The Truth Teller

Apparently, verses that I’ve highlighted in my One Year Study Bible are the theme of my conversations with God. Today’s verse is equally as awesome: “Every word of God proves true” (Proverbs 30:5, NLT). This verse is especially uplifting, because you can’t trust what people say like you used to. For example, a few weeks ago, a man predicted the world would end. Obviously, he was wrong.

Solomon reminds us that there is someone whose words we can trust: God! The insight is simple: every word God speaks is (and proves) true. This should give us a fresh perspective when we read the inspiring words He gave the authors throughout the Bible. Paul wrote, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28, NLT). It’s true; He does! David wrote, “For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him” (Psalm 34:7, NLT). It’s true!

We live in uncertain times, among fickle people, but God is consistent. He’s a truth teller! He’s such a truth teller that He endorsed Himself, “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit” (Isaiah 55:11, NLT). Keep trusting what He says, in spite of what you see!

Our Forgiving Friend

I stumbled across this verse while reading another passage in my One Year Study Bible. My first reaction was, “Wow!” What if God kept a record of our sins? I think my list would be miles long. And, what if God punished us, like He rightfully could, for our sins? I echo the psalmist’s sentiments, “Who, O Lord, could ever survive?”

I’m glad that the psalmist didn’t end this passage after verse 3. The very next verse says, “But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you” (Psalm 130:4, NLT). Isn’t God wonderful? Notice that the psalmist didn’t say that God sells forgiveness. Can you imagine that price tag? Rather, the psalmist reminds us that God offers forgiveness, free of charge, to anyone who asks for it.

In a world where people seldom forgive, it’s refreshing to remember who God is. He’s our forgiving friend, always eager to rekindle His relationship with us.

The Talent Developer

A few years ago, I randomly decided to improve my basketball skills. Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting into. My friend designed several drills, and each one made me tired. And, while I was tired, he made me complete more drills. I didn’t understand. I thought my skills would progress a lot faster if I was fresh for each drill.

My friend knew something that I didn’t: stamina was the key to basketball success. He designed my practice sessions to simulate game-time conditions. In other words, he planned with the end in mind.

Sometimes, God allows circumstances that we don’t understand. They seem hard, unbearable, and even pointless. But, Paul reminds us that everything God allows is to develop us! It may not feel like it in the moment, but God always has the final product in mind. Our temporary pain leads to lasting improvement.

No matter what you’re facing, remember that God is in control. He’s using your circumstances to develop you. Trust Him, and don’t exit before you’re exalted!

The Load Lifter

Have you ever felt like the weight of the world was on your shoulders? Have you ever faced a problem and wished you had someone to bear the burden for a while? If you have, then I know how you feel. I know how heavy the problems we face can feel. More importantly, I’ve found that we have an ever-present helper when our trials seem heaviest.

Jesus is ready, willing, and able to assist us when our load gets heavy. That’s what He announced in the verse cited above. And, my favorite word in that verse is “all.” No matter what we face, and no matter who we are, Jesus will help us. All we have to do is give the problem to Him, in prayer, and wait for Him to work on our behalf.

Maybe you’ve been carrying a burden for a while. Here’s a reminder: you don’t have to. As the late Walter Hawkins said, “Give it to Jesus, He’s waiting for you. He’s got the answer. He’ll see you through.” Jesus specializes in weight lifting. Leave your burdens with Him, and He’ll lift your load.

He Knew You Could Handle It

In March 2008, my friend asked me to help him move some furniture. The task seemed simple: remove his couch (with a pull out bed) from the bonus room upstairs. When I felt how heavy the couch was, however, and knew I had to lead the way downstairs, I thought we were in over our heads! The uncertainty racing through my mind must have appeared on my face, for my friend said, “You’re good (slang for capable). You lift weights every day.” My friend trusted me to lead the way, for he knew I could handle the assignment.

Sometimes we act like I did in the experience described above. We magnify the enormity of our circumstances and feel like they’re more than we can handle. If you’ve ever asked God why, requested leave from your trials, or been angered by His seemingly delayed response, then you know what I’m talking about. But Paul offers an invigorating reminder for us, “… And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand …” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT). God doesn’t allow trials beyond our limits; He won’t allow anything you can’t handle.

I heard an inspiring analogy that underscores this observation, so I’d like to share it with you. One of my favorite preachers explained it like this: we’re like fine tailored clothes, and trials are our spiritual irons. God applies heat to remove the wrinkles in our lives, but He’s wise enough to read the label first. So if you’re overwhelmed in a trial, remember that God read your care instructions first. Better, when the fire seems too intense, remember His hand is still on the iron!

Don’t stay down, rather; get up! If you’re in it, it’s because God knew you could handle it!

