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But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.
-1 Thessalonians 2:17-20
BY MRS. CHARLES COWMAN
In Streams in the Desert
"Alone" (Deut. 32:12).
"The hill was steep, but cheered along the way
By converse sweet, I mounted on the thought
That so it might be till the height was reached;
But suddenly a narrow winding path
Appeared, and then the Master said, 'My child,
Here thou wilt safest walk with Me alone.'
"I trembled, yet my heart's deep trust replied,
'So be it, Lord.' He took my feeble hand
In His, accepting thus my will to yield Him
All, and to find all in Him.
One long, dark moment,
And no friend I saw, save Jesus only.
"But oh! so tenderly He led me on
And up, and spoke to me such words of cheer,
Such secret whisperings of His wondrous love,
That soon I told Him all my grief and fear,
And leaned on His strong arm confidingly.
"And then I found my footsteps quickened,
And light ineffable, the rugged way
Illumined, such light as only can be seen
In close companionship with God.
"A little while, and we shall meet again
The loved and lost; but in the rapturous joy
Of greetings, such as here we cannot know,
And happy song, and heavenly embraces,
And tender recollections rushing back
Of pilgrim life, methinks one memory
More dear and sacred than the rest, shall rise,
"And we who gather in the golden streets,
Shall oft be stirred to speak with grateful love
Of that dark day when Jesus bade us climb
Some narrow steep, leaning on Him alone."
"There is no high hill but beside some deep valley.
There is no birth without a pang."
The public domain version of this classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert. It is shared from here with permission.
Devotions.org, a division of Back to Bible has a daily source of devotions to keep you in touch with God and His word, written by some of today's top authors and Bible teachers. Browse the variety of resources completely on their website.
More of Devotions.Org: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions
Making Peace -
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. —Matthew 6:14-15
Leonardo da Vinci painted one of the greatest masterpieces in the history of the world. The work of art is called The Last Supper. Few people know the story behind the creation of this famous painting.
Da Vinci had an enemy who was also a painter. Right before da Vinci began to paint the picture of Jesus with His disciples, he had a bitter argument with his enemy. When da Vinci painted the face of Judas Iscariot, he used the face of his enemy as a reference so that his enemy would be present for ages as the man who betrayed Jesus. While painting the picture, da Vinci took delight in knowing that others would actually notice the face of his enemy on Judas.
He continued painting the faces of the other disciples and often tried to paint the face of Jesus, but he could not make any progress. Da Vinci was frustrated and confused. In time, he realized what was wrong. His hatred for the other painter was holding him back from finishing the face of Jesus. After making peace with his fellow painter and repainting the face of Judas, he was able to paint the face of Jesus and complete his masterpiece.*
Is there a broken relationship in your life that needs mending? Pray that God will give you courage to take the next step toward reconciliation.
1. What was the lesson Leonardo da Vinci learned?
2. Is there someone in your life you need to forgive to make peace with God and that person?
* “Leonardo da Vinci,” Story of Love.
Jim Burns is President of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family @ Azusa Pacific University. Jim speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has over 1.5 million resources in print in over 25 languages. Jim’s radio broadcast is heard on over 800 stations a day and heard around the world via podcast at HomeWord.com.
Some of his recent books include: Faith Conversations for Families; Teenology: The Art of Raising Great Teenagers, Closer: 52 Devotions to Draw Couples Together, Confident Parenting, The Purity Code and Creating an Intimate Marriage. Jim and his wife, Cathy and their three daughters Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi live in Southern California.
More of Jim Burns: www.homeword.com
PRAISING GOD -
In Early in the Morning
And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even.
King David, who himself had been a fugitive and a wanderer for many years of his life, would have liked nothing better than to build a permanent dwelling place for the ark of the covenant. But because he was a man of war, Jehovah would not permit David to realize this privilege, so David "called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build an house to the LORD God of Israel" (1 Chronicles 22:6).
