“O Israel, hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption.” Psalm 130:7
Hope is a wonderful thing. It is not a wishful thinking like a Christmas or birthday gift that may never appear. Hope is based upon a truth that cannot change. It carries with it an assurance of something coming to pass. For the Christian we have hope, not wishful thinking. We have hope in our salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 6:18-19). We have hope in Jesus’ soon return and our glorification (1 John 3:3). We have a hope that doesn’t disappoint (Romans 5:5). It’s not based upon a “maybe if you’re a good boy or girl” (like Santa). It’s not based upon a “possibly if He’s in a good mood today” (like a grumpy grandpa). Nor does it come from a “there’s a slight chance today” (like a weather man). It is not changed by politics or people. It is not hindered by circumstances or situations. No, our hope is secure and solid, based upon His eternal and unchanging character. It is birthed in His eternal truth, wrapped in His love, extends mercy to all, and is effective to redeem every lost soul. Jesus has given us hope, because He is our hope.
What a wonderful song of hope we have to sing to the LORD today! Have you lost sight of the hope that has been given to you through Jesus? Have you been bogged down with the cares of this life that you’ve lost focus? Lift your eyes once again to Him, who is your hope, and thank Him with a new song of hope from your own heart.
“And He said to them, 'Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat'” - Mark 6:31
What day is it? Wasn’t it yesterday that we just celebrated Christmas? You mean summer is almost here already? The sayings are all to familiar to us all. Time flies and we are busy.
Jesus’ ministry was in full swing by now. The disciples had just heard that John the Baptist had been beheaded. It was a somber and sad day. They were so busy in ministry that they didn’t even stop to grab a quick bite at In-N-Out! Emotionally they are drained, physically they are lacking, and spiritually they needed to be recharged. How? By spending some solitude time with Jesus.
They probably thought, “Good idea Lord, let’s get to that deserted place. No cell phones, no demands, nap time! Oh, we all need a vacation!” Yet that’s not what Jesus meant. For on the other side was a multitude to minister to and He knew it! I’m sure Jesus was seeing the demand, and their weariness, and knowing what was on the horizon as their Good Shepherd He stepped in to say, “Let’s go guys”.
"But where’s the rest?” they might say. "Where’s the vacation that is so needed? Lord, I’m tired and spent.” Listen, it’s found in the boat with Jesus! That’s the beauty of a boat ride with Jesus. It’s not about getting somewhere all the time and getting things done. It’s about spending some time with the Creator of it all.
Friend, we all need to rest physically. We all need vacations from time to time to recharge. Summer is a good time for that. But is your soul resting spiritually? Don’t neglect those times when the Lord says, “Let’s get away together for a moment. You need it and I’ve got something to share with you”. You’ll be blessed and refreshed in the beauty of that boat ride with Jesus!
"For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?"
Life is full of pressures, responsibilities, and pleasures, yet you only have a limited amount of time on this earth. It is difficult to manage and balance all of these things, to fulfill duties and to rest. The easiest thing to do is to get lost in those things that we like and ignore the things we don't.
Some things have no profit at all, whether in this life or the next. Some have great profit in this world and no profit in the next. A person could build great wealth and a great reputation during their earthly life, only to find that when they die, none of it made any difference in eternity. On the other hand, a person could be poor and their name never found on any boards or businesses or in any newspapers, and in eternity find a great reward.
So you must ask yourself, what are you investing in? Our time on this earth is short. Will you be able to enjoy the fruit of your labors forevermore or only for the next 5, 10, or 50 years?
Ask the Lord to help you have a balanced life and an eternal reward. And study His word to evaluate how you are doing.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
I’m sitting in the airport in Seattle after dropping my oldest daughter, Hannah, off at Bible college. As I reflect on the past month with her being home I’m amazed at how God has worked in her. She felt the Lord leading her to step out in faith and apply to go to the Seattle campus. The cost was more. The distance was further from home. The place was unfamiliar.
We prayed and gave it to the Lord and God not only provided what she needed, but even more! It truly was a miracle. A step of faith by all of us that I know she will never forget.
We trusted God to get her there, and now as I leave for Phoenix, we are trusting God to take care of her. We won’t be able to hug our firstborn until May. That’s a tough one! It’s another step of faith.
See, God is always calling to us to step out in faith. Some are harder to take than others, but all are necessary. Why? Often through those times is when we see God in a real way. What areas are you having to trust God to move? Finances, health, marriage and family? Don’t give up. Don’t jump ship. Don’t throw in the towel. He isn’t done. Trust Him one step at a time.
"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep."
-Romans 12:15 ESV
More than likely, you are aware that the holidays are filled with much joy, but also much sadness. Have you experienced the difficulty of grief during the "happiest time of year"? Maybe the loss of a loved one, family relationships that are non-existent or abusive, or any number of other things that can make joy during the holidays hard to find.
Some of us are struggling with this more acutely this year, and some have found peace and comfort. For those of you who have been comforted, please be sensitive to those around you that you can comfort with the comfort you've been given (2 Cor. 1:3-4). You don't have to have answers, just an ear to listen or maybe a kind hug to share. But you have to be present and aware of those around you.
For those suffering, don't suffer alone. Reach out and let someone know. You aren't a burden. You are loved. Allow Jesus to encourage you through the compassion of a brother or sister in Christ.
Grace and Peace to you through Jesus Christ,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV
Often what gets me through tough times is dreaming of all that God has for us, both now and in the time to come.
What is home to you? When I was a child, I had a naive sense of security in our home. That security was shattered as sin and the ways of this world turned that place into a broken home. Today, I have a sweet home with my wife and daughter... a home that I never dreamed I would ever have or even knew existed, and yet I know it’s not permanent.