The Consoling Coach

Last week, I watched one of the concluding games of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls. Miami was losing this game, and the head coach, Erik Spoelstra, called a timeout. I’m not sure if the Heat were frazzled or intimidated, but Coach Spoelstra told the team, “Just weather this storm, and we’ll be OK.” The game changed dramatically after that timeout, and the Heat came back and won convincingly. While none of the players’ post-game interviews confirmed this, I suspect Coach Spoelstra’s words helped them perform at their potential.

Interestingly, Jesus had called a team huddle in the text included with this email. After hearing about His crucifixion, some of His disciples were fearful that they would be next. Just like Coach Spoelstra, Jesus knew exactly what to say. He told them, “Peace be with you.” I’m sure their fears dissipated as they laid eyes on our Savior and reflected on His words.

Jesus once said, “the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63, NLT). He has a way of saying the right thing when we need it most. When you’re down in the game of life, turn to Him for advice. Let His words comfort and console you during your crisis.

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Jesus

The Humble King

Last weekend, I took three of my younger cousins to see Thor. Shortly after the movie began, I realized that our time together was more than a casual afternoon at the theater. This movie made me fall in love with Jesus all over again! Thor is a movie about Marvel Comic’s Norse god of thunder and lightning, who’s on deck to become the king of Asgard. Although he was the rightful heir to the throne, pride clouded his vision, and his father banished him to Earth. On Earth, Thor’s experiences combined to give him a servant’s heart, the main ingredient of a successful king.

The story line of this movie reminded me of Paul’s words in Philippians 2:7-8. Instead of God, the Father, humbling Jesus, He humbled himself and came to Earth. He left His glory and honor in Heaven, not to be adorned as a king on Earth, but to give His life for ours. He would have been justified if He had stayed in Heaven, for our hearts were dark and calloused by sin. Yet, love compelled Him to give His life for us, that we might enjoy eternal life with the Father.

The words of an old song summarize my sentiments best:
“I don’t know why Jesus loves me. I don’t know why He cares. I don’t know why He sacrificed His life. Oh, but I’m glad, I’m so glad He did.” Thank God for our humble, and risen, King!

The Enemy Eraser

A few days ago Americans received word of a monumental event: Osama Bin Laden has been captured and assassinated. The event was so epic that fans at a Major League Baseball game shifted their attention from the action on the field, abandoned their team loyalties, and cheered “U-S-A” in unison. And, this was just the tip of the iceberg of celebrations. For the next few hours, people across the United States rejoiced because the leader of the 9/11 attacks could not initiated further harm.

Just imagine the celebration that will erupt when John’s prophecy is fulfilled. In Revelation 20:10, he illustrates the seize and demise of Satan, our spiritual enemy. Just think about how often he has frustrated and terrorized you. Think about how he works tirelessly to abort God’s promised blessings. Now, think about seeing him in the lake of fire, where he can’t inflict further harm. Awesome! And we’ll have one reason to celebrate this epic event: Jesus, our Lord and Savior!

Jesus is our spiritual Navy Seal! One day, He will permanently erase Satan, our enemy. Oh, what a celebration that will be! We’ll join the heavenly host and shout, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power” (Revelation 4:11, NLT).

The Comeback King

Last Saturday, I saw the highlights from one of the greatest comebacks in NBA playoff history. The Portland Trailblazers were down 18 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and all signs pointed to another crushing defeat, courtesy of the Dallas Mavericks. Evidently, the Trailblazers didn’t get that memo. In one of the most impressive fourth quarter performances in NBA history, they battled back and defeated the Mavericks 84-82.

While this comeback was impressive, it’s no comparison to one that happened about 2,000 years earlier. It was the fourth quarter on Resurrection Sunday, and all signs pointed to another victory for Satan. He had implemented his best offensive attacks: lies, beatings, and, worst of all, the cross. Early that morning, however, the fans (aka Mary Magdalene, Mary, and the other women) witnessed a great comeback. Jesus had defeated Satan once and for all, giving us access to eternal life.

There’s no other way to put this: JESUS IS THE KING OF COMEBACKS. If He lives in you, then you have the power to come back from any circumstance that momentarily defeats you. So, walk in the power of the resurrection, knowing that you can put a comma in everywhere life has placed a period.

A Present Help

Yesterday, I caught a portion of a local news station’s coverage of the tornadoes that hit NC. During the segment, they interviewed a woman who survived the fiasco. She recalled how the severity of the storm forced her to take cover in her bathtub. Before the interview concluded, she told the world why she survived, “Honestly, it was God that brought us out.”

When I heard her answer, I smiled. Isn’t that just like God? He’s always there and able to help rescue us from trouble. I’ve talked to others who survived the tornadoes, and their rationale is the same: God kept them. Truly, He is our refuge and strength!

Since God can rescue us from circumstances we shouldn’t survive, He gets my vote for the most valuable power in the world. And, if you have survived anything that you shouldn’t have, then follow David’s advice, “Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:3, NLT).