‘Tis the Season to Be Peaceful

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors” (Luke 2:14)

A woman went to see her doctor. She complained that she was feeling run down. The physician said, “You’re not run down. You’re too wound up.” Those words might describe you during this busy Christmas season.

Did you know God has a special gift for run down, wound up, stressed out people? Jesus told us about this gift when He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you” (John 14:27).

Christmas is not the season to be anxious, but to be peaceful. God is never beset with anxieties. He never is at the mercy of circumstances beyond His control. The glory of Christmas is the gift of God’s peace.

Do you have peace of mind today? Are you at peace in all your relationships? Do you have peace at work? Do you enjoy peace in your personal finances? God never intended that your life be full of aggravations and frustrations.

The Bible verse at the top of this post, Luke 2:14, shows us 3 truths about God’s gift of peace.

Peace Is God’s Work
In the Bible whenever God does something wonderful, people are encouraged to give glory to God. So, when Jesus was born, angels announced to the shepherds, “Glory to God.”

When God blesses you with His gift of peace it is a sense of well-being that is beyond human comprehension. Our enjoyment of God’s gift of peace really is God at His best.

Peace Is Well-Being
The angels announced, “peace on earth.” What exactly does this word peace mean? The word actually carries the idea of “wholeness” or “well-being.” I think the word harmony is a good word to explain God’s gift of peace.

When God blesses you with His gift of peace you are at peace with others. You are at peace with yourself. And you are at peace with the circumstances of your life.

One wise person has said, “Every tomorrow has 2 handles. We can take hold of tomorrow by the handle of anxiety and worry, or we can take hold of tomorrow by the handle of faith. When you pick up the handle of faith God blesses your life with the gift of His peace.

Peace Is a Person
The angels sang out, “to all whom God favors.” What’s that about? This word favor is a terrific Bible word that means a grace that God does for people. “Favor” describes the tens of thousands of blessings God showers you with over your lifetime. You have been favored by God. Did you know that?

When Jesus died on that Roman cross, He shouted, “It is finished!” All that needed to be done to bring God’s peace into your life was accomplished. That is why I say, Peace is a person. Isaiah 9:6 speaks of Jesus as “the prince of peace.”

When God gave the gift of peace, He didn’t send a booklet of complicated instructions for us to figure out. He sent His Son. And peace enters your heart when you, by faith, take Jesus into your life, and you commit yourself to live with Jesus at the center of all you are and all you do.

‘Tis the season to be peaceful. The glory of Christmas is the gift of God’s peace. And that’s hopeful!

What to Do With Fear

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).

I have served in ministry work for more than 40 years. Never in my wildest imagination would I have ever thought part of my ministry duties would be the safety of my church members. That is where I find myself today. Seems the recent church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, has churches across America forming church security teams, and taking increased measures to protect those who attend church.

Of course, fear motivates these actions–fear of an active shooter, robber, or intruder inside the church building. Related to this fear, gun sales, as well as the number of background checks have surged in recent years.

We should distinguish 2 types of fear. One type of fear is warranted. Like the fear of touching a hot stove top, or fearing a nearby rattlesnake. And the Bible even admonishes us to fear the Lord (Psalm 89:7).

But a different type of fear we might call “a spirit of fear.” The first type of fear I just mentioned is normal and proper. But what happens when our fearful feeling is something more, when it is an emotion we feel simply getting into our car, leaving our house, being in a crowd, or attending a church service? Are these feelings of fear normal? The answer is a resounding no!

How, then, should we respond to the spirit of fear that someone might harm us? What should we do with these unnatural feelings of fear?

Understand That God Does Not Give Us a Spirit of Fear
2 Timothy 1:7 from the Bible (printed at the beginning of this post) states that God has not given us a spirit of fear. So, if God has not given us a spirit of fear, then someone has. Who is that person who gives us fear? That is the enemy of God, and we call him Satan. He plants thoughts of fear in our minds. Satan attempts to convince us that God can’t be trusted to protect us. All of Satan’s actions are designed to eliminate faith. Here’s the point. If a spirit of fear dominates you, that fear did not come from God. I’m speaking of God’s character here.

