Despite his years of fishing experience, Peter returned from a night’s work with nothing to show for it. The Lord’s request to let the nets down one more time perhaps struck him as unreasonable—after all, Peter and his partners were the professionals. Nevertheless, he complied, and his obedience blessed many.
Scripture demonstrates that divine plans often defy human logic. For instance, who would design a battle strategy that involved only marching and shouting? God told Joshua to conquer Jericho that way, and doing so proved successful (Josh. 6:1-5).
Moses is another example. When he felt unsure about his leadership potential, the Lord gave reassurance in an unusual way—by telling him to throw down his walking stick. When Moses obeyed, God powerfully confirmed His choice of a leader (Ex. 4:1-3).
Our Father may ask us to do something that seems illogical—perhaps to accept more responsibility when we were hoping to reduce our workload, to leave a position that He provided just recently, or to take on an assignment for which we feel ill-equipped. His plan might feel unrealistic in view of our age, stage of life, or health concerns. We must press forward in obedience, regardless of how impractical the request may appear.
To grasp the importance of obeying, think about children receiving instructions from parents or teachers. Careful listening is needed for the task to be done safely and properly. Some steps may seem pointless, but the rationale often becomes clear later. Always make obeying God your priority.
Bible in One Year: Zechariah 1-5
Read: John 7:53-8:11
Bible in a Year: Isaiah 7-8; Ephesians 2
Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.—John 8:7
As a group of religious leaders herded an adulterous woman toward Jesus, they couldn’t know they were carrying her within a stone’s throw of grace. Their hope was to discredit Him. If He told them to let the woman go, they could claim He was breaking Mosaic law. But if He condemned her to death, the crowds following Him would have dismissed His words of mercy and grace.
But Jesus turned the tables on the accusers. Scripture says that rather than answering them directly, He started writing on the ground. When the leaders continued to question Him, He invited any of them who had never sinned to throw the first stone, and then He started writing on the ground again. The next time He looked up, all the accusers were gone.
Now the only person who could have thrown a stone—the only sinless one—looked at the woman and gave her mercy. “ ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin’ ” (John 8:11).
Whether today finds you needing forgiveness for judging others or desiring assurance that no sin is beyond His grace, be encouraged by this: No one is throwing stones today; go and be changed by God’s mercy. —Randy Kilgore
Father, cleanse me of my judging nature and free me from the bonds of sin. Let me taste Your mercy and then help me to live a changed life.
Tell us your story of how the Lord has shown grace to you at odb.org/story.
We serve a Savior who is eager to forgive.
INSIGHT: In today’s reading, a dramatic scene unfolds. As Jesus taught in the temple courts a woman caught in the act of adultery was brought to Him. The legalists wanted to test His response to this flagrant act of sin. They knew the law demanded the death penalty and wanted to place Christ in a double bind between merciful forgiveness and literal obedience to the law. When confronted with this guilty woman, Jesus did the unexpected: He knelt and wrote something in the sand. His statement—“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone” (John 8:7)—turned the tide of public opinion. The sinful heart of the accusers caused them to leave one by one.
In the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde describes an exceptionally handsome young man so captivating that he drew the awe-stricken adulation of a great artist. The artist asked him to be the subject of a portrait for he had never seen a face so attractive and so pure. When the painting was completed, young Dorian became so enraptured by his own looks that he wistfully intoned how wonderful it would be if he could live any way he pleased but that no disfigurement of a lawless lifestyle would mar the picture of his own countenance. If only the portrait would grow old and he himself could remain unscathed by time and way of life. In Faustian style he was willing to trade his soul for that wish.
One day, alone and pensive, Dorian went up to the attic and uncovered the portrait that he had kept hidden for so many years, only to be shocked by what he saw. Horror, hideousness, and blood marred the portrait.
The charade came to an end when the artist himself saw the picture. It told the story. He pled with Dorian to come clean, saying, “Does it not say somewhere, ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’?” But in a fit of rage to silence this voice of conscience, Dorian grabbed a knife and killed the artist.
There was now only one thing left for him to do; he took the knife to remove the only visible reminder of his wicked life. But the moment he thrust the blade into the canvas, the portrait returned to its pristine beauty, while Dorian lay stabbed to death on the floor. The ravages that had marred the picture now so disfigured him that even his servants could no longer recognize him.
