Category Archives: Christian Life

what would have happened if ananias stayed home?

The group was walking down the road. Their leader was confident he was doing the right thing. He was on a mission to cause much havoc and bring harsh persecution to a new group. Paperwork in hand, this man was well on his way to his next destination. Suddenly a bright light knocked the leader to his knees and a voice interrupted his thoughts. The once confident leader was now trembling before the Lord.

Acts 9 goes on to tell us Paul was then directed to go to Damascus. Blinded by the light, Paul had to be led by the hand to the city where he waited and prayed.

Meanwhile, “in Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he answered. The Lord told him, ‘Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus, named Saul. For he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight” (Acts 9:10-12).

At this point, Ananias was probably thinking, “Hey, wait a minute. This man has caused a lot of hardships for Christians, and you want me to walk right up to him.” No one could blame Ananias for having these thoughts. Paul’s track record prior to this day is anything but pleasant. He’s oversaw a stoning, had believers thrown in prison, and caused great difficulty for followers of Christ. Yet, the Lord had a plan for Paul’s life that started with Ananias.

Acts 9:15 says, “But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go, this man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

It is hard to argue with the Lord, so Ananias goes to the house. Ananias places his hands-on Paul, and Paul’s sight is restored. This begins Paul’s journey of following Christ. His zeal for persecuting Christians switches to exuberance for the Gospel message. Paul touched the world, but it was not before Ananias touched him.

What would have happened if Ananias refused to go?

You and I may have a “Paul” in our lives; individuals who we are influencing today to do something great tomorrow. Are we following Ananias’ example?

  • Befriending that coworker who is a little rough around the edges.
  • Trying to talk to that neighbor who seems a little standoffish.
  • Giving that applicant a shot even though we know she lives in the halfway house.
  • Allowing our faith to touch someone who may touch the world tomorrow.

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showing our thankfulness

Being thankful can display itself in many ways. Along with encouraging us to always offer thanksgiving, the writer of Hebrews suggests two ways we can show our thankfulness.

Hebrews 13:16 says, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others. For with such sacrifices, God is pleased.”

2 Ways to Illustrate Thankfulness

Doing Good

This is seeing how we can benefit the world around us and doing it. This is interjecting good in what we do every day.

In January 1925, a 6-year-old boy showed signs of Diphtheria. This signaled the possibility of an outbreak in the small town of Nome, Alaska. When the boy passed away a day later, Dr. Curtis Welch began immunizing children and adults with an experimental, but effective, vaccine. Dr. Welch’s supply was small and soon depleted. The nearest vaccine was located in Nenana. The towns were separated by 600 miles of frozen wilderness. A group of trappers and prospectors agreed to cover the distance with their dog teams running a relay from trading post and trapping station and beyond. One sled started from each town. Drivers ignoring the risk of frostbite, fatigue, and exhaustion. Braving the -50-degree winds for 120 hours, the relay team was able to deliver the vaccine to Nome. The result was the avoidance of a pandemic as only one other life was lost to the disease. The good deed of these individuals gave an entire town life.

To us, these men are heroes. To themselves, they may have just been doing what they did every day; braving the elements to accomplish the task at hand. Good comes in all shapes and sizes. It does not have to be headline grabbing to have a tremendous impact. What good can you do today?

Sharing with Others

Perhaps this is easier to picture. We have something that would benefit another person, so we share it with him or her. Money is obviously the first thing that comes to mind, but financially is not the only way we can share with one another.

One example of someone sharing what they have is the Hopkins family. The family has a Black Friday tradition of donating blood rather than shopping. “It’s a way to give back. I think a lot of times when we go shopping it’s for things that people want, but this something that obviously people need, so we feel privileged to be able to provide that,” said Mike Hopkins. The Hopkins family is sharing with their neighbors in a big way.

Doing good and sharing with others are just a couple ways we can live out our thankfulness to the Lord. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, what good can we do? What can we share with others? The Lord has been gracious to us, and we can illustrate our thankfulness through our actions.

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answered prayer is knocking

It is rare that I lose my keys, but it does happen. One morning I unlocked an office door and left my keys hanging in the knob as I turned to put several items down. I was going to grab my keys next, but the phone rang. One thing led to another, and my day had launched.

A few hours later I couldn’t find my keys. Searching, I mentioned to someone I lost them.

He said, “No, you didn’t. They are hanging in your door.” There the keys were in plain view.

Sometimes the answers to our prayers are in plain view, but we are astonished so we miss them. Just ask Rhoda, and the others, who were praying for Peter.

They forgot to open the door.

Acts 12 records Peter being put in prison to face persecution, and many of the believers gathered at Mary’s house to pray for him. They are praying, and simultaneously, an angel is freeing Peter from prison. No one expected a rapid answer to their prayers. This causes some confusion at Mary’s house.

Verses 13-16 say, “Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed, she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, ‘Peter is at the door!’ ‘You’re out of your mind,’ they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said it must be his angel. But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.”

