Isn’t it thrilling to get mail that is addressed to occupant? Not really. Most of the time this kind of mail hits the trash can without even being opened. We figure if someone doesn’t care enough to know our name that what they have to communicate is not important. We love to see our name on the envelope. We want personal mail. Once in a while we may even receive that rare hand written letter. In our day and age we communicate in different ways. Snail mail is joined by email, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and text messages. Who knows what new methods of communication the future holds for us.
Valuable information necessitates personal communication. I am so thankful that God has communicated His revelation to us in a reliable and accurate fashion. He has given us His Word that is inerrant and authoritative. Using human authors, the Holy Spirit superintended God’s revelation to man. Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”. Also we are told by Peter: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit”(2 Peter 1:20,21). God has sent us a personal communication through His Word. We need to value this communication as a special message from God Himself to us personally. He tells us how much He loves us. He tells us that He sent His own Son to be the sacrifice for our sins. He tells us that if we simply repent of our sins, believe in His Son and call upon Him, He will give us eternal life. He tells us in this personal letter how we need to live for Him and He even gives us a description of our future home in heaven.
What a wonderful letter God gave us in His Word, the Holy Bible. As you begin to read this precious letter you will find your name on it. You are more than an occupant to God.
Were you ever afraid of the dark when you were a child? Perhaps a cold shiver of fear crept upon you when you found yourself alone in the dark. As I look upon our world it is obvious that the dark shadows of sin are lengthening. To me, it seems that our society is plunging headlong into the darkness of evil. Crime and violence, greed and materialism, anger and hatred are on the increase. Our society, that used to side with many of the biblical principles of morality is embracing the dark side. We see an abandonment of the sanctity of marriage, an all-out acceptance of homosexuality, and a confusion on what is right and what is wrong.
As the Apostle Paul began his letter to the Romans he painted a dark picture of the heart of man. He uses words to describe the human condition without God that are not politically correct today. Phrases like: “the wrath of God”, “without excuse”, “darkened heart”, “became fools”, “God gave them up”, and “worthy of death” are all listed in Romans 1. The dark shadows of our sinful heart described here are truly devastating. When I was a child playing hide-and-seek outside, I often would get a little afraid of the dark. It was then I looked up. The darkness was pierced through by the brightness of the stars and moon. The stars and moon are there in the daytime as well but in order for us to appreciate the brilliance of these lights we need to see the darkness. As Romans 1 paints the picture of the dark shadows of sin we encounter a brilliant light in Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us”. In order for us to see the brilliance of the good news we must see the awful darkness of the bad news.
Jesus Christ and the good news of His salvation is the only light that will penetrate the dark shadows that are lengthening around us. May we shine the light of the gospel everywhere we go.
The hospital room was filled with family members and fellow believers as the dear saint was about to leave this present world for the glories of heaven. As our friend was going through the valley of the shadow of death someone suggested we sing. Knowing that even so close to death he may still be able to hear the sweet songs of the faith. So we joined our voices in some familiar hymns.
Paul and Silas were beaten with rods and cast into a dungeon for doing the work of Christ. We are told they were thrown into the inner prison and their feet were placed in stocks in Acts 16. Even though they must have been in pain from their beating, at midnight they chose to pray and sing hymns to God. Their joy and praise gave them the strength from being sucked into the dungeon of despair. They knew that the sufferings of this world are only temporary and they could look forward to being with Jesus for all eternity. They also knew that they had the privilege of suffering for the cause of Christ. They rested in God’s sovereign power who was able to get them out of that dungeon if He chose to do so. If you recall the rest of the story, God sent an earthquake that shook loose their bonds and led to the salvation of the jailer and his whole family.
I notice in verse 25 an interesting phrase that all of us need to remember: “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25). The prisoners saw their wounds but also heard their hymns. They knew about their pain but couldn’t keep from hearing their praise. Instead of swearing, anger, moans and groans from their beating that prison was filled with sweet songs of praise in the night.
I wonder, how do we respond in the dungeons we find ourselves in. May God teach us the power of praise. You never know who may be listening.
Our community has a gigantic Banyan tree at one of our local parks. Many folks like to take pictures of their families in front of this old tree. My daughter and her family were doing the same thing with my little grandson Taven. He was trying to put his arms around the trunk of this massive tree. No matter how much he stretched, his little boy arms were too short to give the tree a proper hug.
Do you ever get a little overwhelmed thinking of all the responsibilities that you are trying to juggle? I know that I do. It is a big job to invest the time required in our jobs, our families, our ministry responsibilities, and even maintaining our health. I feel frustrated at times that I can’t get my arms around everything. Like my little grandson I too find my arms are too short. How can we accomplish the tasks that the Lord has given us without caving in? I have found that even though my arms are too short my Heavenly Father’s arms are everlasting. When my strength is too small my Father is all powerful. When my wisdom reaches its end My Father is omniscient. God’s Word assures us in Deut. 33:27: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms”. God knows our limitations. All through the Bible He challenges His servants to be brave and do exploits for His cause. He told Moses that He would be with his mouth. He told Joshua that the walls would fall down before Him. He told Elijah that He would cause the fire to fall. He assured the disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit.
Whenever our strength comes to its end, His strength kicks in. Whenever our wisdom fails, His wisdom fills us. When our voice falters, His Spirit gives us boldness. And whenever our arms are too short, His arms are everlasting. Has God given you a task that you just can’t get your arms around? Call upon Him and ask for His arms to wrap around you.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation