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Standing Firm by Faith

By |2022-12-19T01:33:03-05:00December 19th, 2022|

Nokia became the world’s best-selling mobile phone company in 1998 and saw profits rise to nearly four billion dollars in 1999. But by 2011, sales were diminishing and soon the failing phone brand was acquired by Microsoft. One factor in Nokia’s mobile division failure was a fear-based work culture that led to disastrous decisions. Managers were afraid to tell the truth about the Nokia phone’s inferior operating system and other design problems for fear of being fired.

King Ahaz of Judah and his people were fearful—“shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind” (Isaiah 7:2). They knew that the kings of Israel and Aram (Syria) had allied, and their combined armies were marching to Judah to take it over (vv. 5–6). Although God used Isaiah to encourage Ahaz by telling him his enemies’ hostile plans would “not happen” (v. 7), the foolish leader fearfully chose to ally with Assyria and submit to the superpower’s king (2 Kings 16:7–8). He didn’t trust in God, who declared, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (Isaiah 7:9).

The writer of Hebrews helps us consider what it looks like to stand firm in faith today: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (10:23). May we press on and not “shrink back” (v. 39) as the Holy Spirit empowers us to trust in Jesus.

Legacy of Faith

By |2022-12-16T01:33:03-05:00December 16th, 2022|

In 2019, research exploring the spiritual heritage of Christians in the US revealed that mothers and grandmothers have a significant influence on spiritual development. Nearly two-thirds of people who claim a legacy of faith credited their mother and one-third acknowledged that a grandparent, usually a grandmother, also played a significant role. 

The report’s editor remarked, “Over and over, this study speaks to the enduring impact of mothers in . . . spiritual development.” It’s an impact we also discover in Scripture. 

In Paul’s letter to his protégé Timothy, he acknowledged that Timothy’s faith was modeled to him by his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice (2 Timothy 1:5). It’s a delightful personal detail highlighting the impact of two women on one of the leaders of the early church. Their influence can also be seen in Paul’s encouragement to Timothy to “continue in what you have learned . . . and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures” (3:14–15). 

A strong spiritual heritage is a precious gift. But even if our upbringing lacked the kind of positive influences that helped form Timothy’s faith, there are likely others in our life who have had a profound impact in helping to shape our spiritual development. Most important, we all have the opportunity to model sincere faith to those around us and leave a lasting legacy.

Faith in Action

By |2022-11-22T01:33:02-05:00November 22nd, 2022|

A tornado blew through a community on a June evening in 2021, destroying a family’s barn. It was a sad loss because the barn had been on the family property since the late 1800s. As John and Barb drove by on their way to church the next morning, they saw the damage and wondered how they might help. So they stopped and learned that the family needed assistance with cleanup. Turning their car around quickly, they headed back home to change clothes and returned to stay for the day to clean up the mess the violent winds had created. They put their faith into action as they served the family.

James said that “faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). He gives the example of Abraham, who in obedience followed God when he didn’t know where he was going (v. 23, see Genesis 12:1–4; 15:6). James also mentions Rahab, who showed her belief in the God of Israel when she hid the spies who came to check out the city of Jericho (2:25; see Joshua 2; 6:17).

“If someone claims to have faith but has no deeds,” it does them no good (James 2:26). “Faith is the root, good works are the fruits, and we must see to it that we have both” (Matthew Henry Commentary). God doesn’t need our good deeds, but our faith is proven by our actions.

God Heals Our Brokenness

By |2021-11-18T08:06:11-05:00November 18th, 2021|

Collin and his wife, Jordan, wandered through the craft store, looking for a picture to hang in their home. Collin thought he’d found just the right piece and called Jordan over to see it. On the right side of the ceramic artwork was the word grace. But the left side held two long cracks. “Well, it’s broken!” Jordan said as she started looking for an unbroken one on the shelf. But then Collin said, “No. That’s the point. We’re broken and then grace comes in—period.” They decided to purchase the one with the cracks. When they got to the checkout, the clerk exclaimed, “Oh, no, it’s broken!” “Yes, so are we,” Jordan whispered.

What does it mean to be a “broken” person? Someone defined it this way: A growing awareness that no matter how hard we try, our ability to make life work gets worse instead of better. It’s a recognition of our need for God and His intervention in our lives.

The apostle Paul talked about our brokenness in terms of being “dead in [our] transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). The answer to our need to be forgiven and changed comes in verses 4 and 5: “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, makes us alive . . . it is by grace [we] have been saved.”

God is willing to heal our brokenness with His grace when we admit, “I’m broken.”

A Beginner’s Guide to Life

By |2021-10-14T09:06:03-04:00October 14th, 2021|

After my mother’s sudden death, I was motivated to start blogging. I wanted to write posts that would inspire people to use their minutes on earth to create significant life moments. So I turned to a beginner’s guide to blogging. I learned what platform to use, how to choose titles, and how to craft compelling posts. And, in 2016 my first blog post was born.

Paul wrote a “beginner’s guide” that explains how to obtain eternal life. In Romans 6:16–17, he contrasts the fact that we’re all born in rebellion to God (sinners) with the truth that Jesus can help us be “set free from [our] sin” (v. 18). Paul then describes the difference between being a slave to sin and a slave to God and His life-giving ways (vv. 19–20). He continues by stating that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life” (v. 23). Death means being separated from God forever. This is the devastating outcome we face when we reject Christ. But God has offered us a gift in Jesus—new life. It’s the kind of life that begins on earth and continues forever in heaven with Him.

Paul’s beginner’s guide to eternal life leaves us with two choices—choosing sin which leads to death or choosing Jesus’ gift which leads to eternal life. May you receive His gift of life, and if you already have, may you share it with others today!

