At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:6
When Kathleen’s teacher called her to the front of the grammar class to analyze a sentence, she panicked. As a recent transfer student, she hadn’t learned that aspect of grammar. The class laughed at her.
Instantly the teacher sprang to her defense. “She can out-write any of you any day of the week!” he explained. Many years later, Kathleen gratefully recalled the moment: “I started that day to try to write as well as he said I could.” Eventually, Kathleen Parker would win a Pulitzer Prize for her writing.
Father, help me to love others as You do.
As did Kathleen’s teacher, Jesus identified with the defenseless and vulnerable. When His disciples kept children away from Him, He grew angry. “Let the little children come to me,” He said, “and do not hinder them” (Mark 10:14). He reached out to a despised ethnic group, making the Good Samaritan the hero of His parable (Luke 10:25–37) and offering genuine hope to a searching Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (John 4:1–26). He protected and forgave a woman trapped in adultery (John 8:1–11). And though we were utterly helpless, Christ gave His life for all of us (Rom. 5:6).
When we defend the vulnerable and the marginalized, we give them a chance to realize their potential. We show them real love, and in a small but significant way we reflect the very heart of Jesus.
Father, help me recognize the people in my life who need someone to stand with them. Forgive me for thinking that it’s “not my problem.” Help me to love others as You do.
It is impossible to love Christ without loving others.
By Tim Gustafson
When you hear the word servant, does anybody immediately spring to your mind? Perhaps you recall an extraordinarily helpful salesman or that wonderful woman at church who always takes care of every detail.
Godly servants are all around us, but sadly, we often take them for granted. This is a tragedy that we need to correct—not only for their sakes, but for our own as well. You see, I firmly believe that the faithful service of righteous men and women will bring untold blessings to those whom they serve.
For instance, Joseph’s story reveals a consistent thread: Wherever he was, the people he served prospered. Potiphar was certainly not a God-fearing man, yet even he recognized that prosperity came to him because of his slave (Gen. 39:2-6). A second Old Testament illustration is Daniel, whose service to Babylonian kings included interpreting visions. (See Dan. 2, Dan. 4, Dan. 5.)
In both examples, powerful leaders were blessed by the actions of their servants; and more than that, they came away with an awareness of the living God. They also participated in the young men’s success by offering them increased responsibilities and greater opportunities to serve (Gen. 39:1-6; Dan. 2:46-48; Dan. 5:29).
Find the people in your life who have the gift of godly service. Spend time with them, serving and working together for God’s glory. If you turn your nose up at someone doing “servant’s work,” you’ll cut yourself off from a relationship that could change your life. Instead, run toward these people, stand beside them, and ask, “How can I participate in serving with you?”
“Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men).” (2 Chronicles 6:30)
Eight times in Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple, he beseeches God to “hear from heaven” (vv. 21, 23, 25, 27, 30, 33, 35, 39) when His people confess their sins and pray for deliverance. It is marvelous that God, whose “dwelling place” is in heaven (vv. 21, 30, 33, 39) can actually hear the prayers of people here on Earth, but we remember that He is omnipresent through His Holy Spirit.
Even more marvelous, if possible, is the fact that He can hear prayers uttered only in our hearts. But He is also omniscient and thus knows the very thoughts of our hearts.
Then, as we read of Jesus’ wrath at the desecration of the temple by those who would commercialize their religion there, it was said that He “needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:25). This is direct confirmation that Jesus is God, for only God knows the thoughts of our hearts.
It is a wonderful day when we realize that God knows our hearts. It can be frightening, of course, if our hearts are not right with God, but it can also be of great comfort and exhilaration—it all depends on the thoughts and motivations of our hearts. As David wrote long ago: “Thou understandest my thought afar off” (Psalm 139:2).
We need, therefore, to guard our thought life just as much as our social life, “for he knoweth the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21). May God help us to be “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). It is a good thing if our thoughts please Him. HMM
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. —1 Corinthians 12:11
God is Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Only the Holy Spirit can enable a fallen man to worship God acceptably. As far as that’s concerned, only the Holy Spirit can pray acceptably; only the Holy Spirit can do anything acceptably. My brethren, I don’t know your position about the gifts of the Spirit, but I believe that all the gifts of the Spirit not only ought to be but have been present in His Church all down the centuries. The Spirit’s gifts to the Church are the organs through which the Holy Spirit works, and He cannot work through His Church without the organs being present….
I believe that the Holy Spirit distributes His gifts severally as He will to the Church and that they are in the Church and have been in the Church all along. Otherwise the Church would have died the day that everybody who had been in the upper chamber died. The Church has been propagated by the Holy Spirit, so we can only worship in the Spirit, we can only pray in the Spirit, and we can only preach effectively in the Spirit, and what we do must be done by the power of the Spirit. I believe that the gifts are in the Body of Christ and they that worship God must worship Him in the Spirit.
Lord, use me as You will, with whatever gifts You want to give me through Your Spirit. Help me to be faithful to serve You effectively with those gifts today. Amen.
Take my yoke upon you… For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:29-30)
I feel great sorrow for those who read the Sermon on the Mount and then conclude that Jesus was providing a word picture of men and women comprising the human race. In this world, we find nothing approaching the virtues of which Jesus spoke in the Beatitudes.
Instead of poverty of spirit, we find the rankest kind of pride. Instead of mourners, we find pleasure seekers.
Instead of meekness, we find only arrogance, and instead of hunger after righteousness, we hear men saying, “I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing!”
Instead of mercy, we find cruelty. Instead of purity of heart, we encounter corrupt imaginings. Instead of peacemakers, we find men quarrelsome and resentful, fighting back with every weapon at their command.
Jesus said He came to release us from our sad heritage of sin. Blessed is the sinner who finds that Christ’s words are the Truth itself; that He is the Blessed One who came from above to confer blessedness upon mankind!
“Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?”
He looses the bands of Orion, and none but he. What a blessing it is that he can do it! O that he would perform the wonder tonight! Lord, end my winter, and let my spring begin. I cannot, with all my longings, raise my soul out of her death and dullness, but all things are possible with thee. I need celestial influences, the clear shinings of thy love, the beams of thy grace, the light of thy countenance; these are the Pleiades to me. I suffer much from sin and temptation; these are my wintry signs, my terrible Orion. Lord, work wonders in me, and for me. Amen.