By Chris WittsTuesday 5 May 2020Morning Devotions with Chris Witts
Decades ago Maurice Wright, a British farmer, purchased a large oil painting from a neighbouring farmer for less than four dollars.
He hung the canvas in his barn, where it collected dust several years before Wright’s tax accountant noticed it. He sent a photograph of the painting to Christie’s, the London auction firm, who determined that it was the work of Thomas Daniell, a highly acclaimed 19th century artist.
Art critics were aware of the existence of the painting created in 1808, but had come to label it as the “Lost Daniell” because its whereabouts remained a mystery for more than a century. Maurice Wright sold the painting for more than $90,000.
The Bible, an Untapped Treasure
The Bible is for some such a buried treasure. Too often that book remains unopened and untapped in spite of the fact that it is a source of emotional and spiritual treasure.
Across the centuries men and women have found that this ancient book provides invaluable insights that buffer blows, soften griefs, heighten joys, soothe hurts and heal wounds. Unlike other written documents that provide information, the Bible leads us to transformation.
The German poet and philosopher Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe said: “The Bible grows more beautiful as we grow in our understanding of it”.
Here are some of its many gems:
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God Sees Us and Knows Us
“The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him” – 2 Chronicles 16:9
This text offers the glorious promise that even in our large, detached and often impersonal worlds God’s eye is on the individual. In fact, Jesus teaches that God knows us so intimately that even “the very hairs on our head are numbered” (Luke 12:7).
Both passages remind us that God sees us, God knows us, God loves us and God responds to our needs, large and little.
Speak to God as You Would Speak to a Friend
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” – 1 Peter 5:7
These words are a reminder to pray. They also provide assurance that God is concerned about what concerns us. We can come before God with quiet confidence that God hears and answers prayer. There is nothing about us that is repulsive or abhorrent, nothing that is unimportant or inconsequential to God. We can speak honestly and frankly from our hearts.
In her book, A Sacred Primer, author Elizabeth Neeld cites this anonymous letter on prayer written as if the Divine were speaking:
“Dear One Who Prays: You do not have to be clever to please Me. Just speak to Me as you would to anyone of whom you are fond. Are there any people you want to pray for? Say their names to Me, and ask of Me as much as you like. I am generous. Tell Me about the poor, the sick and the troubled; and if you have lost the friendship or affection of anyone, tell Me about that too. Is there anything you want for your soul? If you like, you can write out a long list of all your needs and come read it to Me. Tell Me of the things you feel guilty about. I will forgive you if you will accept it. Tell me about your pride, your touchiness, self-centredness, meanness and laziness. I still love you in spite of these. Do not be ashamed. There are many saints in heaven who had the same faults as you; they prayed, and little by little, their faults were corrected. What are your worries? Who has caused you pain? Tell Me about it and, if you will forgive those who hurt you, I will bless you. Are you afraid of anything? Have you any tormenting, unreasonable fears? Trust yourself to Me. I am here. I see everything. I will not leave you.”
We Are Not Alone
“Fear not… When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.” – Isaiah 43:1-2
Whenever the Bible reminds us of God’s persuasive presence in our lives and in our world, as it does in this passage from Isaiah, it tells us we are not soloists in life. There is an invisible means of support, an unseen partner. We are not alone. Rather, at every turn and juncture of our living, God is intensely present.
Physician and author Larry Dossey recalls an incident with a patient of his who was dying from lung cancer. The day before the patient’s death, Dossey sat at the man’s bedside with his wife and children. The man knew he had little time left and he chose his words carefully, speaking in a horse whisper. Although not a religious person, he revealed to those present that he had recently begun to pray frequently.
“What do you pray for?” Dossey asked. “I don’t pray for anything,” he responded. “How would I know what to ask for?”
That answer surprised Dossey, who thought that surely a dying man could think of some request.
“If prayer is not for asking, what is it for?” the doctor wondered.
“It isn’t for anything,” the man said thoughtfully. “It mainly reminds me that I am not alone.”
God Is Your Refuge
“The eternal God is for your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” – Deuteronomy 33:27
These words from the book of Deuteronomy resonate deeply with people facing trials and traumas. When we are forced to deal with painful and frightening matters-a separation or divorce, the death of a loved one, a life threatening illness, an injury that damages part of the body, constant pain for which there is no medical help-these words tell us that we are falling, not into the darkness, but into the everlasting arms of a loving God.
Psychiatrist Dr. Smiley Blanton recommends this text for people whose minds and lives are in turmoil. “One of the few fears we are born with is the fear of falling, so the idea of a pair of loving arms, sustaining and eternal, is an answer to the yearning in all of us to feel safe, to find security,” he says. “Furthermore, one of the deepest forms of communication is touch. And so this Biblical image brings a great sense of peace. If you suffer form tension and insomnia, try repeating these words to yourself at bedtime. You may find them more effective than any sleeping pill.”
Burdens Can Be Turned Into Blessings
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.” – Romans 8:28
Amongst the most breathtaking words in all of Scripture, this verse tells us that the bad will be transformed into good, that a negative can become a positive and that a burden on our back can become a great blessing in our life. This promise from the book of Romans tells us that right faith combined with right thoughts, right actions, right words will lead to the right results.
Dennis Chipollono was in an automobile accident that resulted in his losing a leg. Doctors told him he would never walk again. Today, Chipollono says: “Losing my leg turned out to be a gift. It made me appreciate life more, and I’ve accomplished things I never would have imagined.” Rather than being discouraged by the other doctors’ predictions for him, he was motivated to prove them wrong. “One step at a time, I learned to walk again. Exercise became my cure-all, easing my pain and making me feel better. Since then, I have completed a 5-K,a 13-miler, and a marathon [26.2 miles]. Nothing can stop me!”
There are many more timeless insights to be found in the Bible. It is a collection of writings we never outgrow.