For Others’ Sake

By |2021-10-10T09:06:02-04:00October 10th, 2021|

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Singaporeans stayed home to avoid being infected. But I blissfully continued swimming, believing it was safe.

My wife, however, feared that I might pick up an infection at the public pool and pass it on to her aged mother—who, like other seniors, were more vulnerable to the virus. “Can you just avoid swimming for some time, for my sake?” she asked.

At first, I wanted to argue that there was little risk. Then I realized that this mattered less than her feelings. Why would I insist on swimming—hardly an essential thing—when it made her worry unnecessarily?

In Romans 14, Paul addressed issues like whether believers in Christ should eat certain foods or celebrate certain festivals. He was concerned that some people were imposing their views on others.

Paul reminded the church in Rome, and us, that believers in Jesus may view situations differently. We also have diverse backgrounds that color our attitudes and practices. He wrote, “Let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister” (v. 13).

God’s grace gives us great freedom even as it helps us express His love to fellow believers. We can use that freedom to put the spiritual needs of others above our own convictions about rules and practices that don’t contradict the essential truths found in the gospel (v. 20).

Heeding the Warnings

By |2021-08-26T09:06:02-04:00August 26th, 2021|

When a pickpocketer tried to pilfer my property while I was on vacation in another country, it wasn’t a surprise. I’d read warnings about the danger of subway thieves, so I knew what to do to protect my wallet. But I never expected it to happen.

Fortunately, the young man who grabbed my wallet had slippery fingers, so it fell to the floor where I could retrieve it. But the incident reminded me that I should have heeded the warnings.

We don’t like to dwell on warnings, because we think they’ll get in the way of enjoying life, but it’s imperative to pay attention to them. For instance, Jesus gave us a clear warning while sending out His disciples to proclaim God’s coming kingdom (Matthew 10:7). He said, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven” (vv. 32–33).

Jesus is stating that we have a choice, and if we choose to reject His message of salvation, we turn away from God. Salvation and the real life He offers for both now and forever will be refused. In love, God provided a Savior and a plan for us to be in His presence for eternity.  

May we trust in Jesus, the One who chose to save us from being eternally separated from the One loves and made us.

Priceless Lives in Christ

By |2021-07-31T09:06:03-04:00July 31st, 2021|

Tears streamed down my cheeks during a frantic search for my lost wedding and anniversary rings. After an hour of lifting couch cushions and scouring every nook and cranny of our home, Alan said, “I’m sorry. We’ll replace them.”

“Thanks. But their sentimental value surpasses their material worth. They’re irreplaceable.” Praying, I continued hunting for the jewelry. “Please, Lord. Help me find them.”

Later, while reaching into the pocket of a sweater worn earlier in the week, I found the priceless jewels. “Thank You, Jesus.” As we rejoiced, I slipped on the rings and recalled the parable of the woman who lost a coin (Luke 15:8-10). Like the woman who searched for one of her ten silver coins, I knew the worth of what had been lost. Neither of us was wrong for wanting to find our valuables. Jesus simply used that story to emphasize His desire to save every person He created. One sinner repenting results in a celebration in heaven.

What a gift it would be to become a person who prays as passionately for others as we pray for lost treasures to be found. What a privilege it is to celebrate when someone repents and surrenders their lives to Christ. If we’ve placed our trust in Jesus, we can be thankful that we’ve experienced the joy of being loved by Someone who never gave up because He thought we were worth finding.

Sight Unseen

By |2021-05-23T09:06:03-04:00May 23rd, 2021|

After Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, he parachuted into the Russian countryside. A farmwoman spotted the orange-clad cosmonaut, still wearing his helmet and dragging two parachutes. “Can it be that you have come from outer space?” she asked in surprise. “As a matter of fact, I have,” he said.

Soviet leaders sadly turned the historic flight into anti-religious propaganda. “Gagarin went into space, but he didn’t see any god there,” their premier declared. (Gagarin himself never said such a thing.) As C. S. Lewis observed, “Those who do not find [God] on earth are unlikely to find Him in space.”

Jesus warned us about ignoring God in this life. He told a story of two men who died—a rich man who had no time for God, and Lazarus, a destitute man rich in faith (Luke 16:19–23). In torment, the rich man pleaded with Abraham for his brothers still on earth. “Send Lazarus,” he begged Abraham. “If someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent” (vv. 27, 30). Abraham got to the heart of the problem: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (v. 31).

“Seeing is never believing,” wrote Oswald Chambers. “We interpret what we see in the light of what we believe.”

What Can’t Be Seen

By |2021-05-02T09:06:04-04:00May 2nd, 2021|

Historians say the Atomic Age began on July 16, 1945, when the first nuclear weapon was detonated in a remote desert of New Mexico. But long before the invention of anything that could even see these tiny building blocks of the universe, the Greek philosopher Democritus (c. 460 bc–370 bc) was exploring the existence and power of the atom. Democritus comprehended more than he could see, and atomic theory was the result.

The Scriptures tell us that the essence of faith is embracing what can’t be seen. Hebrews 11:1 affirms, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” This assurance is not the result of wishful or positive thinking. It is confidence in the God we cannot see but whose existence is the most real reality in the universe. His reality is displayed in His creative works (Psalm 19:1) and made visible by revealing His invisible character and ways in His Son, Jesus, who came to show the Father’s love to us (John 1:18).

This is the God in whom “we live and move and have our being,” as the apostle Paul put it (Acts 17:28). As such, “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Yet we do not walk alone. The unseen God walks with us every step of the way.

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