“Life is hard but God is good” is a statement I heard many years ago that rings true of life’s journey. Jesus warned us that:
“…In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
The beauty and strength in Jesus’ perspective is that He knew the depth of sufficiency and power that would be provided through Him to overcome the world. It also means that Jesus followers have to know that their approach to overcoming tribulation will be different from the worlds approach. And we need to know what we’re fighting for.
In the movie Cinderella Man, the history making boxer (Jim Braddock) who is experiencing an incredible comeback after loosing everything is asked to explain his sudden success. His response resonates a new-found purpose that was birthed through his tribulation:
“This time around I know what I’m fighting for.”
Do you know what you’re fighting for in life? Knowing begins with discovering God and His purpose for your life. Jesus lived to please God. He accomplished the work that He was sent to accomplish on earth amidst great tribulation. He knew what He was fighting for, to bring the light of salvation to the world. We see His determination and focus through the prophet Isaiah;
“But the Lord God helps Me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 50:7)
God has a good plan for your life and it takes a fierce focus on Him to discover and fulfill it against the tribulations of living in this world. Know what you’re fighting for. How you spend eternity is weighing in the balance.
“…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
Hope is a positive emotion, the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. What is your hope based upon and on whom are you relying to achieve the outcomes you hope for?
Self-reliance has a proven history of mixed results. How often have you failed to reached the desired end of a hope born out of inspiration? Or encountered another human being that didn’t have a failure or two to remind them that hope in ‘self’ can not be trusted to get you where you want to be?
Jesus had something to say about hope. He revealed to us who our hope should be anchored in to ensure crossing the finish line of life without regret. He knew and took the steps to live His life in a way that would please His Father in heaven. He humbled Himself and followed every command of His Father without exception. He trusted God and placed all His hope in Him to the point of God becoming His all in all. And He did it for us.
“…then the Son himself will also be subjected to Him who put all things in subjection under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1Corinthians 15:28)
God is our sure and living hope offered through Jesus Christ who humbled Himself by descending from heaven to save a hopeless, self-reliant people striving after the wind.
It is in Christ Jesus we find eternal hope and triumph over failure and triumph in life. When we place our trust in Him He promises to stay with us to the end.
“…I will never leave you nor forsake you…” (Hebrews 13:5)
Out outcome has been guaranteed, sealed in eternity in the power of His Name. He is our One Hope, our all in all!
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you…” (1Peter 5:6)
My mother raised eight children and she is my hero. When I think about my childhood and her influence on my life the word prayer comes to mind. Her faith in God grew with every baby she birthed, with each new level of life’s challenges and the growing complexity of managing a large family. She learned to pray about everything, even a difficult marriage that brought consistent strife and hardship into our home.
Growing up I could not perceive the weight of her burden in managing eight children without the support of my father. I do however remember how she modeled her faith in God and the strength she received through prayer. Hearing her crying out to God one night for help in our tiny bathroom made a lasting impression on my heart. Supposing that we were all asleep I never told her that her pleas made it to my ears. Her faith was strengthened to endure through prayer.
Her prayers brought much-needed provision, protection and purpose in the midst of so much insecurity growing up. Her prayers brought salvation to our souls as well. It was Mother’s Day 47 years ago when I and my siblings made our way to the altar to accept Christ as our Savior. It was a result of a mother’s prayer.
“Pray about everything,” she used to tell me all the time. Now that I am a mother I know firsthand that her words were wisdom coming through the fruit of a praying life. As my mother prayed over her children and household so shall I. In cultivating a praying heart God has blessed my family with provision, protection and purpose.
I am the fruit of a mother’s prayer.
“…pray without ceasing…” (1Thessalonians 5:17)
“What is truth?” This is one of the most important questions of the ages. It was asked of Jesus by Pilot, the governor of Judea over 2000 years ago and still resonates in hearts today. (John 18:38)
Truth is sought sincerely early in life but it seems that once life complications set in (through influential relationships or circumstances) we are easily swayed into forming our own truth. Not realizing that our truth can never acclaim to the height, depth and width of God’s truth we sabotage our future potential and impact the outcomes that we were created and designed to have. Our version of truth becomes as natural to us as breathing and we miss out on God’s best for our lives and fulfilling His purpose.
Our form of truth is not liberating, it leads to a fear based bondage. Real truth is found in God Word.
