Our Daily Bread:Forwarded
- READ: Psalm 77:1-14 Appended
I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of
old. —Psalm 77:11
During the last week of December, newscasters often look back at the
significant events of the past year—the triumphs and failures of prominent
people, natural disasters, economic challenges, and the deaths of celebrities
and leaders. The most surprising events usually receive top billing.
If you reviewed the past year of your life, what would appear on the list? Has
an unexpected event caused you to question God or to more deeply experience His
Psalm 77 chronicles the lament of a person in distress who felt as if God no
longer cared (vv.7-9). “Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed
forevermore?” (v.8). Yet, even in anguish, the psalmist said, “I will remember
the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old” (v.11). The
result was a renewal of trust and hope: “You are the God who does wonders; You
have declared Your strength among the peoples” (v.14).
As you think back over this past year, why not write down the significant
events in your life. Don’t be afraid to include your difficulties and
disappointments, but remember to consider all the ways God has been with you.
During every difficulty, we can always find the faithfulness of God. —David
When we look back and contemplate
What we’ve been through this year,
We’ll praise You, Lord, for all You’ve done—
Your faithfulness is clear. —Sper
Difficulties in our lives give us the opportunity to experience the faithfulness
Psalm 77[a] For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm.
1 I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.[b]
4 You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
5 I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
6 I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
7 “Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
13 Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
1. Psalm 77:1 In Hebrew texts 77:1-20 is numbered 77:2-21.
2. Psalm 77:3 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here and at
the end of verses 9 and 15.
- READ: Hebrews 11:32-40 Appended
All these . . . obtained a good testimony through faith. —Hebrews 11:39
In a letter to his son Eduard, Albert Einstein gave this advice: “Life is like
riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” The great
physicist’s advice is wise and practical.
This wise counsel can apply to the Christian life. Many believers by faith
keep moving ahead through painful and trying circumstances. But when they
experience a personal moral failure, they lose their balance and fall. Their
regret and feeling of unworthiness of God’s forgiveness may then keep them down
and they no longer move ahead in their spiritual life.
The Bible gives us many examples of those who have experienced serious
personal failure. Abraham lied to Pharaoh about his wife, Sarah (Gen. 12:11-17).
Jacob deceived his father to acquire Esau’s blessing (Gen. 27:18-29). Moses
disobeyed God by striking the rock instead of speaking to it (Num. 20:7-12).
Despite their failures, we are told: “all these . . . obtained a good testimony
through faith” (Heb. 11:39).
These biblical characters are lifted up as examples because after they fell,
they turned back to God and began to follow Him again. Have you lost your
spiritual balance through a sinful choice, which is keeping you down? Repent
and follow the God of second chances once again. —Dennis Fisher
I’ve strayed, O Lord, and turned aside,
I’ve disobeyed Your voice;
But now contrite of heart I turn
And make Your will my choice. —D. De Haan
Our God is a God of second chances.
Hebrews 11:32-40 (New International Version, ©2010)
32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak,
Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through
faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised;
who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped
the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became
powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their
dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be
released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced
jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death
by stoning;[a] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went
about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the
world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in
caves and in holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had
been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only
together with us would they be made perfect.
1. Hebrews 11:37 Some early manuscripts stoning; they were put to the test;
- READ: Genesis 12:1-9 Appended
The Lord had said to Abram, Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. Genesis 12:1
One of the smartest people I know is a college friend who became a Christian while studying at a state university. He graduated with honors and went on to study at a respected seminary. He served a small church as pastor for several years and then accepted a call to another small church far from family and friends. After 12 years at that church, he sensed that the congregation needed new leadership, so he stepped down. He hadn't been offered a job at a bigger church or a teaching position at a college or seminary. In fact, he didn't even have another job. He just knew that God was leading him in a different direction, so he followed.
When we discussed it, my friend said, A lot of people talk about being called to something, but I don't hear much about being called from something.�
In many ways, my friend's obedience was like that of Israel's patriarch Abraham, who went out, not knowing where God was leading (Heb. 11:8-10). Difficulties like famine (Gen. 12:10), fear (vv.11-20), and family disputes (13:8) gave reason for doubt, but Abraham persevered and because of his faith God counted him as righteous (Gal. 3:6).
