And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. Matthew 14:23
It has been said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” But that’s only half the quote. The complete thought gives us even more to think about: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” Everyone—athletes, artists, musicians, parents, preachers—are “mediocre” before they are “great.” When starting out in any new endeavor, we all look to imitate those who have gone before us. Even when we don’t understand “why,” we imitate the “how” in the beginning.
Could we apply the principle of imitation to the spiritual life? Take prayer, for example. All Christians, whether young or old, should imitate Jesus when it comes to prayer. The Gospels give us many examples of Jesus withdrawing alone to pray, sometimes all night. He also turned to intense prayer at critical moments like on the night of His arrest and impending crucifixion. If Jesus, the Son of God, was committed to prayer, perhaps we should be as well.
The apostle Paul imitated Christ and admonished us to do so too (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Prayer is the key of heaven, faith is the hand that turns it.Thomas Watson
Why Did you Doubt? Matthew 14:22-31 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study
The Lord watches over all who love him. Psalm 145:20
“Whenever my grandfather took me to the beach,” Sandra reminisced, “he always took off his watch and put it away. One day I asked him why.”
“He smiled and replied, ‘Because I want you to know how important my moments with you are to me. I just want to be with you and let time go by.’ ”
I heard Sandra share that recollection at her grandfather’s funeral. It was one of her favorite memories of their life together. As I reflected on how valued it makes us feel when others take time for us, it brought to mind Scripture’s words on God’s loving care.
God always makes time for us. David prayed in Psalm 145, “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The Lord is near” (vv. 16–18).
God’s goodness and thoughtful attention sustain our lives each moment, providing us with air to breathe and food to eat. Because He is rich in love, the Creator of all things mercifully crafts even the most intricate details of our existence.
God’s love is so deep and unending that in His kindness and mercy He’s even opened the way to eternal life and joy in His presence, as if to say, “I love you so much, I just want to be with you forever, and let time go by.”
Reflect & Pray
How does your availability to others reflect God’s faithful love for them? In what ways can you follow His example by making time for others today?
Father, thank You for Your perfect love. Please help me to praise You for it and to share it with others today.
The church may be separated into denominations, but there are three things that unify the whole body of Christ
The church is one body, made of all believers in heaven and on earth. There are many denominations and approaches to theology, but Christians are united by a common message, mission, and motive.
Message. There are three parts of the church’s primary belief. First, man is sinful and unable to alleviate the penalty of sin. Next, Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay our debt, was buried, rose again, and ascended to heaven. Third, everyone will someday stand before God and give an account for his or her life. At that time believers will take responsibility for what they did with the truth they knew, but unbelievers will answer for their rejection of Jesus Christ.
Mission. The church is also united by its goal to spread the gospel around the world and teach new believers how to grow in faith (Matt. 28:19). We do this by telling others about the experiences we’ve had with God and His Word.
Motive. The church’s motive is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and to glorify God the Father. This should be the driving force behind everything a body of believers sets out to do.
Church is not a place where we go to hide from the world—our mission is to spread the gospel to glorify God. There will be varying levels of opposition and persecution, but we stand together as one body and persevere.
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)
This promise applies specifically to those recent believers who will suffer martyrdom during the last half of the awful tribulation period (“henceforth,” in context). But dealing as it does with the state of the believing dead, in principle, it surely likewise applies to all who die “in the Lord.”
How are they blessed? In numerous ways, according to this verse.
First, they are blessed in that they “rest from their labors.” In this life we earn our physical sustenance by “the sweat of [our] face” (Genesis 3:19). Here we must work hard to train our minds (Ecclesiastes 12:12). Now we constantly battle our inward, fallen nature: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). Even as we attempt to serve our fellow man, our efforts are spurned and rejected. Not so for the dead! There all these labors will cease, and joyous, eternal service to the Lamb will commence (Revelation 22:3).
Secondly, they are blessed in that their labors continue to bear fruit even after they have gone. Perhaps even a previous word or act of testimony will be the eventual tool God uses to bring someone to Himself, and the reward will be properly distributed. No act done to the glory of God will pass unnoticed.
Thirdly, what a blessing to know that this state is promised by the very Spirit of God Himself. One’s worth at death is not measured by the content and sincerity of the opinions of friends at his funeral.
This doctrine should produce both great courage for the Christian and great comfort for the bereaved. JDM
He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears it’s fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers (Psalm 1 v. 3).
