I don’t usually put a post up that isn’t previously planned, but I thought today of all days, we needed some “real hope for real life.”
As I watched the news unfold about the attacks in Paris, I felt my heart crumble. Tears instantly flooded my eyes. I was sad, but I was also filled with fear. How can one not be scared when such horrible things happen and they are completely out of our control?
I instantly began to seek help through God’s Word. I thought I want to find that verse that says something like ~ “In this world we will have trouble but take heart, I have overcome the world.” As soon as I thought about that verse, the word John 14:27 popped into my head. I figured that must be where that verse is. So I turned to John 14:27. To my surprise, it wasn’t the verse about in this world we will have trouble. It said this:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Thank you Jesus, I needed that one too.
Y’all, I’m not going to try to spiritually coat this post with all positivity & cheer about how God will take care of it and we don’t need to worry. Although true, I also have to be honest. I’m scared. I have tears of sadness and fear as I type. So you know what we do in situations like this? As Lysa TerKeurst has told me many times, we need to “boss our feelings around.”
We might be fearful, but we don’t have to be ruled by fear. So, as your friend and leader in this OBS study, I want to offer you some encouragement and REAL HOPE amidst all that’s going on in the world.
The best way I know to do that is through the sharing of God’s Word and prayer.
Let’s unite to #PrayForParis, for France & our world.
Thank you @SJMCalligraphy for this beautiful graphic.
Philippians 4:6-7 tell us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s hang on to that today. Are you with me? It’s OK to be afraid and sad, but we don’t want to stay there. Instead, turn to Jesus and allow His peace to take over. And don’t let it stop there, point others to this hope as well.”
I’m not entirely convinced that running is that good for you. Too many ‘things’ that wiggle, jiggle, flap and bounce.
Walking, though, is a good thing.
But walking is a funny thing, too.
I’ve been walking in a quest to be healthier. It’s funny how I now notice other people walking. Kinda like the red car theory – you tell people not to think about red cars and suddenly, they’re every where. But not really; they were always there. You just begin to notice them more. Same thing if you buy a red car. Suddenly it seems you see red cars at every turn.
Back to this walking thing. Some people are what we call pigeon-toed. (The correct term is in-toeing.) Others are slew-footed (a terrible term we used as children, but the correct term is out-toeing.) Still others walk with limps, skips and hops. My neighbor takes three steps, stops, stands and takes three more. He moves very slowly, but I applaud his continuous effort.
As Christians we are called to walk, not to run. As a matter of fact, we read in Ecclesiastes 9:11 that the race is not to the swift. But we read also in Colossians 1:10 that we are to walk worthy of the Lord.
That latter Scripture is one that I’ve been pondering.
What does that look like – walking worthy? The Scripture continues and says we not only are to walk worthy, but to please Him in all respects. It is that simple three letter word “all” that gave me the most insight. First, let’s get it clear that we can never earn God’s love and this Scripture is not about us trying to walk in a way that earns us anything or in a way that proves that we are worth or deserving of anything. It also does not mean that we walk so that God becomes obligated to acknowledge us or that God is somehow enriched because of us – in the same way that a skilled surgeon is “worth” a lot to a hospital or a knowledgeable leader is “worth” a lot to a school.
Remember that the Scripture not only said to walk worthy of the Lord but to walk to please Him in all respects. Hebrews 11:6 teaches us that without faith it is impossible to please Him. Consider these Scriptures together, and walking worthy means to walk – act, behave, exist in a way that shows how worthy and gracious our God is. Walking worthy means walking by faith.
Let’s go a little further.
Walking is, for most of us, an everyday act. Whether walking to work, walking in our yard or walking around our house. And because it is such a common act, I believe Colossians is telling us that in all our acts, all our doing, all our being, all our thinking, all our speaking, all our choosing…, we are to exhibit our faith in God. This is walking worthy to please in all respects.
If you are not careful, you can struggle with Scriptures such as Colossians 1:10, so let’s talk about what walking worthy does not mean. It doesn’t mean walking perfectly. As we walk worthy, in faith we walk in step with the Lord and in the shadow of His grace remembering that He alone is worthy.
The walking that I’ve been doing to better my health is not for the faint of heart. My friend and I walk miles – one, two, three. We’ve not made a continuous four mile walk yet, though I know that some days we have walked that and more in totality of steps. We’ve walked in the hot summer heat and humidity. We’ve walked in the rain. We’ve walked mornings and evenings. It’s not always fun, but it is for our good.
Walking worthy is not for the faint of heart but it, too, is for our good. The really good news is that we do not walk alone. God has sent His Holy Spirit to be our Helper and to walk along side us (John 14:26). The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave enables us and equips us to walk worthy of His call.