Many people search and search for security and a home in this world. But no matter how many moves you make, or how much money you have to remodel, or how much love there is within your family, you’ll never find the home you're looking for here because God designed us for one home, one with Him.
We have only just begun to know all that God has in store for us. Do not waste your time searching for something that cannot be found here, but revel in everything that God has prepared for you. And if you are unsure of what all of that is, open up the Bible and allow God to show you.
“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.”
- Romans 12:10
Monday we had our Fall Festival at the church. On one hand, it was cool to see so many on our property, from school families, to church families, to community families, it was amazing! Though it was good to see such a great response, numbers are not our goal. What was even greater for me to see was how EACH part does A part for the benefit of ALL parts! And that is what love does. It sacrifices self for the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is His kingdom! That is what the Lord wants of His Church, to love one another practically, passionately, and purely. On Monday, it was not only evident, but also fun!
Unity and love are two factors that we need to give constant attention to in our church and in our lives. Why? Because the effect of sin is selfishness. Unity sets my sights on a bigger picture than me. Love moves me to die to self and be like Jesus to others.
Here are a few reasons to strive for unity in the Body of Christ:
1) Unity in God’s church brings God glory (John 17:22)
2) Unity in God’s church opens the door for great opportunity (to witness to others of why you do what you do) (John 17:21)
3) Unity in God’s church shows maturity (Eph. 4:12-13; Phil. 1:27)
4) Unity in God’s Church is a blessing (ps. 133)
Here are a few reasons to love in a big way:
1) Love is what Jesus commanded us to do (John 13:34)
2) Love is what Jesus wants us to be known for (John 13:35)
3) Without love we are nothing and all sacrifices are meaningless (1 Cor. 13)
4) Love is what endures beyond everything (1 Cor. 13:13)
So, let’s continue to consider one another in order to stir up love and good works (Heb. 10:24), especially as we head into a season of thanksgiving and celebrating the birth of Jesus! Let’s love God greatly, love one another practically, and share Jesus effectively.
There isn’t really words for the tragedy that occurred in Las Vegas this week. 59 people lost their lives and over 500 were injured. So many families ripped apart. The trauma of what happened will continue in many evil ways in those people’s lives for a long, long time.
It’s been hard to even think about. I can’t imagine how those involved are feeling. How could someone do such a thing? Even in our sin infested world, even knowing the depths of the sinner’s heart, it’s hard to fathom how someone could do such a thing.
We are filled with fear,
for we are trapped, devastated, and ruined.
Tears stream from my eyes
because of the destruction of my people!
My tears flow endlessly;
they will not stop
until the Lord looks down
from heaven and sees.
My heart is breaking
over the fate of all the [people] of my city.
My enemies, whom I have never harmed,
hunted me down like a bird.
They threw me into a pit
and dropped stones on me.
The water rose over my head,
and I cried out, “This is the end!”
But I called on your name, Lord,
from deep within the pit.
You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading!
Hear my cry for help!”
Yes, you came when I called;
you told me, “Do not fear.”
We will remember that evil night in Las Vegas, despising that cowardly, wicked act. And we will honor those who died by valuing human life and loving our fellow man in Christ’s name.
This morning, I read a quote from Jeff Bauman who lost both of his legs from the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013. On Facebook he wrote to the victims, “I know your pain,” but he assured them, “You will walk again. You will laugh again. You will dance again. You will live again.”
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” (John 14:1)
We took a vacation to California as a family just before dropping our oldest, Hannah, off at Bible College a few weeks ago. It was a blast hanging out as a family together one last time before things changed and a new “normal” came our way. As I sat there one day in devotions I thought about Jesus’ last week with his disciples. He spent 3 years hanging with them. It was certainly a family. Leaving is never easy. So with Him as our example, let’s note these things about saying “good-bye” to loved ones who are heading off to a new chapter in their lives.
Jesus then went to the cross, died for them, and rose again…only to see them again in a few days. How great are reunions with loved ones in Jesus not only in this life, but knowing we will have forever with them too!
My birthday is less than a week away and it seems like the last one was just a couple of days ago. I’m getting old fast and I don’t particularly embrace all of its aspects. A year used to be a very long time, but now it passes in a heartbeat. It’s sort of like money. A dollar used to buy a bunch of stuff and now a dollar is like a nickel. What’s up with that?
I used to be young. I did young stupid things and got away with it. I drove my ’58 Chevy across the country with little sleep, no seat belts and bad tires. I rode my motorcycle down the railroad tracks over the train bridge dozens of times. Once there was a close call, so I traded the bike for an airplane.
Now I’m an old guy. I don’t do dumb stuff like that anymore…because I can’t. I joined AARP, signed up for Medicare and became a snowbird. I go north for the summer now because it’s too hot in Phoenix and my arthritis is killing me!
Some people think that God is old too. They think of him as they would think of an eccentric, out-of-touch old codger. They might envision an old crotchety, hippy-like character with a long grey beard, shaggy hair, wearing a white robe and Birkenstocks hanging out in heaven…if there even is a heaven. Some call Him the “Grand Old Man” or even “The Old Man Upstairs.” However, God is not old as people think of old. It is true that He has been around for a very long time, you might even say for an eternity. You see, God always was, and now is, and will always be.
Here is how the Bible describes Him: God is Spirit. He is a living and active divine person who is infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, truth and love. He longs for fellowship with us whom He created in His own image and redeemed by His grace and He always acts in harmony with His perfect nature.
Doesn’t sound like a tired old guy to me. God lives and acts eternally outside of time. As a matter of fact, He created time and some day He will reach in and take each of us out of this time-machine to live with Him forever. I look forward to that day more and more as the years pass.
Mike Means, Elder/Treasurer
Words of encouragement from the leadership at Calvary North.