The Power of Song

Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. Psalm 30:4

Before coming to Christ, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, traveled from England to Georgia as a missionary, but the experience was a failure. As he returned home in frustration, his ship ran headlong into a terrible storm. Wesley was terrified, but he couldn’t help noticing a group of German Christians aboard the ship. They trusted God so completely they held a worship service in the storm. In the middle of their singing, a wave rose over the vessel and bore down like Niagara. But the Christians didn’t miss a note. Wesley realized the German believers had something he didn’t have; and through their influence, he shortly afterward trusted Christ completely and felt his heart “strangely warmed.”

Trusting Christ enables us to sing in the storm. Our Lord gives songs in the night, and He teaches us to sing songs of deliverance as we wait on Him. An old hymn says “Singing I go along life’s road, praising the Lord, praising the Lord.” Others, noticing the melody of our lives, will be drawn to Christ.

Today sing a song of deliverance. Sing a song of praise.

To God—the Father, Son, and Spirit—One in Three, / Be glory; as it was, is now, and shall forever be.
John Wesley, in his hymn “We Lift Our Hearts to Thee”

Simple Acts of Obedience

Luke 5:1-7

Obeying God in small matters can bring blessing to many. Today’s passage illustrates this principle.

Simon Peter, a fisherman, had worked hard all night without catching anything. He was on the shore finishing his work when Jesus approached him. The Lord wanted to speak from the boat to the crowd on the beach. Despite a long, fruitless night of work, Peter agreed to take Jesus in the vessel. The crowd was blessed by listening to Christ.

God’s requests can come to us at unexpected moments. We may be tempted to let someone else respond to His call, thinking it will not matter who is the one to comply. But remember, His plans are designed for our benefit (Jer. 29:11).

Later Jesus made a second request to Peter—to move the boat into deeper water and let down the nets. The fisherman commented about the unlikelihood of catching anything but nevertheless did as Christ asked. Peter’s cooperation resulted in an abundance for the crowd, the other fishermen, their families, and himself.

Peter didn’t obey in order to be rewarded, yet that is precisely what happened. His simple acts of obedience led to greater opportunities for service and occasions for abundant blessing.

Some of us act as if obedience in the little things is unimportant. Peter’s story teaches us the opposite. Let’s commit to carrying out the Lord’s instructions in small matters as well as large ones, trusting that He will bring good from all obedience. Following God is always the right choice to make.

The Unintentional Prophet

“And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation.” (John 11:51)

Even after seeing the miracle of Lazarus restored to life, high priest Caiaphas refused to believe Jesus was the Messiah and was more firmly resolved than ever to have Him put to death. He used the excuse that Jesus might cause the Romans to destroy the Jews’ religious system. So he said, “It is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not” (John 11:50).

Like Balaam, forced to prophesy what he did not intend (Numbers 24:10-13), Caiaphas was made to predict the true significance of Christ’s coming death. Instead of His death being “expedient for us”—for Caiaphas and his system—it was indeed “expedient that one man should die for the people” (John 18:14).

This is a remarkable divine irony. Caiaphas, the chief religious representative of God to the people of Israel, should have known the Old Testament prophecies and gladly welcomed Jesus as the promised Messiah. Instead, he organized His trial and condemnation. Yet he was divinely inspired (without knowing or intending it) to point out the real mission of Christ to the Jews and the whole world—that of substitutionary sacrifice for their sins. It is also interesting that in 1992 the bones of this same Caiaphas were discovered in a tomb underneath the modern city.

So far as we know, Caiaphas died still rejecting Christ. Nevertheless, following Christ’s substitutionary death, the evidence for His glorious resurrection (eternal, not temporary like that of Lazarus) became so clear and compelling that “a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). Caiaphas did, indeed, manage to get Jesus crucified, but the result was salvation for multitudes. HMM

For Thy Sake

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. —Luke 9:24

A Christian poet of a bygone generation wrote a rather long hymn around a single idea: You can, by three little words, turn every common act of your life into an offering acceptable to God. The words are “For Thy sake.”…

All this seems too simple to be true, but Scripture and experience agree to declare that it is indeed the way to sanctify the ordinary. “For Thy sake” will rescue the little, empty things from vanity and give them eternal meaning. The lowly paths of routine living will by these words be elevated to the level of a bright highway. The humdrum of our daily lives will take on the quality of a worship service and the thousand irksome duties we must perform will become offerings and sacrifices acceptable to God by Christ Jesus.

To God there are no small offerings if they are made in the name of His Son. Conversely, nothing appears great to Him that is given for any other reason than for Jesus’ sake. If we cannot die for Christ we can live for Him, and sometimes this is more heroic and will bring a larger reward.

“For Thy sake.” These are the wondrous words which, when they are found in the heart as well as in the mouth, turn water into wine and every base metal into gold.

Lord, whatever seemlingly small thing I am called on to do today, let me do it joyfully for Your sake. Amen.

Why Be Artificial or ‘Plastic’?

Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)

Christian men and women who have sincerely knelt at the feet of Jesus and have surrendered themselves to His meekness have found a comforting and satisfying place of rest.

They have discovered that we do not have to worry about what people think of us—as long as God is pleased!

We are no longer plagued with the heavy burden of artificiality. Think of the millions who live in secret fear that some day they will be careless and by chance an enemy or a friend will be allowed to peep into their poor, empty souls. Bright people are tense and alert in fear that they may be trapped into saying something common or stupid.

It is plain to see that the heart of the artificial worldling is breaking under the burden, under the weight of pretense and pride.

To men and women everywhere Jesus says, “Come unto Me, and I will give you rest!” He offers His grace and His mercy—blessed relief that comes when we accept ourselves for what we are and cease to pretend!

How comprehensive is the love of Jesus!

How comprehensive is the love of Jesus! There is no part of his people’s interests which he does not consider, and there is nothing which concerns their welfare which is not important to him. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.” Believer, rest assured that the heart of Jesus cares about your meaner affairs. The breadth of his tender love is such that you may resort to him in all matters; for in all your afflictions he is afflicted, and like as a father pitieth his children, so doth he pity you. The meanest interests of all his saints are all borne upon the broad bosom of the Son of God.