What a brilliant illustration of how a soul, though invisible, can nonetheless be tarnished. I wonder, if there were to be a portrait of my soul or your soul, how would it best be depicted? Does not the conscience sting, when we think in these terms? Though we have engineered many ways of avoiding physical consequences, how does one cleanse the soul?
“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
God wants every Christian to understand spiritual gifts and use his or hers wisely.
A spiritual gift is a channel through which the Holy Spirit ministers to the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:11). The day we were born again into God’s family, His Spirit distributed to us a spiritual gift. Therefore, having a spiritual gift does not mean a believer is “spiritual.” What we really must ask is, “Is the channel clear?” Hypothetically, someone could have all the recorded spiritual gifts and not be using any of them. Or that believer could be greatly abusing some gifts. In either case, such a person would not be spiritual.
It is also incorrect to equate a natural ability with a spiritual gift. Someone might say, “My gift is baking pies”; another might say, “I’m good at playing the piano.” Those are wonderful and useful abilities, but they are natural abilities, not spiritual gifts.
Paul illustrates the difference between abilities and gifts. He could have used his knowledge of philosophy and literature to write and deliver great orations. However, this is what he said to the Corinthians: “I did not come with superiority of speech or wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1-2). The Holy Spirit uses the abilities of people like Paul and speaks through them, but He expresses Himself in a supernatural way, which is not necessarily related to the person’s natural skills.
If we rely on our own ability to produce spiritual fruit, we hinder what the Spirit wants to do in us. Instead, ponder what Peter says about using your gift: “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:10-11).
Suggestions for Prayer
Thank the Lord for the special spiritual gift He has given you. Ask that He would help you use it faithfully, to its full potential.
For Further Study
Read Romans 12:4-8 and list the spiritual gifts mentioned there. What does 1 Corinthians 12, especially verses 12-31, emphasize regarding the use of the various gifts within the church?
In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Ephesians 4:26
Few things in this world eat away at you like unconfessed sin and unresolved conflict. Like a cancer deep in your bones, the longer it is left ignored and untreated the more it grows and spreads, infecting all parts of your body and soul. Though we have a remarkable ability to suppress and ignore our emotions, they never simply go away. The hurt and pain often rests just below the surface, ready at the most unexpected times to resurface in the form of angry outbursts, unexplained anxiety, and paralyzing fear.
The good news of God’s kingdom is that Jesus enters into the brokenness of our world and speaks life into all the places where death once reigned. And yet, so often due to our shame or lack of trust, we keep our wounds hidden, telling ourselves that they aren’t that bad or that we can heal them on our own.
When we see the goodness of God shown to us in Jesus, we encounter a purity and intensity of love that lets us lay down our weapons and the walls that we work so hard to keep up. We learn that his consuming fire isn’t a fire of anger or rage but is a purifying fire that desires to burn away all that is impure in our lives. He wants us to come out of the shadows, not so our shame and hurt can be exposed and ridiculed, but so that in the light of his love the darkness of our hearts can be driven out by his light.
If we do not trust that God is good and loving and able to heal the sickest parts of our souls, we will always struggle to freely and frequently confess our sins to him and to one another. When we let the sickness of sin grow untreated in our souls, we turn away from the healing balm of God’s Spirit and instead inflict wounds upon ourselves and upon others, often upon the people in our lives that are the dearest and most loved.
He found him in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.
Earlier this year, a television crew from Animal Planet was filming a scene on a deserted island in the South Pacific. Suddenly the crew spotted a man yelling and waving his arms. He was a genuine castaway, a stranded fisherman, suffering dehydration and sunstroke. The man had given up hope, said his prayers, and was prepared to die. The crew rescued him—and made a television program about the adventure.
None of us like to be cast into a desert place in life, but the Lord knows how to rescue us. He finds us where we are. He encircles us. He instructs us, and He keeps us as the apple of His eye.
If you’re in a desert place, don’t give up your hope. Desert places can become places of deliverance, and God can even turn spiritual deserts into times of refreshment. Isaiah 35 says, “…the desert shall rejoice and blossom… for waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert” (verses 1, 6).
Jesus often meets us in the desert places of life.
If He be the Source of our mercies they can never fail us. No heat, no drought can parch that river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God.
