An Eternity of Discovery
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the
heart of man the things which God has prepared for those
who love Him.
- 1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV
It's a new year, a time for the adventure of discovery. And I love it.
I'm the first to take a side road to explore a different part of the
countryside. There is something about wheeling along a path I've never
traveled or driving down a highway for the first time that stirs my excitement
and curiosity. What's around that next corner? What's over that next
hill? That's what the thrill of discovery will do for you. You feel truly alive,
with all senses fully engaged.
Now . just think of heaven! Think of all there will be to learn and
explore. And because God himself is eternal, the discovery will never, never
end. We will delve into unknown worlds and perhaps even second and third
universes. All of these discoveries will magnify the greatness of our Creator.
On this earth explorers and scientists will continue to make new discoveries,
and for those who honor God, we will marvel again and again
at his character, his handiwork, and his creative genius. But just imagine
what God is saving for us to discover about himself and his creative might
throughout all eternity! Understanding his glory - and responding in
worship - will be a never-ending adventure.
Commit to entering this New Year fully alive with all your senses
engaged! You are about to learn and explore God's perfect plan
for you for the next 365 days. And one more thing: If you find
yourself in a drab, humdrum moment today - perhaps standing
at the gas pump - turn your thoughts toward your future home.
Do you have loved ones on the other side? Imagine the awe and
joy they are experiencing right now! Let your visions of a radiant
heaven awaken your sense of adventure for this year ahead.
Lord of all eternity, give me a sense of adventure about the new year. Help me
to see that this year brings me closer to my Eternal Home where I will enjoy
your presence forever!
* * *
What's Up Ahead
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do
this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
- Psalm 37:5-6
I sit so tall in my wheelchair that I need a van with a raised roof. The
trouble is, I can't see the road. My friend Careen and I once drove
from Chicago to Urbana and I didn't see a single cornfield or farmhouse
for three and a half hours! She kept describing lovely country landscapes,
but it only frustrated me. I wanted to see. I'm the sort of person who likes
to know what lies ahead. If I can't see the whole road, then at least a few
We are like that spiritually. We say to God, "If you don't mind, please
show me where I am going. I don't need to see the whole road, but at least
a little bit." We think our faith has to be supported by a bit of evidence. A
hint, a signpost, a whisper . something to give us a clue as to what God
is doing. We wrongly assume that faith is the ability to take a couple of
puzzle pieces and be able to envision the entire picture. Not so. Faith that
must be supported by the five senses is not genuine. Jesus said to doubting
Thomas, "You have believed me because you have seen me, but blessed are
those who have not seen and yet believe."
Our insistence upon discerning what's up ahead is natural, but it
is a hindrance to real faith. It's why God constantly encourages us
to trust him in the dark (Isaiah 50:10). True faith means resting
in who God is. He has charged himself with full responsibility
for your eternal happiness, and he stands ready to take over the
management of your life. He is wise and good. Trust him with
No ifs, ands, or buts, dear God. I trust you with the road ahead!
* * *
The Bread of Tears
You are from God, little children, and have overcome them;
because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the
- 1 John 4:4 NASB
Years ago my missionary friend Gesina was thrown into a communist
prison in the Balkans because they caught her with
Christian literature in the trunk of her car. Sitting in that pitch-black cell,
surrounded by a sickening stench with filth and trash on the floor that she
couldn't even see, she suddenly thought of a verse of Scripture. That very
morning, she had read Psalm 80:5 in her quiet time: "You have fed them
with the bread of tears."
The verse came back strongly to her heart in that dark moment,
but - it wasn't particularly comforting in her present circumstances!
Frightened and overwhelmed, she had no idea if her friends would realize
what had happened to her. Just then, the jailer opened the small food door
and shoved through a stick of salami and a chunk of bread. Frustrated
that she couldn't even set the meat down on the dirty floor in order to tear
off a piece of bread, she began to cry. Without thinking, she wiped her
tears with the chunk of bread. And suddenly the verse she had read that
morning flashed before her. She laughed out loud. God knew! He hadn't
forgotten her! She could eat her tear-soaked bread knowing that he had
specifically given it to her. She didn't mind being fed the bread of tears if
it had come straight from his hand.
