Faithful in Prayer

Never stop praying.

Two ladies were discussing their lives as they were at the laundry mat. They were both married, and they had much in common.

While they were waiting on clothes to wash, they were both mending a pair of their husbands’ pants. “Things at home are stressful. My husband is grouchy and always a ball of stress,” the first lady said as she mended the butt of her husband’s pants.

As she mended the knees of her husband’s pants, the second lady said, “My guy is usually in a good mood. Things are going really well.”

It has been said the biggest fear of the devil is our prayers. He fears nothing from prayerless efforts, and trembles at prayer. The Bible encourages Christians to never stop praying.

“Be joyful in hope. Patient in affliction.” Romans 12:12 encourages, “Faithful in prayer.”

Faithful in prayer.

Jesus illustrated the power of prayer. He spends a great deal of time praying. The disciples admired his prayer life and hoped they could model it. Jesus prayed about everything.

How do we do? Jesus encourages us to pray and never give up. Remember, the Lord does hear our prayers, and praying is just a conversation with him. Spend some time talking with him today.

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Patient in Affliction

Impatient Reaction vs. Patient Response

Billy, a young potato farmer, was having a conversation with Satan. Billy was harvesting his potatoes, and each one seemed smaller than expected. The crop was small, and the potatoes were little.

Satan offered to Billy, “Follow me, and I promise you big potatoes every year.”

Billy responded, “If I follow you, you will not give me any potatoes.”

Billy patiently responded in a rough moment in life. Satan was hoping Billy impatiently reacted. How do we handle those moments in life?

Romans 12:12 encourages Christians to patiently respond. “Be joyful in hope. Patient in affliction. Faithful in prayer,” encourages Paul.

Patient in affliction.

You and I are being encouraged to be patient during adversity. 1 Peter reminds us it is these seasons in life which help our faith develop.

As adversity comes, here is encouragement.

 

  • James encourages us to consider trials pure joy because they are developing Godly character in us.
  • The adverse seasons may be leading to a better place then we have been thus far. A wise man once said, “Waiting on God is worth the delay.”
  • “Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance,” says Hebrews 6:12.
  • We can look ahead to what is coming for us.

Trials will come, and we can follow Billy’s example to navigate the season. It is better to have small potatoes than no potatoes.

 

Joy in Hope

“Joy is the flag which is flown from the castle of the heart when the king is in residence there,” said Robert Rainey.

In a Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown was having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit, so Linus said, “Charlie Brown, you are the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem.”

Are we like Charlie Brown? It is easy to become wrapped up in circumstances and loose sight of our hope. As Christians though, we are encouraged to always be joyful for our hope.

“Be joyful in hope. Patient in affliction. Faithful in prayer,” encourages Romans 12:12.

Be joyful in hope.

Life certainly has its difficulties, but we can always look ahead to the hope we have in Christ.

1 Peter describes this hope as…

  • A living and eternal hope. Time will not take our hope away.
  • A hope which will not perish or spoil. Our hope will always be the same. It is not going away.
  • A hope which will withstand trouble. We may be enduring afflictions, but they are not powerful enough to rob us of the hope we have in Christ.

No matter what we are going through or where we are right now, we can look ahead to the joyful promise we have been given.

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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 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?

 

The Moments after the Resurrection

Don’t keep hope a secret.

The tomb was empty, but the day was not over. There was still much for the disciples to experience as the hours of Easter unfolded. Jesus appeared to them at various times through the day. Each time Jesus helped the disciples understand something valuable. He started with Mary Magdalene.

Mary was weeping and standing outside the empty tomb. In her mind she had lost Jesus. She assumed someone had taken his body to a permanent burial spot. Already grieved by the crucifixion, the empty tomb only added to her heartbreak, because she didn’t understand Jesus had risen.

Then Jesus appeared and they had a conversation.

John 20:14 says, “At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize it was Jesus standing there.”

How often do we miss Jesus? We are consumed by our own thoughts, so we miss the fact he is standing beside us. Our worries and anxieties keep us from realizing he is there. Mary’s grief kept her from realizing Jesus was there, but he still had her well-being in mind.

In John 20:15, “He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Jesus checks on Mary before he instructs her. Mary was important to Jesus, and he wanted to take care of her needs. We too are important to Jesus, and he wants to take care of our needs. This is the reason Jesus and Mary are standing outside an empty tomb.

Verse 15 goes on, “Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’

Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni’ Which means ‘teacher.’

No doubt this would have been an exciting moment for Mary. Her hand on Jesus’ hand, and her hope was back. Jesus told her it was time to share her hope.

“Jesus said, ‘Do not hold onto me for I have not ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’ Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news, ‘I have seen the Lord,’ and she told them he had said these things to her,” says John 20:17-18.

