A thrift-store bargain, the lamp seemed perfect for my home office—the right color, size, and price. Back at home, however, when I plugged in the cord, nothing happened. No light. No power. No juice.
No problem, my husband assured me. “I can fix that. Easy.” As he took the lamp apart, he saw the trouble immediately. The plug wasn’t connected to anything. Without wiring to a source of power, the “perfect” pretty lamp was useless.
The same is true for us. Jesus told His disciples. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” But then he added this reminder. “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
This illustration was given in a grape-growing region, so His disciples readily understood it. Grapevines are hardy plants and their branches tolerate vigorous pruning. Cut off from their life source, however, the branches are worthless deadwood. So it is with us.
As we remain in Jesus and let His words dwell in us, we’re wired to our life source—Christ Himself. “This is to my Father’s glory,” said Jesus, “that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (v. 8). Such a fruitful outcome needs daily nourishment, however. Freely, the Lord provides it through His Word and His love. So plug in and let the juice flow!
Our little grandson waved goodbye, then turned back with a question. “Grandma, why do you stand on the porch and watch until we leave?” I smiled at him, finding his question “cute” because he’s so young. Seeing his concern, however, I tried to give a good answer. “Well, it’s a courtesy,” I told him. “If you’re my guest, watching until you leave shows I care.” He weighed my answer, but still looked perplexed. So, I told him the simple truth. “I watch,” I said, “because I love you. When I see your car drive away, I know you’re safely heading home.” He smiled, giving me a tender hug. Finally, he understood.
His childlike understanding reminded me what all of us should remember—that our heavenly Father is constantly watching over each of us, His precious children. As Psalm 121 says, “The
What assurance for Israel’s pilgrims as they climbed dangerous roads to Jerusalem to worship. “The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The
Growing up during the Great Depression, my parents knew deep hardship as children. As a result, they were thrifty adults—hard-working and grateful money stewards. At the same time, they were never greedy. They gave time, talent, and treasury to their church, charity groups, and the needy. Indeed, they handled their money wisely and gave cheerfully.
As believers in Jesus, my parents took to heart the apostle Paul’s warning: “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).
Paul gave this advice in a letter to Timothy, the young pastor of the city of Ephesus, a wealthy city where riches tempted rich and poor alike.
“The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” Paul warned. “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (v. 10).
What, then, is the antidote to greed? Being rich toward God, said Jesus (see Luke 12:13–21). By pursuing, appreciating, and loving our heavenly Father above all, He remains our chief delight. As the psalmist wrote, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14).
Rejoicing in Him daily relieves us of coveting, leaving us contented. May the Lord redeem our heart’s desires, making us rich toward God!
As the world’s fastest blind runner, David Brown of the U.S. Paralympic Team credits his wins to God, his mother’s early advice (“no sitting around”), and his running guide, veteran sprinter Jerome Avery. Tethered to Brown by a string tied to their fingers, Avery guides Brown’s winning races with words and touches.
“It’s all about listening to his cues,” says Brown, who says he could “swing out wide” on 200-meter races where the track curves. “Day in and day out, we’re going over race strategies,” Brown says, “communicating with each other—not only verbal cues, but physical cues.”
In our own life’s race, we’re blessed with a Divine Guide. Our Helper, the Holy Spirit, leads our steps when we follow Him. “I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray,” wrote John (1 John 2:26
John stressed this wisdom to the Christians of his day who faced “antichrists” who denied the Father and that Jesus is the Messiah (v. 22). We face such deniers today as well. But the Holy Spirit, our Guide, leads us in following Jesus. We can trust His guidance to touch us with truth, keeping us on track.
In the south central African country of Zimbabwe, war trauma and high unemployment can leave people in despair—until they find hope on a bench. A friendship bench. Hopeless people can go there to talk with trained “grandmothers”—elderly women taught to listen to people struggling with depression, known in that nation’s Shona language as kufungisisa, or “thinking too much.”
The Friendship Bench Project is being launched in other places, including Zanzibar, Malawi, London, and New York City. “We were thrilled to bits with the results,” said one London researcher. A New York counselor agreed. “Before you know it, you’re not on a bench, you’re just inside a warm conversation with someone who cares.”
