Flight Plight

“Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life.” – Deuteronomy 4:9

It was only a one-letter difference, but what a difference it made! A while back, my husband was working out of town and needed me to book some flights for him. The project was going to take a while, so we also planned for him to visit home at least once. Hurriedly I booked an airline flight on the Internet and went on with my busy day. Two weeks later, he flew home for a short visit. On the day he was to fly back to work, we awoke early and I dropped him off at the airport. I had just gotten home and crawled back into bed when the phone rang. I heard the words, “You’ll never guess what you did!” I had booked him for a P.M. flight rather than an A.M. flight! He had scanned his confirmation letter as he approached the desk and lamented to the clerk that he just realized there was a problem. She realized his plight and advised him that the next flight was full but he could come back in a couple of hours and see if there might be a cancellation. I quickly went back to the airport to pick him up. When it came time to catch the next flight, we returned and then waited to find out if he could get on.

My haste and assumption caused a lot of unnecessary time and anxiety, not to mention the cost of the breakfast we bought to pass the time while waiting! We had both assumed he was all set to fly back in plenty of time to meet his appointments later that day. But that one-letter difference of a P.M. instead of an A.M. carried with it a delay of twelve hours!

How important it is in life to be aware of the details. They are even more important in our spiritual lives! Plans and actions based on spiritual assumptions can have far worse consequences than a delayed flight. If we make decisions and just assume we are in the Lord’s will, we can expect confusion and frustration to follow. We need to be sure our plans fit with God’s “schedule” by praying about decisions and seeking His will earnestly. Even choices that seem small can have a big effect on our lives, so we need to make sure every area is lined up with His will.

As for my husband’s flight plight, he was able to get on the next plane. Needless to say, next time neither of us will leave anything to chance!

Follow Me

“And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.” – Mark 2:14

Have you ever been invited to a gathering and, even with the address in hand and a map of the city, still did not know exactly how to get there? Being without a GPS system, I have found myself in this type of situation several times. On one such occasion, I mentioned my predicament to a friend who was planning to go to the same place as myself. I was thrilled when I heard my friend reply, “I know how to get there, just follow me!” This sounded easy enough, but it was a little more complicated than that.

When the time came, I started to follow my friend’s vehicle. Then a traffic signal cut me off, and I had to stay behind as my friend passed through the intersection. She patiently waited for me until the light turned green again, but later several cars moved in front of me so I could no longer see my leader. Once again, my friend pulled over and waited. Then I came to a crossroad and did not know which way to go. However, I soon discovered that my friend, again, was waiting to show me which way to turn. She was a good guide, and eventually, we both reached our destination safely.

As Christians, we are following the Lord. He has invited everyone to a feast in Heaven called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. We have His Word as our road map to get there, but we also have the Lord Himself as our personal Guide. The Lord gently calls out to us, “Follow Me,” when we give our lives to Him, and then our journey begins.

Following God may sound simple enough, but we will quickly get lost if we take our eyes off our Guide. Storms will come and obstruct our view of Him, but if we seek God at those times, we will find He is faithfully waiting to show us where to turn next. Even if we make a wrong turn, and temporarily lose our way, when we look for our Guide He will be waiting to lead us back to the right way.

All of us want Heaven to be our final destination, but we have to follow the One who knows the way, just like I had to follow my friend. Let us determine to never lose sight of our Guide, and encourage others to follow Him too. He is the best Guide, and He is willing to show everyone the way.

Wind Power

“And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.” – Isaiah 7:2

Night was closing in on the city, and the sky was turning slowly into a black mosaic. The fir trees—just shadows through the large window of the library where I was sitting—revealed the strength of the wind as their branches bounced back and forth under nature’s power. A strong storm was moving in, and I decided it was time to gather my books and head for home.

I opened the tall glass doors of the library to the whirling storm outside. The wind ripped at my coat and whipped my hair across my face. Just getting to my car was a challenge, as branches and litter flew in front of me. It was not a hurricane, just a fierce windstorm, but I still remember the power it packed.