Today, Gesina has a marvelous ministry among the disabled in Albania.
And to the end of her days, she will remember how - in the worst
and darkest of circumstances - God came near and reminded her of his
constant presence and care.
Whatever your circumstances, difficult as they may be, remember:
God knows precisely where you are and how to care for you.
Oh Lord Jesus, what joy this brings! Because you live within my very spirit,
nothing but nothing in life can truly defeat me.
* * *
Be a Blessing
I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous
as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore
Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed,
because you have obeyed me.
- Genesis 22:17-18
Would you like to know for sure that God's favor rests upon you?
The clue is in today's verse. The angel the Lord was saying to
Abraham, "The reason I am blessing you is so that you, in turn, can pass on
the blessing to all nations. They will receive something through you, and it
is in this way you shall know my hand of favor is upon you."
Few of us are called to bless entire nations. But everyone has a circle of
family and friends. The surest evidence that the Lord's hand of blessing is
upon you is when others get blessed through you. When you encourage fainthearted
believers, wounded friends, discouraged saints, curious pagans, or
questioning onlookers, you can be sure you have God's blessing. It happens
when you point people to the Lord through your unwavering example,
perseverance through trials, or spirit of gentleness or gratitude.
The greatest blessing God can ever bestow upon us is Jesus. Get to
know him, and the blessing that results will be something you just have
to pass on.
Is the joy of your relationship with Jesus overflowing to those
around you? Is their prayer life deepening because of time spent
with you in prayer? Has their boldness in witnessing ratcheted up
a notch because your witness rubs off on them? If so, God's hand
of blessing is upon you. To be blessed is to be pushed deeper,
higher, and further into the heart of the Savior, so that his comfort
and encouragement can be passed on to others.
I covet your favor and approval in my life, dear Lord. Keep prodding me to pass
on your joy and encouragement to others, and I will have the assurance of your
pleasure and blessing upon me.
* * *
If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out,
then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down
in a land of peace, how will you do in the thicket of the
- Jeremiah 12:5 NASB
Would you like to know what you really believe about God? I'm
not talking about what you say you believe, or what you ought
to believe, but what you truly do believe. Would you like to see the truth
about you that God sees?
Well, you can. You can actually know what's way down deep in your
heart. And here is how: The next time you suffer, watch how you react.
Watch what happens in your head and heart. Take an attitude check.
Because nothing reveals the stuff of which your Christian beliefs are made
than tough times. Maybe that's why the Bible says, "Rejoice in suffering"
and "Welcome trials as friends." Maybe it's because then we can know
what we're really made of.
It's what happened to the Israelites when they were in the desert. It
says in Deuteronomy chapter 8 that God caused the tough times to test
them . to see what was in their hearts. Well, the fact is, God already
knows what's in your heart. He just wants you to know what's in your
heart. You may be facing some keen disappointments today: loneliness,
a bad medical report, financial worries, chronic pain, or an important
relationship on the rocks. It's hard. But it's also strangely helpful. Because
when you find out who you are and what you really believe, you're facing
the truth. And remember, the truth always sets you free.
What have your recent trials or setbacks revealed to you about
your faith and trust in the Father? That insight wasn't meant to
crush or discourage you. It's an encouragement to set aside distractions
and seek him with fresh urgency.
Dear Lord, I'm so far from where I want to be in my walk of faith. Draw me
closer to your heart this day, and help me to release my anxieties and fears into
your loving hands.
* * *
God Means It
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good
to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many
- Genesis 50:20
I draw a lot of inspiration from the story of Joseph. Although he
was never paralyzed, a lot of things happened to him that could
be construed as accidents. There were plenty of unfortunate mishaps in
Joseph's life, like being tossed by his envious brothers into a pit and left to
die. But later on - after more mishaps - Joseph told his brothers, "You
intended to harm me, but God intended it for good so that others might
I like that word intended. He is a God of intention - he has a purpose,
a target, a goal, and a plan. God was a giant step ahead of Joseph's
brothers, aborting their evil intentions to suit his own purposes. Joseph's
problems did not catch God off guard, presenting him with situations he
wished would never have happened. From the beginning, God calculated
for Joseph to experience all these things. Why? For the salvation of others.
