Tag Archives: Faith

NEVER

“Never say Never” is a statement I’ve heard much in my life. Never is definitely a powerful word; something that is never happening is not ever going to take place. For the most part, we do not have the ability to make such a claim, but there are some promises in Scripture to which we can attach the word NEVER.

NEVER Leaving Us

We are promised the Lord is never leaving us.

  • Deuteronomy 31 promises the Lord will personally go ahead of us.
  • Solomon writes in Proverbs 12 the Godly are deeply rooted.
  • Jesus says in Matthew 28:20, “and be sure of this, I am with you always, even to the very end of the age.”
  • The writer of Hebrews quotes the Lord as saying, “I will never leave you. I will never abandon you.”

NEVER Grows Weary

Psalm 103 is a reminder of God’s grace and unfailing love. 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?

NEVER Rejects

We can be confident the Lord is not going to reject us.

The Bible shows us the Lord will forgive the guilt of our past mistakes, and reassures us the Lord will always receive us.

  • Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit; you will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”
  • 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, the Lord is faithful to forgive.”

Never is a powerful word, but remember, when it comes to these promises, we can use the word NEVER.

By the way, we are discussing this idea on our podcast episodes this weekend.

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10 Rock-Solid Promises for 2023 and Beyond!

2023 has many more days to go. We don’t know what the future holds, and it can be unsettling to think of what might happen. Amid the uncertainty and unknown of the future, there are some certainties to which we can cling. Here are 10 rock-solid promises we can carry with us through each day of 2023 and beyond.

1. The Lord will personally go ahead of us.

We are unsure of what 2023 holds for us. As we embark on a new year, it can be frightening to walk into the unknown. It was for the Israelites.

They found themselves standing beside the Jordan River. Enemy nations and unknown land awaited, and we can discern the Israelites had feelings of fear. What was going to happen? How were they going to accomplish the goal? And, the Lord makes a sweet promise to them.

Deuteronomy 31:6-8 says, “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.’ Then Moses called for Joshua, and as all Israel watched, he said to him, ‘Be strong and courageous!…Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

The promise the Lord makes is for personal guidance. As Israel crossed the Jordan, faced enemy nations, and traveled through an unknown land, The Lord personally went ahead of them. The same promise is for us in 2023.

As we face the enemies of bad health and financial struggles, as we walk into the unknown lands of lost jobs and new opportunities, The Lord says he will personally go ahead of us. “For God has said, ‘I will never fail you; I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5).

2. The Lord will always be there to help us.

Since he is not leaving us, the Lord will always be there to help us.

  • “Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me” (Psalm 118:7).
  • “My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth” Psalm 121:2).
  • Hebrews 13:6 says, “So we can say with confidence, ‘My help comes from the Lord, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

No matter where we find ourselves, the Lord is always willing to help us.

3. We can ask for help with confidence.

We can ask for help in any and every situation, and we are assured the Lord understands. According to the rock-solid promise of Hebrews 4, the Lord will respond with mercy and grace.

Hebrews 4:16 encourages, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

4. We can cast our anxieties upon the Lord.

There’s little doubt 2023 will bring its share of anxieties, but the Lord promises we can cast those cares upon him and he will help us find peace.

We are reminded in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Amid the anxious moments of the year, remember this rock-solid promise, and cast your anxieties upon the Lord.

5. The Lord will ensure our needs are met.

Perhaps one of the major contributors to our anxiety is concern about having enough. Enough money to pay this month’s rent; enough time to get everything done. Enough resources to meet our needs. Start looking at the bank statement and our schedules, and our anxiety level raises. The Lord has a promise for these moments. “I will ensure your needs are met,” he assures us.

In Matthew 6, Jesus points to the birds, and reminds us they do not worry about having enough food, yet they always have plenty. He points to the flowers and reminds us they do not worry about their appearance, yet they are always beautiful. Verse 33 reminds us as we seek after the Lord, he ensures all of our needs are met as well. The Lord promises we do not have to worry about having enough; he will make sure we do.

6. We can take our fears to the Lord.

There are always events happening around us invoking the natural reaction of fear, and when we are feeling afraid, the Lord promises he will help us.