The wind is able to move and uproot objects of considerable size. A power capable of great destruction, it is a marvelous force of nature created by God. He can use the wind to move objects that we believed were unmovable.

Considering the focus verse, have you ever tried to move someone’s heart into a different way of thinking, the same way the wind moves tree branches? Maybe a friend was doing something spiritually destructive, and you wanted him to change his mind. You may have discovered that words alone do not have much effect on changing a heart. However, we serve a God who can move anything. He controls the tiniest speck of sand and the largest rock in the world. The One who made the wind’s power also has the power to move the hardest heart or change difficult situations. He can take a heart that seems to be encased in granite and make it pliable and receptive. He has power to move sin out of an unsaved life, and replace it with peace and joy.

When things need to be rearranged in our lives or in the life of another, instead of trying to move them in our own strength, we can call upon the Lord and ask Him to undertake. His moving service is the top of the line and available any place in the world where a heart cries out to Him. His wondrous power moves the wind, and hearts too.

True Testimony

“This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.” – John 21:24

After being called several times for possible jury duty, my short legal career ended with one relatively minor but real trial. One memory stands out from that trial. As a certain witness was quizzed concerning an important point, he used the words, “I think.” Immediately the judge stopped everything and bawled out this witness. “I don’t care what you ‘think’; I want to know only what you are sure of.” While sympathizing with the witness in his embarrassment, I understood what the judge was getting at. Unless you are sure of something, it is not suitable to be included as evidence.

A number of years ago, I found myself in much the same place as this witness. I was a regular church attendee and even had certain responsibilities within the church. Yet, if you would have questioned me closely, you would have found out that I was not really sure of where I stood with God. I felt guilty about certain areas of my life, but I allowed this uncertainty to drag on for a period of time.

Finally, one Saturday I decided within myself that I could not allow this to continue any longer. The next morning at church, I asked others to pray for me, and I sought God for a definite, know-so experience. As I continued in prayer for several minutes, all at once I felt a settled peace in my heart. At last I could say, “Yes, now I know for sure that I am right with God.”

People will not be convinced by a testimony that says, “I think God is real.” As the Apostle John did in today’s focus verse, we must tell others that we know His testimony is true. More importantly, we need to have that knowledge for ourselves, and we can if we will seek God honestly for it.

Years have passed since I prayed through about where I stood with God, and He has given me Christian victory from that time to this. I would not trade this assurance for anything. I have found by experience that God can let you know for sure that you are right with Him.

A healing touch

“I am the Lord that healeth thee.” – Exodus 15:26

In our small church congregation, there was a brother who was frequently sick. He was our music leader, and he suffered with migraines. When he led a song service, the Spirit of God was present, but many Sundays he was home with a terrible headache. He had been prayed for many times, and many had his needs on their hearts continually.

This condition went on for several years. Then one Sunday night, someone suggested we go to his home and pray for him as a group of believers. About twenty-four people went to his house and prayed earnestly for him, and he also joined in prayer. There was a wonderful presence of God’s Spirit in that home, and although he was not instantly healed, a dramatic improvement began that night. It was a miracle.

Divine healing is one of our most-loved Bible teachings. Scripture tells us that “with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5), and that “the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” (James 5:15). We have observed many healings that were nothing short of miracles. No doubt, most who read or hear this topic will recall a time when the Lord intervened on their behalf and healing was accomplished. And, there are probably also many reading this who are in need of a healing touch from the Lord. The Lord is faithful to keep His promises. We remember, “With his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Check up time

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” – 1 Peter 5:6

With a stethoscope and a clock to watch, you can take a reading of your heart rate. With a slender thermometer under your tongue, your body’s temperature can be found. With an inflatable sleeve and pump, your blood pressure can be obtained. These instruments were developed so that medical professionals could determine the different conditions of the body, and check to see whether they are at healthy levels.

Any levels unusually low or high could indicate that the body is unhealthy in some way. If any of these indicators—pulse, temperature, or blood pressure—is abnormally high, this would be a symptom of an underlying problem, not the problem itself.