The project evokes the warmth and wonder of talking with our Almighty God. Moses put up not a bench but a tent to commune with God, calling it the Tent of Meeting. There, “the
Today we no longer need a Tent of Meeting. Jesus has brought the Father near. As He told His disciples, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Yes, our God awaits us. He’s our heart’s wisest helper, our understanding Friend. Talk with Him now.
A lot has changed since the electric clock was invented in the 1840s. We now keep time on smart watches, smart phones and laptops. The entire pace of life seems faster—with even our “leisurely” walking speeding up. This is especially true in cities and can have a negative effect on health, scholars say. “We’re just moving faster and faster and getting back to people as quickly as we can,” Professor Richard Wiseman observed. “That’s driving us to think everything has to happen now.”
Moses, the writer of one of the oldest of the Bible’s psalms, reflected on time. He reminds us that God controls life’s pace. “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night,” he wrote (Psalm 90:4).
The secret to time management, therefore, isn’t to go faster or slower. It’s to abide in God, spending more time with Him. Then we get in step with each other, but first with Him—the One who formed us (139:13) and knows our purpose and plans (v. 16).
Our time on earth won’t last forever. Yet we can manage our time wisely, not by watching the clock, but by giving each day to God. As Moses said, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (90:12). Then with God, we’ll always be on time, now and forever.
At the BBC in London, Paul Arnold’s first broadcasting job was making “walking sounds” in radio dramas. While actors read from scripts during a walking scene, Paul as stage manager made corresponding sounds with his feet—careful to match his pace to the actor’s voice and spoken lines. The key challenge, he explained, was yielding to the actor in the story, “so the two of us were working together.”
A divine version of such cooperation was sought by the author of Psalm 119, which emphasizes living by the precepts of God’s Word. As Psalm 119:1 says: “Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the
Theologian Charles Bridges commented on verse 133: “When I take therefore a step into the world, let me ask—Is it ordered in God’s word, which exhibits Christ as my perfect example?”
Walking this way, we show the world Christ. May He bless us today to walk so closely with Him that people glimpse in us our Leader, Friend, and Savior!
When my husband, Dan, was diagnosed with cancer, I couldn’t find the “right” way to ask God to heal him. In my limited view, other people in the world had such serious problems—war, famine, poverty, natural disasters. Then one day, during our morning prayer time, I heard my husband humbly ask, “Dear Lord, please heal my disease.”
It was such a simple but heartfelt plea that it reminded me to stop complicating every prayer request, because the Lord perfectly hears our righteous cries for help. As David simply asked, “Turn,
That’s what David declared during a time of spiritual confusion and despair. David’s exact situation isn’t explained in this psalm. His honest pleas, however, show his deep desire for godly help and restoration. “I am worn out from my groaning,” David wrote (v. 6).
Yet, David didn’t let his own limits, including sin, stop him from going to God with his need. Thus, even before the
Despite our own confusion and uncertainty, God hears and accepts the honest pleas of His children. He is ready to hear us, especially when we need Him most.
After a member of my family converted to a different religion, Christian friends urged me to “convince” her to return to Christ. I found myself first seeking to love my family member as Christ would—including in public places where some people frowned at her “foreign-looking” clothes. Others even made rude comments. “Go home!” one man yelled at her from his truck, not knowing or apparently caring that she already is “home.”
Moses taught a much kinder way to act toward people whose dress or beliefs feel different. Teaching laws of justice and mercy, Moses instructed the children of Israel, “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt” (Exodus 23:9). The edict expresses God’s concern for all strangers, people vulnerable to bias and abuse, and it is reiterated in Exodus 22:21 and Leviticus 19:33.
Therefore, when I spend time with my family member—at a restaurant, in a park, taking a walk together or sitting and talking with her on my front porch—I seek first to show her kindness and respect—in the way I would want to be treated. It’s one of the best ways to remind her of the sweet love of Christ, not by upbraiding her for rejecting Him, but by loving her as He loves all of us—with amazing grace.