Mark 14:72 And when he thought thereon, he wept.  

It has been thought by some that as long as Peter lived, the fountain of his tears began to flow whenever he remembered his denying his Lord. It is not unlikely that it was so, for his sin was very great, and grace in him had afterwards a perfect work. This same experience is common to all the redeemed family according to the degree in which the Spirit of God has removed the natural heart of stone. We, like Peter, remember our boastful promise: “Though all men shall forsake Thee, yet will not I.” We eat our own words with the bitter herbs of repentance. When we think of what we vowed we would be, and of what we have been, we may weep whole showers of grief. He thought on his denying his Lord. The place in which he did it, the little cause which led him into such heinous sin, the oaths and blasphemies with which he sought to confirm his falsehood, and the dreadful hardness of heart which drove him to do so again and yet again. Can we, when we are reminded of our sins, and their exceeding sinfulness, remain stolid and stubborn? Will we not make our house a Bochim, and cry unto the Lord for renewed assurances of pardoning love? May we never take a dry-eyed look at sin, lest ere long we have a tongue parched in the flames of hell. Peter also thought upon his Master’s look of love. The Lord followed up the cock’s warning voice with an admonitory look of sorrow, pity, and love. That glance was never out of Peter’s mind so long as he lived. It was far more effectual than ten thousand sermons would have been without the Spirit. The penitent apostle would be sure to weep when he recollected the Saviour’s full forgiveness, which restored him to his former place. To think that we have offended so kind and good a Lord is more than sufficient reason for being constant weepers. Lord, smite our rocky hearts, and make the waters flow.

Don’t Act on Impulse!

He that believeth shall not make haste.” Isa28:16

As twins go, Jacob and Esau were very different. But they quickly learned to negotiate. Have you ever watched children make a deal that favored one over the other? For example, one offers the other a candy bar in exchange for an expensive video game. Well, that same dynamic was at work between Jacob and Esau. Esau had been out hunting and came home exhausted and hungry. Nothing mattered to him except food—and certainly not something as remote as a future inheritance. In a moment of weakness he said, “I am about to die…what is this birthright to me…So…he…sold [it] to Jacob…[for] bread and stew” (Ge 25:32-34 NKJV). It was a decision Esau would live to regret, and couldn’t undo. Recovering addicts are taught the importance of observing their H.A.L.T. sign. When they’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, they’re in danger. And so are you! Acting on impulse will cause you to: (1) buy stuff you don’t need at prices you can’t afford; (2) react before you get all the facts, resulting in a loss of respect, opportunities and good relationships; (3) compromise your character for a few moments of sinful pleasure; (4) quit in the middle of the race, or worse, on the threshold of victory. The Bible says, “He that believeth shall not make haste.” When you make choices based on short-term gratification rather than life-long convictions and goals, you always lose out in the end. So don’t take the deal; don’t trade your God-given destiny for momentary gratification. Be patient and hold fast. When you do, God will bring your dreams to pass in ways that honor instead of diminishing them.

Be the Exception

No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the LORD wholeheartedly.” — Deuteronomy 1:35–36

The Torah portion for this week is Devarim which means “words,” from Deuteronomy 1:1–3:22, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 1:1

A test was once conducted where 10 high school students were placed in one room and shown three lines of varying lengths. The students were told to raise their hands when the instructor pointed to the longest line. In reality, only one student was being tested. Nine of the students had been instructed beforehand to raise their hands when the instructor pointed to the second longest line. Seventy-five percent of the time, the students being tested retracted the right answer when they saw that no one else agreed with them. The researchers concluded that most people would rather be popular than be right.

It’s not easy to hold firm to our convictions. It’s far easier to follow the crowd.

In this week’s Torah reading Moses spoke about Caleb, one of the 12 spies sent to scout out the land of Canaan. Moses recalled how most of the spies gave a bad report about God’s chosen land and how the people rebelled against God as a result. They were punished for this act of disobedience and failure to trust God with a decree that none of them would enter the land. However, there was an exception. Moses recounted God’s decision: “No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the LORD wholeheartedly.”While the nation rebelled, Caleb was the exception, and because of that he received exceptional treatment.

Truth be told, Joshua also chose to stand against the other 10 spies and side with Caleb. However, it was Caleb who spoke out first; Caleb who stuck out his neck for the sake of God. The Bible tells us, “Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it’” (Numbers 13:30). Caleb dared to go against the crowd and was bold enough to stand up for God.

Albert Einstein once said, “The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.” Let’s be like Caleb and dare to walk alone when necessary. Stand with Israel, when the rest of the world stands against her. Bring a good report about Israel, when the rest of the world concocts a bad one. Stand with God and stand for the truth.

When we follow God instead of the crowd, He will take us to places that others only dream of!

