The whispering wall in New York City’s Grand Central Station is an acoustic oasis from the clamor of the area. This unique spot allows people to communicate quiet messages from a distance of thirty feet apart. When one person stands at the base of a granite archway and speaks softly into the wall, soundwaves travel up and over the curved stone to the listener on the other side.
Job heard the whisper of a message when his life was filled with noise and the tragedy of losing nearly everything (see Job 1:13–19; 2:7). His friends blabbered their opinions, his own thoughts tumbled endlessly, and trouble had invaded every aspect of his existence. Still, the majesty of nature spoke softly to him about God’s divine power.
The splendor of the skies, the mystery of the earth suspended in space, and the stability of the horizon reminded Job that the world was in the palm of God’s hand (26:7–11). Even a churning sea and a rumbling atmosphere led him to say, “these are but the outer fringe of [God’s] works; how faint the whisper we hear of him” (v. 14).
If the world’s wonders represent just a tiny fragment of God’s capabilities, it’s clear that His power exceeds our ability to understand it. In times of brokenness and disappointment, this gives us hope. God can do anything, including what He did for Job as He sustained him during suffering.
An international research team has created a flapping-wing drone that mimics the movements of a particular bird—the swift. Swifts can fly up to 90 miles per hour and are able to hover, plunge, turn quickly, and stop suddenly. The ornithopter drone, however, is still inferior to the bird. One researcher said birds “have multiple sets of muscles which enable them to fly incredibly fast, fold their wings, twist, open feather slots and save energy.” He admitted that his team’s efforts were still only able to replicate about “10 percent of biological flight.”
God has given the creatures in our world all kinds of amazing abilities. Observing them and reflecting on their know-how can be a source of wisdom for us. The ants teach us about gathering resources, rock badgers show us the value of dependable shelter, and locusts teach us there’s strength in numbers (Proverbs 30:25–27).
The Bible tells us that “[God] founded the world by his wisdom” (Jeremiah 10:12), and at the end of each step in the creation process, He confirmed that what He had done was “good” (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 25, 31). The same God who created birds to “fly above the earth across the vault of the sky” (v. 20), has given us the ability to combine His wisdom with our own reasoning. Today, consider how you might learn from His elegant designs in the natural world.
The air smelled of leather and oats as we stood in the barn where my friend Michelle was teaching my daughter to ride a horse. Michelle’s white pony opened its mouth as she demonstrated how to place the metal bit behind its teeth. As she pulled the bridle over its ears, Michelle explained that the bit was important because it allowed the rider to slow the horse and steer it to the left or right.
A horse’s bit, like the human tongue, is small but important. Both have great influence over something big and powerful—for the bit, it’s the horse. For the tongue, it’s our words (James 3:3, 5).
Our words can run in different directions. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings” (v. 9). Unfortunately, the Bible warns that it’s very hard to control our speech because words spring from our hearts (Luke 6:45). Thankfully, God’s Spirit, Who indwells every believer, constantly helps us grow in patience, goodness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23). As we cooperate with the Spirit, our hearts change and so do our words. Profanity turns to praise. Lying gives way to the power of truth. Criticism transforms into encouragement.
Taming the tongue isn’t just about training ourselves to say the right things at the right time. It’s about accepting the Holy Spirit’s guidance, as a horse responds to a bit, so that our words generate the kindness and encouragement our world needs.
After an unsuccessful surgery, Joan’s doctor said she’d need to undergo another operation in five weeks. As time passed, anxiety built. Joan and her husband were senior citizens, and their family lived far away. They’d need to drive to an unfamiliar city and navigate a complex hospital system, and they’d be working with a new specialist.
Although these circumstances seemed overwhelming, God took care of them. During the trip, their car’s navigation system broke down, but they arrived on time because they had a paper map. God supplied wisdom. At the hospital, a Christian pastor prayed with them and offered to help later that day. God provided support. After the operation, Joan received good news of a successful surgery.
While we won’t always experience healing or rescue, God is faithful and always close to vulnerable people—whether young, old, or otherwise disadvantaged. Centuries ago, when captivity in Babylonian had weakened the Israelites, Isaiah reminded them that God had upheld them from birth and would continue to care for them. Through the prophet, God said, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you” (Isaiah 46:4).
God will not abandon us when we need Him the most. He can supply our needs and remind us He’s with us at every point in our lives. He’s the God of all our days.
Theologian Kenneth Bailey shares how he taught the Bible to students who’d been educated in a system that denied God. When he asked one student how she became a believer in Jesus, she told about reciting the Lord’s Prayer when attending a funeral as a child. The words captured her imagination; she wondered what they meant, where they came from, and to whom they were offered. When she finally could explore this prayer, she searched until she found its meaning and its Author. In doing so, she placed her trust in Jesus and committed to serving Him.
