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.

 

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.”

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.

 

 

The Evening After the Resurrection

Jesus offers encouragement in two ways.

The doors were locked. The day had been eventful. The disciples learned of an empty tomb early in the morning, and two of them just returned from Emmaus saying the Lord had appeared to them. Though the sun was setting, the excitement continued.

As the two disciples from Emmaus were speaking, Jesus appeared in the room even though the doors were locked. At first, this startled Jesus’ followers, then they became overjoyed when they realized it was truly Jesus. Jesus spent some time with them, and he encouraged the disciples in two ways.

Encouragement to help with their doubts.

The Gospel writers recall the disciples still had doubts in their minds. Jesus understood their doubts, so he offered an opportunity to touch his hands and feet. He also ate in front of them. A ghost or figment of their imagination would not have hands, feet, or the ability to eat, so it really had to be Jesus. He encouraged the disciples through their doubts.

One of the ways Jesus encourages people with doubts today is giving them an opportunity to see his hands and feet, the church, in action. The church should help one another as well as the community. The church is a picture of Jesus and gives us an opportunity to see him in action.

I wish I could say this was a perfect picture; however, the picture is not always perfect. I can say I believe the world is a better place because of the lives of genuine Christ followers. Their love and work shined in the world around them.

Check here for more suggestions to overcome doubts.

Encouragement to share their hope.

Jesus helped the disciples with their doubts, then he sent them to share their hope.

John 20:21 says, “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

Jesus never intended for the disciples to keep his resurrection a secret. The Lord does not intend for Christians to keep our hope a secret. He desires for us to share it with those around us.

In many ways, these pieces of encouragement are connected. The person with doubts sees the Christian community sharing hope. Our sharing of hope allows the Lord’s love to shine brightly. What ways have you found to share your hope?

 

Remember the Bible

Guidance for every season.

Joshua was standing on the border of the promised land and was realizing he was now the leader of Israel. Moses was done; Joshua was starting, and God was giving Joshua some tips for success.

One of those tips was to remember God’s word.

“Study this book of instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night, so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do,” the Lord says in Joshua 1:8.

As you and I are fulfilling our purpose, the Bible will guide us. There seems to be guidance for every season, every challenge, every question.

When we are hurting, we turn to the Bible for comfort, and its words hold our hearts gently as it comforts us.

When we are discouraged, we turn to Scripture to find encouragement. Its words encourage us and challenge us to push ahead.

When we need advice, we turn to the Bible for its wisdom. Its words give us answers to our questions and help for our problems.

Like Joshua, you and I will benefit if we remember the word of the Lord. As we turn to it, here are 3 things to keep in mind.

1. The Bible offers hope and encouragement.

Romans 15:4 says, “Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us and the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.”

2. The Bible is powerful.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”

3. The Bible is eternal.

1 Peter 1:23-25 says, “For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. As the Scriptures say, ‘People are like grass. Their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades,’ but the word of the Lord remains forever, and that word is the Good News which was preached to you.”

Acting

Spend time reading the Bible. Cultivate a deeper understanding of its principles to help guide you in life. Here are some tips to help you understand the Bible.

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3 Reasons God is Our Refuge

Psalm 46 confidently proclaims the Lord is our refuge.

Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength always ready to help in times of trouble.”

Here are 3 reasons God is our refuge.

1. God is our salvation.

Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ, our Lord, has done for us.”

2. God is our safety net.

Romans 8:35 asks, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity or are persecuted or hungry or destitute or in danger or threatened with death?”

Verses 37-39 answers, “No, to spite all these things overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us. And, I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow, not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below, indeed nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God has our back. When everything else around us crumbles and falls, God stands strong and keeps us safe. Financial markets may crash, retirement funds may plummet, illnesses may come, but the Lord holds us safely in his refuge.

3. God is our strength.

Philippians 4:13 says, “For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”

It doesn’t matter where we are; whether we have plenty or are lacking, The Lord gives us strength to get through the situation.

“Be still and know that I am God,” the Lord says in Psalm 46, “I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.’ The Lord of heaven’s armies is here among us. The God of Israel is our fortress.”

With God as our refuge, we can have peace. This is a peace which transcends human understanding.

Philippians 4:7 says, “Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

As things shift and move around us today, we can enjoy the peace given to us by being in the Lord’s refuge.

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The Lord personally goes before us in uncertain times.

Don’t be afraid. God will personally go ahead of you.

Israel was about to go into Canaan. This was the land the Lord had promised to them, and it was time to enter the land. Many barriers still stood in the way.