A life of obedience may not be easy, but it will be blessed (Luke 11:28). - Julie Ackerman Link
As Abraham went out,
Not knowing where he was going;
Now, Lord, keep me from doubt,
To go the way You are showing. - Hess
You don't need to know where you're going if you know God is leading.
The Call of Abram
1 The LORD had said to Abram, Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you.
2 I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.[a]
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”[b]
4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.
5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.
7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, To your offspring[c] I will give this land.� So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.
8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.
9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.
1. Genesis 12:2 Or be seen as blessed
2. Genesis 12:3 Or earth / will use your name in blessings (see 48:20)
3. Genesis 12:7 Or seed
- READ: Ephesians 3:14-21 Appended
Be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:19
According to the ancient philosopher Aristotle, Nature abhors a vacuum. Aristotle based his conclusion on the observation that nature requires every space to be filled with something, even if that something is colorless, odorless air.
The same principle is at work in our spiritual lives. When the Holy Spirit begins to convict us of sin, the idea of starting a self-improvement plan immediately comes to mind. We put forth our best effort to defeat our worst habits. But every attempt to get rid of unclean thoughts, attitudes, and desires is destined to fail because getting rid of one creates a vacuum in our souls. As soon as we empty ourselves of one vice, others move in to take its place, and we end up just as bad or worse than when we started.
Thinking about vacuums helps us to understand the importance of what Paul was saying to the Ephesians when he prayed that Christ would dwell in their hearts through faith and that they would know the love of Christ . . . that [they] may be filled with all the fullness of God� (3:19).
The only permanent solution to the problem of sin in our lives is to replace it with the love of Jesus, which fills the vacuum. The more we are filled with His love, the less room there is for any evil thing. - Julie Ackerman Link
Father, thank You for Your Spirit
Fill us with His love and power;
Change us into Christ's own image
Day by day and hour by hour. - Anon.
We don't need to put our house in order before Jesus comes in; He puts it in order after we let Him in.
Ephesians 3:14-21 (New International Version)
A Prayer for the Ephesians
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father,
15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
18 may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
1. Ephesians 3:15 The Greek for family (patria) is derived from the Greek for father (pater).
- READ: Psalm 55:1-8 Appended
Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you. Psalm 55:22
Every so often, my computer becomes sluggish. Frequent use of certain programs and documents causes pieces of information to become scattered, requiring my computer to search for the pieces before I can use them. To fix it, I need to run a program that retrieves the pieces and groups them together where they are easily accessible. This process is called defragmentation.�
Like my computer, my life gets fragmented. One situation tugs on my emotions while I'm trying to concentrate on something else. Demands from every direction bombard me. I want to accomplish everything that needs to be done, but my mind won't stop and my body won't start. Soon I begin to feel weary and useless.
Recently I attended a retreat where one of the handouts included a prayer with words that expressed how I felt: Lord, I am scattered, restless, and only half here.
King David also went through such times (Ps. 55:2). In prayer, David presented his needs to God morning, noon, and evening, confident that he would be heard (v.17).
Prayer can help to defragment our lives. When we cast our cares on the Lord, He will show us what we need to do and what only He can do. - Julie Ackerman Link
O Lord, we bring our restless hearts
To You in fervent prayer;
Now help us wait expectantly
While resting in Your care. - Sper
We need prayer the most when we have the least time to pray.
Psalm 55:1-8 (New International Version)
Psalm 55[a] For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A maskil[b] of David.
1 Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea;
2 hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
3 because of what my enemy is saying,
because of the threats of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering on me
and assail me in their anger.
4 My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
5 Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
6 I said, Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
7 I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;[c]
8 I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.
1. Psalm 55:1 In Hebrew texts 55:1-23 is numbered 55:2-24.
2. Psalm 55:1 Title: Probably a literary or musical term
3. Psalm 55:7 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here and in the middle of verse 19.
- READ: Psalm 50:7-15 Appended
Whoever offers praise glorifies Me. Psalm 50:23
I used to view the worship service in church as a time for entertainment. Speaking of folks like me, Sören Kierkegaard said that we tend to think of church as a kind of theater: We sit in the audience, attentively watching the actors onstage. If sufficiently entertained, we show our gratitude with applause. Church, though, should be the opposite of the theater. God is the audience for our worship.
