Deception Overcome

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When I read that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9), I often focus on the “desperately sick” aspect, recognizing the darkness of the human heart. But I don’t always consider the rest of the verse. Jeremiah also writes that the heart is deceitful above all things, asking, “Who can understand it?” The heart defies understanding by men. We do not know ourselves like we think we do. Thankfully, as Jeremiah shows, God searches the hearts and tests the minds of men, knowing us better than we know ourselves (Jeremiah 17:10).

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What Good is Sorrow?

Sorrow

I read Paul’s promise that God causes all things to work together for good for his people, and I think of Joseph. He recognized God’s divine purposes at work throughout the evil actions of his brothers, and, in so doing, he became a living example of the truth Paul later proclaims (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28). No act, however evil, can thwart God’s sovereign purpose; he can use “all things” (Romans 8:28). When I consider this truth, I tend to associate the promise with the externals of life, which leaves me to wonder if the promise also rings true for the internals. I know God works through even the vilest of events which afflict us; does he work through our sorrow as well?

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Fellowship

Frodo could not have made it to Mount Doom without the help of the fellowship. Sure, he wasn’t completely helpless on his own; he showed surprising resilience and courage throughout the journey. In fact, the strength of hobbits continually surprised the peoples of Middle Earth throughout the story of The Lord of the Rings. But the truth remains that the fellowship, that band of nine commissioned to carry the ring of power to its destruction, were crucial to Frodo’s success. The fellowship challenged Frodo to grow beyond what he had once thought possible for himself, and, because of their influence, he was able to complete his mission. Continue reading

Daniel and Christmas

In the book of Daniel, we read of a handful of God-fearing men who were taken from their homeland and were brought to Babylon to be trained for service to the king. Because of their devotion to the Lord, these men stood out from their peers in wisdom and understanding (Daniel 1:17-21), earning them high places before the king. The stories of how God used these men are extraordinary, so it’s no surprise that many of us learned these stories in Sunday School classes and Vacation Bible Schools growing up. Yet these stories are not just for children.

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A Prayer that Led to Death

Have you ever read something that made you second guess your level of devotion to the Lord? I recently started reading through The Journals of Jim Elliot, and I’ve started wondering if I even know the Lord at all. Ok, that’s probably an exaggeration. But Elliot’s heart for God, his concern for holiness, and his bold prayers challenge my weak faith. He follows a simple model in journaling: he simply reads a chapter in Scripture, finds a point of application, and then prays for growth in godliness. His method isn’t complicated. Even the youngest Christian can follow his format. And yet, by his simple faith and obedience, Elliot models a vibrant walk with the Lord. I’m currently reading through his thoughts on Exodus (which have been incredibly sobering), and I’ve found myself speechless before his testimony. As I was reading through his journal entries, one entry in particular struck me.
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