If I Knew Then . . .

In his great mercy [God] has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3

On the way to work, I listened to the song “Dear Younger Me,” which asks: If you could go back, knowing what you know now, what would you tell your younger self? As I listened, I thought about the bits of wisdom I might give my younger, less-wise self. Most of us have thought about how we might do things differently—if only we could do it all over again.

But the song illustrates that even though we have regrets from our past, all our experiences have shaped who we are. We can’t change the consequences of our choices or sin. Praise God we don’t have to carry the mistakes around with us. Because of what Jesus has done! “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”! (1 Peter 1:3).

We are forgiven because of what He’s done.

If we turn to Him in faith and sorrow for our sins, He will forgive us. On that day we’re made brand new and begin the process of being spiritually transformed (2 Cor. 5:17). It doesn’t matter what we’ve done (or haven’t done), we are forgiven because of what He’s done. We can move forward, making the most of today and anticipating a future with Him. In Christ, we’re free!

Dear Lord, I’m so thankful that through You we can be free of the burdens of the past—the mistakes, the pain, the sins—that hang so heavy. We don’t need to carry around regret or shame. We can leave them with You.

For further study, read Live Free.

Leave your heavy burdens with God.

By Alyson Kieda 


Imagine meeting Jesus face to face—after knowingly denying ever knowing Him. Would we tell Him we haven’t been able to forgive ourselves? Would He know our heart and understand?

During the Last Supper, Peter couldn’t imagine he would deny Jesus once—let alone three times (John 13:37–38). But then the unthinkable happened (Matt. 26:69–75). Later, however, Jesus gave Peter three opportunities to express love to the One who so mercifully forgave him (John 21:15–18).

In that love and forgiveness Peter found a way forward. We too can move forward from the sins of our past through the love and forgiveness of Christ.

Mart DeHaan

When God Is Silent What Do You Do?

John 11:1-27

Have you ever felt as if God were giving you the silent treatment? Perhaps you prayed and asked Him to give you direction for your life but didn’t hear a thing. Maybe you are going through some physical illness or a family problem, and nothing’s happening even though you’ve pleaded with God.

How do you respond when the Lord doesn’t appear to be answering your prayers? Do you take advantage of the opportunity to learn something from the experience, or do you simply conclude that He is ignoring you? Typical responses are disappointment (God let me down), discouragement (I should stop praying), confusion (Where is God?), feelings of guilt (I did something wrong), anger (God isn’t faithful!) and fear (God has deserted me).

Today’s passage gives us a good example of a time when the Lord seemed unconcerned with the life of someone He loved. On hearing that His friend was sick and about to die, Jesus delayed doing anything for two days! His disciples and the dying man’s sisters—Mary and Martha—no doubt wondered why Jesus seemed not to care. Yet they continued to trust Him, and ultimately their faith was strengthened.

When we can’t hear God, it doesn’t mean He’s asleep or unaware of our circumstances. It also doesn’t mean He is going to deny our request. However, He wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him that is independent of how He responds to our prayers—we must love Him just because He is God. Consider the basis of your love for the Lord, and ask Him to help you make it unconditional.

Walk as He Walked

“He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (1 John 2:6)

The idea of walking as Christ walked can be intimidating to a Christian. After all, the sinless Son of God, Himself fully God, who gave up everything to serve and save rebellious mankind, set an exceedingly high standard. Nothing short of perfection and total sacrifice will do. Nevertheless, while we recognize that we will never fully achieve Christlikeness on this side of glory, we have “received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (Colossians 2:6). Let us note several specific commands in the New Testament that describe such a walk.

First and foremost, we are to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16, 25; Romans 8:1-4). The empowering of the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to “walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12; Ephesians 4:1). Furthermore, our walk is a walk of faith: “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

We must “walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us” (Ephesians 5:2), and since “now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (v. 8; see also 1 John 1:7). We will make good use of our opportunities as we “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16; Colossians 4:5).

