
Popular Judaism slew the prophets and crucified Christ. Popular Christianity killed the Reformers, jailed the Quakers and drove John Wesley into the streets. When it comes to religion, the crowds are always wrong. At any time there are a few who see, and the rest are blinded. To stand by the truth of God against the current religious vogue is always unpopular and may be downright dangerous….
Christianity’s scramble for popularity today is an unconscious acknowledgment of spiritual decline. Her eager fawning at the feet of the world’s great is a grief to the Holy Spirit and an embarrassment to the sons of God….
Lot was a popular believer…. But when trouble struck, he had to send quick for Abraham to get him out of the jam. And where did they find Abraham? Out on the hillside, far away from the fashionable crowds. It has always been so…. For every Noah there is always a vast multitude who will not believe it is going to rain.
We are sent to bless the world, but never are we told to compromise with it.
Deliver me from the scramble for popularity and strengthen me to serve alone, oblivious to the roar of the crowds. Amen.
…I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…. Philippians 3:8
A thousand distractions would woo us away from thoughts of God, but if we are wise we will sternly put them from us and make room for the King—and take time to entertain Him!
Progress in the Christian life is exactly equal to the growing knowledge we gain of the Triune God in personal experience. And such experience requires a whole life devoted to it and plenty of time spent at the holy task of cultivating God.
God can be known satisfactorily only as we devote time to Him.
Without meaning to do it we have written our serious fault into our book titles and gospel songs.
“A little talk with Jesus,” we sing and we call our books “God’s Minute,” or something else as revealing.
The Christian who is satisfied to give God His “minute” and to have “a little talk with Jesus” is the same one who shows up at the evangelistic service weeping over his retarded spiritual growth and begging the evangelist to show him the way out of his difficulty!
Some things may be neglected with but little loss to the spiritual life, but to neglect communion with God is to hurt ourselves where we cannot afford it.
God will respond to our efforts to know Him. The Bible tells us how; it is altogether a matter of how much determination we bring to the holy task!
Which they… wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 2 PETER 3:16
I believe that everything in the Bible is true, but to attempt to make the Bible a textbook for science is to misunderstand it completely and tragically!
It has become a fairly popular practice for Bible teachers to claim to find in the Scriptures confirmation of almost every recent discovery made by science. Apparently no one noticed that the scientist had to find it before the Bible teacher could, and it never seemed to occur to anyone to wonder why, if it was there in the Bible in such plain sight, it took several thousand years and the help of science before anyone saw it.
In recent years, the Bible has been “recommended” for many other purposes from the one for which it was written. The purpose of the Bible is to bring men to Christ, to make them holy and prepare them for heaven. Any manipulation of the Scriptures to make them speak peace to the natural man is evil and can only lead to ruin!
Thank You, Lord, for providing—and preserving—the Word of God through successive generations. I pray that it will get more exposure in our churches and through creative media formats reach more people.