In Romans 15:13, we read: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (NLT). We know that Jesus Christ is our only hope. We know that He alone is our confidence. The Bible says, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him” (NIV).
If you have put your confidence in a human at any point in your life, it is likely that you have been let down or hurt. Humans are constantly changing. The hearts of humans are deceptive. Being confident in Christ Jesus is different. We are to rely on what He has done for us. We are to trust in the promises of God. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
It is when we try to place our confidence in something else that we find ourselves in trouble and we are always let down. Today, consider where you have placed your confidence. Are you relying on human effort? Are you relying on friends or family? Or have you put your confidence in God? Are you relying on the One who was and is and is to come?
“For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort.” – Philippians 3:3 [NLT]
The Psalmist notes that the Lord’s plans stand firm forever. His intentions can never be shaken. The Psalmist understands that the Lord is God Almighty. He is in control and He is faithful. The Psalmist understands that whatever God speaks, He will see to fruition.
When we read the Bible, do we accept the intentions of God? Do you understand that He will see that things He designed will be seen to completion? Do you understand that if He intends to accomplish something, that He will see it through? He is not like a person who will have good intentions, but cannot see them through. He is not like person that changes the intentions. The God of the Old Testament is the same God in the New Testament. His intentions have never changed. As you page through His Word, you will encounter the Almighty, the great I AM. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).
Today, rest in this truth. Know that you serve a God that has intentions that can never be shaken. His plans stand firm forever. Trust in Him. His intentions are always good and they are always seen through to fruition.
“But the LORD’s plans stand firm forever; His intentions can never be shaken.” – Psalm 33:11 [NLT]
Since my travel route has changed a few months ago, I needed a new shortcut. I tried out this shortcut many people are probably familiar with; however, I’m not good with shortcuts. A few times I missed the right turn and my shortcut turned into a longcut. After a few misses, I focused on my surroundings to find something that would help me remember where to turn. It was then I saw the two lions.
When I saw the two lions, I was in the middle of a worship session, singing along with the radio to “Lion and the Lamb” by Big Daddy Weave as I navigated the route. I considered the Lion as I saw the lions. Then I thought of a series we were doing about chasing a lion—meaning chasing the dream God has placed in our hearts, just as Benaiah chased a lion into a pit. Two lions. The Lion of Judah and the dream He has for you.
Nearly every day this week, I have passed those two lions at least twice a day. I continued to think about the Lion and the path He placed before me, the dream He placed in my heart. I considered the intensity I chase Jesus and the intensity I chase where He leads. We are called to be fierce. We are called to jump into pits. We are called to chase after God. He’s not running from us. He’s not hiding. The chase is all about the heart. It’s all about wanting nothing more than Him. It’s about God being your everything. If He’s your everything, you run toward Him will intensity. You run with full force. You run uninhibited. You run focused. You run, not looking back. Today, consider what or who you are chasing. If you are pursing God, are you doing so with passion, with intensity?
“It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.” – Hebrews 11:27 [NLT]
“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1 [NIV]
After the rebellion of Korah, we read about Aaron standing between the dead and the living. What an interesting display. Aaron stood between the dead and the living with the incense burning to purify the people. This incense was to make the people right with the Lord. He stood between them and the plague stopped.
This display foreshadows what is to come. Jesus Christ stands between God and us sinners, just as Aaron stood between the living people and the dead people. Remember, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). So we are the dead. God is life, we are dead in our transgressions. But Jesus Christ stands between God and us. He is the Lamb of God. He is our mediator. He is our High Priest. The Bible says that “He lives forever to intercede with God on (our) behalf.” He offered a “once for all” sacrifice. This sacrifice of His blood makes us white as snow (Isaiah 1:18, Revelation 7:14). We are right with God because we are clothed in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).
Today, remember Who stands between you and God. Remember the High Priest that we have- “He is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.” Worship Him. Praise His great name. In Christ alone, my hope is found.
“He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague stopped.” – Numbers 16:48 [NLT]
“Therefore He is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through Him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. He is the kind of high priest we need because He is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. Unlike those other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when He offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins.” – Hebrews 7:25-27 [NLT]
During the walk this morning, it was quite foggy. It was the kind of fog that when you walk forward, you cannot see a thing. Even so, I know what is supposed to be there. I’ve walked the same path every morning and evening for years. So I walked forward in trust.
The Bible speaks of many great people of faith. Hebrews 11 is known as the Hall of Faith as it is filled with many of these faithful followers of God. People like Abraham, who God commanded to leave all he knew and walk into the unknown. He said that He would should Abraham where to go. Now that’s faith. Things are different for us. Even though there is a lot of unknown, we have a lot more to go on than Abraham did. We have the Word of God. We have the Old and the New Testaments. We can read about the faithfulness of God. We can read about how God provided. We can read about how God protected His people.
