Singing with Violet

I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Philippians 1:23–24

An elderly woman named Violet sat on her bed in a Jamaican infirmary and smiled as some teenagers stopped to visit with her. The hot, sticky, midday air came into her little group home unabated, but she didn’t complain. Instead, she began wracking her mind for a song to sing. Then a huge smile appeared and she sang, “I am running, skipping, jumping, praising the Lord!” As she sang, she swung her arms back and forth as if she were running. Tears came to those around her, for Violet had no legs. She was singing because, she said, “Jesus loves me—and in heaven I will have legs to run with.”

Violet’s joy and hopeful anticipation of heaven give new vibrancy to Paul’s words in Philippians 1 when he referred to life-and-death issues. “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me,” he said. “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (vv. 22–23).

When God gives us a new beginning, we find a joy that’s never ending.

Each of us faces tough times that may cause us to long for the promise of heavenly relief. But as Violet showed us joy despite her current circumstances, we too can keep “running, skipping, praising the Lord”—both for the abundant life He gives us here and for the ultimate joy that awaits us.

Lord, when times are tough, help me to find joy. Help us to live in the tough times of this world with happiness while looking ahead to something “better by far.”



When God gives us a new beginning, we find a joy that’s never ending.

INSIGHT:Paul’s mixed feelings about life didn’t seem to be rooted in a moment of crisis or despair. Ever since his encounter with the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus he’d found a different understanding of what it means to live with purpose and to die with gain. Before he met Christ, his goal had been to inflict pain and suffering on followers of Jesus. But then he learned what it meant to consider it an honor to accept whatever it took to help others discover the mercy and kindness he’d found in Jesus.

Describing the love that he now wanted others to know for themselves, Paul wrote, “I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more” (Phil. 1:8–9). Now—whether in life or death—Paul believed he couldn’t lose.

Telling It Like It Is

Psalm 126

People love inspiring stories. Biographies of the down-and-out who make great use of a second chance tend to top best-seller lists. But few people have a life of such drama—most of us are quite ordinary. Sadly, some believers think that being a “regular Joe” makes their testimony unexciting and therefore less valuable. Nothing could be further from the truth. What the Lord has done for any of us is just as extraordinary as what He did by redeeming those with a past of more noticeable sin.

A personal testimony is a way of expressing what God has done and is doing in one’s life. It is a powerful tool for getting an unbeliever interested in spiritual matters. No matter how commonplace our words may sound compared to someone else’s, the Lord will see to it that they impact the hearers who need them.

Let me give you an example. Suppose a 6-year-old girl named Tina receives salvation. When she is 18, she will be able to tell her friends of God’s greatness. She can explain that He makes the gospel clear to a child and yet reveals something new to her every day. When Tina is 80, she will have a lifetime of service opportunities to share. Her testimony may not be exciting according to the world’s criteria, but it is spiritual gold.

You have no idea how far-reaching your testimony can be. God says that His words will not return to Him without completing the work He sent them to do (Isa. 55:11). When believers share their faith, they are carrying His gospel to a needy world. And the story of Jesus’ saving grace is always inspiring.

Things We Cannot Do Without

“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:20)

There are many things in life we can well do without, but there are at least seven things a Christian simply cannot do without. These are:

1. The Lord Jesus Christ. Speaking of the heathen nations before Christ, Paul said: “At that time ye were without Christ, . . . having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

2. Christ’s shed blood. “Without shedding of blood is no remission.” “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, . . . But with the precious blood of Christ” (Hebrews 9:22; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

3. Christ’s sinlessness. The Lord Jesus “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, He could die for our sins.

4. Faith in Christ. “Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is” (Hebrews 11:6).

5. Faith-generated works. True faith in Christ inevitably produces good works. As our text reminds us, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20).

6. True holiness. “Follow . . . holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Genuine faith in Christ both receives His imputed holiness and also generates practical holiness in the believer.

7. Heavenly chastisement. Unconfessed and unforsaken sin in a Christian’s life must receive chastisement from the Father. “If ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye . . . not sons” (Hebrews 12:8).

Without saving faith in the Lord, we have nothing of eternal value, but with Him, we have “all things” (1 Corinthians 3:21). HMM

“There is not enchantment against Jacob.”

Numbers 23:13-24

Balak, anxious to induce Balaam to curse Israel, took him from place to place, and offered one sacrifice after another, but all in vain; the Lord stood between his people and the machinations of their enemies. We will read the inspired record of one of Balaam’s oracular speeches—it may serve for all.

Numbers 23:13

The king thought that the number, beauty, and order of Israel might have influenced the prophet, and therefore he would only let him see a part of them. The trick was in vain. God does not love his people because of their number. If there were but two or three he would be quite as sure to bless them.

Numbers 23:14

Moses and Balaam both stood on the same hill, but with very different objects. Places cannot change character.

Numbers 23:17

An enquiry which we all should raise, and search the Scriptures to find the reply.

