Reflection (Matthew 16:24–25)
- The Lord is like a shepherd to us. He watches over us, and he calls each of us by name (see also John 10:1–11).
- Jacob knew that he was a sojourner on earth and that God’s purposes for him were complete.
- Only when we lose—or give up the ownership of—our life for Jesus’ sake will we find it; as we take up our cross and follow him, we become his authentic disciples.
- When we trust in the Lord entirely, exclusively and extensively, he guides us toward righteousness.
Taken from Once a Day Morning & Evening
Children of a Singing God
After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Mark 14:26)
Can you hear Jesus singing?
Was he a bass or a tenor? Was there a down-home twang to his voice? Or was there an unwavering crystal pitch?
Did he close his eyes and sing to his Father? Or did he look into his disciples’ eyes and smile at their deep camaraderie?
Did he usually start the song?
O, I can hardly wait to hear Jesus sing! I think the planets would be jolted out of orbit if he lifted his native voice in our universe. But we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken; so, Lord, come on and sing.
It could not be otherwise but that Christianity be a singing faith. The founder sang. He learned to sing from his Father. Surely they have been singing together from all eternity.
The Bible says the aim of song is “to raise the sound of joy” (1 Chronicles 15:16). No one in the universe has more joy than God. He is infinitely joyful. He has rejoiced from eternity in the panorama of his own perfections reflected perfectly in the deity of his Son.
God’s joy is unimaginably powerful. He is God. When he speaks galaxies come into being. And when he sings for joy more energy is released than exists in all the matter and motion of the universe.
If he appointed song for us to release our heart’s delight in him, is this not because he also knows the joy of releasing his own heart’s delight in himself in song? We are a singing people because we are the children of a singing God.
The Lord renews his covenant promise to Abram.
Stars and Sand
Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.”
But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.”
Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”
And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.
God told Abram, “Do not be afraid.” Why would Abram be afraid? Perhaps he feared revenge from the kings he had just defeated (Genesis 14:15). God gave him two reasons for courage: (1) He promised to protect Abram, and (2) he promised a great reward to Abram.
Abram was not promised wealth or fame; he already had that. Instead, God promised descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore (Genesis 22:17), too numerous to count. Just when Abram was despairing of ever having an heir, God promised descendants too numerous to imagine. God’s blessings are beyond our imaginations!
Abram had been demonstrating his faith in God through his actions. It was his faith in the Lord that made Abram right with God, not his actions (Romans 4:1-5). His actions were the product of his faith. We, too, can have a right relationship with God by trusting him. Outward actions without faith—church attendance, prayer, good deeds—will not by themselves make us right with God. A right relationship is based on faith—the trust that God is who he says he is and does what he says he will do. Right actions will follow naturally as by-products.
When you fear what lies ahead, remember that God promises to stay with you through difficult times and that he has promised you great blessings. Thank God for his protection and his promises, and ask him to remove your fears about the future.
God Prepares Heroes – Streams in the Desert – April 28
When the Israelites cried out for help to the Lord, he raised up a deliverer for the Israelites who rescued them. His name was Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The Lord’s spirit empowered him and he led Israel. When he went to do battle, the Lord handed over to him King Cushan-Rishathaim of Aram and he overpowered him (Judg 3:9-10)
God is preparing His heroes; and when opportunity comes, He can fit them into their place in a moment, and the world will wonder where they came from.
Let the Holy Ghost prepare you, dear friend, by the discipline of life; and when the last finishing touch has been given to the marble, it will be easy for God to put it on the pedestal, and fit it into its niche.
There is a day coming when, like Othniel, we, too, shall judge the nations, and rule and reign with Christ on the millennial earth. But ere that glorious day can be we must let God prepare us, as He did Othniel at Kirjath-sepher, amid the trials of our present life, and the little victories, the significance of which, perhaps, we little dream. At least, let us be sure of this, and if the Holy Ghost has an Othniel ready, the Lord of Heaven and earth has a throne prepared for him.
—A. B. Simpson
“Human strength and human greatness
Spring not from life’s sunny side,
Heroes must be more than driftwood
Floating on a waveless tide.”
“Every highway of human life dips in the dale now and then. Every man must go through the tunnel of tribulation before he can travel on the elevated road of triumph.”