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Our Lord Jesus Christ loves you.
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« Reply #2940 on: April 10, 2009, 10:32:18 AM »

 "The Hand Of God "

(Jesus said,) I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." John 15:5-7

Some people think of God as an absent father: He created the world, but does not want to get involved. Others think of God as a lenient father who quickly provides health and wealth-or anything else we may ask-if only we have enough faith. Views like these arise from an erroneous understanding of God's qualities and God's plan for our lives. Is there, perhaps, a halfway point?

What is your picture of God? Is it in line with the image the Bible shows us, or is it similar to the notions described earlier?

To believe in an absent God who does not get involved with His creation is to believe in a God without love, who feels no compassion for human misery. On the other hand, to believe in a God whose only role is to fill our needs is to believe we can manipulate God. Such a God would not judge or condemn wickedness and would be an unjust God. Does the Bible encompass these extreme interpretations? Of course not. Each complements the other.

God is a God of love. He loves us and is involved in our lives to such an extent He sent His Son, Jesus, to give us a new life, free from evil and sin. But He is also a just God and will repay the unrepentant sinner with punishment as the Scriptures say.

There is a story that tells of a shop owner, a kind man, who gave a boy a large handful of sweets and told him they were a gift. But the boy, strangely, drew back. After leaving the store, the boy's mother who was with him asked why he had suddenly acted so shyly and not taken the handful of candy when the man offered it. The boy answered, "Because his hand is so much larger than mine!"

God is a God of love. His hand is willing to give us what we need, at the right time. He is aware of our needs, and He tells us to live freely, trusting He will provide. He generously and lovingly extends the hand of salvation towards us and even gives us the faith to take hold of it in order to remain with Him and live under His blessing.
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« Reply #2941 on: April 11, 2009, 09:29:21 AM »

 "Worth Dying For"

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person -- though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die -- but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8

During the presidency of Jimmy Carter, an attempt was made to reinstate the registration for the draft.

Yes, I know I'm showing my age when I say I remember that time.

Most vividly, I recall a picture featured in many newspapers around the country. It showed a young student, who was attending Princeton University. He was not especially conspicuous other than for the sign he was carrying.

The placard read, "Nothing is worth dying for." From the crowd that surrounded him, it seemed many others shared his opinions.

As a Christian, I am most thankful Jesus did not share that student's political philosophy.

On the contrary, He believed -- He lived -- the exact opposite.

Following the plan set into motion by His Father, Jesus sacrificed Himself because He thought we were worth dying for. He lived and died to save the souls of humanity from eternal destruction and damnation.

Today, in the shadow of Good Friday, we remember His death. Christians once again see Jesus suspended on the cross, silhouetted against the dark sky, and they give thanks they have a Savior who believed they were worth dying for.
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« Reply #2942 on: April 12, 2009, 02:24:26 PM »

 "Turning The Tables"

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57

Have you ever had the tables turned on you?

I once heard about a mother and father who raised their daughter with absolute confidence in psychology.

That means, when it came time for bedtime they would say something like, "Would you like to take your doll to bed with you, or would you like to take your teddy bear?"

They were very pleased with this line of thinking. No matter what decision the child made, she was going to bed. But children are the best of psychologists and their little girl learned quickly. It didn't take too long before their three-year-old darling turned the table on mom and dad. Knowing the house rule that said she didn't go outside after supper, one evening she approached her parents and asked, "Do you want me to go out the back door or should I go out the front?"

Centuries ago, the Lord Jesus turned the tables.

Because of sin, all of humanity had been condemned to die forever. Since no one had been able to break the pattern of sin and death, there seemed to be no hope. That's the way it would have stayed if Jesus had not come. But the Son of God did come and because He lived His life without sin, because He fulfilled every Law, because He died on Calvary's cross, and because He rose on the third day, the tables were turned.

With Jesus' resurrection the last of our enemies is defeated. Because Christ is risen no longer is death unconquerable. Now, because of Jesus, believers know we shall also live with Him forever.

And that, my friends, is a table that sin, death, and devil can never turn over again. I pray you celebrate the resurrection of the Savior who has saved you.
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« Reply #2943 on: April 13, 2009, 10:18:39 AM »

 "The Name Of Jesus"

...being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:8-11

In the year 2007, the 15 most popular names given to baby boys were: Jacob, Michael, Ethan, Joshua, Daniel, Christopher, Anthony, William, Matthew, Andrew, Alexander, David, Joseph, Noah, and James. Most of those names come from the Bible.