When God designed us, He created signs and symptoms which would alert us when something is wrong, and alert us to our need to seek rest or medical attention. In a similar fashion, God has designed us spiritually so that certain signs and symptoms warn us when something on a deeper level needs correction. One of these warning signs is “place-seeking.”

An example of place-seeking is found in the Book of 2 Samuel. Absalom was the son of King David; he was a prince. Beyond the fame and riches he possessed, God also gifted Absalom with outstanding physical attractiveness. It seemed he had everything. But Absalom wanted more: he wanted to be king. He began a program to get himself noticed and gain popularity. “Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice!” (2 Samuel 15:4). Absalom cleverly hinted that he ought to occupy a greater place than the one he had.

Absalom’s place-seeking was the symptom of the destructive pride which was growing in his heart. This pride caused him to commit murder, to rebel against his father the king, and even to seek his father’s life! Had Absalom recognized the symptoms of his pride and sought the Lord’s help and forgiveness, he would not have died in his sins. Had he humbled himself and asked for God’s help, surely God would have answered his prayer and made him content with what he had and the position he filled.

Have we had a spiritual check-up lately? Are we content with where God has placed us, and are we fulfilling our service “as to the Lord, and not unto men”? Pride can take many forms, and place-seeking is only one of them. But when we recognize the symptom, we can bring the condition to the Great Physician, and He will provide the remedy: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

What will your reap?

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” – Galatians 6:7

Just a short distance from where I live, there are several fields and orchards with tall corn stalks, various other vegetables, and fruit trees. While I find fresh produce to be tasty and enjoyable, I know that a lot of effort is put into producing a good crop.

To reap a good harvest and have a bountiful supply of vegetables, farmers must plant their seed in good soil, and work to keep the ground tilled, the plants watered, and new plants protected. The fruit trees need to be pruned and watered often to yield an abundant crop. Some of the fruit will not be harvested until late in the season, so when the temperature gets cold at night, more effort must be expended to make sure the fruit does not freeze. Some farmers even use gas turbine engines to keep the air around the trees above freezing temperatures.

Just as farmers put great effort into cultivating crops, we must also strive to bring forth spiritual fruit in our lives. The process starts with the good seed that God plants in our hearts at salvation. We can help cultivate that seed by reading God’s Word and praying daily. We also have to let the Lord “prune” us so that we can bear more spiritual fruit and be effective and pleasing to Him.

At times, trials may come our way that seem to be more than we can handle, similar to freezing weather that can destroy a fruit crop. A close connection to God is what will keep our hearts from becoming cold and also help us to grow strong spiritually. When we keep our eyes focused on Him and trust His promises, we find it much easier to endure trials.

Sometimes a natural disaster destroys a crop through no fault of the farmer. However, our focus verse promises that will never happen in our spiritual lives. The effort we invest into the Gospel will reap a just reward. If we keep our hand in His, we have a promise that He will make “every thing beautiful in his time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

This Man was born there

“The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there.” – Psalm 87:6

My birthplace is Seattle, Washington. My birth certificate bears a picture of the large downtown hospital where I was born. Even though there have been additions to that building through the years, you could go to Seattle today and recognize it from the photograph.

Now I am a grandparent, but I can still recall vividly the births of all my children. Each one was a little different, and each one was very special to my wife and me. My job was to get on the phone and notify friends and relatives that we had a new little son or daughter. It was an exciting time! I once reflected to my wife that considering how eventful and even traumatic a birth is, it is amazing to realize that every person in this world was born at some time or other!

The relatively short Psalm 87 states three times (in so many words) that “this man was born there.” It is speaking literally of Zion—the key hilltop in the city of Jerusalem. By extension, however, the emphasis is on the spiritual birth. As Jesus said to Nicodemus, he and anyone else who aspires to go toHeaven must be “born again.” Obviously we were all born physically, but we must experience the spiritual birth to become a member of God’s family.

