All posts by Chris Miller

I am a writer and presenter. My passion is to inspire individuals to overcome the barriers holding them back in life. Find my blog at https://chrismilleronline.wordpress.com.

Feeling Abandoned and Lonely

Listen on Spotify!

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This was his cry as the weight of life pressed down overbearing him. He felt completely alone and abandoned. He cried out, but there was no one. No one there; no one to pay attention to his needs. His enemies encircled him. He had nowhere to go, and he was met with silence. His cries seemed to only echo in the wind.

For most, when we think the above phrase and the emotions, we can assume came with it, we think of Jesus on the cross, and we should (more on that in a moment). But they were also David’s words and emotions. Amid intense suffering, David cries out to the Lord only to be met with silence. The weight of life coupled with the silence of God is unbearable for David, so he cries out, “Why God?”

David certainly isn’t the only one with this experience. Feeling the unbearable pressure of life is common; we all face it. We may feel forsaken by the Lord as life crumbles around us. The person who has lost 6 family members in the past year may feel abandoned. The family whose home and possessions were blown away by this week’s tornado may feel lost and lonely. The weight of life may be overbearing and pressing down so violently that we are crying out, “Why God?”

In these moments we can find courage though. We can find our courage by looking at the cross and Jesus.

You see, looking at the cross helps us realize Jesus understands how we feel. No one, including Jesus, desires to go through times of abandonment, loneliness, and deep sorrow in life. This is why Jesus prayed if it was possible for the cup to pass from him, yet the time on the cross came. We are unable to fully comprehend the agony of that experience. We comprehend just enough to understand those hours on the cross were excruciating. Jesus endured the misery of the cross, so he knows how we feel when it seems the full weight of life is pressing down on us. And, he has promised he will be there with us.

Hebrews 13:5 says, “For God has said,

“I will never fail you.
    I will never abandon you.” Looking at the cross gives us courage in knowing Jesus understands how we feel.

Looking at the cross also gives us courage in knowing vindication is coming. On that day, as Jesus endured the full weight of God’s wrath, he knew vindication would come. He knew victory was on the way, and this would not be the last word. His despair would be replaced with peace and his agony would be replaced with joy. Speaking of Jesus, Hebrews 12:2 says, “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” The cross was definitely not the end.

The cross was followed by an empty tomb and risen Savior. As Jesus felt the full wrath of God on the cross, he looked ahead to the awaiting vindication. As we are under the unbearable weight of life’s pressure, we too can look ahead to vindication because of the cross. This season will be followed by a victorious one.

Psalm 22 begins with a cry of despair, but it does not end there. It ends with a proclamation of victory. Verse 24 says:

“For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.
    He has not turned his back on them,
    but has listened to their cries for help.”

When it seems, we are crushed and there is no escape, we can look to the cross and Jesus for victory. If life has you crushed and feeling like there’s no way out, concentrate on the cross and Jesus.

3 Keys for Overcoming Doubt

One of the world’s most loved comic strips is Hagar the Horrible. In one strip, we see Hagar kneeling in prayer, “It is not easy to believe in you God. We never see you. How come you never show yourself?” Next, we see:

  • A flower springing into life next to Hagar.
  • A volcano erupting in the distance.
  • An eclipse of the sun turning the sky black.
  • A star shooting across the night blackened sky.
  • A tidal wave rushing over Hagar.
  • Lightning flashing.
  • A bush beginning to burn.
  • A stone rolling away from the entrance to a tomb.

Hagar pulls himself from the mud, dripping wet, and surrounded by darkness. “Okay, okay! I give up! Every time I bring up this subject, all we get is interruptions.”

This comic strip makes light of a real issue with which many Christians struggle at some time in their life.

Is it true? This is a question many have asked over the years, and it brings to light the reality of doubt. Doubt is a season which many people pass through. When we think of someone who doubted, we probably think almost immediately of Thomas. He is even known as “Doubting Thomas.” Peter also experienced some moments of doubt, and it is safe to assume other of Jesus’ first followers may have had a doubt or two. John the Baptist among them.