Indeed, as I think back, I can remember baptizing a number of lads who were given those names.

On the other hand, I don't ever remember baptizing a baby whom the parents decided to name, "Diocletian."

That's kind of surprising. After all, at one time the emperor Diocletian was the most powerful man in the world. One of the richest, too.

In the battle for names, a person might think Diocletian should have the upper hand. Diocletian certainly thought so. A hater of the Savior, Diocletian once set up a stone monument on which he had these words inscribed: "For Having Exterminated The Name Christians From the Earth." That's the way he wanted to be remembered.

If Diocletian were given a glimpse of our present world, he would probably be surprised to find that Jesus has outlasted him, his armies, and his empire.

How could it be otherwise? Through His sacrifice, the sinless Son of God has given all believers salvation. Jesus' humble and horrible death on the cross was the price that has given us forgiveness and changed our eternal destinies.

Because Jesus is God's great Gift of grace it is right for us to exalt Him, praise Him, honor Him. As St. Paul wrote, 'at the Savior's Name every knee should bow... and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.'

This is precisely what we have done with our Resurrection Sunday celebrations. It is what we should do every day.
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« Reply #2944 on: April 14, 2009, 09:32:14 AM »

 "Grace Alone"

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9

Not so long ago, I read of a German businessman who became a member of the Hindu faith.

The newspaper article spoke of how he had completed his conversion by piercing his cheeks with a ╝-inch thick, four-foot-long steel rod.

Sounds pretty horrible, doesn't it?

Well, that act of self-mutilation didn't finish the man's initiation into his new faith. After the steel rod, the man pulled a cart for two miles... he pulled it by means of ropes that were attached to his back and chest with steel hooks.

Of course, the man might have shown his sorrow for sin, his repentance for wrongdoing, in many other ways. He might have walked through a long pit of burning embers; or donned shoes made of nails, or hung from hooks that were embedded in his flesh.

Understand all religions, all followers of other faiths; don't go through something this drastic or dramatic.

But you also ought to understand every other religion of the world asks its believers to do something to appease their god and earn salvation. One faith orders its followers to pray a certain number of times a day. Another calls upon the faithful to give a strict percentage of their income to charity. Every faith is different in what it asks.

The ask is different, the wish to atone for sin and balance the scales of good and evil is the same.

Only the Christian faith is blessed to have a Savior Who came down from heaven and, for a time, was made lower than the angels. Only the Christian faith says Jesus suffered and died to pay the price of sin, and to save lost humanity. Only the Christian faith says we are saved by grace through faith, and not by our own works.

Now, because of Jesus' suffering and sacrifice on Calvary's cross all who believe on Him as their Substitute are forgiven.
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« Reply #2945 on: April 15, 2009, 12:13:14 PM »

 "The Name"

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11

When Alexander the Great died, his empire was divided up.

The country of Egypt was given to Ptolemy, a general, ruler, astronomer, and mathematician. Oh, he was also a lighthouse builder. Ptolemy's architect, Sostratus did such a good job at designing the lighthouse at Alexandria that it became one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Now, Sostratus' mom didn't raise no fool.

He knew this lighthouse was a big deal. Hoping he might be remembered, Sostratus wanted to have his name inscribed at the base. His boss, Ptolemy thought differently. Ptolemy wanted his name to be written down so he would get the credit.

Sostratus worked out a solution. In beautiful, eye-catching lettering, he ordered Ptolemy's name to be written in plaster. The craftsmanship was beautiful. What he didn't tell Ptolemy is that he, Sostratus, had his name cut deeply into the granite which was underneath the plaster. Sostratus knew the continuous lashing of the sea would eventually erode the plastered name of Ptolemy and expose the name of Sostratus.

This leads me to ask, "What Name is carved into your heart and soul?" There are two individuals who wish to claim you: the Savior, Jesus, and the charlatan, Satan.

Jesus has shown His love for you in giving Himself as the Substitute, the Sacrifice Who would win our forgiveness. By Christ's work believers are justified, made right with the Father. In spite of what Jesus has done, Satan still wishes to put his name on us and claim us as his own.

Through the washing of Baptism, through Spirit-given-and-maintained faith, the Name we ought be proud to bear is that of Jesus.

As St. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth: believers have been washed, they have been sanctified, justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.'