Finally, understand that just as our human gaits are different – remember in-toeing, out-toeing – so our Christian walks may appear different. Do not compare your walk to another’s. Colossians 2:6 says, “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk with Him.” I believe that Scripture tells us two things: (1) “As you have received” meaning, “Now that you have received,” you are to walk with the Lord, but also (2) “As you have received” meaning “The unique gift He has given you guides you” as you walk with the Lord. The latter I read much as I read Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:4 that we, as Christians, are given different gifts. We are given different walks, but all are walks of faith and all are to walk pleasing to the Lord.
How’s your walk?
THIS WEEK reflect on your personal walk. Are you walking worthy? Just as you need to prepare for a physical walk (proper shoes, right outfit, water…), you must prepare to walk worthy to please the Lord in all respects. The first preparation is a surrendered heart and relationship with Jesus Christ. If you do not know Christ as your personal Savior, visit the Salvation page (tab at the top of this page). Pray to receive Christ as ruler of your Life, and He will send His Holy Spirit to walk along side you.
If you are saved, reflect to determine if anything is hindering your walk. We choose walking paths that are smooth and obstacle free. Nothing like a twisted ankle because you stepped on an uneven surface, rock or twig. There an be obstacles in our spiritual walks, too, and sometimes we place them; sometimes we embrace them – addiction to television, busyness, overextending ourselves, video games… Identify and address your obstacles.
Lastly, reflect on the uniqueness of your walk. Are you trying to walk in someone else’s shoes? Trying to be like your pastor? Trying to be like a television evangelist? Trying to be like someone you have deemed great? Walk the way and in the way that God’s Holy Spirit calls and leads you. If you are not sure of or do not understand your walk, pray and ask God to reveal His will for you.
Summer, one of my favorite seasons, is almost here! Already it is hot enough to be summer; today the temperature climbed into the upper 80s, but that’s a good thing because I like to stretch summer out as long as possible. When the hot days come early and linger well past the official end date on the calendar, I consider ALL those days SUMMER. But even when I do that – milk out a few extra days or weeks, summer is still just too short. Always, it seems, I am left wondering, “What happened? Where did it go? I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to!” For example, last year, we never made it to the ocean. Not even once.
This summer will be different, or so I have promised myself. I am making plans – plans that include time at the ocean, time walking on the beach, time sailing, time fishing, time watching the dolphins, time eating freshly caught seafood and time hot air ballooning! Yes, summer seems to come and go in a flash, but I have a plan to milk everything out of it that I can.
Life comes and goes in a flash, too! Never thought I would say that. Remember being a child and waiting for your birthday? Or Christmas? Or recess? Or the last day of school? Time drug. Time crawled. Time slept. My mother used to tell me to just wait, though. She said, “When you get older, time will fly.” “Just get to be 30 years old,” she said, “and you will see the years coming in multiples of five, possibly ten.” She was right. You go to bed one night and you’re 29, but you wake up 40. You roll over for another snooze, and you wake up 50. After 50? Well, I won’t depress you “young’uns,” and those of you who are over 50? Well, you already know.
The funny thing, though, is that we make plans for summer, and for Christmas, and birthdays and even for recess – who we will play with, what games we will play, which boys we want to walk past, which girls we will talk to… But are you making plans for the most important time? Where you will spend eternity! Are you planning to go to Heaven? If you answer, “Yes,” what exactly is your plan? If it isn’t relying on Christ alone, you need another plan. Works, good looks and being nice aren’t enough. John 6:44 (NIV) teaches that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day,” and John 14:6 (NIV) makes it clear that Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through” Him.
Even our best laid plans for the beach may go awry. Life happens. Things come up. Plans have to change. But we can have every confidence in God and the plan that He has laid for our salvation. Instead of trusting our goodness and crossing our fingers and hoping we go to Heaven, we can trust Jesus and His goodness because He alone is God’s way of salvation. When we place absolute faith and trust in Him, turn from our sinful way and follow Him, we know that we will live with Him in Heaven. And not just for a summer. Forever!
Now while some Christians would disagree, as I read and understand the Scriptures especially the teaching of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:8, at death we immediately – in a flash – enter the presence of the Lord. Paul led a life full of danger, and he knew that at any moment his life on earth could end. But he faced death with hope that we can share: “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” He further declared, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23).
One last thought. Summer is always best when shared – with family, friends, special loves. I’m thinking Heaven will be extra special when shared, so don’t just plan on going alone. Plan for others to meet you there.
