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The Fine Print

The bright red ad demanded attention, its bold lettering enticing buyers with:

 

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40% off entire store!

 

But then the small print at the bottom of the ad listed three top brands that were not included in the sale. (How do businesses get away with such blatant dishonesty?)

I can only imagine the frustration of an unsuspecting shopper, combing the racks of those “forbidden” brands, trying them all on to select those that fit best, only to take them to a counter (where she must wait in line with other bargain-hunters) and finally be told, “Oh, I’m sorry. Those brands are not included in the sale.”

 

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We have to read the fine print—of advertising, offers, and contracts.

And buyer beware:

 

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(“Nothing in fine print is ever good news.”

–Andy Rooney, radio and TV writer)

 

There is one exception however where the fine print does provide very good news. That’s because the word, fine, has many more definitions than small.

Among the eleven definitions in Webster’s Dictionary, fine can mean:

 

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  1. Free from impurities, as in fine gold
  2. Very sharp, as in the fine edge of a knife or a fine intellect
  3. Exemplary of great skill, as in fine lace
  4. Capable of superior quality and craftsmanship, as in a fine carpenter
  5. Manifesting precision, as in a fine timepiece

 

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With these definitions in mind, the finest print in the world is God’s Word, the Bible. It is:

 

  1. Free from the impurities of lies or even a stretching of the truth (Psalm 19:7a).

 

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2. Very sharp, able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb. 4:12, NLT).

 

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  1. Exemplary of great skill—God’s skill.

He brought together more than forty men from diverse cultures and all classes of citizens – from kings to fishermen – to record His Word. God extended his work over 1500 years and three continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe), three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek), and nine different genres. Yet the diverse pieces fit together in one unified whole. What other book can compare?

 

  1. Superior in quality and craftsmanship.

 

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(“As for God, his way is perfect;

the word of the Lord is flawless.”

 –2 Samuel 22:31, NIV)

 

  1. A masterpiece of precision. Those who doubt the accuracy of the Bible would do well to learn about the:

a) hundreds of fulfilled prophecies contained within its pages,

b) scores of archaeological discoveries which verify people, places, and events mentioned in scripture,

c) thousands of manuscripts and fragments which validate the accuracy of the Bible, and

d) scientific and medical research affirming the truth of various passages – long before that truth could be verified.

 

Indeed, the fine print of scripture is of rare quality, demonstrating absolute purity and perfection. That’s because the Author is himself the epitome of purity, precision, and perfection.

So read the fine print of scripture . Marvel in its superior quality compared to others books.  Get to know the faithful and trustworthy Author through his Word.  And embrace its life-changing truth.

Also be mindful that:

 

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(“A Bible that’s falling apart

usually belongs to someone who isn’t.

― Charles H. Spurgeon)

 

No other fine print can offer such stability.

 

Art & photo credits:  www.twitter.com; http://www.thedailysheeple.com; http://www.izquotes.com; http://www.all-free-download.com; http://www.pinterest.com (2), http://www.verseoftheday.com; http://www.pinterest.com (2).

 

Eternal Pleasures

(A personal psalm, based on Psalm 16)

 

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 Oh, God, I praise you for every blessing you bestow (v. 2).

You are the God of all Goodness, the Author of every benefit. Just recently you granted:

  • Timely encouragement from friends,
  • A memorable dinner celebrating four anniversaries—ours, along with those of our three children and spouses,
  • The announcement of a third grandchild, due to arrive in January.

As A. W. Tozer observed: Out of your goodness, Lord, comes your desire for my highest welfare, your wisdom to plan it, and your power to achieve it. What do I lack (Knowledge of the Holy, p. 70)?

It’s also true that anything good within me comes from you. I hate to think where I’d be today if it weren’t for your influence and direction in my life.

 

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Oh, God, I praise you for your godly people living heroic lives (v. 3).

I take great pleasure in knowing more than several, and gain encouragement from their examples—heroes such as:

  • Cheri, who cares for her elderly parents,
  • Buck and Nikki, who faithfully minister in nursing homes,
  • Bill, who soldiers on with ALS–with a sense of humor, no less—after years of paralysis, and
  • Charity, who is battling cancer with great doses of gratitude and praise, in addition to chemo.

