Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. Acts 28:1-2, NIV
A new study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that small gifts, coming as a surprise, have a big impact on the recipient. So do unexpected notes, calls, or texts of encouragement.3 Have you ever received an unexpected gift—a bouquet of flowers, a box of your favorite tea, a tray of cookies, or some curious item for your kitchen? Someone saw something nice and thought of you.
Here’s a helpful tip learned from generous people. Whenever you’re with a friend and they’re without some small thing, make a mental note of it and send it to them the next day. Suppose someone says, “I’ve thought about trying that new hand cream” or “What book would you recommend?” Imagine their surprise and pleasure to have that item delivered to their house later in the week!
The islanders on Malta had little, yet they showed Paul unusual kindness. Being generous doesn’t depend on how much we have to give. God uses even our small acts of generosity to encourage others and bring honor to Him. Be generous to someone today!
The closest I can come to one secret of success is this: a lot of little things done well.John Wooden
44164 Acts 28:1-2 by Dr. J. Vernon McGee – Thru the Bible
Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.Acts 12:5
“You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.” If you hear those words, you might wonder if the person really means it. But you never had to wonder when Edna Davis said them. Everyone in the small, one stoplight town knew of “Ms. Edna’s” yellow legal pad—page after page, lined with name after name. Early each morning the aging woman prayed out loud to God. Not everyone on her list received the answer to prayer they wanted, but several testified at her funeral that something God-sized had happened in their lives, and they credited it to the earnest prayers of Ms. Edna.
God demonstrated the power of prayer in Peter’s prison experience. After the apostle was seized by Herod’s men, thrown into prison, and then “guarded by four squads of four soldiers each” (Acts 12:4), his prospects looked bleak. But “the church was earnestly praying to God for him” (v. 5). They had Peter in their thoughts and prayers. What God did is simply miraculous! An angel appeared to Peter in prison, released him from his chains, and led him to safety beyond the prison gates (vv. 7–10).
It’s possible some may use “thoughts and prayers” without really meaning it. But our Father knows our thoughts, listens to our prayers, and acts on our behalf according to His perfect will. To be prayed for and to pray for others is no small thing when we serve the great and powerful God.
Are you burdened by your past? By pouring out your heart to God, you can find peace and freedom.1 John 2:12-14
When we come to Christ in repentance and faith, all our sins are forgiven. They will never be held against us because Jesus took our sin and guilt to the cross and bore the penalty of God’s wrath on our behalf. When we’re quick to confess and repent of our sins, there’s no reason to hold onto guilt or live in shame. Yet sometimes we’re bound by self-reproach long after the feeling should have been resolved.
Satan always looks for opportunities to accuse us. Sometimes his accusations are about transgressions we’ve already confessed. In such cases, God has fully forgiven us. But we must also forgive ourselves—otherwise we remain vulnerable to the torment of guilt as well as to Satan’s condemnation.
So how can we tell where a feeling of guilt comes from? God-given conviction focuses on a specific sinful action or attitude, whereas the enemy’s accusations are usually generalized and directed at us and our worth. Remember, his purpose is to degrade us so we’ll live in shame and uncertainty about God’s love.
Whether your sense of remorse is true or false, it needs to be dealt with quickly—the feeling won’t just go away. So stop running, and face the source of your guilt. It’s time to end your captivity and start walking in the joy of God’s forgiveness.
“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)
The New England Primer was a popular Puritan tutorial taught to millions of young colonists. On one page is the familiar children’s prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take.” The repeated phrase “I pray thee” implies a troubling uncertainty, a questioning of Yahweh’s ability to guard the believer at all times—an uncertainty nowhere found in David’s DNA!
Psalm 4 is inseparably connected with Psalm 3, written when King David fled from his son Absalom (2 Samuel 15 to 18) and was also hunted by thousands of enemy Israelites. Even against these seemingly insurmountable odds, God’s elect finds unilateral protection in his Deliverer.
