True Love

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 butwhen the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

– I Corinthians 13


The Wilderness of Winter

16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17     learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.

18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land;

– Isaiah 1:16-19

I  read the following devotion today and thought it would be a great encouragement to share while in the midst of the “doldrums” (Mr. Befus’ word for the day J) of this long, cold winter.  The following is from The Daily Walk Bible, NLT:

“Have you ever spent the night in a wilderness? If so, you will have little trouble identifying with the complaints of the Israelites as they begin the march from Mount Sinai to the Promised Land.

The wilderness is a hostile place. By day the sun beats down mercilessly, and the temperature soars. (God knew this and provided a travelling umbrella—the cloud.) Food is scarce and water is virtually nonexistent in a wilderness—unless, of course, you are eating manna from the dew and drinking water from the rocks!

Do you see God’s hand of provision in the life of His nation? More important, do you see God’s hand of provision in your life? Repeatedly, the Israelites expressed grumbling instead of gratitude. Why not enjoy the blessing they missed by spending the next few minutes praising God for His daily provision?”

I was thinking about grumbling about the cold, about the snow, about how long winter is. Then God reminded me that He has provided shelter from the cold – my home. Complete with a comfortable bed, warm blankets, clean drinking water, hot showers. Complete with breakfast to fill my hunger. His abundant provision. The snow reminds me (daily) that although my sins are as scarlet, His blood covers me and makes me as white as snow (Isaiah 1:17-19). His extravagant provision. I often think the Israelites are so dumb for having missed God’s hand of provision. Will I be like the Israelites? Or will I express gratitude for His daily provision?

Something to think about. God bless you all today!

– Mrs. Schliesmann

Happiness for Sale

32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:32-35

Can money make you happy?

Short answer, “Yes…if you give your money away!”

Which is why Grand Rapids is one of the happiest places to live, placing second only to Salt Lake City in the philanthropy league table.

Harvard Professor Michael Norton wrote a book about this called Happy Money, the Science of Smarter Spending. In it he presents data to support his regular challenge to audiences: “If you think money doesn’t buy happiness, try giving some away.”

In the book, Norton and co-author Elizabeth Dunn explain the results of numerous experiments in which Canadian college students, poor Ugandans and Belgian pharmaceutical salesmen were given money to spend on themselves or others.

In every case, the persons who were told to give their money away were happier than the persons who were told to keep the money for themselves.

“Basically, everywhere in the world, giving is associated with being a happier person,” said Norton.

A few of their other findings:

  • The most generous givers tend to be at both ends of the wealth spectrum.
  • Poor people tend to be more generous the middle class.
  • Giving to religious groups, even when compulsory, tends to make people happier,
  • Giving to a person you know makes you more happy than giving anonymously.
  • Money does not make the average U.S. citizen happier after they reach an income of $75,000 a year. From that point on, most persons claim they would need to triple their current income to be completely happy.

And if you want some bonus encouragements:

  • Christians who tithe end up with better finances than those who don’t. Researchers compared tithers to non-tithers using nine financial health indicators, and found that tithers were better off in every category.
  • Spending money on someone else makes you happier: When 46 students were given $20 to spend, the ones who spent the money on others were happier at the end of the day than the ones who spent the money on themselves. (Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage, 55)
  • Spending money on shared experiences produces more happiness than selfish purchases: When researchers interviewed more than 150 people about their recent purchases, they found that money spent on activities—such as concerts and group dinners out—brought far more pleasure than material purchases like shoes, televisions, or expensive watches. (Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage, 55-56)
  • Giving increases health and well being. Altruism produces social integration, an enhanced sense of meaning and purpose, and a more active lifestyle. It distracts from personal problems, reduces self-preoccupation, increases immune function, and decelerates aging. (Jessica Colman, Optimal Functioning: A Positive Psychology Handbook.)

All explanation, illustration, and confirmation of the most neglected beatitude that says:“It is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35).

