The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad. Psalm 126:3

Have you ever traced a particular phrase through the Bible? Take the phrase “for us,” two small words which we emphasized in the following verses. Psalm 62:8 says, “God is a refuge for us.” Romans 5:8 says, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Ephesians 5:2 says, “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us.” Hebrews 9:24 says Jesus now appears in heaven, “in the presence of God for us.” And Nehemiah 4:20 says, “Our God will fight for us.”

The greatest concentration of “for us” passages is found in Romans 8: “The Spirit Himself makes intercession for us…. If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?… Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died…who also makes intercession for us” (verses 26, 31-32, 34).

The God of heaven is for you! Study these and similar verses until this truth is planted deep into your heart!

For us he rose from death again; for us he went on high to reign;/ for us he sent his Spirit here, to guide, to strengthen, and to cheer. Benjamin Web, “O Love, How Deep”

Psalm 126 • Sowing in tears, reaping with joy

Our True Identity

Jesus said . . . , “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” Luke 5:10

First, the man selected a tackle box. Standing in his town’s small bait shop, he then filled a shopping cart with hooks, lures, bobbers, line, and weights. Finally, he added live bait and selected a new rod and reel. “Ever fished before?” the shop owner asked. The man said no. “Better add this,” said the owner. It was a first-aid kit. The man agreed and paid, then headed off to a day of not catching a thing—except snags on his fingers from his hooks and gear.

That wasn’t Simon Peter’s problem. An experienced fisherman, he was surprised one dawn when Jesus told him to push his boat into deep water and “let down the nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4). Despite a long night of catching nothing, Simon and his crew let down their nets and “caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” In fact, his two boats started to sink from the haul (v. 6).

Seeing this, Simon Peter “fell at Jesus’ knees,” urging Him to “go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (v. 8). Jesus, however, knew Simon’s true identity. He told His disciple, “From now on you will fish for people.” Hearing that, Simon “left everything and followed” Christ (vv. 10–11). When we follow Him, He helps us learn who we are and what we’re called to do as His own.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

Outside of Jesus, what’s your identity or role in life? When you follow Him, how does your identity change?

Father, when I struggle to know my true identity, remind me to follow You to discover in You my true self.

Praying Effectively

God answers the prayers of a transformed heart that seeks His will.

1 Kings 18:17-39 

God has given us the privilege of coming to Him with all our requests and concerns. And His Word tells us the prayers of a righteous person can accomplish much (James 5:16). Isn’t that what we all desire? 

Elijah is a good example of someone who prayed effectively. He entered into a spiritual conflict with Baal worshippers to prove to Israel that the Lord is the one true God. Elijah’s petition was based on his knowledge of the Lord’s supremacy and an understanding of His will. When the prophet prayed, God responded by powerfully answering the request.

To have an effective prayer life, we must first be righteous through saving faith in Jesus Christ. Before redemption, we were sinners under God’s condemnation (Eph. 2:1-3). But in Christ, we are made new and declared righteous in His sight (Eph. 2:4-6). 

For our petitions to be effectual, they must be in agreement with God’s will (1 John 5:14-15). Getting to know our heavenly Father’s character and priorities is the key to a powerful prayer life. As we grow in our knowledge of Him, our requests will increasingly align with His plans. 

Our Umpire in Heaven

For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both. (Job 9:32-33)

Job, in his sufferings, was mystified by the complete silence of God, whom he had loved and tried to serve faithfully all his life. He longed somehow to be able to come before the great Judge to plead his case, but this was not possible, for God was not a man like himself. He did not even have a “daysman” to mediate between himself and God.

Oh, yes, he did! And so do we. A “daysman” is an arbitrator or umpire, or mediator (as this word is usually rendered in modern versions). But how could there be an umpire to mediate disputes between God and man unless such an umpire could somehow be both God and man, able to “lay his hand upon us both”?

There is one perfect umpire, of course. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). The ransom He paid was His own blood, with which “he entered in once [for all] into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12).

Thus, the God/man Christ Jesus is perfectly able to bridge the chasm between God and man. Perhaps an even better connotation of “daysman” is that of “advocate.” Now, when Satan, “the accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10), accuses us of sin before God, as he did against Job, our great Intercessor defends us. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1), and “he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). HMM

The Beauty of Unity

How good and pleasant it is when brothers can live together! It is like fine oil on the head, running down on the beard, running down Aarons beard, onto his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon falling on the mountains of Zion. For there the Lord has appointed the blessing—life forevermore (Psalm 133 vv 1-3).

When Israel celebrated her great religious festivals, families came together to worship the Lord. These homecomings were accompanied by colorful pageantry and moving music.

