Over the years, intimate friendship has always been tough for me. Maybe because I’m selfish. Maybe because I’m critical. Maybe because I can be too direct and intimidating. Maybe because I’m too busy, and genuine friendship takes work.
So, today, as I was reading James, I was captured by James 4:4
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
James 4:4 ESV
Being friends with the world is easy. The world encourages me to be selfish and critical. The world is waiting for me every time I pick up my phone and veg out on the couch, or pick up a big slice of “poor me pie.”
But, God is a better friend than the world can ever be. God listens to me at all hours of the day or night. He’s never too busy. He’s never distracted. He never ignores my call. He’s never too tired.
God tells me what I need to hear, not only what I want to hear. God gives me wise counsel filled with His loving grace and mercy. God is patient with me. God knows my weakness and still loves me.
The world woos us, pretending to love us, calling to us to come and be filled, but really it is only speaking empty lies and deceit. When I’m chasing after the world, I’m turning my back on the lover of my soul, Jesus, my Savior and Shepherd who gave up His life in my place.
If you’re looking for a true friend, look up.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 ESV
If you’ve ever spent more than a few hours with me, you’ve probably seen me whip my hair back into a simple little braid. While together with family for the Christmas holiday, I asked someone (I can’t remember who ☺️) if they could do that and they replied that, no, they couldn’t, it must be a special thing for my curly hair.
So, yesterday, while getting my hair out of my face by quickly braiding three strands of my fine, curly hair behind my head, I suddenly remembered Ecclesiastes 4:12 ESV, “A threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
But, then, my mind went to this — that three-fold cord takes effort to stay tight, to stay woven and together. I can’t just throw my hair up in a braid and expect it to stay for the rest of the day or week or month. This reminds me that my relationship with God, my relationship with my husband, or my sister, or my children, or a good friend, needs attention to remain tightly held together. Something to ponder.
Father, please help me to abide in You, to hold fast to you, to cling to you. Help me to weave myself into Bill’s life and to be his faithful helper. Grant me your strength to love others and to serve them by your love abiding in me. Thank you for giving me Your Spirit and for the promise that You will never leave me or forsake me. Help me to hear Your voice and to walk step by step holding onto Your loving hand. By the Grace of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 KJV “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
Jesus told us that we would have tribulation in this world. Why are we surprised? But Jesus also said TAKE HEART, I have OVERCOME the World!
Daily we have to actively choose to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who for the JOY that was COMING endured the cross.
We, too, can endure and overcome with hope and peace … because of our FAITH in our Risen Savior who conquered death. We, too, know that JOY is coming. These trials are light and momentary when compared to the eternal WEIGHT of GLORY!
I’m looking forward to ETERNITY with Jesus. Who wants to join me there?
The road is indeed narrow, but Jesus made a way! Jesus made a way where there seemed to be no way. Jesus made a way to reconcile sinful man with Holy God – by His death on the cross, paying for my sins.
Jesus IS the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Him, but WOW what GOOD NEWS that there is a way at all for a sinful woman like me to spend eternity with a good and holy God!!!
Who needs to hear this good news today? If God’s given you this hope, go share it with someone who needs it!
This is my lesson for this week. May it bless many and bear fruit to the glory of Jesus.
I am the younger of two children. I have only one sister. She is older than me. Her name is Kristan.
Growing up, I was always competing with Kristan. I never felt like I was as good as her. She was a quiet girl who didn’t cause much trouble. I always thought she was prettier than me. She was taller than me – and she still is. She was an excellent piano player while I struggled through my piano lessons.
Because I felt like she was better than me in so many ways, I tried to be better than her in other ways. I showed off by being talkative, friendly, outspoken, and loud. I earned awards in science fairs and debate competitions. I went to a special school for the top students in my city, yet I still felt like I was in her shadow.
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever compared yourself to someone else and felt like you weren’t as good, as smart, or as pretty as them?
Last week we talked about what people like to share on social media like WeChat and Facebook.
I think one reason why people like sharing on social media is because they want people to praise them. We all want people to think we’re smart, beautiful, kind, and good. We all want people’s praise.
