A fish out of water. That is what you will often feel like, O Soul, as you engage people in the world and live among them. How must Jesus have felt among publicans and prostitutes? Be sure you never become accustomed to worldly ways and thoughts. Remember always your purpose in being among them. You are not there to participate in their evil and immoral deeds, but to put before them the truth of the gospel. You have been sent as light and salt, to bring knowledge of God and transformation by the Holy Spirit. You were sent by the Lord Jesus as his personal representative. A foreigner are you, so do not adapt your life in ways that conflict with God’s holiness. Feel the awkwardness, and let love reach out to pull sinners from the fire.
My trainer told me to go easy on the sweets. (He’s the neighbor who keeps hinting for my wife’s brownies.) Today I went to #LeChemin chocolate store and ate a R$5,00 bar of no-sugar chocolate with bits of cacau. It was not bitter at all, a special type of chocolate, said the nice lady behind the counter. (Her husband makes all the chocolates by hand.) So I ate and enjoyed it, with an expresso, with no guilt at all.
Maybe the Lord will approve of this simplest of verses:
God listens to the smallest fear,
He notes the single falling tear,
He answers every needy call,
And loves the lowest man of all.
Ed M. reflects today on God’s goodness, saying among other things:
There is something very comforting about his goodness. He lovingly provides for our welfare. He constantly cares for our happiness. We are not lost in the huge multitude, hidden by the complexity of the world, or obscured by the vastness of space, Psalms 8:3,4.
Focus question: Does my conviction of God’s goodness endure in the midst of trials?
More and more, I’ve come to understand that we cannot hope for anything good in man’s politics or societies. Perhaps at some point there might be some sort of pullback from the libertinism of postmodern life, toward a more reserved and moral conduct, but the will of God will never be fully respected anywhere but in the church. And even in some congregations, some scoff at God’s plan of salvation.
The work of evangelism and edification means that your teaching usually will be on a simple level. You may miss digging deeper into the Word of God. You might even be tempted to pursue rather involved discussions of the academics. And while going beyond the basic teachings is necessary for your spiritual growth, you must always come back to those fundamental truths of the gospel: what is necessary for salvation, how saints are to be faithful, the nature of God, the work of the Spirit, redemption through the Cross, the church’s identity and mission. O Soul, do not chafe when you have taught the same basic lesson a hundred times. May God give you a thousand more opportunities to teach it!
Never think you’ve done enough or worked long enough to have reached a point of rest or retirement. Such thinking belies the grace of God. “Enough” is for the one who believes that merit attaches to effort. The goodness of God does not cease. The war for your soul and for the souls of others will not end until that final day. Discipleship reaches for the goal of faith, eternal redemption. The destination of the way of Christ, which you walk in faith and diligence, is reached only with your final breath. All the while, consider today is the day of faithfulness. Make every effort in the present. Step by step you will go forward, and in each moment you will give your best. Be diligent, never flagging in zeal, O Soul. God’s power for you is sufficient for now.
O Soul, in every word and act, offer hope. Show love. Build faith. Point the way. Promote peace. Tell the truth. Put away harshness and bitterness. Exercise patience. Avoid dead-end discussions and pointless debates. You must try the spirits, test all teachings, expose error, and stop the mouths of those who lead others astray, but at the same time you must provide a vision of the health of soul and hope of eternity that the benevolent God has revealed. Truth and love are two sides of the same divine coin of salvation. One without the other is useless. The world is sinking in its own destruction. Offer them Christ.
Pain is a part of life. Most everyone deals with it, in one form or another, most every day. Physical pain tends to be more obvious than other forms. Sickness, disease, accidents, harm caused by others, are some sources of physical pain. Then there is mental and emotional pain. People suffer in so many ways. Bad, unhealthy, or difficult relationships bring some of the deepest pain. Then, there is good pain, from growth, from serving, from dying to self. Learn to deal with each type of pain, O Soul, that you might live with joy and peace. Run to the Lord with your pain. He will teach you. Show others how to find meaning in their pain. And, in the end, God will bring you to that place where pain is not.
Man’s idea of what works differs greatly from God’s plan. Whether in personal life, the work of the church, or professional success, man creates all sorts of strategies. He imagines new paths to reach his goals. He lists every resource to which he might have access. God is wise, however. He knows what works, for he created us and revealed his way so that we might follow it and find joy in his wisdom. Do not be deceived, O Soul, by the intricacies and complexities of human ingenuity. Be absorbed with the simplicity of God’s plan. Be amazed at the knowledge that God shares with you. Be grateful that he has put into your hands all the keys to eternal life and to the blessings of his kingdom.