Numbers 23:18, 19

The immutability of the divine counsel is the safety of the saints. No entreaties of our foes can move the heart of God away from us: we are his chosen, and we shall be so evermore. Every promise is yea and amen in Christ Jesus, and not one single word of the Lord shall ever fall to the ground. Men shift like quicksand, but the Lord is firm as a rock.

Numbers 23:20

No, nor all the devils in hell. The promise is not yea and nay, but yea, yea.

Numbers 23:21

Not such iniquity as to lead him to put them away. Balaam knew that nothing but sin could separate God from Israel, and he saw that by some means or other the Lord had not seen iniquity in his people. We know, what he did not, that a Mediator came between, otherwise Israel’s sins had long before been her destruction. No doubt compared with the Moabites and especially the filthy Canaanites, the people in the wilderness were remarkably pure to Balaams judgment; but it would have fared very ill with them if this had been their only righteousness.

Numbers 23:22

God makes his saints so strong that they astound their adversaries.

Numbers 23:23

No plan of men or devils can succeed against the elect of God. We have no cause to fear evil omens, in fact, it would be sinful to do so. It is wicked to feel the superstitious fear of the old heathen. No magical arts, Satanic devices, or malicious plottings can really injure the beloved of the Lord

Numbers 23:23

God’s work shall baffle man’s, and excite wonder when human malice is forgotten.

Numbers 23:24

He foresaw the military prowess of the nation, and foretold the destruction of the Canaanites by Israel, thus in reality blessing the people whom he was invited to curse.


Vain were the heathen altars

The tide of love to stem;

That tongue for ever falters

That would the saints condemn.


In vain the wrath it mutters,

For God will never curse;

When he the blessing utters,

There’s no man can reverse.


Cast All Your Care on the Lord!

1 Peter 5:7

When we were constructing a huge church facility many years ago in the Republic of Latvia—a former Soviet nation where our family once lived and worked—worry and anxiety tried so hard to control me. In fact, worry nearly broke me until I really came to understand and embrace the meaning of First Peter 5:7.

At the time, no credit was available for building churches in that nation. This meant we had to believe for all the finances to come in quickly so we could pay cash as we constructed the massive facility. Then the local authorities gave us a deadline by which the building had to be complete and occupied; otherwise, there was a possibility we could lose everything we had invested. With this kind of pressure on me, I found myself continually worrying that we wouldn’t have enough money to finish the project on time. I was constantly fighting thoughts about losing the building if we didn’t make the deadline that the government had given us.

I would lie in bed at night, rolling this way and that way, turning again and again, unable to sleep because my stomach was churning with acid and my mind was spinning with doubts, worries, fears, reservations, and concerns. My heart pounded harder and harder each day and night as anxiety reached out its demonic fingers to grab hold of my emotions and twist them into a mangled mess of panic. My wife would tell me to quit worrying and start trusting the Lord, but instead of appreciating her advice, I only got angry that she wasn’t worrying with me!

Finally one night, I got up, walked down the hallway to my study, opened my Bible, and read these words: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). I had read this verse thousands of times in my life, but that night it was as if it reached out from the pages of the Bible and grabbed hold of my attention. I read it and read it and read it again. At last, I picked up my Greek New Testament and began to dig deeper into the verse. What I discovered in that verse changed my life and set me free from worry, anxiety, fretting, and fear!

That night, I saw that the word “casting” used in First Peter 5:7 was the Greek word epiripto, a compound of the words epi and ripto. The word epi means upon, as on top of something. The word ripto means to hurl, to throw, or to cast, and it often means to violently throw or to fling something with great force.

The only other place this word epiripto is used in the New Testament is in Luke 19:35, where the Bible says, “And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus there on.” It is important to note this passage, for it correctly conveys the idea of the word epiripto, which in secular literature often pictured the flinging of a garment, bag, or excess weight off the shoulders of a traveler and onto the back of some other beast, such as a donkey, camel, or horse.

We are not designed to carry the burden of worry, fretting, and anxiety. This load is simply too much for the human body and the central nervous system to tolerate. We may be able to manage it for a while, but eventually the physical body and mind will begin to break under this type of perpetual pressure. In fact, the medical world has confirmed that the major source of sickness in the Western Hemisphere is stress and pressure. Man was simply not fashioned to carry pressures, stresses, anxieties, and worries; this is the reason his body breaks down when it undergoes these negative influences for too long.

If you are struggling with sickness or depression, your condition very possibly could be related to stress and pressure. In First Peter 5:7, it is almost as if Jesus is calling out to you and saying, “Your shoulders are not big enough to carry the burdens you’re trying to bear by yourself. This bad will eventually break you—so please let ME be your beast of burden! Take that bad and heave it with all your might. Fling it over onto MY back, and let ME carry it for you!” Just as Luke 19:35 says they cast their garments upon the back of the donkey, now you need to cast your burdens over on the Lord and let Him carry those burdens for you!

