May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We must be careful when we pull verses out of context and try to make too much out of them. I pray I don’t do that – simply using the words of Scripture to encourage and give us something to think about as we go on our way each day. Here is a word that encourages me and I pray it does you as well. We all need encouragement from time to time – don’t we?
Paul is coming to the close of his letter (Epistle) to the Christians in Rome and he is trying to give them encouragement after giving them much instruction. Encouragement can be so helpful. When a team is going bad – like the Orioles – encouragement can lift them to play better. When a person is fighting depression – encouragement can help them fight through the down time and see the light at the end of the tunnel. When a student is having a hard time focusing on material for a test – encouragement might be of help. When someone is trying to accomplish a significant task – encouragement can help. Who are we encouraging today? Who’s walk in Christ are we trying to encourage? Who is encouraging us today? Continue reading
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Have you ever been left alone? I remember – years ago – when the Left Behind series came out and some years ago when the Home Alone movies came out (25+ years ago) – there was a fear about being left behind or alone.
Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) – an 8 year-old left home alone – had some scary experiences. His family was so busy getting ready for their trip that they forgot him in the shuffle. I remember shopping once with our first child. Carolyn and I both thought the other had Shelly and Shelly wandered off. Immediately panic set in as I was telling folks to lockdown the store – no one gets out until I find my daughter. Shelly was holding court with some sales persons – she was calm – but her mother and I will never forget that experience. Continue reading
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
When my oldest granddaughter was four-months-old – she entered a stage where she fought sleep (I’m at the age where I love taking a nap and going to bed at night). She was the best baby I have ever known (all of my grandchildren are for sure). She didn’t fuss about much of anything – yet she began to fight going to sleep. I remember babysitting with her and having a hard time getting her to go down for bedtime.
I remember when I was a child my mom would force me to rest – to take an afternoon nap – after hours of playing and lunch. I’m not sure it was for my good or hers – lol. But if I laid on my bed long enough – usually about five minutes – I would be sound asleep. Even today – if I sit still for five minutes I can doze off. If I’m not in motion – I will become very docile. I find myself falling asleep most anywhere.
The body needs rest. I remember my college and seminary days – sleep was something that I did when I really needed it – or I crashed – because there was so much to do and so little time. Late night study sessions – mainly because I didn’t keep up in my readings like I should – were commonplace. All-nighters were just the way I rolled back then. Up until about a two years ago – 4-6 hours of sleep was all I needed – with a 15-20 minute nap mid-day. At 61 I am starting to need a little more rest to recoup from the day! Now I find myself needing 7-8 hours a night – still with the 15-20 minute nap during the day. Continue reading
Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
Let us think for a moment today of difficult things in our lives – cue the Mission Impossible music. We wrote once about loving our enemies – about hatred and love. Loving our enemies has to rank up there as a tough thing to accomplish. For some of us getting properly and getting enough exercise seems to be difficult. For some getting to work on time or to church on time seems difficult. Getting along with the in-laws or our spouse seems hard for some.
Can we think of a few things that we find difficult? How about getting good grades? How about waiting till marriage to be intimate with our fiancé or with our dates? How about going a day without something we love – like fasting from something we have on a regular basis. What about making ends meet when our income has been reduced or removed? What about trying to make sense out of this world?
When I was younger – I use to think that the passage for today meant that rich people couldn’t get into heaven – because my grandma sewed and I knew we could never get a camel through the eye of a needle. I often had a hard time getting thread through the eye of the needle. Continue reading
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Recently the news has been filled – as usual it seems these days – with tragic reports. Record-breaking rains in Chennai – India – followed by massive flooding – people losing everything and some losing their lives. Recently in Missouri – heavy rains and flooding have hit the Mississippi banks and the prediction is the Mississippi delta area near the Gulf of Mexico will once again be hard hit. Lives and homes have been lost. Hundreds of migrants drowned when the ship they were on sank – as people fled Libya – over 1,000 people were crammed onto a boat that couldn’t hold 500. An earthquake hit Nepal this year and killed over 9,000 people. In our area – near Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta – Virginia – two reporters were killed on the air. And – although this is not an all-inclusive list of tragic moments this past year – the Refugee Crisis has hit the news often. In 2015 five boats sank in the Mediterranean Sea – which killed around 1,200 refugees coming mostly from Syria – Afghanistan – and Eritrea. I believe the child – a 3-year-old boy – who washed upon a beach – was from those who died in this event. Lastly – ISIS – radical terrorists – is running amuck and no government seems to be ready to take them on.
I bet these tragic moments make us feel bad for the times we have complained about our circumstances. Yet there are times when we do feel like the world is caving in around us I’m sure. Some of us have lost loved ones – face life threatening disease – been unfairly treated in our workplace or by the government – and more. Think of a time or times when you were mistreated. Did we ever feel like God had turned His head away and decided to not care? Have we ever cried out – like Jesus – My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Continue reading