Matthew 11:1-6 records, “When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went out to teach and preach in towns throughout the region. John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing, so he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting or should we keep looking for someone else?’ Jesus told them, ‘Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the good news is being preached to the poor.’ And he added, ‘God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”

John the Baptist is struggling here. Perhaps with good reason, imagine the scene. John has been sitting in a small prison cell for approximately a year. His disciples were talking with John about the rumors of Jesus’ work. He was healing folks who suffered from a variety of diseases and illnesses, he was having compassion on people, and he was approaching individuals with a tender touch. As John was looking through the bars of his jail cell, it seemed Jesus was not bringing any judgment to the world, especially to the corrupted official who imprisoned him. Jesus is not acting in the way John thought the Messiah would, so he begins to doubt. He begins to wonder if Jesus is the Messiah who was to come or if someone else will be coming.

Put us in the scenes of our lives, and doubt begins to enter. We have plans made which we feel are secure, but suddenly life throws a wrench in those plans. We begin to wonder of the Lord’s whereabouts as our plans fall apart. Doubt creeps in.

Doubt enters for the young husband who is struggling just to provide for his family. Doubt enters for the parent whose child is struggling. Doubt enters for the retired couple who is dealing with much more than planned in their golden years. Doubt finds opportunities to walk into our lives.

Doubting and asking questions does not make you a bad person. It is how you handle the doubts and the questions which makes all the difference. Here are 3 keys for handling doubt the right way.

1.      Present your doubts to the Lord

The first key for handling doubts is taking our doubts to the Lord. John’s doubts are real. John doesn’t try to hide his doubts are hide himself from the Lord. He does just the opposite. He goes right to Jesus with the question. We can even say John’s question was blunt.

“Are you the Messiah, or is someone else coming?” This question is to the point. It is not hidden; it is not veiled. It is very real and honest, and Jesus’ response shows us it is okay to directly approach him with our doubts.

Jesus responds to John with much compassion and grace, as if to say, “I understand how you feel, so let me help you through it.” This is not the only time Jesus responds compassionately and graciously to someone with doubts.

He responds the same way to Thomas, who can be classified as the most famous of doubters. John 20:24-29 tells us Thomas was not present the first time Jesus appears to the disciples, and when they report the news to him, Thomas just can’t wrap his mind around it.

Verse 25 says, “But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail scars in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

Thomas’ doubt is not hidden or veiled here; it is real and bluntly presented just like John the Baptist. And, Jesus responds in the same way.

John’s Gospel goes on in verse 26: “A week later the disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here. See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.”

It is as if Jesus was in the room a week earlier when Thomas expressed his doubt, and Jesus responds compassionately and graciously.

The final statement Jesus makes to Thomas in this moment is, “Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:26). The IVP Commentary Series states another way to think of Jesus’ words is, “Stop becoming unbelieving and become believing again.” Our Christian life is a journey of faith and seasons of doubt come, but when they do, Jesus responds with compassion and grace.

You see, it is okay to go directly to Jesus with our doubts. He even defends John. Matthew records Jesus telling the crowd they did not go out into the desert to see a man put on a good show. They went out to see a prophet. During everything John is going through, Jesus still calls him a prophet; “the Elijah” who was to come. John doesn’t lose credibility with Jesus because he presents doubts.

Likewise, we do not lose credibility with Jesus when we present doubts. He knows our hearts and minds anyway, so why try to hide the doubt? Why try to veil the very feeling which the Lord will help us work through? John presented doubts; Thomas presented doubts, and Jesus responded with compassion and grace. We can present doubts, and Jesus will respond with compassion and grace. Stop becoming unbelieving and start becoming believing again. The first key to overcoming doubt is to take it to the Lord.

