When at the Bottom of the Barrel

By Iris Richards

free-bible-studies-online-anchorThe other morning I had read a passage from Acts, where Paul, in his farewell speech to the church of Ephesus, talked about living life generously and working hard to make sure to always have something to give to the poor, and that it is more blessed to give than to receive. (See Acts 20:32–35) Little did I know that I was going to be tested on those very principles a few hours later.

My friend and I enjoyed a warm spring afternoon on the balcony, sipping a cold fruit juice. We had been chatting about the week’s accomplishments and were discussing plans for the month ahead. Before taking her leave, my friend, who is a social worker in a poor neighborhood, brought up an urgent situation which she had recently encountered.

“Mercy has been an orphan most of her life, and now sadly at the young age of 25 has been diagnosed with cancer. She has been making ends meet by washing laundry for people, and most months she isn’t even reaching a minimum wage. With lack of funding for health insurance, she is now left stranded and has to finance the urgently needed treatment herself. She has been appealing to well-wishers, but she is still short of money for medication.”

With an expectant look in her eyes, my friend paused and there was a moment of silence between us. I felt convicted about helping out, but it was the end of the month and there were bills to pay. I was glad when her phone rang and she got busy with the caller. This gave me a moment to sort out the conflict that was rapidly unfolding inside me.

“Why now,” I thought to myself.

As I further contemplated, my mind punched through: “Haven’t we reached our maximum of giving this month? And after meeting the bills, we had planned to finally start saving for some of our large family’s needs.”

My conscience then came in: “Hasn’t God supplied each time you went beyond your limits to give to someone in need?”

My mind: “That’s true, but we have just committed to start working on a savings plan.”

My conscience: “Just the other day, you lectured a colleague about the wonders of the cycle of giving and how the vacuum created through it will surely be filled.”

My mind: “I remember that, but it was meant to encourage someone who has a hard time giving.”

My conscience popped up again: “Why not think of the principles Jesus taught, to ‘give to him who asks of you’ and ‘do unto others as you would have them do to you.’” (Matthew 5:42; Luke 6:30–31)

My mind: “That’s right, but I urgently need to find a balance between giving and saving.”

My conscience was not giving up: “Freely you have received, freely give, and if you give a cup of water to the thirsty, you won’t lose your reward.” (Matthew 10:8, 42)

My mind retorted: “It’s not a cup of water! We are talking about cash, which I’m running short of at the moment.”

My conscience: “Think of another principle Jesus taught: ‘Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Mathew 25:40)

Sighing deeply, I looked up and again met my friend’s expectant eyes.

“Sure, I can help. After all, there is still time before the bills are due,” I tried to console myself.

My conscience had won, and with an unexpected feeling of peace I dug into my financial reserve and gave what was needed, trusting that God would indeed fill the vacuum which I had just created.

I had almost forgotten this incident when I bumped into an old acquaintance while out shopping a couple of days later. Before parting, he reached into his bag and gave me a sealed envelope and said, “God put it on my heart to give this to you after all you’ve done for me. I am sure that a generous person like you will find good use for it.”

When I arrived home, I found a generous amount of money in the envelope, which made this month’s cycle of giving, with its inevitable receiving, a complete one. And there was even enough to put inside my “savings kitty.”

Thinking further about this metaphor, I realized that when the cycle starts with giving and ends with giving, to make it work, it then begins with receiving, and like a wheel it goes on and on, well-rounded and complete.

When we create a vacuum through sharing and giving, it draws not only financial blessing into it but also happiness and a feeling of accomplishment. It fosters friendships and camaraderie. It protects one from the sickness of hoarding and teaches the art of letting go, not only of material things, but of grudges and bitterness as well, which in turn heals the heart and puts the mind at ease.

Come to think of it, keeping the cycle of giving alive has even come to our aid during economic hardships, sometimes through unexpected gifts, a helpful neighbor, a friend reaching out, or by a sheer miracle of God’s never-ending supply. And even though I’ve found myself at the bottom of the barrel at times, I can safely say, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)


Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.

