Tag Archives: Christianity

Are we running after the right ambitions?

“It’s about the people that you love and the places that you saw. Finding peace in the chaos, and beauty in the flaws.”

What are we running after? What are we trying to achieve? Are we always comparing ourselves to the neighbor next door? Beauty in the Flaws by Sophia Scott reminds us it is not the amount of money we make or the status we gain that matters.

The people and places we impact matter. The peace we can find matters. If we spend all our time chasing after money and prestige, we will find ourselves longing for more.

The Bible says Solomon was the wisest person to ever live, and he pursued the meaning of life. He pursued it within money, prestige, hard work, and partying. At the end of the pursuit, he writes these words.

“That’s the whole story. Here, now, is my conclusion: fear God and obey his commands for this is everyone’s duty,” Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 12:13.

4 Characteristics Worthy of Modeling

He was never king, yet he left a mark in history.

Jonathan was King Saul’s oldest son, yet he was never king. He does not make it into a hall of fame, yet he was a good friend. He was not a star, yet he was respected. In many ways, Jonathan was just an ordinary person.

Jonathan’s life models 4 characteristics everyone should strive to possess.

1. Jonathan was humble.

Jonathan understood David would be a better king. He was willing to look past himself to the big picture. In humility, Jonathan was willing to place himself in second place. It has been said, “There are kings and kingmakers.” Jonathan was a kingmaker.

The kingmakers of the world understand they may not be the best fit for a position. They spend their time looking past themselves to the big picture rather than fussing and feuding trying to promote their own agenda. In humility, they realize their purpose is to make a king, not be a king.

2. Jonathan was a great friend.

Jonathan was a true friend to David.

  • He was loyal to David. When everyone else left David, Jonathan stuck by his side. Job 6:14 says friends should stay loyal even if a person forsakes the Lord.
  • He was willing to share in David’s burdens. Jonathan helped carry the weight of David’s circumstances. A good friend is willing to help carry another’s burden.
  • He encouraged David. Jonathan was willing to go to David and offer encouragement. Jonathan recognized a rough season in David’s life and encouraged him in that time.
  • Jonathan invested in David’s life. Jonathan stepped aside so David could be king. He gave something of his own to David.

3. Jonathan had faith which pushed him to action.

1 Samuel 14 records Jonathan’s daring plan to win a battle with the Philistines. Though outnumbered and overpowered, Jonathan’s faith pushed him to go forward.

Jonathan says in verse 6, “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans…. Perhaps the Lord will help us for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he was many warriors or only a few.” Jonathan was not afraid to step out in faith because he believed nothing was impossible for the Lord.

How would our goals and dreams change if we followed this example?

4. Jonathan showed undaunted courage.

The plan Jonathan devised took much courage to execute. He was outnumbered, and the Philistines had to see him. Climbing to the Philistines position required both hands and feet, so for a short period, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not able to defend themselves. To spite these dangers, Jonathan had the courage to move forward.

Jonathan’s courage came as a result of his faith. He knew nothing was impossible for the Lord.

Taking steps to fulfill dreams and achieve goals can be scary. Much courage may be required. We can find this courage in the Lord. If he is with us, there is no need to fear.

Jonathan certainly left his mark in history. His courage, faith, friendship, and humility are worthy of modeling.

 

Can we help the lonely?

A touch cured a lonely soul.

Leprosy was a horrible disease. There was no cure, and the infection was easily transmitted. Individuals with leprosy were forced to live alone. As someone approached, the person was forced to shout “unclean” as a warning.

A person suffering from leprosy had to endure the physical pain of his or her flesh rotting. There was also the emotional pain of loneliness. Those with leprosy had to quarantine themselves, leaving their families and friends. The disease took its tole both physically and emotionally, and we find Jesus offering much compassion to those with leprosy.

Matthew 8 says, “Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. ‘Lord,’ the man said, ‘if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

Imagine the scene. Jesus is leading a large crowd, and suddenly enters a man with leprosy. He starts speaking to Jesus as perhaps the crowd backs up a little. The man’s faith is obvious. He knows Jesus can heal him. Jesus does heal the man, but the other action Jesus takes is just as powerful.

“Jesus reached out and touched him,” records Matthew 8:3. Jesus touched him!

We do not know how long this man had endured the pain of leprosy. We do not know how many days or even years it had been since the man felt the closeness of human touch. All we know is Jesus touched him. Yes, Jesus healed his leprosy, but Jesus also healed his loneliness. The compassion offered by Jesus in this moment was stellar.