What matters most takes place within the hearts of the congregation not onstage. We should leave a worship service asking ourselves not What did I get out of it?� but rather Was God pleased with what happened?�
God took pains to specify details of animal sacrifice for the ancient Israelites in their worship. Yet He said that He didn't��t need their animals: I will not take a bull from your house, nor goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills� (Ps. 50:9-10). What He wanted was their praise and obedience (v.23).
By focusing on the externals of worship, we too miss the point: The Lord is interested in a sacrifice of the heart, an internal attitude of submission and thanksgiving. The goal of worship is nothing less than to meet and please our God. - Philip Yancey
Lord, may our worship and our praise,
From hearts surrendered to Your ways,
Be worthy offerings of love
For all Your blessings from above. - Sper
At the heart of worship is worship from the heart.
7 Listen, my people, and I will speak;
I will testify against you, Israel:
I am God, your God.
8 I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices
or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.
9 I have no need of a bull from your stall
or of goats from your pens,
10 for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird in the mountains,
and the insects in the fields are mine.
12 If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
14 Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
fulfill your vows to the Most High,
15 and call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you will honor me.
- READ: Matthew 16:21-28 Appended
For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own
soul? —Matthew 16:26
Several years ago a friend of mine visited an exhibit of relics from the
infamous Titanic voyage. Exhibit visitors were given a replica ticket with the
name of an actual passenger or crew member who, decades earlier, had embarked on
the trip of a lifetime. After the tour group walked through the exhibit viewing
pieces of silver dinnerware and other artifacts, the tour ended with an
A large board listed the names of all the passengers, including their
status—first class, second class, crew. As my friend looked for the name of the
person whose ticket he was holding, he noticed a line across the board dividing
the names. Above the line were the names of those who were “saved” and below the
line all those who were “lost.”
The parallel to our life on earth is profound. It really doesn’t make any
difference how the world ranks your status. The only thing that ultimately
matters is whether you are “saved” or “lost.” As Jesus said, “What profit is it
to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matt. 16:26).
Perhaps you’ve already trusted in Christ for your salvation. But what about your
fellow passengers? Instead of sizing them up by the externals, talk to them
about their ultimate destination. —Joe Stowell
It’s not what I achieve that qualifies,
It matters not if I gain wealth or fame;
The only thing I must be certain of
Is “Have I put my trust in Jesus’ name?” —Hess
In light of eternity, what one believes is far more important than what one
Jesus Predicts His Death 21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his
disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of
the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be
killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This
shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling
block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny
themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save
their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their
soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man
is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward
each person according to what they have done.
28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before
they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
1. Matthew 16:25 The Greek word means either life or soul; also in verse 26.
- READ: John 6:4-14 Appended
There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many? John 6:9
Skeptical about the usefulness of a small lunch, Andrew said to Jesus, What are [these five loaves and two fish] among so many?� (John 6:9). Yet the little lunch in the hands of Jesus turned out to be a huge blessing. So, before you think that you don't have much to offer Jesus, consider this:
Edward Kimball, a Sunday school teacher in Boston, decided to visit a young man in his class to be sure he was a Christian. That day he led that man, Dwight L.
Moody, to the Lord.
Moody, the Billy Graham of the 19th century, had a major impact on Wilbur
Chapman. Chapman, a prominent evangelist, recruited Billy Sunday to join in his
evangelistic campaigns. In turn, Sunday launched a national ministry that had
great results in cities like Charlotte, North Carolina. An organization that
started as a result of Sunday's revival invited evangelist Mordecai Ham to
Charlotte. In one of those meetings, Billy Graham received Christ as his Savior
and later became the most prominent evangelist of our time.
When you think you don't have much to offer, remember Sunday school teacher
Edward Kimball, who spent a Saturday afternoon reaching out to someone in his
class. God has a special way of using routine faithfulness in the small things�
to accomplish great things! - Joe Stowell
What may seem insignificant,
Mundane, routine, or small
Is often used by God to show
His power over all. - Sper
God uses small things to accomplish great things for His glory.
4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to
Philip, Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?� 6 He asked this only
to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, It would take more than half a year's wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!�
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, 9 Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?�
10 Jesus said, Have the people sit down. There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, Gather the
pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.� 13 So they gathered them and
filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by
those who had eaten.
