In late October 2012, a hurricane-spawned superstorm struck the heavily populated northeastern US, leaving massive flooding and destruction in its wake. During the storm, more than 8 million customers lost electricity. Power outages alone caused shortages of food, fuel, and water, along with the chaos of gridlocked transportation. The howling winds and surging waters left many neighborhoods crushed, flooded, and choked with mountains of sand. Media coverage of the event reported: “Millions Without Power.”
Like a storm of nature, a personal tragedy can often leave us feeling powerless and in the dark. During such times, God’s Word assures us of His help: “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength” (Isa. 40:29).
At our lowest point, drained of emotional resources, we can place our hope in the Lord and find our strength in Him. He promises us that, for each new day, “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (v.31).
God is our spiritual power source in every storm of life.
O God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come, Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home! —Watts
It takes the storm to prove the real shelter.
To say the least, coping with life’s many demands can be fatiguing at times. But the reading for today uses wonderful poetic imagery to describe the buoyancy that faith can provide. The believer who depends upon the Lord can “mount up with wings like eagles” (40:31). The text also mentions the supernatural staying power and stamina that only God can provide. In contrast to the strength that youth and health provide, the person of faith can persevere long after others have given up on the race of life. Finally, Isaiah 41:10 extends a wonderful promise of protection and care through life’s threats and troubles.
The concept of The Golden Rule—treat others as you would like to be treated—appears in many religions. So what makes Jesus’ version of the saying so exceptional?
Its uniqueness lies in a single word, “therefore,” that signals the generosity of our heavenly Father. Here is what Jesus said: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matt. 7:11-12 italics added).
All of us fall short of what we know to be true: We do not love others the way God loves us. Jesus lived out that admirable ethic with perfect love by living and dying for all our sins.
We have a loving, giving Father who set aside His own self-interest to reveal the full measure of His love through His Son Jesus. God’s generosity is the dynamic by which we treat others as we would like to be treated. We love and give to others because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Our heavenly Father asks us to live up to His commands, but He also gives us His power and love to carry it out. We need only to ask Him for it.
Heavenly Father, I know that I lack Your patience and mercy and love. Please show Your perfect love through me in some small way today. In Your Son Jesus’ name I pray.
We have committed The Golden Rule to memory; now let us commit it to life. —E. Markham
In the reading today, we see how our Lord emphasized the importance of persistence in prayer. The actual Greek grammar might be better translated as “Seek and keep on seeking. Knock and keep on knocking. Ask and keep on asking.” Sometimes sincere believers may believe that a sign of faith is to ask God once for a request and never repeat it. But the teachings of the New Testament do not support such a concept. In the parable of the judge and the widow who repeatedly asked him to hear her case, the idea of persistence is central (Luke 18:1-8). As is the case with Job, King David, and other biblical characters, faith is often expressed through repeated prayers and pleading.
Former US President Harry Truman had a rule: Any letters written in anger had to sit on his desk for 24 hours before they could be mailed. If at the end of that “cooling off” period, he still felt the same sentiments, he would send the letter. By the end of his life, Truman’s unmailed letters filled a large desk drawer.
How often in this age of immediate communication would even 24 minutes of wise restraint spare us embarrassment! In his epistle, James addressed a universal theme in human history when he wrote about the damage an uncontrolled tongue can bring. “No man can tame the tongue,” he wrote. “It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (3:8).
When we’re gossiping or speaking in anger, we find ourselves outside the lines of what God desires. Our tongues, our pens, and even our keyboards should more often fall silent with thanks in our hearts for the restraint God provides. All too often, when we speak we remind everyone of our brokenness as human beings.
When we want to surprise others with the difference Christ makes, we may need to look no further than restraining our tongue. Others can’t help but notice when we honor God with what we say—or don’t say.
Help me, Lord, to use my words not to tear down others or build up my own reputation, but to seek the good of others first, and in so doing to serve You and Your kingdom.
Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles. —Proverbs 21:23
In today’s passage, James writes about Christian maturity. One of the characteristics of maturity is self-control, particularly control of the tongue. Fortunately, we are not responsible for developing it by willpower alone. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23).