The First Supper

David Brandt Berg


After Jesus appeared to His disciples, He sat down and He ate and He drank with them (Acts 10:41). He said, “Touch Me, feel Me. See that it is I. A spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have” (Luke 24:39). You notice He didn’t say blood.

Why didn’t He say blood? Here are some scriptures about blood that give a hint. “The life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11,14). “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50). We know Jesus had flesh and bones, but He didn’t say blood. And Paul said, “Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

But apparently Jesus didn’t have any blood. “The life of the flesh is in the blood,” and although He had flesh, He didn’t have that kind of life, the fleshly type of life, the natural elements which keep us alive in the physical realm, in this flesh we live in today.

We’re going to look a lot like we do now, only better! We’re going to have flesh that looks like this flesh and feels like this flesh, but it’s not going to have this kind of life.—Not the kind of life that blood gives, which is not eternal life. It’s not everlasting life, a spiritual type of life that’ll keep you living forever; it’s a temporal, earthly form of life energy that keeps us alive now as we are in the flesh.

The flesh of today has to have blood to live, but our regenerated and resurrected flesh, our new body, will not need any blood. We will have some type or form of energy which will not need blood, although we’ll have flesh that looks like the flesh we have today.

So you won’t need any blood, but you’ll still have some kind of flesh and bones, some kind of physical structure that keeps you together in a nice packaging like you have today, only better and everlasting. You’ll never wear out, think of that! There’s some type of energy which is not blood and does not require blood; it is apparently spiritual. But you can eat and drink if you want to. We’re going to sit down and eat and drink in the kingdom of God as Jesus did with His disciples when He appeared to them.

He ate with them several times. One time, when He appeared in the upper room and said, “A spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have,” He sat down and ate with them (Luke 24:41–43). Another time He broke bread with the disciples after the walk down the road to Emmaus. They didn’t recognize Him until after He broke bread (Luke 24:30–31). Another time He fried fish for the disciples on the shore of Galilee when they were out fishing (John 21:12–13). Wasn’t that nice of Him? And He probably ate with them, since He could. It would’ve been impolite not to eat with them. It was always a sign of friendship and peace to share bread and wine with guests or family.

Whether the Lord fulfilled that “drinking of the wine in the kingdom of His Father” or not when He drank wine with the disciples after He was resurrected from the dead depends on whether you think that was the fulfillment of the kingdom. Of course, the kingdom is not completely fulfilled until it is real and visible and tangible right here on earth in the Millennium, the kingdom of Christ. It’s not yet fulfilled.

The kingdom of God today is within you, but are you in the kingdom? Jesus said the kingdom is within you and the kingdom of heaven is at hand, so apparently it was already within some of them or He wouldn’t have said that. But in the sense of being in the kingdom, do you think they were in the kingdom yet? It depends on what you call the kingdom.

If you’re talking about the spiritual kingdom of Christ, His Spirit in your heart, this is definitely the kingdom of God, and it’s within you right now. We certainly won’t be in the visible literal kingdom of Christ until He returns. You’re in His kingdom now spiritually, but the literal kingdom is not yet fulfilled, so you’re not in that kingdom yet.

When Jesus died and was resurrected, the kingdom had already begun. That’s why He and the apostles were preaching during His life and just before His death that “the kingdom of God is at hand!” It’s about to begin. You had better repent! It began with Jesus’ resurrection.

The kingdom of God on earth began with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And where is it today? You say, “I don’t see much kingdom of God. It doesn’t look like the kingdom of God to me!” I do, I see it right here! I see it in you. “For the kingdom of God cometh not with observation” (Luke 17:20). Why? Because the kingdom of God, Jesus said, is within you.

The kingdom of God is in you (Luke 17:21). You are the kingdom of God. “It cometh not with observation.” We didn’t see Jesus go into our heart, and we didn’t see the Holy Spirit come into our spirit and life. But you can sure see the difference afterwards! It doesn’t come with observation, but you can sure see it after it has come. People talk about the way they see it in our faces, in our eyes, our smiles; they say they see something different. It’s Jesus, the kingdom of God.

Jesus sat down and ate and drank with them after His resurrection because the kingdom had arrived. And you are it. And it’s spreading all the time, growing all the time, more and more around the world.