14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.�
1. John 6:7 Greek take two hundred denarii
- READ: Deuteronomy Appended
The Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart. Deuteronomy 8:2
If there is any such thing as a universal question, it may be this: Are we there yet? Generations of children have asked it. They have then grown into adults who have to answer the same question when their children ask.
Whenever I read the books of Moses, I wonder how many times he heard that question from the Israelites. Before rescuing them from slavery and leading them out of Egypt, Moses told them that the Lord would lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey� (Ex. 3:8). He did, but first they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness. This was no ordinary wandering, however. They were not lost; they were wandering for a purpose. After 400 years of slavery, the children of
Israel needed to have their hearts, souls, and minds reoriented toward God. This was accomplished in the wilderness (Deut. 8:2,15-18), but not before an entire generation died because of their disobedience (Num. 32:13).
In life, it sometimes seems as if we are wandering in circles. We feel lost. We want to ask God, Are we there yet? How much longer? At such times, it helps to remember that the journey, not just the destination, is important to God. He uses it to humble us, test us, and show us what is in our hearts. - JulieAckerman Link
All God's testings have a purpose�
Someday you will see the light;
All He asks is that you trust Him,
Walk by faith and not by sight. - Zoller
It's the journey, not just the destination, that's important.
Do Not Forget the LORD 1 Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man
does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you. 6 Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. 7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; 8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9 a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. 10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.� 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is
today. 19 If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.
- READ: Revelation 3:14-22Appended
[You] do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.
One of my favorite stories is about the Texas rancher who was doing agricultural
consulting for a farmer in Germany. He asked the German farmer about the size of
his property, to which he replied, “About a mile square.” When the German asked
the Texan about the size of his ranch, the rancher explained that if he got in
his pick-up truck at dawn and drove until sunset he would still be on his ranch.
Not to be outdone, the farmer replied, “I used to have an old truck like that!”
All joking aside, it’s important to have the right perspective. Unfortunately,
the Christians in Laodicea had the wrong perspective about wealth (Rev.
3:14-22). By all appearances, they were rich. They had plenty of earthly goods
and thought they needed nothing—not even Jesus. But Jesus had a different
perspective. In spite of their material prosperity, He saw that they were
“wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (v.17). So He invited them to
become truly rich by seeking what only He could provide: purity, character,
righteousness, and wisdom.
Let’s not make the Laodicean mistake. Instead, let’s keep our perspective right
about what it means to be rich. True wealth is not measured by what you have but
by who you are in Christ. —Joe Stowell
In Christ we’re rich beyond belief
With wealth the world cannot see;
We have new strength and character,
New righteousness and purity. —Sper
The poorest person is he whose only wealth is money.
To the Church in Laodicea 14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of
God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish
you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot
nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have
acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are
wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold
refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you
can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the
door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my
throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
- READ: Matthew 5:1-12 Appended
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8
The Gran Telescopio Canarias, one of the world’s most powerful telescopes, sits atop an extinct volcano on La Palma, Canary Islands. Inaugurated in July 2009 by King Carlos of Spain, it offers astronomers an unusually clear view of the heavens. Located at 7,870 feet, the telescope is above the cloud cover, where the prevailing winds are dry and turbulence-free. Here, near the equator, scientists can study all of the Northern Celestial Hemisphere and part of the
Jesus chose a mountainside to teach His followers about the characteristics of a life yielded to God. There He taught them that attitude, not altitude, was the key to having a clear view of the Father.
Tucked into the passage known as the Beatitudes, Jesus said: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God� (Matt. 5:8). This is not just for the few who try to achieve it, but for all who will humbly receive it. To have a heart that is clean in God's eyes, we need to accept the Father's pardon through Christ His Son. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse [purify] us from all unrighteousness� (1 John 1:9).
A mountaintop is a great place to see the stars, but to clearly see God requires a change of heart. - David McCasland
Since by faith I have clear vision,
Your blest Word is rich and new;
Men with eyes by sin distorted
Cannot all its treasures view. - Bosch
To get a clear view of God, focus on Jesus Christ. Matthew 5:1-12
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount 1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
The Beatitudes He said:
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
- READ: Joshua 4 Appended
When your children ask . . . What are these stones?� then you shall let [them] know, saying, Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land. Joshua 4:21-22
Not long ago, our friends had a gathering at their house and invited a group of people who were all music lovers. Kevin and Ilsa, who are both gifted musicians, requested that each person or couple bring a rock for a fire pit that was often the site for their evening musical jams. But they didn't want just plain ol rocks. They asked that each one be marked with a name or date or event that indicated how or when everyone had become friends.