Know That God Is Greater Than the Spirit of Fear
You don’t have to look far to find someone who’s only too willing to inform you about all the things you should fear, whether it’s being shot in a church service, financial collapse, food shortages, killer diseases, or some sinister government secret. Always remember that God is greater than any fear that torments you. God’s presence is with us daily as we confront our fears. Nothing we might fear can overtake God, nor does it catch Him off guard.

Surrender Your Fears to God
Until you trust God fully, you will never get complete freedom from your fears. Begin by asking a simple question: “What am I afraid of?” Being attacked? Facing an intruder in your house? If something terrible happened to you, God would still be in control. He would still love you. He would still help you. He would still get you through that awful thing. He really can be trusted. So, trust Him with your fears.

So the next time a spirit of fear rears its tormenting head, you should say out loud: “God did not give me a spirit of fear. I will not be afraid. God loves me, and I will trust Him.” Believe me, these words of affirmation are hopeful.



God Is Love; and That’s Hopeful!

Nine years ago Justin and Margaret Mussel of New Jersey lost a diamond engagement ring. The Mussels married in 2006. In the summer of 2008 they visited San Marco dei Cavoti, an Italian town where Margaret’s family owns a home. The engagement ring slipped off Margaret’s finger, but she did not realize it was gone until days later. The couple made a thorough search of the property, but did not find the ring. Because the ring was lost on international soil, their insurance would not cover the loss of the ring. The couple resigned themselves to the sad fact that they would never see the ring again.

Fast forward to this past summer. Justin and Margaret and their 2 boys took another trip back to San Marco dei Cavoti. They were seated on a bench in the front yard when something caught Justin’s attention. Every time a car drove by with headlights on, he saw something like a flicker of light out of a crack in the sidewalk. He looked closer. Using a screwdriver, he dug into the crack where the flicker of light was coming. And there was the engagement ring lost 9 years earlier. Needless to say, the couple was flabbergasted. More about Justin and Margaret Mussel in a moment. Keep reading, please.

In Sunday School classes in churches, preschool children are taught a foundational concept: God is love. This truth is proclaimed in the Bible in 1 John 4:8: “For God is love.” God’s love is seen clearly when we consider that He supplies our needs, protects and watches over us, gives us His wisdom for problem solving, and continues to love us even when we don’t deserve His love.

But the greatest expression of God’s love is communicated to us in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Romans 5:8 proclaims the same good news: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We can see from these Bible verses that it is God’s greatest desire that we join Him in His eternal home, heaven. But we humans have a dilemma. We have not always lived by God’s standards that He shows us in the pages of the Bible. The Bible calls our failure to live God’s way “sin.” And our sin is so bad that it separates us from God, and prevents us from having a personal relationship with Him. That’s the bad news.

Here’s the good news. God has made possible the way for us to be forgiven of our sins, and to be brought into a personal and real relationship with Him. God did this by paying the price for our sins. When Jesus died on that Roman cross, our sins, and the sins of the entire world, were placed on Him. His death on the cross redeems us from sin’s penalty.

Why did God do this? He loves us like crazy. And you see, love forgives. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

We sometimes refer to our life lived in sin as being “lost.” Remember the story at the beginning of this post about Justin and Margaret? They lost a ring, but we, because of our sin, have lost something much more valuable—eternal life in heaven. But God in His great love “saves” us from our sinful condition when we trust Jesus’ death on the cross for our forgiveness, and commit ourselves to follow Jesus daily.

You cannot earn your way to heaven, and you cannot “save” yourself from your own sin by doing good deeds. Yet, here is where our hope comes in. You can know for sure that you have eternal life, and that heaven will be your eternal home, by coming to Jesus in faith. Honestly, there is no other way.