Have a good time right now in God’s kingdom, while you’re waiting for Jesus to turn the whole world into His kingdom come.


Copyright © The Family International

Good Stewards

The Parable of the Talents

David Brandt Berg


The Lord can be a pretty tough taskmaster sometimes, as in the case of the man who buried his one talent and lost it, and those that made more talents with more talents and had more to end with. (See the parable of the talents: Matthew 25:14–29.) He said, “To everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath” (Matthew 25:29).

God goes very strongly on the merit system as to who deserves it and who doesn’t, not necessarily according to need. That’s one place where the Lord differs a bit from the old adage of “from each according to his ability unto each according to his need.” God doesn’t necessarily give to everybody in need. He only gives it if they deserve it, and sometimes He gives it because they deserve it even if they don’t really need it as much as the other person.

He works largely on rewards, on a merit system as to whether people can be trusted with it or not. If they’re faithful in a few things, He gives them many things. But if they are not even faithful in a few things, He’s not likely to give them any more. He’s apt to take away the few things they’ve got if they’re not faithful with them. God rewards hard work and merit and the deserving, but He doesn’t reward the lazy who bury what little talent they’ve got. So therefore just because they need more help than somebody else doesn’t necessarily mean they deserve it or are going to get it.

I’ve very seldom found those of great faith in great need. God takes care of His own, especially the faithful ones, the diligent and the hard-working and the deserving and the good stewards who work hard at developing and investing their talents where they’ll do the most good and get the best returns.

The Lord lets you go through lots of tests of faith sometimes. In years gone by we’ve run out of money some times, but usually we had plenty, and I never missed a meal because I had to. We never lacked for anything that we really needed, and God usually supplied for us very well.

God helps those who help themselves and those who can’t help themselves, but He doesn’t necessarily help those who can help themselves but won’t. God will always bless hard work, diligence, faithfulness, and good investment, and He’ll reward it with more. The faithful in the few things or in little will be faithful also in much and many things. But if you’re unfaithful in a few things, you may even lose what you’ve got (Luke 16:10).

The servant who buried the talent and didn’t earn a thing or get a thing out of it, didn’t work at it, didn’t invest it, didn’t gain any more, when he dug it up and gave it back to God and said, “Here, I was afraid I’d lose it, so I saved it,” He threw him out. And He gave the talent to somebody who knew how to invest it and make good use of it.

David said, “I was young, and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalm 37:25). That’s a pretty strong statement. Everybody needs help once in a while and everybody has a trying or testing time once in a while. “Every branch in Me that beareth fruit,” He says that He will perhaps purge it, but He’ll take care of it (John 15:2).

I believe that the Lord rewards faithful hard labor, faithful trusting, diligent obedience, and not laziness, people sitting around expecting God or others to do it all for them. The Lord took the one talent that the guy buried and wasted and didn’t use and didn’t develop and didn’t earn more talents with, and He gave it to the guy who had the most talents because He knew he’d invest it well and he’d be even more successful.

God blesses those who are fruitful and get results, are diligent, hard-working, truly trusting, and genuinely obeying. I never ever saw God fail anybody who really did their best to get out and work hard and earn it one way or another, or just by the hard work of trusting God by faith.

Some people seem to have the idea that living by faith means loafing around and doing nothing. They’ve got an entirely wrong idea of living by faith. They seem to think that living by faith means living by nothing or living for nothing or with nothing. They’re mistaken. Living by faith means putting faith into action, putting feet to your prayers and doing everything you can possibly do, as though everything depended on doing, and praying like everything depended on prayer! But the people who sit around and expect God to drop it into their laps while they’re doing little or nothing are not likely to get much of anything.

God is not going to invest His money or His gifts or His help in people whom He knows it’s going to be wasted on and will do nothing with it—just like they did nothing before. God’s a pretty tough taskmaster along that line, a firm boss. Jesus even commended the unjust steward, who worked at saving himself when he knew he was going to get fired. He went and made friends with the mammon of unrighteousness in a hurry. He worked at it. He was a smart guy. He earned his way, even if he was the wrong kind of guy. (See Luke 16:1–12.)