God felt that the Israelites needed a reminder of an amazing event in their lives. Although the Jordan River had been at flood stage, the Israelites had been able to cross over on dry ground because God had stopped the water from flowing (Josh. 3:13-17). Something similar had happened years before in an escape from Egypt (see Ex. 14:21-31). On this occasion, however, God instructed His people to build a memorial of stones so that in the future when children would ask about the stones, parents could remind them of the mighty hand of God (Josh. 4:23-24).
As God continually cared for the Israelites, He continues to provide for us today. What stones of remembrance� will you use to remind your children, grandchildren and even yourself of the evidence of God's might? Cindy Hess Kasper
God's faithfulness we've known throughout the years,
His oneness with us in our joys and tears;
So many times the Lord has helped us through,
Has answered prayer and given strength anew. - F. Hess
Remembering God's goodness is a good cure for doubt.
1 When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua,
2 Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe,
3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight. 4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe,
5 and said to them, Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites,
6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, What do these stones mean?
7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.�
8 So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the LORD had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down.
9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been[a] in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.
10 Now the priests who carried the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the LORD had commanded Joshua was done by the people, just as Moses had directed Joshua. The people hurried over,
11 and as soon as all of them had crossed, the ark of the LORD and the priests came to the other side while the people watched.
12 The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them.
13 About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the LORD to the plains of Jericho for war.
14 That day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him all the days of his life, just as they had stood in awe of Moses.
15 Then the LORD said to Joshua,
16 Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant law to come up out of the Jordan.
17 So Joshua commanded the priests, Come up out of the Jordan.�
18 And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.
19 On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan.
21 He said to the Israelites, In the future when your descendants ask their parents, What do these stones mean?
22 tell them, Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.
23 For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[b] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over.
24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.�
1. Joshua 4:9 Or Joshua also set up twelve stones
2. Joshua 4:23 Or the Sea of Reeds
- READ: Isaiah 66:7-13 Appended
Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
When I stuck my camera into the bush to take a picture of the baby robins,
they opened their mouths without opening their eyes. They were so used to
having mama robin feed them whenever the branches moved that they didn’t even
look to see who (or what) was causing the disturbance.
That is the kind of trust that loving mothers instill in their children. That
is the kind of mom I am blessed to have. Growing up, I could eat whatever food
she put on the table without fear that it would harm me. Although she made me
eat things I didn’t like, I knew she did so because they were good for me. If
she cared only about what was easy for her, she would have let me eat junk
food. No matter what Mom told me to do, or not to do, I knew she had my best
interest in mind. She wasn’t trying to keep me from having fun; she was trying
to protect me from being hurt.
That is the kind of relationship we have with God, who compared Himself to a
mother: “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you” (Isa. 66:13).
As His children, we have no reason to fear what happens to us nor to envy what
happens to others: “Do not . . . be envious of the workers of iniquity” (Ps.
37:1). When we trust His goodness, we are fed by His faithfulness. —Julie
Lord, we’re thankful for this example of motherhood.
But even more, we’re grateful for Your faithful
“mothering” of us displayed in Your compassion
day by day. Help us to find rest in You. Amen.
God’s care surrounds us.
7 “Before she goes into labor,
she gives birth;
before the pains come upon her,
she delivers a son.
8 Who has ever heard of such things?
Who has ever seen things like this?
Can a country be born in a day
or a nation be brought forth in a moment?
Yet no sooner is Zion in labor
than she gives birth to her children.
9 Do I bring to the moment of birth
and not give delivery?” says the LORD.
“Do I close up the womb
when I bring to delivery?” says your God.
10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice greatly with her,
all you who mourn over her.
11 For you will nurse and be satisfied
at her comforting breasts;
you will drink deeply
and delight in her overflowing abundance.”
12 For this is what the LORD says:
“I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
you will nurse and be carried on her arm
and dandled on her knees.
13 As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”