Jesus taught His friends how to pray through what’s become known as the Lord’s Prayer. In Matthew’s gospel, it appears right in the center of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where He teaches the crowds how to live as His disciples. He says not to pray “like the hypocrites” who flaunt themselves on street corners (Matthew 6:5) but to approach His Father as their own (v. 6). Jesus welcomed them—and therefore us—to pray intimately to God. We can praise Him (vv. 9–10), ask for our daily needs (v. 11), and welcome His rule and reign in our lives (vv. 10–13).
When my son was nearly three, I needed an operation that would require a month or more of recovery. In the days leading up to the procedure, I imagined myself in bed while stacks of dirty dishes accumulated in the sink. I wasn’t sure how I’d take care of an active toddler and couldn’t picture myself standing in front of the stove to cook our meals. I dreaded the impact my weakness would have on the rhythm of our lives.
God intentionally weakened Gideon’s forces before his troops confronted the Midianites. First, those who were afraid were allowed to leave—22,000 men went home (Judges 7:3). Then, of the 10,000 who remained, only those who scooped water into their hands to drink could stay. Just three hundred men were left, but this disadvantage prevented the Israelites from relying on themselves (vv. 5–6). They couldn’t say, “My own strength has saved me” (v. 2).
Many of us experience times when we feel drained, powerless, or fragile. When this happened to me, I realized how much I needed God. He encouraged me inwardly through His Spirit, and outwardly through the helpfulness of friends and family. I had to let go of my independence for a while, but this taught me how to lean more fully on God. Because “[His] power is made perfect in weakness,” (2 Corinthians 12:9) we can have hope when we can’t meet our needs on our own.
I frowned at my cellphone and sighed. Worry wrinkled my brow. A friend and I had had a serious disagreement over an issue with our children, and I knew I needed to call her and apologize. I didn’t want to do it because our viewpoints were still in conflict, yet I knew I hadn’t been kind or humble the last time we discussed the matter.
Anticipating the phone call, I wondered, What if she doesn’t forgive me? What if she doesn’t want to continue our friendship? Just then, lyrics to a song came to mind and took me back to the moment when I confessed my sin in the situation to God. I felt relief because I knew God had forgiven me and released me from guilt.
We can’t control how people will respond to us when we try to work out relational problems. As long as we own up to our part, humbly ask for forgiveness, and make any changes needed, we can let God handle the healing. Even if we have to endure the pain of unresolved “people problems,” peace with God is always possible. His arms are open, and He is waiting to show us the grace and mercy we need. “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
The buzz in the room faded to a comfortable silence as the book club leader summarized the novel the group would discuss. My friend Joan listened closely but didn’t recognize the plot. Finally, she realized she had read a nonfiction book with a similar title to the work of fiction the others had read. Although she enjoyed reading the “wrong” book, she couldn’t join her friends as they discussed the “right” book.
The apostle Paul did not want the Corinthian Christians to believe in a “wrong” Jesus. He pointed out that false teachers had infiltrated the church and presented a different “Jesus” to the congregation (2 Corinthians 11:3–4). He also noted that the people swallowed the lies without much resistance.
Paul didn’t describe the heresy these phony teachers tried to pass off as truth. In his first letter to the church, however, he reviewed some facts about the Jesus of scripture. This Jesus was the Messiah who “died for our sins…was raised on the third day…[and then] appeared to the Twelve, and finally to Paul himself” (1 Corinthians 15:3–8). This Jesus had come to earth through a virgin named Mary and was named Immanuel (God with us) to affirm His divine nature (Matthew 1:20-23).
Does this sound like the Jesus you know? Understanding and accepting the truth written in the Bible about Jesus is important. It assures us that we are on the spiritual path that leads to heaven.
At a garage sale, I found a nativity set in a beat-up cardboard box. As I picked up the baby Jesus, I noticed the finely sculpted details of the infant’s body. This newborn wasn’t cocooned in a blanket with closed eyes—he was awake and partially unwrapped with outstretched arms, open hands, and fingers extended. “I’m here!” he seemed to say.
The figurine illustrated the miracle of Christmas—that God sent his Son to earth in a human body. As Jesus’s infant body matured, His little hands played with toys, eventually held the Torah, and then fashioned furniture before his ministry began. His feet, once plump and perfect at birth, grew to carry him from place to place to teach and heal. At the end of His life, these human hands and feet would be pierced with nails to hold His body on the cross.
“In that body, God ended sin’s control over us by giving us Jesus as a sacrifice for our sin,” Romans 8:3 (