VIDEO The Heart Above All

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. In his speech, he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”1

That dream has not yet been realized. But God does not see people based on their race, nationality, or social background. When Samuel was choosing Israel’s next king from among Jesse’s sons, God specifically told him not to look at external qualities. Instead, he was to choose as God chooses—on the basis of the heart (1 Samuel 16:1-13).

When we look at people, let us view them as God does, not as the world does. Let us appreciate their heart above all. 

When we begin to see people through God’s eyes, our focus will change from looks to life. 
David C. McCasland

1 “Martin Luther King Jr.: I Have a Dream,” American Rhetoric.

What God Sees — 1 Samuel 16:6-7


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1

I recently came across a helpful word: wintering. Just as winter is a time of slowing down in much of the natural world, author Katherine May uses this word to describe our need to rest and recuperate during life’s “cold” seasons. I found the analogy helpful after losing my father to cancer, which sapped me of energy for months. Resentful of this forced slowing down, I fought against my winter, praying summer’s life would return. But I had much to learn.

Ecclesiastes famously says there’s “a season for every activity under the heavens”—a time to plant and to harvest, to weep and to laugh, to mourn and to dance (3:1–4). I had read these words for years but only started to understand them in my wintering season. For though we have little control over them, each season is finite and will pass when its work is done. And while we can’t always fathom what it is, God is doing something significant in us through them (v. 11). My time of mourning wasn’t over. When it was, dancing would return. Just as plants and animals don’t fight winter, I needed to rest and let it do its renewing work.

“Lord,” a friend prayed, “would You do Your good work in Sheridan during this difficult season.” It was a better prayer than mine. For in God’s hands, seasons are purposeful things. Let’s submit to His renewing work in each one.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

When have you wanted a season to end before its time? What do you think God wants to do in you this season?

Father God, thank You for using every season for Your glory and my good.

For further study, read When God Says No: Broken Dreams to New Beginnings.

When We Feel Frustrated

We can take our concerns to God and rest in the peace He provides Philippians 4:10-13

In difficult seasons, it’s natural to want to make changes—such as quitting a job, ending a friendship, or moving away—in order to resolve frustration. But first we should investigate the cause. Discontentment may come from:

• Inability to accept ourselves as we were created. The talents, personality, and physical attributes God gave us are exactly what we need to follow His will for our life. Dwelling on the things we lack or would change distracts us from our purpose. 

• Reluctance to deal with our past. We can’t move beyond painful memories and mistakes until we confront the emotional or psychological issues that resulted from them. 

• Holding on to ungodly behaviors or attitudes. Sin naturally breeds discontentment. But Psalm 119:165 says, “Those who love Your Law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble.”  

The key to contentment lies not in our circumstances but in God Himself. The next time you’re frustrated and want to change your situation, take a moment to look inward: Do you accept who God made you to be? Are you in need of His healing? Should you approach Him in repentance? Whatever the case may be, turn to the Lord—He is the source of true peace and fulfillment.

Wisdom for Encountering Trials

“Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:2-5)

Do you count trials as “joy”? Well, that’s what James commands in these beginning verses. His letter was directed to those Jewish saints who were scattered abroad—victims of intense persecution, hunted down because of their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s face it, we naturally dislike trials, with their accompanying chastening. Solomon acknowledged this resistance when he penned, “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction” (Proverbs 3:11). But trials have a targeted purpose in sanctification as God strategically perfects the believer in his pilgrim’s progress.

Who is your go-to first responder for wisdom when trials come knocking at your door? Maybe you seek a spouse, or friend, or you post on social media. Those choices may be helpful, but they’re limited at best. Instead, James 1:5 instructs believers that our Lord Jesus Christ is one prayer away.

