"My thoughts are not
your thoughts, nor are
your ways My ways,"
says the LORD.
When our family went out for an ice cream cone, my dad would ask
my mother what flavor she'd like.
Often she would reply, "Surprise me!" She told me she was rarely
disappointed in his choice.
Do you like surprises? Would you ever dare say, "Surprise me!" to
God? A lot of us are a little scared to do that. Yes, we have
faith that God is good and that He loves us. Yet we're afraid we
won't like what He chooses for us. Throughout the Bible we read
that God delights in doing the unexpected. Sometimes it's folding
back the waters for His people to cross a sea on dry
ground (Ex.14:21-22). Or forgiving and embracing those who repent
of their sin (Ps.130:1-4). Jesus' time on earth was filled with
amazing events that pointed people to His Father - He turned
water into wine, calmed storms, healed the sick, and raised the
What kind of God do we serve? One who is not confined by our
finite imagination (Eph.3:20). God's thoughts and ways are not
like ours (Isa.55:8), and He wants to bless us with far more than
a special flavor of ice cream. He delights in His children who
trust Him and are willing to say, "Surprise me, Lord!" --Cindy
O Lord, give me the grace to be
Content with what You give to me.
No! More than that, let me rejoice
In all You send me - it's Your choice! --Anon.
THOSE WHO LET GOD PROVIDE WILL ALWAYS BE SATISFIED.
Put on the new man which was created according to God, in true
righteousness and holiness.
In the fifth Chronicle of Narnia, "The Voyage of the Dawn
Treader" Edmund, Lucy, and their spoiled cousin Eustace are
summoned to help on a quest in the Eastern Sea. Along the way,
Eustace is tempted by enchanted treasure and turned into a
dragon. The desperate dragon accepts the help of the great lion
Aslan, king of Narnia. But Eustace can only be freed by allowing
Aslan's claws to painfully tear off the dragon's flesh. Grateful
for his deliverance, Eustace chooses to become a better boy.
Receiving God's gift of salvation through Christ is a one-time
event, but to become like Him often requires suffering and
struggle. It involves putting off old sinful habits and replacing
them with new godly ones. Paul wrote, "Put off, concerning your
former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt ... [and] put on
the new man which was created according to God, in true
righteousness and holiness" (Eph.4:22-24).
What is troubling you today? God may be using the kind rebuke of
a friend or a painful trial to prompt you to get rid of a sinful
habit and to replace it with godly character (Rom. 8:29; 1 Peter
The process of becoming like Christ is sometimes painful, but
it's always worth it. --Dennis Fisher
To be like Jesus is our goal,
Though it doesn't happen fast;
We trust the Spirit as our Guide
Till we're glorified at last. --Branon
THE CONVERSION OF A SOUL IS A MIRACLE OF A MOMENT; THE GROWTH OF
A SAINT IS THE WORK OF A LIFETIME.
GOD'S STRONG HANDS
Jacob was left alone;
and a Man wrestled
with him until the
breaking of day.
In Genesis, it seems that almost every person and family
mentioned is dysfunctional. The text is filled with accounts of
jealousy, anger, violence, and deception that leave a trail of
damaged relationships. Even Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob -
lauded as heroes of faith in Hebrews 11--display flawed character
and spiritual lapses. But God never leaves them that way. Jacob
defrauded his older twin Esau, who swore to kill him (Gen.
27:41). Then, before the estranged brothers would face each other
after 20 years, Jacob wrestled with God. When asked his name, the
conniving younger brother finally admitted who he was: Jacob -
the deceiver (Gen.32:24-27). That marked a spiritual turning
Noted preacher Carlyle Marney said that because God doesn't give
up on us, we should not give up on ourselves. "The last person on
earth you will forgive a weakness is yourself," Dr.Marney wrote.
"Only in the gospel can men go on loving themselves. Wait on God!
See what His strong hands will fashion out of your defection."
When we have turned back, God can turn us around. When we have
destroyed, God can rebuild. "Christ in the strong hands of God
conquering my defection. This is the gospel." --David McCasland
Though weak and helpless in life's fray
God's mighty power shall be our stay;
Without, within, He'll set us free
His strength will give us victory. --D. De Haan
THERE IS VICTORY IN SURRENDER WHEN WE ARE CONQUERED BY CHRIST.
A QUESTION OF MOTIVE
The Word of God is
living and powerful, and
and sharper than any two-
edged sword ... and is a
discerner of the thoughts
and intents of the heart.
My wife and I were stopped at a railroad crossing to allow a
train to pass. As we waited in the line of cars, the driver next
to us suddenly darted through a nearby parking lot and headed in
the direction of the next available railroad crossing.
I turned to Marlene and said, with some righteous indignation.