The man with leprosy was lonely, and Jesus interaction helped him. You and I may have the ability to help someone who is lonely.

When appropriate, the embrace of a hug and the holding of a hand is powerful. The sharing of a smile and a friendly greeting are equally as powerful. A wave can go a long way.

Our interactions today may help someone who is lonely without us even realizing it.

 

The Power of Encouragement

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you,” said William Arthur Ward.

Offering encouragement is one of the most powerful ways we can help our friends and neighbors. Everyone needs to be encouraged from time to time, and good friends will encourage one another.

David needed encouragement, and Jonathan encouraged him. Saul was jealous of David and wanted to kill him. Saul would learn of David’s location and chase him, so David was forced to run from one stronghold to the next. Day after day he had to hide in the wilderness. This would have been a discouraging season in David’s life.

1 Samuel 23:16 says, “Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.” Jonathan recognized a difficult season in David’s life and went to encourage him.

Our friends and neighbors may be going through a difficult season, so they need encouragement. We do not know how heavy of a load our neighbor may be carrying. Encouraging him or her may be one of the most powerful ways we can help.

The Bible suggests we encourage one another daily. We can encourage each other by celebrating victories, offering comfort in disappointment and heartache, and helping one another keep a strong faith.

Here are more ways to encourage one another.

Jonathan and David had a strong friendship in part because they encouraged one another.

Please share this post.

 

What is true friendship?

3 Characteristics of Genuine Friendship.

A man dialed the wrong number and heard an alarming answering machine message. “I am not available right now. After the beep, leave a message, and I will call you back. I’m making some changes in my life now, so if I don’t call you back, you are one of those changes.”

True friendship is a treasure. We associate with many people, but how many of those people are genuine friends? The Bible gives us a glimpse of real friendship in David and Jonathan’s relationship.

Jonathan was a true friend to David. He possessed the characteristics of a true friend.

1. Jonathan was devoted to David.

Some time after David battled Goliath, Jonathan and David developed an intimate friendship which lasted the test of time. The friends were devoted to one another.

Jonathan did not run away from David when Saul started chasing him. As Saul was chasing him, David’s life experienced an adverse season, and Jonathan remained his friend. Jonathan’s devotion compelled him to remain a friend to David.

Proverbs 17:17 states, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Genuine friendship is built on devotion, hanging in there during good and bad times.

2. Jonathan was willing to sacrifice to help David.

The tension between Saul and David lasted until Saul’s death. Jonathan was willing to make some sacrifices during this time. He risked creating tension between himself and his father, and he stepped aside so David could take the throne of Israel.

In 1 Samuel 23:17, Jonathan tells David, “Do not be afraid, my father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” Jonathan willingly gave up his right to the throne for David.

Jonathan was able to see the big picture. He realized David’s potential and sacrificed to help him. True friends sacrifice for one another. This may be helping carry a burden, offering financial assistance in a rough time, or helping navigate through difficult circumstances. Sacrifice is a mark of true friendship.

3. Jonathan encouraged David.

1 Samuel 23:16 says Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in God. Friends encourage one another.

Friends encourage one another to achieve goals and fulfill dreams. Christian friends also encourage each other to stay strong in their faith. They help in times of trouble and celebrate in times of victory.

Acting

Think of your friendships. Are there areas where you could be a better friend?

 

 

Can we find hope in Christ’s resurrection?

Yes, because of its validity, value, and victory.

Hope can be found in Christ’s resurrection.

The Validity of the Resurrection

With courtroom-like precision, Paul builds the case for Christ’s resurrection. The eyewitness accounts are overwhelming.

1 Corinthians 15:5-8 states, “He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time. Most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later, by all the apostles. Last of all, I also saw him.”

It is easy to dismiss one person’s testimony, and perhaps the 12 disciples could be written off as hallucinating. But it is not as easy to discount 500 people seeing the same event at the same time. Jesus appeared to all these individuals after his resurrection.

He ate with them. He talked with them. He walked with them. They could see and touch his physical body. He was there. Those who saw Jesus could factually say he was no longer in the tomb.

The resurrection was not a myth. It was a historical event which brought value and victory.