Now that I am an adult, I still find myself comparing my strengths to others’ weaknesses. I like to share the highlights of my week when my family did something special. I don’t share the moments when I got mad at my husband. I don’t share when my house was a mess and I served frozen pizzas for dinner. I don’t share when I spent 2 hours scrolling mindlessly through Facebook. I want to show the good things my kids or my husband or I did. I still want so much for people to praise and value me. This is still a struggle for me.
How about you?
I want to show you a short video of a young man with Down Syndrome speaking at a meeting for some American government leaders. While you’re watching this video, I want you to think about how you feel watching this young man and how you would feel if he was your son.
If you were this young man’s mom, would you be proud to call him your son? Why? Why not?
Now let’s think about our own families. If you had a son, would you value him more if he was the top student in his Chinese class? What if he won a track meet or an English competition? What would he have to do to make you proud?
What about God? What does God value? What makes God proud? To find an answer, let’s consider the story of the shepherd boy David who grew up to be the King of Israel. The first king of Israel, King Saul, had disobeyed God and God was looking for a new man to be king of Israel. God sent His prophet Samuel to a man named Jesse to find a new king from one of Jesse’s sons. When Jesse’s first son arrived, Samuel thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed,” but Samuel was wrong.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”” (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)
Let’s try reciting this verse together. First, you can listen to me say it. Then, we will say it together. Finally, I’d like a few sisters to try it by themselves.
God had chosen Jesse’s youngest son who was out in the field caring for the sheep. As we are told in Acts 13:22, God had chosen David, the son of Jesse, because he was a man after God’s own heart who would do everything God wanted him to do.
Does that mean that David never sinned? Does that mean that David never broke God’s laws? No, it doesn’t. In fact, David committed adultery with a married woman and had her husband killed. Yet, David was repentant over his sin. David grieved over his sin and turned to God for forgiveness. David held fast to God and had faith in God even when life was very hard.
So, what exactly is in a man’s heart which makes God value him?
What do you think, sisters? What makes a person worthy to be called God’s child?
God created each and every person in His very own image. Every single person ever made was created in the image of God – no matter their skin color, no matter their wealth, no matter their intelligence or ability level, no matter how much money they have. Every single person has value in the sight of God because every single person is created in the image of God.
But not everyone is God’s child.
Jesus “came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn–not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” (John 1:10-13)
The only thing that can make you God’s child is faith, faith in Jesus Christ, the only Son of our Heavenly Father God. This alone is what makes you worthy. Faith is the greatest value.
And even this faith is a gift, as we read in Ephesians 2:8, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”
As you trust in God, then He will strengthen you and guide you to do great things for Him. He will change you, grow you and make you more like His Son as you trust in Him.
Like I once worked so hard to be better than my sister, when I became a Christian, I worked so hard to earn God’s love. But I was wrong. There was nothing I could do to deserve God’s love.
“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24) 耶和华这样说：“智慧人不可夸耀自己的智慧，勇士不可夸耀自己的勇力，财主不可夸耀自己的财富。 夸口的却要因了解我，认识我而夸口；认识我是耶和华，我在地上施行慈爱、 公正、公义；因为我喜悦这些事。”这是耶和华的宣告。
Let’s try reciting this verse together. First, you can listen to me say it. Then, we will say it together. Finally, I’d like a few sisters to try it by themselves.
God delights in steadfast love, justice and righteousness. Yes, He does. And He wants us to do these things, too, but He wants us to do them by faith. He wants us to obey Him by faith.
Jesus chose the intellectual Paul, a Jewish Pharisee and a persecutor of Christians, to share the good news of salvation with the lost. But Jesus also chose four common fishermen like Peter to spread the gospel. Does Jesus love the intellectual Paul more than simple Peter? No.
As Paul wrote in the beginning of his letter to the church in Corinth,
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
Do you think if your child got better grades or your husband had a better job, then God would love you more?
Do you think that if you were prettier or smarter or richer, then God would love you?
What if you memorized more Bible verses or prayed more or went to church more often, then would you be worthy of God’s love?