2. Look Around to Overcome Doubt

The second key to overcome doubt is to look around. Jesus replies to John’s question by telling his disciples to go back and report what they see and hear. Look around at the Lord’s work.

Just step outside and look around at the workings of nature. We find the Lord’s fingerprints all over. According to Amazing Facts, here are a few places we see the Lord’s fingerprints.

  • The sun is a certain distance from the Earth. If it were any closer or at a greater distance, human life could not exist.
  • The Earth rotates on its axis at a certain angle. Any change in the degree of angle, and human life could not exist.
  • The air we breathe is 79% Nitrogen and 21% Oxygen. The slightest change would cause much difficulty for human existence.

These are just a few examples of where we see the Lord’s fingerprints. Look around in nature, and you will find the Lord at work.

Another place we see the Lord’s work is in people’s lives. How many times have you heard those stories where there is just no explanation or things worked out in just the right way?

I’ve heard the story of a son who was going to look at a race car. He was interested in purchasing the car. He and his friends started on their way, and the son realized he forgot to grab an item out of his garage. He returned home to find his dad lying on the garage floor. His father needed medical attention, and had the son not forgotten the item, no one would have known it in time.

I’ve heard a story of a lady attempting to find her sister-in-law to let her know her husband was in the emergency room in serious condition. All she knew was her sister-in-law was running errands. The lady called some local businesses searching but came up empty. After exhausting all other options, she decided to just go driving around looking. She was getting ready to pull off her street onto the highway and guess who went by – her sister-in-law. If either of these ladies had delayed driving even by seconds, they would have missed each other. Everything worked out in just the right timing.

These two stories are interwoven. They are connected by a single family. As they were anxiously awaiting news about their dad, husband, and brother, they were reflecting on the afternoon’s events. And, only one conclusion was logical. The Lord had to be with them.

We all know of stories like this. There is just no explanation except the Lord was at work. “Look around,” Jesus says to John’s disciples. Look around at how you see the Lord moving; look around at how you see the Lord working; look around.

3. Challenge Your Doubts with the Bible

Thirdly, Jesus suggests referring to Scripture to help overcome doubt.

Jesus responds to John’s disciples in part by quoting Scripture. He quoted passages of Scripture which were beginning to be fulfilled. Not every detail of the prophecy John knew had been fulfilled at this point, but it was starting to come together.

Jesus was jogging John’s memory with Scripture. He certainly knew John was aware of the Old Testament passages discussing the Messiah. Jesus pushed John to Scripture to help him overcome his doubts.

Allow your doubts to push you to Scripture. Allow Scripture to challenge your doubts. Allow yourself to be open-minded enough to ponder the claims of Scripture. In doing so, your doubts may start to erode. After all, what do you have to lose besides doubts?

Acting

John the Baptist was a strong person of faith. He was the forerunner for Jesus, yet he had a season in life when he doubted. Doubt is certainly a part of many Christians journey; however, how the Christian responds to doubt makes the difference. These three keys will help overcome the season of doubt.

All three of these keys will only work if there is a willingness on our part to give them an opportunity. If you find yourself in a season of doubt today, why don’t you give them a shot? We asked this earlier, but what do you have to lose – besides doubts?

Dirty Work

Listen on Spotify!

I’ve been watching the series Dirty Jobs. Mike Rowe spends time with men and women who have jobs considered to be dirty. Worm farmers, garbage collectors, and junk yard workers are just a few of the individuals Rowe follows. In one episode, he is working with a sewer inspector for the city of San Francisco. The inspector is tasked with finding weak spots in the sewer system. The work requires manually inspecting the underground tunnels carrying the sewage. It is definitely dirty; walking in raw sewage amid the rats and roaches is not the ideal place for a stroll. However, the work must be done. If the sewage system collapsed, it would cause havoc for the city. The inspector does what needs to be done even though it might be a little dirty.

Jesus too does what needs to be done even though it might be a little dirty.