Two key verses balance this assuring theme. The image in verse 4b is of one meditating silently on one’s bed: “Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” Verse 8, today’s text, closes with the image of sleeping in safety. Integrating these theological truths of the Almighty alters our children’s prayer to read, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I confidently trust the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I confidently trust the Lord my soul to take.”
Believer, you can trust Yahweh when you sleep because “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me” (Psalm 3:5). You can also trust Yahweh when you are approaching death because “yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4).
Believer, let these truths pierce deeply into your saved soul so you can get a good night’s sleep! CM
If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God. —John 7:17
The most advanced soul may be shocked and chagrined to discover some private area within his life where he had been, unknown to himself, acting as lord and proprietor of that which he thought he had given to God. It is the work of the in-living Spirit to point out these moral discrepancies and correct them. He does not…”break” the human will, but He does invade it and bring it gently to a joyous union with the will of God.
To will the will of God is to do more than give unprotesting consent to it; it is rather to choose God’s will with positive determination. As the work of God advances, the Christian finds himself free to choose whatever he will, and he gladly chooses the will of God as his highest conceivable good. Such a man has found life’s highest goal. He has been placed beyond the little disappointments that plague the rest of men. Whatever happens to him is the will of God for him and that is just what he most ardently desires. POM108-109
Can you renounce everything which is inconsistent with the glory of God and the highest good of your fellowmen? Are these the natural breathings of your heart, “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done?” DTC149-150
Pray for us; for we are convinced that we have a clear conscience, wanting to conduct ourselves honorably in everything. And I especially urge you to pray that I may be restored to you very soon.—Hebrews 13:18-19
The apostle ends his discussion of spiritual warfare (Eph 6:10-20) on the following personal note: “Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel … that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should” (vv. 19-20).
Paul was wise enough to know his own need of supernatural strength in being able to stand against the enemy, and he was humble enough to ask his brothers and sisters to pray for him in this matter.
Imagine this great apostle, probably the most powerful and effective disciple of Christ the world has ever seen, asking his friends to pray for him. Truly, the greater a Christian is, the more he realizes his dependence on the prayers of others. Paul knew full well the power that was against him, and he did not hesitate to ask for the prayers of the church in Ephesus.
Notice also that his request for prayer was clear and specific. When you ask someone to pray for you, be equally specific. Don’t just say, “Pray for me,” but “Pray for me that …” Paul’s request was not that he might be delivered from prison, but that through his testimony in prison the gospel of Christ might be advanced. He knew that the most important thing was not to triumph over prison but to triumph in it. He knew he was where God wanted him for that time, and he would allow no self-interest to interfere with the divine schedule.
O Father, teach me, as You taught Your servant Paul, to know Your will and purpose so clearly that I might know just how and what to pray for. I ask this in and through the strong and mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”—Luke 10:40
Martha loved Jesus dearly and would have done anything for Him. Her struggle came in being still! Martha spent so much time serving Jesus that she had no time to enjoy His company or to get to know Him better. The harder Martha worked, the more frustrated she became with her sister Mary. Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet while Martha scurried around the house to make sure everything was in perfect order for Jesus. Martha’s service, though it started out with gladness, deteriorated into resentment and envy.
It is good to want to serve Christ as an expression of love for what He has done for you. Yet when your activity consumes your time and energies so that you have no time for Him, you have become too busy! You may think, as Martha did, that if you don’t do the work, it won’t get done. That may be true, but Jesus taught that your highest priority must be your relationship with Him. If anything detracts you from that relationship, that activity is not from God. God will not ask you to do something that hinders your relationship with Christ. At times, serving God and carrying out His mission is the best way to know and experience God. At other times, it is more important to sit quietly at His feet and listen to what He is saying.
We are not called to continually sit at the feet of Jesus, otherwise our service for Him would cease. Neither are we called to serve Him incessantly, without taking time to find restoration in His presence. Have you been serving God so diligently that you have not had time to spend with Him?