In short, when anyone looks at us, listens to us, they ought to say, "I see this person belongs to Jesus."
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« Reply #2946 on: April 16, 2009, 10:44:03 AM »

 "Meeting Together"

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

Easter is over; the colored eggs have been made into egg salad and the fake green grass has been vacuumed up.

This Sunday will be the Sunday after the Resurrection.

This reminds me of a story that needs to be shared. Several centuries ago, in an Alpine village, a respected nobleman wondered what might be the legacy he would leave to his people. He eventually decided on the construction of a small chapel.

As this was a gift, no one was allowed to see the interior of the chapel until it was completed. At its dedication the villagers were awed by its beauty, its elegance, its completeness.

Everything was there for worship, except for the lights.

Why weren't there any lights? With a smile, the wise nobleman pointed to the brackets on the wall. As he did so, his servants passed out lamps to each family. He explained, "Each time you come to worship, the area where you are seated will be filled with light, and each time you are not here, the area will be dark."

I like that story.

Now, let me explain its purpose.

As a pastor who served parishes for 25 years, I remember the Sunday after the Resurrection, along with the Sunday after Christmas. They are some of the most poorly attended worship gatherings of the church year.

Please don't let that happen.

Don't let the place where you ought to be sitting go dark. Yes, your exhausted choir may be taking a break, and the pastor may still be tired from last week. But the risen Savior is there, and He is as worthy of adoration this weekend as He was last.

This is just the Daily Devotion's way of stirring you up to love and good works... and encouraging you not to neglect to meet together.
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« Reply #2947 on: April 17, 2009, 09:19:04 AM »

 "Can Someone Help Me?"

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Psalm 32:8


Sometimes the help we need the most, we find the hardest to ask for.

Oppressed by her guilt feelings, Ana looked for help. As she searched for someone to assist her, she felt no one understood. She was invited by a neighbor to attend a Bible study. There she had the opportunity to learn about the Word of God and felt she could ask for help. With a shy voice and a broken heart she asked, "Can someone help me? I feel so guilty."

"Yes!" was the answer that was heard. The silence was deep.

"Who?" Ana asked, looking around her.

"God," was the reply.

God! Yes, God can help you. Many people live carrying terrible burdens of guilt because they don't know where to look or refuse to receive help offered them because it comes in a way different than they expected.

God is our help. He has His eyes on each one of us. He hears every request we make. He creates the opportunity to share our concerns and leads us in our search. Many times our load of guilt makes us tired and weak. But God's love is bigger and offers peace through Jesus Christ, His Son.

Do we feel imprisoned by concern, anguish, and guilt? God, through Jesus, invites us to lay our burden at the cross. In Him we can find real forgiveness and peace, because He has taken the weight of our guilt to the cross, and we have the blessing of being able to serve and help others to know God's power and presence. In this way, everyone glorifies Him.
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« Reply #2948 on: April 18, 2009, 09:58:33 AM »

 "Power And Love"


For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:16-17

Dolly Madison is more than a company that makes Zingers« and powdered donuts.

Dolly Madison, wife of the fourth president of the United States, remains one of the most popular women in American history.

Wherever she went, Dolly managed to charm and captivate just about everyone. It didn't matter if a person was unknown or famous, rich or poor, man or woman. People liked Dolly.

Once, when she was asked to explain the secret of her power over others, Mrs. Madison seemed surprised. Quickly she replied, "Power over people? I have no such power. I desire no such power. I merely love everyone."

Not too many of us can say that without hearing other folks break into laughter.

As a Christian, we know the one other Person who did love everyone: the Lord Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, Jesus was not universally loved in return. He was hated by religious leaders, the establishment, and others who were jealous of Him.

Even so, Jesus kept on loving. When one of His best "friends" betrayed Him, He kept loving. When they lied about Him at His trial, He continued to love. Even when they crucified Him, He forgave those who put Him there.

And why did Jesus love so intensely, sacrifice Himself so completely? It had nothing to do with seeking power or fame. Jesus so loved the world that through Him it might be saved. Won't you join with me in loving our Savior, who first loved us?
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« Reply #2949 on: April 19, 2009, 10:46:11 AM »

 "Three Point Nine"

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10

One morning while driving in to work, I was almost pushed off the road by a very reckless driver.

The man carelessly switched from one lane to another and, in so doing, put himself, and a lot of others folks in danger.