Mrs. Lettie B. Cowman
Zechariah 6 – 10
My little children, I write you these things so that you may not violate God’s law and sin. But if anyone should sin, we have an Advocate (One Who will intercede for us) with the Father—[it is] Jesus Christ [the all] righteous [upright, just, Who conforms to the Father’s will in every purpose, thought, and action].- 1 John 2:1
Obviously our goal should be to not sin. But if we do sin, God has already provided Jesus—Who is perfect—to take our place and atone for our sin. We may feel we are earning God’s forgiveness by feeling guilty. But that is our fleshly way of trying to “pay” for our mistakes. Jesus did not die for us so we could feel guilty; He died for us so we could have an intimate relationship with God through Him. He died so our sins could be forgiven and we could have right standing with God. He wants us to come boldly to the throne of grace in prayer and have our needs met.
Power Thought: Jesus died for my sins so I don’t have to pay for them.
From the book the book Power Thoughts Devotional by Joyce Meyer.
The testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Friend to Friend
My daughter plays competitive volleyball and recently began a specialized resistance plyometric workout called Vertimax training. The actual Vertimax equipment looks rather unimpressive. It’s a sturdy platform that hosts a complicated series of industrial-sized rubber bands. The results of training with this system, however, are anything but unimpressive. This advanced resistance-training helps to increase vertical jump, strengthen and protect muscles, and accelerate an athlete’s reaction time. Everything a volleyball player wants!
But let me tell you, it is hard work.
Kennedy trains under the careful watch of a guide who knows just how much tension to add and to allow on the platform. And she works through a rapid series of reps to the point of fatigue, and sometimes to failure.
The resistance of the bands increases her strength, but not until her muscles are worn down. After fatigue sets in and the muscles break down, healing begins, and she grows stronger as a result.
Just like in life.
Trials and tension can lead to stress or to strength. Often both! Challenges can tear us down, but they also hold the power to build us up. It’s important for us to realize that we get to choose our responses when resistance wears us thin.
I want to honor God in both good and bad times. Don’t you? I honestly do, but it’s not easy. I tend to get upset about the breakdowns and strains I have to deal with. The Bible shows me, however, that if I didn’t have any resistance I wouldn’t grow.
“But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry about what to say in your defense. Just say what God tells you to. Then you will not be speaking, but the Holy Spirit will” (Mark 13:11).
Have you even had the experience of trying to say a word for the Lord, just sharing your faith, and breathing a prayer for guidance – then marveling as the Lord Himself, by His indwelling Holy Spirit, put the very words in your mouth that needed to be said?
Such has been my experience – many times. And I marvel and rejoice each time. On some occasions, I have addressed crowds of varying sizes, often not only feeling totally inadequate but also concluding my message of the evening with the feeling that I had been a poor ambassador of Christ. Then, someone had approached me after the service and thanked my for saying just the word he needed at that moment.
We serve a faithful God. That neighbor who needs a word of encouragement – ask the Lord to give you the right words to say to him or her. That correspondent hundreds of miles away – trust God for His message to him or her through you.
Certain conditions must prevail, of course, before the Holy Spirit can speak through us. But they are easily met. I must come with a clean heart, surrendered to the Holy Spirit, with my sins forgiven, having forgiven other people, holding no resentment or ill feeling against anyone. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18, KJV).
Let us trust God and His indwelling Holy Spirit for the very words of counsel we should say to a loved one or friend today.
Bible Reading: Acts 2:1-4
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will trust God and His Holy Spirit to put the very words in my mouth this day that need to be said to others whose lives I touch.
Read: Romans 8:31-34
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:33-34
This is a reminder of the work that God has done. We love God when we trust in the full effect of his work on our behalf. Paul is looking back over the letter, and sees two great works that God has done. The first is justification. Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? Who can? It is God who justifies. Justification means that nothing and no one anywhere can accuse us successfully before God.
The devil is the accuser of the brethren. He will try to accuse us constantly. This verse tells us that we must not listen to his voice. We must not listen to these thoughts that condemn us, that put us down, that make us feel that there is no hope for us. These thoughts will come — they cannot be stopped — but we do not have to listen to them. We know God is not listening to these accusations. Who can condemn us when God justifies us? Therefore we refuse to be condemned. We don’t do this by ignoring our sin or trying to cover it over, or pretending that it isn’t there; we do it by admitting that we fully deserve to be condemned, but that God, through Christ, has already borne our guilt. That is the only way out. That is why Christians should not hesitate to admit their failure and their sin. You will never be justified until you admit it. But when you admit it, then you also can face the full glory of the fact that God justifies the ungodly, and therefore there is no condemnation.