What if you gave all you owned to the poor or gave up your life as a martyr for Christ, then would you finally be valuable to God? (See 1 Corinthians 13 for more on this!)
Look at these pictures of my husband and my son in our backyard. My husband is much taller than my son when you look at them up close, but when you compare either of them to the height of the trees, they are both so tiny.
We may like to compare ourselves to one other, but when we compare ourselves to God, then we see how short we truly are. None of us are perfectly good, wise or holy. Only God. God loves you because He is God. He is your Creator, and He wants to be your Father. There is nothing you can say or do or think to make yourself worthy of His love.
I don’t know whether you need to hear this because you need to be reminded not to show favoritism to your children or your coworkers or your friends, or because you need the reminder that you can’t earn God’s love, but I know that you need to hear this.
When you place your trust in Jesus Christ, God’s Holy Spirit comes to live inside of you. When God looks at you, He sees His Son, Jesus Christ, in your heart. Jesus Christ is who makes you worthy and valuable, completely worthy and infinitely valuable, and Jesus Christ is the truly the only one truly worthy of praise.
Let me encourage you to share this good news with someone else this week.
It is so easy to grow weary. It is so easy to think that life is without purpose or meaning. Yet, the light shines in the darkness. The Lord gives strength to the weary. In His mercy, the Lord opens the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf and the hearts of the captives.
I find encouragement in knowing that our Heavenly Father never grows weary. In my weariness and weakness, I am able to recognize the enormity of God’s power.
God alone is almighty. He alone is outside of time and space. He alone is able to do everything and know everything. He intentionally created me to need food and rest, that I would recognize my humble state and praise His almighty glory.
So, today, sisters, let me encourage you. Do not grow weary of well-doing. God is not finished with you. In this world you will have trouble, but you can take heart because Jesus – Son of God and Son of Man – has overcome this world! This world is temporary, but the new heavens and new earth are eternal. Do not work for the food that perishes! Instead, work for the treasures which are everlasting. (John 6:27) God Himself is your peace in the storm, the giver of every good thing.
We are together in this earthly journey. Let’s encourage one another as we see the end drawing near. As my Chinese friends say, “Jiayou!” (Keep going!)
All glory to His Almighty name
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
Galatians 6:9 ESV
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”
“If deep in our hearts we suspect that God does not love us and cannot manage our affairs as well as we can, we certainly will not submit to His discipline.” – Elisabeth Elliot (Nor His Word or His plan for our life.)
The more we know the Lord’s loving goodness and mercy, as well as His almighty power, the more we will trust Him and His plans for us.
You can know God. Imagine that! God has given us His Word, so we can know and trust Him. The more you know and trust Him, the more closely you will follow and obey Him.
With what shall I come before the Lord and bow myself before God most high?
Shall I go to church every Sunday morning and Sunday night?
Shall I attend Wednesday morning Bible studies and Wednesday night choir practices?
Will the Lord be pleased if I post Bible verses every morning on Facebook and every night on Instagram?
What if I homeschool my children from birth to high school graduation or put them in the finest Christian schools?
Shall I wear long hair and long skirts and bake homemade bread and desserts for my family?
He has told you, O woman, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.
To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. Faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love.
And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet. You have not eaten bread, and you have not drunk wine or strong drink, that you may know that I am the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 29:2-6 ESV https://bible.com/bible/59/deu.29.2-6.ESV
The Israelites had seen with their own eyes all that the Lord had done in Egypt, the trials and the signs and the wonders. They’d seen the ten plagues that God had sent on Egypt and they’d seen God open the Red Sea for them to escape.
Their eyes had seen it, but the Lord had not given them a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.
So, God led them through the wilderness, providing for them for 40 years, giving them food and water and preserving their clothing, so that they would know that He alone is the true Lord, their God.
God wants us to know Him. God wants us to know that He is the Lord and sometimes that means He has to lead us through the wilderness.
God wants us to see Him in the trials and in the wonders.
Do you know that He is the Lord? Do you trust Him today? If you don’t, will you start seeking Him today? He wants you to know Him.