WHAT IS LIFE ALL ABOUT
A number of years ago, my husband and I attended a “Focus Over Fifty” conference at the Focus on the Family headquarters in Colorado Springs. Dr. James Dobson, founder and president, spoke to the captive audience of senior saints on the topic The Second Half of Life.
He emphasized the brevity of life and concluded by saying he would like the following inscribed on his tombstone:
“When I reach the end of my days, a moment or two from now, I must look backward on something more meaningful than the pursuit of houses and land and machines and stocks and bonds. Nor is the fame of any a lasting benefit. I will consider my earthly existence to have been wasted unless I can recall a loving family, a consistent investment in the lives of people, and an earnest attempt to serve the God who made me. Nothing else makes much sense.”
For centuries people have searched for the meaning to their existence. Why am I here? What is the purpose for my life? These are the questions each one of us must answer. Paul tells us, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for” (Ephesians 1:11, MSG).
Nothing makes you focus on what’s really important in life more intensely than losing someone you love. I remember the first night that our son was in heaven. Steve and I lay in bed talking about what Bryon must be experiencing. For 21 years we had nurtured, bandaged, nursed and cared for our son, who had courageously struggled to survive a rare and incurable skin disease. We reflected on the incredible privilege of being Bryon’s parents. His life had enriched ours beyond words.
Memories were everywhere: the swing in the backyard, his dog Higgins moping around, his Sunday school class, dozens of baseball hats, hundreds of collectable bears, boxes of unused bandages, his blue Cavalier in the driveway, scraps of soiled bandages found beneath seat cushions, and blood stains on the recliner—all reminders of our son.Life Lessons
Twenty-one years is not a long life span; but Bryon packed in a hundred years worth of living in his short journey. Usually, parents teach and train their children; but Bryon often became the instructor and we, the learners. Truly, he had wisdom well beyond his years. These are a few of the things he taught us about life:
1. Every day is a gift from God. Don’t waste it, but use it to the fullest. There isn’t time to complain or fret about what can’t be changed.
2. Laughter is the cushion for life. It helps smooth out the rough edges and makes the difficult places bearable. Nothing cures a heavy heart any faster than a good belly laugh!
3. Memories are the stuff that life is made of. Take time for celebrations, parties, family vacations, and hanging out with friends…it all goes by too fast.
4. It’s okay to cry. Tears are good for you. There is something about crying that helps to heal your heart and God really takes notice when we shed tears.
5. Don’t forget that the end is just the beginning—heaven is forever! The most important thing in life is to make sure your heart is right with God. Don’t give Him the leftovers, make Him No. 1.
Ephesians 2:10 reminds us, “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus; so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (NLT).
Healing for a Withered Soul
6 On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. 9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.THE WITHERED HAND
This is one of the miracle stories of Jesus we find in the Gospels. It shows forth the love and mercy of God. The God who made heaven and earth is a God whose very nature it is to heal. He comes to us in His grace with every desire to bless us. He comes to fill our souls with His heavenly blessings. He restores our souls and gives meaning to our lives. We no longer need to wander in life. In following the Savior, we have purpose and direction for our lives.
In this story, we read how Jesus was in a synagogue teaching. Teaching was always a priority in the life of Jesus as He looked to bring healing to the human soul. But as he was teaching, there was a man there who had an obvious physical need. Everyone’s eyes were on this man. Everyone knew that Jesus had the power to heal, and they wanted to see if He would extend the mercy of God towards this man and make him well. The religious leaders who were present were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus. In their minds, if Jesus healed this man on their holy day, a day when no one was to work, He would be sinning against the Law of God. Jesus had no patience with their twisted understanding of what God requires of man. Rather, He is touched by the brokenness and emptiness of this man’s life. He is compelled to alleviate the pain and remove the emptiness in this man’s life.
The man was suffering from a withered hand. To be a whole and complete man, he needed two functioning hands. So, Jesus calls the man out and asks him to stand before everyone. The man obeys and stands up in the middle of the crowd. He asks those present if on the Sabbath, their holy day, if it was right to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it? Jesus knew the hardness of their religious hearts. Therefore, He rebukes them with His gaze. He says to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch out your hand.” And the Bible says his hand was completely restored.
You may not have a withered hand, but maybe you have a dried up, withered soul. Life can bring us
many failures and disappointments that wound us deep within. These failures, whether they are our own personal failures or the failures of others, can wither our souls. We can live with a feeling of emptiness and a lack of purpose for our lives. But we need to know that the same Jesus who healed this man with the withered hand can reach deep down inside of us and heal our withered soul. As Jesus gave this man a new purpose for life by giving him two functioning hands, so He can fill our empty withered souls with His love and grace and take away inner emptiness and fill our lives with His joy.
Joy deep within comes in knowing the Savior. This is more than temporary happiness. It is a contentment that dwells inside of us because Jesus in His grace fills us with an inexpressible and glorious joy. The apostle Peter wrote concerning Jesus: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,” (1 Peter 1:8 NIV). This is the supernatural joy that God gives to fill the emptiness within. It is a joy that sustains us in the most difficult times of life. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit that is produced in our lives when the Spirit of God comes to dwell inside of us.
If you are living with a withered soul, having a daily sense of emptiness within, turn toward the Savior. Ask him to fill your life with eternal joy and peace.
New life begins when we choose to follow Jesus. He came into the world to die on the cross for our sins. The Bible says that three days later He arose from the dead. He arose and conquered sin and death and now is seated at the right hand of God in heaven praying for us. Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins, and put your total trust in him. Then follow Him with all of your heart.
Please contact us by clicking one of the buttons below if you desire to follow Jesus, have a question or a prayer request. Someone is waiting to answer you.
Purpose of life
“What is the secret to fulfillment? What can fill the void of emptiness? What if I sacrifice and work hard and climb the mountain of success only to discover that I was really not fulfilled or even happy? What if I climbed the wrong mountain?
Until we are at peace with God, we will be unfulfilled. Learn how being in relationship with our creator erases emptiness and brings fulfillment.
Find Purpose and Value!
Dealing with his mother’s breast cancer, and bullying at school, Kalvin was surrounded by darkness and emptiness. Kalvin discovered his purpose and value in his relationship with God.
The Fear of God
Many things and situations of life provoke fear. Fear can grip our hearts as we suffer from illness or the loss of employment. Wars and pandemics that bring death and uncertainty about the future affect many lives. Fear grips us as we wonder what will be the end of these things. Fear enters the mind when we feel that we have lost control of important areas of our lives.
Fear is a natural, God given reaction to harmful events, whether real or imagined. It can vary from a mind filled with uneasiness to outright terror depending on what is feared and the perceived intensity of difficult circumstances. In the Scriptures, we learn that it is the fear of God that drives out all other fears. In the Bible, fear has two meanings when it is related to God. It has the idea of reverential awe and submission that leads to worship for the people of God, and fleeing and hiding from God for those who anticipate God’s judgment.
As the people of God bow before the true and living God, they remember His greatness, and His power to deliver. He is an awesome God with power unlimited who has manifested His power on behalf of His people. We fear Him because of His never-ending faithfulness. In the Old Testament “Fear” is used to describe God himself. Jacob refers to God as the “Fear of Isaac” (Genesis 31:42). Here Jacob is saying that Isaac had a sincere, reverential submission to God, so much so that for him God was perceived as the embodiment of fear (Merrill, Eugene H. Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology). When the people of God live in this reverential submission to the Lord, it becomes a sustaining force in times of earthly difficulties. It sustains them when the troubles of life produce the natural reaction of fear. We fear the unknown, and we fear the possible repercussions of the difficulties of life. But we have submitted to a God who will not fail us now or in the future.
As a follower of Christ, we find stability in our souls as we reverence God in our hearts. We find courage in distress because of our hearts that submit to God and worship Him with all of our beings. We find the courage to go on and be victorious because we know that our awesome God is near. Faith arises out of a submitted, worshipping heart. Faith grows through the trials of life as we live in the fear of the Lord. As we submit to the Lordship of Christ, nothing can separate us from the love of God found in Him (Romans 8:31-39). Since He is our victorious Lord, we take courage and continue the battle.
God told Joshua several times before he led the people of God into the promised land to be courageous (Joshua 1:7, 9). It was a call to fear God. It was as he remembered the awesome power of God in the past, particularly the going out of the Exodus, that he would find the courage to know that God would not fail him. So, we today persevere in fearful times because our hearts are summited in reverential awe to the God who has saved us through the shed blood of His Son. Though fearful times come upon us, it does not paralyze us, because we worship and submit to an ever-present God who shows himself in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). We have courage concerning the future because the same God who showed himself as always faithful in the past will be with us, at our side, even in times that lie unpredictably before us. Our future is in His hands as we submit to Him in humble worship and trust.