Read: 1 Kings 10:1-10
An abundance of spices . . . that the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. (v. 10)
Was this “land of spices” a legendary country, remote and mysterious? No, not exactly. Remote, certainly, even more so than the Queen of Sheba’s homeland; but a real place. For hundreds of years after Bible times, the spices that made food worth eating—cloves and nutmeg, mace and pepper—came chiefly (like the bird of paradise!) from today’s Indonesia, by a long and expensive route, most of it overland, with dues to be paid each time the merchants passed from one country to another. But by George Herbert’s time, a century of exploration by sea had enabled the countries of Europe to cut out the middleman and bring these good things directly from “the land of spices.”
When we pray, we are well aware that there is just one unavoidable middleman, the Lord Jesus. But he is not the kind that requires payment of duty at the customs posts on goods being traded internationally. Rather, he is himself the bringer of the goods. All dues paid, all costs covered.
Robert Leighton, a younger contemporary of Herbert’s and a leading light in the Church of Scotland, wrote of prayer as “our very traffic with heaven,” which “fetches the most precious commodities thence. He who sends oftenest out these ships of desire . . . to that land of spices . . . shall . . . have most of heaven upon earth.”
Here is the poem in its entirety:
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! —2 Corinthians 4:17
There are lessons we learn in the storms of life that we don’t learn anywhere else. When Paul and Barnabas visited the believers in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, the Bible tells us they strengthened them and encouraged them “to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
This isn’t a verse you would usually see hanging on someone’s wall, is it? It is almost as bad as “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). There are some promises we would rather forget, but they are just as true as Romans 8:28, which promises that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” and Jeremiah 29:11, where the Lord says, “For I know the plans I have for you. . . . They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
No one is exempt from experiencing the storms of life. God is doing a work. And that is what we have to understand: God is at work. He will not waste our pain. He will produce something in our lives that we need. He is looking for a desired result.
As 2 Corinthians 4:17 reminds us, “Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”
God will take the things we are going through and use them for His glory in time. God’s endgame, if you will, His primary purpose for us, is to make us more like Jesus. He is getting us ready for Heaven.
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
Have you ever coveted? To “covet” something is to wish you had that something, even if God has chosen not to give it to you. Maybe you wish sometimes that your family had a nicer house, with a back yard big enough for a ball game. Maybe you have found yourself wishing that you were taller, or prettier, or stronger. Maybe you struggle with some kind of disability, and you just wish you could be “normal” like everyone else. Not everything we wish for is a bad thing in itself. We can wish for very good things. But when those wishes for good things become strong enough desires to make us bitter at God, or willing to break God’s laws to get those things, that’s when wishing becomes coveting. And that’s when wishing becomes sin.
God’s Word clearly teaches that He is sovereign. He is in control, and He is aware of (He knows the details of) everything going on in our lives. Hebrews 13:5-6 reminds us that the Lord has promised never to leave or forsake His people. If we are trusting the Lord, we can be content with those things He has chosen to give us. We can be content without those things He has chosen not to give us.
Do you believe the Lord is with you? Is He more valuable to you than the other things you desire? Or do you wish for some things so much that you would be willing to sin against Him to get those things? Reminding ourselves that the Lord is always with us and always aware of our needs is a great way to keep ourselves from giving in to the temptation to covet.
Another way that the Lord keeps us from sinning is the fact that He is our best helper, not men. The Lord is always available – we can always call on Him when we need help. What man or woman could always be there for us? And the Lord is greater than any person or problem that could come up against us. We really have nothing to fear if the Lord is with us and if the Lord is our help.
Today’s Scripture: 1 Peter 5:6
“Humble yourselves . . . under the mighty hand of God.”
Job and Joseph are examples of those who saw God’s hand in their circumstances. In one day, Job’s oxen were stolen, his camels carried off, his servants murdered. Lightning burned up his sheep, and a mighty wind struck the house of his oldest son, killing all his children. Later Job himself was afflicted with painful sores from head to feet. He responded, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). With respect to his own affliction he said, “shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (2:10).
Note that Job ascribed his sufferings to the hand of God. He saw beyond the actions of evil men and the disasters of nature to the sovereign God who controlled those events. At the close of Job’s story, we read that his relatives and friends “showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). Though the writer had himself reported the malicious activity of Satan in Job’s life at the beginning of the narrative, he still ultimately ascribed Job’s troubles to the Lord.
