I talk to people every week who are going through some tough days. Their days can involve cancer, broken bones, dementia or the loss of a loved one. In my visits I try to come along side them in their journey and provide encouragement. But I will always remember the man who came along side me, in a way, and taught me a valuable lesson. In the course of our visit I commented, “So I suppose you have some good days and some bad days.” He took his oxygen mask off and said, “Mark, I’ve learned that every day God gives me is a good day. No matter how I feel or what I’m going through I’ve learned that because He’s with me I’m not alone. That makes it a good day. Other people who don’t have God may be pain free and healthy but they really aren’t having a good day.”
His comment made me think. So often I rate my days based on circumstances. If they’re good, I’m good. If they’re not, I’m struggling. It made me think, too, of statement in Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and your staff… they comfort me.”
David was saying the same thing as my friend. Both are saying that the circumstances of life aren’t what make a day good or bad. What makes it good is the awareness that each day is a gift from God and that He is with us, whether we’re healthy or sick, it’s 75 or -30, or we have $5000 in the bank or $5.
So, have a good day! (and in the process you might want to check out Romans 8:35-39)
- Pastor MarkRead More
Where does Jesus come from? This may sound like an odd question, but in actuality, the truth of the gospel hinges upon its answer. The prof of its importance can be found in John chapter 7. The religious leaders and the Jews are arguing and debating the place from which Jesus comes. Their argument is logical: the prophets say the Messiah will come from a place no one knows. If Jesus comes from galilee (a place many people know), than Jesus cannot be the Messiah.
Jesus rebukes them and cries out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”
Jesus does something amazing here. He validates the truth of the prophets, and simultaneously shows that the religious leaders are misunderstanding the prophets. Jesus says they do not know his origins, not because they don’t know his hometown, but because they don’t know the one from whom he was sent: In other words, they don’t know God.
Our human hearts are laid bare in this scripture. We become staunch in our own understanding rather than our relationship with God. We want to have God, but on our own terms. We want to know Jesus, but only based upon the knowledge we already possess. It’s like falling in love and not expecting anything to be different. The contrary is true. Falling in love, by definition, is a falling away from our old selves into something new, leaving us different people.
And Jesus rightly says that they don’t know where he comes from because they don’t know the Father. In other words, true knowledge is dependent upon knowing the Father. If you don’t know the Father, you will not know the place from which Jesus comes. Likewise, if we know the father, we don’t find comfort in what we know but in whom we know.Read More
My heart was recently touched by the kindness of a stranger. I had traveled almost an hour one afternoon to attend the funeral of a good friend’s mom. In tow I had all four of my children, ages eight down to 15 months. About thirty minutes into the drive I realized I had not given my third oldest his medicine to prevent car sickness. Shortly thereafter he threw up in the back of my van. Needless to say by the time we reached the service I was a little harried!
After a quick cleanup of the van we entered the church and was greeted by the funeral director. He took one look at me and my crew and pointed me towards the nursery they had made available to little ones during the service. My kids took one look at that unfamiliar room with new faces and clung to my legs. With a sigh I headed to the sanctuary where the funeral had already begun. Peering through the doors I could tell it was a packed house.
While contemplating where to sit I heard a shuffle behind me. The funeral director had grabbed some extra chairs from the lobby and was headed into the sanctuary. Several trips later he had created an extra row in the back just for us. Grateful, I quietly thanked him and we all took a seat.
About ten minutes later my youngest started to squirm in his stroller next to me. I pulled him out and held him in hopes that he would remain quiet. Those were soon dashed as he began babbling quite excitedly. I was about to get up to take him to the lobby when I spotted the funeral director headed my way. Oh no, I thought. Here he comes to tell me that we are being too loud. To my surprise however, when he reached my chair he kneeled down and gently offered to take my son so I could stay in the service. When I told him that I didn’t think my son would go to him he then offered to sit with my three oldest children so I could take the baby for a walk. Sure enough, after I had left my seat he took my place and began quietly joking with my kids.
Knowing they were not alone I was able to pace in the lobby with the baby while listening to the service. Periodically I would peek through the sanctuary doors to make sure the older kids were behaving themselves. Not only did they sit quietly throughout the entire service, but time and again I saw the funeral director answering their questions and patting their heads in affirmation of how good they were being. I cannot tell you what a blessing it was to have someone be so thoughtful. After the service the director again approached me and asked if he could give the kids a sucker for behaving so well. I appreciated the gesture and my kids eagerly took the candy from their new friend.
