Again [Jesus] began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea. Then He taught them many things by parables.––Mark 4:1–2
When I open the front door, I am overwhelmed by the silence outside. How absolutely quiet the world has become! Usually there is at least some noise and movement at this hour. But not today. Today everything is still.
A few snowflakes fall out of a gray, overcast sky, adding to the sense of mystery. I zip up my coat and step into this gentle world of silence.
As I begin this New Year, I am reminded of that popular song of the 1970s: “Day by day, day by day, oh, dear Lord, three things I pray: To see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly, day by day.”1
To see You more clearly… The Bible tells us that God is a Spirit,2 invisible,3 and yet we can see Him—in Jesus,4 in the love shared amongst believers,5 in the beauties of His world.6
I’d been trying not to think about Christmas, dreading the day, hoping against hope that some angel would come into my life and make everything okay. I even tried pretending that it was just a normal day, nothing special, in hopes that would make the loneliness go away. But I couldn’t avoid it: Christmas was all around me, and I was alone. No one to talk to, no one to laugh with, and no one to wish me a happy Christmas. With each minute that passed I was getting more depressed, and that’s what I dreaded the most!
He set himself to seek God ... and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.1
If you want to be physically fit, you have to eat right, exercise, and put some time and effort into building good physical habits. Similarly, if you want spiritual growth—if you want to be spiritually fit—it will require investing in a spiritual regimen.
You are precious in My sight. Even the very hairs of your head are numbered. I know your heart and your many thoughts. I want you to know that I am right here beside you, holding your hand. I am a constant help in time of trouble. Never think or feel that you are alone, for My presence is always with you, and My Spirit will give you help.
“Where do I start?” is probably the most common question asked by people starting out reading the Bible.
I remember my first attempts when I was a young man. I started at the beginning, but didn’t get too far, losing interest by the time I got to Leviticus, a book full of ancient laws.
The secret of drawing closer to God is prayer and communion with Him through meditating on His Word. But it’s not just quickly opening your Bible. I’m sure that the failure of many Christians to gain much from meditation arises far more often from opening their Bibles too quickly than from shutting them too quickly!
Around 40% of the world’s population has Internet access. That’s more than three billion people. Instead of hunting through books or doing research at a physical location, we can find information we need by typing a few key words and clicking “search.” Within seconds, links to thousands of websites appear on our screen. Admittedly this can be a bit hit and miss. There’s a lot of material to skim, and not everything you do find is reliable, but there’s no arguing that the Internet puts a world of information at our fingertips.
There she was at the door, jumping up and down for joy, barking and wagging her tail, as if to say: “He’s back!” After a long and tiring day, I received the most wonderful welcome from our black Labrador retriever.
It made me feel good. I smiled and gave her the attention she wanted. After all, a dog is man’s best friend.