He has promised us that our little mustard seed faith (Matthew 17:20) will be enough. If need be, He will move mountains on our behalf. Ultimately, we have courage and can face the future with certainty because we know that our home is no longer in this fallen world. Rather, we look forward to the fullness of Christ’s eternal Kingdom, which will be manifested here on earth. We will joyfully fear the Lord throughout eternity as we marvel at his awesome faithfulness and love.
If you are living in fear, know that there is an escape. Jesus came into the world to set us free.
The Bible says that He died on the cross for our sins and that three days later He arose from the dead. It is as we place our total trust in Jesus that God forgives us of our sins and gives us the gift of eternal life. As a forgiven sinner, we must then follow Jesus with all of our hearts.
Please contact us by clicking one of the buttons below if you desire to follow Jesus, have a question, or a prayer request. Someone is waiting to answer you.
He was one of the most compelling athletic heroes in American history. Long after he’d hung up his fabled pinstriped uniform, grown men would stammer and stutter in his presence and faithful fans would pay outlandish prices for his memorabilia. His achievements were many, but they cannot explain his enduring popularity. His legion of admirers felt a deep emotional attachment to this man who moved with such fluid grace and raw power. They loved Mickey Mantle.
His statistics are staggering–536 home runs, 1,509 RBIs, .298 career batting average, seven world championships, and three MVP awards–and they are all the more impressive when we consider how the Hall of Famer courageously battled chronic, painful injuries during his 18 years with the New York Yankees. In addition, he won the Triple Crown in 1956–a .353 batting average, 52 HRs, and 130 RBIs. In 1961, he hammered 54 homers, just six shy of Babe Ruth’s record.
But these numbers pale when compared to what happened in the harsh summer of ’95 when his heart took over in that desperate final inning. Faced with an aggressive cancer, he displayed incredible courage, humility, even humor as he battled for his life. And when he chose to drag his frail body in front of a mass of microphones and address the public, there was not a trace of self-pity in his words–only heartfelt pleas to avoid the mistakes he had made. Don’t be like me, he humbly declared, I’m no role model! But despite his flaws, Mantle remained a hero to his multitude of fans, and due to his honesty gained many new ones.
At age 19 he left the lead mines of Oklahoma for the bright lights of New York City. Unfortunately, those lights cast an eerie shadow over his life. After Mickey’s first season, his father, Mutt Mantle, died of Hodgkin’s disease at 40. His grandfather and two of his uncles also succumbed to the same disease before their 40th birthdays. As a result, a growing fear of dying young haunted the budding superstar. He would talk long into the night with his close teammates, confiding to them this nagging fear.
Convinced an early funeral was his inevitable fate, though often joking about it, he played hard and partied even harder. For him, there was no tomorrow. Tragically, this attitude led to a 40-year bout with alcohol that caused his body to grow old before its time and clouded his mind. Many criticized his self-destructive lifestyle, saying it sabotaged the greatest combination of power and speed the game had ever seen. In the autumn of his life, Mantle came to agree with those critics, admitting that his drug of choice, alcohol, kept him from reaching his full potential–as a player and as a person. He had learned the hard lesson that a man reaps what he sows.
Finally in 1994, at the urging of his family and friends, Mickey sought help for his addiction. After checking himself into the Betty Ford Center, he was able to win his long battle with the bottle. But
he knew something was still missing in his life. He just wasn’t sure what it was.
In June of ’95, doctors discovered that cancer had destroyed Mantle’s liver. He was fortunate to receive a transplant, and for a while, it seemed as if the greatest switch hitter of all time would live to fight another day. Then doctors found that cancer remained in his body, and he began chemotherapy. Mickey knew he was facing death. During the All-Star break in Dallas, he picked up the phone and called his old friend and teammate, former Yankee second baseman Bobby Richardson–a committed Christian. Mickey asked him to pray for him over the telephone. A few weeks later when doctors had discovered that the cancer had aggressively spread, Mickey’s family asked Bobby if he would come to visit him. His death was imminent. To honor Mickey’s long-standing request–one he had made at the funeral of Roger Maris nine years earlier–Bobby was asked to speak at the funeral.
After entering the hospital room, Richardson went over to Mantle’s bed and took his hand. Locking his eyes on him, Bobby said, Mickey, I love you, and I want you to spend eternity in heaven with me. Mantle smiled and said, Bobby, I’ve been wanting to tell you that I have trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior. Faced with the crushing weight of his sin against a holy God and its dire consequence–eternal separation from God–Mickey had asked for and received the forgiveness he so desperately needed. For Richardson, news of his conversion felt like cool rain after a summer drought and brought tears to his eyes. For years, he had talked to Mickey about the Lord Jesus, but to no avail. Now, in the final inning of his life, the Mick had won his greatest victory–more glorious than any of his tape-measure home runs.
When asked later how he knew he would spend eternity with God in heaven, Mickey, after some reflection, quoted John 3:16 NIV from the Bible, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
At Mickey’s funeral, Bobby Richardson told 2,000 mourners and a national TV audience that there are only two groups of people, those who say yes to Christ, and those who say no. He added that, since none of us knows when he will face his own final inning, saying maybe is really saying no. The Bible confirms this when it says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:36 NIV).
So, what about you, my friend? Remember, the Bible says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NIV), and “people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27 NIV). But the good news is that “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV). In addition, “it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed…but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV).
Don’t delay! Life is short and eternity hastens.
There is no second chance. If you have never turned from your sins and trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, do it now! Why not pray right now, saying something like this
Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner–full of pride and selfishness–and I need Your forgiveness. I believe that You died in my place to pay the penalty for my sins and that You rose from the dead. I now trust in You alone as my Savior and receive Your gift of eternal life.
Friend, I urge you to consider that now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Let God Help You!
We all need help to overcome our fears. Learn how God’s power can help us move past fear and live a life of freedom.
Fear can make us freeze and prevent us from responding reasonably to our circumstances. We can be afraid of basically anything. While some of our fears may be reasonable, and others may not be, Jesus Christ can conquer all of the fear in our lives
Guilty! My ears rang with that one word! That word would change my plans, my future and my world. The judge was angry, very angry! He then read the court sentence.My Story
I was a convicted felon. I would lose my driver’s license. I would pay all court costs and would fulfill a long list of obligations. Then he stopped to ask me a question: “Do you understand what it means to be found guilty?” I answered that I did. He went further: “Do you know what you lost by crashing your car into that house?” I quietly said that I did.
His voice softened and he said, “Then if you do what is required of you, I will erase this conviction on your 18th birthday. It will be as if it never happened.” For the first time in weeks, I felt hope. I began to believe that the weight of my guilt would not follow me the rest of my life.
On my 18th birthday, my record was swept clean just like the judge promised. It was as if I had never broken the law. It was like I was never convicted of a felony. I was free!Sound Familiar?
You may be feeling the same kind of guilt I felt that day so long ago. You know you did wrong. You may have stolen from someone. Perhaps you broke a promise to “love, cherish and obey.” You may even have taken someone’s life. The weight of your guilt is heavy and it stops you from living!
God made a way for us …
I have good news for you. There is a way that you can have your record swept clean. There is a way that your guilt can be erased! God knows that everyone has done wrong. He understands that the wrong things we do create guilt. He also knows that the penalty of sin (the wrong things we do) is death! BUT, God made a way for us to find forgiveness and hope. It comes through the gift of God’s One and only Son, Jesus.God’s Solution
Jesus never sinned, but He was willing to take our sins on Himself. He paid for our sin on a deadly cross. He was innocent but paid our sin debt! Three days later, He rose from the dead with the power to give us new life and hope now and forever!It begins with a simple prayer like this:
“Dear Jesus, Please forgive me! I am sorry for the wrong things I have done. I am tired of the guilt I feel. I need to feel hope again. Please clear my record and give me a new start in life. I will follow You today and always! In Jesus’ name, amen!”
If you prayed that prayer, please click the button that says: “Yes, I prayed.” We would love to know more about your story.
No matter what you have done, you can find freedom from the guilt you feel. Feelings of guilt come when you sin, that is, disobey God and His commands. There are many ways people try to shrug off their guilt, and none of them are very effective. However, you do not have to keep these feelings of guilt forever. When people admit their wrongdoing and accept Christ into their lives, they find freedom
Forgiveness for Guilt.