God is not a sweep-up boy who follows you with a dustpan and
brush, second-guessing how everything will fit into a divine pattern
for good. He does not put on a hazmat suit so that an evil
situation doesn't contaminate his holy reputation.
Think of disappointing or bad things that have happened
to you. God's hands stay on the wheel of your life from start to
finish so that everything follows his intention for your life. This
means your trials have more meaning - much more - than you
realize. Your problems have more purpose than you can imagine.
Not because God merely used bad things, but because God
intended them so that others might be brought to Jesus through
Lord God, I praise you that your intentions in my life are always good. Every
"accident" happens so that somehow, someway, others might be introduced to
the Savior through me.
* * *
A Right Resolution
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are
wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by
- 2 Corinthians 4:16
My first week of New Year's resolutions is behind me. Truth
is I am not big on making them (it's probably because I
never keep them). Give up desserts for a year? I blow that at the first sight
of a chocolate éclair. A few years ago I made a resolution to answer all my
mail within a week of receiving it - I'm still catching up on November's
letters. The list goes on: do not bite nails . give up sugar . quit being a
slave to email . put smaller portions on your plate . turn off the TV .
organize your ATM receipts.
There is, however, one resolution worth considering. Second
Corinthians 4:16 states that the inner man - your inner being, the new
creation - must be renewed "day by day." It's a necessity. The inner man
has to be daily nourished, whether it's January seventh, eighth, ninth, February,
March, summer, or fall. Too often we feed our inner being only on
Sunday mornings or when we hear a good sermon or during a monthly
Christian luncheon or a seasonal Bible retreat. Many of us allow the year
to wear us down because we ignore this simple fact - our fellowship with
God must be renewed day by day. Our inner being metabolizes quickly
and just one day of neglect will bring on spiritual malnutrition.
I pray "that he would grant you, according to the riches of his
glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner
man" (Ephesians 3:16 KJV). Covenant with God today to invite
his Spirit to replenish you as you spend time in his Word and in
prayer. It's a must. It's one resolution you can't afford not to keep.
It'll make this year happy.
Lord Jesus, show me fresh insights every day in your Word. Reveal your heart to
me in prayer . and in so doing, renew my inner being, day by day.
* * *
Advancing the Gospel
Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened
to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it
has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and
to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because
of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been
encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously
- Philippians 1:12-4
My wheelchair is the cause of many crazy circumstances, as
well as conversations. Especially in elevators. The other
week a man standing next to me remarked, "Now what's a nice looking girl
like you doing in that thing?" I looked up in surprise and replied, "Well,
sir, I'm serving the Lord in this thing." I went on to describe how we were
giving wheelchairs and Bibles to disabled people around the world.
After we parted company, I thought of today's verse. What has happened
to me really has served to advance the good news. I may not be "in
chains for Christ" like Paul, but I am in this wheelchair for Christ. My
quadriplegia isn't a hindrance or a barrier; rather, like Paul's prison, my circumstances
have created new and unusual opportunities for the gospel. The
jailer might never have heard about Jesus had it not been for Paul's imprisonment;
that man in the elevator might never have heard about him either,
had it not been for this wheelchair kick-starting an unusual conversation.
Your problems and difficult life circumstances, your health challenges,
struggling marriage, or financial problems - your prison,
your suffering - is not a hindrance to the gospel. God has allowed
these hardships in order to create exceptional occasions to talk
about the power and the reality of the Lord in your life. How
have your hardships given you an unusual platform from which
to share the gospel?
Lord God, I give you the "chains" in my life that seem so limiting. Help me
to understand that my circumstances do not limit the power of your gospel in