God says, “He that scattereth abroad, it increaseth” (Proverbs 11:24). We scatter it abroad. That doesn’t mean throwing it away or wasting it; it means giving it out where it will count, like “the sower goes forth to sow” (Luke 8:5). When he gives out like that, scatters the seed in fertile soil where he knows it’s going to bring fruit and get results and be profitable, it increases.

“But he that withholdeth, it tendeth to poverty.” The person who won’t even wisely use what little he’s got and hangs on to his one little talent, for fear he might lose it, and doesn’t give it to God or others who could use it more profitably, he’ll even lose what he’s got. Jesus says, “To him that hath, it shall be given, but from him that hath not, it shall be taken away even that which he hath,” or thinks he has (Matthew 13:12).

I’ve proved through years of experience, if we do our best, God will do His best to help us. But if we’re not interested enough in trying to help ourselves, He’s not likely to help us. I believe in that adage very firmly: God helps those who help themselves. And I add to that: and those who cannot help themselves.

The Bible says that some of you have not because you ask not, or because you ask amiss—you ask for the wrong things out of the will of God, and God’s not going to supply those things that wouldn’t be good for you (James 4:3). If you’re diligent and hard-working, faithful and fruitful, God has promised to supply all your needs.


Copyright © The Family International

Learn To Live The Life God Has Called You To With Nick Vujicic


The Prayer Principle

By Peter Amsterdam

free-bible-studies-online-anchor“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’”
—Luke 11:1 ESV

Prayer was a major factor in Jesus’ life and ministry. There are numerous references throughout the Gospels of Jesus praying. He taught His disciples to pray, they saw Him pray, they heard Him pray for them, and He gave counsel about praying. Before many of the major events, miracles, and decisions in Jesus’ life, and right up until the time of His death, Jesus spent time in prayer. Prayer was an integral part of His ministry. The fact that Jesus made a point to pray and to teach His disciples about prayer indicates that it is an important part of discipleship.

Taking time alone in prayer was a regular occurrence in Jesus’ life. He took time away from the crowds, and sometimes from His closest followers, to pray. (Luke 5:15–16; Mark 1:35–37) He also prayed in His disciples’ presence.

Seeing Jesus’ example of prayer had a definite impact on the disciples, as evidenced throughout the book of Acts, which often speaks of them praying. Jesus also gave His disciples instructions on how to pray. He said, “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’” (Matthew 6:9–13)

He also taught His disciples how not to pray: “When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:5–8)

Jesus taught about being persistent in prayer, as the Gospel of Luke recounts: “He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1)

He also taught the power of prayer, that prayer gets answered, and that prayers should be prayed in faith and confidence—knowing that God is all-powerful and that nothing is beyond His capability to answer and do. In the book of Matthew, He said, “If you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matthew 21:21–22)

He exhorted His disciples to watch and to pray against falling into temptation and sin. In other versions of the Bible, watch yourselves is rendered as be on guard, take heed, be careful, be concerned. Jesus told His disciples to “Watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34–36) “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38)

Jesus also prayed for others, as Matthew recounts in his Gospel: “Then children were brought to Him that He might lay His hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and went away.” (Matthew 19:13–15)

As shown by the accounts of His praying before His arrest, Jesus prayed desperately. The Gospel of Luke tells us: “He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.’ And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:41–44)

Prayer is important in our lives; it’s part of our communication with God. Prayer is a means of communicating with God, of abiding in Him. It’s a means of connecting to His power. It’s a means of loving and helping others as we pray for them. It’s a means of guarding our spiritual life and health. It makes a difference in the effectiveness of our preaching and teaching as we pray for laborers and then pray for those we are ministering to. It gives us the opportunity to humble ourselves before God, as we pray desperately and implore His help, and when we forgive others and ask Him for forgiveness.

As disciples, we are called to pray, and prayer is woven throughout the elements of discipleship. Loving God, living for Him, preaching Him, and teaching Him all require prayer. Disciples pray.


Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.

Bigger Jobs

David Brandt Berg


Every day is a battle, let’s face it. Every day is a battle of some kind, and hard work. Most of us have hard work to do. We have struggles with all kinds of things: with our own personality and with other personalities, struggles with problems and struggles with besetting sins and struggles with this and struggles with that.

