After watching cable news for hours each day, the elderly man grew agitated and anxious—worried the world was falling apart and taking him with it. “Please turn it off,” his grown daughter begged him. “Just stop listening.” But the man refused, eventually following conspiracy-mongers on social media to “teach” himself what’s “really” happening.
What we listen to matters deeply. We see that in Jesus’ encounter with Pontius Pilate. Responding to criminal charges brought against Jesus by religious leaders, Pilate summoned Him and asked, “Are you the king of the Jews” (John 18:33). Jesus replied with a stunning question: “Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me?” (v. 32).
The same question tests us. In a world of panic, are we listening to chaos and conspiracy—or Christ? Indeed, “my sheep listen to my voice,” He said. “I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Jesus “used this figure of speech” (v. 6) to explain Himself to doubting religious leaders. As with a good shepherd, He said that “his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice” (John 10:4–5).
As our Good Shepherd, Jesus bids us to hear Him above all. May we listen well and find His peace.
While driving us to an unfamiliar location, my husband noticed that the GPS directions suddenly seemed wrong. After entering a reliable four-lane highway, we were advised to exit and travel along a one-lane “frontage” road running parallel to us. “I’ll just trust it,” Dan said, despite seeing no delays. After about ten miles, however, the traffic on the highway next to us slowed to a near standstill. The trouble? Major construction. And the frontage road? With little traffic, it provided a clear path to our destination. “I couldn’t see ahead,” Dan said, “but the GPS could.” Or, as we agreed, “just like God can.”
Knowing what was ahead, God in a dream gave a similar change in directions to the wise men who’d come from the east to worship Jesus, “born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). King Herod, disturbed by the news of a “rival” king, lied to the magi, sending them to Bethlehem, saying: “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him” (v. 8). Warned in a dream “not to go back to Herod,” however, “they returned to their country by another route” (v. 12).
God will guide our steps too. As we travel life’s highways, we can trust that He sees ahead and remain confident that “he will make [our] paths straight” as we submit to His directions (Proverbs 3:6).
The summer sun was rising and my smiling neighbor, seeing me in my front yard, whispered for me to come look. “What?” I whispered back, intrigued. She pointed to a wind chime on her front porch, where a tiny teacup of straw rested atop a metal rung. “A hummingbird’s nest,” she whispered. “See the babies?” The two beaks, tiny as pinpricks, were barely visible as they pointed upwards. “They’re waiting for the mother.” We stood there, marveling. I raised my cell phone to snap a picture. “Not too close,” my neighbor said. “Don’t want to scare away the mother.” And with that, we adopted—from afar—a family of hummingbirds.
But not for long. In another week, mother bird and babies were gone—as quietly as they had arrived. But who would care for them?
The Bible gives a glorious but familiar answer. It’s so familiar that we may forget all that it promises. “Do not worry about your life,” says Jesus (Matthew 6:25). A simple but beautiful instruction. “Look at the birds of the air,” He adds. “They do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them” (v. 26).
Just as He cares for tiny birds, He cares for us—nurturing us mind, body, spirit, and soul. It’s a magnificent promise. May we look to Him daily—without worry—and soar.
The cut flowers came from Ecuador. By the time they arrived at my house, they were droopy and road weary. Instructions said revive them with a cool drink of refreshing water. Before that, however, the flower stems had to be trimmed one-half inch so they could drink the water more easily. But would they survive?
The next morning, I discovered my answer. The Ecuadorian bouquet was a glorious sight. Featuring flowers I’d never seen before, the floral display was stunning. Fresh water made all the difference—a reminder of what Jesus said about water and what it means to believers.
When Jesus asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water—implying He’d drink from what she fetched from the well—He changed her life. She was surprised by His request. Jews looked down on Samaritans. But Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). Later, in the temple, He cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink” (7:37). Among those who believed in Him, “rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive” (vv. 38–39).
God’s refreshing Spirit revives us today when we’re life weary. He’s the Living Water, dwelling in our souls with holy refreshment. May we drink deep today.
At a primary school in Greenock, Scotland, three teachers on maternity leave brought their babies to school every two weeks to interact with schoolchildren. Playtime with babies teaches children empathy, or care and feeling for others. Most receptive often are the children who are “a little challenging,” as one teacher put it. “It’s often [they] who interact more on a one-to-one level.” They learn “how much hard work it is to take care of a child,” and “more about each other’s feelings as well.”
