Here’s a simple, but significant, lens through which life looks radically different than we often see it… will this matter 100 years from now? How we think, feel, speak, act, and react would be wonderfully different if we saw things in light of eternity, and remember that this short life is not all that there is. Our lives would create an everlasting ripple if we could look a century into our future to see the impact of our today. As we live by grace, in dependence upon the presence and power of Jesus, let us give less priority to the things that really don’t matter and more priority to the things that do.
Bad circumstances, bad people and bad news make me want it. The more I survey the landscape of the sinfulness and brokenness we are all a part of, I look forward to our eternal heavenly home that Jesus is preparing for us so we can be with Him forever. A place where there will be no more sorrow, suffering or sin. A place where bad things will be eliminated, good things will be perfected and the best things will be unveiled. Our citizenship is in heaven, and God has put a longing in us for our homeland. When it’s hard here, let’s take heart and remember: He is preparing a place for us, and preparing us for a place.
One of the enemy’s biggest lies is convincing us to live as if this life is all there is. He wants us to prioritize and pursue things that won’t matter for long over things that will matter forever. But everything looks different when you look past the temporary to eternity. This place isn’t our home; we’re heading home. This life won’t last forever; the next life will. This treasure trove will fade away; the ones laid up in heaven have an everlasting shine. Yes, let us enjoy our time on earth and the things of earth as God means for us to do. But, even more, let us think, feel, speak and act as people who have set their sights on eternity.
Like a thousand-piece puzzle, your life often looks like a jumble of disjointed and disconnected fragments that don’t seem to fit together very well. But God is putting everything into place exactly where He wants it so you can be who you were made to be and do what you were made to do. He has a good reason for and a good result from everything He allows to come into your life. Someday all will make sense, all will be made right, and all will be made new when He completes the good work He has started in you. Take heart! When the last puzzle piece is put into place, you will see what God has been seeing all along.
Darkness isn’t just the time between dusk and dawn; it’s also any time you are facing the unknown. This is especially true of those seasons of suffering when the light at the end of your tunnel is nowhere to be seen. It is during those times that you must not give up hope. For even on those dark days when you can’t see what is up next, what step to take next or how anything good will come next, hope remains. Jesus is still there and Jesus still cares! Ask Him to give you the faith and inner strength that is needed to endure. And though the outer darkness may yet linger, the Son will rise and shine His light in your heart.
The gospel emboldens us to not draw back when others push back against our countercultural loyalty to God and His ways. Because Jesus has overcome sin, Satan and death, we can have courage; the kind of courage that does not shrink back from saying and doing the right things no matter what people might think of us, what might happen to us, and what it might cost us if we remain faithful to Jesus. Our courage and encouragement are based on this truth: Jesus has overcome all the tribulations, troubles, trials, tests, and temptations of this world! And… He is for us. He is with us. He is coming to get us.
One word that defines every genuine Christian is this: perseverance. That is, those who are heaven-bound keep going until they get there. Grace will make sure that they do! He who has called us is faithful to keep us! So… If you find that serving Jesus feels fruitless or pointless, keep serving. If you find yourself fighting back discouragement and fighting for joy, keep fighting. If you find yourself tempted to give in to the world and its ways, keep resisting. There will be many moments that you fail and fall, but don’t despair. Trust in Jesus and trust in this: He will pick you up and power you on… so you can keep going.
Let’s be honest about something: oftentimes our lives are a mess. Busted. Bruised. Broken. Things don’t work out like we hoped they would no matter how hard we work at things. In times like these, let us not lose heart! This is our hope in Jesus: the best is yet to come. Let us believe it, expect it, anticipate it and await it to come true because Jesus said it’s true. Let us watch for the daily doses of His grace to appear when we need them. And let us regard the eternal pleasure of heaven with Him as something wonderful on the calendar that is certain to come at the appointed time. Because it is. Because it will.
Following Jesus means leaving some places, people, and pursuits behind to go wherever Jesus leads us, to do whatever Jesus says to us when we get there. It also means being faithful in the season, situation and spot He has already led us, to do whatever He brought us here to do. Sometimes this faith journey will require us to go to hard places, have hard conversations, do hard things, endure hard circumstances and deal with hard people. But Jesus will be with us every step of the way to make a way for us to take every step. Be encouraged! He never said it would be easy; He only said it would be worth it.
There are days when our faith falters, but Jesus does not abandon us. There are days when we feel like giving up, but Jesus does not let us. There are days when we are too overwhelmed to carry on, but Jesus does not move on without us. Jesus came from heaven to earth to make a way for sinners like you and me to go from earth to heaven. And every step we take together is...
Do you know what your failure is for? It has a purpose, and that purpose is to help you succeed. Not just so you’ll try harder next time. Not just so you’ll be wiser next time. Not just so you’ll do better next time. But rather so you will rely more fully on Jesus next time. His strength. His guidance. His way. His plan. His timing. His help. The right response to failure is faith, for every person who turns to and trusts in Jesus will win in the end. Remember this when you find yourself coming up short: Futility and frustration are intended to move you away from self-reliance to Savior-reliance. And that move is always for the better.