VIDEO Trench Art

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11


During World War I, peasants would sometimes inspect recent battlefields, looking for shell casings, spent bullets, and bomb fragments. They would assemble them into items for their home. One woman in Washington state has a large collection of these decorative and practical items. Her curio cabinet displays items like salt and pepper shakers, candlesticks, and vases made from leftover fragments of war.[1]

For most of us, our life contains broken pieces. Life is a battlefield. Paul told Timothy to “wage the good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18). None of us escape without incurring some wounds. But God can use these to bring glory to Himself. He takes the fragments of pain, the scraps of sadness, the chunks of disappointment. In His hands, these can become the means by which we learn to trust Him and to comfort others.

Give the broken pieces of your life to the Lord, and let Him create some trench art. He does all things well, and He makes everything beautiful in His time.

Even though you might look at parts of your life as ugly or shameful, God can make all things work together for your good and His glory…The God of hope is making all things beautiful in His time. Karen Whiting

Ecclesiastes 3-5 • Understanding life “under the sun”

Never Too Far

When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:32

Raj had trusted Jesus as Savior in his youth, but soon afterward, he drifted from the faith and led a life apart from God. Then one day, he made the decision to renew his relationship with Jesus and go back to church—only to be scolded by a woman who berated him for being absent for all these years. The scolding added to Raj’s sense of shame and guilt for his years of drifting. Am I beyond hope? he wondered. Then he recalled how Christ had restored Simon Peter (John 21:15–17) even though he’d denied Him (Luke 22:3460–61).

Whatever scolding Peter might have expected, all he received was forgiveness and restoration. Jesus didn’t even mention Peter’s denial but instead gave him a chance to reaffirm his love for Christ and take care of His followers (John 21:15–17). Jesus’ words before Peter disowned Him were being fulfilled: “When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). 

Raj asked God for that same forgiveness and restoration, and today he’s not only walking closely with Jesus but serving in a church and supporting other believers as well. No matter how far we’ve strayed from God, He’s always ready not only to forgive us and welcome us back but also to restore us so we can love, serve, and glorify Him. We’re never too far from God: His loving arms are wide open.

By:  Leslie Koh

Reflect & Pray

What fears might you have about turning back to God? How can knowing His heart of forgiveness help you to return to Him?

Father, thank You for Your endless mercy and patience with me. Thank You that I can trust in Your everlasting love.

For further study, read Walking Free: Overcoming What Keeps Us from Jesus.

The Believer’s Tools

God provides everything we need to enjoy a close relationship with Him 1 John 1:5-10

As we mature spiritually and gain wisdom from Scripture, we should recognize that confession, repentance, and obedience are necessary tools for maintaining an intimate relationship with God. When the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, the right response is to quickly confess the wrong to God and turn away from it so we won’t continue to grieve our Father. 

Confession means agreeing with God that our transgression is wrong and violates His will. Sin impacts our fellowship with the Lord, and until we confess it to Him, we cannot receive the cleansing He offers. But when we do, He’s faithful to forgive us. 

Yet confession is incomplete unless we also repent—that is, turn away from sin through the power of the Holy Spirit and turn to the Lord in obedience. Sadly, true repentance is increasingly neglected as our society rejects all shame and encourages tolerance of sin. 

Don’t believe the world’s lies. See your sin as God sees it, and let your heart be grieved. To keep your life pure before Him, use all the tools He’s given—confession, repentance, and obedience.

Tragic Lot

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” (Psalm 1:1)

One of the most tragic figures in all of Scripture is that of compromising Lot, Abraham’s nephew, who renounced the land of promise for the sinful society of Sodom, ultimately to lose everything of importance.

His slide into apostasy, as traced in Genesis 12–19, seems to parallel the progression described in today’s text of not becoming a godly believer.

Lot is first mentioned as traveling with Abram and Sarai from their homeland to Canaan in obedience to God’s command (Genesis 12:4-5; 13:5). A petty problem arises that surely could have been resolved (13:6-10), but Lot chose (v. 11) to walk in the counsel of the ungodly. “But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly” (v. 13).

Lot soon found a home in the city itself, not content to merely herd his flocks in the fertile valley. By standing in the way of sinners, when Sodom was attacked by enemies he was captured (14:12) and later rescued by Abram (vv. 14-16).

Lot’s identification with wicked Sodom did not end there, as it should have, for when the city’s wickedness was beyond God’s forbearance, Lot was found sitting in the seat of the scornful, a leader of the city, sitting in the gates with the town fathers (19:1). Lot was a “just” (or “righteous”) man, “vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked” (2 Peter 2:7), but his actions (Genesis 19:8) and his lack of spiritual influence even within his own family (vv. 14-16, 31-38) testify to the horror of such a compromising lifestyle.