  • “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise- in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4).
  • The Lord says in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

When fearful moments creep into 2023, the Bible suggests we look to our trust in the Lord for strength.

7. The Lord will help us with heart break.

Heart break is unavoidable as we go through life, so you and I may experience a broken heart this year. I certainly hope our year doesn’t include heart break. I don’t have it on my list of wanted experiences, but if it occurs, Scripture promises the Lord will help.

Psalm 34:18 promises, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

If you land in a season of broken heartedness this year, you can rely on the Lord to help. He will walk with you through that time and into a better season.

8. The Lord will help with those tough decisions.

Hard decisions seem to always present themselves in life. You and I are put in between a rock and a hard spot. No matter what we decide we feel something is lost. The Lord offers help in those moments.

The Psalmist reminds us the Lord guides our steps and directs our paths. James 1 tells us if we lack wisdom, we can ask and the Lord will generously grant it to us. When tough decisions come, remember, the Lord will help you decide.

9. We are not alone.

There may be times in 2023 when we feel isolated, but as mentioned above, the Lord is always with us, and we have one another. 1 Peter 5 reminds us all believers are going through the same thing. We can rely on one another. We can ask one another for help. We’re certainly not on this journey of life alone.

10. The best is still coming.

It may be the best year or the worst year, but no matter how it stacks up, we’re guaranteed the best is still coming. 2 Corinthians 4 says, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” What we go through today is only temporary and a better day is coming.

As 2023 unfolds, remember these 10 rock-solid promises. You can carry them with you because they are never going to change. If you are interested, we took a 10-day journey through these promises on our podcast.

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Because of Christmas

I was recently inspired by the below story from DavidsDailyDose.

“During WWII, Matsuko and her family were among the many Japanese Americans forcibly interred in camps. For three years she longed to return to the farm near Salinas, CA where her husband Hayato’s family had grown strawberries for three generations. It was home.

Finally, the war ended and the Nakamura family returned. But as they stood across the road from their once well kept farm, it was clear all was not well. The strawberry fields surrounding their home were overgrown and the front door of the house gaped wide open.

Thankfully, a kind neighbor saved all the farm equipment, but the house had been ransacked. Almost everything of value had been either looted or destroyed.

Matsuko was particularly distressed that the pillagers smashed all of her mother’s china. Not one plate, cup, or saucer survived intact. She began that same day to sort the broken pieces, putting them carefully back together with glue.

One day her young son, Kato, asked her why she was going to so much trouble. After all, she’d only been able to patch together a few plates.

I must take things broken apart and make them whole again.

Matsuko Nakamura”

“Because of Christmas, broken lives can be put together again.”

This was my thought as I was reading. Because of Christmas, we have the opportunity to take the shattered pieces of this life and glue them back together. The Lord knows of our need, and he was willing to become one of us to help.

“So, the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only son” (John 1:14).

Thanks, David, for sharing.

Does Jesus Really Understand My Situation?

Yes, Jesus truly understands our situation. Some folks have a difficult time wrapping their minds around Christ’s grace because they feel his life was not relatable to their life. However, Scripture ensures us Jesus can relate to our circumstances, and he does understand the difficulties of this life.

Understanding Through His Birth

His Family Tree

In the first 17 verses of Matthew’s Gospel, we begin to see how well Jesus can relate to us. His earthly family was anything but perfect. The individuals listed in the genealogy of Jesus are not powerful and perfect. They are ordinary and normal folks just like you and me. They are Jews and Gentiles. They are men and women with diverse backgrounds and stories. They are individuals with struggles the same as people today.

As we read the genealogy of Jesus, think of these back stories.

David

David makes the list. David lusted after Bathsheba, had her husband Uriah killed to cover up an affair, and had a family life filled with turbulence. Yet, the Lord used him. Scripture even says David was a man after God’s own heart.

Ruth

Ruth was poor, and it seemed she had few opportunities. She was humble and dedicated to her mother-in-law. Life was hard as Ruth was forced to walk behind the harvesters hoping enough food was left to provide for her and her mother-in-law. Ruth developed a relationship with Boaz, and they had a son. Ruth’s life took her from rags to riches, from impoverished to having plenty, from unknown to finding a place in the Lord’s lineage.

Jacob

Jacob is used by the Lord to spite being a liar and cheater. Jacob wanted his father’s blessing, but since he was younger than his brother, he had to lie and cheat to get it. One day while his brother was hunting, Jacob pretended to be Esau so Isaac would bless him. Jacob was dishonest. He lied to his father and cheated his brother, yet Jacob had a grand purpose for his life.

Judah

Judah is listed in the family lineage though he hated Joseph. Judah and his brothers sold Joseph as a slave hoping to never see him again, yet God used them in his plan.

Tamar

Tamar is listed. Tamar’s life was filled with heartbreak. She was widowed twice and promised a third husband, but the man and Tamar were never married. Trying to fix things herself, Tamar disguises herself as a prostitute and tricks Judah. Judah has intercourse with Tamar, and she gives birth to a son placing her in this genealogy. Tamar’s life was messy, but she is in the genealogy of the messiah.

His Parents

Look at Jesus’ parents. Mary and Joseph are a young couple engaged to be married. They discover they are facing what society would term an “untimely pregnancy.” Their home may not be ready; they may not be ready to be parents, but they are having a baby. A short time after Jesus’ birth Mary and Joseph are forced to flee to Egypt and hide to save Jesus’ life. This is not an ideal situation.

Jesus’ family tree and birth announcement are not filled with the prestige of a king. The individuals we’ve mentioned are not perfect; they are relatable though. By the very way Jesus enters the world, he says he understands us.

Understanding Through His Life

His birth is not the only way Jesus relates to us. Matthew 4 tells us Jesus was tempted in every way. You may be tempted by this or tempted by that. You may struggle with this or struggle with that. Your list will match Jesus’ list, which leads the writer of Hebrews to assert, “For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. We have one who has been tempted in every way just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us, then, approach the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Understanding Brought Christmas

Understanding us, Jesus comes to save us. The Gospels are full of examples of Jesus saving. He provides sight to those who can’t see. He provides hearing to those who can’t hear. One lady was healed by touching the edge of his garment while in a large crowd. Jesus brought Lazarus out of the tomb. In the same way Jesus understood these individuals and met their needs, he understands us and meets our needs.

Whatever you may be experiencing today, Jesus understands and has come to help you. Your life will not shock him or cause him to run away. Jesus has come to embrace us with the fullness of his grace and truth. Will you consider allowing Jesus to embrace you where you are today? Will you consider allowing him to help you?

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The Next Adventure

Caution: Tears may fall as you read this, but they should give way to excitement.

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.

Death is a sad time for those of us left behind. The person for whom we love and care deeply has gone home to be with the Lord, so we have to say “see you later,” and live in their absence. But, for the Christian who passes away in death, a whole new adventure begins.

Heaven awaits. “For this is not our permanent home,” the writer of Hebrews reminds us, “we are looking forward to a world yet to come.” 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.

And, the adventure of experiencing Heaven will be ours. If you, or someone you love, is struggling today, remember, it is only temporary. Something much better is coming.

You’re Unique

We’ve all seen coffee cup phrases. The encouraging words that are just right to place on a coffee cup and present to someone as an encouraging gift. Most gift shops stock these cups and they make great gifts for a person who just needs a little encouragement. The phrases usually originate from Scripture as the Bible is full of them.

You do not have to read very far into Philippians before finding a coffee cup phrase; maybe even one of the most encouraging phrases in Scripture. It is in the sixth verse of the first chapter; he, who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion.

There is no denying this is an encouraging statement. The Lord is at work in our lives, and he promises he will complete what he has started. God is completing a good work in our lives in spite of what we may do to try to stop him. The Bible’s biography of Moses helps us understand how this truth works. In spite of Moses at times, God completed a good work in his life.

What do we have in common with Moses?

What do we have in common with Moses? This may seem like an odd question. You may be thinking, “We can’t possibly have anything in common with Moses.” True, Moses had a once in history childhood, grew up to be a shepherd in the desert, and spent his senior years leading the Israelites through the desert. Unique is an understatement when describing his life, yet we share common ground with Moses.

A Once in History Life

I said above Moses is the only one who lived his life story. God placed Moses in a unique time and called him to a unique purpose. Moses was the individual God needed in that moment to fulfill that part of his plan.

