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    Promise-Keeper

    Gripped by the gravity of the promises he was making to LaShonne, Jonathan found himself stumbling as he repeated his wedding vows. He thought, How can I make these promises and not believe they’re possible to keep? He made it through the ceremony, but the weight of his commitments remained. After the reception, Jonathan led his wife to the chapel where he prayed—for more than two hours—that God would help him keep his promise to love and care for LaShonne.

    Jonathan’s wedding-day fears were based on the recognition of his human frailties. But God, who promised to bless the nations through…

    Suffering Together

    In 2013, seventy-year-old James McConnell, a British Royal Marine veteran, died. McConnell had no family, and staff from his nursing home feared no one would attend his funeral. A man tapped to officiate McConnell’s memorial service, posted a Facebook message: “In this day and age it is tragic enough that anyone has to leave this world with no one to mourn their passing, but this man was family. . . . If you can make it to the graveside . . . to pay your respects to a former brother in arms then please try to be there.” Two-hundred Royal…

    Unseen Realities

    Stephen Cass, an editor at Discover magazine, was determined to investigate some of the invisible things that are part of his daily life. As he walked toward his office in New York City, he mused: “If I could see radio waves, the top of the Empire State Building [with its host of radio and TV antennas] would be lit like a kaleidoscopic flare, illuminating the entire city.” He realized he was surrounded by an invisible electromagnetic bedlam of radio and TV signals, Wi-Fi, and more.

    Elisha’s servant learned about another kind of unseen reality—the invisible spiritual world—one morning. He awoke to find…

    Through a New Lens

    “It’s amazing to look at a tree and see the individual leaves instead of just a blur of green!” my dad said. I couldn’t have said it better. I was eighteen at the time and not a fan of my new need to wear glasses, but they changed the way I saw everything, making the blurry beautiful!

    When reading Scripture, I view certain books like I do when I look at trees without my glasses. There doesn’t seem to be much to see. But noticing details can reveal the beauty in a boring passage.

    This happened to me when I was reading…

    Divine Diversions

    It can be difficult when we’re told “no” or “not now,” especially when we sense God has opened a door for us to serve others. Early in my ministry, two opportunities came my way where I thought my gifts and skills matched the churches’ needs, but both doors eventually closed. After these two disappointments, another position came along, and I was selected. With that ministry call came thirteen years of life-touching pastoral labors.

    Twice in Acts 16 Paul and company were redirected by God. First, they were “kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia”…

    Yesterday

    Security from Yesterday. “. . . God requires an account of what is past” (Ecclesiastes 3:15). At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise when we remember our yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of God’s grace tends to be lessened by the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future. God reminds us of the past to protect us from a very shallow security in the present.

    The Drawing of the Father

    When God begins to draw me to Himself, the problem of my will comes in immediately. Will I react positively to the truth that God has revealed? Will I come to Him? To discuss or deliberate over spiritual matters when God calls is inappropriate and disrespectful to Him. When God speaks, never discuss it with anyone as if to decide what your response may be (see Galatians 1:15-16). Belief is not the result of an intellectual act, but the result of an act of my will whereby I deliberately commit myself.

    Test of Faithfulness

    We know that all things work together for good to those who love God . . . —Romans 8:28

    It is only a faithful person who truly believes that God sovereignly controls his circumstances. We take our circumstances for granted, saying God is in …

    The Impartial Power of God

    By one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified —Hebrews 10:14

    We trample the blood of the Son of God underfoot if we think we are forgiven because we are sorry for our sins. The only …

    The Forgiveness of God

    In Him we have . . . the forgiveness of sins . . . —Ephesians 1:7

    Beware of the pleasant view of the fatherhood of God: God is so kind and loving that of course He will forgive us. That thought, …

    Is God’s Will My Will?

    This is the will of God, your sanctification… —1 Thessalonians 4:3

    Sanctification is not a question of whether God is willing to sanctify me— is it my will? Am I willing to let God do in me everything that has been made possible through the atonement of the Cross of Christ? Am I willing to let Jesus become sanctification to me, and…

    Ask the Animals

    Our grandkids, enraptured, got a close-up look at a rescued bald eagle. They were even allowed to touch him. As the zoo volunteer told about the powerful bird perched on her arm, I was surprised to learn this male had a wingspan of about 6 ½ feet, yet because of its hollow bones it weighed only about eight pounds.

    This reminded me of the majestic eagle I had seen soaring above a lake, ready to swoop down and snatch its prey in its talons. And I pictured in my mind another big bird—the spindly legged blue heron I had spied standing…

    Building on the Atonement

    . . . present . . . your members as instruments of righteousness to God —Romans 6:13

    I cannot save and sanctify myself; I cannot make atonement for sin; I cannot redeem the world; I cannot right what is wrong, purify what …

    The Lord Speaks

    We can find nearly every argument in the book of Job about why there is pain in the world, but the arguing never seems to help Job much. His is a crisis of relationship more than a crisis of doubt. Can he trust God? Job wants one thing above all else: an appearance by the one Person who can explain his miserable fate. He wants to meet God Himself, face to face.

    Eventually Job gets his wish. God shows up in person (see Job 38:1). He times His entrance with perfect irony, just as Job’s friend Elihu is expounding on why…

    Hard Mysteries

    As my friend and I went for a walk, we talked about our love for the Bible. She surprised me when she said, “Oh, but I don’t like the Old Testament much. All of that hard stuff and vengeance—give me Jesus!”

    We might resonate with her words when we read a book like Nahum, perhaps recoiling at a statement such as, “The Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath” (Nahum 1:2). And yet the next verse fills us with hope: “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power” (v. 3).

    When we dig more deeply into the subject of…

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