Tag Archives: perspective

3 Take-Aways from Psalm 121

It was a dangerous road. Traveling the road was nerve-racking, and most travelers were filled with anxiety as they made the journey up this road. It was the road going up to Jerusalem, and there were many obstacles which could interrupt a pilgrim’s trip. The road was filled with twists and turns. Cliffs and caves lined the road adding to the danger.

Accidently stumbling could send a traveler head-first over a cliff. The caves made wonderful hiding places for wild animals and robbers to await an unsuspecting victim. The road was dangerous, but it was an essential passageway in Israel.

Does it seem like life is the road to Jerusalem? It is filled with twists and turns; there are many obstacles waiting for the opportunity to interrupt our journey. Financial struggles, losing a job, being forced to move, or navigating through life with an ever-changing eyesight may all be on our journey. Anxiety and lack of confidence may be ever-present struggles on our journey as we wake each day wondering how we will get through that day. Yet the Lord is with us just like He was with the Israelites traveling to Jerusalem. We can find great confidence in the timeless truth of Psalm 121.

This Psalm was written for the Israelites to recite as they traveled the road to Jerusalem and offers us great encouragement. Here are 3 take-aways from the Psalm.

1. Our help comes from the Lord.

We are reminded to look past the obstacles interrupting life to the source of our help.

Verses 1-2 say, “I lift my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and earth.”

2. The Lord never takes a break.

The Lord is willing to help us 24/7. He doesn’t take a break.

Verse 4 says, “Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.”

3. The Lord will still be with us tomorrow.

The Lord doesn’t help us today, then walk away. He will still be with us tomorrow.

Verse 8 says, “The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go. Both now and forever.”

Acting

The road of life is filled with twists and turns. There are many obstacles waiting to disrupt our journey; they desire to overwhelm and discourage us, but Psalm 121 reminds us the Lord is on the journey with us. The next time life is interrupted, try reciting this Psalm.

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5 Reasons to Look Through Appearance to the Heart

What would happen if we looked through appearance to the heart? Here are 5 improvements we would see.

We live in a culture which places a high premium on appearance. An individual is judged on his or her looks or popularity. Leaders and potential spouses are chosen based on looks. Online dating apps use a single photo as the first layer of filtering. If someone doesn’t like your photo, they scroll to the next person. Many decisions are based on appearance.

A guy asks a girl to go on a date based on her appearance. An interview candidate receives points based on his appearance. The old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” may be true, but I believe there is a better way. You see, one picture cannot tell a whole story.

What would happen if society readjusted our focus from the person’s appearance to the person’s heart? What would happen if we concentrated on a potential spouse’s personality and emotions rather than looks? What would happen if appearance was not considered in choosing a leader? Here are 5 improvements we would see.

1. There would be a rise in self-esteem.

As a society, we would stop beating ourselves up because we were not pretty enough. We would stop comparing ourselves to others’ social media appearance. Self-esteem would rise as we would be more confident in ourselves.

2. New friendships would be cultivated.

We would not be turned off by someone’s outward appearance; rather, we would take time to get to know our neighbor and may discover he is a cool person.

3. Marriages would last longer.

Psychologists state the key to a long and happy marriage is a deep emotional connection. While dating, if more time was spent connecting emotionally, the relationship would be built on a better foundation.

4. Society would be more at peace.

An increase in self-confidence and happier relationships would bring more peace to the world. Bullies would have friends so they would not feel the need to bully. The color of our skin would no longer cause friction. Peace would result as we looked through appearance to the heart.

5. God’s leaders would excel.

Leaders chosen on character without any consideration to appearance would result in the most competent leader always being chosen. The heart would outweigh the outward ability to capture our attention, be entertaining, or the life of the party.

Acting

Will you join me in setting a goal to pay less attention to appearance and more attention to heart? How do you believe making this shift would change our culture?

 

Our Work Matters

Colleen was a college student who was working a part-time job to cover bills. Not having a lot of money, Colleen tried to get by on what she had. Her shoes were showing age, but she planned to wear them if they held up.

One morning after church, a lady handed Colleen a box containing a new pair of shoes. “Here you go. I thought we probably wore the same size.” The lady said, “I can’t do much, but I thought I’d buy you a pair of shoes.”

Grateful for the shoes, Colleen replied, “Thank you.”