We must “walk in truth” (3 John 4) and in honesty (1 Thessalonians 4:12; Romans 13:13). This walk will be evident to all by our “good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Such a victorious walk might be its own reward; but there is more. Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, has said of those who overcome that “they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy” (Revelation 3:4). JDM

Let us fall now into the hands of the Lord

2 Samuel 24:1-4, 9-15

After many trials, David again enjoyed a period of repose, but his leisure again proved a temptation to him, and he resolved to form an estimate of his own greatness that he might have whereof to glory.

2 Samuel 24:1

In the Book of Chronicles, Satan is said to have provoked David to this deed, and so indeed he did, and thus the moral evil of the action belongs to the tempter and his ready victim; but the writer of the present passage saw the hand of the Lord in it, using the sin of David as the means of punishing the sins of the people. Both statements are true, and there is no need to attempt a reconciliation, since one truth must agree with another whether we see it or not.

2 Samuel 24:2, 3

Joab was not only right, but courteous on this occasion. He knew that the people would judge that either a new taxation or a conscription was on foot, and they would become uneasy and rebellious, therefore he thought it unwise. According to the law of Moses, a piece of money as a sin-offering was to be offered by every Israelite when the tribes were counted, but this was neglected. Moses numbered the people at God’s bidding, considering them to be the Lord’s people, but David counted them at his own will, as if they were his own. people, and this the Lord would not endure.

2 Samuel 24:10

That which he looked upon as ground for boasting became reason for humiliation. His army of a million and a quarter of warriors gave him no joy, for he had grieved his God.

2 Samuel 24:10

Grace was in him, and when it came to the front, he was ready enough to mourn his error. O for the like tenderness of conscience!

2 Samuel 24:11, 12

Plain David, not David my servant, as it had formerly been. If we walk contrary to God, he will shew himself contrary to us

2 Samuel 24:14

He had a hard alternative, but his choice was wise, and it showed that with all his wanderings he had a sound and loving trust in the Lord his God. A child of God feels always safest in his Fathers hands.


O that my chastened heart may smite

And make me inly groan,

Whene’er I vainly take delight

In aught I call my own.


Harden’d by sin’s deceitfulness

O may I never be,

But miss my comfort and my peace,

Whene’er I turn from thee.


What Will You Do When the Effects of Gravity Start To Show Up?

1 Peter 3:3, 4

When a young bride prepares for her wedding, she wants to be beautiful for the man she is about to marry. She goes to the salon to have her hair fixed and her nails manicured. Everything has to look as perfect as possible for that moment when she says “I do” to her husband at the church altar.

It is right and normal for a woman to desire to look gorgeous for this long-awaited moment in her life. But when I am the one performing the wedding ceremony, there always comes a point in the ceremony when I peer into the eyes of the beautiful young bride and tell her:

“Today you look so beautiful in your white wedding gown. You are the perfect picture of a gorgeous bride. But a day will come when your body will begin to change, when wrinkles will start to appear, and gravity will begin to move things from where they used to be! When that day comes—and it will come—the most beautiful thing you’ll have to offer your husband will not be your body but a godly, beautiful, unfading spirit. Never forget that your spirit is what will make your husband think you are beautiful to the very last day of your life!”

People in the audience always giggle when I say these words. Most of these giggles come from people who are middle-aged and who see wrinkles when they look in the mirror. They are beginning to experience the middle-aged effects of gravity! Parts of their bodies that used to be strong and firm are starting to droop, and they feel tempted to lament when they look in the mirror.

That’s why it’s important to remember that the most beautiful thing a wife has to offer her husband is not her body but her spirit. The good news is that when the body begins to show signs of age, the human spirit remains remarkably free from its effects. This is why Paul said, “… Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Perhaps you can think of a time when you met an elderly man or woman who was so young at heart that it simply amazed you. Now you know why! The process of aging affects the human body, but it has no effect on the spirit.