The zealous David did all he could to help in the preparations for the building of this temple. He gathered materials, prepared iron for nails and had a crew of masons readied. But an even greater contribution than arranging for the materials may have been David's initiation of the first full choral service. In conjunction with the chief of the Levites, David set apart three families and commissioned them to the service of the temple. These were not just singers, but prophets as well, "to prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals" (1 Chronicles 25:1). Generation after generation their instruction was handed down from father to son, and their art and musical skills were carefully perpetuated.
These families were those of Asaph, the son of Berechiah the Gershonite, the chief singer and also a distinguished seer; of Heman the Kohathite, the grandson of the prophet Samuel and himself "the king's seer in the words of God" (1 Chronicles 25:5); and of Jeduthun (or Ethan), a Merarite, who is also called "the king's seer." Each of the names of these leaders is found in the titles or superscriptions of selected psalms in the Psalter.
From 1 Chronicles 23-25 we learn that the numbers of Levites involved in the service of the temple and tabernacle was enormous. The three families numbered 288 principal singers, divided into 24 courses of 12 each. The total number of Levites engaged in the important task of praising Jehovah with the instruments which David made was 4,000. Six thousand were designated as officers and judges, 4,000 were set apart to be doorkeepers, and the remaining 24,000 Levites were designated to the general "work of the house of Jehovah."
Although to us their work may appear to be mundane, it certainly was not to them. They were to wait on the priests for the service of the house of Jehovah, purifying the holy place and the holy things, preparing the shewbread and the meat offering and assisting in the offering of burnt sacrifices on the sabbaths and on feast days. But perhaps their greatest duty, as well as their greatest delight, was "to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord and likewise at even" (1 Chronicles 23:30).
Rising early in the morning, these Levites would initiate the praise to Jehovah that day. This was not only a responsible position but a very meaningful one as well. Psalm 88, a psalm for the sons of Korah designated as a Maschil of Heman, gives a fine example of what these Levites may have said morning after morning in praising Jehovah. "But unto Thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent [come before] Thee" (Psalm 88:13).
Rising early in the morning to initiate a day filled with praise to God is our privilege as well. May we be as faithful in exercising that privilege as David's choirmasters were. Faithfulness in early praise to God may make the difference between a good day and a bad day.
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty!
God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!
Devotional is used with permission from the author. It may be used solely for personal, noncommercial, and informational purposes. Republication or redistribution of this devotional is prohibited.
Dr. Woodrow Kroll served as President and Senior Bible Teacher at Back to the Bible from 1990-2013. Author of more than 50 books, Dr. Kroll's passion is to increase Bible literacy in America by engaging people in the Bible and connecting them with the Author. His clear, incisive teaching of the Word keeps him in demand as a speaker all over the world. - See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/authors/woodrow-kroll#sthash.7Yrcap6W.dpuf
More of Dr. Woodrow Kroll: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions
Muscle Imbalance -
This devotional was written by Leslie Snyder
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. —James 2:14-17
I love to work out. In fact, it’s my favorite hobby. If I have any extra time in the day, you’ll likely find me at the gym, walking in my neighborhood, or lifting weights. As I am learning, muscles work in pairs: biceps and triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings, abdominals and back, and so on. The best strength trainers know that in order for the body to be at its strongest and, in order to protect the corresponding joint from injury, both major muscles in the pair must be balanced. If not, imbalance and, therefore, injury are just around the corner.
In a spiritual sense, the Scriptures indicate that there must be a healthy balance between having faith and what you do. Having one without the other results in imbalance. James argues,
You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that say, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. James 2:20-24
Faith and action go hand in hand. It’s not enough to believe what Scripture says, we must actually do what it tells us to do. Believing that the Bible says to feed the poor is not enough. We must act to feed the poor. The same goes for sharing with those in need, visiting the sick and imprisoned, or caring for the needs of the orphaned and widowed. Faith propels us into action. So whether you’re working out in the gym or working out your faith in your daily routine, remember that the muscles, both in the body and in the spirit, work best in pairs.
Faith lived out is hard work, but it’s worth every ounce of effort put into it. Today, feed your faith with action.
James 1:22; Matthew 25:31-46
This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.
More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/