Monday, May 28, 2018

Anxious to Give


[Photo of a child giving her father a gift]

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to
you; he rises to show you compassion.”
—Isaiah 30:18

Did you ever know anyone who had something to give you and just couldn’t wait for the special event to share it? We think children often do this. They either give the gift early, “casting off restraint,” or “spill the beans” by saying something to reveal the secret of what’s in the gift they wait to give.

Did you ever think of Jesus that way?

Noted Bible teacher, Beth Moore, points out that in the account from Luke 7:11-17 of the healing of the son of the widow from Nain, Jesus, without being asked, “casting off restraint” immediately healed this boy. The men were carrying him out of the house, and Jesus, moved with compassion, told they boy’s mother not to cry. Then, Jesus leaned over to speak the dead son back to life.

At other times, as in the healing of Lazarus, we read in John 11:1-45 that the family sent for Jesus to come. But, He stayed where He was two more days.

To use Beth Moore’s viewpoint, this action must have taken great restraint on Jesus’ part not to hurry to his friends the very minute He heard. Yet, God had a larger plan for the healing of Lazarus. Or, as He said in John 11:4:

This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.

Here’s what caught my attention to Beth Moore’s writing:1

I believe what comes most naturally to Christ every time He encounters need is to instantly fix it. Is it possible He exercises great restraint to work any other way in the face of devastation? I think so.

A plan of profound importance exists that sometimes overrides the miracle we desperately desire. But I am comforted to know that instantaneous healing and resurrection power come even more naturally to our Christ than waiting and working through long but necessary processes.

Perhaps you have shown great trust and faithfulness in waiting for God to answer a prayer you have prayed. Be encouraged that He is waiting, too—for the right moment to give you the gift that will respond to your prayer.

Except for His overriding need to work His ways in us, He would instantly come to us with His answer whenever we pray. Let us be encouraged that He always waits for the best time and thrills to give us His greatest blessing in answer to our requests.


1 Moore, Beth. Portraits of Devotion. Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2014. Pp. 203-204.



Monday, May 21, 2018

The God of “Suddenly”


[Graphic of an artist's impression of Pentecost]

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all
together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the
blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and
filled the whole house where they were sitting.”
—Acts 2:1-2

For most of us, waiting on God to answer prayer, or show us direction in a matter, seems like a never-ending period of time. We often wait far longer than we had ever anticipated when we started.

The disciples must have felt that way, too. They had seen Jesus ascend back to Heaven and had stayed together in an upper room for most of the 40 days between His death and His ascension. Now they had waited for His promise, the Holy Spirit, for ten more days.

I wonder what they expected would happen when the Holy Spirit came. This sudden wind and the flames of fire that landed on each of their heads must have shocked even these devoted followers of Jesus. I imagine that once they realized what was happening, they experienced a flood of incredible joy!

When we think of sudden happenings in Scripture, we might remember the words of Luke 2:13:

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”

Certainly these shepherds shook in their homespun pants to see such a sight: the coming of this new-born Messiah for which watchers had prayed and had anticipated for so long.

The apostle Paul took a routine “business trip” to Damascus and we read this in Acts 9:3:

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Later, after Paul had begun working for his new Boss, and shared a missionary adventure with his friend Silas, we read of these two men in Acts 16:25-26. They had been imprisoned for speaking about Jesus and Scripture tells us:

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.

We should allow these accounts to give us confidence and renewed faith that God will answer our prayers, even though we may have waited for a very long time. When God decides to act, nothing will stop Him from fulfilling His will. Circumstances that ordinarily just wouldn’t work out can suddenly fall into place when His sovereign plan comes together.

As we think back over our lifetimes of knowing God through Jesus, we must have at least one account when we have seen this suddenness of His character. Let this remembrance and the Scriptures encourage us today. When God wills it, it will happen!



Monday, May 14, 2018

The “Look”


[Photo of a teacher looking at a student]

The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.
Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had
spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows
today, you will disown me three times.”
And he went outside and wept bitterly.
—Luke 22:61-62

The Kindergarten teacher had them trained. When she gave important directives to her students, she would say, “And, I mean…” to which they would loudly respond, “BUSINESS!”

The corresponding “look” expressed her serious expectation. From that point on, all she had to do to remind them of her orders was to give them the “look.” They could read her solemn warning, as well as her disappointment, merely by reading her face. After all, as these were her students, she counted on them to not betray the confidence she had placed in them.

Even the apostle Peter needed reminding with the “look” that Jesus gave him. And, in that moment, Peter remembered the warning and saw the disappointment in Jesus’ eyes.

How often has the Lord instructed us about a serious matter where He has given us instruction in His written Word that He has expected us to obey, only to experience disappointment with our forgetful behavior and our betrayal of His confidence? In the first place, do we neglect to see that He means BUSINESS? Do we think like Peter did that he had the situation well in hand and certainly did not need any reminder?

The Lord knows us so much better than we know ourselves. He can look ahead and see the dangers and pitfalls into which we might readily fall prey. In response, He often speaks to us through His written Word concerning the matter.

How much better for us if we heed the warning He gives us than to have to see the “look” of disappointment on His face when we fail Him. What a joy instead to see His look of pleasure when we listen closely, heed His written Word, and take each matter seriously that He brings to our attention.

As His dearly loved child, has He recently spoken to you through His written Word? Did He then show His love for you by punctuating His message by having the Holy Spirit prompt you with the words, “And, I mean BUSINESS!”

When this happens in our lives, we do well to take our Lord seriously—very seriously.



Monday, May 7, 2018



[Photo of a child looking at a bowl of marshmallows]

“All that the Father gives me will come to me,and
whoever comes to me I will never drive away…
I will lose none of all that he has given me.”
—John 6:37, 39

I remember watching a video of children taking a psychological test. This test examined whether or not the children could withstand the temptation of simple marshmallows.

Each child would sit a table with a bowl of marshmallows immediately in front of them. An adult would explain to the child that she had to leave the room for a moment. She asked the child not to touch the marshmallows until she got back. A hidden camera captured the reactions of each of several children who took the test.

Some children ably resisted. Others played with a marshmallow and put it back. And still others, after looking around, quickly popped one into their mouths. For these last children, the yummy treat proved simply irresistible.

The Reformed Protestant faith believes in the term, “Irresistible Grace.” The belief states that God gives those He has chosen for salvation a very special grace to discover His call on their lives. That special grace irresistibly draws them to God. As the Holy Spirit interacts with the ones God has called, each chosen one responds willingly in faith to the irresistible draw of God’s grace.

Verse 44 of the same chapter of John, which I quoted from at the top of this blog post, tells us that:

No one can come to me [Jesus] unless the Father who sent me draws him.

Likewise, in John 15:16 Jesus said:

You did not choose me, but I chose you.

God’s love and grace powerfully call people to Himself.

Perhaps you wonder if He has chosen you for eternal life through Christ. If you show any interest at all in the things of God, have a curious longing to know Him better, or even think often of knowing Him, God is most likely drawing you to Himself by means of His irresistible grace.

Find a place to be alone with Him. As simply as you would talk to another person, share with Him your doubts, questions, and longings. Invite Him to come and live in your heart and mind. Read His written Word and start with the passages I have mentioned in this devotional.

This could very well begin a wonderful, life-changing journey for you. God loves you and He is irresistibly drawing you toward His grace and love.