The Great Healer

I am the Lord, who heals you. —Exodus 15:26

The doctors I know are smart, hard-working, and compassionate. They have relieved my suffering on many occasions, and I am grateful for their expertise in diagnosing illnesses, prescribing medication, setting broken bones, and stitching up wounds. But this does not mean that I place my faith in physicians rather than in God.

For reasons known only to God, He appointed humans to be His partners in the work of caring for creation (Gen. 2:15), and doctors are among them. Doctors study medical science and learn how God designed the body. They use this knowledge to help restore us to a healthy condition. But the only reason doctors can do anything to make us better is that God created us with the ability to heal. Surgeons would be useless if incisions didn’t heal.

Scientists can learn how God created our bodies to function, and they devise therapies to help restore or cure us, but they are not healers; God is (Ex. 15:26). Doctors simply cooperate with God’s original intent and design.

So I am grateful for science and doctors, but my praise and thanksgiving go to God, who designed an orderly universe and who created us with minds that can discover how it works. I believe, therefore, that all healing is divine because no healing takes place apart from God.

Father God, You are the Great Physician, and I ask for healing, whether mind, body, spirit, or in all of
these. I believe You will give what is best. Thank You for Your goodness, kindness, and love in all things.

When you think of all that’s good, give thanks to God.

INSIGHT: Genesis 2:7-15 gives us a glimpse into the perfect living environment of Adam and Eve before the fall. God provided everything necessary for their sustenance and enjoyment—food (v. 9), water (v. 10), and other natural resources (vv. 10-12)—and gave man the responsibility to manage these resources (v. 15). God had originally intended for humanity to live forever, but after the fall Adam and Eve were prevented from eating from the Tree of Life so that they would not live forever in their sinful condition (3:22-24).


One Step Closer

Now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. —Romans 13:11

Some years ago a friend and I set out to climb Mount Whitney. At 14,505 feet, it is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. We arrived at Whitney Portal late one evening, rolled out our sleeping bags at base camp, and tried to get some sleep before we began our ascent at first light. Whitney is not a technical climb but rather a long, exhausting walk—11 miles of relentless ascent.

The climb, though hard-going, was exhilarating, with stunning vistas, beautiful blue lakes, and lush meadows along the way. But the trail grew long and exhausting, a test for legs and lungs. I thought of turning back as the day wore on and the trail seemed to stretch endlessly before us.

Occasionally, however, I caught a glimpse of the summit and realized that each step was bringing me one step closer. If I just kept walking, I would get there. That was the thought that kept me going.

Paul assures us, “Our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Rom. 13:11). Every day brings us one day closer to that great day when we shall “summit” and see our Savior’s face. That’s the thought that can keep us going.

Dear Lord, may I, for the joy set before me, endure with patience the hardship of the trail. When
my journey is over, I will see You face to face and live with You forever.

Now we see Jesus in the Bible, but someday we’ll see Him face to face.

INSIGHT: Paul often discusses the need to walk (live) properly. He writes to the church in Ephesus to remind them to walk in the light of good deeds because they have been saved by God’s grace (Eph. 2:1-10). To the church in Rome, he prescribes a different motivation for living according to the Lord Jesus Christ—because “salvation is nearer” (Rom. 13:11). Because the time of the Lord’s return is approaching, we are to leave behind the deeds of darkness.


Power In Praise

Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever. —2 Chronicles 20:21

Willie Myrick was kidnapped from his driveway when he was 9 years old. For hours, he traveled in a car with his kidnapper, not knowing what would happen to him. During that time, Willie decided to sing a song called “Every Praise.” As he repeatedly sang the words, his abductor spewed profanity and told him to shut up. Finally, the man stopped the car and let Willie out—unharmed.

As Willie demonstrated, truly praising the Lord requires us to concentrate on God’s character while forsaking what we fear, what is wrong in our lives, and the self-sufficiency in our hearts.

The Israelites reached this place of surrender when they faced attackers. As they prepared for battle, King Jehoshaphat organized a choir to march out in advance of their enemy’s army. The choir sang, “Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever” (2 Chron. 20:21). When the music started, Israel’s enemies became confused and destroyed each other. As the prophet Jahaziel had predicted, Israel didn’t need to fight at all (v.17).

Whether we’re facing a battle or feeling trapped, we can glorify God in our hearts. Truly, “TheLord is great and greatly to be praised” (Ps. 96:4).

Dear God, You are holy and good. I worship You today despite the problems that cloud my
vision of You. Let my soul tell of Your glory forever.

Worship is a heart overflowing with praise to God.



Motivated By Love

The love of Christ compels us. —2 Corinthians 5:14

In the 1920s, Bobby Jones dominated the golfing world, despite being an amateur. In one film about his life, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, there is a scene where a professional golfer asks Bobby when he is going to quit being an amateur and grab for the money like everyone else does. Jones answers by explaining that the word amateur comes from the Latin amo—to love. His answer was clear: He played golf because he loved the game.

Our motives, why we do what we do, make all the difference. This certainly applies to those who are followers of Jesus Christ. In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul gives us an example of this. Throughout the epistle he defended his conduct, character, and calling as an apostle of Christ. In response to those who questioned his motives for ministry, Paul said, “Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Cor. 5:14-15 niv).

Christ’s love is the greatest of all motivators. It causes those who follow Him to live for Him, not for themselves.

What are some of the ways your understanding of Christ and His love has shaped your motives
and your actions? In what ways would you like to see God work in you now?

We are shaped and fashioned by what we love most.

INSIGHT: In 2 Corinthians Paul was writing to a church that he founded—yet a church that had, in a sense, turned on him. This makes it very different from 1 Thessalonians, where Paul was writing to men and women with whom he had a strong and loving relationship. Because of these different relationships, in 1 Thessalonians 2–3 Paul was describing his ministry while in 2 Corinthians was defending it.


A Survivor’s Thoughts

After a 71-year-old South Korean woman was rescued during the tragic sinking of a ferry boat, she struggled with survivor’s guilt. From her hospital bed she said she couldn’t understand how it could be right for her to have lived through an accident that had taken the lives of many who were so much younger. She also regretted not knowing the name of the young man who had pulled her out of the water after she had given up hope. Then she added, “I want to buy him a meal at least, or hold his hand, or give him a hug.”

This woman’s heart for others reminds me of the apostle Paul. He was so concerned about his neighbors and countrymen that he said he wished he could trade his own relationship with Christ for their rescue: “I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren” (Rom. 9:2-3).

Paul also expressed a deep sense of personal gratitude. He knew he didn’t understand the ways and judgments of God (see vv.14-24). So while doing everything he could to proclaim the gospel to all, he found peace and joy in trusting the heart of a God who loves the whole world so much more than we ever could.

Lord God, Your ways are so far beyond our comprehension, yet we know without doubt that You
love us. Help us trust Your loving heart with the things we don’t understand.

Gratitude to God leads to growth in godliness.

INSIGHT: Even though Paul was “an apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:13; Gal. 2:8), his heart’s desire was to see his own people—the Jews—come to faith in Jesus (Rom. 9:2-3). In Romans 9–11 Paul discussed the continuing unbelief of the Jews, but he assured them that they had not been rejected. He reminded them of their privileged status (v. 4), and the climax of these privileges is that the Messiah—the Savior—is Himself a Jew (v. 5).


Listening With Love

Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. —Luke 18:14

One August evening in Vermont, a young missionary spoke at our small church. The country where he and his wife served was in religious turmoil, and it was considered too dangerous for children. In one of his stories, he told us about a heart-wrenching episode when his daughter pleaded with him not to leave her behind at a boarding school.

I was a new dad at that time, having recently been blessed with a daughter, and the story upset me. How could loving parents leave their daughter alone like that? I muttered to myself. By the time the talk was finished, I was so worked up that I ignored the offer to visit with the missionary. I charged out of the church, saying out loud as I left: “I’m sure glad I’m not like . . .”

In that instant, the Holy Spirit stopped me cold. I couldn’t even finish the sentence. Here I was, saying almost word for word what the Pharisee said to God: “I thank You that I am not like other men” (Luke 18:11). How disappointed I was in myself! How disappointed God must have been! Since that evening, I’ve asked God to help me listen to others with humility and restraint as they pour their hearts out in confession, profession, or pain.

Lord, may we be quick to listen and slow to speak and to judge. A proud attitude so easily infects our
lives. Give us instead a humility that reflects Your heart and love.

We don’t get closer to God by passing judgment on others.

INSIGHT: The story that Jesus tells of the two men who went into the temple to pray reminds us of what God considers important. The religious Pharisee focused entirely on himself and his efforts, highlighting what he did and didn’t do. However, the tax collector, who would have been considered one of the worst sinners of his day, recognized his unworthiness and focused on God and His mercy. Jesus said it was the “sinner” who went away justified before God (vv. 13-14). Jesus wants His listeners to understand that it is not what we do that makes us right with God; it is God who makes us right with Him.


The Riches Of Obedience

I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches. —Psalm 119:14 nlt

Publicly operated lotteries exist in more than 100 countries. In a recent year, lottery ticket sales totaled more than $85 billion in just the US and Canada, only part of the total sales worldwide. The lure of huge jackpots has created a mindset among many that all of life’s problems would be solved “if I won the lottery.”

There’s nothing wrong with wealth itself, but it has the power to deceive us into thinking that money is the answer to all our needs. The psalmist, expressing a different point of view, wrote: “I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches. . . . I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word” (Ps. 119:14,16 nlt). This concept of spiritual treasure is focused on obedience to God and walking “in the path of [His] commandments” (v.35).

What if we were more excited about following the Lord’s Word than about winning a jackpot worth millions? With the psalmist we might pray, “Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way” (vv.36-37).

The riches of obedience—true riches—belong to all who walk with the Lord.

Dear Lord, may I commit each day to standing on the unchanging truth of Your Word and to growing
in my relationship with You, the only measure of success in this life and in eternity.

Success is knowing and loving God.