These dear ones and more reflect your strength, Lord, your love, joy, peace, and courage. How dare I entertain the slightest bit of self-pity or discouragement?

 

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Oh, God, I praise you for being my grand and glorious inheritance (v. 6).

You possess all power, inhabit all corners of the universe, know all things.

You are all-wise, righteous and holy in all you do—absolutely perfect.

Everything in the universe belongs to you, the Creator of it all.

Yet you care for me.  Out of your unlimited resources, you supply everything I need—and then some. Even in the small matters, you are there. You’ve provided:

  • A woman to guide me through a hallway-maze in a medical building,
  • Two sons who can trouble-shoot my computer problems (!), and
  • Continual reminders that your Spirit is at work, even when circumstances seem stagnant.

You are a reliable God who keeps his promises. Always.

And when I leave this earth, you have reserved for me in heaven an eternal inheritance that will never decrease, including the privilege of living with you, basking in your glory.

Such wonders overwhelm the intellect, and my heart overflows with gratitude.

 

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Oh, God, I praise you for your reliability (v. 8).

All the attributes mentioned above (and more) you bring to bear in my life—not as an impersonal monarch overseeing the general welfare of his kingdom—but as a gracious Father, lovingly guiding my individual course.

You will never leave me alone to fend for myself.

And you will also keep me safe until all the chapters of my life have been written (Psalm 139:16).

 

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Oh, God, I praise you with my whole being (vs. 9, 11). You fill: 

  • My heart with the joy of your presence,
  • My mind with the wisdom and truth of your Word, and
  • My spirit with the glory of your attributes. 

Oh, God, I praise you that these pleasures are available to your children for evermore.

 

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May I keep my thoughts centered on you and on these, your precious gifts.

 

Art & photo credits:  www.dailyverses.net; http://www.biblepic.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.pinterest.com (2).

 

Staff Sgt. Jacob DeShazer, a member of the famed Doolittle Raiders, was the bombardier of Crew No.16, the last of the 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers to launch from the USS Hornet April 18, 1942, on the famous bombing run over Tokyo. Sergeant DeShazer, 95, died March 15. (U.S. Air Force photo)

 

Jake DeShazer sat on a narrow bench facing the back wall of his cell, a position he was forced to keep hour after hour, day after day, as his imprisonment dragged on.

The year was 1945. DeShazer had been a prisoner of war in Japan for forty long months, enduring suffocating heat in summer, bitter cold in winter, solitary confinement, near-starvation, cruel treatment, and torture.

As he sat, perhaps Jake thought of his comrades among the eighty flyers of Dolittle’s Raiders, the bombing run over Japan that helped turn the tide of the war in favor of the Allies in 1942.

 

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But DeShazer’s plane was among those shot down, its crew members captured. How many of the original eighty had survived? Jake had no way of knowing, except for the few in his own cell block.

During those long, solitary hours, perhaps Jake reviewed the encouragements from scripture he had learned and the verses he’d memorized when–for three short weeks–he was allowed to have a Bible. What a change had taken place in his heart.

Prior to his captivity, Jake had no interest in Christianity. But the cruel treatment from his captors month after month nearly drove him crazy. Hatred consumed him. He remembered that Christianity supposedly changed hatred into brother love. Was that really possible?

He had begged for that Bible, but it was a long time coming. When the emperor of Japan told prison guards to treat their captives better, DeShazer’s request was finally honored. And as a result of studying the scriptures, he put his faith in Jesus. Bitter hatred for the Japanese transformed into loving pity.

As Jake’s thoughts focused on his captors, he may have prayed again the words from scripture that first melted his heart: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Perhaps DeShazer reaffirmed what God’s Spirit had revealed to him earlier: His captors knew nothing of a Savior.  Without Jesus, it was only natural for them to be cruel.