Learning from an infant to care about others isn’t a new idea to believers in Jesus. We know the One who came as the baby Jesus. His birth changed everything we understand about caring relationships. The first to learn of Christ’s birth were shepherds, a humble profession involving care of weak and vulnerable sheep. Later, when children were brought to Jesus, He corrected disciples who thought children unworthy. “Let the little children come to me,” he said, “and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14).
Showing the essence of empathy, Jesus “took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them” (v. 16). In our own lives, as His sometimes “challenging” children, we could be considered unworthy, too. Instead, as the One Who came as a child, the Lord accepts us with His love—thereby teaching us the caring power of loving babies and all people.
Once known as the World’s Strongest Man, American weightlifter Paul Anderson set a world record in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, despite a severe inner-ear infection and a 103-degree fever. Falling behind frontrunners, his only chance for a gold medal was to set a new Olympic record in his last event. His first two attempts failed badly.
So the burly athlete did what even the weakest among us can do. He called on God for extra strength, letting go of his own. As he later said, “It wasn’t making a bargain. I needed help.” With his final lift, he hoisted 413.5 pounds (187.5 kg) over his head.
Another Paul, the apostle of Christ, wrote, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Paul was speaking of spiritual strength, but he knew that God’s power was “made perfect in weakness” (v. 9).
As the prophet Isaiah declared, “[The
The path to such strength? Abiding in Jesus. “Apart from me you can do nothing,” He said (John 15:5). As weightlifter Anderson often said, “If the strongest man in the world can’t get through one day without the power of Jesus Christ—where does that leave you?” To find out, we can release our dependence on our own illusive strength, asking God for His strong and prevailing help.
At my first job during my high school years, I worked at a women’s clothing store where a female security guard dressed as a shopper followed women she thought might steal the merchandise. Certain people fit profiles of those the store owners’ thought were suspicious. Others not considered a threat were left alone. I’ve been profiled in stores myself and followed, an interesting experience since I still recognize the tactic.
In sharp contrast, David declared he was followed by a divine blessing—God’s goodness and mercy. These two gifts always stay close, following him not with suspicion but real love. The “twin guardian angels,” as evangelist Charles Spurgeon described the pair, follow believers closely during both bleak days and bright. “The dreary days of winter as well as the bright days of summer. Goodness supplies our needs, and mercy blots out our sins.”
As a onetime shepherd, David understood this intentional pairing as it’s provided by God. Other followers could pursue believers—fear, worry, temptation, doubts. But “surely,” David declares with undoubting certainty, God’s kind goodness and loving mercy follow us always.
As David rejoiced, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). What an amazing gift to follow us home!
The bag of snack chips was small, but it taught an American missionary a big lesson. Working one evening in the Dominican Republic, she arrived at a church meeting and opened her chips when a woman she hardly knew reached and grabbed a few from the bag. Others helped themselves, too.
How rude, the missionary thought. Then she realized a humbling lesson. She didn’t yet understand the culture where she’d agreed to serve. Rather than emphasizing individualism, as in the United States, she learned that life in the Dominican Republic is lived in community. Sharing one’s food and goods is how people relate to each other. Her way wasn’t better, just different. She confessed, “It was very humbling to discover these things about me.” As she began to recognize her own biases, she also learned that humbly sharing with others helped her serve them better.
Peter taught this lesson to church leaders: treat others with humility. He counseled the elders to resist “lording it over those entrusted to you” (1 Peter 5:3). And those younger? “Submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility” (v. 5). As he declared: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Therefore, “humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (v. 6). May He help us humbly live before Him and others today.
The magazine I was writing for felt “important,” so I struggled to present the best possible article I could for the high-ranking editor. Feeling pressure to meet her standards, I kept rewriting my thoughts and ideas. But what was my problem? Was it my controversial topic? Or was my real worry personal: Would the editor approve of me and not just my words?
For answers to our job worries, Paul gives trustworthy instruction. In a letter to the Colossian church, Paul urged believers to work not for approval of people, but for God. As the apostle said, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23–24).
Reflecting on Paul’s wisdom, we can stop struggling to look good in the eyes of our earthly bosses. For certain, we honor them as people and seek to give them our best. But if we work “as for the Lord”—asking Him to lead and anoint our work for Him—He’ll shine a light on our efforts. Our reward? Our job pressures ease and our assignments are completed. Even more, we’ll one day hear Him say, “Well done!”