But exactly what problems and cares are we to throw over onto the shoulders of the Lord? The apostle Peter says we are to cast all of “our cares” upon Jesus. The word “cares” is the Greek word merimna, which means anxiety. However, in principle it described any affliction, difficulty, hardship, misfortune, trouble, or complicated circumstance that arises as a result of problems that develop in our lives. It could refer to problems that are financial, marital, job-related, family-related, business-oriented, or anything else that concerns us.

This means anything that causes you worry or anxiety—regardless of why it happened—is what you need to throw over onto the shoulders of Jesus Christ! Nothing is too big or small to talk to the Lord about, Peter says, because He “careth for you.” The word “careth” is taken from the Greek word melei, which means to be concerned; to be thoughtful; to be interested; to be aware; to notice; or to give painful and meticulous attention. Peter uses this word to assure us that Jesus really does care about us and the things that are heavy on our hearts. In fact, He gives meticulous attention to what is happening to us. He is interested in every facet of our lives.

So don’t ever let the devil tell you that your problems are too stupid, small, or insignificant to bring to Jesus. The Lord is interested in everything that concerns you!


Because of the Greek words used in First Peter 5:7, this verse carries the following idea:

“Take that heavy burden, difficulty, or challenge you are carrying—the one that has arisen due to circumstances that have created hardship and struggles in your life—and fling those worries and anxieties over onto the back of the Lord! Let Him carry them for you! The Lord is extremely interested in every facet of your life and is genuinely concerned about your welfare.”

When I saw these Greek words and perceived how deeply Jesus cared about the burdens that were on my heart, I realized I was carrying a load I didn’t have to bear by myself. Jesus was standing right at my side, longing to help me and inviting me to shift the weight from my shoulders to His shoulders. By faith, I heaved those financial cares onto the back of Jesus—and when I did, I was set free from the stress, anxiety, and pressure that had been weighing me down at that time in my life.

You don’t have to carry the whole weight of the world by yourself. Jesus loves you so much and is so deeply concerned about you and the difficulties you are facing that He calls out to you today, “Roll those burdens over on Me. Let Me carry them for you so you can be free!”

If you are lugging around worries, cares, and concerns about your family, your business, your church, or any other area of your life, why not stop right now and say, “Jesus, I’m yielding every one of these concerns to You today. I cast my burden on You, and I thank You for setting me fee!”


Lord, I thank You for what I’ve read today. I regret having carried these burdens and worries so long by myself when, in fact, You were always ready to take them from me and to carry them on my behalf. But it’s never too late to do what is right, so right now I make the decision to yield to You every one of these matters that are bothering me. Thank You for coming alongside me to take these weights from my shoulders. Because You are so loving and attentive to me, I can now go fee!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that Jesus is standing right at my side, yearning to help me and inviting me to shift the weight from my shoulders to His shoulders so I can go fee! By faith I have already cast my cares onto Jesus. As a result, I am liberated from stress, anxiety, worries, pressures, and all the other things that have been bothering me!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. Do you habitually worry and fret about certain things? What are the issues that weigh on your mind more than anything else?
  2. Are you able to cast these cares over onto the Lord, or do you keep stirring yourself up with thoughts of fear, reigniting the fretting and the worry all over again even after you have already released those cares to the Lord?
  3. What triggers worry, fretting, and anxiety in you? Have you noticed key words, phrases, or events when worry and fretting begin to operate inside you? Recognizing those moments may help you prevent them from reoccurring, so consider well what kinds of situations arouse these emotions in you.


Accountability Or Anonymity?

A popular buzz word bandied about in Christian circles these days is “accountability.” The question is often asked, “Are you accountable to anyone?


I would suggest that in reality most of us are more anonymous than we are accountable. We may appear to be accountable in our Christian world, but in the highly secularized environment of values that conflict with ours we become anonymous.


We soon learn that “to get along is to go along,” since today in most circles it’s not considered acceptable to have strong convictions on anything… except not to have strong convictions! Those who are overly vocal with their beliefs are soon labeled social or religious bigots.


And so to “get along,” we soften our stance, which in time has an eroding effect upon our convictions and values… and upon our behavior. We learn to live in two worlds.


Often, in attempting to cope with our duplicity however, we find ourselves privately riddled with tension and guilt.


But not to worry: We will discover that if we sublimate our convictions long enough, they will eventually be neutralized and our guilt will be numbed.


You will then be able to recognize us by our passivity, stoic resignation, and socially acceptable “niceness”.


If you are caught in this kind of a pressure cooker and are tempted to abandon personal ACCOUNTABILITY in favor of a more comfortable ANONYMITY, keep in mind the Scripture’s warning:


There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made knownHe will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of mens heartsFor God will bring every deed into judgment… ” (Matthew 10:26; 1 Corinthians 4:5b; Ecclesiastes 12:14a)


QUESTION: To resist the temptation of receding into anonymity, have you made the decision to make yourself accountable not only to God, but to one or two brothers or sisters in the faith?



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