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    Declaring Dependence

    Laura’s mom was battling cancer. One morning Laura prayed for her with a friend. Her friend, who had been disabled for years by cerebral palsy, prayed: “Lord, you do everything for me. Please do everything for Laura’s mother.”

    Laura was deeply moved by her friend’s “declaration of dependence” on God. Reflecting on the moment, she said: “How often do I acknowledge my need for God in everything? It’s something I should do every day!”

    During His days on earth Jesus demonstrated continual dependence on His heavenly Father. One might think that because Jesus is God in a human body, He would have…

    The Concentration of Personal Sin

    When I come into the very presence of God, I do not realize that I am a sinner in an indefinite sense, but I suddenly realize and the focus of my attention is directed toward the concentration of sin in a particular area of my life. A person will easily say, “Oh yes, I know I am a sinner,” but when he comes into the presence of God he cannot get away with such a broad and indefinite statement. Our conviction is focused on our specific sin, and we realize, as Isaiah did, what we really are.

    Ring in a Dumpster

    In college, I woke up one morning to find Carol, my roommate, in a panic. Her signet ring was missing. We searched everywhere. The next morning we found ourselves picking through a dumpster.

    I ripped open a trash bag. “You’re so dedicated to finding this!”

    “I’m not losing a two-hundred-dollar ring!” she exclaimed.

    Carol’s determination reminds me of the parable Jesus told about the kingdom of heaven, which “is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Matthew 13:44). Certain things…

    Fellowship with Jesus

    I’ll never forget the time I had the privilege of sitting next to Billy Graham at a dinner. I was honored but also somewhat nervous about what would be appropriate to say. I thought it would be an interesting conversation starter to ask what he loved most about his years of ministry. Then I awkwardly started to suggest possible answers. Was it knowing presidents, kings, and queens? Or preaching the gospel to millions of people around the world?

    Before I had finished offering suggestions, Rev. Graham stopped me. Without hesitation he said, “It has been my fellowship with Jesus. To sense His…

    The Greatest Source of Power

    Am I fulfilling this ministry of intercession deep within the hidden recesses of my life? There is no trap nor any danger at all of being deceived or of showing pride in true intercession. It is a hidden ministry that brings forth fruit through which the Father is glorified. Am I allowing my spiritual life to waste away, or am I focused, bringing everything to one central point— the atonement of my Lord? Is Jesus Christ more and more dominating every interest of my life? If the central point, or the most powerful influence, of my life is the atonement of the Lord, then every aspect of my life will bear fruit for Him.

    It Hides a Well

    In Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s splendid story The Little Prince, a lone pilot crashed in the Sahara. He had no water—only a curious boy from another planet to keep him company. As the man tried desperately to repair his plane, the little prince pestered him with random questions and seemingly idle chatter. The pilot’s exasperation grew until he cried out, “I’m very busy with matters of consequence!”

    "The Secret of the Lord"

    What is the sign of a friend? Is it that he tells you his secret sorrows? No, it is that he tells you his secret joys. Many people will confide their secret sorrows to you, but the final mark of intimacy is when they share their secret joys with you. Have we ever let God tell us any of His joys? Or are we continually telling God our secrets, leaving Him no time to talk to us? At the beginning of our Christian life we are full of requests to God. But then we find that God wants to get us into an intimate relationship with Himself— to get us in touch with His purposes.

    Are You Obsessed by Something?

    Are you obsessed by something? You will probably say, “No, by nothing,” but all of us are obsessed by something— usually by ourselves, or, if we are Christians, by our own experience of the Christian life. But the psalmist says that we are to be obsessed by God. The abiding awareness of the Christian life is to be God Himself, not just thoughts about Him. The total being of our life inside and out is to be absolutely obsessed by the presence of God. A child’s awareness is so absorbed in his mother that although he is not consciously thinking of her, when a problem arises, the abiding relationship is that with the mother.

    Interrupted Fellowship

    The loud, sorrowful cry pierced the dark afternoon air. I imagine it drowning out the sound of mourning from friends and loved ones gathered at Jesus’s feet. It must have overwhelmed the moans of the dying criminals who flanked Jesus on both sides. And surely startled all who heard it.

    Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani!” Jesus cried out in agony and in utter despondency as He hung on that cross of shame on Golgotha (Matthew 27:45–46).

    “My God,” He said, “my God, why have you forsaken me?”

    I cannot think of more heart-wrenching words. Since eternity, Jesus had been in perfect fellowship with God…

    The Life To Know Him

    The disciples had to tarry, staying in Jerusalem until the day of Pentecost, not only for their own preparation but because they had to wait until the Lord was actually glorified. And as soon as He was glorified, what happened? “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33). The statement in John 7:39 — “. . . for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified”— does not pertain to us.

    Living Simply— Yet Focused

    Look at the birds of the air . . . . Consider the lilies of the field . . . —Matthew 6:26, 28

    Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin”— they simply are! Think of the sea, the air, the sun, …

    Faith— Not Emotion

    We walk by faith, not by sight. —2 Corinthians 5:7

    For a while, we are fully aware of God’s concern for us. But then, when God begins to use us in His work, we begin to take on a pitiful look and talk only of our trials and difficulties. And all the while God is trying to make us do…

    My One Thing

    The song “You Are My One Thing,” by songwriter Hannah McClure voices a deep cry of the heart to walk closely with God and experience His presence. The lyrics are a beautiful reminder of how our relationship with God can transform our lives. Hannah says that the song came out of a season when God was calling her back to remember the time where she’d first experienced the depth of His love for her.

    With Us in Our Suffering

    Poet Christian Wiman, some time after being diagnosed with an incurable form of blood cancer, reflected on his ordeal, writing, “I have passed through pain I could never have imagined, pain that seemed to incinerate all my thoughts of God and to leave me sitting there in the ashes, alone.” But he found hope in the powerful presence of Jesus. “I am a Christian because of that moment on the cross when Jesus, drinking the very dregs of human bitterness, cries out, ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’ ” (Matthew 27:46). In times of great suffering, Wiman…

    Enjoying God Forever

    The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” A student misquoted this as, “Our purpose is to glorify God and endure Him forever.” The mistake is funny, but isn’t that sometimes how we secretly feel about eternity? What will we do there except sing praise songs? How wonderful for the first million years. But . . . forever?

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