Tag Archives: perspective

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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Our Source of Hope

“Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?”

These words of Psalm 77 are like those of a personal journal. The Psalmist’s ink quail puts to paper the truth of his thoughts. They may be private thoughts; embarrassment would come if anyone else knew how he felt. However, they are relatable thoughts. Many ask the same questions amid life’s troubles. In fact, you may have noticed the questions and wondered how I knew what you were thinking.

It seems we ask these questions in hard times, feeling the answer may be yes, but Scripture reminds us the Lord is always faithful, always keeping his promises. As Hebrews 4 says, the Lord will never leave us, and Isaiah 64 states the Lord works for those who wait for him. The Psalmist said he asked these questions, but found hope in remembering the Lord.

He says in verse 11, “But then I recall all you have done, O Lord.” As he remembered the Lord, the Psalmist hope was restored.

We too can find hope in remembering the Lord.

We can find hope in remembering his deeds.

In verses 11-12, the Psalmist says, “I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.”

Remember all the deeds of the Lord: how he brought the Israelites out of Egypt, how he helped Israel with the overwhelming task of conquering Canaan, and how he come walking out of the tomb. The Lord has always provided an answer to his people. Our hope can be restored by remembering his deeds.

We can find hope in remembering his character.

The Lord is holy. The Lord is merciful, gracious, loving, compassionate, faithful, and more! Remembering his character can bring us great hope.

We can find hope in remembering his power

The Psalmist proclaims in verse 14, “You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.”

God’s power has been on display throughout history. It was visible when he brought Israel out of Egypt, parted the Red Sea, toppled the walls of Jericho, and calmed the storm with a single word. The Lord’s power is awesome, and he works for those who wait for him. Remembering the Lord’s power restores our hope.

The Lord’s deeds, character, and power can provide us with much hope.  The next time you feel rejected, failed, or as if the Lord has turned his back on you, restore your hope by remembering his deeds, character, and power.

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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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“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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Make 2022 A Year Of Encouragement

It has been said the biggest struggle we face is discouragement.

As we tear the first page from the calendar today, 2022 has 364 days to go. There’s still ample time to meet our New Year’s Resolutions and accomplish the goals we have set for the year. Is encouraging a neighbor one of those goals? Hebrews 3:13 exhorts, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Notice the writer says we are to be daily sources of encouragement.

We live in a hurting world and interact with hurting people each day. As you go through your day-to-day activities this year, ask the Lord to help you be a source of encouragement. This doesn’t have to be a grand presentation each day. It might be something as simple as smiling at a cashier, saying hi to someone as you pass in the store, or telling someone to have a good day at the end of your conversation. Encouragement comes in all shapes and sizes. How will you be a source of encouragement today and throughout 2022?

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Only One Opinion Matters

He was stunned by what he was hearing. The words coming out of the other person’s mouth cut deep. They stabbed directly to the heart. He was being told he wasn’t good enough, that he wasn’t measuring up to the other person’s standard. Hearing this hurt a great deal.

She was visibly shaken by the string of insults being launched at her. The insults were directed at her character, her physical appearance, and every other aspect of her life. Hearing this hurt a great deal.

These incidents may describe you. Perhaps you’ve been in this situation. David was. His enemies taunting and insulting him in every way possible. Amid these insults, David pinned the words of Psalm 62; look at what he says in the first two verses.

“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress and I will never be shaken.”

Amid everything that was happening and everything David’s enemies were telling him, he could stand on the rock, the fortress, of the Lord. David understood the opinions of his enemies did not matter; he understood the only opinion that mattered was the Lord’s. David could find rest in knowing the Lord was his rock and his fortress.

Our world is saturated with social media, and everyone has an opinion. It is highly likely we’ve been the individuals described above – we’ve been deeply wounded by someone’s opinion or words. When we are the recipients of such harshness, may we remember the only opinion that matters is the Lord’s. Our safety and security are not found in the comments under our Facebook post or the number of likes our picture receives on Instagram. Our rock and fortress are the Lord who gives us salvation. His opinion is the only one that matters.

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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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Wishing You A Very Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:11 says, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.”

You and I have been given a gift. The gift is Jesus. Jesus brings the gift of grace. He came to help us. Jesus did not stand at the top of the mountain and tell us to climb. He came down to hold our hand as we climbed. Jesus did not stand on the opposite side of a gulf and tell us to cross the bridge. He came across to help us. Jesus came as our Christmas gift.

The angel’s good news to the shepherds is for you and me also. As you celebrate today, I hope you have a moment to reflect on the gift of Jesus.

I appreciate you spending part of your day reading this, and I hope you have a blessed and merry Christmas. Please share this post.

6 Dips Leads To 7

Bad days; we all have them.

Naaman certainly did. 2 Kings 5 tells us Naaman had a lot going for him. He was a mighty warrior and had found favor with the king, but he had leprosy. This contagious skin disease would have caused much difficulty for Naaman, so one of his servants suggests Naaman go to Israel to seek healing. His journey leads him to Elisha.

According to 2 Kings 5:9-12, “So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.”

But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.”

Naaman can’t believe this is happening. He is a mighty warrior, and he feels he deserves a better answer than a messenger telling him to wash in the muddy waters of the Jordan. He is certainly having a bad day. It seems he expected a completely different outcome to this day, so he takes off in a fit of rage.

We also have days like this. We can’t believe something is happening. We can’t believe we have to go there or do that, so we want to take off in a fit of rage like Naaman. But, notice the advice offered by those traveling with him.

2 Kings 5 goes on, “But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So, you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!”

Imagine the scene at the river. Naaman, still furious from his interactions with Elisha, steps into the nasty water of the Jordan. He slips and slides out to a place where it is easy to get his whole body under the water and begins dipping. Perhaps the first couple dips felt kind of good. Naaman was angry, so the coolness of the water may have been somewhat refreshing. Long about dip six, Naaman’s agitation may have returned.

He’s in the Jordan, he’s doing what Elisha said, but all he’s getting is mud in his hair and water in his ears. His skin disease isn’t healing. But then comes the seventh dip, and that’s when everything changes.

He goes under with leprosy, but he comes up healed. He goes under with a skin disease, but he comes up with a renewed skin. Naaman goes under wondering how this is going to help, but he comes up knowing that God is real. It was the seventh dip that made the difference.

In many ways, this may illustrate our lives. We have all these things we are going through. You can insert your things here, and we can’t believe they are happening. We know God says to trust him and we do, but we easily relate to Naaman, standing in the middle of the Jordan, wondering how this is going to help.

It is in these moments we need to remember we haven’t reached our seventh dip. Many years ago, I heard a sermon that pointed out not every day can be a seventh dip day. Not every day is going to be filled with happiness; not every day is going to be good in our eyes, but they are all leading to our seventh dip. So, when you are going through your things, hang in there. Your seventh dip is coming!

Imagine Naaman’s thoughts as he was dipping himself in the water.