God Has Amazing Power; and That’s Hopeful!

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm” (Jeremiah 32:17).

After Hurricane Irma struck Florida in recent days, a news headline read, “8 million Floridians without power.” Can you even imagine being without electrical power for several days, maybe even weeks? No electricity to power your air conditioner. Not able to brew coffee in the morning. We surely empathize with our friends in Florida. They are hurting.

At times we might be without electric power, but we never are without God’s mighty power.

When describing God, theologians often use 3 big “omni” words: omnipresent, meaning God is everywhere; omniscient, meaning God knows everything; and omnipotent, God is all-powerful.

Jeremiah, an Old Testament preacher-prophet spoke about God’s incredible power. (You can see Jeremiah’s perspective on God’s power at the top of this post.)

What does it mean to say that God is omnipotent? This big word simply carries the idea that God has the skill and strength to do all that He wishes. (Some people have the skill, but not the strength to do a certain work; others have the strength, but not the skill. God has both!) He has the ability to carry out His plan. Nothing can stop God. He is the Almighty God.

How does God’s power bring hope to our lives?

God’s Power Is Personal
Our verse from Jeremiah speaks of “God’s outstretched arm.” In the Bible, this phrase speaks of God’s power shown on behalf of people. When God’s people were enslaved in Egypt (see the Book of Exodus in the Bible), God said, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.”

Can you think of a problem that overwhelmed you so severely that you thought nothing could overcome that problem? When you live for God, and serve Him, He works in your life. And part of His mighty work is to overcome whatever problem you face. His power (His “outstretched arm”) is personal.

God’s Power Equips You
When was a time you were given a responsibility for which you felt inadequate or unprepared? God sometimes places us in such situations to grow our faith, and to prompt us to depend upon Him. When you find yourself with a task or responsibility that is overwhelming, ask God for power to do the task that has been assigned to you. His power is greater than your weaknesses.

God’s Power Meets Your Needs
2 Corinthians 9:8 states, “God can bless you with everything you need.” Philippians 4:19 promises, “God will take care of all your needs.” Through the years, when my wife and I faced a need, we have trusted these 2 Bible promises. And you know something? God has never failed to meet a single need in our lives. God is able to pay the bills!

God’s Power Means No Person or Situation Is “Impossible”
Perhaps you can think of a person, or situation, that you’ve given up on, and said, “It’s impossible.” If God can create the universe by merely speaking it into existence (and He did), then He can do the impossible in your life. Nothing is too difficult for God.

So here’s the hope. God actually wants to display His amazing power in your life—meeting your needs, solving your problems, giving you wisdom for decision making, breaking down barriers, restoring your relationships, conquering temptations, and more. What’s the key for this to happen in your life? Just give Him your life, all of it, with nothing held back. It really is the most hopeful way to live.

God Is Faithful; and That’s Hopeful!

“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever . . . I will make your faithfulness known through all generations . . . you established your faithfulness in heaven itself (Psalm 89:1-2).

When a guy went off to college, his girlfriend gave him a framed photo of herself. But one day, the guy took the photo out of the frame, and noticed these words written on the back of the photograph: My dearest Tom, I love you with all my heart. I love you more each day. I will love you forever.” It was signed “Dianne.” But her words contained a P.S. “If we ever break up, I want this picture back.”

I suppose that among the most painful things all of us experience is when a person breaks a promise made to us. Sadly, the quality of faithfulness has become abnormal in American life today. Think about that. Spouses leave their marriages for even the slightest of annoyances. Athletes leave one team as soon as another team promises them more dollars. Employers think nothing of laying off hundreds of workers. People today flippantly break their promises and commitments. I feel startled when I think of how unfaithful our society has become.

But our great God is the opposite. He is absolutely faithful. What does it mean, practically speaking, to say that God is faithful?

God Always Does What He Has Said, and Always Fulfills What He Has Promised.
Psalm 89 (at the top of this post) declares that God is faithful. The writer of this psalm even said he would tell future generations about God’s faithfulness. Every time a new generation came on the scene, God would be as faithful to them as He was to previous generations. God is 100% reliable, trustworthy, and faithful. He never will fail you, disappoint you, forget you, let you down, or break one of His promises to you. God is faithful!

God’s Faithfulness Is Unconditional.
Verse 2 of Psalm 89 states, “Your love stands firm forever. You established your faithfulness in heaven itself.” This statement means that God’s faithfulness to you never changes. His faithfulness is not conditioned on your response to Him. Even more, God is faithful to us even when we feel we don’t have any faith left in us. You can have zero faith, and God will still be faithful to you.

God’s Faithfulness Is Experienced Most Clearly During the Difficult Times of Your Life.
Have you ever noticed how the tough times in your life prompt you to reach out to God, to pray to Him, to seek Him? When you hold on to God during times of difficulty, you discover a wonderful truth: God never fails you. His compassion, love, and mercy to you is new every morning (see Lamentations 3:22-23).

If difficulties have you weighed down, or you are feeling crushed or discouraged, God is there for you. Even when you’ve messed up, He never writes you off. He is willing to pick you up and get you off to a fresh start.

God’s Faithfulness to You, Builds Stronger Trust and Faith in Your Life
I often hear people say, “I wish my faith and trust in God were stronger.” Exercising faith in God is just like exercising your muscles. If you don’t use and exercise your muscles, they become weak. But the more you exercise your muscles, the stronger they become.
In like manner, the more you trust God, the greater your faith in Him becomes. You can trust Him, because He is faithful to you.

When you trust God’s faithfulness, every day is like the first day of school—clean paper, new crayons, sharp pencils, and a shiny notebook. God makes each day a fresh, new beginning. Because of His faithfulness to you, you can live every day with confidence. Believe me, that’s hopeful!

God Never Changes; and That’s Hopeful!

“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the earth’s foundation and created the heavens. They will all disappear and wear out like clothes. You change them, as you would a coat, but you last forever. You are always the same.          Years cannot change you” (Psalm 102:26-27).

When I was a teenager, the cassette tape was invented. You could buy an Underwood manual typewriter for under $75. The Number 1 song was “I want to Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles. I got my drivers license in 1964. A gallon of gasoline back then cost 27 cents. The minimum wage was “$1.25 an hour. The average cost of a new car was less than $3,300. During my teenage years, the United State Postal Service started using Zip Codes.
   During my teen years there were no cell phones, no personal computers, no microwave ovens, and no capability of recording your favorite television shows. Yeah, I know; I’m old.

My, how time has changed things! Change is all around us. Some change is good, and some is not. Change can be unsettling for some folks.

Yet, amid the amazing and fast-paced changes we all experience, one constant does remain: the Lord God Almighty who never changes. Theologians call this quality of God His immutability, meaning God is unchanging in His character, His purposes, His will, and His promises. God is the same today as He was a thousand years ago. I find this attribute of God to be assuring. What does it mean for your life to say that God never changes?

With God, You’ll Always Know Where You Stand
God doesn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed. He doesn’t have good days and bad days. With Him, you always know what you are supposed to do. And you always know the results of living for Him. God isn’t fickle. Since God is unchanging you can always count on Him.

You Have a Solid Rock in a World of Uncertainty
There’s no need to live your life in fear, isolation, or confusion. The problems of life don’t have to baffle you and knock you down. The hardships you face don’t have to sink you. You have a solid rock upon which you can stand.

Life, and its uncertainties may shake us, but God who is the Rock of Ages, does not move. If you will cling to Him, His mighty strength at work in your life will sustain you.

You Have Bold Reasons for Developing a Rich Prayer Life
Imagine that when you prayed that God was grumpy in the morning, but friendly in the afternoon, or if He was fickle in His feelings toward you. Why, you never would pray to God.