And so, as he lifted up loved ones and fellow soldiers, as he expressed his longing for the war to end, Jake also prayed for his captors to know Christ.

Suddenly, he heard the stomping of boots, the hum of multiple voices in the corridor, crying, and clanging of prison doors. Then he was able to make out words—in English! “The war is over!” “We’ve come to take you home!”

Within moments his own cell door was swung open by soldiers in American uniform, paratroopers who had landed directly on the prison compound.

The date: August 20, 1945 (seventy-one years ago this Saturday). Unbeknownst to the captives, the emperor of Japan had surrendered on August 10, following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The horror was finally over; DeShazer and thousands of other soldiers returned home to pick up the pieces of their lives.

Jake chose to pursue a degree at Seattle Pacific University, which he accomplished in three years. By December of 1948, he and his wife, Florence, along with their first baby, were headed for the mission field, to—of all places—Japan.

Every time DeShazer met someone in his new home country and told his story, almost always the person would ask, “Why did you come back here?” And he would introduce them to Jesus.

 

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(DeShazer with Japanese children, 1952)

 

It is estimated that some 30,000 people accepted Christ into their lives—just in the first year of Jake’s ministry in Japan. Among them, a number of former prison guards who had held Jake and his comrades captive.

Another surprising convert: Mitsuo Fuchida, the pilot who led the attack on Pearl Harbor. He “happened” to read a pamphlet Jake had written, “I Was A Prisoner of Japan.” Fuchida began to study the Bible, became a Christian, and served as a missionary himself in Asia. He and Jake eventually met and became friends.

 

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(DeShazer and Fuchida)

 

For nearly thirty years, the DeShazers served God in Japan, helping to found sixteen churches throughout the country.

 

Someone has said:

 

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(“Forgiveness does not change the past,

but it does change the future.”)

 

DeShazer’s story proves just how mind-boggling and miraculous that future can be.

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Thank you, Father, for DeShazer’s story, proving it is possible to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). By comparison to DeShazer’s horrific experiences, my hurts and resentments are embarrassingly puny. Yet I still need your Spirit to transform them into compassion and love. As a starting point, may I never lose sight of the totally underserved forgiveness you have lavished upon me.

 

You can access more of Jacob DeShazer’s story at:

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.verterantributes.org; http://www.worldevangelism.net; http://www.spu.edu; http://www.jacobdeshazer.com; http://www.pinterest.com.)

 

A Crescendo of Praise

 

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Confession time: During my growing up years I was a bit worried that life in heaven would involve a lot of cloud-sitting and harp-playing. To be honest, it sounded a bit boring to worship through all eternity. Just how many songs could we play and sing?

However, it sure beat the alternative, so I resigned myself to a bit of boredom and told myself, Once we get there, we won’t know any better, and we’ll be perfectly content singing and strumming.

That shows you how little I understood about heavenly worship (or earthly worship either, for that matter). It will not be a passive occupation of dreary repetition!

I expect our celestial worship will be something like a Christian concert by a favorite artist when…

 

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…our hearts pump excitedly to experience the music of an admired vocalist. We thoroughly enjoy the performance of all the old, familiar songs we’ve grown to love. We are not bored, even though we know well the lyrics and melodies. We sing along, happily remembering the good old days when the song was first introduced.

But we also delight in a new melody—something fresh and different that thrills our spirits. And the whole time, through old and new, we revel in the companionship of others who share the memories and take great pleasure in the music with us. (Joy is augmented when shared with kindred spirits.) Each song concludes with much clapping and shouting among the concert-goers.

Of course, when we get to heaven, our favorite Artist will be the King of glory himself, who will rejoice over us with his singing (Zechariah 3:17).  Can you imagine it?!

 

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It’s also likely we’ll enjoy familiar old songs we’ve heard before and grown to love. John the Revelator gives us indication.

When he was invited up to heaven, John heard the saints singing a song of Moses. Even in the first century A.D., that was an old song, celebrating the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt (Revelation 15:3-4; Psalm 111:2-4).