In Hebrews we are exhorted to “… not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2 NIV) Now I am by no means claiming to be an angel, but I am thankful that the director of the funeral that day took this passage to heart. Through several small acts of kindness he allowed me to be present in support of a dear friend in the midst of her grief. For that I am very grateful.
I believe that God gives each of us an abundance of opportunities to be kind to one another. From sharing an encouraging word, to displaying patience, to offering prayer or financial support, as Christians we are called to reach out in love to those who cross our path. It is my prayer and challenge to us this week to intentionally look for ways we can be of loving service to others we may not know. In doing so we may or may not show hospitality to an angel, but I do know that we just might make someone’s day while exemplifying Christ’s love.Read More
Like anyone, I have my share of worries, and disappointments and I can’t tell you how often I have lain awake in the dark watches of the night working out (or trying to at least) the solution to my issue. I am usually unsuccessful. Through all that wakefulness and frustration and fatigue, I finally come to realize that maybe I’m not as clever as I think I am. I’m stubborn. However, as I attempt to “lean on my own understanding”, I have to remind myself that I have a helper who never fails. Again, I have fallen into the trap so cleverly provided by the enemy.
1 Peter 5:6-11 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while. The dominion belongs to Him forever.
How do I fall into this trap; time after time?
Until I remember: “Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while. The dominion belongs to Him forever”; nothing positive happens for me. Fortunately I have established a relationship with the one who has infinite power to sustain me. Sometimes, I wish I could get to it sooner but I am poor and needy. God knows this.
Matthew 6:27 – Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? It’s hard for me to remember sometimes, but God hasn’t failed me yet.
The Bible has much to say about moms and dads. It mostly says that we are to honor our parents and to listen to their teaching (Proverbs 6:20, 21). In fact, our parents are so important that the 5th commandment regards how we treat them—right before the commandment to not murder (Exodus 20).
How we treat our parents is incredibly important in the eyes of God. Leviticus 20:9 says that if anyone curses their father or mother they are to be put to death—Wow!
Let’s agree on one thing: God wants us to treat our parents well even when they aren’t looking or don’t deserve it.
God’s expression of love comes most clearly through the love of our parents. Take our mothers for example. In general, the clearest example of compassion is our mothers. The clearest example of being perpetually on our side is our mothers. The clearest example of self-sacrifice is our mothers. The clearest example of love never-ending is our mothers. The list goes on.
God wants us to honor our mothers and fathers, because they show us what God is like. It is through our parents that God gives us our most basic love needs.
Mother’s Day is not just about our moms. It’s about what God is showing us through our moms. Our Mothers are God’s way of saying he has unlimited compassion on us, he is perpetually on our side, he sacrificed his Son for us and his love is never-ending. Let’s honor our moms as the living expression of God’s perfect love.Read More
I get discouraged as a Christian sometimes because sometimes I compare my actions, and faith, and piety with that of others, and in my mind I come up short. Like the golfer that never seems to be able to make par, I am tempted to give up on the game. It’s an extreme attitude and maybe a “little tongue in cheek” but our failure, especially when self-examined tend to divert us from what is right.
It’s a tool: for satan would love for us to wallow in this self-doubt at the expense of fulfilling God’s plan for us. God doesn’t require superstars, or the perfect, or the pious because he can do great things with the ordinary. Take a look at the ones he chose.
Peter, by Jesus’ own declaration, the foundation of the church, denied even knowing Jesus and was gifted with a quick tongue. Thomas was a doubter. James and John had a selfish interest in their own eventual glory. Matthew was a tax collector. We can think of many modern day equivalents that personify his greed. Saul aka Paul, spent his early times delivering misery to Christians.
Can I find traits in each of these giants of the church that when self-examined, will cause me to doubt my worthiness. When examined with my self-absorbed attitude I can find weaknesses and faults from each, living in me, and more. If I think God requires superstars, I’m not one. But God knows us and knows our weaknesses, and in fact seeks them out. God uses ordinary men and women to do extraordinary things.
The Bible says: “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”—1 Corinthians 1:26-29
“God chose the foolish things of the world; He chose the lowly things …the despised things. Who is that? That’s me in a nutshell. He doesn’t need what I alone am capable of; he wants what I am capable of with his help and direction so I need to forget about my self-deprecating and humble myself to accept his hand.
I’ll continue to do my best and trust God to forgive my failures. My image won’t likely be ensconced in some grand church stained glass window like the disciples, but they were flawed men, just like me, who humbled themselves to God’s guidance and allowed God to achieve great things through them. Who knows but that something that God has done with me may someday bear fruits.