Jesus’ life was full of surprises that defied everyone’s expectations. From an obscure village, He emerged as a miracle-working teacher who built His kingdom with sinners and the sick. Then, when His purposes seemed defeated by His shocking crucifixion, this apparent defeat was reversed with His resurrection only three days later!
I hate goodbyes. Especially if I’m close to the one with whom I’m parting ways. I can only imagine the disciples’ pain when Jesus said goodbye, although He assured them He’d see them again soon (John 16:16).
The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” A student misquoted this as, “Our purpose is to glorify God and endure Him forever.” The mistake is funny, but isn’t that sometimes how we secretly feel about eternity? What will we do there except sing praise songs? How wonderful for the first million years. But . . . forever?
I know a leader who learned sympathy when he lost his job. He admitted it’s easier to humbly love when life has knocked you down. When, as he would say, “You’ve got blood in your mouth.” I also know a pastor whose heart was softened by the death of his son. This pastor wouldn’t say it was worth it—and he’d be right—but his grief has made him a more compassionate shepherd.
I felt like quitting. I’d given all I had, and it wasn’t enough. I’d failed, and I didn’t feel like trying again. I wanted to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and sleep until forever. How could I possibly keep going?
What makes you angry? A traffic jam, stubbed toe, disrespectful slight, someone who didn’t keep an appointment with you, or a surprise assignment that will take all night? Anger is emotional frustration. It often arises when our path is blocked, when someone or something is standing in our way.
The day’s news was discouraging. There was another terrorist attack. Two countries squabbled about a rogue nation’s nuclear weapons. A large Christian denomination divided over differences on marriage, while another split over how best to counter poverty and racism. Conflicts like these aren’t just discouraging, they’re exhausting. They persist—showing no signs of resolution.
Much of human knowledge rests on realities we cannot see. Most people understand this when it comes to faith in God, who “no one has ever seen” (John 1:18). But did you know this is just as true in the realm of science?
Jamie, a professional artist, sometimes feels guilty for the long hours she spends in her studio. She wants to “take up” her “cross” to follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24), but she enjoys painting. Does that count? She wonders if she loves her art too much, in an idolatrous way. Sometimes she feels she must “pay” for her enjoyment through struggling in other areas of her life. She’s never understood how her painting could count as following Jesus.
Think of any monarchy in the history of the world. The royal family may have had a few princes and princesses. It may have even had more than one queen, as did the kingdoms of David and Solomon. But there was only one king.
Are you close to someone who seems particularly far from God? It might help to keep in mind that this person is probably not less reachable than Paul, who claimed he was the worst of sinners because he had persecuted God’s people (1 Timothy 1:12-16). Paul realized if God could save him, He could reach anyone.
I don’t recommend gambling—it’s a fast way to become poor. Gamblers don’t always win, even when they do. In 2016, a woman was playing a slot machine when it rang up a US $43 million jackpot. When she went to collect her winnings, the casino said the machine had malfunctioned. Local law prohibited giving her the money, so the casino offered her a steak dinner instead. From US $43 million to a hearty meal! Now that’s disappointing.
What makes grass grow thick and green? Would you believe that part of the answer is lightning? The main ingredient in most fertilizers is nitrogen, and the air is full of it. But grass can’t access the nitrogen in the air until lightning moves through it. Lightning heats the air and splits nitrogen into separate molecules. The molecules of nitrogen then join with oxygen and hydrogen and fall as rain—nourishing the vegetation. Who knew that lightning is one of God’s messengers to make the world green?
Peter’s healing of a crippled beggar drew a crowd, so he used the opportunity to tell them about the God who heals. He told them about Jesus, whom they had rejected and handed over to Pilate. “You rejected this holy, righteous one . . . . You killed the author of life” (Acts 3:14-15).