THIS WEEK share the Gospel (click the tab above to visit our Salvation page) with others – friends, family members, absolute strangers! Let’s plan for a heavenly crowd!
For weeks I have been partnering with a dear friend, several fellow church members and a hurting mother in prayer for her son. I don’t know the details just that he became suddenly ill and was airlifted to a hospital far away. Regularly mom has texted updates; occasionally we have spoken by telephone, continually we have prayed.
We have prayed fervently. We have prayed specifically. We have prayed the promises of the Scriptures. We have prayed in our hearts and aloud; standing, sitting and on bended knee. We have prayed believing.
This evening mom texted an update that was not good. And for a brief flash of a moment, I questioned all that praying and all those prayers. Doesn’t God see us? Didn’t God hear us? Why this response?
Likely you know instances where prayers for healing were offered and you did not witness healing. Sometimes it even appears that the opposite happens – the condition worsens. Perhaps you’ve had your own questions. If you’ve experienced this, I suspect one of your questions might have been “Why?” followed by “Why bother? Why bother to pray for healing?”
We pray for healing because our Heavenly Father wants us to be whole – in mind, spirit and body. Whenever and wherever there is sickness, there is an opportunity for God to display His glory. He will heal. The struggle comes for us because God does not always move in our timing or in ways that we have imagined. Whatever the illness, we have an image in our minds of what the healing will look like. We also have an idea about when the healing should occur with our thoughts typically being, “No time like right now, God!” We believe that if we believe, we pray and there should be an immediate response and that response should look like just what we asked for. Instead of “Thy will be done,” we are, in truth, thinking more along the lines of “My will be done!”
Sometimes we fault ourselves when prayer appears to go unanswered. The Scriptures instruct us, “Ask, and it will be given unto you” (Matthew 7:7). If we do not receive what we expect, we sometimes assume we have asked incorrectly. Perhaps we did not pray long enough or hard enough or using the right words. Surely we ought always to examine our hearts for doubt and unbelief any time God answers “No” to our prayers. We should ask Him to search our hearts and to reveal any areas of sin or any doubt that we might harbor – knowingly or unknowingly – and to help us deal appropriately with it; then we should continue to pray because not only is praying for healing a privilege, we are instructed to do so (Acts 20:28, James 5:13-20). We are to pray with fervor and boldness. We are to pray believing (John 14:14, Mark 9:23, Jeremiah 33:3, 1 John 5:14-15). Sometimes we worry that if God doesn’t respond just as we have requested, it will appear as failure on our part. But our job as believers is to take a hurting person’s needs to the Lord, to intercede on their behalf and to trust God. He will choose when and how to respond.
The truth that I know for sure is that some of the blessings Jesus purchased through His suffering on the cross will not be fully realized until we are in His presence one day. Sometimes this includes healing. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Those who come to God must believe that God is.” That means that we not only believe that He can and will answer our prayers, we also trust His timing and that His response is the right response. Always He will heal. The healing may be immediate; it may be gradual or it may be ultimate – when we see Him face-to-face.
What, then, are we to do? Take a cue from Luke 18:1 (CEB) – “[Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not to turn coward (faint, lose heart, and give up).”
Didn’t God hear us? Yes. And He will answer. He will heal.
NOTE: We are still vacationing, so I am posting while I have Internet access!
~excerpted from The Pattern of Peace by Charles Stanley
“[I]t can sometimes seem as if we are victims of our highly stressful world, but in reality, every Christian can choose to live in peace rather than under a burden of anxiety. If we let apprehension rule our hearts, it will interfere with sleep, disrupt concentration, hinder productivity, steal joy, and even cause health problems. However, when Christ, the Prince of Peace, has full authority over our lives, He guards our hearts and minds by building a wall of protection against worry.
Stress may pull us apart mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, but God’s peace will always bind us back together so we can be whole again. And while we cannot control many of the stressful situations in our lives, we can decide which master we will serve.”
If you do not know the inner peace that only God can bring, you can! This is the ideal season for you to meet His Son, Jesus, who came into the world to make peace between you and God. He died on the cross, was buried and rose again to bring you into a right relationship with God, the Father. (Romans 5:1) If you will accept Jesus as your personal Savior, all your sins will be forgiven, and He will give you His peace (John 14:27). Please visit the SALVATION tab above to learn more and to take the first step toward a relationship with Christ and His peace.
If you already have a relationship with Christ, this is a great season to rededicate your life to Him. You might start by reading these Scriptures: 2 Kings 20:3; Psalm 119:44. Read, too, Jacob’s story in Genesis 28:16-18, and begin the habit of rededicating yourself daily. Consider what that might look and sound like.