Have you ever heard the story about the farmer who told his wife one morning that he was going to plough the southern side of his farm ?He got off to an early start so he could oil the tractor . He needed more oil, so he went to the shop to get it. On the way to the shop, he noticed his cows weren’t fed . So he proceeded to the cattle feed , where he found some sacks of feed. The sacks reminded him that his potatoes were sprouting. When he started for the potato pit , he passed the woodpile and remembered that his daughter wanted wood in the house. As he picked up a few sticks , an ailing goat passed by. He dropped the wood and reached for the goat. When evening arrived , the frustrated farmer had not even gotten to the tractor, let alone the field!
How many times have you found yourself in a similar situation? You intended to do something you knew was important, but were distracted and never accomplished what you set out to do.
Or perhaps you can think of something that you have always wanted to do but can never find time for.
By the same question, are you aware of something that you do often that is a waste of time ?
If you are a normal person, you answered “Yes” to both questions and thought of something specific in each case. Isn’t it strange that we can want to do one thing for a long time and never get to it, and yet at the same time we freely admit that we are wasting time on other activities ?
Thinking about the stuff we’ve done wrong can really affect our Christian lives. We all have those moments when we remember the look on our friend’s face when we said something mean. But as Christians, we don’t need to wallow in those moments and get stuck in guilt.
When Joseph made himself known to his brothers ( who had sold him into slavery years before ) they were speechless and “terrified at his presence”. Guilt and fear reminded them of the pain they had caused their father Jacob and their brother Joseph. Realising this, Joseph immediately told them: “Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you”.
When we have hurt others, we may find ourselves feeling just like Joseph’s brothers. But if we have said sorry to God, we can know for sure that we have been forgiven. We don’t need to put with nagging guilt and self-blame.
The Bible tells us to be “made new in the attitude of our minds”. We must focus our thinking on Jesus our Saviour, not on mistakes we have made. We need to concentrate on what He has done- His sacrifice on the cross for our sins – not on what we have done. Because He has forgiven our sin, we can learn to ‘forget’ it and move forward.
GUILT IS A BURDEN GOD NEVER MEANT FOR US TO CARRY.
London’s Cafe Rendezvous has nice lighting, comfortable couches, and the smell of coffee in the air. What it doesn’t have are prices. Originally started as a business by a local church, the cafe was transformed a year after it started. The managers felt that God was calling them to do something radical- make everything on the menu free. Today you can order a coffee, cake, or sandwich without cost. There isn’t even a donation jar. It’s all a gift.
I asked the manager why they were so generous. “We’re just trying to treat people the way God treats us,” he said. “God gives to us whether we thank him or not. He’s generous to us beyond our imaginations.”
Jesus died to rescue us from our sins and reconcile us with God. He rose from the grave and is alive now. Because of this, every wrong thing we’ve done can be forgiven, and we can have new life today. And one of the most amazing things about this is that it is all free. We can’t buy the new life Jesus offers. We can’t even donate toward the cost. It’s all a gift.
As the folks at Cafe Rendezvous serve their cakes and coffees, they give people a glimpse of God’s generosity. You and I are offered eternal life for free because Jesus has paid the bill.
“We have created more information in the last five years than in all of human history before it, and it’s coming at us all the time” (Daniel Levitin, author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload). “In a sense,” Levitin says, “we become addicted to the hyperstimulation.” The constant barrage of news and knowledge can dominate our minds. In today’s environment of media bombardment, it becomes increasingly difficult to find time to be quiet, to think, and to pray.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God,” reminding us of the necessity to take time to focus on the Lord. Many people find that a “quiet time” is an essential part of each day – a time to read the Bible, pray, and consider the goodness and greatness of God.
When we, like the writer of Psalm 46, experience the reality that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble”, it drives our fear away, shifts our focus from the world’s turmoil to God’s peace, and creates a quiet confidence that our Lord is in control.
No matter how chaotic the world may become around us, we can find quietness and strength in our heavenly Father’s love and power.
INSPIRED FROM : OUR DAILY BREAD.
EACH DAY WE NEED TO BE STILL AND LISTEN TO THE LORD.
“Mistakes were made,” said the CEO as he discussed the illegal activity his company had been involved in. He looked regretful, yet he kept blame at arm’s length and couldn’t admit he had personally done anything wrong.
Some “mistakes” are just mistakes : driving in the wrong direction, forgetting to set a timer and burning dinner, miscalculating your check book balance. But then there are the deliberate deeds that go far beyond- God calls those sin. When God questioned Adam and Eve about why they had disobeyed Him, they quickly tried to shift the blame to another. Aaron took no personal responsibility when the people built a golden calf to worship in the desert. He explained to Moses, “[The people] gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
He might as well have muttered, “Mistakes were made.” Sometimes it seems easier to blame someone else rather than admitting our own failings. Equally dangerous is to try to minimize our sin by calling it “just a mistake” instead of acknowledging its true nature.
But when we take responsibility – acknowledging our sin and confessing it – the One who “is faithful and just . . . will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”. Our God offers His children forgiveness and restoration.
THE FIRST STEP TO RECEIVING GOD’S FORGIVENESS IS TO ADMIT THAT WE NEED IT.
Stories in the Bible can make us stop and wonder. For instance, when Moses led God’s people into the Promised Land and the Amalekites attacked, how did he know to go to the top of the hill and hold up God’s staff? (EX. 17:8-15).
We aren’t told, but we learn that when Moses raised his hands, the Israelites would win the battle, and when he lowered them, the Amalekites would win. When Moses got tired, his brother Aaron and another man, Hur, held up Moses’s arms so the Israelites could triumph.