Jesus told Mary it was time to share the hope she had found. She couldn’t force the other disciples to believe, but she could share hope with them.

We can share our hope with those around us. We can’t force them to believe, but we can illustrate our hope through our lives and actions. Our generosity, mindset, actions, and interactions speak volumes about the hope we have. Mary is told not to keep her hope a secret, but to go share it.

Share your hope today. Encourage someone in a Facebook post. Send a friend an encouraging text message. Call a neighbor to check on them before you go to the store the next time. Share your hope today.

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Are you lost, confused, scared, or anxious?

Psalm 107 offers hope and help.

Lost, scared, confused, and anxious are emotions described in Psalm 107. It may be easy for us to relate to these emotions.

We are not lost in the desert or being tossed on the open sea by a storm, but we may be lost in life being tossed by many circumstances. I believe we can easily relate to the Psalmists descriptions.

We may be lost in a crisis, not knowing which direction to turn. We may be scared about the future, not knowing what tomorrow holds. We may be anxious about an economic downturn and potential recession. Trade the desert winds and sea’s waves for the worries and struggles of today, and we are easily in Psalm 107.

Psalm 107 records the Lord provided deliverance each time he was called upon.

Verse 6 says, “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.”

As we find ourselves lost and tossed in life, we can cry out to the Lord, and he will deliver us from our distress. Psalm 107 reminds us scared and lost people have cried out in the past, and the Lord has been faithful to deliver them from their troubles. The same is true for us.

In turn, the Psalmist encourages us to give thanks to the Lord.

Verse 8 says, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.”

  • Give him thanks for what he has done.
  • Give him thanks for his deliverance.
  • Go ahead and give him thanks for what he is going to do.

To those in distress today, Psalm 107 suggests crying out to the Lord. We should also be sure to give him thanks today.

What take-aways do you find in Psalm 107? Share in the comments below.

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Not Goodbye But See You Later

The pain is real, and so is the hope.

Lazarus was a good brother and great friend. He was close to his siblings and friends, but suddenly one day, he was not there. He had passed away.

His sisters were filled with grief. Their pain was real; their hearts hurt as their tears flowed. Lazarus’ friends, including Jesus, were saddened. Jesus wept. Their pain was real; their hearts also hurt as tears flowed.

As they were hurting, Jesus offered hope.

Jesus says in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even though they die.”

The hope offered to Lazarus’ family and friends was as real as the pain. It was a hope in the fact they were not saying “goodbye,” rather “see you later.”

The pain of losing someone close to us is hard. Grief is real, and our hearts hurt as our tears flow. It may be losing a spouse, parent, sibling, or friend causing the pain. For Chris Young, it was losing his best friend Adam.

This loss was part of the inspiration for Young’s song Drowning. The lyrics remind us grief is real, and it comes in waves. The song also reminds us we have hope of seeing our loved ones again. You may be drowning today, but you can have hope in the reality it is not “goodbye,” but “see you later.”

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live even though he dies.” John 11 records Jesus calling Lazarus from the grave shortly after saying these words. Mary and Martha were able to see Lazarus again. Jesus himself went into the tomb but came back out. He reigns over death.

Though losing someone is hard, it does not have to be “goodbye” we say. We only have to say, “see you later.”

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Sunday…A Risen Hope

Don’t look for the living among the dead.

As the sun rose, the ladies were up and gathering spices. They planned to give Jesus as proper of a burial as they could. They didn’t find what they were expecting when they arrived at the tomb.

Luke 24 says, “They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance, so they went in, but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground, then the men asked, ‘Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here. He has risen from the dead. Remember what he told you back in Galilee. That the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.’ Then they remembered that he had said this, so they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples, and everyone else, what had happened.”

This would have been quite a scene. The disciples were still processing events and trying to figure out what to do next. Suddenly the door flies open and Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James rushed in followed by several other women. Perhaps all talking at once as they gave the exciting news to the Apostles.

Put yourself in the room. What would have you thought? What did the disciples think?

Luke 24:11-12 says, “But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings. Then he went home again, wondering what had happened.”

The news seemed like nonsense to the disciples. They thought the ladies were so grief-stricken they were hallucinating. It certainly would have taken me a minute to grasp everything the ladies were saying, so I can understand the disciples struggle.

It took a minute, but the disciples started to grasp the fact Jesus was no longer in the tomb. He had risen. The hope they thought they lost on Friday is found.

The same hope is still here today. We celebrate today because Jesus has struck a death blow to death. Enemies defeated; Jesus is preparing Heaven for our arrival. That is what we celebrate today.

Our celebrations may look different than previous years. No matter the look or size of the celebration, the hope is the same. We can celebrate an eternal hope in Christ Jesus, who has risen, and that is worth celebrating.

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