During a tumultuous year, Martin Luther penned what became one of his most treasured hymns. Ill and suffering with depression, things got worse for Luther when the plague hit his town. But, inspired by Psalm 46, he chose to proclaim God’s character and His triumph over evil with the words “a mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.” This hymn has been called the “Battle Hymn of the Reformation” for its impact.
When I was growing up, my mother established a wonderful pattern for our family. Every night before bed, she would gather us around her, open the Bible, and have us take turns reading a few verses. Afterwards we would all briefly discuss the passage, and then we would pray together. No matter how tired she was, my mother would always bring us to the Scriptures.
It was the night before a job fair, and my husband was discouraged. Past attempts to land a job had failed, and he felt that meeting with recruiters would only lead to more dead ends. But he realized God was greater than his fears (Isaiah 41:10), so before practicing possible interview questions, we decided to meditate on specific, encouraging passages of Scripture. We also prayed and recounted God’s numerous blessings. By the end of the evening, we both experienced a sense of peace even amid our fears.
A study conducted by a group of neuroeconomists from the University of Zurich found that people who showed generosity were happier than people who acted in a selfish way. In fact, they found that if people were even a little bit generous, they still experienced a pleasant feeling. The researchers measured activity in areas of the brain linked to contentment and generosity. Interestingly, the feeling of happiness that one experiences when giving has been termed a “warm glow.”
It was late at night when Paul, a pastor, received the news that his wife was diagnosed with cancer. He went outside, sat on the front steps, and began to pour his heart out to God. “Why is this happening to my wife?” he asked. “She’s faithful and devoted.” After struggling for a while, Paul looked up to the clear sky and, with open hands, said, “Jesus, You know. You know, and that is enough for me.”
The Smiths (not their real name) and I hadn’t talked for years. The last time we interacted there was much frustration and anger on both sides. Mr. Smith called once or twice, but I wasn’t ready to reconcile. But as God began to mend my wounded heart, I had peace about working on the relationship. Healing came when I went on a prayer retreat during which I talked to Jesus, read the Scriptures and worshipped through songs. On the last day, I decided that if the Smiths called, I would agree to meet with them.
Abbie had been working in the same company for two years when she began to realize that her colleagues were more than just people who happened to work in the same place. They were an important part of her life. So she began to learn more about them, and they would sometimes even share a meal together. Even though some co-workers were difficult to relate to, Abbie and her colleagues began to create an environment where everyone could grow and develop together.
As my friend and I were talking while she was washing the dishes after dinner, I looked up and noticed a wooden plaque above the sink. Engraved on it were the words of 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” After I asked her why she chose to display that verse, she told me it reminds her to honour God through every situation, even when she’s washing dishes!
When my grandmother was in her twenties, she became very ill. Nothing she or the doctors tried healed her. She believed there was a God but didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. One day a co-worker told her to visit a house church nearby and ask the people to pray for her. In her desperation, my grandmother decided to go. And after the prayer time, she was healed! This miracle changed her life. Since then, she’s been thanking Jesus daily for healing her body and her soul.
If you get to know Lilian, you’ll soon discover that she has a contagious love for Jesus. After much prayer and counsel, Lilian and her husband left their careers to share the love of Jesus with college students in India and later in the United States. Even after her husband’s passing, Lilian continues to mentor and pray with young people who need direction in their lives. Her favorite time of the day is any time she gets to talk with Jesus and hand Him all her worries and problems.
“The Unity Dance” is a beautiful poem written more than a century ago by Romanian Vasile Alecsandri. The verses evoke a desire of unity for all Romanians and freedom from oppression. To this day, the call to “join hands, those with Romanian hearts, to go round the dance of brotherhood on Romania’s land” awakens a longing for unity and peace.
“I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure,” said Eric Liddell to his sister Jenny in the movie Chariots of Fire. Eric was a famous Scottish Olympic champion in short distance and a missionary to China. Although his sister was urging him to return to China as soon as possible, he knew God had given him a gift. By choosing to delay his return and run in the 1924 Paris Olympics, Eric was convinced he was honoring God by pursuing his calling as a world-class runner.
“God means us to delight in his world. . . . Just observe. And remember. And compare. And be always looking to God with thankfulness and worship for having placed you in such a delightful corner of the universe as the planet Earth.” These were the last words Paul Brand’s father wrote to him before his death. They had a profound effect on Paul’s life. He eventually became a missionary doctor in India and was well known for his pioneering work in the treatment of leprosy. He never forgot his father’s urging to enjoy and delight in God’s creation.
“Would you say ‘stay’ when God says ‘go’?” Eliza Davis George asked the leaders of the Texas Baptist Convention in 1913. Two years earlier this woman, a daughter of former slaves, was called by God to be a missionary to Africa. Because she was an African-American woman, however, the leaders discouraged her from going, even publicly humiliating her. Yet, buoyed by prayer, Eliza eventually sailed to Liberia. And thousands of villagers learned about Jesus during her years there. The legacy of her work continues today.
There I was, shaking hands with the president of the Republic of Iceland! As my boss introduced me to him at a private dinner I had the privilege to attend, my mind went blank as I tried to remember the few words I’d memorized in Icelandic. It made me incredibly nervous to be in the presence of the leader of a country.