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Precious to God

By |2023-11-21T01:33:11-05:00November 21st, 2023|

As a boy, Ming found his father harsh and distant. Even when Ming was ill and had to see the pediatrician, his father grumbled that it was troublesome. Once, he overheard a quarrel and learned his father had wanted him aborted. The feeling of being an unwanted child followed him into his adult years. When Ming became a believer in Jesus, he found it difficult to relate to God as Father, even though he knew Him as Lord of his life.

If, like Ming, we haven’t felt loved by our earthly fathers, we may face similar doubts in our relationship with God. We may wonder, Am I a burden to Him? Does He care about me? But while our earthly fathers may have been silent and distant, God our heavenly Father comes close and says, “I love you” (Isaiah 43:4).

In Isaiah 43, God speaks as our Creator and as a Father. If you wonder whether He wants you to live under His care as part of His family, hear what He said to His people: “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth” (v. 6). If you wonder what you’re worth to Him, hear His affirmation, “You are precious and honored in my sight” (v. 4).

God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to pay the penalty of sin so that we who believe in Him can be with Him forever (John 3:16). Because of what He says and what He’s done for us, we can have full confidence that He wants us and loves us.

Sins Remembered No More

By |2023-11-14T01:33:31-05:00November 14th, 2023|

I never saw the ice. But I felt it. The back end of the pickup I was driving—my grandfather’s—fishtailed. One swerve, two, three—and I was airborne, flying off a fifteen-foot embankment. I remember thinking, This would be awesome if I wasn’t going to die. A moment later, the truck crunched into the steep slope and rolled to the bottom. I crawled out of the crushed cab, unscathed.

The truck was utterly totaled that December morning in 1992. God had spared me. But what about my grandfather? What would he say? In fact, he never said a single word about the truck. Not one. There was no scolding, no repayment plan, nothing. Just forgiveness. And a grandfather’s smile that I was okay.

My grandfather’s grace reminds me of God’s grace in Jeremiah 31. There, despite their tremendous failings, God promises a restored relationship with His people, saying, “I will forgive their wickedness, and I will remember their sins no more” (v. 34).

I’m sure my grandfather never forgot that I’d wrecked his truck. But he acted just like God does here, not remembering it, not shaming me, not making me work to repay the debt I rightfully owed. Just as God says He’ll do, my grandfather chose to remember it no more, as if the destructive thing I’d done had never happened.

Welcomed Home by God

By |2023-11-05T01:33:24-04:00November 5th, 2023|

When Sherman Smith recruited Deland McCullough to play American football for Miami University, he loved Deland and became the father Deland never had. Deland had great admiration for Sherman and aimed to become the man he was. Decades later, when Deland tracked down his birth mom, she shocked him with the news, “Your father’s name is Sherman Smith.” Yes, that Sherman Smith. Coach Smith was stunned to learn he had a son, and Deland was stunned that his father figure was literally his father!

The next time they met, Sherman hugged Deland and said, “My son.” Deland had never heard that from a father. He knew Sherman “was saying it from a place of ‘I’m proud. This is my son,’ ” and he was overwhelmed.

We too should be overwhelmed by the perfect love of our heavenly Father. John writes, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” We are as dumbfounded as Deland, who didn’t dare think someone like Sherman could be his dad. Is it really true? John insists, Yes, “And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).

If you believe in Jesus, His Father is also your Dad. You may feel orphaned, alone in the world. But the truth is you have a Father—the only perfect One—and He’s proud to call you His child.

Beauty for Ashes

By |2023-10-26T02:33:16-04:00October 26th, 2023|

In the aftermath of the Marshall Fire, the most destructive fire in Colorado history, one ministry offered to help families search through the ashes for valuable items. Family members mentioned precious objects they hoped were still preserved. Very little was. One man spoke tenderly of his wedding ring. He’d placed it on his dresser in the upstairs bedroom. The house now gone, its contents had charred or melted into a single layer of debris at the basement level. Searchers looked for the ring in that same corner where the bedroom had been—without success.

The prophet Isaiah wrote mournfully of the impending destruction of Jerusalem, which would be leveled. Likewise, there are times we feel the life we’ve built has been reduced to ashes. We feel we have nothing left, emotionally and spiritually. But Isaiah offers hope: “He [God] has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted . . . to comfort all who mourn” (Isaiah 61:1–2). God converts our tragedy into glory: “[He will] bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes” (v. 3). He promises to “rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated” (v. 4).

At that Marshall Fire site, one woman searched the ashes on the opposite side. There, still in its case, she unearthed the husband’s wedding ring. Coincidence? Think again. In your despair, God reaches into your ashes and pulls out the one truly precious thing. You.

Unchanging God

By |2023-07-04T02:33:14-04:00July 4th, 2023|

An iconic photo shows the tread of a boot against a gray background. It’s astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s footprint, which he left on the moon in 1969. Scientists say that footprint is likely still there, unchanged after all these years. In fact, it may be there as long as the moon itself lasts. On the moon there is no wind or water to change the landscape. Nothing gets eroded. What happens on the lunar landscape stays on the lunar landscape.

It’s even more awesome to reflect on the constant presence of God Himself. James writes, “[God] does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). The apostle puts this in the context of our own struggles: “When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy” (v. 2 nlt). Why? Because we’re loved by a great and unchanging God: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (v. 17).

In times of trouble, we need to remember God’s constant provision. Perhaps we might recall the words of the great hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”: “There is no shadow of turning with thee; thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not; as thou hast been thou forever wilt be.” Yes, our God has left his permanent footprint on our world. He will always be there for us. Great is His faithfulness.