We don’t always have the faith we should, because we are human. We have doubts. We have worries. It is in these moments we pray for God to help our unbelief. “I believe. Help my unbelief.” As the fog up ahead keeps you from knowing all that will come your way, walk with fog faith, clinging to the promises of God, trusting God at His Word, for He is the best promise keeper.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1 [NIV]
When I speak with people about church, they always ask the denomination. Then I say, “Oh it’s non-denominational.” It’s an interesting phrase. There’s different denominations (for example Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist). Then there’s non-denominational. Those are the churches that claim to not be affiliated with any of the known denominations. After the Early Church that you read about in Acts, things started to break apart. As time continued, groups were formed from other groups. Some churches have so many different divisions in their names, it becomes a tongue twister.
The denominations all came about from a difference of beliefs. This still happens today, hence the reason we have tons of church plants and longer than life names. The reason for the differences of beliefs, and at times, disunity of the church, is because we are a broken people. The church is filled with sinners, many sinners who are saved by grace alone. But we aren’t perfect. Some of us are proud, lazy, quick to speak, discontent, disorganized, agenda focused, bossy, or fable telling folks. We aren’t perfect, so it’s hard for us to all live together in harmony.
Nonetheless, the Bible speaks a lot about unity or harmony. Yes, that’s the vision God has for His Church. The capital “C” Church is the universal church. Broken down, this is all of the denominations and non-denominations. Together, as the big C, we need to be united. Remember, the Church is the body of Christ. The Church is people, not buildings. As the big C, we must remember Who we worship, Who we follow, Who is the Head of the Body. Even so, all of the little C’s need to also be united as separate bodies.
This seems like an impossible task. People can rarely get along. There are bound to be disagreements. Yes. Very true. But with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Remember the reason for the Church. Keep running the race. The Spirit will unite us if we allow ourselves to be led (Ephesians 4:3). Don’t be proud. Don’t think you know it all. Humble yourself and seek the best for others (1 Corinthians 10:24). Love. It’s the bond of perfect unity (see Colossians 3:14). Live in harmony.
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” – Romans 12:16 [NLT]
We all have heard the phrase, “Bad things happen to good people.” Often it is said when we believe ourselves to be undeserving of what comes our way. Perhaps we are speaking about someone who we deem to be a “good person,” who gets handed a “raw deal,” and we think that should only be reserved for those who are “bad people.”
The truth is that there are no “good people,” so we cannot say that “bad things happen to good people.” In Romans, we read that there is no one righteous – no one who is good. We are all bad. We all fall short. Therefore, the only way this phrase is true is to say that bad things happen to people. We know that to be true. We live in a fallen world—a broken world. Even as we find ourselves following God’s leading, we will find “bad things” will happen. We are promised persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). We are promised families will be torn apart (Luke 12:53).
Today, let us remember that bad things only happened to the One Who is Righteous. He suffered a lot of “bad things.” He carried all of our sins on the Cross. He did not deserve the wrath of God. He never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15). But the “bad things” that happened to Him at Calvary were endured to the finish so that through Him we could be righteous, redeemed—that we, too, would follow Him to the Cross and the Resurrection to a new life—a life that will be all good when we are called home.
“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one.’” – Romans 3:10 [ESV]
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23 [ESV]
During one of our evening walks, Marci started to bark like crazy. She saw something dark moving at a nearby house. She went into barking dog mode and it was hard to get her to calm down. Funny enough, she was barking at a black plastic trash bag that was blowing because of the great winds passing through the area. It did not matter how many times I tried to tell her it was fine, she continued fixated on what she thought was an attack.
I see a lot of “little dogs” going crazy at things observed—many times misconceptions, many times judgmentally rooted. The “little dogs” are those people in a church who point out what everyone is doing wrong. A big spoon of legalism is dished out. Oftentimes this is seen between people who have grown up in the church. A person from one denomination, raised with certain traditions, barks at someone else who has been taught that other traditions were more important, or that their traditions are the “right way to do things.” Possibly the barking dog syndrome is a result of someone becoming puffed up.
The Bible talks a lot about unity of the Body. The reason so much time is spent on this topic is because the devil will use anything to try to plant and promote division. The church can often get off course when Jesus is not the most important focus. Whether we are at church, at home, at work, at school—wherever we are at—Jesus should be the main thing. As well, if Jesus is the main thing, we should do whatever we can to promote the unity of the Body. This means the little dog syndrome should stop. Instead, let us love God and love others. May we build up instead of tearing down. The bag in the wind is not something on which to fixate.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3 [NIV]