– David Murray

Proverbs 11 (ESV)

11 A false balance is an abomination to the Lord,
but a just weight is his delight.
2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom.
3 The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.
4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.
5 The righteousness of the blameless keeps his way straight,
but the wicked falls by his own wickedness.
6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.
7 When the wicked dies, his hope will perish,
and the expectation of wealth perishes too.
8 The righteous is delivered from trouble,
and the wicked walks into it instead.
9 With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor,
but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.
10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.
11 By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown.
12 Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense,
but a man of understanding remains silent.
13 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets,
but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.
14 Where there is no guidance, a people falls,
but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
15 Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm,
but he who hates striking hands in pledge is secure.
16 A gracious woman gets honor,
and violent men get riches.
17 A man who is kind benefits himself,
but a cruel man hurts himself.
18 The wicked earns deceptive wages,
but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.
19 Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live,
but he who pursues evil will die.
20 Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the Lord,
but those of blameless ways are his delight.
21 Be assured, an evil person will not go unpunished,
but the offspring of the righteous will be delivered.
22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman without discretion.
23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good;
the expectation of the wicked in wrath.
24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.
26 The people curse him who holds back grain,
but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.
27 Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor,
but evil comes to him who searches for it.
28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,
but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.
29 Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind,
and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and whoever captures souls is wise.
31 If the righteous is repaid on earth,
how much more the wicked and the sinner!

The Absolute Truth

2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

4 These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

5 When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6 and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

– Genesis 2:1-17

1. WHICH FLAVOR ICE cream is best?

chocolate butter pecan vanilla
rocky road strawberry mint chocolate chip


2. Who was the greatest baseball player?

Babe Ruth Whitey Ford Ted Williams
Willie Mays Henry Aaron Leroy “Satchel” Paige


3. Which of these actions is wrong?

eating meat kissing singing
water-skiing lying sleeping

Now, those questions may seem pretty dumb to you. But I ask them for a reason.

Some people think there is no difference between questions #1 and #2 and question #3. But there is a huge difference.

The first question asks you to make a choice based on your taste. You may like chocolate ice cream, but your sister or friend may like vanilla ice cream best. So who’s right? Both of you, because it’s a matter of taste. Whether you’re talking about ice cream, favorite colors, or favorite songs, different people have different tastes.

The second question asks you to make a choice based on opinion. You may have an opinion about who was the greatest ballplayer ever, but someone else who is equally informed may have a different opinion.

But the third question is a different kind of question entirely, because it asks you to make a choice involving, not taste or opinion, but right and wrong. You see, some things are a matter of taste, some things are a matter of opinion, and others are true beyond a shadow of a doubt. Some things are absolute truths-that means they are true for all people, for all places, and for all time. Those things are true no matter what you like or don’t like; they’re true no matter what your opinion is; they’re true absolutely.

Now, there are some people today who claim that right and wrong are just a matter of taste or a matter of opinion. But God has already revealed to us in his Word what is absolutely right and what is absolutely wrong.

REFLECT: Some things are a matter of taste, some things are a matter of opinion, and others are true beyond a shadow of a doubt. Can you think of two actions or attitudes that belong to each category?

PRAY: “Thanks, God, for the way your Word makes the absolute truth absolutely clear.”

– Josh McDowell

The Lord is My Shepherd

A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3     He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

– Psalm 23:1-6

Jesus Answered

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:25-30

This is a singular way in which to commence a verse–“At that time Jesus answered.” If you will look at the context you will not perceive that any person had asked him a question, or that he was in conversation with any human being. Yet it is written, “Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father.” When a man answers, he answers a person who has been speaking to him. Who, then, had spoken to Christ? his Father. Yet there is no record of it; and this should teach us that Jesus had constant fellowship with his Father, and that God spake into his heart so often, so continually, that it was not a circumstance singular enough to be recorded. It was the habit and life of Jesus to talk with God. Even as Jesus was, in this world, so are we; let us therefore learn the lesson which this simple statement concerning him teaches us. May we likewise have silent fellowship with the Father, so that often we may answer him, and though the world wotteth not to whom we speak, may we be responding to that secret voice unheard of any other ear, which our own ear, opened by the Spirit of God, recognizes with joy. God has spoken to us, let us speak to God–either to set our seal that God is true and faithful to his promise, or to confess the sin of which the Spirit of God has convinced us, or to acknowledge the mercy which God’s providence has given, or to express assent to the great truths which God the Holy Ghost has opened to our understanding. What a privilege is intimate communion with the Father of our spirits! It is a secret hidden from the world, a joy with which even the nearest friend intermeddleth not. If we would hear the whispers of God’s love, our ear must be purged and fitted to listen to his voice. This very evening may our hearts be in such a state, that when God speaks to us, we, like Jesus, may be prepared at once to answer him.

– Charles Spurgeon
Morning and Evening