When You’re Lonely

By |2023-06-28T02:33:13-04:00June 28th, 2023|

At 7 p.m., Hui-Liang was in his kitchen, eating rice and leftover fish balls. The Chua family in the apartment next door was having dinner too, and their laughter and conversation cut through the silence of Hui-Liang’s unit, where he’d lived alone since his wife died. He’d learned to live with loneliness; over the years, its stabbing pain had become a dull ache. But tonight, the sight of the one bowl and pair of chopsticks on his table pierced him deeply.

Before he went to bed that night, Hui-Liang read Psalm 23, his favorite psalm. The words that mattered to him were only four syllables: “You are with me” (v. 4). More than the shepherd’s practical acts of care toward the sheep, it was his steadfast presence and loving gaze over every detail of the life of the sheep (vv. 2−5) that gave Hui-Liang peace.

Just knowing that someone is there, that someone is with us, brings great comfort in those lonely moments. God promises His children that His love will always be with us (Psalm 103:17), and that He’ll never leave us (Hebrews 13:5). When we feel alone and unseen—whether in a quiet kitchen, on the bus going home from work, or even in a crowded supermarket—we can know that the Shepherd’s gaze is always on us. We can say, “You are with me.”

Grace Amid the Chaos

By |2022-12-30T01:33:20-05:00December 30th, 2022|

I was drifting off into an impromptu nap when it hit me. From the basement, my son ripped a chord on his electric guitar. The walls reverberated. No peace. No quiet. No nap. Moments later, competing music greeted my ears: my daughter playing “Amazing Grace” on the piano.

Normally, I love my son’s guitar playing. But in that moment, it jarred and unsettled me. Just as quickly, the familiar notes of John Newton’s hymn reminded me that grace thrives amid the chaos. No matter how loud, unwanted, or disorienting the storms of life might be, God’s note of grace rings clear and true, reminding us of His watchful care over us.  

We see that reality in Scripture. In Psalm 107:23–32, sailors struggle mightily against a maelstrom that could easily devour them. “In their peril, their courage melted away” (v. 26). Still, they didn’t despair but: “cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress” (v. 28). Finally, we read: “They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven” (v. 30).

In chaotic moments, whether they’re life-threatening or merely sleep-threatening, the barrage of noise and fear can storm our souls. But as we trust God and pray to Him, we experience the grace of His presence and provision—the haven of His steadfast love.

In His Hands

By |2022-12-14T01:33:02-05:00December 14th, 2022|

William Shatner played Captain Kirk on the television series Star Trek, but he was unprepared for a real trip into space. He called his eleven-minute sub-orbital flight “the most profound experience I can imagine.” He stepped out of his rocket and marveled, “To see the blue color go right by you and now you're staring into blackness, that's the thing.” You “look down and there's the blue down there and the black up there.” He added, "The beauty of that color and it's so thin and you're through it in an instant."

Our planet is a blue dot surrounded by utter darkness. It’s unsettling. Shatner said that flying from blue sky into blackness was like flying into death. “In an instant, you go, ‘Woah, that’s death!’ That’s what I saw. It was so moving to me. This experience, it’s something unbelievable.”

Shatner’s shattering flight puts life in perspective. We’re small objects in the universe, yet we’re loved by the One who created light and separated it from the darkness (Genesis 1:3–4). Our Father knows where the darkness resides, and the path to its dwelling (Job 38:19–20). He “laid the earth’s foundation . . . . while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” (38:4–7).

Let’s trust our small lives to the God who holds the whole universe in His hands.

So Beautiful

By |2022-11-27T01:33:05-05:00November 27th, 2022|

I was very young when I peered through a hospital nursery window and saw a newborn for the first time. In my ignorance, I was dismayed to see a tiny, wrinkly child with a hairless, cone-shaped head. The baby’s mother standing near us, however, couldn’t stop asking everyone, “Isn’t he gorgeous?” I was reminded of that moment when I saw a video of a young dad tenderly singing the song, “You Are So Beautiful” to his baby girl. To her enraptured daddy—the little girl was the most beautiful thing ever created.

Is that how God looks at us? Ephesians 2:10 says that we’re His “handiwork”—His masterpiece. Aware of our own failings, it may be hard for us to accept how much He loves us or to believe that we could ever be of value to Him. But God doesn’t love us because we deserve love (vv. 3-4); He loves us because He is love (1 John 4:8). His love is one of grace and He showed the depth of it when, through Jesus’ sacrifice, He made us alive in Him when we were dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:5, 8).

God’s love isn’t fickle—it’s constant. He loves the imperfect, the broken, those who are weak and those who mess up. When we fall, He’s there to lift us up. We’re His treasure, and we’re so beautiful to Him.

God Knows You

By |2022-11-19T01:33:04-05:00November 19th, 2022|

It seems my mother can sense trouble from a mile away. Once, after a rough day at school, I tried to mask my frustration hoping that no one would notice. “What’s the matter?” she asked. Then she added, “Before you tell me it’s nothing, remember I’m your mother. I gave birth to you, and I know you better than you know yourself.” My mom has consistently reminded me that her deep awareness of who I am helps her be there for me in the moments I need her most.

As believers in Jesus, we’re cared for by a God who knows us intimately. The psalmist David praised Him for His attentiveness to the lives of His children saying, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar” (Psalm 139:1–2). Because God knows who we are—our every thought, desire, and action—there’s nowhere we can go where we’re outside the bounds of His abundant love and care (vv. 7–12). As David wrote, “If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me” (vv. 9–10). We can find comfort knowing that no matter where we are in life, when we call out to God in prayer, He’ll offer us the love, wisdom, and guidance we need.

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