The Value of the Resurrection

1 Corinthians 15 goes on to explain there is much value in the resurrection.

  • Our dying bodies are buried, and a body, which will live forever, is raised up.
  • Our broken bodies will be exchanged for glorious bodies.
  • Our weak bodies will be replaced with strong bodies.
  • Verse 44 says, “They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.”

In other words, we will shed all the struggle and heartache in this life. Our physical and mental difficulties will no longer plague us. The value of the resurrection is a new body granted through Christ’s victory.

The Victory of the Resurrection

“Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But, thank God, he gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ,” says 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.

Death, which is man’s great equalizer, has been beaten by Christ. The day of Christ’s resurrection, he struck a death blow to death and brought victory.

As we search for hope in this life, we can find it in the validity, value, and victory of Christ’s resurrection.

 

Praying is the Answer

“You got to keep on praying.”

The lyrics say, “Give it back,” and this song is a reminder for the power of prayer.

Back to God by Reba McEntire creatively reminds us to pray.

We may be facing many challenges. The world may be facing many challenges, and the answer can be found in the Lord.

2 Chronicles 7:14 states, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and I forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Can we have confidence in unsettled times?

Psalm 27 reminds us of the Lord’s faithfulness.

Life was unsettled. He was fighting adversaries which seemed bigger than big. He could not stay in his own home because of his enemies. Trying to flee his enemies, David was forced to seek refuge in the wilderness. Yet, his confidence in the Lord remained.

Verses 1-3 say, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.”

David’s adversaries were large. Their strength and size caused David to hide, yet when David’s opponents were compared to the greatness of the Lord, there was no need for him to fear. David found his well-being and strength in the Lord, so there was no room for fear.

Our enemies may not be forcing us into the wilderness, but they are lurking around us. Lost jobs, economic downturns, a bearish stock market, and an unsettled future are crouched in the shadows awaiting an opportune time to strike with fear and panic.

They may be large, but when compared to the greatness of the Lord, we can find confidence. Our well-being and strength are found in the Lord, so there is no room for fear.

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

We may be facing down large opponents today. We may be nearing the end of our resources, yet we can echo the Words of David. The Lord is our light and our salvation, so why should we be afraid? The Lord is our fortress, so whom shall we fear?

How Does the Lord Respond to Doubt?

Jesus responds with grace and compassion.

Experiencing doubts in one’s faith journey can seem lonely. The one having doubts may feel he or she is the only one having questions. However, approximately 2/3 of Christians experience doubts at some point. And, this is not a new experience in the 21st Century. It has been occurring since the 1st Century; Jesus’ first followers had doubts.

The Bible records John the Baptist experiencing doubts. On the day of Jesus’ resurrection, many of his disciples had doubts, and Jesus responded with grace and compassion.

He responded 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 cannot 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 is like most Christians. He experienced a season of doubt, and Jesus responded with grace and compassion.

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.

If you are going through a season of doubt, you are not alone. Many Christians have asked questions and sought answers. Most respondents stated their faith was stronger after going through a season of doubt.

The Lord knows seasons of doubt come in life, and he responds with grace and compassion. Challenge your doubts by asking questions and seeking answers.

 

The Days After the Resurrection

Jesus gives a starting point for sharing hope.

The time from Jesus’ resurrection to his ascension was eventful for his disciples. He appeared to them numerous times, and they never knew when or where he would show up. They needed to be ready to learn from Jesus at any time.

John 21 records Jesus appearing to some of his disciples as they were fishing. It was the early morning hours, and the men had been fishing all night. They caught nothing though until Jesus guided them. While the disciples were about 100 yards from shore, Jesus appeared on the shore. He suggested throwing the net on the right side of the boat. They did, and it was filled with fish.

They came ashore, and Jesus was waiting with a hot breakfast. Jesus needed to have a conversation with the disciples concerning the future, but first, he wanted to make sure their needs were met. If they were struggling and hungry, they would not be focused on what Jesus had to say.

The Bible encourages Christians to share our hope, and I believe we find a starting point in this post-resurrection appearance.

We need to help a person meet his or her physical needs before we can have an open door to discuss spiritual matters.

If a person is struggling and hungry today, he or she is not concerned about tomorrow. A starting point for sharing hope is helping meet physical needs.

  • It may be helping the person look for work.
  • It may be helping the individual identify ways to advance his or her skills to improve financial stability.
  • It may be helping a person navigate resources to find help.
  • Mostly, it is investing in the person’s life to earn the right to share our hope.

People are more content to discuss tomorrow when today’s needs are met.