Fearful Fish
By Philip Yancey - ODB
Read: John 1:6-14

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. —John 1:14

Managing a saltwater aquarium, I discovered, is no easy task. I had to run a portable chemical laboratory to monitor nitrate levels and ammonia content. I pumped in vitamins and antibiotics and sulfa drugs and enzymes. I filtered the water through glass fibers and charcoal.

You would think my fish would be grateful. Not so. When my shadow loomed above the tank to feed them, they dove for cover into the nearest shell. I was too large for them; my actions incomprehensible. They did not know that my acts were merciful. To change their perceptions would require a form of incarnation. I would have to become a fish and “speak” to them in a language they could understand, which was impossible for me to do.

According to the Scriptures, God, the Creator of the universe, did something that seems impossible. He came to earth in human form as a baby. “The world was made through Him,” says John, “and the world did not know Him” (John 1:10). So God, who created matter, took shape within it, as a playwright might become a character within his own play. God wrote a story, using real characters, on the pages of real history. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (v.14).

All praise to Thee, eternal Lord,
Clothed in a garb of flesh and blood;
Choosing a manger for a throne,
While worlds on worlds are Thine alone. —Luther

God entered human history to offer us the gift of eternal life.

Fearful Fish

Fearful Fish
By Philip Yancey - ODB
Read: John 1:6-14

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. —John 1:14

Managing a saltwater aquarium, I discovered, is no easy task. I had to run a portable chemical laboratory to monitor nitrate levels and ammonia content. I pumped in vitamins and antibiotics and sulfa drugs and enzymes. I filtered the water through glass fibers and charcoal.

You would think my fish would be grateful. Not so. When my shadow loomed above the tank to feed them, they dove for cover into the nearest shell. I was too large for them; my actions incomprehensible. They did not know that my acts were merciful. To change their perceptions would require a form of incarnation. I would have to become a fish and “speak” to them in a language they could understand, which was impossible for me to do.

According to the Scriptures, God, the Creator of the universe, did something that seems impossible. He came to earth in human form as a baby. “The world was made through Him,” says John, “and the world did not know Him” (John 1:10). So God, who created matter, took shape within it, as a playwright might become a character within his own play. God wrote a story, using real characters, on the pages of real history. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (v.14).

All praise to Thee, eternal Lord,
Clothed in a garb of flesh and blood;
Choosing a manger for a throne,
While worlds on worlds are Thine alone. —Luther

God entered human history to offer us the gift of eternal life.

Never let down

Never Let Down
By Joe Stowell - ODB

Read: Lamentations 3:13-26
[The Lord’s] compassions fail not. They are new every morning. —Lamentations 3:22-23

When I was a child, one of my favorite pastimes was playing on the teeter-totter in the nearby park. A kid would sit on each end of the board and bounce each other up and down. Sometimes the one who was down would stay there and leave his playmate stuck up in the air yelling to be let down. But the cruelest of all tricks was getting off the teeter-totter and running away when your friend was up in the air—he would come crashing down to the ground with a painful bump.

Sometimes we may feel that Jesus does that to us. We trust Him to be there with us through the ups and downs of life. However, when life takes a turn and leaves us with bumps and bruises, it may feel as if He has walked away leaving our lives to come painfully crashing down.

But Lamentations 3 reminds us that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end” (v.22 esv) and that God is faithful to the end even when everything seems to be falling apart. This means that in the midst of our pain, even though we may be lonely, we are not alone. And though we may not feel His presence, He is there as our trusted companion who will never walk away and let us down!

Thank You, Lord, that we can trust in Your faithful presence even when we feel alone. Help us to wait patiently for You to manifest Your steadfast loving presence.

When everyone else fails, Jesus is your most trusted friend.

"In any museum we will find quite ordinary things - clothes, a walking stick, a pen, pieces of furniture - which are only of value because they were possessed and used by some great person. It is the ownership which gives them worth. It is so with the Christian. The Christian may be a very ordinary person, but he acquires a new value and dignity and greatness because he belongs to God. The greatness of the Christian lies in the fact that he is God’s."

— William Barclay

Choose Life

Choose Life
By Julie Ackerman Link - ODB
Read: Deuteronomy 30:11-20

Choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice. —Deuteronomy 30:19-20

What is God’s will for my life? The question haunted me when I was growing up. What if I couldn’t find it? What if I didn’t recognize it? God’s will seemed like a needle in a haystack. Hidden. Obscured by lookalikes. Outnumbered by counterfeits.

But my view of God’s will was wrong because my view of God was wrong. God takes no pleasure in seeing us lost, wandering, searching. He wants us to know His will. He makes it clear, and He makes it simple. He doesn’t even make it multiple-choice. He gives just two choices: “life and good” or “death and evil” (Deut. 30:15). In case the best choice isn’t obvious, He even says which one to choose: “Choose life” (v.19). To choose life is to choose God Himself and obey His Word.

When Moses addressed the Israelites for the last time, he pleaded with them to make the right choice by observing “all the words of this law… . Because it is your life” (32:46-47). God’s will for us is life. His Word is life. And Jesus is the Word. God may not give a prescription for every decision, but He gave us a perfect example to follow—Jesus. The right choice may not be easy, but when the Word is our guide and worship is our goal, God will grant us the wisdom to make life-affirming choices.

Lord Jesus, we know that true wisdom comes from leaning on You. Help us to trust in You and to seek Your face and Your will that we find in Your life-giving Word.

The evidence of God’s guidance can be seen more clearly by looking back than by looking forward.

"Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you yourself shall be a miracle. Every day you shall wonder at yourself, at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God."

— Phillips Brooks

Check the oil

Check The Oil
By David C. McCasland - ODB
Read: Psalm 5

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up. —Psalm 5:3

When I helped our daughters learn to drive, I included a little instruction on basic auto maintenance. We visited a local service station where they learned to check the oil every time they put fuel in the car. Today, years later, they often remind me of my six-word slogan, “Oil is cheap; engines are expensive.” Adding a quart of oil is nothing compared to replacing an engine.

Maintenance is also important in our spiritual lives. Taking time each day to read the Bible, pray, and listen to God is a key element in avoiding a breakdown. In Psalm 5, David wrote, “My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You” (v.3). In the following verses he poured out his heart in praise, thanksgiving, and requests to God.

Many people find it essential to begin every day with the Lord. Before checking email, catching the news, or eating breakfast, they find some quiet moments alone to read a portion of God’s Word, praise Him for His greatness, thank Him for His love, and seek His guidance. Others spend time reading and praying at different times of the day.

It’s not magic—it’s maintenance, as we ask the Lord each day to fill our hearts with His presence on the road of life.

Give me a strong desire, O Lord, to look into Your Word each day. Help me hide it in my heart so that I might not stray from Your truth. Feed me and teach me about Yourself and Your will for me.

The roots of stability come from being grounded in God’s Word and prayer.