Lee Bontrager is an Amish man with a unique skill. He is a master at restoring old or broken furniture. My wife and I possessed an antique oak rocking chair that was given to us by one of our former churches. It was used to rock the babies to sleep in the church nursery. The chair had a broken board, loose joints, and the finish was marred by many years of use and abuse. Lee took our treasure home and begin to work his magic. A couple of weeks later our rocker came out of Lee’s workshop fully restored. He restored our chair to a renewed beauty and usefulness.
Lee is a master at restoring old and broken furniture. However Jesus is the master of restoring broken lives. Our Lord can take a life that has been broken and scarred by sin and run him through His workshop of love and grace. He sees the value in us when everyone else considers us worthless. The restoration process starts when He saves us from sin but it doesn’t stop there. The Lord tells us in that beautiful verse in Psalm 23:3: “He restores my soul, He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake”. When we drift away from Him like a wandering sheep, He goes after us. He calls us by name to return from our wandering and brings us back. When we constantly disobey Him we may even experience the restoration of discipline.
Jesus always has us in his workshop for one thing or another. He may be sanding off some rough edges, gluing a broken character, tightening some loose screws, or applying a new coat of Christlikeness to our lives. He is actively restoring our soul. No matter how strong we may feel, our Lord is not finished with us yet. He is constantly working in our lives to create a renewed beauty and usefulness. When we get to heaven we will be fully restored and reflect the glory of our wonderful Master.
Hurry, busyness, and hectic schedules seem to consume us. We rush around trying to cram more into our days with little time to communicate with our friends and families. We live life in the fast lane, drive through for fast food, and leave out letters in our texts so we can even communicate fast. We seem to be addicted to the rush of our own adrenaline.
Our Lord gives us some wonderful healing words in Psalm 23 that if we listen to them will work wonders for us. Ps. 23:2 says: “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters”. Since the Lord is our shepherd He knows exactly what we need. We need rest and refreshment. When the Lord created the earth He even dedicated one day for rest. Jesus when traveling with his disciples saw that they were so busy in the work of ministry that they didn’t even take time to eat so He told them in Mark 6:31: “And He said to them, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat”. The prophet Elijah who was discouraged and wearied from serving the Lord boldly was told by an angel to take time to eat and rest. The Good Shepherd knows what we need and sometimes He has to make us lie down in green pastures and He has to lead us beside the still waters. Jesus invited people to come to Him and He would give them rest (Matt. 11:28).
Sheep eat grass. Green pastures provided all they needed to nourish their bodies. God’s sheep need to eat as well. Our food is the life giving nourishment of God’s Word. As we feed ourselves daily by reading, studying and meditating on scripture we will be rested and refreshed spiritually.
Someone once said that the bow that is constantly bent will break. I’m afraid that too many of God’s servants are in desperate need of spiritual rest. Look for those green pastures and still waters.
Political candidates often use bumper stickers to summarize their message. They often try to create a movement that people will join. However after the elections things change. On the way to the post office the other day I saw a leftover bumper sticker from the last election that gave the candidate’s name and underneath the words: real hope, real change. I have often thought how easy it is to make these kind of promises but how difficult or nearly impossible it is to fulfill them.
Real hope and real change is not a political promise from our Lord. He not only offers it to anyone and everyone but He has the power to deliver. Jesus offers real change to everyone who believes in Him. God’s Word tells us in 2 Cor. 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”. When we accept Him as our Savior He changes our condition from sinner to saint, He changes our destination from hell to heaven, and He changes our purpose from a self-focus to a heavenly-focus. He changes our desires, our demeanor, and our deeds. Everywhere Jesus walked he changed people. He changed the dead to living, the blind to seeing and the lame to walking.
Our Lord also gives us real hope. Hope is not just wishful thinking, it is confident expectation. Our Lord promises us the hope of complete salvation from our sins. He guarantees that if we place our faith in Him we will enjoy eternal life with Him in heaven. We have the confidence that we will get a new body with no more pain, sorrow or tears. We also have something that the Bible calls the blessed hope in Titus 2:13: “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”. We have the promise that one day Jesus himself will come back and take us with Him to heaven.
I just thought of a neat bumper sticker: “Jesus, Real Hope and Real Change”. He gets my vote!
Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is located on Sanibel Island in Southwest Florida. Named for its benefactor J. Norwood Darling the refuge was created on Sanibel Island from land donated by concerned citizens. The 6,300 acre refuge has been protecting wildlife since 1945 but officially renamed in Darling’s honor in 1967. 245 species of birds have been sighted at the refuge which has also become home to dozens of protected wildlife. Recently I had the privilege of visiting this island refuge and enjoyed the unspoiled beauty of this area.
The wildlife that make this place their home have a place to thrive without human encroachment or destruction of habitat. They won’t be hunted or harassed. They won’t be threatened or caged. The idea of a place of escape and safety is something that we humans need as well. In the Old Testament, cities of refuge were established for people as places of protection from hasty retribution. These cities were types of the greatest refuge of all: Jesus Christ. Heb. 6:18-20 tells us: “That by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus…” The Lord Jesus suffered the punishment for our sins by His death on the cross. We were guilty and we were hunted and haunted by our sins. There was no place to run and nowhere to hide. But then Jesus came and provided a refuge from our wild sinful life. He became heaven’s wildlife refuge.
I will probably visit Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge again when the winter birds return and enjoy the protection of this special place. Have you discovered the greatest refuge of all? Have you personally fled for refuge to Jesus Christ and made Him your Savior and Lord?
A serious crime was committed in our community some time back. After the investigation was completed the trial began. After both sides presented their cases the jury was sent out to deliberate. The jury came back with a guilty verdict. During the deliberation the jury asked for the video footage of the person in black who was filmed committing the crime. They paid close attention to the unusual walk of the criminal and then compared it to the walk of the accused. It was a match. One of the factors that led to a guilty verdict from the jury was the walk of the suspect.
Someone once asked that if you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you. The Word of God gives us great challenges regarding our walk with Jesus Christ. Our distinctive behavior should set us apart. We are to walk worthy of the calling with which we have been called (Eph. 4:1). We are told not to walk as other Gentiles walk (Eph. 4:17). God challenges us to walk in love because it shows we are imitating our Father (Eph. 5:1,2). We find that God instructs us to walk as children of light (Eph. 5:8) and to walk carefully redeeming the time because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15,16). All through the scriptures we find time after time that we are not only to believe right we are also to behave right.
I wonder if people can quickly tell that we are Christ followers by looking at our walk. Does it have that distinctive Jesus gait? Those who claim to know the Lord are always being observed. People are watching us to make sure that our lives match our lips. God can even use our walk to bring conviction in the hearts of those who observe us. Husbands can be won to Christ by the beautiful behavior of the wife (1 Pet. 3:1,2). Children can return to the Lord by seeing the consistent Christlike behavior of their parents. Coworkers can come under conviction when they observe that there’s somethings different about that guy. May we all be found guilty and convicted by our walk with Jesus.
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