Vicki and I sat down with the parents of our neighbor Paulo this afternoon, and with a family friend who was staying with them while recuperating from pneumonia. Paulo was also present. I presented a lesson about Jesus from John 1.1-18, with a two-page outline. Sr. Vicente and D. Georgina are very religious and committed to their tradition, so it will be a challenge as we present the gospel to them. D. Georgina prepared coffee and cake for us after the study. Paulo took the photo. They live on the east side of the city. We’ve had a good bit of contact with them through Paulo, as we’ve joined them in cookouts, watching the World Cup, and other get-togethers at his house.

Ed Mathews’s devotional for today, July 27, is a must-read. It challenged and admonished me. It’s one I must come back to often. To quote but a part of it is wrong, but I will include this small paragraph. Please go read all of it.

Waiting for God implies a need, Psalms 123:1,2. It suggests He is sufficient to satisfy our need, Psalms 62:5.

Focus question: What, or who, do you seek? (Heb 11.6). How does the object of your seeking show your willingness to wait?

Who among us is not impatient to receive what we think we need, what we feel we must have? Perhaps because we seek, not God, but something material, some relationship, some accomplishment, upon which we hang our well-being.

Tomorrow is a city holiday, so it’s the beginning of a long weekend for many folks here. I’ve worked out at the gym three days this week, so I’ve gotten my minimal time in. Minimal by my mind’s measure. If all goes well tomorrow afternoon, I’ll have taught three Bible studies since Wednesday. Plus other stuff. The study tonight started at 10 pm, at the gym.

“There are at least five facts that all must face. We must live (Rom. 14:7); we must die (Heb. 9:27); we must be raised from the dead (John 5:28-29); we must face God in judgment (I Cor. 5:10), and we must live eternally somewhere (Matt. 25:46).” —Paul Wilmoth

O Soul, do not miss the importance of this truth: Without gratitude in your heart, dissatisfaction will corrode your soul. Start your sentences frequently with the phrase: I’m thankful for/that … Ponder in great detail what good blessings God has given you. Do not let Satan point out to you all the things you are supposedly missing by obeying the Lord. He did this with Eve. He deceives with lies. Israel died in the desert from ingratitude. Do not faint and expire in your spiritual life from it. Hang on tightly to the gift of thanksgiving. It will save you at every turn. It will keep you in the presence of God. It will enliven your heart and flow out to encourage others. It will pave your way into eternal life.

“Most assuredly, Jesus does not give help to the angels (2:16). Whatever you want to say about the eternal destiny of angels and their free will and all of that, Jesus did not die for angels. Jesus did not take on the nature of angels. He did take on the nature of humanity.” —Daily Droplets

One of the most amazing thoughts of all time, that Jesus died for men, and not for angels.

Ed Mathews shares an excellent devotional today about Esau and his parents, based on Gen 27.46. Among other things he writes,

It is impossible to estimate the influence children have on their father and mother. “None of us lives to himself,” Romans 14:7. Unfortunately, children are the last to realize it. Gross selfishness results in blind indifference toward those who love them most. Does this not also apply to our relationship with God?

Focus question: How does my life honor or dishonor my parents?

There are hundreds of denominations/sects out there all contradicting each other. It’s impossible for them all to be right. We cannot all be on different roads going to the same place. We cannot all be pleasing God if we decide opposing things please him.

We can never rely on what someone else says just because they look and act holy and say all the right holy words and phrases and pray such holy-sounding prayers. We must never rely on our religious leaders to tell us what to believe. Shall we take their opinion or God’s opinion? —Katheryn Haddad

Praise is a highly misunderstood activity. Do not let modern approaches turn you off to this necessary element of your faith. Emotion does not lead it, but rather the recital of God’s person and of his works, his word, and his ways. His presence is the air you breathe, O Soul, and just as God’s word is breathed out by him, so praise is what you breathe out from the powerful intake of his Holy Spirit. With praise and thanksgiving upon your lips, there is no room for complaint, murmuring, gossip, slander, or other bad language. In the Good News of Christ, there is praise for a lifetime.

Ed M. uses Deut 7.22 as the basis for his great devotional thought today.

Intentional. God did not drive the enemy out all at once. Some were left to test Israel, to see whether they would keep the way of the Lord, Judges 2:22,23. Without challenges, commitment becomes soft. An unexercised belief becomes a flabby faith, Hebrews 5:13,14. It is a dangerous expedient. Living in the midst of evil can strengthen or weaken an allegiance to the Lord. It is a calculated risk taken by a wise God to nurture His people, Deuteronomy 8:2; Judges 3:1. The faithful look back and acknowledge their indebtedness to the stress of the journey and the burdens along the way, Hebrews 12:11.

Focus question: What challenges to my faith have I faced lately? How has my commitment been strengthened or weakened by them?