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.
Faith in Jesus is followed by following Jesus in faith. Saving belief leads us to step off the throne, take off the crown, and let Jesus take over ruling our hearts and lives. We haven’t really put our faith in Jesus if we are indifferent to what He wants and resistant to what He says. That’s not trust. That’s a lack of trust. That’s mistrust. Real faith in Jesus makes us want to give up our sin and self-rule to follow His steps, His ways and His commands (although imperfectly executed) more fully over time. Why? Because we are confident that life His way is better than any other option, and that for eternal life He is the only option.
It is defined in different ways. It is pursued in different ways. It is measured in different ways. But what happiness has in common no matter how it is defined, pursued and measured is this: every single human being wants it. The message of the world is to “do what you want to do and be who you want to be” and this will make you happy. Only it … Does. Not. Work. The message of Jesus is “do what I want you to do and be who I made you to be.” In doing so, we will experience His joy, and our joy can be full no matter what else is happening in our lives. Want to be happy? His. Way. Works.
Christians should count the various trials in our lives as joy. Not as defeat. Not as pleasant. Not as punishment. Not as meaningless. Not as insignificant. Not as a reason to complain. Not as a lack of God’s care. Trials can be many things, but they cannot be joy-stealers unless we let them. While it may feel like trials are breaking you today, you can be sure that God is building you up through them in ways that are going to be amazingly good in the days to come. Your faith muscle becoming stronger. Your deliverance becoming sooner. Your witness becoming louder. Your homecoming becoming sweeter.
When we are unthankful, we rob God of something that we should be giving to Him. Namely, glory. Ingratitude comes from prideful hearts that think we have earned what God freely gave to us, or we are entitled to what God hasn’t given to us. To overcome this, we must… Trust God is at work for our good. Realize we are owed nothing that is good. Give credit to God for all that is good. In doing so, we will burst with joy and gratitude as we see even a small sampling of the 10,000 things God graciously is for us, does for us and gives to us that we don’t deserve. In return, we will give Him all the thanks and glory.
You can look all around and conclude that God is absent or that He is present. May He give us spiritual eyes that see… Not just the beauty of a sunset, but the God who paints the sky. Not just the miracle of a baby’s birth, but the God who brings things to life. Not just the taste of a great meal, but the God who invented flavors. Not just the satisfaction of achieving a goal, but the God who empowers us to do so. Not just a lovely wedding, but the God who created marriage. Not just a great day, but the God who offers us eternal life. Shining through every good and right and true thing we see is an ever-present God.
With what are we filling up our social media feeds, texts and emails, and in-person conversations? Speaking about our confidence in a political leader should pale in comparison to speaking about our faith in Jesus. More important than warning others with our conspiracy theories is warning them about the consequences of their sin. We shouldn’t talk as if our hope is in the hands of our government, but in the hands of our sovereign and loving Father in heaven. People desperately need to hear… Biblical truth. Good news of salvation. Grace-dripping words. Unshakeable promises of God. More. About. Jesus.
Being in a loving relationship with Jesus brings both gracious privileges and glorious responsibilities. On one hand, we are given endless blessings that will carry on throughout eternity. On the other hand, we are given important assignments to be carried out until completion. While it may seem like the privileges are more desirable than the responsibilities, this should not be so. Our assigned tasks are opportunities to proclaim, serve, please, model and glorify the One Who saves us by His grace. When we do the good things that Jesus has planned for us, we do them unto Him. That, in itself, is a privilege.
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.
Our motive. Our mission. We need to communicate these two things to others when we show them love through the way we treat them. First, we need to let them know that the good we do for them comes from appreciation for what God has done for us and anticipation of what God will do for us. It is from the overflow of what we get from Him that we give to others. Second, we need to let them know that we do good works because a good God has commissioned us to go in His Name to share His love with others. Let us credit Him by telling people this… God has done good to me. God has sent me to do good to you.
It’s not Sunday church clothes. It’s not a cross necklace. It’s not a t-shirt. Being a Christian is not something we put on and take off depending upon the place we are at, the position we are in, or the people we are around. We should strive by grace to speak, act and live in the same manner at all times, not picking and choosing when we let our Christianity be seen. People will know that we belong to Jesus not because of what we have on, but by how we love on those around us. 24/7 we are imperfect image-bearers of the One living in our hearts. Our identity is not something we wear, it’s something we are.