Additionally, He freely and quickly gives the needed wisdom for our struggle. What could ever compete with divine wisdom’s offer? Certainly not the cumulative riches of this world (Proverbs 3:13-15). What’s more, our Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, skillfully used this same wisdom to speak His creation into existence (Genesis 1–2), shaping the universe into perfection (Hebrews 11:3). Our part is to ask “in faith, [with] nothing wavering” (James 1:6) for this supreme wisdom. What are you waiting for? CM

The True Measure Of A Shepherd — Discipler

I wonder how much of what is accepted today as “shepherding” or “discipling” has the imprimatur of Christ’s life upon it?


  • Appear to be indiscriminate in their selection of people:
  • Jesus ministered at large to lepers and princes, outcasts and the elite. In selecting the twelve disciples, He chose rebels. Working-class men. Nondescripts. Their one commonality seemed to be a mutual hunger for God (Judas excepted).
  • By contrast, we tend to choose those with whom we find a natural affinity: Those who “fit in” with our social, educational, or economic milieu.
  • Are willing to suffer whatever is necessary to see their sheep mature:

Consider Paul’s example:

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the electI am in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.“(2 Timothy 2:10a; Galatians 4:19b)

  • By contrast, we tend to evaluate “success“in our ministry by such relatively superficial criteria as our disciples’ (1) mastery of certain disciplines, (2) their endorsement of our ministry objectives for them, or (3) their continued affirmation of us as their spiritual leader.

When John’s disciples met Jesus, John immediately stepped into the background, thereby allowing them to follow the Master. (John 1:35-39; 3:30)

By contrast, we run the risk of developing in our sheep an unhealthy sense of dependency upon us, or obligation to us. Unwittingly, this aberration is fostered through subtle manipulation or abuse of authority, thus delaying or inhibiting their matriculation toward healthy independence.

Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brothers way.“(Romans 14:13b)

QUESTION: In ministering to others, what is our primary motivation: The furtherance of God’s Kingdom and Glory, or something as mundane or minuscule as our personal fulfillment or aggrandizement?

“One thing is needful.”

Luke 10:38-42

Luke 10:40

Martha was not blamable for serving, nor for serving much, but for being distracted with care, when she should have been listening to her Lord. Mary wisely judged that it would better please the Lord for her to hearken to his teaching than to offer him a grand entertainment. What were joints and dishes to him! He had far rather receive an attentive ear than any or all the other attentions which the kindest hostesses could offer him.

Luke 10:41, 42

She was more spiritual than her sister, and was wise for so being. The active Christian must one day cease from his activity, but the contemplative spiritual believer may continue to sit at Jesus feet throughout the whole of life, and even in death itself. To learn of Jesus and live in communion with him is the highest privilege of saints.

Luke 11:1-13

Luke 11:4

This is the model for our prayers, and the more closely we copy its fulness, order, brevity, and spirituality, the better we shall pray.

Luke 11:5-8

Importunity will prevail where friendship fails; how much more will it succeed with our ever-faithful heavenly friend!

Luke 11:9, 10

Prayer is not a vain exercise; it is heard and answered. Where it fails there is a reason for that failure. “Ye have not because ye ask not, or because ye ask amiss.”

Luke 11:11

There were stones near the Saviour which looked like thin cakes of bread. Will a father deceive his child with these?

Luke 11:1

Some fishes may be mistaken for serpents. Will a father give his child a poisonous serpent instead of a fish?

Luke 11:13

We do not make mistakes and give our children deadly things when they ask for good things, neither will the Lord refuse us, or send us the counterfeits of blessings. We shall obtain real boons, and that which is the essence of all benedictions, the life of grace, and the soul of holiness, namely, the Holy Spirit. We may ask for him, and we may expect to Receive him in answer to our petition.

Do Things Possess Us?

Nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy. (1 Timothy 6:17)

I think a lot of people in our congregations get confused when some learned brother advises us that we must all join in a fervent fight against “materialism.”

If men and women do not know what materialism is, how can they be expected to join the battle?

Materialism in its crisis form occurs when men and women created in the image of God accept and look upon matter as “the ultimate”—the only reality.

The advice, “We must fight materialism,” does not mean that everyone should get a sword, and run after a fellow named Material, and cut him down.

