“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…Let us fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a NIV).

A baton strikes a music stand. Absolute silence falls on the auditorium. All eyes fix on the 500-voice choir—all of their eyes are fixed on the director.

He lifts his baton and the orchestra plays. A few measures later, he brings in the sopranos followed by the alto section, then the men. They have learned to read his hand gestures, large and small. When to hush. When to soar. When to accent. When to cut short. When to start. When to stop,

Just as those singers follow their conductor, so also Christians follow the lead of their conductor, Jesus Christ.

The author of Hebrews describes the Christian life as a race. From start to finish, we can fix our eyes on the finish line where Jesus waits. He set the standard for all who have followed when He ran the first heat.

The contest takes perseverance. It’s more of a marathon than a sprint. The course is clearly marked, the rules given in the word of God, and our breath comes from the Holy Spirit. Jesus knows the best way to run. He teaches us how to persevere. The race wasn’t easy for Him either. He endured the cross—and the scorn that came with it.

Like the orchestra conductor, Jesus will tell you when to move quickly and when to slow down. When you follow His instruction, you won’t grow weary. With Him as your compass, you won’t lose your way. He and the Holy Spirit go with you—so fix your eyes on your leader and do as He says.

Darlene Franklin is a best-selling Amazon and ECPA author whose greatest claim to fame is that she continues to write from a nursing home. She keeps going because God keeps giving her more assignments. She’s written more than fifty-five fiction and nonfiction books, including Pray Through the Bible in a Year, Of Cash and Cats, and Love Comes on Kitten Paws. Follow her at https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFranklinFun/.

 

 

 

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Have you ever asked, “Why this waste?”

While Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman brought an alabaster box containing expensive perfume and poured it on his head.

“Why this waste?” said the disciples, indignant. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

The woman’s deed was to prepare him for burial, Jesus said. “Wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (see Matthew 26:6-13).

In baffling times when I could see no purpose, I’ve asked, “Why this waste?” Someone I loved was disabled by a devastating disease. A friend’s young child died tragically.

What good could come from such waste?

Scripture gave answers.

  • We may comfort others. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
  • Others see our faith. “Then the Lord said: ‘I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you” (Exodus 34:10).
  • We share in the fellowship of Christ’s suffering. “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10).
  • We learn obedience, as Jesus did. “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8 KJV).

God never wastes an experience. Knowing he’s weaving everything together with purpose satisfies me.

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She serves as secretary of Christian Authors Network and is a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

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“Your mother is dying.”

My mind understood the doctor’s words, but my heart refused to believe them. Only a few days prior, my ninety-four-year-old mother had taken a day trip to Reno with my husband. How could she be dying?

Why now, God?

This was supposed to be the weekend I would put the final touches on my novel before sending it to my agent.

Too many circumstances in the past six months had kept me from diligently writing. Moving in with my mom after her stroke. Readying our house for sale. Packing the things of my own I wanted to keep. Thanksgiving, Christmas, visiting with my daughter’s family on their return from overseas. Stomach flu – three times in two months.

And now, this.

I was afraid.

Afraid if I don’t keep writing, my agent will drop me.

Afraid if I don’t finish my next project soon, I’ll never find a publisher.

Afraid if I don’t keep blogging and posting on social media, I will lose the tiny bit of platform I’ve gained.

Afraid to watch my mother die.

Like the song from Christian recording artist, Zach Williams, “Fear, he is a liar.”

God’s word is the truth.

“Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3).

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

“The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16: 9).

Though I’m afraid and overwhelmed, God is showering me with His peace as I meditate on His word. I encourage you to “take His yoke upon you” so He can give you rest.

Jane Daly is a banker by day, blogger by night. She makes her home in Northern California with her husband of forty years and two cats. Connect with her and see her published books at www.janeSdaly.com. Check out her blog, The Caregiving Season.

 

 

 

 

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One summer I visited sites of the seven churches of Revelation (Rev. 1–3). A congregation at each of these sites received a message from Jesus Christ. And while two thousand years separate us, their messages from Christ are still relevant.

Ephesus: The Ephesians lost their first love. Think about this. Nobody has to tell a fiancée to avoid flirting. Her actions reveal her loyalty. Do your works give evidence of your love?

Smyrna:  Many think “Smyrna” is a Greek translation of the Hebrew “myrrh.” To make myrrh, one must crush a fragrant plant. In suffering, are you giving off a fragrant aroma to God?

Pergamum: Pergamum’s people worshiped at the temples of false gods. Yet sadly it was the words of their own teachers that pulled down the Christians. Are you discerning what is true?

Thyatira: Many experts think heretics encouraged Christian business owners here to join trade guilds that brought profits but involved immoralities. Are you compromising vs. enduring consequences for doing right?

Sardis: Smug citizens of Sardis felt nothing could reach them as they sat atop a 1,500-foot cliff. Yet Sardis fell to Cyrus after a soldier openly accessed a secret passageway. In what ways are you complacent about your strengths?

Philadelphia: Philadelphia had a long history of earthquakes. When the shaking stopped, only pillars were left standing. To people with little strength in Philadelphia, Jesus promised, “I will make you pillars.” Are you feeling weak in the faith? Ask God to help you endure to the end.

Laodicea: Water traveled six miles through an aqueduct to reach Laodicea. Mountain water arrived at “room-temperature” and steaming water from hot springs arrived lukewarm (see photo). Christ warned those in Laodicea against the “lukewarm” temperature of ho-hum faith. In what areas of your spiritual life are you passionless?

We need the same warnings as did our first-century brothers and sisters. And we also receive the same promises. Though poor, we can be rich. And we can dwell as pillars in the city of our God.

Dr. Sandra Glahn is a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. She’s the author or co-author of more than twenty books including the Coffee Cup series. Learn more about the Book of Revelation by using her study Sumatra with the Seven Churches.

 

 

 

 

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Gracious God,

thank you for the smell of pencil shavings,

the elegance of a good fountain pen,

and the click-clack of ancient typewriter keys…

for the intoxication of creative juices,

the sweetness of a well-turned phrase…

for the creak of the office chair,

and the surprise of a catch in the throat

and the salty track of a tear on the cheek…

for the hum of a computer,

for the thrum of a printer,

for the agony of the blank page,

the ecstasy of the last line,

the terror of hitting “send”

and the fragrance of fresh ink on crisp new pages.

Thank you, Lord, for these gifts and graces,

and for the many others I am too dull to sense,

in Jesus’ name, amen.

Bob Hostetler is the author of fifty books, including The Bard and the Bible: A Shakespeare Devotional, and Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door (coauthored with Josh McDowell). He has won two Gold Medallion Awards, four Ohio Associated Press awards, and an Amy Foundation Award. He is the founding pastor of Cobblestone Community Church in Oxford, Ohio. He and his wife Robin have two grown children, Aubrey and Aaron, and five grandchildren. You can find out more on his website: http://www.bobhostetler.com.

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