More than likely, we, too, will remember and sing of the great and marvelous deeds the Lord God Almighty has performed (Psalm 86:10). We’ll celebrate his glorious attributes, and revel in the blessed companionship of other believers who also love the supreme Artist, and take great joy in joining the song.

Our praise will be further enhanced with musical instruments (1).   Each section of the orchestra provides symbolism of our King’s magnificence:

  • Horns – his splendor and majesty (just as trumpeters on earth have heralded royalty through the centuries.)
  • Strings – his peace and serenity
  • Percussion – his power and strength
  • Woodwinds – his love and gentle compassion

We will sing and play and perhaps even dance in a great crescendo of worship (2), celebrating God’s mighty acts of power and surpassing greatness (Psalm 150:2, 4). It will be a good and glorious time (147:1)!

 

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Shame on me for ever thinking that worship for eternity might become boring. It’s going to be the most heart-pumping, soul-stirring, exciting concert yet (3).

However!  The crescendo has already begun here on earth. Just as David urged, we can praise God every day and continue from now to eternity (Psalm 145:2).

The glorious crescendo of worship and celebration, praise and thanksgiving, joy and wonder will never end!

_________________________

Notes:

(1) Instruments are played in heaven. Revelation 5:8 and 8:6-12 give indication of harps and trumpets. Perhaps there are more which John did not see!

(2) That phrase, crescendo of worship, comes from Bible teacher and author, Warren Wiersbe, in his book, Be Exultant, p. 25

(3) In addition to glorious worship, we will be occupied by fulfilling, satisfying work, just as Adam and Eve were given responsibilities in the perfect Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15).

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.clipart.me; http://www.rockingodhouse.com; http://www.defininggrace.com; http://www.pinterest.com.)


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Logic said his chances were slim to win the 400-meter race at the 1924 Olympics. After all:

  • Four hundred meters is a long sprint; he was a short sprinter.
  • Two other competitors in the race had achieved world records in this event.
  • He had been assigned the least desirable lane.

But when the starting gun fired, Eric Liddell quickly took the lead and pounded around the track at a steady pace—his head thrown back, arms pumping at his sides. Against the odds, Eric crossed the finish line first to win the gold medal. In fact, he set a new world record.

In the film, Chariots of Fire (1981), about Eric’s rise to Olympic gold, his character says, “God made me fast, and when I run, I feel his pleasure.” The scriptwriter was actually responsible for those words, but the attitude behind them surely reflected the strong faith-experience of the real Liddell.

 

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No doubt about it: Eric was gifted by God to run. And when he used that gift, Eric felt confident God was pleased, because he was fulfilling one of the purposes for which God had created him.

But those famous words from the film beg the question:

How can a person know when the invisible God experiences pleasure?

Scripture is the obvious place to begin our search for answers. In fact, the first book of the Bible—the first chapter no less—gives us indication. Seven times as God was creating the universe he “saw that it was good.” God takes pleasure in what he has made.

His pleasure is especially evident in the creation of humanity. He knit each of us together—not just bones, muscle, and organs—but personality traits, modes of intelligence, talents, interests, and more. Each of us is an incredible feat of engineering, a breath-taking masterpiece (Psalm 139:13, Ephesians 2:10). With so many variables at his disposal, God creates each person with precise uniqueness for distinct purposes.

 

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God also plans out each of our lives: the places where we’ll live, the people we’ll meet, the events we’ll experience (Psalm 139:16).

 

“God formed us for his pleasure…

and meant us to see him and live with him

and draw our life from his smile.”

A. W. Tozer

(The Pursuit of God, p. 32, emphasis added)

 

In Psalm 147, we’re told, “The Lord delights in those who fear* him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (v. 11).

What might that delight or pleasure feel like to us?

Perhaps a warm contentment in the spirit—the way we feel when someone we respect smiles upon us with approval. Perhaps deep confidence as we live by his wisdom.

With God, such sublime moments are not necessarily random events.   We can be assured to experience God’s pleasure as we:

  • Take joy in his presence (Psalm 16:11) through worship—anytime, anywhere.
  • Radiate his joy to others. There is blessing in being a blessing.
  • Make right choices – especially the tough ones.