“Don’t worry about it,” came the answer, “it takes a village to get us through life.”

The shoes were a small thing, but they made a big difference for Colleen. The lady’s act of service was not headline grabbing, but it was meaningful.

Our acts of service matter; our work matters. We may not be the CEO in our company or be in the spotlight at our church, but our contribution is important. The CEO is efficient because of her Administrative Assistant. The leader in the spotlight would fail quickly if not for the team around him. Each person’s role is crucial to success.

Our contribution is valuable.

The Bible says we have something to contribute.

Romans 12:6-8 says, “In his grace God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well, so if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak up with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well; if you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously, and if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

You and I are part of a community, and our role is just as important as the other roles. We rely on one another, and our interdependence is not a weakness; it is a strength.

To help us understand this, the Bible uses the illustration of the human body. Is the body made of only feet? Can the hand do the job of the eye? No, the body is made of several parts. Each part must do its job for the body to function. The parts work together making the body strong and sustaining its survival.

Our roles are the same. We must each do our role for the community to function. Some roles are in the spotlight, while others are behind the scenes. Some roles encompass many responsibilities, while others embrace only a couple. However, each role is equally important.

We matter at church and at work.

This principle holds true at church and work.

At Church

You may be responsible for teaching a class attended by a handful of kids, but your contribution is still meaningful.

You may be responsible for running the vacuum each week. It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s your contribution keeping the building clean.

You may be the person who arrives early, unlocks the door, turns on the lights, and makes the coffee. It may not seem like much to you, but without you, people would have to break in the building, walk around in the dark, and remain half asleep.

Our contribution to the church matters.

At Work

The Theology of Work project brings to light this principle is the same at work as it is at church. For success, the work team must function as a unit.

Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord….”

The work we do at our job matters. Our contribution is vital to our workplace’s success.

If you stock shelves, stock shelves well. If you answer the phone, answer the phone well. If you tighten bolts, tighten them well. The work you and I do is significant in the overall health of the company.

Think of it this way. An auto factory worker is tasked with tightening lug nuts. He falls for the lie his job doesn’t matter, so he stops making sure the nuts are tight. A truck is delivered with loose lug nuts, and the wheel falls off while it is being driven down the interstate.

The accident causes consumers to question the auto makers safety. In turn, causing sales to slump, the slow sales cause lay offs at the factory. All the trouble started because the factory worker fell for the lie his work did not matter.

The assembly line worker is just as important as the CEO. The custodian is just as important as the CFO. No matter what we do, our work is meaningful.

Please do not fall for the lie your contribution is insignificant and your life does not matter. You do matter, and you do have something to contribute.

Acting

Ask the Lord to help you recognize the meaningfulness of your contribution and opportunities to contribute.

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A Single Choice Changed Everything

Her life was anything but a dream. Disrespect and endangerment occurring daily. Different men, perhaps more than one a day, stopping by to take advantage of her. Each day a different scene of a continual nightmare, but one day, everything changed. She made a choice which changed everything.

Choices have the power to chart the course of our lives, and the choices you and I make are significant because we are significant. We matter to the Lord, so the choices we make matter to the Lord.

One choice has the potential to change everything. One choice has the potential to influence lives for multiple generations. Choosing to influence one person’s life can have lasting impacts.

The Impact of One Choice

Rahab made one choice which changed the direction of her life and influenced the world in a positive way.

Joshua 2 tells us Rahab lived in the city of Jericho, and her life was anything but a dream. Israel sent two spies to Jericho and they sought lodging at Rahab’s home so they would not stick out as strangers in town.

Rahab heard of the Lord’s power and requested protection when Israel conquered the city. She helped the spies secretly leave town, and they promised protection to her and anyone within the walls of her home.

Jericho was conquered, and the one choice Rahab made to help the spies…

Saved her life.

The spies kept their word, and no one within the walls of Rahab’s home was injured during the conquest.

Changed her life.

Rahab was able to live with Israel.

Joshua 6:25 says, “Joshua saved Rahab, her family, and all those who were with her. Joshua let them live because Rahab helped the spies Joshua had sent off to Jericho. Rahab still lives among the Israelites today.”

Had a lasting impact.

Since Rahab lived among the people of Israel, she became the great, great grandmother of King David.

