Let the fish in the sea speak to you. Job 12:8, NLT
Rest well last night? Keep both your eyes closed? Settle down into rhythmic breathing?
What if you had to keep one eye open all night and make a conscious decision every time you needed to breathe? That’s how dolphins sleep. Their breathing is not automatic; they must decide when to take their next breath. God designed them that way, but He also gave them some pretty amazing abilities. Dolphins allow only half of their brain to sleep at a time, and they close only one eye at a time. When the left eye is closed, the right half of the brain sleeps. When the right eye is closed, the left side of the brain gets some… well, shut-eye. They alternate from one side of the brain to the other, getting the rest they need yet never fully losing consciousness.
The fish of the sea can speak to us of God’s glory. His natural world is full of curious wonders, and the genius of creation moves us to worship. Today look for an animal—any animal, from the kitten in your kitchen to the sparrow outside your window—and take a moment to praise God for His inventive genius.
Let all things their Creator bless, and worship God in humbleness, alleluia!St. Francis of Assisi
Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.Proverbs 25:28
Something was eating my flowers. The day before, blooms proudly lifted their heads. Now they were headless stems. I prowled the perimeter of my yard and discovered a rabbit-sized hole in my wooden fence. Bunnies are cute, but the pesky animals can mow down a garden of flowers in minutes.
I wonder, might there be “intruders” shearing off the blooms of God’s character in my life? Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” In ancient days, the wall of the city protected it against invasion from enemies. Even a small opening in a wall meant that the entire city lay open to attack.
So many of the proverbs are about self-control. “If you find honey, eat just enough,” wrote the wise man (25:16). Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit that guards us, protecting us from losing ground to impatience, bitterness, greed, and other pests that can intrude and destroy God’s harvest in our lives (see Galatians 5:22–23). Self-control is a healthy-mindedness that watches for the holes in the walls of our lives and keeps them patched.
When I inspect the perimeter of my life, I can at times see vulnerable holes. A spot where I give in to temptation over and over. An area of impatience. Oh, how I need the healthy-minded self-control of God in my life to guard me from such intruders!
Suppose you’re faced with the most tragic situation you could possibly envision. For some of you, this requires little or no imagination because you are presently in the middle of the toughest trial of your life.
Here’s what it looked like for the disciples: Their hopes and dreams were shattered when Jesus broke the news of His imminent departure. Life as they’d known it was coming to an end. Yet Jesus assured them that He was leaving His peace with them. This was His will for them, and it’s still what He desires for us today.
The key to experiencing the peace of Christ is to believe in Him (John 14:1). But in addition to believing in Him, we must also trust what He says. God always works for our good, even in hardship. Trusting His motive and purpose is the basis for our peace.
Life is an obstacle course with trouble lurking around every corner. It’s not a matter of whether storms and trials will come, but when. Yet we don’t have to live in fear and anxiety, because it’s God’s will that we take hold of His peace by trusting Him.
“Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (John 12:28)
This is the last of three remarkable occasions during the earthly ministry of Christ when God the Father spoke directly from heaven concerning His only begotten Son. The first was at His baptism. “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17; also Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22). This thrice-recorded testimony was given primarily to the forerunner, John the Baptist, who said, “And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost” (John 1:33).
The second was to three chosen disciples at the transfiguration. “Behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5). Years later Peter recalled, “This voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount” (2 Peter 1:18).
Finally, the Father spoke in the words of our text for the day in direct response to the prayer of His Son at the beginning of the final week before His crucifixion. The message was to His Son but for the people. Jesus said, “This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes” (John 12:30) as He spoke of His imminent death on the cross.
When God spoke from heaven, the message was to assure and encourage His own dear ones: John, the disciples, and Jesus Himself. But it has also become an exhortation to all people for all time. Jesus Christ is God’s Son, and God is glorified in Him. Hear Him! HMM
Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy. —Psalm 99:5
Study the Bible carefully with the help of the Holy Spirit and you will find that the name and the nature of Jesus are one. It is not enough to know how to spell Jesus’ name. If we have come to be like Him in nature, if we have come to the place of being able to ask in accordance with His will, He will give us the good things we desire and need. We do not worship in name only. We worship God as the result of a birth from above in which God has been pleased to give us more than a name. He has given us a nature transformed….
Why should we delude ourselves about pleasing God in worship? If I live like a worldly and carnal tramp all day and then find myself in a time of crisis at midnight, how do I pray to a God who is holy? How do I address the One who has asked me to worship Him in spirit and in truth? Do I get on my knees and call on the name of Jesus because I believe there is some magic in that name? WHT126
I have come to believe that no worship is wholly pleasing to God until there is nothing in us displeasing to God. RDAJan8
An important step in bringing about a more perfect coordination between heart and mind is to take an honest, straightforward look at what is going on beneath the surface of your life.
I have often invited my readers to spend a few days taking an honest look at themselves. The reactions I have gotten to this suggestion have been quite interesting. Some Christians hear in my words a call to self-preoccupation and become concerned that I am pushing them toward becoming engrossed with their aches and pains.
One of my readers put it like this: “What people need is to forget about themselves and concentrate on reaching out to others; then their personal problems will quickly be forgotten.” Others have taken an opposite position and said, “We need more of this, for our hearts are so self-deceived that unless we are constantly challenged in this way, we will never get through to a close relationship with God.” I am unhappy about both those reactions, for both are unbalanced positions.
The first one fears that taking a look beneath the surface of our lives leads to unhealthy self-preoccupation. And the second opinion assumes that constant self-examination is the only way forward. But I believe an occasional, honest, straightforward look at what is going on beneath the surface of our lives contributes greatly to our spiritual progress, providing it is done in a proper and balanced way.
O God, help me to see that in inviting me to examine myself, You are not seeking to demean me but to develop me; not to take away from my spiritual stature but to add to it. Make me an honest person—with You, with myself, with others. Amen.
Nothing you could ever experience, no matter how terrible or frightening, could ever separate you from the love of God. No tribulation and distress you might ever suffer could be so intense that God’s love for you is not even more fervent. No persecution could be so painful that God’s love cannot bring comfort. Famine might starve you of food, but you will never hunger for the Father’s love. Poverty cannot strip you of God’s compassion, just as even death itself is incapable of robbing you of your heavenly Father’s infinite love.
If you base your view of God’s love on your circumstances, you will become confused. There may be times when you will ask, “How could a loving God allow this to happen to me?” You may begin to question what you find clearly stated in the Word of God. God promised that you would never be separated from His love; He did not say that you would never face hardship, persecution, poverty, or danger. If you doubt that God could love you and still allow you to experience difficult experiences, consider the life of Jesus.