When Peter wrote to wives in First Peter 3, he instructed them to give attention to the “hidden man of the heart.” These words are very significant, for they refer here to the spirit of a godly woman. The word “hidden” is the word kruptos, which describes something that is hidden or veiled from the eyes. The word “heart” is the Greek word kardia, which is the Greek word for the physical organ of the heart. Just as the physical organ of the heart is hidden from human sight, so the inner man is not visible to the natural eye.

By using the word kardia (the Greek word for the “heart”), Peter is giving us a powerful insight regarding the human spirit. The heart is the central vital organ of the body. Although the heart is invisible to natural sight, the human body cannot live without it. The heart has a direct impact on every single part of the body as it pumps blood through arteries and many miles of blood vessels.

Paul uses the word kardia (“heart”) to let us know that the human spirit is very similar to the natural heart. For instance, although the human spirit is invisible to the eyes, it is vital to life. According to James 2:26, where there is no spirit, the physical body dies. Thus, the spirit is the life-giving force within a human being.

The natural heart pumps blood into every part of the body and thereby influences a person’s ability to live and function. Similarly, whatever is produced in the human spirit determines the ultimate outcome of a person’s life. If a person’s spirit is filled with darkness, it will pump darkness into every part of that person’s life. On the other hand, if a person’s spirit is filled with the life of God, it will pump life into every part of that person’s being. Whatever is in the spirit is exactly what will be reproduced in a person’s life and conduct.

This is precisely why Peter urges wives to take time and care to develop their spirits, which he calls “the hidden man of the heart.” A woman who wants to be truly beautiful, even after her body begins to age, must put time and effort into the development of her spirit.

You see, there are many outwardly beautiful people who are inwardly wicked; therefore, their beauty is only skin deep—neither long-lasting nor impressive. Although these people spend hours adorning and grooming themselves, what is inside them is projected clear through their outer adornment. Since they are actually unkind and inwardly ugly people, their inner ugliness ruins the effect of their physical beauty and causes them to be perceived as unattractive people. The truth is, some of the meanest and most wicked, vile people in the world are physically beautiful, yet their inner attitudes cause them to be very repulsive to those around them.

Peter is addressing this exact issue in First Peter 3:3, 4. Because the human spirit is the life-force of an individual, he encourages women to not only fix their faces and their hair, but to also beautify their spirits, even though the spirit man is invisible to the natural eye.

Peter also declares that the hidden man of the heart is that part of the human being that is “incorruptible.” The word “incorruptible” is the Greek word aphthartos, which refers to something that is incapable of decay or something that is incapable of suffering the effects of wear, tear, and age. This word clearly describes the hidden part of the human being that never grows old or experiences the effects of aging.

As my wife grows older, I look upon her with greater respect than ever before. Honestly, I think she is physically beautiful and I am honored to be married to such an attractive woman. But what makes her most beautiful to me is not her hair, her face, her figure, or her clothing. The most beautiful part of my wife is her heart. The sweet fragrance of Jesus Christ emanates from her heart, through her attitudes, and into her words and actions, making her one of the loveliest people I’ve ever known.

Of course, I appreciate the fact that Denise works hard to stay in shape, to eat right, and to look so striking every day. The way she dresses reveals her character and desire to be excellent in everything she does. I am very aware that another reason she diligently works to look beautiful is that she wants to honor me by looking nice.

As a husband, I have a responsibility, as every husband does, to acknowledge when my wife looks beautiful. She needs that acknowledgement from me. But the part of Denise that first captured my heart and continues to do so today is not her body; it is her heart. Her heart is so beautiful that it makes me stand back and watch her with great admiration!

I regularly observe and take note of what Denise does to keep her heart in this godly shape. She rises early to read her Bible and to seek the face of God. When the rest of us are still sleeping, she kneels on the floor in her prayer room to pray and to worship. She weeps before the Lord as He deals with her about the attitudes He wants to change in her. She spends hours asking Him to change her and to make her more like Him.