According to Matthew 1:5-6, “Salmon was the father of Boaz, his mother was Rahab. Boaz was the father of Obed; his mother was Ruth. Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David.”

Rahab’s choice had a lasting impact. Being in the lineage of King David means Rahab is in the lineage of Jesus. The Lord used Rahab as a part of his plan to bring grace to the world.

All because Rahab made one choice.

Our Choices Matter

You and I can make some powerful choices. The Lord may be compelling us to start a friendship. Choose to start it. We may feel led to tip generously. Choose to be generous. Our choices are impactful.

The next choice we make may be the one that leaves a positive influence on lives for generations.

Acting

Choose to follow the Lord’s leading in your decision making. Pray for courage so fear and uncertainty do not stop you from making the right choice.

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Small ButPotent

Is my influence large enough? Do I reach enough people to really make a difference? These are questions that come to mind as we struggle in our search for significance. This may be especially true in an era of Facebook and Instagram influencers with millions of followers. You look at their accounts and they have millions of followers, but your account does not. I look at their pictures and they have thousands of likes, but my pictures do not. So, we begin to doubt the importance of our influence.

We begin to wonder if we even matter, and ask, “Why do we even bother?” The Bible tells us we do matter. You and I may not be the Billy Graham of our era, but our influence is impactful.

A few will reach millions of people, some will reach thousands of people, but most of us will only reach a few people. Perhaps just one person, but our influence is still meaningful.

A Premium on One

The Bible places a high premium on reaching one person. Glimpse through Luke 15 and we see a high premium placed on reaching one person.

Seeking Out One

Jesus uses 3 parables in Luke 15 to help us understand the importance of reaching one person

A Lost Sheep

A shepherd had 100 sheep and 1 went missing. The shepherd leaves 99 of the sheep to seek out the one who is in danger. He celebrates when he finds the 1 sheep. If the sheep wasn’t important, he would have left it to stay with the other 99.

A Lost Coin

A widow loses a coin in her home, so she moves everything out and sweeps the house until she finds the coin. When she finds the coin, she celebrates. If the coin was not valuable, she would have not risked moving her possessions into the elements of the outdoors to find the coin.

A Lost Son

A father believes his son is never going to be back in his life, but when the boy returns, the father celebrates. He has a grand celebration because his son has come home. If his son was not significant, he would have not celebrated.

Rejoicing Over One

Luke 15 tells us each time one is found there is rejoicing.

  • Verse 7: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
  • Verse 10: “In the same way I tell you there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
  • Verse 32: “But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found.”

Reaching just one person is important. Reaching one individual is significant. A small influence is still potent.

A Rock in a Lake

The significance of our influence is like throwing a rock in a lake. The rock hits the water sending out a wave. The first wave sends out a second wave. The second wave sends out a third wave and so on. Each circular wave grows. Each wave is larger than the previous. The wave action starts when the rock hits the water. Our influence is the rock starting the wave affect.

Jesus started with 12.

The Bible reminds us Jesus did not start with millions of followers. He started with only 12. His influence launched from there. The original 12 may have each only reached 12 people and so on. It did not take long until Jesus’ influence was huge.

Most of us will reach a few people and our influence will go out from there. We have a significant place in the Lord’s plan. Reaching a few is as important to the Lord as reaching millions. The Lord has put you and I in a place which matters to him. Our influence has significance.

Acting

With whom do you have an influence? Ask the Lord to help you seize opportunities you have to influence the people around you.

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Do I matter?

Do I matter? This is a question you and I often ask, and the answer is yes, we do matter.

Significance is something we all search for. Not necessarily to always be in the spotlight as that may not be our place or personality, but to know our life matters. We desire to know our work matters. We like to know the choices we make have an impact. We want to know the act of service we offer is needed. Everyone needs to know his or her life is important and making a difference.

Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world filled with jobs that treat us as disposable, institutions who say our contribution doesn’t matter, and bullies who treat us horribly. All causing us to struggle on our search for significance.

The Bible offers encouragement as we are on our significance search. You and I are reminded we are significant in the Lord’s eyes.

You are significant in the Lord’s eyes.

We are already significant in the Lord’s eyes. We have always been significant in the Lord’s sight.

  • “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 made 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 says.
  • Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handy work, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

The Search is Over

Our search for significance can be over. We can find our significance in the Lord.

To the employer who treats us as disposable, the Lord says he is wrong.