We aren’t told much about Hur, but he played a crucial role at this point in Israel’s history. This reminds us that unseen heroes matter, that supporters and those who encourage leaders play a key and often overlooked role. Leaders may be the ones mentioned in the history books or lauded on social media, but the quiet, faithful witness of those who serve in other ways is not overlooked by the Lord. He sees the person who intercedes daily in prayer for friends and family. He sees the woman who puts away the chairs each Sunday in church. He sees the neighbor who reaches out with a word of encouragement.
God is using us, even if our task feels insignificant. And may we notice and thank any unseen heroes who help us.
In the 1960’s, the Kingston Trio released a song called “Desert Pete.” The ballad tells of a thirsty cowboy who is crossing the desert and finds a hand pump. Next to it, Desert Pete has left a note urging the reader not to drink the water in the jar left there but to use its contents to prime the pump.
The cowboy resists the temptation to drink and uses the water as the note instructs. In reward for his obedience, he receives an abundance of cold, satisfying water. Had he not acted in faith, he would have had only a jar of unsatisfying, warm water to drink.
This video reminds us of Israel’s journey through the wilderness. When their thirst became overwhelming, Moses sought the LORD. He was told to strike the rock of Horeb with his staff. Moses believed and obeyed, and water gushed from the stone.
Sadly, Israel would not consistently follow Moses’s example of faith. Ultimately, “the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed”.
Sometimes life can seem like an arid desert. But God can quench our spiritual thirst in the most unlikely circumstances. When by faith we believe the promises of God’s Word, we can experience rivers of living water and grace for our daily needs.
ONLY JESUS, THE LIVING WATER, CAN SATISFY OUR THIRST FOR GOD.
As a young girl, Amy Carmichael (1867-1951) wished she had blue eyes instead of brown. She even prayed that God would change her eye colour and was disappointed when it didn’t happen. When she was twenty, Amy felt that God wanted her to share the good news of Jesus in other countries. After a while she ended up in India. It was then that she realised God’s wisdom in the way He had made her. She may have had more difficult time fitting in with the brown eyed people if her eyes had been blue. She went on to live in India for fifty-five years.
We don’t know for sure that Amy was more accepted because of her eye colour. But we do know and believe that it is God “who made us, and we are his” (PS. 100:3). As we follow Him and trust His wisdom in everything, we can live for Him no matter where we end up.
Amy knew what it meant to trust God. When asked about her life, she said, “Living for God is simply a chance to die.” Jesus said, “Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (MATT. 16:25).
That describes what Jesus wants for all of us today as well-total surrender to Him. May we put ourselves to one side and completely trust God’s plans for us.
EVEN WHEN THINGS DON’T GO HOW WE WANT, WE CAN KNOW GOD IS AT WORK.
On her first day in preschool, young Charlotte was asked to draw a picture of herself. Her artwork featured a simple orb for a body, an oblong head, and two circle eyes. On her last day of preschool, Charlotte was again directed to draw a self-portrait. This one showed a little girl in a colorful dress, a smiling face with distinct features, and a cascade of beautiful red tresses. The school had used a simple assignment to demonstrate the difference that time can make in the level of maturity.
While we accept that it takes time for children to mature, we may grow impatient with ourselves or fellow believers who show slow spiritual growth. We rejoice when we see the “fruit if the Spirit” (GAL. 5:22-23), but are disheartened when we observe a sinful choice. The author of Hebrews spoke of this when he wrote to the church: “Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again” (HEB. 5:12).
As we continue to pursue intimacy with Jesus ourselves, let’s pray for each other and patiently come alongside those who love God but who seem to struggle with spiritual growth. “Speaking the truth in love,” let’s continue to encourage one another, so that together we may “grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ”(EPH 4:15).
WORDS OF TRUTH SPOKEN IN LOVE CAN GUIDE US ALL TOWARD MATURITY IN CHRIST.
A PERSON IS JUSTIFIED BY FAITH APART FROM THE WORKS OF THE LAW.
Simply trust. This is one of the most difficult things for us to get our heads round. We have a hard time understanding that we can’t do anything to earn God’s love. Jesus paid the penalty for all our sins when He died on the cross. To enjoy God’s forgiveness, a relationship with Him and a place in heaven forever, all we need to do is trust Him to save us. Paul put it this way: “To the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness”.
One person who understood this truth once wrote, “For thirty years I had assumed that to swim I had to keep struggling to keep from sinking. One day a teacher watched me for a few minutes and then shouted, ‘Stop fighting the water and trust it to hold you up!’ Under his direction, I lay flat in the water without moving. To my amazement, it held me up. Why didn’t someone tell me that years ago!”
The writer then said, “So many people keep struggling and working to become Christians. If they would only trust Jesus, they would realise that He does the saving.”
Have you been trying to save yourself or earn God’s love? If so, then stop trying and start trusting!
In 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake and a resulting tsunami took nearly 19,000 lives and destroyed 230,000 homes in the region northeast of Tokyo. In its aftermath, The Nozomi Project, named for the Japanese word for “hope,” was born to provide sustainable income, community, dignity, and hope in a God who provides.
Nozomi women sift through the rubble of homes and furnishings to discover broken china shards that they sand and insert into fittings to form jewelry. The jewelry is sold around the world, providing a livelihood for the women while sharing symbols of their faith in Christ.
In New Testament times, it was customary to hide valuables in the unlikely vessels of simple clay pots. Paul describes how the treasure of the gospel is contained in the human frailty of followers of Christ: jars of clay. He suggests that the meager-and even at times broken-vessels of our lives actually can reveal God’s power in contrast to our imperfections.
When God inhabits the imperfect and broken pieces in our lives, the healing hope of His power is often more visible to others. Yes, His repair work in our hearts often leaves the scars of cracks. But perhaps those lines from our learning are the etchings in our beings that make His character more visible to others.