Luke paints a humorous scene here. Christians have gathered late at night to pray, and suddenly there is a knock at the outer gate. Rhoda checks and discovers Peter, but forgets to open the door to the answered prayer. She is so shocked the prayer was answered quickly, or answered at all, she runs away from the answer. She runs away to tell others the answer was at the door. Disbelief, shock, and surprise keep the others away from the door. No one is opening the door for the answered prayer.

Meanwhile, Peter keeps knocking. They finally open the door, and there stands Peter. He is the answer to their prayer, and he is standing there in plain view.

Be ready to open the door.

While God always answers our prayers, the timeline is not always so sudden. The answer may come concurrently or it may take a minute. As we pray, are we ready to open the door when the answer knocks? Are we ready to receive the answer at any time? We just never know when the answer will knock on the door.

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4 reasons to always have thanksgiving

While at the store purchasing a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, a little boy said to his mother, “Thanksgiving should come after Christmas, then we would have more reasons to be thankful.”

In the fast-paced, bad news culture in which we live, it is easy to overlook reasons to be thankful, yet there are reasons to offer praise to the Lord.

Always Have Thanksgiving

The writer of Hebrews encourages us to always have Thanksgiving. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that openly profess his name,” implores Hebrews 13:15.

Reasons to be Thankful

We are encouraged to continually offer thanks to the Lord. This is not because it has been a super year or everything in life is grand right now. For many that is not the case; however, there are still reasons to offer thanks.

  1. The Lord is continually with us. God promises he will not leave us or abandon us.
  2. The Lord is not changing his mind about his Promises. Hebrews 13:8 reminds us Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever.
  3. Our current situation and circumstances are only temporary. The Lord promises he will come again.
  4. The Lord grants us life.

What reasons do you have to be thankful? Take a moment to make a mental note of your thankful list.

Someone has said, “Even though I clutch my blankets and groan when the alarm goes off, thank you for a new day. Even though I try to block out the light, thank you Lord that the sun rises. Even though I dread it, thanks God that I have the privilege of getting out of bed. Even though my family gets on my nerves, I’m thankful you blessed me with them.”

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not yet home

Quick word of caution. This story may cause a tear to fall.

An elderly man was in a hospital room and he was fading quickly. The nurses and doctors decided it was time to call the gentleman’s family, and they gathered around his bed. As he was lying there, holding his wife of 50 years hand, looking at his son and grandchildren, he whispered, “Don’t cry. I’ll see all of you again. This was not my permanent home; I’m only passing through.”

A moment later, the man looked up and said, “I can see the Lord’s face.” Peacefully, the man fell asleep and went to be with the Lord.

“For this world is not our permanent home. We are looking forward to a world yet to come.”

Hebrews 13:14 reminds us this is only a temporary stop in eternity. The original recipients of Hebrews were undergoing severe persecution, and the writer wanted to offer some much-needed encouragement to them. The Lord was with them, and he was not going anywhere (Hebrews 13:6). This persecution was only going to last a little while, and a better day would be coming.

This verse serves as encouragement for us as well. No matter our current situation, we can truly say it is only temporary as this is not our permanent home. The struggles and difficulties this life brings do not last forever. They give way to something much better. They give way to Heaven.

While we don’t fully know what Heaven will be like, the Bible does tell us it will be a glorious place. There will be no pain, sorrow, or difficulty. Today’s struggles will be gone. There will be no pandemics or tensions caused by skin color. There will be no hurt or heartache. Rather, Scripture says there will be peace. The lame will walk, the deaf will hear, the blind will see. Heaven will be glorious.

Struggling today? Remember, this is not our permanent home. We are awaiting one that will be far better.

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through the pain

“He looked around the carpentry shop. He stood for a moment in the refuge of the little room that housed so many sweet memories. He balanced the hammer in his hand. He ran his fingers across the sharp teeth of the saw. He stroked the smoothly worn wood of the sawhorse. He had come to say goodbye.  It was time for him to leave. He had heard something that made him know it was time for him to go, so he came one last time to smell the sawdust and lumber. Life was peaceful here. Life was so safe,” Max Lucado writes.

Raise your hand if you like pain. I’m assuming you do not have your hand up. I don’t know anyone who likes pain; however, pain is sometimes a part of life. The safety of jobs, good health, stability, and control can be painfully ripped from our grip. We desperately cling to them, but eventually, our fingers become so sore we have to let go. Pain enters and we are not sure what to do.

Jesus too faced pain. He understands what it is like to be bullied and hated. He understands what it is like to endure physical stress. Jesus helps us see how to handle pain.

Look past today’s pain to tomorrow.

Jesus left the safety of the carpentry shop to walk a path leading to a Roman cross. Jesus knew the agony and pain of the cross would lead to a better tomorrow. He knew closing the door of the carpenter’s workshop would lead to death, but he also knew closing the door would lead to a better day. A day when he would be able to help you and me out of our pain. Jesus looked past today’s pain to tomorrow.