May God grant us all the persevering faith of Abraham and not the compromising faith of Lot. JDM

Lepers Are Cleansed, the Lame Walk

Luke 5:12-15

MATTHEW, Mark and Luke record the healing of a leper who came to our Lord saying, “If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.” With him, the question was not of Christ’s power but of His willingness. The Savior touched him—incurring ceremonial defilement, mind you, for this man was a loathsome leper—and healed him. Our Lord is willing to touch and transform the vilest. The leper was bidden not to publish the healing, for Jesus did not want to stir up sensationalism, and He knew the superficiality of public enthusiasm. He bade the leper fulfill the Levitical legal requirement—a good reminder for those who foolishly disregard all tradition and precedent. The leper, contrary to instructions, broadcasted what had happened to him, and one finds it hard to blame him! Luke adds the significant detail about our Lord: “And He withdrew Himself into the wilderness and prayed.” Gathering multitudes and growing popularity, far from lessening His hours of prayer, increased them and drove Him all the oftener to the secret place.

Following this miracle, our Lord went into Capernaum and taught crowds that jammed the house, and we read that “the power of the Lord was present to heal them” (Luke 5:17). Four friends of a paralytic carried the sick man to be healed and were forced to tear up the roof and let him down into the presence of Jesus. Certainly this was an undignified and unconventional procedure, but any course is justifiable that brings a man to the Lord. There would be more miracles today if there were more roofs torn up, more believers willing to do the unusual thing to get the needy to the Lord.

The record says: “When Jesus saw their faith….” Our faith and prayer and efforts bring blessing to others. Jesus began by forgiving the man’s sins. This was His boldest claim to be the Son of God, and it astounded the scribes and Pharisees who reasoned that only God could forgive sins. Their reasoning was entirely correct on that score, but what they did not see was that God was before them in the person of His Son.

Our Lord then gave a visible evidence that He had power to do the invisible wonder of forgiving sins. They could not tell whether the man had been forgiven or not, but when he arose and walked they could all see that he had been healed! He had come in with his back on his bed and he went out with his bed on his back —and there was no denying that!

We read that the people glorified God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!” Indeed not! How this sad old world needs today to witness the wonder of a miracle-working Christ! But He cannot do many mighty works because of our unbelief. If we had faith to carry the needy to Him, persistence enough to tear up any roof that bars the way, He would reward our faith with wondrous blessing! Alas, we have dropped to a pale and pitiful dignity that respectfully gathers at church—and most of us don’t even do that—but there is not that determined, vivid, roof-raising faith that will not be denied. Let us return to that, and men will say once more, “We’ve never seen anything like this!”

“I am the Lord, I change not.”

Job 23:1-17

Our space will not allow us to give much of this wonderful book of Job, but the following is an instance of the patriarch’s expressions of distress.

Job 23:1-2

Most men cry before they are hurt, or more than they are hurt; but such was not Job’s case: he had good reason for every groan, and when he groaned most he fell short of expressing what he felt within.

Job 23:3

Even at his worst estate the good man knows his true refuge. When sinners turn from God in anger the saints fly to him with hope. Yet sometimes the Lord is a God that hideth himself. In this he has wise ends to answer, and he will continue it no longer than is absolutely needful.

Job 23:5

Job wished to have the question, which his three friends had raised, fairly tried in the highest court. He felt that he could with freedom plead with so righteous a judge. It is only the pure heart which can court such an investigation. He who knows that he is clear through Jesus blood is not afraid to appear in the courts of heaven.

Job 23:6

Innocence fears not power, but like Una rides on the lion. The Lord never crushes a man because he is down, but rather he delight’s to lift up the prostrate.

Job 23:10

He comforts himself with the assurance that if he could not find the Lord, and speak in his own defence, yet the case was already known to him, and would in due time be decided in his favour. How blessedly his faith held its anchorage though the storm raged terribly.

Job 23:12

Again in answer to the accusations of his three unfriendly friends, he protests his innocence of their charges, and scouts the idea that he is suffering for some secret apostacy.

Job 23:14

He accounts for his trials by considering the immutable and inscrutable decrees of God, and suggests that many more troubles might yet befall him, for which he might be unable to find a reason.

Job 23:15

Great suffering could not kill his faith, but it damped his joy. He had also come to think of an absolute God doing as he willed, and it is no wonder that he trembled at the contemplation. Only when we see Jesus do we see that God is love.

Job 23:17

He wished that by an early death he had escaped suffering, but all such wishes are vain. We cannot go back: let us therefore by faith press onward.

God is a King of power unknown;

Firm are the orders of his throne;

If he resolves, who dare oppose,

Or ask him why, or what he does?

He wounds the heart, and he makes whole;

He calms the tempest of the soul;

He rescues souls from long despair,

And snaps in twain the iron bar.

The Christian Message: Prophetic, Not Diplomatic

For Christ sent me… to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should he made of none effect. 1 Corinthians 1:17

We who witness and proclaim the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world.

We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, modern education, or the world of sports.

We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum!

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God’s just sentence against him.

What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life?

Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself.

Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing.

Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God’s stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this, let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ!