The Message of Scars

“The reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.” Psalm 69:9

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh… 

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-11,16-18

A reproach is a treasure? Affliction a gift? Persecution a mercy? Near death a manifestation of life? The ways of God are mysterious and subversive to human reason, but supernatural and glorious just the same, and all the more. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

When enduring the choke of deep hurt, past experiences can resurface and sting all over again, though they occurred long ago. Caught off guard, we wonder where the gnaw of inside unease comes from. Are reminder pangs the enemy, tempting sins I’ve forgiven to resurface and me to lengthen my list of grievances and bitterness? Is he forcing another stone in my hand to heap upon stored vengeance? But I thought I forgave that, and love keeps no record of wrongs! (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

Yet in every remembrance of past reproach we have endured, the Lord reminds us He has borne this suffering too, and on my behalf. He whispers, ‘Think on what is true. This is your privilege to know Me better. Do not turn to anger or resentment. Yes, you may always have a scar, but I have healed that scar. Just like the scars on My hands and feet, the work has been finished, and I have healed. These marks identify My mercy and love toward you and are merely reminders that I finished it forever for you.’ (Philippians 4:8)

What needs be adjusted to receive hurts as a privilege as God’s child?

“Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land;
I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers; spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned.
Hast thou no wound?

No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And piercèd are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far
Who hast no wound or scar?” ~Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

Lord, may I welcome scars as reminders of Your deep and sacrificial love, and love others with hands marked and inspired by You.

He Knows and Does the Unseen

“For God speaks in one way,
    and in two, though man does not perceive it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night,
    when deep sleep falls on men,
    while they slumber on their beds,
then he opens the ears of men
    and terrifies them with warnings,
that he may turn man aside from his deed
    and conceal pride from a man;
he keeps back his soul from the pit,
    his life from perishing by the sword.” Job 33:14-18

“Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
 If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,’
even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.” Psalm 139:7-12

A silent still home, flooded, untended, looks intact, normal from the outside. The magnificent morning with its cool breeze and pink sky before dawn over a city in so much pain reminds that the Lord watches. He sees all, He knows the ruin, the compromised strength and spread of inside decay. And He also, by grace, like wind chimes tolling their beauty, brings the song of supernatural enabling, refreshment, peace, and comfort in devastating heartache and loss. (Psalm 42:8)

We cannot escape God’s all-knowing Spirit. He searches us and knows us and oh, how He loves us. He stirs invisibly to awaken our conscience, to sharpen our sense of smell to all things rotten, to irritate our eyes with the dust of decay. He moves in the heart to break our will, and turn it around to His while He gently bends our knees. When we recognize the muck inside for what it is, and acknowledge that our moldy mess is an affront to God and poisons the heart and devotion, we are ready for Him to take charge and clean it out. He enters with omniscient eye and gentle hand and precise tools to remove all that prevents a whole, undivided heart. He desires nothing less.

What keeps us living in the shadows? Why do we hide behind pretty exteriors? What compels us to keep closed the curtains on our pesky sin and refuse to unlatch the windows of our soul and open up to His renewing breeze? Is it an unwillingness to let go of what we’ve long loved and coddled, but eats at our purity? Is it fear or shame? He sees it all anyway. He is not fooled. Our failure to confess is a failure to respond to His love.

The Lord is relentless in His pursuit of undivided hearts, and any errant idol divides devotion. He orders both seen and unseen to awaken us to His grace and ability to cleanse. How will we respond this day?

Good Father, in mercy tend to my rotten heart. Tear out all that would spread destruction and renew my spirit unto wholeness, to the praise of Your greatness and glory. (Psalm 51:10; 86:11)

How a Servant Serves

“And Saul’s servants said to him, ‘Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you.  Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.’  So Saul said to his servants, ‘Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.’  One of the young men answered, ‘Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.’  Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, ‘Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.’ And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them by David his son to Saul. And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer.  And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, ‘Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.’  And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.” 1 Samuel 16:15-23

Servant: One that serves others; one who expresses submission, recognizance, or debt to another.

Saul’s servant, unnamed in scripture, played a key part in the history of Israel. Alert, astute, discerning, he not only tended carefully to his work but observed others and the goings on around him. He recognized talent and watched for character, and took joy in enlisting the best skilled people for each need. With keen eyes, he noticed the famous and forthright as well as those in the background. He served not his own interests or advantage, but those of his master the king. (1 Samuel 17:12-14; Romans 12:11; Philippians 2:2-4)

True servanthood is putting others before us and doing what is best for them, no matter the cost to us. Seeking no notice for ourselves, it might involve enlisting another who is more skilled or particularly capable where we are not, and we step to the background. Serving others flows from a submissive attitude to our heavenly Master, who gave His life for us. (2 Kings 5:2-14; Matthew 20:27-28)

Do I go about life wanting to be noticed, affirmed, appreciated, or simply doing all I can for the good and upbuilding of others? Do I actively look for ways to meet needs? When I step out of the way, the Lord has a wide space to work, and often gives the privilege of making a connection or contributing in a significant way that magnifies Him.

Jesus gave His all. Will I?

“Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.” ~Isaac Watts (1707)

Good Master, I offer myself in Your service, to support and promote Your purposes in people and the world. May all I do and say serve Your name, greatness, and glory.

Now That You Know and Are Known

“God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?  You observe days and months and seasons and years!..

 “What then has become of your blessedness?..

“So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery…

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another… 

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law… 

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 4:6-10,15a,31-5:1,13,16-23,25

If ignorance is bliss, then knowledge is beyond ecstasy. Knowing Jesus, and knowing that we are known by Him, the Savior and Lover of our souls, makes all the lovely difference in our lives and atmosphere. Once we know what is true about us as new creatures in Christ, we begin the adventure of sanctified living. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

We are unshackled from slavery to sin, so we are free to grow in grace and righteousness. We have been set free from selfishness and myopic living, so we can serve broadly and generously, and love with Spirit-filled abandon. We no longer are restrained to gratify desires of the flesh, so and can nourish the fire of faith and divine fruit. We have been captured by heavenly love and adopted as God’s children, so we can thrive with confidence and security as heirs and donors of all spiritual riches. (Ephesians 1:3-14; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 John 3:1-2)

What do we know that we know is true about our union with Christ, and how are we practically reckoning it as so? How are my work and attitudes, demeanor and interactions, distinct from those who know not Christ? (Romans 6:5-13)

Father, help me so live that I portray all that is true about the way You love, save, and live.

What the Ruler Remembers

“He remembers his covenant forever,
    the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
the covenant that he made with Abraham,
    his sworn promise to Isaac,
which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
    to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan
    as your portion for an inheritance.’

When they were few in number,
    of little account, and sojourners in it,
wandering from nation to nation,
    from one kingdom to another people,
he allowed no one to oppress them;
    he rebuked kings on their account,
saying, ‘Touch not my anointed ones,
    do my prophets no harm!’..
And the Lord made his people very fruitful
    and made them stronger than their foes.”
Psalm 105:8-15,24

“But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained.” Genesis 8:1-2

“It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
 and rescued us from our foes,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136:23-24

“I, I am he
    who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
    and I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
    that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
    yet I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15
 

“I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12

God has a perfect mind, and knows and fulfills all He has pledged. He remembers His word with the power to fulfill it. God remembers His children in tenderness, love, and compassion. And mercifully, because of Jesus, once we are forgiven He remembers our sin no more. In perfect grace and justice He removes it as far as the east is from the west, and never counts it against us. (Psalm 103:11-12; 1 John 1:9)

Though our minds are not perfect as His, He sanctifies our minds to make them like Christ’s. What do we remember, and how might we renew our minds to be more like His? If we spend time taking in trivialities, sarcasm, and divisive opinions and conversation, we will crowd out higher thoughts of eternal significance, benevolence, and lovingkindness. (Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5-8; 4:8; Colossians 3:1-2)

When we remember Christ’s mercy to us, we are more prone to forget the offenses of others. When we forget our wants and charms by humbling ourselves before our Savior, we are ready to remember the needs of others. How will we endeavor to exercise our memories to promote love and light and truth about God? What would we ask the Ruler to imprint on our minds so they look and behave like His? (Ephesians 4:32; Philippians 2:1-5)

Lord, make me keen to remember all I should, and not what is to be put away. Purify my mind and the exercise of all things true and lofty.

The Way of All the Earth

“When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, ‘I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, “If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.”’” 1 Kings 2:1-4

“Man is like a breath;
    his days are like a passing shadow.” Psalm 144:4

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Matthew 24:35

“You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14

David’s many seasons of shepherding under the stars, growing in his knowledge and trust of God, victories and failures as Israel’s king, had instilled in him clear perspective. He knew not only in years but in spiritual wisdom that his life was but a vapor, and would soon end on earth. He had lived for God’s glory and knew that the treasure to leave behind and pass along was Him and His word. The ‘throne’ he left was that of the promised Messiah, the temple for which he prepared a place of worship and looking forward to Him.

We will all go the way of all the earth, as will our earthly treasure, yet the Lord has graciously appointed us a season here to know Him, exalt Him, and make a difference for His invisible kingdom. Are we tuned in to that purpose, or have we allowed the trappings and urgencies of life to cloud our vision? When we ask for His wisdom and zeal, He will grant it for the calling at hand and for responsible stewardship of all He’s entrusted to us, to each according to His grace and plan. We must beware lest we hold too tightly or get too ingrained. (1 Kings 3:7-9; Romans 12:1-3)

With our transience in mind, how will we live? Like David, with a whole heart after God? Will we embolden, encourage, and point to the Lord and His unshakable promises? Would we lift high the cross and the Word, that others might pay attention and walk faithfully? Would we loosen our hold on things and hold fast our confession of truth? Would we seek not to be served but to serve, and spend ourselves for others? Would we make the most of life in order that our words, work, and ministry are life-giving to others? (Mark 10:45; Acts 13:22; Hebrews 10:23)

Lord, grant me an eternal perspective. Teach me to number my days on Your divine timetable, and grant me a heart and mind to life wisely and fully for You with every breath. (Psalm 90:12)

How Much Do We Tell?

“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’  then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.  And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes.  And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers.  And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.’” Deuteronomy 6:20-25

How easy it is to pontificate, exaggerate, or skirt real issues when we have our own inflated agenda. As Moses reminds God’s people to obey for God’s honor and their good, he also makes clear how they should describe these parameters to their offspring. We don’t force obedience to wield superiority or power, or because we can as one with authority, but because they promote a healthy fear of God, are for our good, and are the path to righteousness and life. Moses knew it was vital His people never forgot where they’d come from, that they’d been delivered by love, grace, and great power, and that God intended fruitful purpose in that deliverance.

We must stick to unadorned truth, and be able to explain reasons and benefits of a life of faith. God does great wonders that captivate our senses and take our breath away: a speck of a rainbow to give hope in sadness, a message of love that breaks through loneliness, a spiritual transformation from darkness to light. He also performs grievous works that teach deep lessons: grief that chokes but becomes our friend, losses here on earth that remind us our treasure is in heaven, agony that gives birth to comfort that we can then pass to others. In all His orchestration of moments and days, His word is a steady foundation and guide. (Matthew 6:19-21; 2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

How much do we tell when we meet the lost? How do we answer questions about Jesus and our faith? How do we explain the hope we have to the despairing? When we know God’s word and apply His word, we express His truth in practical living. When we think His wisdom and sing His melodies, we bless others with His fragrance. To explain the meaning of God’s statutes is to motivate the knowledge and fear of Him, and rich meaning and fulfillment ensue. (2 Corinthians 2:15; 1 Peter 3:15)

How prepared are we to answer for our security and joy? To whom will we offer the hope of faith?

“Take my voice and let me sing
always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from thee.” ~Frances Havergal, 1874

Lord, may my words spread truth and hope, and everywhere and always glorify You.

Not Like These is He

“The Lord has both planned and done
    what he spoke concerning the inhabitants of Babylon…
It is he who made the earth by his power,
    who established the world by his wisdom,
and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
When he utters his voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
    and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightning for the rain,
    and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
Every man is stupid and without knowledge;
    every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols,
for his images are false,
    and there is no breath in them.
They are worthless, a work of delusion;
    at the time of their punishment they shall perish.
Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob,
    for he is the one who formed all things,
and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance;
    the Lord of hosts is his name.” Jeremiah 51:12b,15-19

Man made in God’s image is incapable of fully grasping His transcendence, and the objects and endeavors we collect and manipulate on this earth do not help. In limited knowledge, we craft gods of image, performance, and pretend security, and are deluded into spiritual ecstasy by success, applause, and ease. Idols only belittle the Spirit and confuse the highness of God in our minds, rendering worthless any self-directed worship we attempt to practice.

And along comes a storm. Winds of God that whip and bite at self-protection, tumults of waters that wash away delusion and upend the structures we have erected. O, God’s ways are so much higher than ours! Not like these transient things of earth is the omnipotent God of heaven! He plans and does exactly what He says. He performs everything with perfection of purpose, while we still whittle away at our idols! He established the world and forms all things in wisdom while we, without knowledge, make images false and shameful. Our worthless idols have no match in the Portion of Jacob. (Isaiah 55:8)

Would we bow before the Lord of Hosts? Would we bring every trophy and lay it down before the cross of Christ? Would we thank Him for exposing stupidity and our valuing of worthless things, and ask that He reform in us hearts that throb for what is true, noble, good, and lasting? (Matthew 6:33; Philippians 4:8; Colossians 3:1-2)

“When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them through his blood.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.” ~Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Amen. Create in me a clean heart, O incomparable God, and renew a right spirit in me that worships You alone, above and before all things. (Psalm 51:10)

The Flow of Grace and Peace

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” Galatians 1:3-5

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:2

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Peter 1:2

Grace and peace are gifts from God freely given to His own. Grace and peace flow from God the Father and His Son Jesus, with power and great effect. Grace and peace flow from the perfect and eternal will of God, through the condescension and life blood of Jesus Christ, to deliver us from sin and guilt and secure us in eternal life. Grace and peace flow by and from God’s mercy to meet us in daily living, and unto His glory. (Galatians 1:6; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 2:5-8)

This divine flow courses from the heart of God to seep into into our everyday. Its source is our abiding Christ, its depth and spread deep and wide and amply sufficient. It is effective to convict and cleanse, and pleasant to enlighten, renew, and invigorate. It soothes away tears of the brokenhearted, and fills with hope.

So how do the amazing grace of God and the peace of Christ Jesus that transcends human understanding work themselves out in practical experience? Having received, been washed by, and daily nourished by the grace of God, how does it flow from us to those who are weak and untested in the faith, to those who’ve wronged us and we do not feel like forgiving? How does the peace of Christ in our hearts affect how we react to tragedy, hardship, or loss, and the atmosphere in our homes and workplaces? How does it infuse speech, interactions, deliberations, relationships, and our countenance? (John 14:27; Romans 15:1; Ephesians 4:32; Philippians 4:6-7)

“Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come:
’tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.”
~John Newton (1779)

Are we asking for and receiving this bounty by faith? Soaking in Scriptural promises and benedictions open wide their access, and the flow starts with the first seizing and making application to circumstance. After that, they are unstoppable.

“This is all my hope and peace: 
nothing but the blood of Jesus. 
This is all my righteousness: 
nothing but the blood of Jesus.

O precious is the flow 
that makes me white as snow; 
no other fount I know; 
nothing but the blood of Jesus.” ~Robert Lowry (1876)

Lord Jesus, may I daily dive into Your flow of grace and peace. Cause these to guard and guide my heart to meet the needs of others and to bring honor to your great name.

When Greatness is not Great

“Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his multitude:

“’Whom are you like in your greatness?
    Behold, Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon,
with beautiful branches and forest shade,
    and of towering height,
    its top among the clouds.
The waters nourished it;
    the deep made it grow tall,
making its rivers flow
    around the place of its planting,
sending forth its streams
    to all the trees of the field.
So it towered high
    above all the trees of the field;
its boughs grew large
    and its branches long
    from abundant water in its shoots.
All the birds of the heavens
    made their nests in its boughs;
under its branches all the beasts of the field
    gave birth to their young,
and under its shadow
    lived all great nations.
It was beautiful in its greatness,
    in the length of its branches;
for its roots went down
    to abundant waters.
The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it,
    nor the fir trees equal its boughs;
neither were the plane trees
    like its branches;
no tree in the garden of God
    was its equal in beauty.
I made it beautiful
    in the mass of its branches,
and all the trees of Eden envied it,
    that were in the garden of God.

“’Therefore thus says the Lord: Because it towered high and set its top among the clouds, and its heart was proud of its height, I will give it into the hand of a mighty one… He shall surely deal with it as its wickedness deserves. I have cast it out.  Foreigners, the most ruthless of nations, have cut it down and left it. On the mountains and in the valleys its branches have fallen, and its boughs have been broken in the ravines of the land, and all the peoples of the earth have gone away from its shadow and left it. On its fallen trunk dwell the birds of the heavens, and on its branches are all the beasts of the field. All this is in order that no trees by the waters may grow to towering height or set their tops among the clouds, and that no trees that drink water may reach up to them in height. For they are all given over to death, to the world below,.. with those who go down to the pit.'” Ezekiel 31:2-14

The description of Egypt in her prime lifts sights and senses: abounding beauty, lushness, strength, virility. Unparalleled greatness and glory swell the soul, awaken admiration- even envy, and appear permanent, impenetrable. But ascendance also lifts high the head and nose, pride protrudes from fruitfulness, taking on an ugly life of its own. And God the Giver will not be mocked. (Psalm 86:8-10; 89:11-18; Galatians 6:7)

O, the folly of boasting, of peacocking about our greatness and beauty! Of thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought, rather than accepting humbly the great gifts God gives by grace, and exercising them accordingly in love. (Psalm 8:3-6; Romans 12:3; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

What do we value in life? Is our boast in self or Christ, our treasure in achievement or our eternal inheritance? Any measure of success in life comes from our Lord, who become poor that we might enjoy abundant life. (Psalm 18:35; Matthew 6:19-21; John 10:10b; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 10:17)

Gracious God, keep me ever grateful for Your greatness, and never touching Your glory. (1 Corinthians 10:12)