VIDEO Where There’s Smoke

God…devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him. 2 Samuel 14:14, NIV

A chaplain once offered a New Testament to a soldier, who said he would smoke the pages. The texture of the pages of some New Testaments is perfect for rolling cigarettes. The chaplain urged the man to read the pages before he lit them up. Two months later, the chaplain learned the soldier had died. In the man’s New Testament, the first pages were missing, but the rest appeared to be well-read. Inside the cover were the words: “Here is a book which I once despised, then read and through it found salvation in Christ.”

There’s only one way to heaven, but the Lord devises many ways of guiding us to that one way. The story of faith is different for each of us. Your story is unlike that of anyone else who has ever lived or who will ever live in the future. It should be recorded somewhere!

God has an individual loving plan for each of us, and He can guide those who don’t know Him to Himself in His own time and way. Thank Him for bringing you to Himself and entrust into His keeping the one for whom you are burdened.

There my burdened soul found liberty—at Calvary!

William Reed Newell, “At Calvary”

Words of a Wise Woman, 2 Samuel 14:14 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

Better Than Gold

[Wisdom] is a tree of life to those who take hold of her. Proverbs 3:18

When gold seeker Edward Jackson set out for California during the Great Gold Rush in the US, his diary entry on May 20, 1849, lamented his grueling wagon journey, marked by disease and death. “O do not leave my bones here,” he wrote. “If possible let them lay at home.” Another gold-seeker named John Walker penned, “It is the most complete lottery that you can imagine . . . . I cannot advise any person to come.”

Walker, in fact, returned home and succeeded at farming, ranching, and state politics. When a family member took Walker’s yellowing letters to the American TV program Antiques Roadshow, they were valued at several thousand dollars. Said the TV host, “So he did get something valuable out of the Gold Rush. The letters.”

Even more, both Walker and Jackson returned home after gaining wisdom that caused them to take hold of a more practical life. Consider these words about wisdom from King Solomon, “Blessed are those who find wisdom . . . . She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her” (Proverbs 3:13, 18). A wise choice is “more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold” (v. 14)—making wisdom more precious than any earthly desire (v. 15).

“Long life is in her right hand . . . and all her paths are peace” (vv. 16–17). Our challenge, therefore, is to hold tight to wisdom, not shiny wishes. It’s a path God will bless.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What shiny wishes have you been chasing in life? Where could the path of wisdom take you instead?

Heavenly Father, when I’m blinded by the lure of shiny wishes, inspire me to take hold of wiser choices, walking the path of wisdom back to Your blessed peace.

God’s View of Our Sin

We should be careful not to downplay the seriousness of sin because it offends our wrathful God, and believers need to live in the light

Ephesians 5:1-17

Some people consider sin no big deal and think breaking biblical rules won’t have any effect on them. But they are actually deriding God with their attitude. What’s more, they have fallen victim to the enemy’s deception that it’s possible to get away with wrongdoing. For this reason, right before teaching the principle of reaping what is sown, Paul tells the Galatians, “God is not mocked” (Gal. 6:7). 

The truth is, what we or anyone else thinks about sin is not the issue. All that matters is what God thinks, and He has made His views very clear in the Scriptures. So if we trivialize our sins, it’s an indication we don’t understand how holy and just the Father is. To emphasize the seriousness of sin, Paul lists ways we offend the Lord with our motives, impure character, words, idolatries, and actions. And in verse 6 of today’s passage, he warns, “For because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” 

As believers, we need to remember how offensive transgression is to God. Although we’ve been saved from His wrath, we cannot sin as we please and claim it’s all covered by grace. Our aim should be to live as children of light, not darkness

Our Job as Ambassadors

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Christ has made each of us His ambassadors here on Earth. He is no longer here in the flesh, and so now He expects us to faithfully and effectively represent Him. As His ambassadors or representatives, He has given us two basic tasks to perform.

First of all, we are to spread the good news of salvation in such a way that unbelievers will be drawn to the light and out of their darkness. “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:18). To do this, an ambassador must live a life of conformity to His life and teachings. “As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:15), adequately representing Him.

Secondly, we are to saturate ourselves totally with the knowledge of His will and His Word so that we will be enabled to encourage other Christians, strengthening them for their duties as ambassadors as well. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), applying our attention to His directives. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

It has rightly been said that the only two things that will last for eternity are people and the Word of God. These things must occupy our attention if we are to be effective “ambassadors for Christ.” JDM

The “Who” Of Praise

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord. Hallelujah! (Psalm 150 v. 6).