For those who have been born of the Spirit, God is somewhat like the proud father of a newborn. Can you hear Him announcing, “This man was born there”? Some people mistakenly envision God as a tyrant just waiting to punish people. Not so; God is a gracious heavenly Father. He lovingly and longingly waitsfor people to come to Him for the new birth. He anticipates teaching and spending time with us, and is personally interested in our success. We have no better support than our Father in Heaven.

Considering how miraculous the experience of salvation is, it is amazing to think that each person who will be in Heaven will have been individually called and saved by God. Testimony services give us only a glimpse of how much God has done for man. Do you know where you were born of the Spirit? Do you remember when it happened? If you are not sure, God is calling you. He wants to be able to tell the world that “this man (or woman, boy or girl) was born there.”

Author: Gordon Sletmoe

Author’s Title: This Man Was Born There

Letting your light shine

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

Years ago, when I was in high school, I had a music teacher who sometimes gave us Christian songs to sing. At one concert, all the lights were turned off and the choir lined up in formation holding lit candles and singing “Pass It On.” Everyone in the audience had candles too, and as we sang we would light the candles of those sitting on the aisles, then they would light the candle of the person sitting next to them, and on it went until all the candles were lit. The whole room was filled with flickering, glowing candles.

Most of us are familiar with today’s focus verse, but how often do you actually picture yourself as a light that shines before men? The view during our concert hall was a perfect illustration of what Jesus wants us to be: shining lights in a dark world. It is notable that Jesus said, “. . . that they may see your good works.” Even though we can feel the heat of a light and can usually hear a slight hum or smell the flame to a degree, the most striking thing about a light is what you see. Indeed, the most striking part of our concert scene was the contrast of the pure lights against the black room. It was beautiful.

As Christians, it is our actions and daily living—the things people see—that catch attention. People see light when we thank God for our meal at a restaurant or when we use language that is different from that of our coworkers. They see light when we treat everyone we meet with respect and when we chooseto put the welfare of others before our own. Our lives should stand in stark contrast to the world around us. This could make us feel uncomfortable at times, but we need not be ashamed of what we do! We reflect the light of Jesus, and that is beautiful.

Think of how our Lord went to the Cross at Calvary to shed His precious Blood for all mankind, and how He hung there for all to see! He left us with an example to follow. We must not hide what is in our hearts, but share it with others by letting His light shine through us. A kind word, a handshake, or a smile can be all it takes to light up someone’s day and show them that we care about them because they are precious in Jesus’ sight.

Our light may be the only bit of Jesus some will ever see. Are we letting our lights shine today?

Author: Sherri Lamp

Author’s Title: Letting Your Light Shine

Are you a teacher?

“And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” –Deuteronomy 6:7

Sitting at the table, I watched my granddaughter struggling to eat something that she did not like.Eventually I spoke up and told her what I did when I was her age: I would hold my nose so I could not taste my food. To my granddaughter’s surprise, it worked! Grandma was able to teach her a valuable lesson, and several weeks later, she passed the same idea to her younger sister.

As parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, and family friends, we are role models. We need to be a good example to the little ones who watch us. We know they can learn our mannerisms and our tricks for eating foods we dislike, but there is something much more important that we want them to pick up from us—our faith in God. Our focus verse shows us that we have a daily responsibility to teach our children about Him. From the moment our children awake until they go to bed at night, no matter what we are doing, we want to reflect the Lord in our actions.

My grandmother was the only Christian in our home when I was a small child. I am not sure if she knew this verse, but her life was an example to me. She would read Bible stories to me and pray with me, and she made sure I knew about Jesus’ love. She taught me by example and planted a desire in my heart for Jesus, simply by the way she lived day in and day out.

Our children will notice if we have no fears because we trust in the God of our salvation. When they hear us tell how God has been there in times of sickness and hardship, it will continually point them to theGod who is able to help in time of need. They will see if our strength comes daily from the joy we have in serving Jesus, and learn that we draw this joy from the well of salvation.

Are we teaching our children these things?

Author: Paula Jordan

Author’s Title: Are You A Teacher?