For the Israelites, this may have been an uncertain time. What was going to happen? How would they move forward? What challenge would they face tomorrow? These are questions everyone seems to ask in uncertain times, and Moses reassured the people.

Moses says in Deuteronomy 31:6, “So be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid and do not panic before them for the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Moses reminded the people the Lord would personally go ahead of them. The Lord would create the path, and he would show the way to go. So, the people of Israel could walk into uncertain times with the confidence the Lord would be with them.

In the same way, we can have confidence the Lord is with us. He will personally go ahead of us. He will create the path and show us the way to go. We can have confidence following the Lord’s leading will get us through uncertain times.

We are living in a time and place which may be unsure, uncertain, and fluctuating, but the Lord is constant. He is never changing.

Hebrews 13:6 says, “So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear.”

You and I can have confidence in the Lord; he is personally traveling ahead of us. He is creating the path and will show us the way to go.

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5 women laughing

9 Jokes Guaranteed Not to Make You Laugh

Some humor to help you get through the day.

Amid the stressfulness of life, one of the best ways you and I can encourage one another is offering a slight diversion. So, here’s a slight diversion.

Here’s 9 jokes guaranteed not to make you laugh.

1. What did Mr. and Mrs. Hamburger name their daughter?

Patty

2. How do you convince a farmer’s daughter to go on a date with you?

A tractor.

3. What are the weakest days of the week?

Saturday and Sunday. They are the weekends.

4. Why are skunks intelligent?

They have lots of sense.

5. What do you call a farmer who counts his corn stalks?

A corn stalker.

6. What did the one egg say to the other egg?

Get cracking.

7. Why does a golfer take two pairs of pants to the course?

In case he gets a hole in one.

8. What do you call two monkeys sharing an Amazon account?

Amazon Prime mates.

9. What did the triangle say to the circle?

You’re pointless.

I hope this has encouraged you in some way. In this stressful season, remember to stay calm. The Lord is our constant as everything changes around us.

Share your clean joke which will not make us laugh in the comments below.

Please share this post with your friends you’d like to encourage today.

 

 

 

a stack of folded newspapers

The Constant in an Ever-Changing Crisis

Everything around us may be swirling and tossing, but the Lord is staying.

The current landscape is ever-changing. Society is amid a health crisis, which is rapidly evolving. Information is changing daily, perhaps even every few hours, and we must adjust our approach at a breakneck speed. It can certainly be overwhelming as everything is changing around us, but there is one constant.

Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

The Lord is our constant in an evolving time. Everything around us may be swirling and tossing, but the Lord is staying. He is the same today as he was yesterday, and he will be the same tomorrow as he is today. And, the Lord has already displayed his power over everything.

He calmed a storm and overpowered demons in an evening’s work. Mark’s Gospel records this eventful night.

Power on display.

Power to calm the storm.

After Jesus wrapped up a day of preaching, he and the disciples were crossing a large lake, and a fierce storm developed. The Bible says the wind was howling and waves were crashing over the boat filling it with water, but Jesus was asleep.

The panicked disciples woke him, but Jesus didn’t panic. He calmly rebuked the storm and it obeyed. The disciples were amazed and pointed out even the wind and the waves obey the Lord.

What caused the disciples to panic, Jesus calmly controlled? He was their constant in a storm, and he was constantly in control.

Power to free the man.

The excitement continued across the lake. A man, who was possessed by demons, ran to meet Jesus. He was screaming. Jesus overpowered the demons. He freed the man from their bondage and sent them over the cliff into the water. All were amazed at Jesus’ power.

What caused everyone difficulty and stress, Jesus calmly controlled. The demons were no match for Jesus.

The evening from the disciple’s perspective.

What a night the disciples experienced. Their trip across the lake was interrupted by a strong storm. They were panicked and anxious. They finally get across the lake, but their hopes of having a calm moment are interrupted by a screaming man in the dark.

Either of these events would be enough to unnerve the disciples, but they experienced both in one night. Panic, uncertainty, and anxiety may describe the disciple’s emotions that night, but Jesus met the night with calmness and constant control.

Relating to the disciples.

Right now, you and I may feel like the disciples felt on that night. Panic, anxiety, and uncertainty may be emotions we are feeling today. The days and weeks ahead have us in suspense. Everything is rapidly evolving around us, but we can take courage in the fact the Lord is constant. In an ever-changing world, the Lord is never changing.

“So, we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear…,” says Hebrews 13:6.