Remember, He doesn’t change. You can trust Him the same today and 50,000 years from now. You can venture out in faith, knowing God will always be there for you. The foundation of bold praying is the unchanging character of God.

Your Life Has Eternal Significance and Everlasting Security
The people of God–those who love Him, obey Him, and trust Him—are part of God’s great purposes in history. The people He planned from the beginning to be a blessing to the world. This fact tells you that you life has meaning and purpose. You can bank your entire future on God.

So, here is where you have great hope. You don’t have to go to bed at night worrying about the stock market, rising interest rates, or whether God will feed you and care for you. You don’t even have to waste one second wondering if God will ever stop loving you (believe me, He won’t). You can live every day of your life fully trusting God. And, that’s a hopeful way to live.

A Prayerful Person Is a Hopeful Person

“God is our mighty fortress, always ready to help in times of trouble”            (Psalm 46:1).

The Barna Group just released their study of religious faith in cities across America. One interesting category was “the most prayerful city.” This category measured faith engagement through personal prayer. The survey asked whether the person had prayed to God in the past 7 days.

The findings showed Augusta-Aiken, Georgia as the most prayerful city in America, while Springfield-Holyoke, Massachusetts as the least prayerful city.
What does it mean to be prayerful?

1. Prayerful persons love God. Prayer is more than asking and receiving. Prayer is not done only in times of trouble and emergencies. Prayer is part of our love relationship with the Heavenly Father. He cares for us, and wants the very best for us, and we want to be the best we can be for God. Therefore, we pray to Him, and we pray regularly.
2. Prayerful persons make prayer a priority. A terrific way to prioritize prayer is to pray as soon as you wake up. Whisper a prayer in which you thank God for another day. Then throughout the day pray when you need strength, when you need guidance, when you are confused, when you feel stressed, and so on.
3. Prayerful persons create prayerful environments. In your recliner, at the beach, in the woods, or at school, take time to pray. Allow these spaces to become prayer times. The space it takes to set up a beach chair can become a sacred place. Even a busy commuter train can become a prayerful space.
4. Prayerful persons give thanks in everything. The Bible says simply in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Not be thankful “for” everything, but be thankful “in” everything. Why? This step prevents bitterness, hardness of heart, and ungratefulness from gripping your soul. You will find that thankfulness increases your joy.
5. Prayerful persons persevere. Have you noticed how your troubles and difficulties often drive you to prayer? That’s a good thing because you don’t really need perseverance until you are going through a trial. Prayer is the lifeline that lays hold of our loving God during times of tribulation. Prayerfulness gives you the strength to keep on going instead of giving up.
6. Prayerful persons seek God’s guidance throughout the day. I love to make lists and to plan. Sometimes I get carried away with my plans, and then I realize I haven’t asked God for His guidance with my plans. When you are prayerful you bathe your planning process in prayer. You are constantly asking for God’s guidance and direction.
7. Prayerful persons schedule time for prayer. Typically I rise early, read my Bible, journal, and pray through my prayer notebook in which I have written specific prayer requests. This early morning time is a choice time for me, but I am a morning person. You might be wired oppositely and you are an evening person. Pray at night. Regardless, you probably won’t pray if you haven’t scheduled time for an extensive period of prayer.

Here’s the best part of being a prayerful person. You develop hope, and I mean strong hope in your life. Pope Francis once said that prayer is an act of hope that leads us to God. If you are in a dark place right now, and struggling to find some hope, then pray.

Your Leadership Can Bring Hope to People

“Deborah . . . was a leader” (Judges 4:4)

Because I live in Alabama, I especially enjoyed reading a news story in the July 12 issue of the Birmingham News. Two Birmingham area natives, Jessica and Derek Simmons, were spending time with their family near the M.B. Miller County Pier in Panama City, Florida. The Simmons had moved to Panama City last year.

Jessica’s splashing in the water got interrupted by the sight of flashing police lights at the boardwalk. Everyone’s attention stayed focused on something out in the water. Riptide currents had carried several swimmers out into deeper waters.