Forgiveness for Guilt.
We have all done something that is wrong. Some people tell a lie. Some people steal. Some people say bad stories about others. You may not feel bad until you are caught. Then you feel very bad. You know you did wrong. This is called guilt. Guilt comes when you know you are wrong. Guilt will make your heart feel broken. Guilt can bring shame to you and your family. You feel bad when everyone sees what you did. How can you throw away the guilt? How can you feel good again?
You may lie and tell yourself you did no wrong. You may try to get rid of the bad feelings by doing something good. You may give money to a poor person. You may give blood to a sick person. You do this so you can feel good about yourself. These good actions will not make your heart feel better. Your heart will still hurt. You will still feel the guilt. You may feel you have no hope. You may think you will never feel good again.
I know someone who will throw away your guilt. He will forgive you. He will make you feel good again. His name is Jesus Christ.
We feel bad when we do bad things. We must be punished. If you disobey a law then you must pay. Maybe you will pay money. Maybe you will go to jail. When you disobey God’s laws you will be punished. You cannot pay money to God. You cannot do good acts to overcome your bad acts. We need God to take away our guilt. We need God to forgive us. If you ask God to help you then He will help you. If you ask God to forgive you then He will forgive you.
God the Father wants you to do what He tells you to do. When you do not do what He tells you to do then it is called, “sin.” You feel bad when you sin. This feeling is called guilt. Sin will lead you to death. God the Father does not want you to die. He sent Jesus Christ, God’s Son, to die in your place. Jesus Christ died so you will not have to die for your sins. He wants you to love God the Father. Jesus wants you to accept His gift of life. He wants you to give all your heart and mind to God the Father. Your feelings of guilt will be gone. He will forgive you. You can start again. You are a new person. You will feel good about yourself.
If you ask Jesus to forgive you then you are forgiven. You must forgive yourself. You must see yourself as Jesus sees you. You can live in victory.
Pray with me if you want to move from a guilt to forgiveness.
“Dear Jesus, please forgive me for the bad I did. Please help me to be good. I give my heart and mind to you. Take control of my life. Please help me to honor you. Thank you.”
Remove all your guilt and shame. Find true forgiveness.
Discovering Real Hope
Imagine that you live in a place that has battled a long drought. Everywhere you look, the soil is cracked, dusty, and lifeless. It is like it never rained there. It might seem like crops or trees would never grow again. But, if you have lived very long, you know that even the longest drought can be broken by rainfall.
In life, we can feel like that dry, cracked soil. Everything goes wrong; we face a long, dry season, hoping to experience something that brings hope and joy. But you can move from hopelessness to joy!
You may owe so much money that you think you would need to win the lottery just to breathe again. You may be in a relationship that has become difficult and that drains you of your hope. Like that drought-dried soil, you feel like you will never be able to grow again.
Perhaps you have lied to yourself and said that you can go on with things the way they are now, but inside, you know that something must change. Maybe you placed your hope on someone and were disappointed. Sometimes, we can be fooled by things that appear real but really rob us of joy and hope.
At some point, you will discover that false hope has made your life dry and difficult. You may want to give up. You may feel that there is no way forward and that you will die in that dry place of hopelessness.
There is hope. There is genuine hope that can bring joy back to you! Like rain on a drought-ridden desert, hope refreshes your life and brings you lasting peace. Where does such hope come from?
“hope refreshes your life…”
It comes from placing your trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus came to solve a problem that every man and woman faces. It is called “sin.”
The Bible says that because of the wrong things we do, everyone falls short of who God wants us to be. Because of the wrong things that we do, sin separates us from God. But, Jesus came to earth over two thousand years ago to pay the price for our sins. When he died in our place on the cross, He broke the power of sin and death and created a new relationship with God for us. By rising from the dead, His promise of new life became sure and certain.
When you allow Jesus Christ to take control of your life then He will bring life-giving forgiveness into your situation and bring you hope; real hope that is as precious to you as rain falling on a drought-ridden land.
With Jesus in your life, you will never face your problems alone. You will know victory instead of failure. You can stand with Jesus and He will guide you through life in ways that are far better than you can ever think or imagine. Jesus will put your life together again and walk with you step by step.Pray this prayer to discover real hope:
“Dear Jesus, I am in a place that is dry like a desert. It is a place where I have no hope. Please forgive me for the wrong things I have done and send genuine hope into my life like rain in a dry, barren place. I surrender my heart to you and ask that you take control of my life now. Thank you.”
If you prayed that prayer, please click the button that says: “Yes, I prayed.” We would love to know more about your story.
Rescued From The Pit of Despair
Rescued From The Pit of Despair
The Psalmist wrote in the Bible the following words: “1 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. 3 He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:1-3 NLT).
David the king of Israel wrote these words. David tells us that he waited on the Lord. He waited patiently for God to act on his behalf. He had fallen into a pit. His enemies had come against him and he saw no way of escape. He felt trapped. It was like he had fallen into a pit that he could not climb out of. He, therefore, cried out to God. He knew that God was His only hope. He knew that his own strength was not enough. Powers much greater than himself were coming against him. He, therefore, knew he needed help from heaven. The help of men would not be enough. He needed Almighty God.
We can find ourselves today in a pit of despair. Life can bring us huge problems that are beyond our own strength and wisdom. We can feel like we have nowhere to turn. We think of those whom we know to whom we might turn to in our despair, but we realize that it will not be enough. We are in the mud and mire of an unfortunate predicament and there is no one to help us pull ourselves out. We have made mistakes, unwise decisions, and we have gone in the wrong direction. We have ended up in the wrong place. Like a lost sheep, we have wandered off the path that God had for our lives.
We must be like King David. We need to remember God and turn to Him. We need to cry out in our despair to a God who is in heaven, who is waiting to hear our cry. There is a God in heaven who is full of compassion and mercy. He hears and answers the prayers of His children. God, through His eternal Word, can set our feet on solid ground. It is not God’s will that we slip into a pit and remain there. It is not His will that we fail. He comes to steady us as we walk along. As we call on Him in faith from the depths of our heart, He comes to rescue us. He brings us deliverance. He becomes our hope for living.
He gives us a song to sing. We move forward with our lives as we fill our mouths with His praise. He gives us a new song, our own song of how God has helped us, saved us, and brought us out of the pit of despair and confusion. We are no longer hopeless. God has given us hope. He has given us a new direction. He strengthens us to do His will. His word enters our hearts and sanctifies us, removing the old and bringing in the new.
Hopelessness turns into a bright future because God is now leading us in His plan. Through the grace of God, our lives are no longer empty. He has become our eternal hope. We know He is near and He will never fail. Like David, we have a testimony. Others will see the goodness of God that He has brought into our lives. They will see His deliverance and they will be amazed. Others will then put their trust in Almighty God.
We have a deliverer today. His name is Jesus. Jesus came to rescue us. No matter what problem we face, no matter how desperate we may feel, no matter how impossible the situation may seem, Jesus is just a cry away.
My friend, if you are in despair, let me assure you, you can call on Him and He will answer. He will show you a way out. He will provide a way of escape and bring you to solid ground. He will steady your life and meet your every need. As you trust Him and walk with Him, He will bring you out of the mud and mire of your life.
Jesus came into the world to save us. He died upon the cross to save us. He took our place. He became sin’s sacrifice. Three days later He arose from the dead and conquered sin and death. Help begins by putting your full trust in Him. He will forgive you of your sins and give you the gift of eternal life. You must respond in following Him with all of your heart.
Please contact us by clicking one of the buttons below if you desire to follow Jesus, have a question or a prayer request. Someone is waiting to answer you.
You had big dreams for your life. In your dreams you are rich. You are famous. You are loved by everyone. You are happy. You know now your dreams do not always come true. You are not rich. You are not famous. You are not loved by everyone. You are not happy. You owe money to people. You are sick. Now, your hope is gone. You feel that your dreams will never come true.
When you lose hope then you are defeated. You are not happy with your life. You cannot find true joy.
I know the One who will give you hope. He will take your life and love you. He will give you a dream. His dream for you will come true. You must ask Him to be your friend. His name is Jesus Christ.
God the Father wants you to do what He tells you to do. When you do not do what He wants then it is called, “sin.” Sin will lead you to death. God the Father does not want you to die. He sent Jesus Christ, God’s Son, to die in your place. Jesus Christ died so that you will not have to die for your sins. He wants you to love God the Father. Jesus wants you to accept his gift of life. He wants you to give all your heart and mind to serve Him. If you give yourself to Jesus Christ then you will live with God the Father in heaven. Jesus will give you new dreams. Your new dreams will come true. Jesus will give you hope. When you have hope then you are a winner.
Your new hope will give you life. You will feel joy. You will feel loved. You will be happy.
Pray with me if you want to move from no hope to hope.
“Dear Jesus, please forgive me for not obeying you. I give my heart and mind to you. Take control of my life. Please give me new dreams. Please give me new hope. Thank you. ”
Do not despair. Get hope today!
Spiraling into all kinds of trouble after his parents divorced… Ben found himself trapped in drugs and alcohol… At the darkest point in his life, he found hope!
Facing A Debilitating Illness
Facing A Debilitating Illness
10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” 15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
We learn many things about Jesus, His nature, and power as we read through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Because Jesus was God in the flesh, we can say at the same time that we learn from the life of Jesus what God himself is like. Throughout the gospel stories, we see Jesus healing the sick. He had compassion on the afflicted, those tormented by sickness and evil spirits, and he would heal and deliver them. These repeated stories from the Gospels leave us with an undeniable truth, that God in Heaven who revealed himself to man in sending His Son into the world, is a God of compassion whose ultimate desire is to alleviate all pain and suffering on earth (this will happen when Jesus returns and the fullness of God’s Kingdom is revealed here on earth).
This poor woman in our story had suffered for eighteen years. She was crippled. She wanted to walk again. She wanted to be like other people. I am sure that she wanted to be able to take care of herself. She was not only crippled but she was bent over so she could not straighten up. She was in a very difficult and humiliating condition for many years. She wanted to stand up straight and walk again. The story tells us that this was caused by Satan. It was an evil spirit that was attacking her body and holding her in this crippled position. The Bible does not tell us how she found herself in this condition. We don’t know why all this pain came upon her life. All we know was that Satan was doing everything in his power to afflict her and destroy her.
When Jesus comes to us, it is not so important how or why we are in the condition we are in. Jesus comes to us in compassion and in His grace, He comes to heal us and deliver us. He is full of compassion and He passes our way with the purpose of setting us free. If we are bound by the Devil, when we meet Jesus and call on His name, He is there with all the power of heaven to heal us and deliver us. If we are sick, Jesus is there to heal our broken bodies. If we are bound by some other mental affliction or physical addiction, Jesus comes to set us free.
Jesus said, “Woman you are set free from your infirmity.” Jesus comes to set us free. He comes to make us whole. He brought the Kingdom of God to earth to reveal to us what it is like to submit to the rule of God. He was showing to us what is like when we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts. When we submit to the rule of Jesus over our lives, we enter the Kingdom of God and by faith, we experience the blessing of being in that Kingdom. In His Kingdom there is liberty. This is why Jesus told this woman that she is free from her infirmity. This is why Jesus wants to speak freedom into your life.
Let me encourage you today. If the Devil has afflicted you, God’s Son can set you free. His Kingdom’s power is available to heal and deliver. The name of Jesus is powerful. He wants to straighten out your life. He wants to give you a life that honors God. The Bible says, “Then He put His hands on her, immediately she straightened up and praised God.” Jesus wants to lay His healing hands upon your life and make you well in body, mind, and soul. He wants to hear your praises of thanksgiving for all that He has done for you.
I don’t know what has you bound. Your life may be in such disarray that you are like this woman, bent over with the cares and afflictions of life. Maybe this has gone on for a long time. The Devil has you bound. You may wonder if there is any hope. Let Jesus lay His hands upon you. His hands are healing hands. His power will touch you and flow into you and make you whole. His power and grace will touch you and make you free.
The Bible tells us that we are all cripples. We all have been bound by the sins we have committed. The Bible places us all in the same condition. Because of our sin, we are all living in spiritual death being separated from God our Creator. The Bible tells us: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NIV).
We all have sinned and have experienced the payment of sin. Sin brings heartache and misery into our lives. But Jesus came to save us. He came to give us the gift of eternal life. He died on the cross for our sins. He took our place so that we can be forgiven. Three days later He arose from the dead and conquered sin and death. He wants to set us free from our sins and make us whole.
If you are sick in body let Jesus lay His hands on you. If you are bound by an addiction Jesus’ healing hands can set you free. If you now realize that you are a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness, ask Him to forgive you. The Bible says to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and we shall be saved. You must put all your trust in Him as your Savior and Lord. When He sets you free, you must then begin to follow Him with all of your heart.
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Christian response to suffering and sickness
Have you ever wondered how someone first becomes interested in Jesus?
It might be that God suddenly appears to them in a vision. It might be that they see a Bible on a table and just start reading. More often than not, they will observe how Christians navigate through life. If they like what they see, they will respond positively when they hear the Gospel. If not, we may never be able to overcome our actions with mere words! So how can we live in a way that will attract others to follow Christ? Paul wrote about this in Colossians 3: 12-17:
“As holy people whom God has chosen and loved, be sympathetic, kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Put up with each other, and forgive each other if anyone has a complaint. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Above all, be loving. This ties everything together perfectly. Also, let Christ’s peace control you. God has called you into this peace by bringing you into one body. Be thankful. Let Christ’s word with all its wisdom and richness live in you. Use psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to teach and instruct yourselves about God’s kindness. Sing to God in your hearts. Everything you say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Paul reminds us that we belong to a holy God and that we should live holy lives. Paul describes holy living as a series of positive actions that relate to how we treat others. He describes holy believers as those who are sympathetic, kind, humble, gentle and patient.
What a challenge for us! It might be hard to see yourself as someone who practices these qualities, but God is willing and able to change even the hardest heart. His challenge is pretty simple, “Put up with each other.”
Since Jesus is the one who calls us together, he knows that we will eventually rub each other the wrong way. That’s why Paul goes on to say, “Forgive each other if anyone has a complaint.” Most people don’t mind forgiving someone else if that person suddenly chooses to measure up to our expectations, but how often does that happen? Paul does not say to forgive when we feel like it; he says to forgive because we know that we are forgiven.
If we’re living for Christ, we will extend love, not withhold it. We’ll learn to let Christ’s peace control us. We’ll learn to live thankful lives, knowing that grace not effort brought us forgiveness.
So, how can we make sure these things begin to happen in our lives?Paul tells us to begin with thankfulness.
Salvation is the greatest gift anyone can possess. If you’ve received Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have reason to be thankful. Your future with God is secured by the love that held Christ to the Cross and protected by the power that raised Him from the dead! That should be reason enough to shout thanks to God!
Next Paul tells us that we should “let Christ’s word with all its wisdom and richness live in you.” As believers, we have the wonderful privilege of reading Christ’s Word and putting His teachings into practice. Reading the Bible brings great rewards because His word transforms us as we grasp the extent of Jesus’ love.
Paul also recommends that we use Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to bring us into God’s presence. Because God’s word is inspired, scriptural songs resonate with our souls and lift our spirits. Few things can impact those around us as much as a heart-felt song of thanksgiving and few things can lift us above our own concerns faster than a song of praise.
Paul closes this thought by challenging us to do everything we do in the name of the Lord Jesus. How many things that we do on a regular basis would change just by making this a conscious decision? Many believers struggle with priorities because they do things for themselves and not for God. Doing everything in Jesus’ name can help us check our motives and even stop certain behaviors that displease God.
When Christians live as God intends our lives become powerful witnesses for Jesus Christ to those who need Him most. That’s important, because few people will ever find Christ on the strength of words alone. Our actions attract people to Jesus. That’s why it is important for us to understand that it’s really not about us, it’s about Christ!
Three Ways to Thrive at Home During the Pandemic
Three Ways to Thrive at Home During the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has upturned our world in ways we have never experienced. We are encouraged strongly to wash our hands, do not touch our faces, and to remain indoors. We each can, and must, do our part to ensure the safety of others.
The question we each face in our self-quarantine is how do we not just survive, but how do we thrive in the midst of a pandemic? Can we work from home? Can our children survive being sequestered at home with parents and siblings without doing permanent damage to their relationships? We all love the Internet and our personal devices but we are learning that we cannot live by tech alone.
So, what do we do?
Let’s narrow this down so that we can be more focused. As believers, what do we do?
I suggest that there are three ways to thrive at home during a pandemic. Now, they may seem obvious to you as you read this. But, are you living these three calls to action?The first way to thrive at home during a pandemic is to get into the presence of God.
While some are worried if their financial nest egg will survive the rollercoaster called the Stock Market, others are trying to find work just to put food on the table. Who knew that we would be reduced to surveilling the grocery store for toilet paper? All of this adds up to fear, anxiety, and paralysis of the heart and soul. The antidote is to get into the presence of God.
The avenue to get into the presence of God begins with truth. Here are three truths that you can believe, especially in these times:God did not give you a spirit of fear. Your anxiety and fear are not from God and therefore you can reject them. Throw them off. But, replace them with the truth of II Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (KJV). God enables you to act in the strength of a relationship with Him. Our love for Him and to serve others motivates us to act and think rightly in times of crisis. He brings stability to our lives by giving us a sound mind, self-discipline, and self-control. We are not held hostage to our fears nor are we to be tossed on the waves of emotional instability. We can thrive in His power, His love, and with a sound mind.God is in control. He was not caught unaware nor unprepared by COVID-19. Daniel 2:12 states, “It is he who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.” We read 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.” What a powerful and comforting truth!God will journey with you. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go,” (Joshua 1:9, NIV). When we walk with God and obey Him then we are ensured of His constant presence. Recite the words of the apostle Paul as your declaration, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (NIV). In the moments of victory, God is there. In the seasons of seeming defeat, God is there. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4, NIV).
So, if God will journey with you then you must determine that you will journey with Him! Jesus said,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
When we enter into the presence of God, our outlook on life changes! When we center our heart’s affections and our mind’s attention on Him, then we experience a reset, a realignment. We throw off the fears of our surrounding circumstances and find comfort and rest in focusing on God. In His presence, there is reason, order, joy, peace, healing, comfort, and stability. In fact, the more time we spend in His presence, the more we will become like Him in character. When we journey with God, our character is transformed to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
So, our action point is that we must get into the presence of God! Determine to select a specific time to be alone, shut off all the noise around you, and focus on the Lord. Here are some ways to make this your reality:Read God’s Word, the Bible. Seriously, read the Word! Fill your heart and mind with Truth. When was the last time you read an entire book of the Bible like you do a novel? For example, reading the book of Matthew will not take you a long time plus it will feed your soul as you input God’s Word into your heart. I guarantee that as you do this, the Lord will speak to you. You will begin to read verses that you never have seen before. He will enlighten you to His truths that you have never considered because you never exited the merry-go-round of life, paused, and gave Him personal time.
Now, when a verse shouts aloud to you, underline it! Write notes in the margins! God’s Word, though priceless in value, is to be a hands-on and interactive experience. Wrestle with God’s Word, meditate on God’s Word, and it will take root in your heart and transform your life. Then, you will experience a deeper level of relationship with Him; as you sit in His presence.Pray! All you must do to get into the presence of God is to talk with Him! The joy is that He will respond and so be ready to listen. And, be ready to do what He says! Philippians 4:6 provides you will a prayer plan, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Your prayer plan includes prayer, petition, and thanksgiving. As you pray, you interact with God as a friend. As you state your petitions, you are providing your requests for Him to answer. As you interact with God, you must do so with thanksgiving for who He is, for what He has done, and for what He will do. No matter how dire your situation and void of hope you may be, there is always an opportunity to thank God. This action alone will usher you into His presence and alter your outlook.
So, do not just talk about prayer, you must actually pray! Some people are event-oriented and so they can just sit and pray. Other people are more structured and need a time limit. If this is you, then set a time when you will pray and then set your alarm for how long you will pray. The point is for you do to whatever it takes to pray!Feed your heart and soul with Truth through various venues. Play worship songs. Music is a time-tested way to get your focus off your circumstances and onto God. Listen to Christian podcasts and videos that feed Truth into your life. Then seek to apply these truths into your daily life. One medium that combines all the above is an online church service. It provides music, preaching, and a call to action at the end.
If you will take the time to get into the presence of God during this pandemic, it will bring a spiritual vibrancy to your life that you have never experienced. Do not just talk about this, do it!The second way to thrive at home during a pandemic is to spend quality time with your spouse and children.
We work hard. We do our morning commute, put in our eight-hours or more at work, and commute home. Consider mealtimes, maybe six hours of sleep, and time to get ready for work, and suddenly there is little time for our spouse or our children.
Take your season at home as an opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones. Talk with them. Go on walks. Play board games or video games with the kids. Go on a family outing.
Many of us are required to work from home and technology empowers us to do so. But even with our continued workload, set apart specific times with family and honor these commitments. The shame will be if you have not leveraged this opportunity to invest in your loved ones when this season ends.
This will happen only when you make plans. What will you do today to encourage your spouse and to make your spouse feel loved? What will you do for your children? Often, the greatest gift that we can give our children is our time; time alone with them. Make your plans and act on them!The third way to thrive at home during a pandemic is to consider ways to bless others.
Our interaction with others is limited due to the call for us to practice, “social distancing.” However, we can be a blessing to others by talking with them, encouraging them, and praying with them. For example, you can pick up the phone and call your parents and grandparents. Ask them how they are doing, get them talking about their lives, and let them know that they are loved.
Take advantage of social media and contact friends, as well. Be that breath of fresh air into their lives
that brings hope and friendship. Isolation knocks the life out of people. So, be that person who seeks others who are alone during this pandemic and let them know that you care.
Maybe you go grocery shopping for a neighbor that is home-bound. Maybe you mow their lawn in the front of their house. Maybe you wash their car. There are many, many opportunities to bless others if only you will take the time to consider what can be done and then do it!
If we focused on the pandemic then we will lose hope. Instead, may we embrace this season as an opportunity to thrive and grow. Lord willing, when this season passes we will look back and mourn our losses but yet remember that the Lord enabled us to grow and make a difference in the lives of others.
You can move from sickness to health
If you are in good health then you can be happy. If you are sick then you feel bad. When we feel bad our body hurts.
No one likes to be sick. No one can be healthy all the time.
You cannot stop all sickness. You can do things to not get sick. One way to be healthy is to stop doing things that make you sick.
The Bible is God’s word. The Bible says that you will reap what you sow. This means that if you plant corn then you will harvest corn. If you do things that will make you sick then you will get sick. Many people work too much. Many people do not get enough sleep. Many people do not take the right medicine to stay healthy
If you do not take good care of your body then your body will get sick. If you do take good care of your body then you will stop many sicknesses. You must eat good food. You must get good sleep.
The Bible tells us to rest one day a week. You must rest your body. You must worship God that day. This will rest your heart and mind.
The second way to be healthy is to see a doctor. Doctors are trained to help you when you are sick. They can give you good medicine. They can tell you what to do to be healthy. You must visit a doctor.
The third way to be healthy is to talk to Jesus. Jesus is the best doctor. Jesus can heal your body. He can take away your sickness. He can make you healthy. Jesus is the son of God. He can heal you today. He can heal you later.
Jesus will heal your body. Jesus will heal your heart. Jesus will give you a new start in life.
You must ask Jesus to heal you. He will listen to you. He will help you when you are sick. If you ask Jesus to heal you then he will come heal all of you.
If you give Jesus control of your heart and mind he will give you the gift of life in heaven. Jesus will be with you when you are sick.
Ask him to heal you. Ask him to heal your heart and mind. He will give you a new life. He will heal all of you.
You can move from sickness to health. You must stop doing the things that make you sick. You must see a doctor. You must ask Jesus to heal you.
Please pray with me if you want to move from sickness to health.
Here is what you can do now. Please press the yes button on this screen. Someone will answer you soon. Please click the other button if you still have questions.
Jesus loves you
Rediscovering Your Worth
Rediscovering Your Worth
Nearly everyone feels insignificant at one time or another. You may be great on the football field and terrible in a chemistry lab. Maybe you are the star of the show with one group and totally ignored in another. Insignificance has more to do with how we feel about ourselves than our real value as people.
It is easy to feel totally worthless when people ignore us. It’s hard to stand up and be counted when we feel alone against the crowd. So, where can you discover your true value?
Feeling insignificant really hurts but regardless of our feelings, we do have real value. We are made in God’s image; created for great things! Life chips away at our souls, but God sees us as priceless. So much so, that God sent His only Son into our world to take away our pain and offer us a new start.
Jesus Christ sees you as an incredibly valuable person. He sees past your hurt and pain and recognizes that you have real worth. Better still, He is ready to take away the mess your life has become and offer you healing and forgiveness for whatever wrong things you have done. Instead of feeling insignificant, you can feel treasured by God. You can know the joy of belonging.
“You can feel treasured by God”
When we receive God’s gift of forgiveness, we discover that we were chosen, hand selected by God for a relationship with Jesus Christ that will never end. It leads us to a whole new way of living where we are valued and value others. Instead of feeling invisible in the crowd, we understand that God sees us and our needs every moment of every day.
If you are tired of feeling insignificant, if you are tired of feeling invisible in a crowd, it is time to receive Jesus’ offer of new life.It begins with a simple prayer like this:
“Dear Jesus, I am sorry for the wrong things I have done. I am tired of feeling insignificant. I want to have a relationship with you. Please become the Lord of my life. Thank you for seeing the value in me and help me to see myself through Your eyes. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen!”
If you prayed that prayer, please click the button that says: “Yes, I prayed.” We would love to know more about your story.
What Brings True Significance?
What Brings True Significance?
As we move through life, we often feel that life is empty and that there must be more to life than meets the eye. There is a hope within us that there is more to our lives than simply going through the different events of life. Something inside tells us that we are more than the sum of our experiences. The truth is that we can only find meaning in allowing our Creator to have the central place in our hearts and lives.
There is a story in the Bible where we read of a man who, like many of us, was seeking the meaning of life. The Bible says, “As Jesus started on His way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Mark 10:17, New International Version
This man’s question revealed two things:
1. He thought eternal life was something to be obtained by doing something.
2. He was not sure about his future after-life destiny.
This story reminds us that life only has meaning, and that we can only find true personal significance as our lives are connected to God. God made us to know Him. It is in knowing God and in trusting His Son Jesus Christ that we find life—eternal life. This is the very life of God that satisfies our souls.
Eternal life is a gift that God gives us. We don’t deserve it nor can we earn it. Eternal life is the gift that God gives us when we decide to follow Jesus. The Bible says that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and that three days later He arose from the dead. The Bible also tells us that through Jesus’ death and resurrection our sins can be forgiven, and we can have the free gift of eternal life. As we trust Jesus, God becomes our Heavenly Father.
We are then free to do God’s will as revealed in the Bible. As children of God we desire to honor our Heavenly Father with our lives. This is what brings true significance into our lives.
Your Days are Numbered
In Psalm 90, Moses contrasts the frailty of man and the brevity of life, with the power and the eternity of God. All that leads to this prayer: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom,” (Psalm 90:12, New International Version).
Moses who was learned in all the sciences of the Egyptians (among which arithmetic was one) desired to learn the point of God’s arithmetic of life.
Why? Our days are numbered, so we should number our days.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how important it is for me to be focused on what really matters. As I started one whole year into a new decade, I need to make “the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:16) since I have less of it in front of me.
Someone has said, “The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that you’re the pilot.”
So, if you are the pilot of your time, how are you navigating or managing the time that has been given to you?
In my effort to be more intentional with time and more focused than ever, I am coming to grips with three things.
1. The number of distractions is on the increase.
My phone, iPad, and computer provide non-stop distractions. Add to that all the books, magazines and articles I’d like to read, the motorcycle I like to ride, all the movies I’d love to see; and all the golf I want to play.
My point is that it’s very easy to expend countless hours in pursuits that end up being nothing more than amusement. I am not saying these things are bad or should be entirely avoided—instead, they must be managed.
2. It’s easy to fill my life with the good, but it may not be the best.
Sometimes at the end of the day, I look back and wonder if the way I spent my time was my best investment, or just good.
I realize that not every moment can be the best. Lots of life is simply doing what must be done, and some of that can be pretty mundane. Good, but not best.
In addition, we have considerable discretion about how we spend our time, and it is important to choose the best over the good when we can.
3. As a Christ follower, no matter what season of life you are in, once you name and understand the season you’re in, it’s possible to be fully present there.
You and I don’t have control over the season were are in, but we can control how we live in that season. Whether you are aware of it or not, God has had a major hand in the season that you find yourself in. He has appointed it for a purpose. And we have the responsibility to live rightly in it.
Success in life is based on delighting in the season God sets before us even if the season, by its nature, is not delightful. I am reminded of a quote from Elizabeth Elliot, “God will not protect you from anything that will make you more like Jesus.”
None of us ever writes the last sentence in the book of our lives. That is in the hands of God. God completes our earthly story with his holy benediction and escorts us across the great divide into eternity. So I take comfort in Paul’s expressed words: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 1:6).
Seven Steps to Finding True Love
Seven Steps to Finding True Love
There is probably no topic that has captivated people throughout the centuries and from most every culture than the topic of love. We put a man on the moon, broke the speed of sound, and mapped the human genome, but love remains a complete mystery. Science has not been able to explain it. Mathematics cannot predict it. Poets still wrestle with adequate words to describe it.
It may have been more than two millennia ago, but Plato’s words have never sounded more true, “Every heart sings a song, incomplete.” We are all looking for love. At any given moment, we may be far from it but we never stop hoping the next opportunity is just over on the horizon. We are all looking for true love.
One of our frustrations with love is our complete inability to keep it. Like sand slipping between our fingers, the harder we grasp the faster it seems to fall through. It would be nice if love was as simple as baking a batch of cookies or building a birdhouse for the backyard; a simple set of ingredients, a logical list of steps to take. But we all know the truth; love cannot be manufactured. It cannot be bought or traded. It cannot be forced. It cannot be controlled. It cannot be plotted on a map or broken down into a checklist of to do’s.
But, it is possible to find true love; even unconditional love! Here are seven steps to finding true love:
The famous author, C. S. Lewis, puts it best, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one.” Lewis is right. What makes love so hard, and sometimes painful, is the vulnerability that always seems to accompany it.
“True love goes beyond the passion of romance and even finding a partner for the sake of being married.”
We use the word love to describe a lot of things. We love food. We love music. We love a good joke and we love having a good time. Using love to describe such simple things makes the word seem a little safer. It is safe because we are not exposed. A great cup of coffee cannot reject us. A song from our favorite band does not leave us feeling useless. But when we choose to share our life with another person, we inevitably make a choice to become vulnerable. Unfortunately, vulnerability leaves our defenses down, and often we get hurt.
We all know the feeling: rejection, humiliation, desperation. Opening our hearts to another person, only to be rejected, is one of the most painful experiences in life. It hurts the most because in love we are most vulnerable. It’s worse than physical pain because it shakes us at the core of our identity, our hopes, and our dreams. Love rushes us to the mountain-top, and when lost, sends us careening back to the valley below. We cannot help but feel empty. We cannot help but feel worthless. We cannot help but feel hopeless.
The Bible has a remarkable story about a woman named Leah who discovered that finding true love was difficult. Leah was the daughter of a wealthy and manipulative man named Laban. Leah also had a sister named Rachel, one of the most beautiful women in the whole region. Leah was described as, “weak in the eyes.” We do not know exactly what that phrase means, but it is not hard to guess. Even without the side-by-side comparison to her beautiful sister, Leah was not drawing much attention.
One day, Rachel was herding the sheep when a young man named Jacob came to the well. His journey’s purpose was to find a wife, so it did not take him long to notice beautiful Rachel approaching. He rolled away from the stone over the well and watered the sheep for her. Learning he was her father’s nephew, she ran home to tell Laban the news. Already head-over-heels in love, or call it love-at-first-sight if you wish, Jacob stayed on with Laban. When asked what his wages should be, he immediately asked to marry Rachel. Laban made Jacob an offer. “Work for me, seven years without pay, then I will give you my daughter.”
“What makes love so hard, and sometimes painful, is the vulnerability that always seems to accompany it.”
It is starting to sound like a romantic story for the ages! Jacob was so madly in love that he did not hesitate. Seven years he worked, every day focused on his prize. One day he would finally be able to marry the woman of his dreams, Rachel. The Bible records the event with all of the poetry we would expect from a great love story. “Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.”
After seven years of labor, the wedding day finally arrived. The party must have been massive. When night came, Jacob and his new bride, probably wearing her wedding veil, went into their tent.
The next morning Jacob awoke, the Bible says, “and behold it was Leah!” Jacob had been tricked. Laban had switched his daughters on the wedding night and tricked Jacob into marrying his oldest, Leah. Why? Laban wanted another seven years of free labor before he would allow Jacob to actually marry Rachel. Still madly in love with Rachel, Jacob agrees and works another seven years to marry this younger daughter.
We like the image of Jacob! He was willing to submit himself to over a decade of manual labor as an act of love for Rachel whom he considered to be his soulmate. Like a great Shakespearian tragedy, we want desperately to find that kind of love, too. We want to know that someone would make such a sacrifice for us. This expression of love is the deepest craving of our hearts. But allowing ourselves to be quickly carried off in the ecstasy of the moment misses the real heart of the story for Leah.
Leah had never been able to draw much attention. She had always been a hopeless romantic. But now things were much worse. Leah was married to a man who never for a moment loved her, and manipulated by a father as payment for help around the farm. Leah was not loved by her husband, nor even her father. She was used and discarded. When she was most vulnerable she was rejected.
“Each of us wants to find a way to open up our hearts and lives and know that in that moment of honesty we will be accepted and not rejected.”
What happened next is subtle, but important for us to understand our own struggle with love and rejection. In Leah’s first century world, women cared deeply about building a family, especially having sons, to which they could pass on their family name. A father’s proudest moment was the birth of his first son. Soon after being married, Jacob wanted a son. Leah saw an opportunity! If she could be the first to give Jacob a son, surely then he would love and appreciate her. Leah must have been excited to find out she was pregnant, and even more excited when she gave birth to the family’s first son, Reuben.
Leah believed in her heart that God had blessed her with this son so that now her husband would finally love her. But nothing changed. Leah gave birth to a second son, she named him Simeon.
Again she believed God had seen her rejection. Now, surely her husband would love her. But nothing changed. Leah had a third son, who she named Levi. She honestly hoped that now her husband would care for her and love her. But again, nothing changed.
Leah’s story teaches us that finding true love is difficult. True love goes beyond the passion of romance and even finding a partner for the sake of being married. While romance and having our needs met for provision and security are important, there is more that we must discover.
Leah’s life was controlled by the hope that she could somehow make herself lovable. She was desperate to find a way to earn her husband’s attention. Her broken heart and desperation to be loved, teach us a deeply personal truth about our own search for true love. We inevitably all feel the crushing weight of trying to earn it.
Marketers sell us the idea that if we were just a little bit more attractive, a little thinner, and a little better dressed, then someone would finally take notice and we would feel loved. But we do not. Culture pressures us to set aside our prudish reluctance and instead give-away our bodies; it promises us intimacy leads to love. But it does not.
“Honestly, true love has never really been about romance or passion at all. It is about truth and value. It is about vulnerability and acceptance.”
The harder we try, the more desperate we become to find the magic potion. We believe that with the poison-tipped arrow of Cupid in our hand, we need only hit our target and watch as love and intimacy explodes into a vibrant life of confidence, fulfillment, and passion. But, that is not real life. So, we end up settling for watching it play out in movies and dreaming about it in novels. Our own experience feels more like crawling our way through the dunes of the Sahara Desert, desperate to find an oasis with water. Just when we think we have finally found true love, we are crushed with the reality that it was just a mirage and we have nothing to show for it.
Leah helps us realize that most of what we call love and our search for it, is really a desperate expedition for evidence that we are valuable enough to be loved in the first place. We want to feel like our life is worth something to someone. We are desperate to be known, not just as a body, but as a soul. We want to be vulnerable and in that vulnerability to be accepted. We want to be loved unconditionally.
This is where we find the great struggle of looking for true love. As one author puts it, “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.” Each of us wants to find a way to open up our hearts and lives and know that in that moment of honesty we will be accepted and not rejected.
We all know the risks, so we tend toward pretending. Too nervous to share the truth, we morph into whatever seems most desirable. But that is empty. We know it and we just do not know what else to do. We feel like we have to keep the show going. After all, what is the alternative? If we open up with the whole truth, we face the risk of being ridiculed, rejected, and thrown away.
Honestly, true love has never really been about romance or passion at all. It is about truth and value. It is about vulnerability and acceptance. It is about wholeness and finding peace. It is about discovering a foundation on which we can build our lives and on which we can place our hope and confidence. It is about feeling like we are worth something. It is about sharing vulnerability and in the midst of it, feeling loved unconditionally.
Let me tell you a secret that you probably know already but are not willing to admit. Unconditional love, the kind that pours meaning and significance into your life, is hard to find in another human being because we are all too self-interested and too self-motivated. Our hearts are bent toward protecting and promoting ourselves. It is not hard to see! We live in a culture that constantly measures every relationship by what we get out of it. We stay married only as long as it is benefiting us. We commit to a relationship only until something better comes along. The success of our relationships is measured by our need for love is being met, instead of seeking to meet the need for true love in others.
The Bible speaks clearly to this fact. It calls our bent toward self-interest sin, and it was neither the way humanity nor the world was created originally. Adam and Eve were the first to experience love and it was much deeper than what we call love today. Adam and Eve’s relationship was perfectly woven together with one another, with God, and with the enjoyment of creation around them. There was no self-interest. Instead, their whole lives were shaped by caring for each other, caring for the world around them, and thanking God for the experience. Neither Adam nor Eve ever felt a moment of fear, rejection, or failure.
“You will never find or experience the true love you are looking for in this world alone.”
If you are familiar with the Bible’s story of the first sin, you will remember it involved a simple proposition. Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat from one tree in the Garden of Eden. As Eve passed by, a serpent whispered a temptation. “Eve, if you eat of this fruit you will be like God.” It is strange that the serpent did not tempt Eve with how delicious the fruit looked. The real temptation had nothing to do with appearance. Instead, the Serpent did something more subversive. He offered Eve a thought about herself. Eve asked herself a question she had never wondered before, “What’s in it for me?”
This moment of self-discovery came with massive consequences. Eve ate the fruit and passed it on to her husband who ate it as well. This act of disobeying God led Adam and Eve to the startling realization they had been naked this whole time. It is as if they had been so enjoying one another, and the world around them so much, that they never thought to look down at themselves. For the first time, they felt vulnerable and ashamed. They made clothes to cover and protect themselves.
God discussed their disobedience with them because He knew that all of their relationships were falling apart as a result of their self-interest. Eve blamed the serpent for tempting her. Adam blamed Eve for giving him the fruit and then even went so far as to blame God for giving him Eve in the first place! Neither one wanted to take the blame but was concerned only for their self-interest. It is starting to look more like the world with which we are familiar!
The consequences of disobeying God were the loss of relationships. Adam and Eve would never be allowed back into the perfect garden world. They lost everything. We know their new world of self-interest and self-protection because we carry with us the same sin-bent reality. We long for real love because we were created to love and be loved unconditionally. This is probably the most important point in this entire article. You will never find or experience the true love you are looking for in this world alone. Each of us and the world around us is too soaked in sin. The great news is that there is One who is the very definition of Love and you can be in relationship with Him!
Let us return to Leah’s story for a moment. Leah was caught up in the struggle to earn her husband’s love. Three sons later, she was still clinging to the hope that one day he would wake up and start to appreciate her. She kept waiting and waiting. Eventually, Leah gave birth to another son, her fourth. Leah named him Judah and announced, “Now I will praise God.” Judah’s name means something special. It means to praise or be thankful to God. But, how could she praise God when her outward circumstances had not changed? Jacob did not rush home with a bouquet of roses and an apology card. Leah was no more loved now than she had ever been. But somehow, she was now worshiping and thanking God.
With the birth of her fourth son, Leah had a life-altering realization. She realized that while her husband refused to love her, God was present in her life! God had noticed every pain, every sorrow, every moment of rejection she had ever experienced and he was pouring blessing into her life. God loved her unconditionally!
You need to realize something important, as well. You may feel completely neglected and empty, but God is paying attention to you. You would not be reading this if that was not true. Right now, the God of the whole universe is trying to show you, there is a greater love and acceptance being offered to you than you ever thought existed. That love is God’s love. He loves you unconditionally.
Leah did not realize it at the time, but Leah, and her son Judah, were ancestors of a man named Jesus. This is the Jesus, whom Christians worship and who the entire Bible anticipated. It is a fitting end to the story because no one would ever offer greater hope and love than Jesus. He would offer exactly what Leah was trying desperately to find.
The Bible tells that Jesus was not merely a man, but the son of God Himself, who came to earth.
“Jesus knows better than anyone who you are; the good and the bad. He knows, because He took your place. He has already paid the price for your sins, and He did it before you ever paid a moment of attention to Him.”
He did so because God was not content to leave us in hopeless despair and rejection, stumbling our way through life trying to manufacture the love that had been lost all the way back in the Garden of Eden. Even though our own selfish hearts had blinded us from God’s love, God was determined to lead us back to it.
Jesus knew all too well this pain of rejection. He was rejected at times by His best friends, His own family, and in the end, by the world around him. Jesus lived a perfect life, never out of self-interest but always doing the will of God the Father, and offering Himself to serve and help those around Him. But no one recognized what He was doing.
They saw it as weakness and sentenced Jesus to death, and crucified Him. Jesus satisfied God’s justice, but was not rejected by God–or there would have been no resurrection!