To a board of directors who say we have nothing to contribute, the Lord says they are wrong.

To the bullies who point and laugh, the Lord says they are wrong.

We do matter. The choices we make matter. The lives we touch matter. The acts of service we offer matter. Our lives are significant. Our significance is found in the Lord.

Acting

Try memorizing the above Scriptures so the next time you are treated insignificantly, you can remind yourself the Lord says you are significant.

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Music Monday: Craig

In church, he smelled like beer, but Craig patted him on the back and said, “I’m glad you’re here.”

It’s Music Monday. I’m fascinated at how the Lord’s message can be wrapped in a song. The lyrics capture our hearts before we realize what is happening.

BUY Craig at Amazon

Craig by Walker Hayes reminds us how we should treat one another. Craig is not judgmental, and he is generous. The Lord shines brightly through Craig’s life. I want to be more like Craig.

A Hopeful Promise

Feeling trapped in a hopeless situation? Please know there is always hope in this promise the Lord makes us.

The Promise

John 14:2-3 says, “My Father’s house has many rooms. If that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you. And, if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

“I’m coming back for you,” Jesus promises. In a world filled with broken hearts and unkept promises, these words of Jesus give us a promise in which we can fully trust. The promise is coming from a trustworthy source.

Jesus and his disciples are having an intense conversation. Jesus is preparing the disciples for events which will soon take place. The news is unsettling. It is perplexing and frightening to the disciples, so Jesus requests their trust and assures them of his return. Jesus’ words were a familiar comfort to the disciples.

A Familiar Promise

Jesus made his promise of returning in an everyday way to his disciples. An engagement would have immediately come to mind.

Weddings were done differently in the first century as the marriage was arranged. When it was decided a bride and groom would be married, the groom would make a promise to his bride.

He would say something like, “In my father’s house are many rooms, and I’m going to prepare a place for you. When I have finished preparing the place, I will come back to get you. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Newly married couples would live in the groom’s father’s house. If there were several generations living there, it could be a large structure. Upon their engagement, the groom would return to his father’s house to prepare the necessary addition to the home. The only hitch was he did not know when the addition would be completed. His promise did not include date and time. He just promised he would return to get the bride.

While she was anticipating her groom’s return, the bride learned how to have a successful household from her mother, and at night, she would place a lamp in her window so the groom could find her if he returned. The couple would have a beautiful wedding ceremony when the groom returned.

A Hopeful Promise

Think again of Jesus’ words. “My Father’s house has many rooms….” Jesus is giving us the promise of a groom. He has gone to prepare a place for us.

Like a first century bride, our job is to prepare for his return, and just like the bride, we don’t know a date or time.

Jesus is off preparing a place for us, and he has promised us he will return. He has promised you and I he will return, and if we trust him, we can find much hope in this promise.

If you are feeling hopeless, cling to this promise. For there is always hope in Christ.

Acting

How do you find hope in this promise? Share in the comments below.

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Jumping in Trust

Zack and his dad were hiking in the mountains of Tennessee on a sunny afternoon. Zack’s dad hears from above, “Hey dad! Catch me!”

Horrified to see Zack falling from an above cliff, the dad quickly put himself into position and successfully caught Zack. A moment passed while the dad calmed his nerves. Then he asked, “What happened?”

“I jumped,” the boy replied.

Why on earth did you jump,” the dad inquired.

Zack answered, “Because I know you are my dad and I knew you would catch me.”

Zack had complete trust in his dad because he was Zack’s father.

Trust is Foundational

Trust is the foundation for any relationship. Friends must trust each other. Parents and children must trust each other. Husbands and wives must trust each other. Our relationship with Jesus requires we trust him.

Jesus Requests Our Trust

Jesus requests in John 14:1 we trust him.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.”

Jesus is having a conversation with his disciples, and he is giving them much to consider. He’s telling the disciples what is going to happen soon, but from their vantage point, there is still a great deal unknown. Jesus knows it is perplexing, maybe even frightening, for the disciples, so he makes a request that they trust him. The same request Jesus makes of us.

What’s going to happen in the future? If you could know the answer, would you want it? I wouldn’t, but the unknown is nerve-racking too. We dislike the unknown. We find it perplexing and frightening just like the disciples, so Jesus says, “Trust me.”

