Our small church decided to surprise my son on his sixth birthday. The people in our church decorated his Sunday school class with balloons and set up a small table with a cake on it. When my son opened the door, everyone shouted, “Happy birthday!”
Later on, as I was cutting the cake, my son came over and whispered in my ear, “Mom, why does everyone here love me?” I had the same question. These people had known us for only six months but were treating us as long-time friends.
Their love for my son reflected God’s love for us. We can’t understand why God loves us, but He does—and His love is freely given. We have done nothing to deserve His love, and yet He loves us abundantly. Scripture tells us: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). It’s part of who He is.
God has poured out His love on us so we can show this same love to others. Jesus told His disciples, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35).
The people in this small church love us because God’s love is in them. This love shines through and identifies them as followers of Jesus. We cannot comprehend God’s love fully, but we can love others and in that way be examples of His unexplainable love.
The “Jarabe Tapatío,” also known as the Mexican hat dance, celebrates romance. During this upbeat dance, the man places his sombrero on the ground. At the very end, the woman grabs the hat and both hide behind it to seal their romance with a kiss.
This dance reminds me of the importance of faithfulness in marriage. In Proverbs 5, after talking about the high cost of immorality, we read that marriage is exclusive. “Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well” (v. 15). Even with ten couples dancing the Jarabe on stage, each person focuses on his or her partner. We can rejoice in a deep and undivided commitment to our spouse (v. 18).
Our romance is also being observed. The dancers, while they are enjoying their partner, know someone is watching. In the same way, we read, “For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths” (v. 21). God wants to protect our marriages, so He is constantly watching us. May we please Him through the loyalty we show to each other.
Just like in the Jarabe there is a rhythm to follow in life. When we keep the beat of our Creator by being faithful to Him—whether we are married or unmarried—we find blessings and joy.
My husband invited a friend to church. After the service his friend said, “I liked the songs and the atmosphere, but I don’t get it. Why do you give Jesus such a high place of honor?” My husband then explained to him that Christianity is a relationship with Jesus. Without Him, Christianity would be meaningless. It is because of what Jesus has done in our lives that we meet together and praise Him.
Who is Jesus and what has He done? The apostle Paul answered this question in Colossians 1. No one has seen God, but Jesus came to reflect and reveal Him (v. 15). Jesus, as the Son of God, came to die for us and free us from sin. Sin has separated us from God’s holiness, so peace could only be made through someone perfect. That was Jesus (vv. 14, 20). In other words, Jesus has given us what no one else could—access to God and eternal life (John 17:3).
Why does He deserve such a place of honor? He conquered death. He won our hearts by His love and sacrifice. He gives us new strength every day. He is everything to us!
We give Him the glory because He deserves it. We lift Him up because that is His rightful place. Let us give Him the highest place in our hearts.
Amy lives in a closed country where it’s forbidden to preach the gospel. She is a trained nurse who works in a big hospital, caring for newborn babies. She is such a committed professional that her work stands out, and many women are curious about her. They are moved to ask her questions in private. It is then that Amy shares about her Savior openly.
Because of her good work, some co-workers were envious and accused her of stealing some medicine. Her superiors didn’t believe them, and authorities eventually found the culprit. This episode led some of her fellow nurses to ask about her faith. Her example reminds me of what Peter says: “Dear friends . . . be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God” (11–12
Our everyday lives at home, in our work environment, or school, make an impact on others when we let God work in us. We are surrounded by people who are watching the way we speak and behave. Let’s depend on God and have Him rule our actions and thoughts. Then we will influence those who don’t believe and this may lead some of them to turn in faith to Jesus.
Just before her death, artist and missionary Lilias Trotter looked out of the window and saw a vision of a heavenly chariot. According to her biographer, a friend asked, “Are you seeing many beautiful things?” She answered, “Yes, many, many beautiful things.”
Trotter’s final words reflect God’s work in her life. Not only in death, but throughout her life, God revealed much beauty to her and through her. Although she was a talented artist, she chose to serve Jesus as a missionary in Algeria. Ruskin, a famous painter who tutored her, is said to have commented, “What a waste,” when she chose the mission field over a career in art.