Because my wife has made the development and maturity of her spirit such a central focus in her life, I can tell you that she continually captures my heart. Although we are getting older and our bodies are beginning to change, she is more gorgeous to me today than ever before. I know that as we grow older and older, she will only become more beautiful, because as the flesh wanes, it will only make it more possible for her dynamic heart to shine brighter!

As noted in yesterday’s Sparkling Gem, God is not against women using cosmetics, wearing jewelry, or arraying themselves in fine clothing. But all the world’s finest jewelry and most expensive makeup and clothing cannot make a person with an ugly heart look beautiful. Whatever is in the spirit is exactly what will be reproduced in a person’s life.

Wife, I urge you to take heed to Peter’s plea in these verses. For the sake of both your marriage and your personal walk with God, make the decision to not only adorn your outward appearance, but also to turn your attention to the hidden man of the heart.


Lord, help me give adequate attention to my heart so I can develop my spirit and become more godly in how I live my life. I pray that the strength and godliness that resides in my spirit will manifest in my life, emanating from within me and making me more gracious and more beautiful the older I get. I look to You, Lord, for help in growing old gracefully and emanating power in my older years.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that my spirit is getting stronger and stronger as I get older. My inner man is adorned with godliness and grace. The older I get, the more visible my inward man becomes—and what is seen coming from within me makes me attractive, even though I am getting a little wrinkled and gravity is having its effects on my physical form. I am inwardly strong and beautiful, and this inner beauty is what attracts people to me.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. What are you doing on a daily basis to develop the inner beauty within you?
  2. Can you name some individuals who grew more powerful and more beautiful the older they became? What is it that strikes you most about these individuals?
  3. Why don’t you take the time to ask a few of these individuals to tell you the secret of their beauty in their latter years?


How Do You Know If You Are On Target With God?

Here’s a check list to help you evaluate your true values and commitments:


1. What do you want most?


Peace? Security? Safety? Recognition and respect? All of these are natural concerns. Are they your primary concern, or are your principle concerns for the Kingdom and Glory of God? (John 17:4, 10, 22, 24; Matthew 6:9-11; Luke 10:41, 42)


2. What do you think about the most?


Survival? “Success”? Building your financial portfolio? Your golf handicap? Or how to win those neighbors down the street to Christ? Or how you can get more quality time with God and your family? (Colossians 3:1, 2)


3. How do you use your money?


Would an objective observer conclude that you are greedy and self-indulgent? Or generous and self-sacrificing? Do you see your resources as God-given, and yourself as His steward in managing His resources? (Deuteronomy 8:18) Or do you view your resources as the product of your genius and sweat – to be dispensed of as you so please? (Luke 16:10-12; Deuteronomy 8:17)


4. What do you do with your leisure time?


On the evenings you go out for entertainment, would Jesus be comfortable tagging along? How would he feel about your late night T.V. and internet viewing? Does the focus and tenor of your leisure time match up with Paul’s criterion in Philippians 4:8: Think on whatever is “truenoblerightpurelovelyadmirableexcellentor praiseworthy… “?


5. What kind of company do you enjoy?


Are you traveling with the “mediocre middle” spiritual couch potatoes? Or with people of vision, discipline and excellence? Are you compassionately relating with the lost in your world or are you limiting yourself to your “holy huddle? Are you blending in with compromising Christians? Or are you calling a spade a spade when sin is involved? (Proverbs 13:20; Matthew 9:9-13; 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; Ephesians 5:11)


6. Whom and what do you admire?


Are your heroes the self-proclaimed great ones? The power brokers? Those over whom the world ogles and awes? Or are your heroes the people who have chosen the less traveled path of service, sacrifice and humility? Interesting that a major publication devoted 17 pages to Princess Diana and 4 to Mother Teresa the week of their deaths. (Luke 16:15)



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