Eric Liddell surely sensed God’s pleasure as deep confidence when he made the tough choice not to run in his best event, the 100-meter, in the 1924 Olympics. The race was scheduled on a Sunday, and Eric took seriously God’s commandment to keep the Sabbath set apart for worship and rest.

 

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When does God experience pleasure from our lives?

Consider Eric Liddell’s statement in the film, only let’s personalize it based on the way God has created each of us. Prayerfully fill in these blanks:

 

“God made me ____________. When I __________, I feel his pleasure.

 

One of my statements might read: “God made me a grandmother. When I play a rousing game of tag or hide ‘n’ seek with Elena and Sophie, I feel God’s pleasure.”

I’d love to hear your responses. Please share in the comment section below!

Meanwhile…

My mind cannot fathom the incredible privilege you have given us, Lord God. Thank you for ordaining the reciprocal process of pleasure between us: we enjoy bringing you delight, and you allow us to feel your pleasure. My mind cannot fathom it: I bring delight to the King of glory! I rejoice in you and praise you with all my heart.

 

———————————–

 

* “Fear of God” in the ancient Hebrew refers to awe, respect, and reverence for him.

 

Sources of information about Eric Liddell:

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.swordofthespirit.net; http://www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.azquotes.com.)

 

Second grader, Ben, trotted up to my teacher desk and enthusiastically shared his latest news:

“I bought my mom some honeysuckle room spray for her birthday, but it makes the cat sneeze.”

 

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I know what you’re thinking: Ben’s words aren’t particularly noteworthy. You need to know how he spoke them—with a lisp. Try repeating his words, substituting th for s, and see if you don’t start to chuckle:

“I bought my mom thome honeythuckle room thpray for her birthday, but it makth the cat thneethe.”

Maybe you had to be there.   But let me tell you, I deserve a medal for my self-control that morning, holding back the giggles until Ben was out of earshot. Every now and then—like the other day–I’m reminded of that incident, and I still smile.

Now don’t ask me how my brain made the following connections. The neurons were firing way too fast to trace their trajectories. (Of course, after you read the following explanation, you’ll probably say my neurons were misfiring.)

Anyway, my thoughts jumped from Ben’s report of making the cat thneethe to face-lifts*, which, in his endearing lisp would have been faith-liftths.

Ah-ha! Now I was onto something important. Faith-lifts! And I began to ponder: What are some of the most meaningful faith-lifts I’ve encountered?

God is so generous with his encouragement. We find it in scripture, other books, the lyrics of songs, a spoken word , creation, and even the recesses of our hearts as God speaks in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12).

 

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For example:

 

A Faith-Lift from Scripture 

“He will be the sure foundation for your times,

a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;

the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.”

–Isaiah 33:6

I praise you, God, for your rock-solid reliability. And as I reverence you through thought, word, and deed, you provide for my every need. Hallelujah!

 

A Faith-Lift from Reading

 “Jesus offers inward quiet in spite of outward trials. Rough winds may ruffle the surface of a lake, but far down in the depths there is perfect calm” – Herbert Lockyer (Seasons of the Lord, p. 89).

 

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Thank you, oh God, for your peace that defies explanation and dwells deep within my spirit.

 

A Faith-Lift from Listening

“Don’t worry that you don’t have strength before you start. God gives strength as we journey” (heard on the radio).

Help me, Father, to step out in faith because my confidence in you.

 

A Faith-Lift from Song

“I see the work of Your hands.

Galaxies spin in a heavenly dance…

“I delight myself in You,

Captivated by Your beauty…

“I run into Your arms,

Unashamed because of mercy…”

–Big Daddy Weave, “Overwhelmed” (2012)

 

Thank you for such glorious contemplations, Lord God!

 

Faith-Lifts from People

 I praise you, Father, for the myriad ways you minister to me through others. Sometimes what they share brings tears to my eyes as I sense your instruction and inspiration coming through their words.