Jesus’ Dirty Job

The excitement of the week was reaching its climax as Jesus and his disciples dined in the upper room. John’s Gospel tells us it was time for dinner, and Jesus got up to wash his disciples’ feet. We don’t know why one of the disciples had not already performed this ordinary act of hygiene. Perhaps they were focused on discussing the week’s events or they could have been arguing about who was the greatest. No matter the reason, this essential task was left undone. So, Jesus wraps a towel around himself and washes everyone’s feet.

This is an amazing example of Jesus’ humility. This dirty job was usually reserved for the lowest servant in the household. No one really wants to wash feet that have been in sandals all day. These feet have been on dusty roads plowing through manure and mud so it is vital they be cleaned, but who really wants to grab the pitcher and towel to clean them. It was a dirty and humiliating task, but Jesus does it. He’s not above the work or too good for it. He sees the need and does something about it. He’s not afraid to get dirty.

Don’t be afraid to get dirty.

The Bible encourages us to follow Jesus’ example of not being afraid to get dirty.

  • Mark 9:35 says, “He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
  • Mark 10:42-45 says, “42 So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Life can certainly be messy. Folks may have the “manure” of a messy past or the “mud” of guilt and heartache on their “feet.” Their “feet” are in need of washing, but they need someone to help them understand how to wash them. This is where Christ-followers come in sharing the Good News which can cleanse their “feet.” It may require humility; it may require patience, and it may mean a stroll through life’s messiness. As we drudge through the messiness, we can use Christ’s dirty jobs an example and encouragement.

Not only was Jesus willing to wash the disciples feet, he was willing to do the work of the cross. Scripture reminds us this was humiliating, painful, and outright torture. Yet it was essential. Jesus knew the need for the cross, and he wasn’t afraid to do the dirty work.

In what ways is the Lord calling you to help someone wash their feet?

Please share this post.

Who Can We Trust?

Listen on Spotify!

There is an old song which says, “I never promised you a rose garden.” And, even if life would be a rose garden, roses have thorns. It is not a well-kept secret life is filled with difficulties. There are the headline grabbing challenges such as a pandemic, and the challenges which rock only our own little world. Pink slips and financial burdens can stun us while the rest of the world breezes by. We do not have to search for the difficulties of life; they find us, but we can find hope during these challenging times.

It was certainly no rose garden for the people of Israel in Jeremiah’s day. Jeremiah spoke of famine and drought; he spoke of harsh and hard times. But he also spoke of hope and where to find it amid life’s difficulties. Jeremiah’s words provided a way for the Israelites to find hope.

Jeremiah can lead us to hope just as he did the Israelites. Notice Jeremiah’s words in 17:5-8.

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
    who rely on human strength
    and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
    with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salty land.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
    with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit.

A gardener bought two identical plants. She planted one in the middle of the desert and the other in fertile soil. Both plants look good for a couple days, but it did not take long for the plant in the desert to wither and die. Meanwhile, the plant in the fertile soil thrived, staying healthy even though conditions became harsh. Jeremiah’s prophecy helps us apply this principle to ourselves.

The person who puts his trust in man will be disappointed and let down. Hoping only in man will place us in the Valley of Broken Promises. Man is fallible and easily makes mistakes. Leaving the Lord out and completely trusting man leaves us in the desert.

But putting our trust in the Lord will always give us hope. The Lord is faithful to always keep his promises. Notice again the words of Jeremiah 17:7-8. Blessed is the person who trusts in the Lord. He or she can survive the challenging times in life.

The Psalmist puts it this way. Psalm 1:3 says:

 “They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.”

Trusting in the Lord is what pulls us through those challenging times. It is what gives us the strength to push through and the hope of a better season coming. Where is your trust being placed today?

Please share this post.

Hope in a Promise

“So, prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world” (1 Peter 1:13). The past twelve to eighteen months have magnified the need for hope. COVID19 has caused much pain, and current events have people starving and searching for hope. Hope for a change in pace; hope for a better tomorrow. Perhaps as you are reading this, you are wondering about hope. Allow me to remind you of the hope we have in Christ’s Second Coming and what it means for us.

