Tag Archives: Faith

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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Different Views of Christmas

Given the opportunity to have a conversation with one of the characters from the Christmas account, who would you choose? I was recently asked this question, and it spurred my thinking. The people starring in Jesus’ birth story would have witnessed the events from a wide array of perspectives, yet we see much faith shine through each perspective.

Mary

Mary obviously plays a crucial role, being the young mother of Jesus. This would have been a lot for her to take on, but she does in a faithful way. Luke records the angel Gabriel visiting Mary to reveal her part in God’s grand plan. Luke 1:28 says, “The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored. The Lord is with you.”

After reassuring Mary his visit was to bring good news, Gabriel explained how she would be the mother of Jesus, and reminded Mary God can do anything. Mary was an ordinary girl, but she was given an extraordinary part to play in God’s plan. We know she inquired about the virgin birth, but we can only imagine what else went through Mary’s mind’ as she listened to the angel’s words.

She would have to explain this to Joseph. A pregnancy can’t be easily hidden, and people would speculate about her as they would not understand what the Lord was doing. This would have been a lot for Mary to process, and she may have not fully grasped it, but because of her faith, Mary was willing to offer herself as a servant. She realized fulfilling her purpose would have rough parts, but she trusted the Lord to be with her during those times. 

Joseph

Joseph would have to take on much in his role. Joseph was certainly put in a unique spot. Hisfiance was pregnant, but the baby wasn’t his. As Joseph was struggling with what to do, he was faithful to the Lord’s calling. Matthew 1 tells us Joseph was going to divorce Mary, but listened when the Lord told him to stay. Joseph’s response in this moment truly demonstrates his faithfulness.

Shepherds

The shepherds could have stayed in the field with their sheep and dismissed the angel’s message, but they had a different response. “When the angels had left them and gone into Heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger” (Luke 2:15-16).

The shepherds responded to the angel with much faith. Believing the angel, the shepherds acted upon their belief. The shepherds’ faith shined through brightly.

Magi

The Magi allowed their faith to push them. As they were studying the stars, they could have ignored the star introducing Jesus as another supernova, but they chose to seek the answer to why the star suddenly appeared. Their faith pushed them to investigate God’s Word.

Each of these characters has a different perspective of Jesus’ birth, but they all respond with much faith. As we all approach life from differing perspectives, we should share this commonalty with Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the Magi. We should approach the Lord with faith. The writer of Hebrews reminds us the Lord rewards those who earnestly seek him.

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Less Than Ideal

The census had been ordered, and everyone was to return to their hometown to register. For Joseph, that meant traveling the 90-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This was a 3-day trip, and it would be more difficult because Mary was expecting a child. The couple made the trip, and Luke’s Gospel records the birth of the child happening while Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem.

Luke 2:6-7 records, “And while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snuggly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them.”

This was certainly not an ideal situation from our perspective. Making a 3-day journey to give birth among the goats and sheep was probably not on Mary’s bucket list; however, the Lord used this “less than ideal” situation to bring salvation to the world. Amazingly the Creator of the world allowed himself to be a baby lying in a manger among the livestock. God was quietly at work.

The setting for Jesus’ birth is not one in which you would expect a king to be born, but a Savior is born. God used a livestock area as the first throne room and a manger as the first throne. This “less than ideal” situation is the last place we would expect God to work, but he did some mighty work.

There are many “less than ideal” situations in life, yet God works through them.

  • It is less than ideal when we feel all alone in a moment of life. We find ourselves amid a life season we don’t think anyone else could even begin to understand, yet God does. The writer of Hebrews tells us Jesus understands, and he is able to help us in our time of need. It may not be a perfect season, but God is still working.
  • It may be a season where you feel absolutely alone. No family close, so you’re just mingling around your house by yourself. You’re not really alone though; God is there. Hebrews 13:5 tells us the Lord will never leave us; he will never forsake us. Even when we are alone, the Lord is there with us and he is working.
  • Maybe your heartbroken and devastated. Your marriage ended as your spouse walked in and said, “I’m done.” Psalm 34:18 reminds us the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and heals those who are crushed in spirit.

Much happen on that first Christmas night. We see the extent of the Lord’s love and are reminded he can work no matter the circumstances. In spite of everything happening around us this Christmas season, try to take a moment to rejoice in the truth that a Savior has been born to us.

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