VIDEO Energizing Love

Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me? John 21:16

Tony Evans wrote, “Our fundamental problem as Christians is not really obedience. Our problem is keeping our love for Christ fervent, for love makes obedience a delight. A decline in obedience is the outgrowth of a decline in love.”[1]

Just before He returned to heaven, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. This is undoubtedly because Peter had earlier denied Jesus three times. But the question wasn’t to reassure Jesus. Jesus already knew the exact temperature of Peter’s love. He wanted to provide an opportunity for Peter to reaffirm and express his love. Jesus also wanted Peter to realize that genuine love would propel him into his future ministry of feeding Jesus’ sheep and tending Jesus’ flock.

We reaffirm our love for Jesus by telling Him we love Him, and by doing what He says. Furthermore, our love for Jesus will spill over into our human relationships. We love others because we love Him. Love is the energy of life. It motivates us in our service and in our servanthood.

When you are first a lover, God’s love will effortlessly energize your believing, and your believing will open to you the abundance in God’s healing Word. Larry M. Jaynes

Peter, Do You Love Me?

Caring Letters

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession. 1 Peter 2:9

Decades ago, Dr. Jerry Motto discovered the power of a “caring letter.” His research found that simply sending a letter expressing care to discharged patients who had previously attempted suicide reduced the rate of recurrence by half. Recently, health care providers have rediscovered this power when sending “caring” texts, postcards, and even social media memes as follow-up treatment for the severely depressed. 

Twenty-one “books” in the Bible are actually letters—epistles—caringly written to first-century believers who struggled for a variety of reasons. Paul, James, and John wrote letters to explain the basics of faith and worship, and how to resolve conflict and build unity. 

The apostle Peter, however, specifically wrote to believers who were being persecuted by the Roman emperor, Nero. Peter reminded them of their intrinsic value to God, describing them this way in 1 Peter 2:9, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.” This lifted their gaze to God’s great purpose for them in their world: “that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 

Our great God Himself wrote a book filled with caring letters to us—inspired Scripture—that we might always have a record of the value He assigns us as His own. May we read His letters daily and share them with others who need the hope Jesus offers.

By:  Elisa Morgan

Reflect & Pray

How does reading the Epistles as caring letters help you receive God’s encouragement? How will you share the hope of God’s caring letters today?

Loving God, thank You for the caring letters in the Bible!

Grace for Times of Trouble

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Trouble is an ever-present reality in this fallen world, and there is no way to totally escape its grip. As believers in Jesus Christ, we usually turn to the Lord, praying that He will change the situation and release us from its clutches. That’s what Paul did when he suffered from what he called a “thorn in the flesh.” On three different occasions, he asked for it to be removed; however, the Lord’s final answer was that the thorn would remain.

The sufferings that the Lord allows in our life are given to us for His good purpose. The apostle’s thorn was designed to provide him with precisely what he needed—humility. The Lord likewise has care and concern for us, and His intention is for our benefit. When He says no to our requests for relief, He says yes to something even greater: His all-sufficient grace.

Perhaps you are in a season of adversity right now. Do you trust the Lord with your thorns, or are you trying to pull them out? Whenever God allows suffering to remain, He gives grace to endure it. Cooperate with Him and exult in His loving wisdom and sufficiency.

God’s Tear Bottle

“Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” (Psalm 56:8)

This is a remarkable insight into the tender heart of our heavenly Father. He has a tear bottle—in fact, perhaps a tear bottle for each of His wandering children.

Ancient “tear bottles” (or wineskins) have actually been excavated by archaeologists in Israel. These vessels were used to catch and preserve the owner’s tears during times of grief or extreme pressure. This psalm was actually written by David when he was being pursued by Saul on one side and surrounded by Philistines in the city of Goliath on the other. David apparently not only had his own tear bottle but also believed that God somehow was also storing up David’s personal tears in His own heavenly bottle of tears.

There is a touching story in the earthly ministry of Jesus that provides another example: “Behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears,…and anointed them with the ointment” (Luke 7:37-38).

The ointment was obviously not the same as the tears but followed the washing by tears. Some scholars think these tears came from her bottle, which was emptied on His feet and used to wash them. Others think that those tear bottles that have been found actually contained the collected tears of mourners at a burial site.