Joseph, when he finally revealed his identity to his wicked brothers who had sold him into slavery, saw beyond their evil acts and said, “It was not you who sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:8). He recognized that God in his sovereignty used even the heinous sins of his brothers to accomplish his purpose.
If you and I are to appropriate God’s grace in our times of need, we must see his sovereignty ultimately ruling in all the circumstances of our lives. And when those circumstances are difficult, disappointing, or humiliating, we must humble ourselves under his mighty hand.
Today’s Scripture: Nehemiah 3-4
May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us–yes, establish the work of our hands. – Psalm 90:17
I was sitting aboard a 747 preparing to take off for Seoul, Korea. Out the window I could see mechanics making last-minute inspections. The officers in the cockpit were going through their checklist. The flight attendants were helping everyone get settled. The baggage handlers were getting our suitcases on board. The people in the tower were busy preparing our take-off clearance. It was a huge, unified effort.
That’s what we see in Nehemiah, chapters 3 and 4. It took each man doing his own part to build the wall of Jerusalem. But it also took the vision and motivation of leaders throughout the project to stir up the people and help them jump into the job with enthusiasm.
Nehemiah 3:1 says that “the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate.” Imagine that! Holy priests doing common labor! But verse 5 mentions a section of the wall repaired by the men of Tekoa, whose nobles “would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors.”
My wife and I were having dinner with some long-time friends of ours, along with two young men. Just before dessert, one young man excused himself and went to the kitchen to help clean up. The other young man just sat there. He was a graduate of one of our service academies, but he had flunked the test of true leadership.
Even the King of kings, Jesus Christ, did not come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). Service takes many forms, some highly visible and some behind the scenes. But each type is essential for the work of God.
Lord, keep me from thinking I’m above the lowly tasks that come my way. Amen.
There is multiplicity in Christ’s kingdom; to promote someone else’s welfare is to be a good leader.
Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski met at a Starbucks café in north Phoenix in January 2015. Both were Christians, and both were artists. They decided to go into business together, combining their love for Jesus with their love for making beautiful things. Soon they launched Brush & Nib Studio, a for-profit art business that sells hand-drawn invitations and paintings.
According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, a leading Christian legal-defense organization, “As Christian artists, Joanna and Breanna had a simple goal for their studio: to recreate the beauty God placed all around us and to share that beauty with others. And this goal made it natural for Joanna and Breanna to focus on artwork for weddings.”
Well, this combination of Brush & Nib’s Christian conviction and its focus on weddings created a problem for Joanna and Breanna—as it already has for bakers and wedding photographers who believe marriage is between a man and a woman and cannot, by conscience, participate in wedding ceremonies between homosexuals.
The city of Phoenix has passed an ordinance which, according to ADF, “requires Brush & Nib to create invitations and other artwork for same-sex wedding ceremonies. It also prevented Brush & Nib from explaining to customers and the public why they could only create art consistent with their beliefs about marriage.”
This is what’s known in some circles as a two-fer, violating not only their religious freedom but also their freedom of speech! Not only that, but the law said that for each day business owners such as Joanna and Breanna were in violation, they would be liable for a $2,500 fine … and six months in jail.
These two Christians face fines and jail for standing up for what they believe. At the same time, no one would think of the government penalizing NFL quarterback Collin Kaepernick for standing up—or in his case, not standing up—for what he believes. Why the inconsistency?
Read ESTHER 9:29–32
The Library of Congress has more than 20,000 documents from President Abraham Lincoln’s life and political career. Among the collection are letters, speeches, and personal notes. One particularly treasured artifact is a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation dated July 22, 1862. Great effort is taken to preserve these records of our history.
As we close the book of Esther, we see that the events which have transpired will not be forgotten. Queen Esther and Mordecai wrote a second letter of confirmation to establish the days of Purim. They had “full authority” given to them by the king (v. 29). Notice the level of documentation that confirmed their decision. In addition to the writing of the official edict, letters were sent to each of the 127 provinces. The letters brought good news, words of “goodwill and assurance” (v. 30), and established the tradition of celebrating Purim. They did more than simply inform the Jewish people who were alive at the time of Esther and Mordecai. This information was intended to be recorded and handed down for generations to come.
