Doctrine: Christ’s Return, Day 6

Today’s reading is drawn from James 5:7-8 and John 14:3.

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale is a film based on a real story from Japan and a delightful parable about patiently waiting for the Lord’s return. When Parker Wilson, a college music professor in Rhode Island, steps off his commuter train at the end of the day, he finds a stray Akita puppy with the name Hachi etched on his collar. Parker discovers the puppy escaped a damaged crate after being shipped from Japan. Parker takes the dog home, determined to find the owner. While waiting for responses to the posters he has placed around town, Parker and the dog become friends. One day, Hachi follows Parker on his way to work, which begins with a walk to the train station. Despite Parker’s bidding, Hachi refuses to return home until his master walks him back to the house. At the end of the day, however, when Hachi hears the train whistle, he runs to the train platform, curls up and waits for his master to return. When Parker sees him, he is stunned by this demonstration of loyalty. The next day the dog is there to greet him again, and on it goes, day by day. One day Parker suffers a fatal heart attack in the classroom. Hachi waits for hours at the station for his master to step off the train, but he doesn’t return. This happens day after day for ten years, with the loyal dog waiting at the train platform each evening. And then one day, as Hachi drifts off to sleep, he sees his master beckoning him, and the dog runs toward him.

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Safety from Enemies, Day 4

Today’s reading is drawn from Psalm 27.The words of Psalm 27 drip with hope. Although his enemies are near, David is defiantly confident that God will conquer his fears, strengthen him and grant him the desire of his heart: to “dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of [his] life.”

During times of tremendous trial, we often turn to the Lord in hopes of feeling his presence. This was never more true for Robert Honeycutt than during the time he spent as a prisoner of war.

During World War II, each member of the United States Air Force was required to fly 50 missions before going home. Having already participated in a mission, 19-year-old Robert Honeycutt was eager to put the war behind him, so he volunteered for the dangerous task of photographing the damage inflicted during the air attacks. He reasoned that this would afford him more fly time, but it also meant that he would be in the last plane to fly over each time—the most vulnerable position.

On his 29th mission, Bob’s plane was shot down over the Austrian Alps. In his book, The Eleventh Man, Bob recounts how God was with him even as he parachuted out of the burning plane. As he was floating toward earth, an enemy bomber approached him in the air. Bob knew he was an easy target. The pilot of the plane slowed down but did not open fire with his machine gun. Instead, for a moment, the two men made eye contact … and then the pilot waved. Bob waved back.

Soon after he hit the ground, he was captured by enemy forces. Isolated and unsure of what awaited him, Bob began to pray fervently. That day God became real to Bob. For the next 11 months, Bob’s faith would be his strength even as he was taken to a concentration camp and marched around Germany for more than 800 miles before his eventual release.

  • Can you think of a time in your own life when you cried out to God? What happened?
  • Meditate on Psalm 27 and ask God to make David’s hope your own.

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The Truth About Forgiveness, Day 6

Today’s reading is drawn from Acts 10:23-48.

As Peter shared the gospel with Cornelius and Cornelius’ relatives and close friends, he referred to God’s forgiveness of sins (see Acts 10:43). At that moment, all the people who heard Peter’s words believed and received the Holy Spirit (see Acts 10:44–47). What is so significant about the forgiveness of sins? It is significant because we have all gone our own way and fallen short of God’s standards (see Psalm 14:3; Romans 3:23). Our sin alienates and disconnects us from God, his love and his care. Our sinful nature puts us in an isolated and hopeless state.

Forgiveness through Jesus’ death is God’s solution; it rescues us from our hopelessness and restores our connection with God. As the psalmist put it, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has [God] removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Or as Hebrews puts it, “Their sins and lawless acts [God] will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17; see also Hebrews 10:22).

If we ask God to forgive us, he will (see 1 John 1:9). He then sees us as completely new people. We are clean, washed with pure water; whatever we might have done is forgotten and put away “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). Paul said that “there is now no condemnation” for those who have been forgiven and are “in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

The knowledge that we are forgiven and have a clean slate is powerful. We can stand upon that solid ground. We can live from a place of growth instead of brokenness. We can ask Jesus for that forgiveness now. If we do not know him, we can ask him to be our Lord. If we turn to him in faith, he will cleanse us and we can walk in a guilt-free state. It is a strong state indeed.

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