We have a great promise for which we can be hopeful. Revelation 1:7-8 says, “Look, he comes with the clouds of Heaven, and everyone will see him. Even those who pierced him and all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes, amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end,’ says the Lord God, ‘I am the One who is, who always was, and who is still to come, the Almighty One.” Think about the hope we find in those words of Scripture.

The Lord is Coming

The Lord’s coming is the first point of this great promise. We do not have to doubt or wonder if he will return. We know he is coming. “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you. When everything is ready, I will come and get you so that you will always be with me where I am,” promises Jesus in John 14.

In a world where it seems heartache and pain are around every corner; this prophetic declaration of the Lord is a grand promise to you and me. “In spite of the threatening circumstances, Jesus spoke with calm assurance of the divine provision for them, and took for granted that they would have a place in the eternal world. Jesus never speculated about a future life. He spoke as one who was as familiar with eternity as one is with his hometown. The imagery of a dwelling place, rooms, is taken from the oriental house in which the sons and daughters had apartments under the same roof as their parents. The purpose of his departure was to make ready the place where he welcomes them permanently. Certainly, he would not go to prepare a room for his friends unless he expected that they would also eventually arrive,” according to the Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Jesus promises he will come back and take us to his Father’s house, so his return is as certain as his departure. The agony of this life is only temporary. The struggles we encounter are only a stop on eternity’s timeline, because “look, he comes with the clouds of Heaven,” and everyone will see him.

Everyone Will See Him

This is an exciting point in the Lord’s promise. We can only imagine and hope for that day. We are not sure what it will be like or how we will respond. I’m sure there will be joy, thanksgiving, and awe, but I am not certain those emotions justly describe the feelings of that day. I am not sure there are words to express the emotions we will feel. I am sure, though, Christ will come. He guarantees it.

Guarantees It Himself

This is an awesome promise which God himself guarantees. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary remarks, “Such a stupendous promise requires more than the prophet’s own signature or even Christ’s amen. God himself speaks, and with his own signature vouches for the truthfulness of the coming of Christ. Of the many names of God that reveal his character and memorialize his deeds, there are four strong ones in this verse. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Their mention here is similar to the first and last in verse 17, and is further heightened by the beginning and the end in 21:6 and 22:13. Only this book refers to God as the Alpha and Omega. He is the absolute source of all creation and history, and nothing lies outside him. Thus, he is the Lord God of all. He is the One who is and One who was and who is to come. He is continually present to his people as the Almighty (lit. “the one who has his hand on everything.””

To erase doubt concerning Christ’s Second Coming, God himself speaks to its truthfulness. God says without a doubt, we should know Jesus is returning and we will see his face. We can find blessed hope in this promise.

Right Timing

John is the one who received the vision of Revelation. It came to him as he was advanced in years and isolated on an island. This vision may have served as a boost to John’s hope, and like all things with God, came at the perfect time. The historic time in which we are living is the perfect time for hope, and as Christians, we have hope. We have hope in Christ’s return, in the fact we will explicitly see him, and the guarantee of his truth. Everything else may give way, but our hope will remain. Hebrews 12:28 encourages, “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshipping him with holy fear and awe.” Hang on because Christ’s Second Coming will be at the right time.

Please share this post, and a big thanks to Light magazine for including it as part of a recent article.

Fixing the Mess

“I’m pregnant!”

This was the message that came to David. Ordinarily, these are exciting words, but for David, they are frightening words. It is going to be clear he committed adultery. It is going to be clear he slept with another man’s wife. It is going to be clear he sinned.

So, David tries to fix it himself.

2 Samuel 11 records David sending for Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, and having Uriah come home from the battlefield. If Uriah sleeps with Bathsheba, then everyone will assume Uriah is the father of the child. This doesn’t work though; Uriah is so loyal to his comrades that he refused to go home.

