Remember

In times like these, it is easy to become discouraged and fearful of what is to come.

We can get so caught up in the confusion and chaos going on around us that we forget for Whom and why we are here.

It is in these moments that I want to encourage you to recall the faithfulness of the Lord in your life. Every believer has a story, a testimony of how God brought them out of their sin and saved them; how the Gospel of Jesus Christ restored them and set them on a path towards life and healing.

In Psalm 71, the psalmist finds himself in turmoil. He asks God to rescue him from the “hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man” (Psalm 71:4, ESV). He describes the enemies surrounding him, and he is afraid.

One particular section of this psalm stood out to me. The psalmist writes:

“O God, from my youth you have taught me, 

and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. 

So even to old age and gray hairs, 

O God, do not forsake me, 

until I proclaim your might to another generation, 

your power to all those to come.” 

(Psalm 71:17–18, ESV)

He also writes,

“You who have made me see many troubles and calamities

will revive me again; 

from the depths of the earth

you will bring me up again.

You will increase my greatness

and comfort me again.”

(Psalm 71:20–21, ESV)

I believe what the psalmist does here is vital to all who have felt discouraged: he remembered. He remembered the Lord, how the Lord taught him from youth, and saw him through many troubles. It was this recollection that assured him that God would see him through again.

What troubles you? What struggles are surrounding you today?

My challenge for you is this: remember God’s faithfulness and be assured that He who once brought you through the struggle will carry you through again.

Back to Wonder

When was the last time you stopped to dwell on the goodness of the Lord?

Think about it.

So many times, when we pray and offer up supplication to God, it is about us. We pray about our families, our friends, our circumstances, and our world because these are the things that consume our thoughts day and night.

This morning, I read Psalm 89, and it made me shift my focus.

It is no secret that a lot is going on in our world right now. There is division, there is hatred, and there is sickness. What is happening all around us is confusing and chaotic.

In an environment like this, it is hard not to allow ourselves to be consumed with our situation and the situations of those we love.

However, I have a challenge that can move us from worry to worship if we shift our mindset. There’s one word that came to my mind as I read Scripture this morning:

Wonder.

The first part of Psalm 89 is filled with wonder. The psalmist makes declarations about who God is and describes His goodness, faithfulness, and steadfast love.

“O LORD God of hosts, 

Who is mighty as you are, O Lord,

With your faithfulness all around you?

You rule the raging sea; 

When its waves rise, you still then.” 

~ Psalm 89:8­–9 ESV

He is mighty and faithful. He is the ruler of the raging sea, the One who calms the wind and the waves.

The psalmist goes on to say:

“You have a mighty arm; 

Strong is your hand, high your right hand. 

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; 

Steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.” 

~ Psalm 89:13–14 ESV

He is mighty, strong, abounding in steadfast love. The foundation of His throne is righteousness and justice.

There’s something about these words that bring perspective.

You see, when we remember who God is and declare His attributes in praise to Him, the problems of this world become so small in comparison.

Wonder.

I believe some of us have lost our wonder. We have looked to other things to answer the problems of life, and we have allowed ourselves to worry instead of worship.

I pray today that you turn your face back to Jesus. I pray that you remember who He is; His steadfast love, His faithfulness, His strong, mighty hand.

Look to Him and remember that the God of Wonders is so much bigger than our situation.

In the words of the classic hymn,

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.”

Walk in Love

Have you ever felt like the problems in front of you were so vast and overwhelming that there was nothing you could do?

I have.

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.

Start here.

Start now.

Start today.

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)

A Unified Fellowship

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.

Bearers of Hope

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.