An Unusual Follower
Has someone or something ever followed you around? Perhaps a small child who idolizes you or a pet that stays close to your heels? What about a duck?
We were living on a farm in Tennessee, and our back porch overlooked a small pond. I loved to stroll down by the pond and sit along the edge watching turtle heads pop up in the water. Sometimes a duck or two would visit. One year, I had a very special encounter with a beautiful male mallard.
He arrived at the pond one day. I slowly approached so I wouldn’t scare him off. He quickly swam away as I gently talked to him and tried to coax his return to the water’s edge. The next day, I brought him a treat of bread crumbs. As I tossed them into the water, I could see him watching me, but he kept his distance. After a few minutes, I left him alone to enjoy his treat and continued to watch him from the back porch.
This became a daily ritual. I brought out the bread, he would swim away until I left him alone, and then he would come up to eat. After a few more days, he started to swim towards me along the edge of the pond when he saw me approaching. Just as this duck’s trust in me was growing, we can trust the Lord is always near to care for us and know He does not want to harm us in any way.
Apparently, one day the duck thought I was taking too long to get outside so he decided to come and find me. We were inside the house and heard a tap, tap, tap on our sliding glass doors. This little duck was knocking with his beak! He wanted to spend time with me. He was ready and waiting for my visit and my treat. Didn’t Jesus say, “…knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7 NIV)? I opened my door to the duck and met his need. Jesus opens His door to us welcoming us with open arms. He supplies all our needs as well. We should persistently seek Him, hunger for His Word, and spend time in fellowship with Him.
Some people have dogs that follow them everywhere; not me, I had a duck! There were times when I would be walking down our long driveway, turn around and the duck would be following behind. It was the cutest thing! Jesus wants us to follow after Him, too. He said, “Come, follow me…” (Matthew 4:19 NIV). We can faithfully follow after Him and strive to fulfill His plans for our lives.
Something became more important to the duck than spending time with me. He flew away never to be seen again. I believe, however, there is no better place to be than in the presence of Jesus following after Him in complete trust.
When you come to Him and follow Him, He will never leave you. You can trust Him to always be there for you, wherever you are, in whatever circumstances you face.
“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10 NIV
2 Kings 20:1-3 1In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” 2Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3“Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
Hezekiah had been faithful to God throughout his reign. Perhaps it was because of this that the LORD warned him of the time of his death through the prophet Isaiah. When he heard the news, he immediately went to prayer, weeping and pleading with God. He based his plea on his life of walking faithfully before God, his wholehearted devotion, and doing what was good in God’s eyes.
How many of us could pray that prayer? In a way all of us who are in Christ can indeed pray that. In Him we have the righteousness of God. I do believe that a submitted life carries weight before the Throne. James reminded us that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. A righteous man prays God’s will.
The Lord heard Hezekiah and sent Isaiah back to give him a cure and a promise of fifteen more years. Hezekiah needed assurance that the word was from God. Isaiah prayed and asked God to make the shadow of the sun go backward ten steps. It did!
Recently I heard of three different people who had been given notice that they would soon die. One accepted it with peace. The others believed that they had to pray like Hezekiah and expect a miracle. Is our faith bolstered in either case by our obedient walk as in the case of Hezekiah?
Challenge: Walk faithfully before the LORD in wholehearted devotion doing what is right in His eyes.
Who Wants a Free Gift?
by Ryan Duncan, crosswalk.com
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – Hebrews 4:16
“Who wants a free gift?” I don’t know about you, but that’s a statement that often gives me pause. The reason why is because almost every day I’m bombarded with offers to receive a “free gift” that isn’t really free. You probably know what I’m talking about. Credit card companies offer me “free rewards” if I spend more that eighteen thousand dollars with one of their cards. Airlines say they’ll give me “free miles” if I book a trip to China right now, and then there are those pesky infomercials that offer me “free” steak knives if I buy their grease cooker for only $19.99!
As a Christian living in a world where there’s no such thing as a free lunch, it’s sometimes hard to understand the meaning of grace, and even harder to teach it to others. So when my father was asked to teach a group of middle school students about grace, I admit I had no idea how he was going to pull it off. But my father is a pretty shrewd guy (you’re welcome Dad), and as soon as he got the lesson he went out, bought a Hershey bar the size of a laptop computer and covered it in wrapping paper. On Sunday morning he walked to the front of the room, held up the present, a said “Who wants a free gift?” No one moved.
Finally, one brave kid got up and ran forward to take the present from my father’s hand. It’s that simple. Every day God calls to us, offering the free gift of his grace, and all we need to do is accept it. Grace doesn’t require a down payment, it doesn’t ask you to do something first, and it’s never a bonus for something you’ve already accomplished. Grace is a gift, the only thing in this world that is truly free.
Faith and repentance inseparable
By: Charles Spurgeon
‘Repent ye, and believe the gospel.’ Mark 1:15
Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 12:1–4
‘Repent ye, and believe the gospel,’ is advice to the young beginner, and it is advice to the old grey-headed Christian, for this is our life all the way through—‘Repent ye, and believe the gospel.’ St Anselm, who was a saint—and that is more than many of them who were called so—St Anselm once cried out ‘Oh! sinner that I have been, I will spend all the rest of my life in repenting of my whole life!’ And Rowland Hill, whom I think I might call St Rowland, when he was near death, said he had one regret, and that was that a dear friend who had lived with him for sixty years would have to leave him at the gate of heaven. ‘That dear friend,’ said he, ‘is repentance; repentance has been with me all my life, and I think I shall drop a tear,’ said the good man, ‘as I go through the gates, to think that I can repent no more.’ Repentance is the daily and hourly duty of a man who believes in Christ; and as we walk by faith from the wicket gate to the celestial city, so our right-hand companion all the journey through must be repentance. Why, dear friends, the Christian man, after he is saved, repents more than ever he did before, for now he repents, not merely of overt deeds, but even of imaginations. He will take himself to task at night, and chide himself because he has tolerated one foul thought; because he has looked on vanity, though perhaps the heart has gone no further than the look of lust; because the thought of evil has flitted through his mind—for all this he will vex himself before God; and were it not that he still continues to believe the gospel, one foul imagination would be such a plague and sting to him, that he would have no peace and no rest.
For meditation: We tend to regard repentance as a step to be taken to begin the Christian life and become a member of Christ’s church, but repentance is a command which he himself has issued to established Christian churches and individuals in them (Revelation 2:5,16,21–22; 3:3,19). Repentance is started, not finished, at conversion.