David tried getting Uriah drunk. If a sober Uriah wouldn’t go home, maybe a drunken Uriah would desire his wife’s company over loyalty, but Uriah still did not go home.

Another failure didn’t stop David. 2 Samuel 11 records his next move:

14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.

The Lord was displeased.

2 Samuel 11 tells us the Lord was displeased with David’s actions, and he summoned Nathan, a prophet, to pay David a visit. This was an unwelcomed visit filled with bad news. It thrust David’s sin with Bathsheba right in front of his face; he could not ignore it. It also served as a reminder of the Lord’s grace.

Not our actions, but God’s grace.

After chatting with Nathan, David wrote the words of Psalm 51. This is a great reminder of the Lord’s gracious response to us. Notice verse 1:

Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.

David wasn’t appealing for mercy and forgiveness based on his own actions. His request had nothing to do with what he had done; it had everything to do with the Lord’s character. David’s hope was in God’s unfailing love and great compassion. Left alone David made a bigger mess, but with the Lord, David found true forgiveness.

The same unfailing love and great compassion David saw in the Lord is there for us. Perhaps we’ve tried fixing our mistakes only to make a bigger mess, but the Lord can wash away our guilt just like he did David’s.

Please share this post.

Grace and Mercy

The Bible tells us a great deal about God’s character. He is an all-powerful, awesome Creator, who can begin and end events with a single word. He is a God with whom nothing is impossible. He is also a God of mercy and grace, worthy of praise. Notice what David writes in the Psalms.

Psalm 103:1-6 says:

Let all that I am praise the Lord;
    with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
    may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins
    and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
    and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
    My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

The Lord gives righteousness
    and justice to all who are treated unfairly.

Think about the picture these words paint of God. Dwell on his forgiveness and mercy. This Psalm goes on to remind us the Lord can take away our guilt, so challenge yourself to allow the God described above to be the Lord of life today.

Please share this post.

Getting Rid of Guilt

Darkness engulfed New York in 1977, and guilt and fear overwhelmed a young boy. It took some time, but the boy’s parents finally discovered why he was so upset. Just as the lights went out, the boy had kicked a utility pole, so he was convinced he caused the great black out. Guilt paralyzed him until he realized the truth.

Guilt is something we all experience. A Psychology Today post reports, “We experience 5 hours a week of guilty feelings. One study found that if you add up all the moments you spend feeling mildly or moderately guilty, it adds up to a pretty significant chunk of time.” 

It is not that we experience Guilt which causes a problem. It is our handling of the guilty feelings which makes a difference. Guilt is a trigger that can lead us to action, and it can be used by the Lord to help us discover true peace.

Guilt can be the tool which drives us to the Lord. Our guilt can push us to fully accept the Lord’s grace. Those mistakes, those failures of the past can create much guilt, but we can be set free in God’s grace.

Psalm 103:7-14 says:

He revealed his character to Moses
    and his deeds to the people of Israel.
The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
    slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
    nor remain angry forever.
10 He does not punish us for all our sins;
    he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
    is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 He has removed our sins as far from us
    as the east is from the west.
13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
    tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 For he knows how weak we are;
    he remembers we are only dust.

This Psalm is a reminder of God’s grace. We do not get what we deserve; we get far more! In his grace, we can find freedom in Christ. The Lord removes our guilt and replaces it with his peace. He removes the guilt from past mistakes and replaces it with a hope for a better future. When you think of your past, do you concentrate on the guilt of past mistakes or the peace of Christ’s forgiveness?

Please share this post.

Valley of Broken Promises

“I will always love you.”

“Till death do us part.”

“I’ve got your back; you don’t have to worry about this round of layoffs.”