What it does mean is that we should start believing in the fact of God’s Creation and that matter is only a creature of the all-wise and ever-loving God! The believer is not deceived into believing that the physical things we know and enjoy are the ultimate end, in themselves.

VIDEO The Never forsaking God

He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

What line of thinking do my thoughts take? Do I turn to what God says or to my own fears? Am I simply repeating what God says, or am I learning to truly hear Him and then to respond after I have heard what He says? “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

“I will never leave you…”— not for any reason; not my sin, selfishness, stubbornness, nor waywardness. Have I really let God say to me that He will never leave me? If I have not truly heard this assurance of God, then let me listen again.

“I will never…forsake you.” Sometimes it is not the difficulty of life but the drudgery of it that makes me think God will forsake me. When there is no major difficulty to overcome, no vision from God, nothing wonderful or beautiful— just the everyday activities of life— do I hear God’s assurance even in these?

We have the idea that God is going to do some exceptional thing— that He is preparing and equipping us for some extraordinary work in the future. But as we grow in His grace we find that God is glorifying Himself here and now, at this very moment. If we have God’s assurance behind us, the most amazing strength becomes ours, and we learn to sing, glorifying Him even in the ordinary days and ways of life.


To live a life alone with God does not mean that we live it apart from everyone else. The connection between godly men and women and those associated with them is continually revealed in the Bible, e.g., 1 Timothy 4:10.  Not Knowing Whither, 867 L

Jesus—Always, Only

Courage to Stand for Jesus

Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:38

In ad 155, the early church father Polycarp was threatened with death by fire for his faith in Christ. He replied, “For eighty and six years I have been his servant, and he has done me no wrong. And how can I now blaspheme my king who saved me?” Polycarp’s response can be an inspiration for us when we face extreme trial because of our faith in Jesus, our King.

Just hours before Jesus’ death, Peter boldly pledged his allegiance to Christ: “I will lay down my life for you” (John 13:37). Jesus, who knew Peter better than Peter knew himself, replied, “Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” (v. 38). However, after Jesus’ resurrection, the same one who’d denied Him began to serve Him courageously and would eventually glorify Him through his own death (see 21:16–19).

Are you a Polycarp or a Peter? Most of us, if we’re honest, are more of a Peter with a “courage outage”—a failure to speak or act honorably as a believer in Jesus. Such occasions—whether in a classroom, boardroom, or breakroom—needn’t indelibly define us. When those failures occur, we must prayerfully dust ourselves off and turn to Jesus, the One who died for us and lives for us. He’ll help us to be faithful to Him and courageously live for Him daily in difficult places.  

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

When do you need extra doses of courage to stand for Jesus? What do you find helpful in your witness for Him?

Heavenly Father, forgive me when I shrink back in fear and betray You by my words or actions. I need Your strength to live boldly as a believer in Jesus.

Sunday Check-In With Dr. Stanley: God Shows Us His Will

Our heavenly Father is not the author of confusion, and He will provide the answers you seek Proverbs 3:5-6

When we believe we have heard from the Lord, it is important to ask clarifying questions:

• Is the message consistent with Scripture? God will never tell you to do something that goes against His perfect, unchanging Word. If you feel called to take an action that is contrary to Scripture, you can be certain that it isn’t the Lord urging you. 

• Can you confidently ask God to enable you to do this? If you feel uneasy about asking for the Lord’s help and empowerment, that may be a sign the voice wasn’t God’s. We should be honored—not ashamed—to ask the Lord to equip us. 

• Does it fit with your identity in Christ? We are the children of God, who are being conformed into the likeness of Christ. If you feel led to do something that doesn’t reflect the image of Jesus, then you can be sure God hasn’t called you to do it. 

Our heavenly Father will never leave His children on their own (Deuteronomy 31:6)—He is with each believer right now. Know that the Holy Spirit is present, enabling you to hear, and His voice will remain clear, no matter what questions you may have. There is no rush; when the Lord speaks, take your time listening to be certain you’re hearing from Him.