When you have won today’s battles and proved you are a good fighter and able to handle the little ones, tomorrow God will probably give you bigger ones. God is getting you prepared for the front lines—the real tough battles! Isn’t that encouraging?

In some ways, life gets easier. I don’t have to fight the same battles that I used to have to fight when I was young. I think most young people go through half their lives wondering, “What am I supposed to be? What am I supposed to do?” You’ll be whatever God wants you to be—if you’re willing. Don’t worry about it. And don’t think you’ve made the grade because you arrived at one place—you’re just getting started!

If you are faithful in a few things, the Lord says He will make you ruler over many things (Matthew 25:21). This is only the beginning of probably much greater things and greater responsibilities—depending on how faithful you are, how well you do your work, how willing-spirited you are. Because once you’ve found out a person is faithful, loyal, diligent, willing-spirited, hard-working, capable, and really loves the Lord, you can trust them with almost anything.

You may be thinking, “I don’t want any bigger job. I like my work, and I don’t want to have to work any harder or do any more.” I’m sorry, but that just happens to be the way the Lord often does things. If He finds you’re good at this, He’ll give you something more to do. If you’re good at little things, He’ll give you bigger things to do. If you’re good at easy jobs, He’ll give you harder jobs, and He keeps giving you greater victories all the time. If you win this battle, He’ll give you a bigger battle tomorrow.

He’s training you for much bigger jobs that you will have to do, until the time will come one of these days that you’ll rule and reign with Him over all the earth (Revelation 5:10). Your learning is not just going to be handed to you on a silver platter after you die or after the Resurrection.

What you are learning now is going to be of help to you in the future. God’s going to use the talent that He’s already given you, which you have developed and used and profited by. He’s going to use the knowledge you have already learned and the experiences you have already been through and the languages you know. Don’t think that this life is going to just be thrown away when you get to heaven. First of all, God’s going to use you to try to establish heaven on earth in the Millennium.

So don’t think that all this is going to be a waste of time and you’ve lived your whole life and learned all these things for nothing. God intends to use your talents, your experience, your abilities, your languages, your arts, your skill, and everything you know. If God’s people are as important as the Bible says we are, we’re pretty important!

We’re not talking about fairy tales or legends. It is not our imagination; I’m talking about reality: what’s in the Bible and what you know is the truth. God is training you now for the future. God will give you more to do as soon as He thinks you’re ready to do it, and if you’re willing to do it—because He’s got a lot of work to be done and a lot of big jobs to be done. It’s going to mean more work, more responsibility, more jobs, bigger victories, and bigger battles in the future, because if He learns that He can trust you this far, then He’s going to trust you further and with more. If you prove yourself here, He’s going to give you a chance at there.

This is no game we’re playing! We are in a war for the Lord and His world, and once you have done your job here and done a good job and learned how to serve the Lord faithfully and loyally and well, He is going to give you something more and bigger to do. There are so many jobs to be done, you’ll probably have an even better job to do one of these days—a bigger and greater job! You’d be amazed at your capacity.

Lord, it’s all for Your kingdom, and You’re preparing Your children to run it, so help us all to do a good job of whatever You ask us to do. For Thine is the power. Help us, Lord, to serve Your kingdom until Your kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven. Help us to think about the marvel of Your trusting us with such an important work and each other and our children and such a big job. And help us to do it well so we’ll be ready for the next one, in Jesus’ name we ask for Your glory.



Copyright © The Family International


God Delights in You

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchor“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
—Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

God is singing because He rejoices over His children, delights in them and feels joy over them. Zephaniah references a future time when God will have ended His judgment on His children Israel, and they will enjoy a time of blessing and safety from their enemies.

The words of this verse remind us God is with us always, and He is mighty to save. He delights in us and loves us each so much that He sings melodies of love and rejoices over us. This delight is simply because we are His. And just as a mama’s voice calms and soothes a child with song, God quiets us with His love and soothes our hearts with His voice.

I love to picture our heavenly Father singing and rejoicing over His children like that. Singing and rejoicing over me, and you.