Who should praise the Lord? The psalmist answers in verse 6. “Everything that breathes” should praise the Lord. All of creation should be involved (Ps. 148:7-12). Infants and children are included (8:2). Even animals are included (Job 38-41). Worship is not the exclusive province of pastors, Christian celebrities, or worship leaders. All believers should join the creation in exalting and honoring the Lord. It’s a privilege and joy!

In fact, when we sing, our Lord sings with us! When we worship, he worships with us (Ps. 22:22; Heb, 2:12). The believer has no higher calling!

Personal Prayer

Dear Lord, may I praise you with every breath I take!

And may I so inspire others with the music you give

me that all creation will join in the chorus!

A Praise Hymn

Our Sacrifice of Praise

We bow and worship Him, our Lord and King—

Forever and ever His praise we’ll sing;

To Him all honor, love, and thanks we bring—

And to His attributes we cling.

We’ll tell the world the glory of His name—

And tell how for sinners the Savior came;

We’ll spread thru all the earth His wondrous fame—

Unchanging, always He’s the same!

Jesus our Saviour lives forevermore—

He rose from the grave to die no more;

His mercy, grace and glory we explore—

And, winged by faith, our spirits soar.

He is deserving of all thanks and praise—

With joy overflowing our hearts we raise;

We’ll sing and sing of Him for endless days—

This is our sacrifice of praise!

Words and music by Don Wyrtzen © 1973 Singspiration.

(Based on Hebrews 13:15.)

Subdued Puppies?

For Yahweh takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with salvation.—Psalm 149:4

Part of Christ’s prescription for happiness is “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Mt 5:5, KJV). How we have shied away from that word “meek.” We have thought of meekness as a weakness and thus have a totally wrong concept of what Jesus meant. The Amplified Bible translates it thus: “Blessed are the meek (the mild, patient, longsuffering), for they shall inherit the earth.” The dictionary defines “meek” as “humble, compliant, and submissive”. Does this mean that Jesus expects the children of the kingdom to be like subdued puppies who crawl into their master’s presence and cower at his feet? Or to become the type of people who lack inner fortitude and gumption, who can be easily pushed around and manipulated?

The truly meek person—in the biblical sense of the word—is not timid, shy, hesitant, and unassuming, but trusting, confident, and secure. The root meaning of the word “meekness” is that of yieldedness or surrender—a characteristic without which no real progress can be made in the Christian life. What happens, for example, to the scientist who approaches the mysteries of the universe in a spirit of meekness? He finds its richest secrets unfolding themselves to him, and he is able to harness the mighty forces around him to advantage. The Christian who approaches life in the same spirit—the spirit of meekness and submission—discovers the true meaning of his existence and the purpose of God in all his affairs.


Gracious Father, help me to understand clearly the difference between meekness and weakness. And show me how to apply this principle in all I say and in all I do. This I ask in Christ’s powerful and precious name. Amen.

Further Study

Jms 1:12-21; Zph 2:3; Gl 5:22-23; 1Pt 3:4

What are we to receive with meekness?

Does the biblical definition of meekness fit you?

The Gospel of the Second Chance

Philippians 3:13-14

New Year’s Eve for me when I was a boy was overcast with solemn thoughts. My officer parents would see that the family attended the Watch Night service, where, after expressions of thankfulness to God for His mercies and exhortation to new resolutions to mend our ways, the crucial moment of the midnight meridian would approach as the seconds ticked away. Then the distant church bells would herald the dawn of a New Year, at which our hearts would be strangely awed by the magic of it all.

The service over, we would line up behind father and proceed to our home, where he would gravely open the door to the New Year, saying in sepulchral tones, “May the blessing of God be on this house through the coming year.” It seemed as through the house had been exorcised of the evil spirits in the family circle through the past year, and that the angels of grace and goodwill had taken possession. It was all so mysterious, and in my childish fancy I thought the windows to a golden dawn had been opened.

Some time passed before I learned that divisions of time are artificial. Life is a continuous story, not a turning over of a new leaf in a book. I learned that “yesterday is tomorrow” and that our life is not in a calendar but in ourselves.

The past is not dead and done with on the stroke of twelve; it lives on in the present, moving into the future. For this reason the past may always be redeemed. To God no failure is final. He gives a second chance to all who will take it. The divine Potter never gives up. With infinite restraint and delicacy He toils to bring success out of failure. God’s redemptive purposes are working for us.

A fallen woman brought to Jesus for censure received a new chance: “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Her future was more important than her past. Jesus believed her capable of something better.

The past is redeemable. Tomorrow is still alive, pregnant with beauty, radiant with power, overflowing with glorious possibilities. We cannot relive the past year, but we can outlive it. After the martyrdom of Stephen, Paul gave himself a new chance: “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

George B. Smith, Meditations for the Ordinary Man