Jessica and Derek quickly went into action coordinating a rescue plan. Derek, along with several other persons, formed a human chain. Jessica swam out on a body board, and reached the 9 swimmers struggling to stay afloat. (The swimmers included a grandmother and 2 small children.)

By this time, the human chain had stretched more than 100 yards. Jessica, Derek, and others began pulling the 9 persons onto the board and pushing them toward the human chain. The drama lasted about an hour. The good news—every person had been saved from the riptide currents and possible drowning.

I would say that Derek and Jessica showed great leadership, wouldn’t you? And can you even imagine the hope those drowning persons felt when they saw people coming to help rescue them? John Gardner once said, “The task of leadership is to keep hope alive.”

The Bible, in Judges 4, provides an example of a woman who knew the vital connection between effective leadership and hope. Her name was Deborah. Before I go farther let me get something out of the way.

You might be saying to yourself, “But I’m not a leader. I am more of a follower. Yet, if you are a parent, a spouse, a coach, a supervisor, a grandparent, a teacher at church or school, or have even the least bit of responsibility, you are in a leadership role. The reason is because you are in a position of influence, and leaders influence people.

Deborah served as a judge in ancient Israel. Judges then were mostly military leaders. During Deborah’s day, God’s people had fallen into the hands of Jabin, a Canaanite king who had an oppressing army equipped with 900 iron chariots. God’s people cried out for help, so God raised up a deliverer, Deborah.

To keep Deborah’s story short, she came up with a battle plan. She would lure Jabin’s army to a nearby river. One thousand of Israel’s soldiers were to head to a nearby mountain. This exciting story ends with the words, “On that day God subdued Jabin” (see Judges 4:23-24). Deborah had given effective leadership, and also had imparted some hope.

So, how can you, in your personal leadership role(s), give some hope to the people in your circles of influence?

  1. Be a person of hope yourself. Hope doesn’t come just from positive thinking or an optimistic attitude, though those qualities have some merit. Primarily, hope comes from the promises God makes to us in the Bible. A Bible promise is where God has said He will do something. We believe His promises, and the result is that our lives are filled with hope. To be a hopeful person, then, you should read and study the Bible more, look for verses in the Bible that are promises from God.
  2. Evaluate your EQ (emotional quotient). How emotionally intelligent are you? Emotionally intelligent people have the ability to manage their own emotions, and to understand the feelings of others. Emotionally intelligent people think before they act on their feelings. They are in tune with how they feel, but they do not let their emotions rule their lives. You will find any number of EQ inventories and assessments online. Take several, and see how you score. If you don’t score well, you know you have some work to do on your personal emotional intelligence.
  3. Be an encourager. A word of encouragement offered at the right time can do wonders. Everyone faces challenges and difficulties. Your timely encouragement can help life those people out of their ruts.

I don’t think I can overstate the role of hope in your personal leadership. Inspiring hope in other people is a critical skill for all leaders. These words from Martin Luther King cause us to think: “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.”


The Comparison Game: A Hope Killer

“Do your best and don’t compare yourself with others”(Galatians 6:4).

Have you ever compared yourself with someone and felt like you did not measure up?
Maybe you thought, Why are they more blessed than us? Why is she married and I am still single? Why can’t I have her body shape? Why did he get the job I wanted? Why can’t we drive a car like they drive?
The comparison game, for most of us, probably started about the time we were in middle school when our adolescence began to kick in full force. And the comparison game continues into our adult years as well.
The comparison game makes all of us losers because as Justin Zoradi has written, “It steals your joy, halts your momentum, and brings your greatest insecurities to the forefront of your mind.”

Why Comparison Is a Hope Killer
1. Comparison will cause you to perform at a lower level. When you compare yourself with someone your personal esteem suffers, and thus, you begin performing at a lower level as well. But focusing on self-improvement, and doing your best, leads you to perform at higher levels.
2. Comparison leads to jealousy and envy, two behaviors that God is not pleased with. Scripture says: “Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.” (Romans 12:6, The Message).
3. Comparison destroys relationships. Be honest. Can you really have an authentic relationship with someone for whom you feel jealousy or envy?

