When a woodchuck started eating our garage (well, just the trim), I bought a live trap with plans to transplant the little guy to a park. I baited it with an assortment of goodies and opened the trap door. The next morning, I was excited to see a little critter in my trap—until I noticed that it was no woodchuck. I had snared a skunk.
I went online to see how to untrap the skunk without having it . . . well, you know. The solutions were extremely cautious in their descriptions of how to protect yourself while releasing the animal. Plastic bags. Gloves. Tarps. Blankets. Goggles. The task looked daunting and dangerous.
Then my son-in-law Ewing stepped up. He simply walked over to the trap, opened the door, and coaxed our striped friend on its way with a few sprays from the garden hose.
Sometimes our fears can lead to inaction. We worry so much about protecting ourselves that we fail to simply step up. When King Asa learned that the Lord wanted him to remove the idols from Israel, he “took courage” (2 Chron. 15:8). He could have had a rebellion on his hands for doing this. But he stepped up, and as a result the nation rejoiced (v.15).
Facing a spiritual challenge? The Lord will help you step up with courage and trust Him for the outcome.
Let the road be rough and dreary, And its end far out of sight, Foot it bravely, strong or weary; Trust in God and do the right. —Macleod
Courage is fear that has said its prayers.
While the books of Samuel and Kings follow the monarchy from the days of Saul all the way into the divided kingdom, the books of Chronicles devote only one chapter to Saul (1 Chron. 10). The writer spends most of his time and effort recording the reigns of David and Solomon, presenting their reigns as the high point of Israel’s history.
If you’re like me, you seldom read the full text of contracts for online services before you agree to them. They go on for pages, and most of the legal jargon makes no sense to ordinary people like me.
I was quite surprised, therefore, when a friend from Africa made me aware of this one-of-a-kind service agreement for online software. Instead of a wordy license telling people how not to use it, the developer offers a simple blessing urging people to use it for good:
May you do good and not evil. May you find forgiveness for yourself and forgive others. May you share freely, never taking more than you give.
At first I thought, Wow. Imagine if more terms of service agreements were written as blessings instead of legal documents. Then I thought, The agreement Jesus makes with us is like that. He offers us forgiveness of sin, peace with God, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. In return, all He asks is that we do good (Gal. 6:10), forgive as we’ve been forgiven (Luke 6:37), and love others as He loves us (John 13:34).
The beauty of Jesus’ agreement with us is that even though we fail to live up to the terms, we still receive the blessing.
Bestowed with benefits daily, Sent from the Father above; Mercies and blessings abounding, Gifts of His marvelous love. —Anon.
As we have opportunity, let us do good to all. —Galatians 6:10
In Luke 6:20-49, Luke recorded a sermon by Jesus that is similar to the sermon recorded in Matthew 5–7. Some scholars believe it was the same sermon, while others say that Jesus taught in two different settings. In Matthew, he taught it “on a mountain” (5:1), while here, Jesus taught these same truths “on a level place” (Luke 6:17).
During the Easter season, my wife and I attended a church service where the participants sought to model the events that Jesus and His disciples experienced on the night before He was crucified. As part of the service, the church staff members washed the feet of some of the church volunteers. As I watched, I wondered which was more humbling in our day—to wash another person’s feet or to have someone else wash yours. Both those who were serving and those being served were presenting distinct pictures of humility.
When Jesus and His disciples were gathered for the Last Supper (John 13:1-20), Jesus, in humble servanthood, washed His disciples’ feet. But Simon Peter resisted, saying, “You shall never wash my feet!” Then Jesus answered, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me” (13:8). Washing their feet was not a mere ritual. It could also be seen as a picture of our need of Christ’s cleansing—a cleansing that will never be realized unless we are willing to be humble before the Savior.
James wrote, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). We receive God’s grace when we acknowledge the greatness of God, who humbled Himself at the cross (Phil. 2:5-11).
My faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine; Now hear me when I pray, take all my sin away, O let me from this day be wholly Thine! —Palmer
The most powerful position on earth is kneeling before the Lord of the universe.
In ancient Israel, the task of foot-washing was necessary because of the open shoes worn in streets filled with dirt and refuse. Because it was such an unpleasant task, it was usually assigned to the lowest servant in the house. Here Jesus Himself performed this menial job (John 13:3-5).