Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Colossians 4:6
One summer while staying in a vacation cottage, Rich DeVos noticed the garbage collector making his rounds. This man showed up precisely at 6:30 a.m. once a week, moving from cottage to cottage carefully so as not to awaken people. The man was graceful in how he stashed the garbage in his vehicle, and he kept the neighborhood tidy. One morning, DeVos went out and told him, “You’re doing a great job. I came out to tell you that I really appreciate the good job you’re doing.” The man replied that in twelve years of hauling garbage, no one had ever said a kind word to him, including his boss.1
Great communicators don’t just give speeches or deliver sermons. They know how to say a kind word to those they meet along the way. Today you can say a kind word to someone who hasn’t heard one for a while. A kind word is never wasted.
Without my Christian faith, I would have fallen apart and given up. But with Christ strengthening me, I had the will to go on…. My faith in God gave me hope.2 Rich DeVos
Colossians 4:5-6 — Sweet And Salty
I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. Psalm 13:5
It’s not uncommon during a long (or short!) trip for someone in a group of travelers to ask, “Are we there yet?” or “How much longer?” Who hasn’t heard these universal queries coming from the lips of children and adults eager to arrive at their destination? But people of all ages are also prone to ask similar questions when wearied because of life challenges that never seem to cease.
Such was the case with David in Psalm 13. Four times in two verses (vv. 1–2), David—who felt forgotten, forsaken, and defeated—lamented “How long?” In verse two, he asks, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts?” Psalms that include lament, like this one, implicitly give us permission to worshipfully come to the Lord with questions of our own. After all, what better person to talk to during prolonged times of stress and strain than God? We can bring our struggles with illness, grief, the waywardness of a loved one, and relational difficulties to Him.
Worship need not stop when we have questions. The sovereign God of heaven welcomes us to bring our worry-filled questions to Him. And perhaps, like David, in due time our questions will be transformed into petitions and expressions of trust and praise to the Lord (vv. 3–6).
Lord, thank You that I don’t have to stop worshiping when I have questions; I can worship You with my questions.
1 Corinthians 12:14-21
Every day, you get out of bed, put on clothes, and walk to the kitchen to eat breakfast. You maybe watch the news or check your email, and a few minutes later, you drive to work at 60 miles per hour on a road where other vehicles can pass by within feet. In the first hour or so that you’re awake, your body completes thousands of complex tasks that are so routine they go unnoticed. We hardly even think about them.
Our physical frame is a creation of remarkable beauty and intricacy. And while certain parts seem more attractive than others, all are useful. The body’s interdependent nature—that is, the way the different parts rely on one another to perform properly—is an apt metaphor for a Christ-centered church. When believers use their gifts and talents to operate and depend on each other, the whole body functions properly to the glory of God.
However, many people in church today feel insignificant. Upon seeing the successful work of others, they decide they’re not really needed or assume they haven’t got the “right” talents to make a worthwhile contribution. Those are lies from the devil. When his misguidance succeeds—which is all too often—one more Christian backs away in hopes that someone else will do the Lord’s work.
Hanging back instead of seeking a place to serve is unfair to the congregation, because your unique contribution is integral to the unity of God’s church. Your role might not be center stage, but it is vital to Jesus Christ and to His body on earth.
“Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.” (Jeremiah 10:11)
This is a unique verse. Jeremiah, the second-longest book in the Bible, is written in Hebrew except for this one verse! Why would Jeremiah make this remarkable exception here?
This verse was written in Aramaic, which was the official language of the great Babylonian empire—the world’s chief nation at that time. The Babylonians, as prophesied by Jeremiah, were soon to be used as a weapon in God’s hand to punish His chosen people, carrying them into exile and captivity, and the main reason for such punishment was apostasy. God’s people had corrupted the worship of the true Creator God with the teachings and idols of the Babylonians and all the other nations around them who had rejected God.
Jeremiah had repeatedly condemned this apostasy, showing that God’s people were to be punished by the very nations whose religious philosophies had so attracted them.
But those nations needed also to understand that this was not because of their own strength nor the merits of their own gods. Thus, Jeremiah appropriately inserted a special word to be conveyed to the Babylonians, in their own official tongue. Only the true God, who made the heavens and the earth, is in control of the heavens and the earth.
The same type of warning, delivered in the “official” language of the modern world (“science?”), is needed even more today than it was in Jeremiah’s day. Today’s “gods”—Marx, Darwin, etc.—are even less deserving of trust than Zeus or Baal, and yet professing Christians have gone after them in droves. It is urgent that we call them back to the true Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ, urging them—before God’s judgment falls once again—to repudiate every vestige of evolutionary humanism. HMM
And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.
Very few of us know the secret of bathing our souls in silence. It was a secret our Lord Jesus Christ knew very well. There were times when He had to send the multitudes away so He could retire alone into the silence of the mountainside. There He would turn the God-ward side of His soul toward heaven and for a long time expose Himself to the face of His Father in heaven….
My eyes and ears and spirit are aware of the immaturities in the so-called evangelicalism of our time. The more noise we make, the more we advertise, the more bells we jingle, the happier we seem to be. All of the signs of immaturity are among us.
We are seeing a general abhorrence of being alone, of being silent before the Lord. We shrink from allowing our souls to be bathed in the healing silences. MMG103-104
Father, grant that we might not forsake the quest for solitude and silence until we have really mastered this discipline, no matter how busy our lives continue to be. Amen.
I delight to do Thy will, O my God; yea, Thy law is within my heart.—Psalm 40:8.
Crown us with love, and so with peace;
Transfigure duty to delight;
Our lips inspire, our faith increase,
Brighten with hope our darkest night.
Bring us from earthly bondage free
To find our heaven in serving Thee.
Henry Wilder Foote
We often make our duties harder by thinking them hard. We dwell on the things we do not like till they grow before our eyes, and, at last, perhaps shut out heaven itself. But this is not following our Master, and He, we may be sure, will value little the obedience of a discontented heart. The moment we see that anything to be done is a plain duty, we must resolutely trample out every rising impulse of discontent. We must not merely prevent our discontent from interfering with the duty itself; we must not merely prevent it from breaking out into murmuring; we must get rid of the discontent itself, Cheerfulness in the service of Christ in one of the first requisites to make that service Christian.
“When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed.” Isa. 53:10
Our Lord Jesus has not died in vain. His death was sacrificial: He died as our substitute, because death was the penalty of our sins; and because His substitution was accepted of God, He has saved those for whom He made His soul a sacrifice. By death He became like the corn of wheat which bringeth forth much fruit. There must be a succession of children unto Jesus; He is “the Father of the everlasting age.” He shall say, “Behold, I and the children whom thou hast given me.”
A man is honored in his sons, and Jesus hath His quiver full of these arrows of the mighty. A man is represented in his children, and so is the Christ in Christians. In his seed a man’s life seems to be prolonged and extended; and so is the life of Jesus continued in believers.
Jesus lives, for He sees His seed. He fixes His eye on us, He delights in us, He recognizes us as the fruit of His soul travail. Let us be glad that our Lord does not fail to enjoy the result of His dread sacrifice, and that He will never cease to feast His eyes upon the harvest of His death. Those eyes which once wept for us, are now viewing us with pleasure. Yes, He looks upon those who are looking unto Him. Our eyes meet! What a joy is this!