Our rebellion and self-preference is disobedience to God, and that keeps us from a relationship with Him. We are not interested in His plan, we want our dreams to come true. So we reject Him and chart our own course. We ignore His instructions and believe whatever feels right to us. We turn down His love and try to replace it with romance and passion because it makes us feel good temporarily. This is the most remarkable part of the Gospel. God did not wait for us to call out to Him for help or love.
He blessed Leah even when she was caught up in trying to earn love for herself. God does not wait for you either. He chose to act on your behalf while you were still lost in your sinful and selfish ambitions. God took all of the punishment, that your disinterest and rebellion deserved, and He poured it out on Jesus, His only son. Jesus stepped into your place and accepted the punishment because He loves you.
The real struggle for love is our desire to be fully known, and yet fully accepted. When you hear the phrase, “Jesus loves you,” this is not a Christian cliché, but rather the truth of unconditional love. Jesus knows better than anyone who you are; the good and the bad. He knows every secret, every pain, every sin, and every wrong. He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows because He took your place. He has already paid the price for your sins, and He did it before you ever paid a moment of attention to Him.
Do you realize what that means? In Jesus, you are fully known and still fully accepted. Jesus is under no allusions. He knows exactly who you are. His love is not something you earned or deserved, yet here He is offering it to you. No one knows you better, and no one could possibly love you more. He gave his life for you. And now, He is willing to take the journey with you, from where you are, to where you need to be in Him; so that you can experience true love.
The good news of what Jesus has done for you is not just salvation from a coming apocalyptic destruction but accepting Jesus’ love, will begin to transform and fill your life with purpose, strength, and value. Like Leah, you will be amazed at the realization that you have discovered true love! You can thrive in the amazing joy of worshipping Him with a thankful and pure heart regardless of what is going on around you.
Your value and your identity are secured for all eternity with Jesus, who loves you so passionately that He gave His own life. When you understand that truth, it transforms the way you think about love. No longer is love solely a romantic relationship that meets your desperate need to find significance and value. You are able to approach every new relationship, already possessing a full grasp of your significance. Living in God’s love and following Him places you in a position of strength for you know, to whom you belong and who you are. You do not need love to prove your self-worth or value. God is yours and you are His.
“Your value and your identity is secured for all eternity with Jesus, who loves you so passionately that He gave His own life.”
Understanding God’s love fills you with the stability and confidence to face any rejection or loss, and to know, no matter how much it hurts, your identity and value can never be shaken. You are secure in God! Without the need to use another’s love, to salvage your self-worth, you can finally start to enjoy and appreciate all of the people and experiences that surround you every day. You can enjoy your life and your relationships the way God that intended.
Learning to live and grow in the love of God can be a process, as you throw off the old nature and ways of thinking, and put on God’s love and right way of living. The world around us is constantly trying to challenge you and to pull you back. But, every single day, Jesus continues to express His love as an alternative. All that is left is for you to make a choice.
Are you ready to make a life-changing decision to follow true love?
You Can Love and Be Loved
You Can Love and Be Loved
You want to love others. You want people to love you. You want people to love you when you say and do good. You want people to love you when you say and do bad things. You want to know that you will be loved at all times. This is good.
You must love others in the same way. If you love others only when they do good to you then this is not true love. You want others to love you when you do bad things. You must love others when they do bad things. This is what we call loving someone at all times.
There is only one person who loves you at all times. His name is Jesus. God the Father wants you to obey Him at all times. You know that you did not obey God the Father. This is called sin. You sin when you do not obey God. If you sin then you should die. You shamed God the Father. God the Father does not want you to die. He gave His son, Jesus Christ to die for you. Jesus loves you so much He died for your sin. You will not die now for your sin. Jesus died for you.
Jesus loves you at all times. He loves you when you are good. He loves you when you are bad. Jesus loved you first. He wants you to love Him. He wants you to love Him with all your heart. He wants you to love Him with all your mind. He wants you to love Him with all your strength.
Jesus will not say bad things about you. He will not make you feel bad. He will give you love. His love will make you feel good.
You can move from no love to love. You must ask Jesus to take away your sin. You must obey Jesus at all times. If you obey Jesus then you will feel God’s love.Pray with me if you want to move from no love to love.
Dear Jesus, I want to love you. I want you to love me. Please forgive me of my sins. I give my heart and mind to you. Thank you.
Here is what you can do now. Please click the “Yes, I Prayed” button on this screen. Someone will answer you soon. Please click the other button if you have questions.
David’s family was torn apart because it didn’t have the love it needed… His aunt and uncle showed him unconditional love… Reading his Bible, David realized God loved him too, so much that Jesus died on the cross for him.
Comfort for an Agitated Heart
Comfort for an Agitated Heart
The founder of a successful manufacturing company was in the process of succession planning and was grooming his son to take over the business. One day, as he was walking through the factory, he saw his son angrily acting out toward some employees. His son’s actions caused him concern.
The father returned to his office and called his son to come see him. When his son arrived, he said the following: “David,” he began, “I wear two hats around here. I am the boss, and I am your father. Right now I am going to put my boss hat on. You’re fired. You are done here. I will not have that kind of behavior in my company…”
Then he said, “Now I’m going to put on my father hat.” After a moment’s pause he continued, “Son, I heard you just lost your job. How can I help you?”
Like the father in this story, Jesus was hard on the issues and soft on the person.
Jesus had invested three plus years in his closest followers and just before his arrest, he tells them truths that confront their false confidence. He tells them that one of them will betray him and Peter will deny him before morning. They are troubled to the point of agitation.
Wait for it… just at the right time, Jesus says, “Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me,” (John 14:1, The Message).Lesson
Jesus allows the right kind of pressure in our lives to bring us to a place of trusting him for the life he wants us to experience.
What issues are you ignoring?How are you handling the pressure?How might you deal with the pressures more productively?What and who are you trusting?
I was raised to avoid the word “hate.” I could use the words “dislike” or “detest.” So my language sounded a lot like Dr. Seuss in his classic, Green Eggs and Ham. “I do not like them Sam-I-am.”
Eventually, the day arrived when I read Romans 12:9 and could no longer avoid the “H” word.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good,”
– Romans 12:9, New International Version
Many, many years ago the Beatles sang, “All You Need is Love.” I’m not quite sure what they meant by that. Whatever the case is, I have this sneaking suspicion what they meant love to be in their song was not what the Apostle Paul meant in his letter.
The Apostle Paul doesn’t leave you guessing here. In fact, his rapid-fire exhortations could be very aptly designated as Paul’s description of what love is and what it isn’t.
Within Paul’s 3 short commands he describes real love. Real love both hates and clings.
Hate What is Evil
It may seem odd at first to read the phrase, “hate what is evil” in the context of sincere love. However, it does make perfect sense. Remember, love seeks the highest good and serves the best interest of others. Evil, conversely, is destructive.
In my 30 plus years of ministry, I have witnessed much devastation brought about by the impact of evil. I hate the things that bring devastation to people’s lives. The pain seldom hurts only one person. Evil hurts people directly and evil also hurts those around them indirectly. Evil obscures God’s beautiful plan for abundant life.
We must pause and understand that as Christ followers, we are not to hate people. When Paul says “hate what is evil,” he means “to shudder with horror.” He is more than suggesting we run in the opposite direction from evil. We are not just to run from evil but run to what is good and cling to it. This is what genuine love does. Love both “hates” and “clings.”
Someone once said, “The person who cannot be angry at evil lacks enthusiasm for good.”
Cling to What is Good
I understand “cling” in two ways: Static cling (especially in the winter) and plastic wrap. “Cling” means to stick like glue or cement. Paul is telling us to take hold of what is good and bind yourself to it.
Solomon gives us a picture of what this looks like. “…when I found the one my heart loves, I held him and would not let him go,” Song of Solomon 3:4 (NIV).
What is “good?”
In Romans 12:2 Paul presents the path to “good.” “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
In essence, Paul says, “good” is one way of describing the will of God.
There is good and evil in the world. Ask: What is good? Cling to it and do it. That is the way of sincere love. In other words, clinging to what is good is walking in the will of God.
Love must be sincere.
There are people who are great actors. They are the best in the world at pretending to be someone they are not in real life. It’s amazing the amount of money and fame they achieve. Really good actors and actresses can play different roles. In each role, they are so convincing you believe them–they are that good!
Paul said love must be without hypocrisy; without pretending. Don’t pretend to love. It will eventually be evident if you really love or if you’re just pretending.
Be a lover, not a pretender.