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    Help from the Holy Spirit

    While my classmates and I used to skip the occasional lecture in university, everyone always made sure to attend Professor Chris’ lecture the week before the year-end exams. That was when he would unfailingly drop big hints about the exam questions he’d set.

    I always wondered why he did that, until I realized that Prof Chris genuinely wanted us to do well. He had high standards, but he would help us meet them. All we had to do was turn up and listen so we could prepare properly.

    It struck me that God is like that too. God can’t compromise His standards, but…

    Fix Up Time

    It was time to give the inside of our home a fresh, new look. But just as I’d begun prepping a room for painting, our state government announced it would be halting the sale of many home improvement items due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As soon as I heard the announcement, I rushed to the store and nabbed the essential materials. You simply can’t remodel without the proper supplies.

    Paul had a bit of a remodeling project in mind when he wrote Ephesians 4. But the changes he was talking about went far beyond superficial alterations. Of course, trusting Jesus as…

    The Life of Peace

    In Perth, Australia, there’s a place called Shalom House where men struggling with addictions go to find help. At Shalom House, they’ll meet caring staff members who introduce them to God’s shalom (Hebrew for peace). Lives crushed under the weight of addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, and other destructive behaviors are being transformed by the love of God.

    Unseen Wonder

    In the twilight of her years, Mrs. Goodrich’s thoughts came in and out of focus along with memories of a challenging and grace-filled life. Sitting by a window overlooking the waters of Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, she reached for her notepad. In words she soon wouldn’t recognize as her own she wrote: “Here I am in my favorite chair; With my feet on the sill, and my heart in the air. The sun-struck waves on the water below; In constant motion—to where I don’t know. But thank You—dear Father above; For Your innumerable gifts—and Your undying love! It always amazes…

    Dwelling in Our Hearts

    Sometimes the words of children can jolt us into a deeper understanding of God’s truth. When my daughter was young, I was telling her about one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith—that God through His Son and Spirit dwells in His children. As I tucked her into bed, I said that Jesus was with her and in her. “He’s in my tummy?” she asked. “Well, you haven’t swallowed Him,” I replied. “But He’s right there with you.”

    My daughter’s literal translation of Jesus being “in her tummy” made me stop and consider how when I asked Jesus to be…

    Jesus’ Promise to You

    Jason wailed as his parents handed him over to Amy. It was the two-year-old’s first time in the nursery while Mom and Dad attended the service—and he was not happy. Amy assured them he’d be fine. She tried to soothe him with toys and books, by rocking in a chair, walking around, standing still, and talking about what fun he could have. But everything was met with bigger tears and louder cries. Then she whispered five simple words in his ear: “I will stay with you.” Peace and comfort quickly came.

    Jesus offered His friends similar words of comfort during the…

    Sweeter than Honey

    During “Chicago Day” in October 1893, the city’s theatres shut down because the owners figured everyone would be attending the World’s Fair. Some four hundred thousand people went, but Dwight Moody (1837–99) wanted to fill a music hall at the other end of Chicago with preaching and teaching. His friend R.A. Torrey (1856–1928) was skeptical that Moody could draw a crowd on the same day as the fair. But by God’s grace, he did. As Torrey later concluded, the crowds came because Moody knew “the one Book that this old world most longs to know—the Bible.” Torrey longed for others…

    It’s Jesus!

    During an episode of the popular US television talent competition “America’s Got Talent,” a five-year-old girl sang with such exuberance that a judge compared her to a famous child singer and dancer in the 1930s. He remarked, “I think Shirley Temple is living somewhere inside of you.” Her unexpected response: “Not Shirley Temple. Jesus!”

    I marveled at the young girl’s deep awareness that her joy came from Jesus living in her. Scripture assures us of the amazing reality that all who trust in Jesus not only receive the promise of eternal life with God but also Jesus’ presence living in them…

    Like Jesus

    As a boy, theologian Bruce Ware was frustrated that 1 Peter 2:21–23 calls us to be like Jesus. Ware wrote of his youthful exasperation in his book The Man Christ Jesus. “Not fair, I determined. Especially when the passage says to follow in the steps of one ‘who did no sin.’ This was totally outlandish . . . . I just couldn’t see how God could really mean for us to take it seriously.”

    I understand why Ware would find such a biblical challenge so daunting! An old chorus says, “To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus. My desire, to…

    Giving Thanks Always

    In the seventeenth century, Martin Rinkart served as a clergyman in Saxony, Germany, for more than thirty years during times of war and plague. One year he conducted over 4,000 funerals, including for his wife, and at times food was so scarce that his family went hungry. Although he could have despaired, his faith in God remained strong and he gave thanks continually. In fact, he poured his gratitude into “Nun danket alle Gott,” the song that became the well-loved English hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God.”

    Rinkart followed the example of the prophet Isaiah, who instructed God’s people to give…

    A Divine Duet

    At a children’s music recital, I watched a teacher and student seat themselves in front of a piano. Before their duet began, the teacher leaned over and whispered some last-minute instructions. As music flowed from the instrument, I noticed that the student played a simple melody while the teacher’s accompaniment added depth and richness to the song. Near the end of the piece, the teacher nodded his approval.

    The Christian life is much more like a duet than a solo performance. Sometimes, though, I forget that Jesus is “sitting next to me,” and it’s only by His power and guidance that…

    Deep-Rooted Faith

    The Holy Oak stood next to Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in New Jersey for more than 600 years until it had to be removed. At its prime, the twisting branches spanned high and wide. Cool breezes rustled its green leaves and acorns. The sun peeked through wind-blown gaps, creating dancing glimmers of light in the shade below its canopy. But beneath the ground’s surface lay its true magnificence—its root system. An oak’s main root grows vertically, securing a reliable supply of nourishment. From that taproot, a mass of roots spreads horizontally to supply the tree with a lifetime of moisture…

    Easy Does It

    My father and I used to fell trees and cut them to size with a two-man crosscut saw. Being young and energetic, I tried to force the saw into the cut. “Easy does it,” my father would say. “Let the saw do the work.”

    I think of Paul’s words in Philippians: “It is God who works in you” (2:13). Easy does it. Let Him do the work of changing us.

    C. S. Lewis said that growth is much more than reading what Christ said and carrying it out. He explained, “A real Person, Christ, . . . is doing things to you…

    In Tune with the Spirit

    As I listened to the piano tuner work on the elegant grand piano, I thought about the times when I’d heard that very same piano pour out the incredible sound of the “Warsaw Concerto” and the rich melody of “How Great Thou Art.” But now the instrument desperately needed to be tuned. While some notes were right on pitch, others were sharp or flat, creating an unpleasant sound. The piano tuner’s responsibility wasn’t to make each of the keys play the same sound but to assure that each note’s unique sound combined with others to create a pleasing harmonious whole.

    Even…

    Seeking God

    It can be inspiring to watch people’s passion and dedication in pursuing their dreams. A young woman I know recently graduated from college in just three years—a task that took total commitment. A friend wanted a particular car, so he worked diligently baking and selling cakes until he reached his goal. Another person who’s in sales seeks to meet one hundred new people every week.

    While it can be good to earnestly seek something of earthly value, there’s a more important kind of seeking that we must consider.

    In desperation, struggling in a desert, King David wrote, “You, God, are my God,…

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