Psalm 139:13-18

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

Seven Ways to Love

2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”

9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?[b] 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds[c] and teachers,[d] 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[e] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[f] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

– Ephesians 4:2-29

First, to love means to walk “with all lowliness and meekness” (4:2a), which is probably the same idea as being “subject to one another out of reverence for Christ” (5:21).  Arrogance, haughtiness, and pride are ruled out, not only in our dealings with almighty God but also in our relationships with one another.

Second, we are to be patient and forbearing with one another (4:2b); that is, we are to “be kind…, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave [us]” (4:32).  All of us give others many opportunities to lose patience; how much more reason God has to be impatient and unforgiving.

Third, Paul tells us that love is to be concerned with conveying sound doctrine, “speaking the truth in love” (4:15a) “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro…with every wind of doctrine…” (4:14).

Fourth, love requires honest speech: “putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor” (4″25).

Fifth, perhaps surprisingly, love calls for what might be called honest anger, that is, the anger that is justified but is not turned into a grudge (“do not let the sun go down on your anger,” 4:26).  This is amplified by the admonition to put away “all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander…with all malice” (4:31).

Sixth, there is to be honest labor, not the kind of effort required to steal but its opposite, the kind that brings remuneration not only so we can meet our own needs but also so we are “able to give to those in need” (4:28).

Seventh, love shows itself by helpful speech, a necessary corollary to honest speech.  Instead of filthy or silly talk (5:4), there is to be “only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear: (4:29).

     “These seven ways of demonstrating love present a large challenge, one we could not meet by ourselves.  But Paul preceded this passage with a confident prayer reminding us of God’s will and power to enable us to love: “that….he may grant you to be strengthened with might…grounded in love” (3:16, 17).  Indeed, God, “by the power at work within us, is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.”

– Unknown

It Begins with Faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

– Hebrews 11:1-4

It begins with faith. Believing God is the key to victorious Christian living.

I enjoy sports cars. One of my favorite cars is the Porsche 911 turbo. The turbo model has a 6 cylinder 500 horsepower rearmounted engine (that means the engine is in the back of the car).  Porsche is a racing company that builds some of the fastest cars in the world. To fund their research and racing competition, the company sells the 911 to the public. If you are wealthy enough to purchase one of these vehicles, you are driving one of the fastest cars in the world.

Like most cars, the Porsche 911 requires a key to start the ignition. Without that key you won’t get very far. You may be sitting in the plush leather seats, you may be able to grip the steering wheel with your hands, you can press on the dials and knobs on the dashboard, but you won’t be able to access the power of the engine without first turning the key.

In very much the same way, faith is the key to a relationship with God. It is impossible to come to God, to know God, to receive God without faith. You cannot experience the benefits of His love, mercy, grace, and power without believing in Him.

– Ben Schettler,
Continue, Chapter 1

You are Not Alone

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way[a] from the land,[b] beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind,[c] he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

34 And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret.

– Matthew 14:22-34

There are some powerful principles in this event that can be of great encouragement to us during the storms of life. …notice that the disciples were in the ship Jesus Christ had told them to enter and they were going to a place He told them to go. However, they found themselves in a storm on the sea. Often when a storm comes into our lives we question ourselves, “Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing? Am I in the right place? Am I going in the right direction? Am I in the will of God?” Imagine the disciples questioning themselves in their storm. They were in the will of God in every way possible. They were in the ship Jesus Christ told them to travel in, and were going exactly where He told them to go. Yet, they still entered the storm!

Friend, the storm you may have found yourself in does not necessarily mean you are not where you are supposed to be; it does not mean you are going in the wrong direction, and it does not mean you are out of the will of God. Simply it means that in life we have storms to contend with, but we must go on in faith, trusting the One who sent us on our journey.

Don Woodard,
The Help of Heaven, page 3

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip foundNathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him,“Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

– John 1:43-51

God and Lies

16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
    seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
    and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
    feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
    and one who sows discord among brothers.

– Proverbs 6:16–19

Lying insults not only your neighbor, whom you may manage to fool, but also God, whom you can never fool. A truthtelling, promise-keeping God who “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2, NEB; also Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29), and who wants to see in us his own moral image, naturally “hates . . . a lying tongue . . . a false witness who breathes out lies” (Proverbs 6:16–19). Lying is part of Satan’s image, not God’s, and we should not wonder that “everyone who loves and practices falsehood” should thereby exclude himself from God’s city (Revelation 22:15; cf. 21:27). There is no godliness without truthfulness. Lord, have mercy!

– J.I. Packer
Keeping the Ten Commandments, page 97

The Patience To Wait for the Vision

Then the Lord replied:

“Write down the revelation
    and make it plain on tablets
    so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
    it speaks of the end
    and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
    it will certainly come
    and will not delay.

“See, the enemy is puffed up;
    his desires are not upright—
    but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness—
indeed, wine betrays him;
    he is arrogant and never at rest.
Because he is as greedy as the grave
    and like death is never satisfied,
he gathers to himself all the nations
    and takes captive all the peoples.

– Habakkuk 2:2-5

Patience is not the same as indifference; patience conveys the idea of someone who is tremendously strong and able to withstand all assaults. Having the vision of God is the source of patience because it gives us God’s true and proper inspiration. Moses endured, not because of his devotion to his principles of what was right, nor because of his sense of duty to God, but because he had a vision of God. “. . . he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). A person who has the vision of God is not devoted to a cause or to any particular issue— he is devoted to God Himself. You always know when the vision is of God because of the inspiration that comes with it. Things come to you with greatness and add vitality to your life because everything is energized by God. He may give you a time spiritually, with no word from Himself at all, just as His Son experienced during His time of temptation in the wilderness. When God does that, simply endure, and the power to endure will be there because you see God.

“Though it tarries, wait for it . . . .” The proof that we have the vision is that we are reaching out for more than we have already grasped. It is a bad thing to be satisfied spiritually. The psalmist said, “What shall I render to the Lord . . . ? I will take up the cup of salvation . . .” (Psalm 116:12-13). We are apt to look for satisfaction within ourselves and say, “Now I’ve got it! Now I am completely sanctified. Now I can endure.” Instantly we are on the road to ruin. Our reach must exceed our grasp. Paul said, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on . . .” (Philippians 3:12). If we have only what we have experienced, we have nothing. But if we have the inspiration of the vision of God, we have more than we can experience. Beware of the danger of spiritual relaxation.

– Oswald Chamber

My Utmost for His Highest