In the midst of our pain, we do not fully know what tomorrow will bring. All we know is the Bible promises the pain will eventually give way to a better day. Try to look past today’s pain to a hope of a better tomorrow. Tomorrow will be better.

Rely on the Lord

As we look to a better tomorrow, Scripture encourages us to rely on the Lord.

  • The Psalmist proclaims, “The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”
  • Hebrews 13:6 says, “So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

As you may be facing painful circumstances, remember, Jesus understands what it is like. He encourages you to look past the pain of today to tomorrow and to rely on him.

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being content

A Content Life

In a 2010 interview, Eunice Sandborn, age 114, said she had a happy life. She didn’t have any complaints. She believed complaining was a choice, and in her 114 years, there were times she had to choose not to complain. Eunice was content as she celebrated her birthday making her the oldest living person in the world.

The Search for Contentment

It seems Eunice had found contentment. We all search for it. Some look for it in a big home, there are those who look for it in how many cars they own, and still others search for contentment in a bank account balance. Being content is a desire we all share, and Scripture encourages us to find our contentment in the Lord.

Hebrews 13:6 says, “Don’t love money. Be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

Finding Contentment

Life has seasons of plenty and seasons of need. The writer of Hebrews reminds us the Lord is with us in both seasons. We may even find the most contentment in the leanest of seasons.

The words of Hebrews 13:6 point to the complete reliability of God and his promises. God’s people can count on him no matter what comes.

Remember, wherever you are in life today, the Lord is saying to you, “I will never fail you. I will not abandon you.”

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Pressure Cooker of Life

Life is a pressure cooker.

Good cooks, which does not describe me, know a pressure cooker can be a useful tool. It can turn the toughest cut of meat into a tender dish. The heat and pressure help cook the dish perfectly. You need just the right amount of pressure though, or you end up with ketchup on your kitchen ceiling. Pressure cookers are useful as they reduce cooking time, and a well-versed chef can use the tool to create delicious food.

Life can be described as a pressure cooker. Each day is filled with stresses which cause our anxiety levels to rise. The decisions we are forced to make can be overwhelming. We have more bills than income, deciding how to keep our families safe amid a pandemic, and juggling our home being the center for work, school, and everything else. The pressures of life can certainly come from all directions.

The pressures of life may cause us anxiety, but we are not alone. Others have had the same experience including the writer of Psalm 119. In verse 139, the writer states he is overwhelmed with indignation. He feels insignificant. Perhaps nothing is working out in the way he planned. Pressure is increasing, yet the Lord is still there.

Psalm 119:143-144 says, as pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands. Your laws are always right. Help me to understand them so I may live.”

Though he was in the pressure cooker of life, the Psalmist kept his focus on the Lord. The challenge for us is to follow the Psalmist’s pattern.

Amid stress and anxiety, remember…

  • The Lord is with us.
  • The Lord is trustworthy.
  • Jesus asks us to trust him. He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1).
  • The Lord sees the big picture and is a master chef at using life’s pressure cooker. He knows when to release the pressure so the ketchup doesn’t end up on the ceiling.
  • Christ has promised he will come and take us where he is.

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Salt & Light

Happy World Kindness Day!

Jesus tells us to be salt and light.

He says in Matthew 5, “You are the salt of the earth, but what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled under foot as worthless. You are the light of the world, like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is placed on a stand where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father.”

Salt was used for the preservation and flavoring of food. Salt helped society. The same is true for light. It had its obvious implications of illuminating the darkness, providing safety, and offering heat. Society would be in a worse place if not for salt and light.

It seems Jesus’ point is clear. Christians are to be salt and light; we are to improve society by being the true hands and feet of the Lord.

Annually, World Kindness Day is celebrated November 13. It is a day designed to unite humanity through kindness. I believe the challenge for Christians is to extend kindness beyond one day a year to every day. Are we truly the salt and light of the world? How well do we model Jesus’ behavior?

  • Jesus treated others the way he wanted to be treated.
  • Jesus loved and prayed for his enemies.
  • Jesus was compassionate. He empathized with those who were hurting.
  • Jesus always offered an encouraging word.
  • Jesus was gracious. He did not throw mistakes in a person’s face, but offered grace to the person.

Be salt and light!

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A Deliverer Has Come

A deliverer has come.

Isaiah had many bad things to say, but he had many hopeful points as well. He speaks of a coming deliverer.

Isaiah 9:6-7 says, “For to us a child is born. To us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it, with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The seal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

In Isaiah’s day, they had to wait for this deliverer to come; however, you and I do not have to wait. He came on Christmas Day. This deliverer is Jesus.

We need only to accept his offer of grace and mercy to enjoy the benefits of his kingdom. Christ offers hope in an otherwise hopeless situation. Amid the darkness of Isaiah’s prophecies, the light of a coming deliverer – the hope of Christ coming – shined brightly. For those searching for hope, the light is still shining brightly, and Christ is still offering hope.

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