When water flows through a pipe, the pipe remains unchanged; but when it flows through a tree, the tree receives nourishment and is changed, for a tree is a living organism.
In this passage we learn three things about this tree: it is planted; it is productive ; and it is prosperous. This beautiful, flourishing tree is a stunning simile for the righteous person. The chaff of verse 4 is an apt word picture for the person who throws his life away.
When I read this passage, I think of my friend D. J. DePree, founder of the Herman Miller furniture firm. He was the only man I knew who was equally competent in biblical studies, in business, and in the arts. He walked with the Lord for over seventy years. Perhaps his greatest contribution was his Sunday school teaching, which he faithfully performed into his nineties.
I want to be like D. J. DePree:
Planted—firmly rooted and stable
Productive—marked by effectiveness
Prosperous—showcasing God’s blessing
Lord, make my life a well-watered tree rather than chaff that the wind blows away.
A poem of variable metric and verse structure that is usually festive in nature and addressed to a deity.
The last movement of Beethovens Ninth Symphony (the Choral Symphony) is called “Ode to Joy.” The magnificent hymn, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” is based on this glorious theme.
[Jesus] … saw the Spirit of God descending … And there came a voice from heaven: “This is My beloved Son.”—Matthew 3:16-17
Those who accept Scripture’s teaching concerning God must be prepared to say that He is not only personal, but that He is a plurality of Persons—a Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity, that God is one yet three separate Persons, is not easy to understand, but it is clear in Scripture. The term “Trinity” appears nowhere in the Bible (it was first used by Tertullian around a.d. 210), but its roots are deeply embedded in the Word of God. It is mainly a revelation of the New Testament, but there are glimpses of the truth to be seen in the Old Testament also.
“Let Us make man in Our image” (Gn 1:26). To whom was God speaking? Some say the angels, but nowhere in Scripture are angels seen as being involved in the act of creation or as being on the same level as God. Read Colossians 1:16 and it will become clear to whom God was speaking.
Other examples of the Trinity being mentioned in the Old Testament include these: “Man has become like one of Us” (Gn 3:22); and in Isaiah 6:8 God says: “Who should I send? Who will go for Us?”
“Go to the Jordan,” wrote Augustine, “and you find the Trinity. There at the baptism of Jesus, the three Persons in the Godhead are simultaneously in evidence. The Father is heard speaking directly from heaven, the Son is seen being immersed in the river, and John the Baptist beholds the Spirit descending upon the Christ.” Three in One and One in Three. On this truth we must stand, though we may not fully understand.
Blessed Trinity, Three in One and One in Three, my spirit joins with Your Spirit this day to worship You in spirit and in truth. Though sometimes darkness to my intellect, Your truth is nevertheless sunshine to my heart. Amen.
Do you sense that time is rapidly fleeting? Our entry into a new year seems to make this all the more apparent. Concerning this matter, I have a suggestion. Don’t think of time as rushing by; think of the time that is yours now.
Jesus said, “Your time is always ready” (John 7:6 KJV). In the first part of that verse Jesus said that His time had not yet come. He, with God, knew what would happen and when it would happen. But His disciples were ordinary mortals, like you and me. The only time they had, and that we have, is now.
The time is now! This is so because we have no guarantee of any other time. It is not morbid to point to the slender cord of life which holds us in time; it is only to face a fact. James warned us not to take time for granted. He said that our life is “a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Don’t presume about tomorrow. Use today wisely; it is priceless.
The time is now! This is so because this very moment can be more important than any which have preceded it or any which may follow. See today as the living essence of time between a past that is gone and a future not yet come. Today we can take what has come from the past and, with God’s help, transform it so that the future will be better and nobler. Today can be the time for new beginnings. What needs to be said? Say it. What ought be done? Do it.
The time is now! This is so because it is God’s time. He has given us life, permitting us to participate in a segment of time. There are many necessary and important things to do with time, but nothing should prevent us from giving God His rightful place in today’s schedule. This is God’s time for us. Be sensitive to Him and His will so that we may effectively respond to the needs of the people around us. Today is ours because God has given it to us.
Another year has come, and we find ourselves swept up in its forward movement. But you and I are not fearful of time’s relentless passage. We are not measuring a diminishing time but trusting the Eternal God. “Your time is always ready.” Let us make the most of today, because the time is now!