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Just a Minute

Just a Minute is a collection of brief but meaningful meditations on Scripture. BJU Press has published a book by the same name with 96 of these devotional articles. Each chapter focuses on a Scripture verse or two, blending key facts about context with meditations on the truth of the passage. Find out how taking just a minute each day can change your life!
If you are interested, you can purchase Just A Minute, containing the first 96 printed articles.

Those Prayers - Just A Minute #166

Andy Bonikowsky
Written by Andy Bonikowsky

"He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. " (1 Kings 19:4)

There are at least two reasons to pay close attention to Elijah’s prayer life. One is because God highlights it and the other is that it is actually quite remarkable!

Now many of us have memorized James’ phrase, “the effectual, fervent prayer...”, we have read books on it, and we have heard messages from it. But have we personally paid attention to it?

Let’s do that now, taking a few minutes to look back at Elijah’s prayer life.

Read more: Those Prayers - Just A Minute #166

Why? - Just A Minute #165

Andy Bonikowsky
Written by Andy Bonikowsky

"And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (Acts 7:59)

Have you ever thought of what it would be like to take Stephen's place and experience the last few hours of his life? For many of us that would be rather disturbing.

Stephen himself probably had little opportunity to ponder why this was happening to him. The events unfolded too rapidly. He was accosted by a group of hateful men with a pre-established agenda and was in up to his ears before he knew it.

On the negative side, here are a couple of the things we could mention. First, he experienced the pain of a violent death (although it almost seems like the grace of God so powerfully flooded his body that he was impervious to the beating). And second, he missed the spectacular expansion of the Gospel from Jerusalem on out into the world.

However, when we switch over to a different perspective, the scene doesn't seem quite as ugly.

Even as he felt the rocks hit, he was seeing the One who gave it all meaning. Jesus, the Lord, the Origin of life itself, was making eye contact with him! Apparently, a few saints down through history have been granted a similar privilege.

But most are called to die by faith.

And then, as he slipped into the presence of the Holy One, he instantly gained a vantage point from which to watch the rest of the story from the first row of Heaven's balcony. Wow!

Furthermore, even as the rocks go still and the martyr's body stops breathing, the Holy Spirit turns our attention to a different man. This surprising shift of focus is designed to remind us all of a wonderful and comforting truth, one that is just as true today as it was in Acts 7.

God is always doing more than we think He is.

Again, He is ALWAYS doing more than we think He is!

And He loves to surprise.

Nobody was paying too much attention to the young man who watched the clothes. Surely Stephen hadn't noticed him--he was looking up at the right hand of God. The eyes of the violent religious men were looking for stones and taking aim. If there were Christians nearby, they were focused on Stephen and praying for help. Saul himself was observing, with a smug sense of satisfaction, the permanent silencing of an extremely vocal and powerful opponent.

Little did anyone know, but a pair of heavenly eyes were looking down at the young zealot. There may even have been the hint of a divine smile.

Saul would soon be changing his name.

But back to the Stephen...

Sometimes God takes away loved ones suddenly and without explanation. The shock and loss are excruciating and there is no avoiding the pain, or explaining it away. But God doesn't ask us to do that. Instead, He addresses the perplexing topic in a subtle but undeniable way.

Notice how He strategically sprinkled throughout the Bible certain stories, each with their silent and anonymous sufferers. These all experienced the torture of tragic surprises, and they may not have immediately been given a measure of understanding.

Think of Abel's mother, Eve. Think of Naboth's wife. Think of Uriah's siblings. Think of John the Baptist's friends... and there are others.

Each of these deaths brought piercing pain to those closest to them. Undoubtedly, tears were shed, questions were asked, and hearts were stunned.

But what occurred to them happens all around us today. Indeed, they are part of the same family, the family of godly Christians who die or suffer in what appears to be random, meaningless, and painful ways. Surely as you read these words a name or names come to your mind.

The message from God, in the example of Stephen, seems to encourage us to remember a few things. First, every Christian life is a tiny part of a very large picture. The picture is not only huge, but it is eternal. Second, God is always doing more than we think. Stephen leaves the stage at exactly the right moment for Saul to make his entrance. At the time, neither one understands the significance of the other.

But the Lord did.

He is the Author of the grand story of grace, the story that spans every continent and every age. It is the story that links every believer and the details of his life directly to the Cross. No death is insignificant, no matter how short or unknown or unappreciated it was by other people.

This truth makes it all worth it and can give comfort when we or loved ones are hit with unexplainable hurt.

Dear Father, how important to keep in mind Your view, the real one, and to know You guide every single event towards Your glorious purpose. Please use these words to encourage someone who is hurting. Amen.


Elijah's Dive - Just A Minute #164

Andy Bonikowsky
Written by Andy Bonikowsky

"What doest thou here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:9)

In the initial stages of Elijah's trek south, the Lord does not give us much of a window into his mind. Like so many events in his life, this one begins abruptly and with little explanation. In short, he receives a threat from Jezebel and hightails it out of the northern valley of Megiddo.

By the time he had stopped running, he was on the other side of the country, though he did make a few stops along the way.

First, when he arrived at the southern city of Beersheba, he got rid of his servant. We don't know any more about his thoughts until after he had walked alone for an entire day into the desert and sat down under a rough, broom like tree. There, presumably exhausted, he voiced some of his frustration.

"I've been a miserable failure," he said to God, "just like those who've gone before me!"

Read more: Elijah's Dive - Just A Minute #164

The Greatest Race - Just A Minute #162

Andy Bonikowsky
Written by Andy Bonikowsky

Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. . . . The blood of righteous Abel . . . By faith Abel . . . Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. (Gn. 4:8b, Mt. 23:35, Heb. 11:4, 12:1)

Many unusual and remarkable races take place on our planet. Some are individual; others require team effort. Some span entire continents; others cross forests, glaciers, or oceans. Some are on foot; others are on wheels, on animals, inside machines. Some use primarily muscles; others use mainly brains and savvy. Some take minutes; others take hours, days, months, or even years. Almost all have in common that they are in some way grueling and exhausting, and require dogged determination. Many also include the risk of serious injury or even death--and on and on.

But there is one race that dwarfs them all; so much so, that it really does not deserve to be placed alongside them for comparison...

Read more: The Greatest Race - Just A Minute #162

Two Elderly Voices - Just A Minute #161

Andy Bonikowsky
Written by Andy Bonikowsky

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; ... And there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher: she was of a great age... (Luke 2:25, 36)

Guided by the Holy Spirit, along with his natural medical discipline in details, Luke gives some unique insight into events surrounding the Lord's birth. In one of these stories he focuses on two interesting people, one a godly old gentleman, the other an aged and saintly widow.

Who were they and why did he choose these two? What claim to fame could they have had? Why were they important to the Author of Scripture?

Read more: Two Elderly Voices - Just A Minute #161