Devotional

Not Like Yesterday

25 April 2019, 12:00 am

When our grandson Jay was a child his parents gave him a new T-shirt for his birthday. He put it on right away and proudly wore it all day.

When he appeared the next morning in the shirt, his dad asked him, “Jay, does that shirt make you happy?”

“Not as much as yesterday,” Jay replied.

That’s the problem with material acquisition: Even the good things of life cannot give us the deep, lasting happiness we so ardently desire. Though we may have many possessions, we may still be unhappy.

 

The world offers happiness through material accumulation: new clothes, a new automobile, an update to our phone or watch. But no material acquisition can make us as happy as it did yesterday. That's because we were made for God and nothing less will do.

One day, when Jesus was fasting and faint with hunger, Satan approached Him and tempted Him to satisfy His hunger by creating bread. Jesus countered by quoting the text above: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God ” (Matthew 4:4).

Jesus did not say that we should not live on bread alone. He’s rather stating a fact: We are spiritual beings and thus we cannot exist on material goods alone.

True satisfaction is found in God and His riches.

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Serving the Smallest

24 April 2019, 12:00 am

The video showed a man kneeling beside a busy freeway during an out of control brush fire. He was clapping his hands and pleading with something to come. What was it? A dog? Moments later a bunny hopped into the picture. The man scooped up the scared rabbit and scampered to safety.

How did the rescue of such a small thing make national news? That is why. There is something endearing about compassion shown to the least of these. It takes a big heart to make room for the smallest creature.

Jesus said the kingdom of God is like a man who gave a banquet and made room for everyone who was willing to come. Not just the movers and shakers but also “the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame” (Luke 14:21). I’m thankful that God targets the weak and the seemingly insignificant, because otherwise I’d have no shot. Paul said, “God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things . . . so that no one may boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:27–29).

How big must God’s heart be to save a small person like me! In response, how large has my heart grown to be? I can easily tell, not by how I please the “important people,” but by how I serve the ones society might deem the least important.

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Seeing the Light

23 April 2019, 12:00 am

On the streets of Los Angeles, a homeless man struggling with addictions stepped into The Midnight Mission and asked for help. Thus began Brian’s long road to recovery.

In the process Brian rediscovered his love for music. Eventually he joined Street Symphony—a group of music professionals with a heart for the homeless. They asked Brian to perform a solo from Handel’s Messiah known as “The People That Walked in Darkness.” In words written by the prophet Isaiah during a dark period of Israel’s history he sang, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Isaiah 9:2 kjv). A music critic for The New Yorker magazine wrote that Brian “made the text sound as though it had been taken from his own life.”

The gospel writer Matthew quoted that same passage. Called by Jesus from a life of cheating his fellow Israelites, Matthew describes how Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy by taking His salvation “beyond the Jordan” to “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Matthew 4:13–16).

Who would have believed one of Caesar’s tax collector thugs (see Matthew 9:9), a street addict like Brian, or people like us, would get a chance to show the difference between light and darkness in our own lives?

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Second-Wind Strength

22 April 2019, 12:00 am

At the age of fifty-four I entered the Milwaukee marathon with two goals—to finish the race and to do it under five hours. My time would have been amazing if the second 13.1 miles went as well as the first. But the race was grueling, and the second-wind strength I’d hope for never came. By the time I made it to the finish line, my steady stride had morphed into a painful walk.

Footraces aren’t the only thing that require second-wind strength—life’s race does too. To endure, tired, weary people need God’s help. Isaiah 40:27–31 beautifully weds poetry and prophecy to comfort and motivate people who need strength to keep going. Timeless words remind fatigued and discouraged people that the Lord is not detached or uncaring (v. 27), that our plight doesn’t escape His notice. These words breathe comfort and assurance, and remind us of God’s limitless power and bottomless knowledge (v. 28).

The second-wind strength described in verses 29–31 is just right for us—whether we’re in the throes of raising and providing for our families, struggling through life under the weight of physical or financial burdens, or discouraged by relational tensions or spiritual challenges. Such is the strength that awaits those who—through meditating on the Scriptures and prayer—wait upon the Lord.

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