Sometimes it’s hard to understand how God could love us, especially when we consider all the mistakes and times of disappointment we’ve struggled through. Or, when we feel like we don’t measure up because we don’t do enough for His kingdom and His glory.

Or when we feel unloved or rejected by others and wonder if God might have abandoned or rejected us as well. What comfort it brings to think about God loving us the same way a mother loves her babies.

As moms, we sing over our babies because we love them, not because they deserve it or can do anything for us in return. They bring delight to our hearts, because they are ours. And the same goes for our heavenly Father when it comes to His own.

God’s quiet love and gentle whispers of acceptance and delight are the greatest love song our spiritual ears will ever hear.

—Tracie Miles


If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, he’ll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, and he chose your heart. Face it, friend. He’s crazy about you.
—Max Lucado


Because [God] delights in me, he saved me.
—Psalm 18:19 NCV


As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
—Isaiah 62:5b


Zephaniah 3:17 includes an interesting description of God singing over people: “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

Two important observations regarding this passage: first, singing represents God’s joy. The Hebrew phrase translated “he will rejoice over you with singing” can also be translated literally as “he rejoices over you with a shout of joy.”

Second, God’s singing parallels the singing of His people in Jerusalem. “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion!” (Verse 14) This unit of poetry begins with the people of Jerusalem singing praise to God and ends with God singing over His people. God rejoices with His people, and He expresses joy when His people praise Him.

The question then is, why is God so joyful? This passage of Zephaniah speaks of a future time when God has ended His judgment upon Israel. All of their enemies have been destroyed, and Israel is entering a time of safety and blessing. (Verses 8,15,19) Zephaniah is speaking of the future millennial kingdom when the Messiah (Jesus) will reign with His people in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 9:7; Revelation 20:1–6)

The word picture in Zephaniah 3:17 is full of emotion. God the Father is the One who holds His daughter Jerusalem and sings joyfully in her presence. Just as a loving parent cradles a child and sings out of love, so God’s song over His people is born of His great love. After a time of hardship, our loving Lord dries His people’s tears, comforts their hearts, and welcomes them to a new world.

Finally, Jesus also taught in the New Testament that “there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10) Whether or not God Himself sings in this passage is not made clear, but it is clear there is rejoicing in God’s presence when those who are lost repent and are made right with God. (Ephesians 2:8–9; John 3:16)



Not for great deeds and heights attained,
Not for accomplishments and fame;
Not for moments when I succeed,
When I am strong, when I believe;
Not for times when I’m pressing on,
Unfazed by night, fixed on the dawn.

For who I am, now and today,
Stumbling, groping to find my way;
A heart of dreams and fears and walls,
Of starts and stops, of peaks and falls:
A life unpolished, unprofound,
A sinner ransomed, lost and found.

—Evelyn Sichrovsky


You are precious. You are worthy of unfailing love. You are a joy. You are inherently worthy of honor. You are a delight. Your life has a firm purpose. Your Creator made only one of you. The Architect of your being didn’t want a world that was devoid of you. A universe without you is just not a good enough universe. It’s incomplete.

This is part of your original design according to Scripture. These are unshakable truths about you. You were made to be loved—accepted, not rejected.

Do you know these things in your inmost being? Do you live your life according to these realities?

—Tessa Afshar


I don’t love you for what you are or what you aren’t. I don’t love you for who you are. I don’t love you for how much you do or how well you do it. I don’t love you for how little you sin and mess up, or for how much you do the right thing. I simply love you—no strings attached. That truth may be hard to grasp, but once you do, everything in your life will take on new meaning and new depth, a new reality. You are complete because you are loved. You are free because you are loved. You are able to love others truly because you are loved completely and unconditionally.

I didn’t decide to love you based on your love for Me or on what you do for Me. I loved you before there was any of that, before you took your first breath.

I love it when you tell Me you love Me and when you put that love into action by drawing close to Me in prayer. I love how you love Me and want to please Me, but even when that wanes or gets crowded out by the affairs of life, My love for you is unchanged. My love for you never lessens, and I am never too busy for you.

—Jesus, speaking in prophecy


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