Periodically, we have a Wyrtzen family reunion. How I love my own immediate family, but this gave me a chance to see members of my extended family too! My sister Mary-Ann and her husband, Dave Cox, are the founders and directors of the Word of Life Seminary in Brazil. My sister, Betsy, teaches at Mountainside Christian Academy in Schroon Lake, New York. My brother, David, with his wife Mary, pastors the Midlothian Bible Church in Texas. My brother, Ron, is a Christian businessman. His wife, Christine, is a prominent musician and author. My mom went to be with the Lord a few years ago, but he provided a wonderful new wife for Dad. Each one unique, yet with a common bond of love and unity.

In this passage David agrees that it is “good and pleasant” when believers live in unity and uses two striking word pictures to illustrate this idea—the “oil” that anointed Aaron and the “dew” from Mount Hermon. The oil of anointing ran down Aaron’s beard and onto his breastplate containing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. So also, the unity of worshipers in Jerusalem will consecrate the nation. Heavy mountain dew from the north fell on Zion, invigorating and nourishing the vegetation. So also, meaningful worship blesses the nation.

I need this reminder of the importance of family and community. In the press of publishing deadlines and concert commitments, I have a tendency to lose touch with family members and even with the local church support group of believers. Strong, creative leaders need to feel part of a caring fellowship and not live and work solo, independently of others.

Personal Prayer

O Lord, someday we will all come together for a great family reunion. Teach me that I belong to the greater family of God and makeme accountable for keeping up family ties!

Gaze on His Face

Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.—Hebrews 12:1-2

In order to stay spiritually fresh you must keep your eyes fully focused on Jesus.

Our Lord was the most alert and alive person the world has ever seen. Never once do we read that He experienced spiritual staleness or had to confess to being out of touch with heaven. He was always confident, always assured, always in the right place, always doing the right thing at the right time. Even after a period of prolonged fasting in the wilderness when He faced the fiercest of temptations, He turned—not exhausted and limp as a wet rag—but “in the power of the Spirit.” Here was spiritual freshness to the nth degree.

Our text today tells us that one of the ways by which we can become more and more like Christ is to stand with unveiled faces and continually gaze upon Him. It is a breathtaking concept—and so simple. Yet how profound. Look beyond yourself to Another, and thus free yourself from self-preoccupation. Have you noticed how many of the religious cults get their followers to concentrate on the divinity within them? Then what happens? They finish up preoccupied with their own states of mind and emotion. As someone put it: “If I worship the divinity within me, I will probably end up worshiping myself.”

2 Corinthians 3:18 gets our gaze in the right place—on the face of Christ: “We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” The attention we give to this is important, for whatever gets our attention gets us. Therefore, when Christ gets our attention, He also gets us. Our gaze must be person-centered, not problem-centered. And that Person must be Jesus Christ.


Blessed Lord Jesus, when I look at myself I feel unworthy and inadequate. But when I look at You, I feel anything is possible. Help me not just to glance at You, but gaze at You—continuously. Amen.

Further Study

Rm 8:29-39; Jn 1:36; Col 2:2-3

What is God’s plan for us?

What was John’s declaration?

“A Great Cloud of Witnesses”

Hebrews 12:1

Imagine you’re at the starting line in the most important race in history. You’re in a great stadium filled with Olympic athletes watching your performance! That’s the image the writer to the Hebrews presents to portray the Christian’s journey. We’re not wayfarers strolling leisurely along the byways of life or tourists returning each night to a fixed place, but we’re contenders always on the move. We’re heading for a particular goal—Christ Himself, His presence. It’s the most important race ever run.

Not only is Christ the goal of our journey, He is also the companion of our way and our example. “For the joy set before Him [He] endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:20). There, having reached His goal, He waits to welcome us when we reach the end.

Essential to the image is this “great cloud of witnesses.” Our race is run in the gaze of the heroes of the faith who lived and suffered and died in their day and generation. They’re watching, but what is more, they’re cheering us on.

But how do we “catch a cloud and pin it down”? There’s a sort of mystical quality about this cloud. How do we relate to people like Isaiah whom Jewish legend tells us was sawn asunder when he refused to take part in his country’s idolatry? Or Jeremiah, stoned to death by his own fellow countrymen? Or more modern heroes who endured punishments so graphically cruel and insidious that our modern horror movies pale in comparison?

Even now, our world is experiencing a new wave of persecution that astonishes our modern tolerant sensibilities. Christians in China, Africa and other parts of the world are being imprisoned, beaten and murdered for no other reason than that they pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ.

Our task is to remain faithful now, in the little or large struggles of our lives. That, I believe, is all that the great heroes of the faith did. But it was enough. It was enough to see them through the most dramatic conflict, the deepest suffering, even death. And now they watch, this great cloud of witnesses, cheering us on. What a mighty applause that must be.

Marlene Chase, Pictures from the Word