I wondered, "How much time did he save driving like a nut?" That question was answered by Cliff Bergere, a one-time driver at the Indianapolis Speedway. As an experiment, Cliff was asked to drive a 15-block course in Colorado Springs. Cliff followed the traffic rules and finished in 9 minutes and 35.1 seconds.

Then, with police permission, he did the same course at illegal speeds. He broke 52 traffic rules and cut a grand total of 3.9 seconds off his time. If you're like me, you may conclude 3.9 seconds isn't worth the risk.

Of course, we're just talking about driving here. I wonder, "How many of us don't do that kind of thing in our lives?" Think of how many of us are rushing, pushing, driving our days at breakneck speed.

And, for what purpose? What does it get us?

The Lord has given us a beautiful world, and many wonderful people surround us. Because of Jesus' sacrifice and redemption, the really big problems of life have been taken care of. As for life's other problems, well, God has blessed us, and it is right we take time to appreciate His blessings. That's what Psalm 46 wants us to do: be still and know the Lord.

And, as a final thought, if you're not ready to do it for yourself, please do it for the peace of the folks around you.
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« Reply #2950 on: April 20, 2009, 09:28:46 AM »

 "A Ransom"


Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28

Captain Richard Phillips is saved.

The message of Captain Phillips' rescue was one that heated up the wires of the world's news services. Christians who heard the story of how Captain Phillips had been moved from life to death in the late hours of Resurrection Sunday thought the story to be most appropriate.

For days the world had waited to see what would happen to the captain who had been willing to offer himself as a substitute for his crew.

Would he die? Would he be rescued? Would the pirates manage to get him to a place where he would never be found, or could never be brought to safety? These were the questions that prompted concern from almost everyone, which motivated countless prayers from Christian hearts everywhere.

And then, in a second, and on the day Jesus rose from the dead, Captain Phillips also had been saved from what seemed to be certain death.

But there is a difference between the rescue of Captain Phillips and the Savior's rescue of humanity. There is a big difference.

Captain Phillips was given a new lease on life because of the incredible marksmanship and skill of some Navy SEAL sharpshooters. And, as much as I admire and applaud the accuracy of those shooters, their work pales when compared with the work of the Savior.

Indeed, Jesus' entire life had been spent fulfilling the Father's commandments; every day was filled with Jesus resisting Satan's temptations. Then, upon Calvary's cross, Jesus gave Himself as our substitute. In short, Jesus didn't shoot a bullet to save us; He took the bullet, which sin, death, and the devil had aimed against us.

This is why, even as I give thanks for the rescue of Captain Phillips, I am even more thankful for the Savior who rescues sinners.
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« Reply #2951 on: April 21, 2009, 11:10:54 AM »

 "The Real Jesus"

Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead -- by Him this man is standing before you well. Acts 4:10, 12

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

"Salvation in no one else."

The world finds those words to be narrow-minded, politically incorrect, foolish, and false. At least that's the opinion of an article carried by LiveScience. While the story admitted Jesus had actually lived, it still managed to cast considerable doubt on the story of the Savior as it is told in Scripture.

Among the most questioned aspects of Jesus' life -- and you're probably not surprised by this -- is His resurrection from the dead. Without giving reason or proof, the article says, and I quote, ". . . the importance of the less 'plausible' stories found in the Bible -- such as the resurrection -- lies not in whether they actually happened but in what they meant to Jesus' followers."

Peter and the apostles of Pentecost would have disagreed. They did disagree as they said, "there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

St. Paul would have disagreed too. Indeed, he did disagree when he wrote, "if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied" (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).

So much did these men disagree with the doubters, so strongly did they believe Jesus physically rose from the dead that they, themselves, were willing to die rather than deny this soul-saving truth. Thanks be to God!

Their dedication to the truth reminds us this world has, for centuries, been spreading lies about what happened on Resurrection Sunday. That we expect. What we don't anticipate is so many churches are allowing those lies to stand.

All of this means we who believe in the truth of Scripture must hold fast to the truth, God's truth, which says, only in Christ crucified and risen is there salvation.
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« Reply #2952 on: April 22, 2009, 12:04:17 PM »

 "A Good Foundation"

If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:14-15

It's been a good many years since I was in Yankton, South Dakota.

Even so, I'm incredibly proud of the 500 families who make up St. John's Lutheran Church, and I give thanks for the pastors who serve as undershepherds of that flock.

And if you're wondering why they were selected for honorable mention in today's Daily Devotion, I will be more than glad to share: right before Holy Week, St. John's Church had a fire, a fire which caused about $2 million worth of damage.