These are promises many of us have heard only to find out they have been broken. Many of us have found ourselves walking through the valley of broken promises on more than one occasion. We were given a promise, but the promise wasn’t kept. Words were flowing freely, but the commitment was not behind them. Many may break promises, but there is One who will not send us to the valley of broken promises.

The Lord is faithful, and he always keeps his promises.

  • Psalm 12:6 says, “The Lord’s promises are pure,
        like silver refined in a furnace,
        purified seven times over.”
  • Numbers 19:23 says, “God is not a man, so he does not lie.
        He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
    Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
        Has he ever promised and not carried it through?”

Looking through history reveals God’s flawless record of keeping his promises. He promised Abraham he would become a great nation, and Abraham did. He promised Israel they would possess the land of Canaan and they did. The Lord promised Israel manna in the desert, and the manna showed up just as he said. The Lord is faithful in keeping his promises.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.”
  • Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”

For you and I, this means the promises we find within Scripture are true. The promises we cling to in the middle of the night are true. The promises we rely on in rough times are true. The promises in which we place our hope for a better tomorrow will be fulfilled. The Lord’s promises are true.

Choose to claim the promises we find in Scripture about our family, finances, and future, and cling to them. They are true because God always keeps his promises!

Please share this post.

Beauty of Harmony

It was a beautiful sight. All of Israel coming together to anoint David their king. The Bible records the Elders of Israel telling David they knew the Lord had chosen him. So, David made a covenant with the leaders of Israel before the Lord, and they anointed him king. Israel was experiencing unity and harmony at this time.

It may have been this event that prompted David to write the words of Psalm 133, reflecting on the beauty of harmony:

How wonderful and pleasant it is
    when brothers live together in harmony!
For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
    that was poured over Aaron’s head,
    that ran down his beard
    and onto the border of his robe.
Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
    that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing,
    even life everlasting.

These words remind us of the beauty and peace harmony and unity bring. A harmonious and unified people of God have changed lives in the past, and can still change lives today. We may have our differences, but we also have common ground. We are all in need of the transforming work of the cross.

Max Lucado writes:

I spoke at each Good Friday service of a nearby Episcopal church for many years. On one occasion, I shared the responsibility with the bishop of the diocese of West Texas. He wore a robe and a large gold cross around his neck. My church background didn’t make me too keen on preachers wearing religious jewelry. So, I was less than impressed. And, I confess, even a bit judgmental.

But as he shared the story behind his gold cross, my attitude began to change. In order to assume his role as bishop, he had to leave behind St. Mark’s Episcopal, a church where he was loved dearly. The people tried to talk him into staying, but he felt it was God’s will to leave. The members, then, expressed their gratitude by making him this cross. Two hundred and forty-two households contributed gold pieces which were melted down and forged together. Some of the gold provided was from the wedding bands of widow and widowers. Three couples who had divorced and then reconciled each gave a set of wedding rings to the cross. One friend of the bishop was a bachelor who was rejected by “the love of his life” just days before the ceremony contributed her ring to the cross as a symbolic surrendering of the pain of his lost love. The cross includes a college ring as well as the bridge from a fellow bishop’s mouth. One mom donated some gold beads. When her son was four, he found them on a dresser, thought they were toys and damaged them. He died soon thereafter in an accident. She donated them on the day before what would have been his seventh birthday.

Two hundred and forty-two stories. Stories of celebration, stories of sorrow. Stories of peace, stories of pain. But when forged together they form the cross of Christ.

What happened literally with the bishop’s cross happens spiritually in every church that devotes itself to fellowship. When your story intermingles with mine, and our stories interweave with others, the cross is formed. When one hand holds another in a hospital, the cross is lifted up. When a conservative loves a liberal; when an Anglo seeks to understand a Hispanic; when the redneck and the tree-hugger stand side by side at the communion table, the cross is lifted up.

No matter our backgrounds, our socioeconomic status, or our political views, we have one thing in common. We’re all in need of grace, and when we share grace with one another, the cross is what is lifted up. How can you lift up the cross today?

Please share this post.