Throughout Scripture, there is an emphasis on recording the words of God and memorializing the significant moments between God and His people. In Exodus, the Ten Commandments were written on tablets of stone to record the Law of God for His people. Throughout the Old Testament, genealogies were carefully recorded, temple ceremonies paid close attention to detail, and parents passed along the stories of God to their children.
Each word, every letter, was recorded so they would “remember the days of old” (Deut. 32:7)—not just to remember the event or to celebrate a fun holiday, but to remember how God had moved to deliver and vindicate His people and to celebrate His mercy and power.
APPLY THE WORD
Have you written down your personal testimony? Some genealogists find important dates penned in the family Bible. Write a simple record of how God has worked in your life. Tuck it in your Bible or share it with your family. Show how God has been important to you and let future generations see how His hand has been at work in your life.
US doctors in Mexico recently helped Jordanian parents give birth to a baby boy. The fact that three nations were involved in this event is not what’s making news today. It’s the fact that three parents were.
The mother carries a genetic condition that usually causes the child to die within two to three years. The couple has already suffered four miscarriages as well as the death of two children. This time, doctors combined the DNA from the mother’s egg with healthy mitochondria from a donor egg, creating a healthy new egg they fertilized with the father’s sperm. The result is a baby with 0.1 percent of the donor’s DNA but without the genetic defect that would have killed the child.
Technology is not only making possible designer eggs, but designer sperm as well. For instance, the London Sperm Bank has released a mobile app that lets women filter potential sperm donors based on ethnicity, occupation, personality type, eye color, etc. Women can also create an alert that will notify them when a donor with their preferred characteristics becomes available.
Doctors can already warn prospective parents if they are carriers of genes that cause Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, sickle cell disease, Tay-Sachs, and other disorders. We can imagine a day when potential mates are chosen for their genetic capacities and reproductive potential.
Millions of so-called “test tube” babies have been conceived through in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Scientists can test embryos for a variety of diseases, then implant healthy embryos and freeze or discard the rest. Soon they may be able to test for capacities such as intelligence and body type.
The ethical implications of “customized babies” are staggering.
Obeying God in small matters can bring blessing to many. Today’s passage illustrates this principle.
Simon Peter, a fisherman, had worked hard all night without catching anything. He was on the shore finishing his work when Jesus approached him. The Lord wanted to speak from the boat to the crowd on the beach. Despite a long, fruitless night of work, Peter agreed to take Jesus in the vessel. The crowd was blessed by listening to Christ.
God’s requests can come to us at unexpected moments. We may be tempted to let someone else respond to His call, thinking it will not matter who is the one to comply. But remember, His plans are designed for our benefit (Jer. 29:11).
Later Jesus made a second request to Peter—to move the boat into deeper water and let down the nets. The fisherman commented about the unlikelihood of catching anything but nevertheless did as Christ asked. Peter’s cooperation resulted in an abundance for the crowd, the other fishermen, their families, and himself.
Peter didn’t obey in order to be rewarded, yet that is precisely what happened. His simple acts of obedience led to greater opportunities for service and occasions for abundant blessing.
Some of us act as if obedience in the little things is unimportant. Peter’s story teaches us the opposite. Let’s commit to carrying out the Lord’s instructions in small matters as well as large ones, trusting that He will bring good from all obedience. Following God is always the right choice to make.
Read: Romans 8:22-34
Bible in a Year: Isaiah 5-6; Ephesians 1
The Spirit himself intercedes for us . . . . [Christ Jesus] is also interceding for us.—Romans 8:26, 34
When we face a perplexing situation or a tough problem, we often ask our brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for us. It’s a great encouragement to know that others who care are holding us up to God in prayer. But what if you don’t have close Christian friends? Perhaps you live where the gospel of Christ is opposed. Who will pray for you?
Romans 8, one of the great, triumphant chapters of the Bible, declares, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. . . . The Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Rom. 8:26-27). The Holy Spirit is praying for you today.
In addition, “Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (v. 34). The living Lord Jesus Christ is praying for you today.
Think of it! The Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ mention your name and your needs to God the Father, who hears and acts on your behalf.
No matter where you are or how confusing your situation, you do not face life alone. The Spirit and the Son are praying for you today! —David McCasland
Dear God, I bow in humble thanks for the prayers spoken by the Holy Spirit and by Your Son today—for me. What an amazing truth!
The Holy Spirit and Jesus are always praying for you.