After close inspection, the state fire marshal and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators agreed: the fire was the result of arson.

What a tragedy! What a terrible cross for a congregation to carry!

But tragedy does not make me sing the praises of these folks. No, I am thankful that these pastors and this parish have had their faith built upon Jesus Christ, the Savior.

Immediately after the fire, church leaders started salvaging personal effects and hauling debris to the dumpsters. The preschool was relocated and an alternative site was found for worship.

But what is most pleasing is this: Pastor Gunderson said, "People will come together over this." He is right. Knowing the power of the Holy Spirit, the pastor was able to preach a message about how their gracious God will bring the congregation through this test of faith.

That's what he said. Then he added, "Our goal is to continue to lift high the cross."

Did I say this fire was a tragedy? Let's change that to "this fire has become an opportunity for St. John's to witness to their invincible Lord!"

That is the kind of witness Christian martyrs have made over the centuries; it's the kind of proclamation Christians continue to make every time they entrust their future into the hands of the crucified and ever-living Savior. It's the kind of witness that allows believers to say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6b)
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« Reply #2953 on: April 23, 2009, 09:36:25 AM »

 "Not Even A Nice Place To Visit"

And he said, "No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent." Luke 16:30

Forbes Traveler, a respected name for people who love to hit the road and see the Lord's wonderful world, has come up with a list.

The list is composed of the world's top tourist traps.

You know, the kind of "must-see" destinations where you pay five times what you should for a souvenir that has been made elsewhere, where you see crowds of tourists, not natives, where billboards cover anything that is sight-worthy.

When I read that story I said to myself, "Ah, ha! Wall Drug, South Dakota." Now, please don't get upset. I love Wall Drug; I always stop there when I'm traveling across that beautiful state. Mostly, I love Wall Drug because it pretty much admits to being a tourist trap.

But Wall Drug did not appear on Forbes' list. Instead, they had places like Fisherman's Wharf and the Great Pyramid in Egypt. Forbes listed locations like Times Square, Blarney Castle, the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and St. Mark's Square in Venice. I was shocked, because, with the exception of one or two of those places, I have been to them all.

Although everybody has a different list of places to avoid, there is one location that ought to be on everyone's list. No, it's not the local shopping mall the day after Thanksgiving. I'm talking about hell. Hell is the place we should avoid. True, it's got a good, wide road leading there, and the attractions that line the route are tempting to the eye and enticing to the soul. Even so, anyone who has gone there has been disappointed -- really disappointed.

That certainly was the case for the rich man in Jesus' parable. He was so sad he had gone to hell, he asked for a living-dead person to be sent to warn his brothers.

You would think a resurrected individual would detour folks from hell to heaven. You'd think so, but that isn't always the case. Jesus, God's perfect Son, was crucified and has returned to warn us. In spite of Jesus being the Conqueror over death, people continue to doubt and disbelieve. They prefer to go to the devil's ultimate tourist trap.

This is why we Christians must continue to share the Savior who is the only Guide and the exclusive Giver of heaven. We want to help them avoid the tourist trap where no one ever leaves.
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« Reply #2954 on: April 24, 2009, 09:14:18 AM »

 "It Is Well With Your Soul"

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33


When I first heard the story of the famous song, "When Peace Like a River," I asked myself why is it that God allows His people to go through such sufferings and calamities. What will our friends and relatives say about God when things go bad for us?

The songwriter of the well-known song had a similar experience, and this is what influenced him to write the song. He was a lawyer who had amassed wealth through his labor but lost all his properties through a fire. Surprisingly, his trust in God was not affected a bit. As if that was not enough, while crossing the Atlantic, all four of his daughters died in a collision with another ship. His wife survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone."

What a tragedy! What a calamity in the life of a Christian. When he received the message, he was never worried about his trust in His God but wrote the wonderful song which said, "Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul."

Amazing as it may seem, God has truly taught us to say, "it is well" when we encounter unfortunate circumstances. He promises us in His Word that He told us these things, so that we may have peace. In this world we will have trouble; however, we should take heart because Christ has overcome the world through His perfect life, His sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection. What a comforting and refreshing message for all of us as we are going through troubles.

We need the Word of God to strengthen us each day of our lives so as not to lean on our own strength but to put all our trust in the Lord who will guide our paths. In this regard, when calamity befalls us, we are sure God will empower us and we can also say, "It is, indeed, well with my soul."
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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