 

Faith-Lift from Creation

 Soaring mountain peaks speak of your power,

Restorative rain, of your refreshing,

The steadfastness of sunrise–your hope,

A gentle breeze–your presence,

Gleaming sunbeams–your glory, and

The teeming stars–your infinity.

 

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“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise” (Psalm 96:4a)!

 

A Faith-Lift from Spirit-Impression

All was still as I sat on the deck one morning. Even the birds were quiet. But no sooner did I journal my observations, than a breeze began to stir. I sensed an impression simmering to the surface of my thinking—thoughts that seemed to come from God himself:

“When nothing seems to be happening, when prayed-for circumstances remain unchanged, remind yourself that Spirit-breezes of blessing will come when the time is right. Wait with patience and rejoice in the knowledge that I am at work.   Revel in the expectancy and assurance of My arrival” (Isaiah 65:24).

 

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*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

M-m-m. I’m thinking: such faith-lifts as listed above actually do produce face-lifts, because worry, fear, and tension are erased in the splendor of his adequacy in all things!

 

“I will lift you up, O Lord, for you have lifted me up.”

–Psalm 30:1 NLT

 

*(Plastic surgery was not uncommon where we lived at the time. Perhaps the connection occurred as my thoughts jumped from student to school to community. That’s as good an explanation as any. I’m sticking to it.)

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.pets.thenext.com; http://www.faithgateway.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.wisconsintrails.com; http://www.jpl.nasa.gove; http://www.pinterest.com.)

 

What do you consider the greatest of all your blessings? Surely at the top of the list would be a personal relationship with Jesus and (hopefully!) your family.

But according to French author, Francois de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680):

 

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(“A true friend is the greatest of blessings.”)

 

Some time ago, a group of people decided that friends were such a blessed part of life, they wanted a day set aside specifically to celebrate these relationships. In 1935, Congress proclaimed National Friendship Day. The observation occurs on the first Sunday of August. That’s this Sunday, the seventh.

Friends do fill our lives with delightful blessings: the beauty of companionship, the joy of sharing experiences and like interests, the warmth of heart-to-heart communication, and the grace of acceptance in spite of faults.

Those friends who share our faith in Jesus provide even more benefits.

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They push us nearer to God by their example, their encouragement, and their prayers for us. When trouble assaults, they remind us of scriptural truth, God’s attributes, and his provision in the past.

 

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Christian friends are “Jesus with skin on.” (That phrase in quotes comes from a pastor in our past who used it frequently.) Isn’t that a delightful way to describe our ministry to one another? His Spirit works through us providing the encouragement, help, and care we all need.

I also appreciate a Native American translation of the word, friend: “the one who carries my sorrows on his back.” That’s a true friend—the one who comes alongside to empathize, assist, and pray.

My heart is warmed as I remember such friends (and family members who were and are like friends), each of whom have played various roles in my life: companion, listener, encourager, advisor, confidence-builder, mentor, role model of behavior, wisdom-bestower, heartache-easer, prayer warrior. These special people have contributed invaluably to my life story and who I am.

 

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Some of my dear friends (including those with family ties) are reading these words right now. And “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:6), not just on Friendship Day.

You are the charming gardeners who have made my soul blossom (Marcel Proust). I am so very grateful for the abundant happiness and joy you all have brought into my life.

But these friendships of faith would not be possible without our most precious Friend of all: Jesus (John 15:15).

 

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Because of his love poured out in our hearts, we can love each other.

Because he is our refuge, joy, and hope, we can offer the same.

As we allow his influence to transform us, we are able to reflect that same influence into the lives of our friends. His attributes such as wisdom, understanding, patience, kindness, and goodness, become part of our responses with others.

 

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Best of all, because of our friendship with Jesus, our human “friendships begun in this world will be taken up again, never to be broken off” (Francis de Sales).

How glorious is that?!
 
 
(Art & photo credits:  www.dgreetings.com; http://www.quotesgram.com; http://www.ladycarehealth.com; http://www.brainyquote.com; http://www.bible.knowing-jesus.com; http://www.biblegodquotes.com.)

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Impressions Becoming Expressions

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