"Look at that guy. He's trying to get around the train instead of
waiting like the rest of us." As soon as I said those words, the
man, camera in hand, hopped from his car to take pictures of the
oncoming train. I had judged his motives. and I was dead wrong.
Although we can observe behavior and outward appearance, only God
can see what's in the heart. That is one reason we all need the
Word of God so desperately. Hebrews 4:12 says, "The Word of God
is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints
and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the
When we find ourselves ready to judge another person's motives,
let's pause and remember - only God can see the heart, and only
His Word can expose its motives. Our responsibility is to let the
Lord and His Word convict us about our own hearts. --Bill Crowder
The Bible is a lamp from God,
A sword of truth and light;
It searches heart and soul and mind,
And helps us know what's right. --Bosch
PEOPLE WILL BE JUDGED BY THE WAY GOD SEES THEM NOT BY THE WAY WE
Your Word I have
hidden in my heart.
My wife and I stayed up late to watch a TV program we found
exciting - the Scripps National Spelling Bee. It was fascinating
to watch middle-school children as they recited the correct
spelling for some of the most difficult words imaginable.
Anticipation grew as one contestant after another was
disqualified. Finally, only 13-year-old Katharine Close remained.
One word stood between her and the world championship. With
little hesitation, Katharine correctly spelled the word
Obviously, Katharine can spell! But it's possible to know how to
spell a word, yet not understand its meaning. As believers in
Jesus Christ, it's vital for us to know God's Word, the
Bible. Our goal is not to accumulate knowledge but to internalize
His Word so that we can be equipped in our walk of faith.
When we know God's Word, it keeps our spiritual walk from
slipping (Ps.37:31). It satisfies the hunger of our souls (Jer.
15:16). And it is a key weapon in facing temptations and trials
Let's make it our aim to know the Word. Then, when faCing life's
challenges, we can be ready for any situation (2 Tim.3:16-17). -
My hunger for the truth He satisfies;
Upon the Word, the Living Bread, I feed:
No parching thirst I know, because His grace,
A pool of endless depth, supplies my need. --Sanders
TO THE WISE, GOD'S WORD IS SUFFICIENT.
THE NEXT GENERATION
2 Timothy 2:1-13
The things that you
have heard from me ....
commit these to faithful
men who will be able
to teach others also.
-2 Timothy 2:2
A man who played double-bass in the Mexico City Philharmonic told
me that the finest instruments are made of wood that has been
allowed to age naturally to remove the moisture. "You must age
the wood for 80 years, then play the instrument for 80 years
before it reaches its best sound," said Luis Antonio Rojas. "A
craftsman must use wood cut and aged by someone else, and he will
never see any instrument reach its peak during his own lifetime."
Many important things in lif are "next generation" matters -
teaching, training, and parenting are among them. The apostle
Paul invested himself in people whose spiritual influence would
continue long after he was gone. He wrote to Timothy: "The things
that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to
faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim.2:2).
Paul, Timothy, "faithful men," and "others" represent four
spiritual generations built on the enduring foundation of the
gospel of Jesus Christ.
Are we living only for today and the short term, or are we giving
ourselves to others who will continue the faith after our race is
run? Living for Christ and making disciples are all about the
next generation. --David McCasland
Day by day perform your mission,
With Christ's help keep at your tasks;
Be encouraged by His presence
Faithfulness is all He asks. --Bosch
WE INFLUENCE FUTURE GENERATIONS BY LIVING FOR CHRIST TODAY.
Do not harden your
Pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars selling drugs
that prevent hardening of the arteries, a condition that can lead
to heart attacks, which kill thousands of people every year.
A more serious condition than hardening of the arteries, however,
is hardening of the heart, and it cannot be prevented by any
wonder drug. The prophet Zechariah warned the Israelites about
it. They had hardened their hearts and refused to listen to the
words of the Lord. Symptoms of this deadly condition were their
refusal to execute true justice and their failure to show mercy
and compassion (Zech.7:9). As a result, the Lord became angry and
stopped listening to them (v.13).
While it's important to keep plaque from forming in our arteries,
it's even more important to keep our hearts from becoming callous
to people who are important to God: widows, orphans, aliens, and
the poor (v.10).
It's crucial to follow our doctor's orders to keep our arteries
from hardening. But it's even more crucial to obey God to keep
our hearts from becoming hardened to the needs of others.
Ask God to bring to mind a person who needs the help of someone
with a soft heart. --Julie Ackerman Link
If I can right a human wrong,
If I can help to make one strong,
If I can cheer with smile or song,
Lord, show me how. --Kleiser
TO LOVE CHRIST IS TO HAVE A HEART FOR OTHERS.
To be continued