Jesus asks that we trust him. Trust him with our jobs and careers, our families and relationships, our money and financial health, and our lives. Jesus asks that we trust him with everything.

Why can we trust the Lord?

Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all. How will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

The Lord has proven himself trustworthy by giving us his son. So, the question you and I need to answer is do we trust him? Do we trust him with our jobs and careers, our families and relationships, and money and financial health, and our lives? Do we trust him with everything?

Do we have the complete trust Zack did?

Acting

Make a list of the areas of your life where you may need to trust the Lord more. Ask him to help you build that trust. Share your experience in the comments below.

Please share this post with anyone you believe would find it encouraging.

 

 

God Won’t Leave

Will God leave me? This is a fair question, and one we may ask in a difficult time. The Bible says the Lord will not leave us, and Joseph’s story helps us see the Lord can use the difficult stuff to do some amazing work.

The Beginning of Joseph’s Story

Joseph was one of many brothers, and his father loved him the most causing strain among Joseph and his brothers. It may be safe to say his brothers hated Joseph. Not only did his father love him the most, Joseph had some dreams the family found upsetting.

Over breakfast one morning Joseph told his family he had a dream where they all bowed down to him. This angered his brothers, and Joseph’s dad told him not to speak like this again.

A few days after the breakfast incident, Joseph was sent to check on his brothers as they were tending the sheep. They saw him coming and plotted to kill him, but one brother, Reuben, convinced the boys to throw Joseph in a cistern to avoid bloodshed. They did, but later sold into slavery. Joseph found himself in Egypt where he worked. You would think Joseph had enough trouble at this point, but his troubles continue.

While in Egypt, Joseph is falsely accused of a crime and spends a few years in prison. Bad things certainly happened to Joseph.

Bad Things Happen

Joseph’s story reminds you and I bad things happen in life. We are not immune to adversity and trials, yet we can find great encouragement in God’s word. Scripture teaches God will not leave us when bad things happen.

God will not leave us.

The Lord is committed to staying with us in bad times. Paul, in Romans 8, says the Lord will stay with us when bad things happen.

Romans 8:37-39 says, “No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God.”

None of these things will cause the Lord to leave us. This is an exhaustive list, and to make sure he covers everything, Paul ends the list by saying, “…in all creation.” I hope you find this statement as encouraging as I do. The hardest of times will not drive away the Lord.

The lost job will come, but the Lord will stay. The money trouble will come, but the Lord will stay. Our hearing or eyesight may go, but the Lord will stay. The disease may infect, but the Lord will stay. The mistake may occur, but the Lord will forgive and stay. Nothing will drive the Lord away. Our relationship may be strengthened amid these seasons.

He Carried Her

One night a lady had a dream in which she went to the movies. The movie playing that night was a movie of her life. Each scene was a season of her life, and there were footprints in each scene. She noticed something odd about the footprints.

In the good scenes of her life, there were two sets of footprints. One representing her and the other representing God, but in the bad scenes, there was only one set of footprints.

At the end of the movie, the lady had an opportunity to interview God. “I don’t understand,” she said. “Sir, you promised you would never leave me or forsake me, but in all the tough scenes, there was only one set of footprints. I mean I didn’t do well in math, but if we were both present, would there not be two sets of footprints?”

God answered, “Oh, that’s easy. I had to carry you through all the rough times. You couldn’t make it on your own.”

He’ll carry us in the same way if we just hang on.

The Result of Tough Times

Romans 8 reminds us God works everything together for good. He can use the bad things currently happening to do some amazing work. Joseph’s story didn’t end with him in prison.

The Rest of Joseph’s story

Joseph was wrongly imprisoned, but he did not stay there. While in prison he interprets dreams for a couple of Pharaoh’s officials and is eventually called upon to interpret a dream for Pharaoh. Joseph says a severe famine is going to take place, and his interpretation is so impressive that Joseph is promoted to an Egyptian official. He is given the job of preparing Egypt for the famine.

Through bad things happening, the Lord put Joseph in position to save his family and help them refocus their attention on the Lord.

If Joseph had not been an Egyptian prisoner, he would have not been an Egyptian governor. The iron chains around Joseph’s feet ushered in gold chains around his neck.

Acting

Join me in thanking the Lord today for being with us. Maybe even carrying us through the hardest of times.

Please share this post with someone you think would find it encouraging.