Similarly, in the New Testament, when a woman came to Simon the Leper’s house with an alabaster jar and poured perfume on Jesus’s feet, those with them saw it as a waste. This expensive perfume was worth a year’s common wages, so some of the people present thought it could have been used to help the poor. However, commending this woman’s deep devotion to Him, Jesus said, “She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6).
Every day we can choose to let Christ’s life shine in our lives and display His beauty to the world. To some, it may seem a waste, but let us have willing hearts to serve Him. May Jesus say we have done many beautiful things for Him.
When educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom, researching how to develop talent in young people, examined the childhoods of 120 elite performers—athletes, artists, scholars—he found that all of them had one thing in common: they had practiced intensively for long periods of time.
Bloom’s research suggests that growing in any area of our lives requires discipline. In our walk with God, too, cultivating the spiritual discipline of regularly spending time with Him is one way we can grow in our trust in Him.
Daniel is a good example of someone who prioritized a disciplined walk with God. As a young person, Daniel started making careful and wise decisions (1:8). He also was committed to praying regularly, “giving thanks to God” (6:10). His frequent seeking of God resulted in a life in which his faith was easily recognized by those around him. In fact, King Darius described Daniel as “servant of the living God” and twice described him as a person who served God “continually” (Daniel 6:16, 20).
Like Daniel, we desperately need God. How good to know that God works in us so we long to spend time with Him! (Philippians 2:13). So let us come every day before God, trusting that our time with Him will result in a love that will overflow more and more, and a growing knowledge and understanding of our Savior (1:9–11).
“Why do we have to leave our home and move?” my son asked. It’s difficult to explain what a home is, especially to a five-year-old. We were leaving a house, but not our home, in the sense that home is where our loved ones are. It’s the place we long to go back after a long trip or after a full day’s work.
When Jesus was in the upper room just hours before He died, He told His disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1). The disciples were uncertain of their future because Jesus had predicted His death. But Jesus reassured them of His presence and reminded them they would see Him again. He told them, “My Father’s house has many rooms . . . . I am going there to prepare a place for you” (vv. 1–3). He could have used other words to describe heaven. However, He chose words that describe—not an uncomfortable or unfamiliar place—but a place where Jesus, our loved one, would be.
C. S. Lewis wrote, “Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.” We can thank God for the “pleasant inns” in life, but let’s remember that our real home is in heaven where we “will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Corn, also called maize, is the staple food in my home country of Mexico. There are so many different types. You can find yellow, brown, red, and black cobs, even mixed ones with a wonderful spotted pattern. But people in the cities usually won’t eat the spotted cobs. As restaurateur and researcher Amado Ramírez explains, they somehow believe uniformity is a synonym of quality. Yet the spotted cobs taste good, and they make excellent tortillas.
The church of Christ is much more similar to a spotted ear of corn than to a cob of just one color. The apostle Paul used the imagery of a body to describe the church, because even though we are all one body, and we have one same God, each of us has been given a different gift. As Paul said, “There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work” (1 Corinthians 12:5–6). Our diversity in the ways we help each other shows God’s generosity and creativity.
As we embrace our diversity, may we also make every effort to keep our unity in faith and purpose. Yes, we have different abilities and backgrounds. We speak different languages and come from different countries. But we have the same wonderful God, the Creator who delights in so much variety.
In ancient times, a city with broken walls revealed a defeated people, exposed to danger and shame. That is why the Jews rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. How? By working side by side, an expression that can well describe Nehemiah 3.
At first glance, chapter 3 might appear to be a boring account of who did what in the reconstruction. However, a closer look highlights how people worked together. Priests were working alongside rulers. Perfume-makers were helping as well as goldsmiths. There were some who lived in nearby towns and came to give a hand. Others made repairs opposite their houses. Shallum’s daughters, for example, worked alongside the men (3:12), and some people repaired two sections, like the men of Tekoa (vv. 5, 27).
Two things stand out from this chapter. First, they all worked together for a common goal. Second, all of them are commended for being part of the work, not for how much or little they did as compared to others.
Today we see damaged families and a broken society. But Jesus came to build the kingdom of God through the transformation of lives. We can help to rebuild our neighborhoods by showing others they can find hope and new life in Jesus. All of us have something to do. So let us work side by side and do our part—whether big or small—to create a community of love where people can find Jesus.