God Will Carry Us Through

The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” — Deuteronomy 1:30–31

The Torah portion for this week is Devarim which means “words,” from Deuteronomy 1:1–3:22, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 1:1

As a man who started out his career by saying “I’m not very good with words” (Exodus 4:10NLT), Moses had certainly come a long way. In this week’s Torah reading, he began his last and very lengthy speech. Much of what Moses had to say was a recap of the people’s history. The Sages use the following analogy to explain the purpose of Moses’ replay of the last 40 years:

There was once a king with a very ill son. “We must get him to the doctor before he dies!” exclaimed the king. He set out by carriage toward a faraway land where a great doctor lived. When the carriage broke down, the king and his son traveled by foot. When the son could no longer walk, the king carried him on his shoulders. Along the way, the king lovingly tended to his son’s every need. He climbed trees to bring him fruit and drew water at every well. Eventually, they made it to the doctor who saved the boy’s life. The king nursed his son back to health until, at last, he was strong enough to make the journey home.

As they traveled back, the king kept pointing out places from their past experiences. “Here was our camp, you can see the fireplace … here you had a high fever and we had to rest … here you can even see our footprints.” The son took great interest in these landmarks. He realized how much his father had cared for him and how much he was loved. However, as he examined the footprints, something seemed wrong. “Father!” exclaimed the boy, “At this point I see both our footsteps, but later on I only see yours. Why did you abandon me when I was ill?” His father, with tears streaming down his face, explained to his beloved son: “That was when you couldn’t walk and so I carried you!”

This ancient tale may sound very familiar to those who know the modern-day poem “Footprints in the Sand”; with either version, the message is timeless. We go through our journey in life together with our Father, the King. Although it might feel as though we are abandoned at times, it is precisely at those moments that God is carrying us.

However, the message of Moses’s speech is more than just that. Moses also was teaching the Israelites and us that it is important to stop and take a look back on our lives once in a while. Where have we been? How has God brought us through tough times? The answers to these questions will both fill us with appreciation for God’s providence and give us the confidence that He will continue to carry us through.

Psalm 73:23 Nevertheless I am continually with Thee.  

Nevertheless,”-As if, notwithstanding all the foolishness and ignorance which David had just been confessing to God, not one atom the less was it true and certain that David was saved and accepted, and that the blessing of being constantly in God’s presence was undoubtedly his. Fully conscious of his own lost estate, and of the deceitfulness and vileness of his nature, yet, by a glorious outburst of faith, he sings “nevertheless I am continually with Thee.” Believer, you are forced to enter into Asaph’s confession and acknowledgment, endeavour in like spirit to say “nevertheless, since I belong to Christ I am continually with God!” By this is meant continually upon His mind, He is always thinking of me for my good. Continually before His eye;-the eye of the Lord never sleepeth, but is perpetually watching over my welfare. Continually in His hand, so that none shall be able to pluck me thence. Continually on His heart, worn there as a memorial, even as the high priest bore the names of the twelve tribes upon his heart for ever. Thou always thinkest of me, O God. The bowels of Thy love continually yearn towards me. Thou art always making providence work for my good. Thou hast set me as a signet upon thine arm; thy love is strong as death, many waters cannot quench it; neither can the floods drown it. Surprising grace! Thou seest me in Christ, and though in myself abhorred, Thou beholdest me as wearing Christ’s garments, and washed in His blood, and thus I stand accepted in Thy presence. I am thus continually in Thy favour-“continually with Thee.” Here is comfort for the tried and afflicted soul; vexed with the tempest within-look at the calm without. “Nevertheless”-O say it in thy heart, and take the peace it gives. “Nevertheless I am continually with Thee.”

Simply Serving (5)

“Through love serve one another.” Gal 5:13 NKJV

In his book The Pursuit of Excellence, Ted Engstrom writes: “I was cleaning out a desk drawer when I found a flashlight I hadn’t used in over a year. I flipped the switch but wasn’t surprised when it gave no light. I unscrewed it and shook it to get the batteries out but they wouldn’t budge. Finally after some effort they came loose. What a mess! Battery acid had corroded the entire inside of the flashlight. The batteries were new when I put them in and I’d stored them in a safe, warm place. But there was one problem. Those batteries weren’t made to be warm and comfortable. They were designed to be turned on—to be used. And it’s the same with us. We weren’t created to be warm, safe, and comfortable. You and I were made to be turned on.” You must constantly remind yourself that first and foremost you’re called to be God’s servant. That way, interruptions won’t frustrate you. “Whenever we have the opportunity, we have to do what is good” (Gal 6:10 GWT). Be sensitive and spontaneous; otherwise great opportunities to serve God will pass you by. “Never tell your neighbors to wait untiltomorrow if you can help them now” (Pr 3:28GNT). Look for small tasks nobody else wants to do, then do them as if they were great things—because God is recording it all. Make yourself available. Don’t fill your time with other pursuits that limit your availability. Be ready to jump into service at a moment’s notice. Allow God to change your plans without becoming resentful. As a servant, you don’t get to choose where you’ll serve. God does.