In any case, God does know all our wanderings and sorrows and all our tears, and stores them up somewhere. Perhaps it is also a metaphor for His “book of remembrance,” which is being “written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name” (Malachi 3:16). HMM

God Is Not a Railway Porter

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? —Isaiah 40:12

We must be concerned with the person and character of God, not the promises. Through promises we learn what God has willed to us, we learn what we may claim as our heritage, we learn how we should pray. But faith itself must rest on the character of God.

Is this difficult to see? Why are we not stressing this in our evangelical circles? Why are we afraid to declare that people in our churches must come to know God Himself? Why do we not tell them that they must get beyond the point of making God a lifeboat for their rescue or a ladder to get them out of a burning building? How can we help our people get over the idea that God exists just to help run their businesses or fly their airplanes?

God is not a railway porter who carries your suitcase and serves you. God is God. He made heaven and earth. He holds the world in His hand. He measures the dust of the earth in the balance. He spreads the sky out like a mantle. He is the great God Almighty. He is not your servant. He is your Father, and you are His child. He sits in heaven, and you are on the earth.   FBR044-045

God, I fall on my face before You in worship today. Forgive me for those times I have treated You as though You were my servant. I am Your servant, Lord, and I humbly bow before You today. Amen.

We Need a Revival!

Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? —Psalm 85:6

We need a revival! We need a revival of consecration to death, a revival of happy abandonment to the will of God that will laugh at sacrifice and count it a privilege to bear the cross through the heat and burden of the day.

We are too much influenced by the world and too little controlled by the Spirit. We of the deeper life persuasion are not immune to the temptations of ease and we are in grave danger of becoming a generation of pleasure lovers….

May God raise up a people who will consult their pleasures less and the great need more. I know of one successful layman who refuses again and again to take perfectly legitimate pleasure trips because he cannot bring himself to leave his class of adolescent Sunday school boys. May God multiply such men and women among us till the reproach of Egypt is rolled away and man’s confidence in us restored. GTM159-160

A sanctified life is a life conformed to the Scriptures in every particular. It communes with our hearts; it next reaches our ears, and then it is accomplished in our feet. CTBC, Vol. 2/025

My Father Wrote a Book for Me

Psalm 119:105

My father is a writer. He wrote a book for me. My father’s life has been very colorful. He aspired to be a writer and by the age of 17 became a newspaper editor in his homeland, China. The communists blacklisted him as an “intellectual,” which in effect placed him on a “hit list.” Upon learning this information, his family slipped a few dollars into his pocket, put him on a train that same evening, and he disappeared into the night just ahead of his persecutors.

He found his way to Hong Kong, eventually marrying a church girlfriend. He then emigrated to North America, became a Salvation Army officer and retired after 35 years of faithful ministry. Through it all, he wrote. He wrote letters, newsletters, devotional columns, hundreds of articles for Chinese newspapers, several books and sermons with fresh insights from God every week of his 35-year ministry.

Through the years his readers would comment to me, “Oh, I love your father’s writing.” “Your father’s book touched my heart.” “Your dad wrote about you this week in his newspaper column.” I would smile and nod.

I never read my dad’s writing. Everything he wrote was in Chinese, his native language. English is my native language. So I asked my dad to write a book for me. “Dad, tell me your story, so I won’t forget.” As a result, he wrote the book For My Kinsmen’s Sake. It is the account of my family’s heritage. Now I have one book my father has written in English that I can read, understand, cherish and know his mind.

It is one of my most precious possessions. There is only one other book that is more precious to me than the book my dad wrote.

I discovered it in my young adulthood when I reached an exceptionally painful time in my life. It was then I discovered that this book I had never before appreciated was the greatest love letter of all time. My incredible discovery was that it was written to me. I couldn’t read enough about the fact that God loves me immeasurably, and has plans for my future.

It was as if I gained new vision, the true lens through which life could be accurately viewed and interpreted. Despair lost its hold on me as I became aware of God’s love and plans for me.

God’s Word is my love letter, my mirror, my map, my lamp, my instruction manual. It is nourishment for my soul. It is my window into God’s heart. It is the story of my spiritual heritage.

My heavenly Father is a writer. He wrote a Book for me, and for you.

Keilah Toy, The War Cry