Have you ever felt like the problems in front of you were so vast and overwhelming that there was nothing you could do?
Sometimes we can find ourselves so discouraged by what is going on around us that we become petrified by fear and worry, afraid to do anything.
Our world today is so broken, and I have found myself asking, “What can I do?”
While reading the Scriptures this week, God brought me to a passage in Ephesians 5, which says:
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1–2 (ESV)
Have you ever seen a child imitate their father or mother?
Most children try to copy everything their parents do because they want to be like them. Even without the parent’s knowledge, a child often picks up behavioral patterns they see in their parents.
The interesting thing about children who imitate their parents is that they usually don’t wait for people to notice them. They don’t ask for permission to imitate their parents; they just do.
The Scripture says to be imitators of God as beloved children and to walk in love. When I read this, I thought to myself, “This is it. This is what I can do to make the world better.”
Walking in love does not require anyone else’s permission. You do not have to have a huge platform to walk in love. You can walk in love every day, by the way you treat people and the choices you make.
Everyone influences someone.
Maybe you have influence in your workplace, in your household, or at your school. Perhaps you have influence over a friend, a spouse, a co-worker, or a child.
In a world that desperately needs love, everything counts. Every chance you have to walk in love and to show love to someone else is significant.
Don’t wait for permission. Don’t wait for a following from thousands of people.
Be an imitator of God, as His beloved child, unashamed of your Father. Walk in His love and show that love to others in all you do.
When you walk in God’s love, you can change the world one step at a time and one moment at a time.
How will you walk in love today?
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. John 4:18 (ESV)
I have recently found myself reflecting on the division of our world, and, while reading Acts chapter 2, I realized something: in a world that seems divided, it is more important than ever that the people of God be united.
Acts chapter 2:42–47 in the ESV says this:
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
This passage is a beautiful picture of the fellowship of believers in the early Church, and I believe this picture is still relevant to the Church today.
Although it seems that many things could divide us, it is essential to understand that what unites us is a person, and His name is Jesus.
I want to ask you: during this time of social distancing, have you been intentional about staying connected to other believers, or have you let relationships slip away from you?
The fellowship described in Acts 2 was not merely to record the activities of the early Church; it is meant to be a guide for us to follow.
Believers are meant to exist in a life-giving community: building one another up and thus building up the community around them.
Here are my questions for you today:
Who is in your circle of friends?
Are you stewarding life-giving relationships?
Are you intentionally pouring into others and allowing them to pour into you?
I genuinely believe that this is a critical time in our lives, in our cities, and in our nation to surround ourselves with a community of people who build us up. I believe that in each of our relationships, we should actively encourage others and edify them.
There are many things the Church today disagrees on, but we can all relate to this line of the classic hymn, Amazing Grace:
“I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see.”
The last prayer Jesus prayed on earth before he was crucified was this:
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
~ John 17:20–21 ESV
Let Jesus be the One who unites us, and may the Church today become a unified fellowship of believers.
Given the recent events in our country and our world, the thing that has been so often coming to mind is the importance of hope.
The great evangelist, Billy Graham, once said:
“Our world today so desperately hungers for hope, yet uncounted people have almost given up. There is despair and hopelessness on every hand. Let us be faithful in proclaiming the hope that is in Jesus.”
Indeed, it seems that in times like these, we see despair and hopelessness on every hand. However, Scripture mentions hope over and over, often in the most unlikely of places.
One of the most profound examples of hope I have found in Scripture is in the book of Lamentations. This book was written to mourn and commemorate the destruction of the great city of Jerusalem. Its authorship is often attributed to the prophet Jeremiah who uses stark imagery to communicate the bleakness of the time.
However, amidst the suffering, we find a glimmer of hope.
Lamentations chapter 3 begins by describing the destruction and the desolation of the city. In verse 21, however, things take a significant turn:
“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’”
~ Lamentations 3:21–24, ESV
The author of Lamentations takes a moment to acknowledge the steadfast love of the Lord, his faithfulness, and his mercies, which are new every morning.
Hope is restored in our hearts when we recall the love, faithfulness, and mercy of the Lord.
Not only can we restore hope in our hearts by recalling these things, but we can also restore hope in the hearts of others.
“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
~Romans 5:2–5, ESV (emphasis added).
Hope does not put us to shame.
Again, we find hope mentioned to believers in the book of 1 Peter, which says:
“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”
~ 1 Peter 3:5
This world is in desperate need of hope. You, as a follower of Jesus, have hope down on the inside of you.
I encourage you with this: recall God’s steadfast love and faithfulness, allow Him to restore hope in you. Then, be a bearer of that hope everywhere you go.
I have recently found myself saddened and disturbed by recent events in our world. Sickness, violence, and many other struggles are rampant in society, and it seems like the enemy is on the prowl more every day.
I want to encourage you that even in seasons such as these, God is still on the throne, and He still has the victory.
Revelation 12:10–11 in the ESV says this:
“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
This final book of the Bible says that Jesus still has the victory! This passage says we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. There exists within your testimony the power to conquer the enemy!
Marsha and I recently both battled COVID-19. I was in the ICU and was told it would be extremely difficult for me to recover from the virus and other sicknesses I was facing– but God was faithful to see us through, and we are completely recovered! When the enemy tried to keep us down with sickness, we overcame through Jesus, and now we have another testimony to share!
When we recall the story of what the Lord has done for us and share that story with others, the enemy’s power diminishes– we overcome!
Jesus said this in the Gospel of John:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”~John 16:33 ESV
When you experience tribulation, take heart: Jesus has overcome the world. With this knowledge, we wage war against the enemy, sharing our salvation story with others. Because Jesus has overcome the world, we can have peace.
Recently I read a scripture that reminded me why so many believers are not experiencing all that God created them to.
James 1:22-25 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” (NKJV)
If we know the truth but don’t act on it, our lives will inevitably stay the same. Simply reading the Word with no application will cause us to forget the powerful Holy Spirit inspired wisdom and guidance needed to walk in all that God has for us.
Many times people will read the Bible and think that is enough to live a life of abundance in Christ. While reading God’s Word is incredibly important, often no transformation occurs and they are left disappointed, blaming God for the quality of their lives.
Knowledge alone will never create change. It is revelation knowledge coupled with action and faith that causes God’s promises to come to pass in our lives.
I challenge you this week to become a doer of the Word. Whatever scriptures you read, ask God to give you the wisdom needed to incorporate them into your daily decisions and actions.
As a doer of the Word, you will be able to receive all that God has for you and live a life led by the Spirit, influencing everyone around you positively with the light and truth of Jesus Christ.