INSIGHT: Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. Its 176 verses are presented in 22 stanzas of 8 verses each, and each stanza corresponds to the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Because it is an acrostic song, Spurgeon said it could be called “the alphabet of love,” for it unfolds God’s loving provision of wisdom for His children.


Where Can We Lean?

I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake. —2 Samuel 9:7

“What a wonderful funeral!” Cindy remarked as we walked out. Helen, our friend, had died. And friend after friend celebrated her by sharing stories of her all-around fun behavior. But Helen’s life wasn’t all jokes and laughter. Her nephew spoke of her faith in Jesus and her care for others. She had taken him into her home when he was young and struggling. Now in his twenties, he said of his Aunt Helen, “She was like a mom to me. She never gave up on me in my struggles. I am sure that if it wasn’t for her, I would have lost my faith.” Wow! What an influence! Helen leaned on Jesus and wanted her nephew to trust Him too.

In the Old Testament, we read that King David took a young man named Mephibosheth into his home with the purpose of showing him kindness for the sake of his father, Jonathan (David’s friend who had died; see 2 Sam. 9:1). Years earlier, Mephibosheth had been injured when his nurse dropped him as they fled after the news that his father had been killed (4:4). He was surprised that the king would care for him; he even referred to himself as “a dead dog” (9:8). Yet the king treated him as his own son (9:11).

I’d like to be that kind of person, wouldn’t you? Someone who cares for others and helps them hang on to faith in Jesus even when life looks hopeless.

Lord, You showed the ultimate kindness by rescuing us when we were helpless in our sins. May
our lives be marked by kindness so that others will see You in us.

God does most of His work for people through people.

INSIGHT: Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, could have been heir to his grandfather’s (King Saul) throne and a potential threat to David’s kingship. But David promised his best friend, Jonathan (1 Sam. 20:42), that he would care for his family. In today’s passage we read how David made good on that promise (2 Sam. 9:9-13).


Tell Your Story

Michael Dinsmore, a former prisoner and relatively new Christian, was asked to give his testimony in a prison. After he spoke, some inmates came to him and said, “This is the most exciting meeting we’ve ever been to!” Michael was amazed that God could use his simple story.

In 1 Timothy, after Paul had charged Timothy to stay the course preaching the gospel (1:1-11), he shared his personal testimony to encourage the young man (vv.12-16). He told about God’s mercy in his own life. Paul said that he had mocked the Lord, but He changed him. In His mercy, God not only counted him faithful and gave him a job to do, but He also enabled him to do His work (v.12). Paul considered himself the worst of sinners, but God saved him (v.15).

The Lord is able! That is what Paul wanted Timothy to see, and what we need to see too. Through Paul’s testimony, we see God’s mercy. If God could use someone like Paul, He can use us. If God could save the worst of sinners, then no one is beyond His reach.

Our story of God’s work in our lives can encourage others. Let those around you know that the God of the Bible is still at work today!

Father, thank You for the salvation You offer and that no one, including me, is beyond the reach of Your
mercy, grace, and transforming power. Help me share my story with others so that people can see Your love.

No one is beyond the reach of God’s love.

INSIGHT: Before Paul’s conversion he put Christian believers in prison and was present for at least one murder—that of Stephen, who was stoned for preaching about Christ (Acts 7:59–8:1). Yet after his conversion Paul sums up his former life in just three words, telling Timothy that he was “a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man” (1 Tim. 1:13). He then tells what God has done for him (vv. 13-17), reminding us that it is not who we were that is important; it is what God has done for us.


No Need Is Too Trivial

As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. —Psalm 103:13

Several mothers of small children were sharing encouraging answers to prayer. Yet one woman said she felt selfish about troubling God with her personal needs. “Compared with the huge global needs God faces,” she explained, “my circumstances must seem trivial to Him.”

Moments later, her little son pinched his fingers in a door and ran screaming to his mother. She didn’t say, “How selfish of you to bother me with your throbbing fingers when I’m busy!” She showed him great compassion and tenderness.

As Psalm 103:13 reminds us, this is the response of love, both human and divine. In Isaiah 49, God said that even though a mother may forget to have compassion on her child, the Lord never forgets His children (v.15). God assured His people, “I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands” (v.16).

Such intimacy with God belongs to those who fear Him and who rely on Him rather than on themselves. As that child with throbbing fingers ran freely to his mother, so may we run to God with our daily problems.

Our compassionate God doesn’t neglect others to respond to our concerns. He has limitless time and love for each of His children. No need is too trivial for Him.

You take great delight in me, Lord, and quiet me with Your love. You rejoice over me with singing,
like a mother singing a lullaby over her child. Thank You for Your tender love for me.

God holds His children in the palm of His hand.

INSIGHT: Isaiah has the most messianic references of any Old Testament prophetic book, containing extraordinary prophecies of both Christ’s miraculous birth and His atoning death. Today’s reading begins a section of prophecies about the Divine Servant, highlighted by the description of His suffering in Isaiah 53. This suffering comes to the Servant from God’s own hand and ultimately finds its fulfillment at the cross where Christ bore the sins of the world.