“The sum of Your word is truth…” (Psalm 119:160)
“I am…the truth…” (John 14:6)
Jesus also said
“For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world — to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.” (John 18:37)
Truth is found in Jesus. In receiving Jesus we receive truth. Once we enter into truth our ears are opened to listen to Jesus’ voice. Then and only then are our hearts satisfied, we have found truth and the empowerment to build a life based on truth and the freedom to enjoy a blessed life!
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
Endurance is an esteemed character trait in the eyes of God. He calls His followers to endure the challenges and trials of life at least 99 times in the Bible. The ability to endure, to remain committed to the process of refinement, suffering, distress or discipline comes from God. He promises to be present when we call out to Him, provide what we need and the grace to accept it.
“You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
Successful enduring places its trust in God who will not abandon us, He can be counted on for shelter through the storm.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” (Proverbs 18: 10)
Jesus, our Savior and Lord endured the cross on our behalf. He willingly bore the sin of the world in order to deliver us from the power of sin and death.
He became our greatest role model in how to endure suffering. He endured to beyond the cross that He bore, coming into the joy that awaited Him and He asks no more of His followers.
“…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
The Book of James encourages us to not be surprised when various trials come our way that test our faith. When our faith is tested it produces endurance that will perfect and mature us as followers of Christ.
The joy that is set before us is at stake if we choose not to endure. Regret at not finishing our race in life is not what Jesus had in mind for us when He endured the cross. He promised us that He is the door to abundant life, that He is the Good Shepherd that was willing to lay down His life for us, the sheep.
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Don’t give up, stay among the ranks of those who endure to the end and live in the abundance of God’s provision for each day. God promises a great reward!
“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” (Hebrew 10:35-36)
(Image by John Ng)
Extenders of mercy are considered to be good Samaritans, willing to come to the aid of another. They seem ready to extend kindness by doing the unexpected, extending compassion instead of judgement, pity instead of criticism.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
Mercy extenders are mercy receivers.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6)
God made a promise to those who choose to follow Him as a shepherd leader who would never leave us during our journey through life. He promised goodness and mercy would dwell among us. Thankfully, He also gave us the insight into how this lifestyle could be maintained, He knew that we could not be extenders of mercy without first receiving His mercy.
“…for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
We are described as sheep without a shepherd, lost and exposed to all the dangers of life before coming into the sheltering mercy of God. He is the originator of Mercy, delivered to mankind through His Son, Jesus. (Luke 19:10)
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
We become recipients of mercy when we believe in Jesus, the Savior of the world. Once this happens we are called to become extenders of mercy. Only then can we begin to understand the vastness of the mercy we have received and the joy of extending it to others. It reflects the security we have in God to meet our needs.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)
Enjoy the mercies of God in your life by extending mercy to others!
The power of humility appears to have been cast into the shadows of a view that supports achievement rooted in self-sufficiency. How often do you hear achievers taking full credit for their accomplishments without thanking the One who gave them the ability to achieve. Self-sufficient thinking is a prelude to pride.
Pride is a “lofty and often arrogant assumption of superiority in some respect” of one’s own opinion of him/herself. Pride takes its own credit in ones confidence of his/hers resources, gifts or talents to achieve without the help of others.
Pride precedes a fall from an exalted position; humility precedes an exalted position.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23: 12)
Jesus, the Christ, is our example of perfect humility and One who modeled it perfectly. He said that “the greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11) In order to be a great servant we must learn to be a great follower. When Jesus could have chosen to usurp the authority of His parents at the age of 12, He chose instead to humble Himself and return home with them after being found in the Temple. (Luke 2:51)
Jesus also modeled the power of humility. He understood that at times choosing humility would be the most painful route to achieving and fulfilling His purpose on the earth. He also knew that submitting to God’s plan would bring salvation and eternal redemption to a dying world.
Humility places all outcomes into the hand of God. Humility anchors its trust in following Jesus with an open heart and a surrendered life. This is what a true follower of Jesus looks like, a lifestyle of humility that places all trust in God’s ability to lead us better than we can lead ourselves.
“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” (James 1:16, 17)
If we choose the way of pride and self-sufficiency we will miss fulfilling our purpose and miss-use our God-given gifts and talents during our stay on earth. Every accomplishment obtained in our own self-sufficiency will be tested by fire and burned up in the end. It will have a diminishing effect on our reward in heaven.
“If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1Corinthians 3:14,15)
God gives grace to the humble. He attached His power to the work of our hands in a way that impacts eternity in the lives of others.
“…God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you…” (1Peter 5:5,6)
The power of humility!