Glimpse through Moses’ biography, and you can see how each phase of his life prepared him for the next. Growing up in Pharoah’s palace would have enabled Moses to become familiar with Egyptian customs. Shepherding sheep in the desert prepared Moses to be the shepherd of God’s people in the desert. God began a good work in Moses and carried it through to completion.

The same can be said for us. God has placed us in a unique position. Every person has a spot in God’s plan and a purpose to fulfill. Scripture speaks of each person’s uniqueness.

• The Psalmist says to the Lord, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was woven together in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16).

• “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

• Esther was told, “You are here for such a time as this.”

Glimpse through your own biography. See how the previous phases of your life have prepared you for the current phase. He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. Moses had a once in history life, and so do we. Share how the past has prepared you for the present with us.

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Reasons for Hope

1 Thessalonians 4:18 says, “So encourage one another with these words,” and since we can all use a dash of hope today, here are 2 ways verses 13-18 give us hope.

Our hope is in Christ.

Our hope is not in a temporary or fading person or place, it is in Jesus. We believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again so we could have eternal life. This means our hope in Christ is eternal; it is not going to disappear. As this passage declares, one day all who are in Christ will be united together with him.

We will be with the Lord forever.

Verse 17 reminds us that we will be with the Lord forever. As Jesus promised, he is preparing a place for us, and when it is ready, he will come get us (John 14). That day is coming. A day in which the Bible promises no more pain, heartache, struggle, or difficulty. It is a day for which we can have hopeful anticipation.

We are challenged to encourage one another with these words. Our hope is real, and it is in Christ Jesus.

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An Answer at the Door

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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She Looks Drunk

As he watched, the priest wondered if she was drunk. She was at the temple, and it appeared as if she was praying. But the priest thought there was something odd about her appearance. Her mouth was moving but no words were coming out, and was she weeping? He approached her and boldly asked, “Are you drunk?”

She explained that she was sober. She was just so involved in her prayer that he thought she was under the influence. Her name is Hannah, and we read her story in 1 Samuel 1. We find out she is going through a really hard time, and she has come to the temple to pour her heart out to the Lord.

The Bible encourages us to pray without stopping; we should always be communicating with the Lord. In the best of times and in the worst of times, the Lord wants to help us, and we can talk with him through prayer just like Hannah, and just like David.

David exhorts in Psalm 62:8, “O my people trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.”

When David and Hannah were going through rough times, they poured their hearts out to the Lord. When they were in the best of times, they thanked God in prayer. They always prayed and left a mark in history challenging us to do the same.

Our prayers are just conversations with the Lord. They don’t have to be fancy, and we don’t have to be overwhelmed by the idea we may say the wrong thing. You see, we’re having a conversation with a great friend who doesn’t judge us by the words we use, but by what is in our heart. The Lord is always listening and always desiring to hear from us.

Spend some time talking with the Lord today. Share your thoughts with him. Ask for guidance as you plan tomorrow. Ask for help with your struggles. Don’t be afraid. He is your friend who wants to hear from you.

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“Are we there yet?”

“Are we there yet?” Anyone who’s traveled with kids has heard this question. The excitement of arriving at a destination and the boredom of sitting in a car, train, or plane causes this question to be asked. Truthfully, no one likes to wait. None of us are giddy at the thought of long checkout lines or waiting at the doctor’s office. Patience is a hard virtue.

This is especially true when we are going through a difficult time. We just want it to end! But it seems no matter how hard we work or how hard we pray, the difficulty persists. The doctor’s phone call with test results doesn’t come soon enough. We can’t shake the agony caused by this lonely feeling quick enough. It doesn’t seem like this rough patch in life will ever end.

David could relate. He had several rough patches in life lasting an extended period of time. As he was searching and praying for an end, he came to this conclusion.

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from the Lord alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me” (Psalm 62:5-7).

We can echo David’s conclusion. The Lord is:

  • Our rock.
  • Our salvation.
  • Our fortress.
  • Our refuge.

Therefore, the rough times in life can’t swallow us. The rough times will most definitely come and try to consume us, but they will not be victorious. As David says, our victory is in the Lord. We need only to wait before him in prayer.

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