Once again, comparison is a dead-end street. So, how do we break the cycle of comparing ourselves with others, and gain more hope in our lives?

Beating the Comparison Game
1. Focus on what God says about you, not what others think of you. God created you in His image. You are a one-of-a-kind, unique person in God’s eyes. Your personal worth is not determined by expensive clothing, a boyfriend, accomplishments, popularity, opinions, or your body type. God loves you unconditionally. In fact, He is crazy about you.
2. Limit your time on social media. I enjoy Facebook and Instagram. Are you aware, though, that social media contributes to what is labeled today as FOMO (fear of missing out)? We read on Facebook about the fabulous vacation a friend took, and it makes us feel life has cheated us. Or we see a photo of someone’s new car on Instagram, and we feel that we deserve a car like that one. Social media is like food that feeds the comparison monster.
3. View every day, and every opportunity, as a gift from God. Wake up each day and ask, “Lord, how do You want to use me today? How can I be a blessing to someone? Show me, God, how I can show kindness and love to someone today?” This kind of approach to each day takes your thoughts off what you don’t have and onto what God has for you. Best of all, it builds hope into your life.


What to Do When You Are “in the Dark”

“I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won’t be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life” [Jesus] John 8:12.

Get your super-dark eye protection ready because in August a total solar eclipse will cross the United States, the first since one was visible in Hawaii back in 1991. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth creating near complete darkness for only a few minutes.

This year’s total solar eclipse will be visible across a 60-mile-wide arc of the U.S. on Monday, August 21, beginning in Oregon at 10:15 a.m. local time and ending in South Carolina about an hour-and-a-half later.

You might feel that you are living, operating, functioning “in the dark” so to speak now. Perhaps you’ve lost a job, or a loved one. Maybe you’re battling a serious illness. Did you experience a relationship fall apart, or possibly become more and more strained. Or maybe you struggle with the darkness of your own soul. What dark deeds have haunted you? What sinful lusts or selfish desires? What bitterness do you carry? Or is your darkness a jaded cynicism? Does the darkness of discontent, jealousy, or envy have you in its grips?

I have good news for you! Light has come, and that Light is a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, in John 8:12 Jesus described Himself as our Light. Can you recall the last time you had to walk through a room in your house in the dark? Did you run into a wall, or stub your toe on a piece of furniture? You can’t see in the dark.

And maybe you are having a hard time seeing some light in your current situation. You need some some wisdom, some insight, some help for handling your present circumstances. Jesus is that light. So, how does the light of Christ become real in your personal life?

Follow Jesus

You “follow” Jesus, John 8:12 states. What does it mean to follow Jesus? If you were in the military you would follow your commanding officer. To follow Jesus means you make Him the commanding officer in your life. As a citizen you obey the laws of the land. To follow Jesus you obey His teachings. If you made an appointment with a trusted counselor you would follow that counselor’s advice. To follow Jesus you follow His advice given to us in the pages of the Bible.

Maybe your “darkness” right now is that you have a need—a bill to pay or a need for strength. Jesus can meet that need. “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ” promises Philippians 4:19.

Is your darkness worry and anxiety over a problem you face? Jesus said, “My peace I give to you” (John 14:27).

Your darkness might be the guilt you feel because of a decision you made that did not honor God, or a sin against God’s standards that you committed. Jesus delights in forgiving us when we mess up. 1 John 1:9 promises, “If we confess sins, [agreeing with God that we have sinned] he [Jesus] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins.”

Just as the sun gives us light to see so we can go about our day, there is another Light that shines illuminating the way out of whatever “darkness” prevents us from living a full and meaningful life. Call on Jesus. He will give you the light you need. That’s hopeful!