A great way to grow closer to the Lord is to read His word, pray, and write down what He is teaching you! Many of the people at Paradise Calvary Chapel do just that and we get to share them with you here!
Waiting is hard. Sometimes, waiting feels like the hardest thing in the world—especially if what you’re waiting for is something you’re really looking forward to. I have been waiting for something for a long time, and recently I’ve made a much more intentional effort in praying for it. I know the Lord hears me. I know that this prayer will be answered. The Lord’s response may be yes, or it may be no, but I’m confident that I will have my answer. In this confidence, why is waiting still so hard? Perhaps it’s the not knowing, or perhaps it’s because of immaturity, but I can’t help but think that, above all else, perhaps it’s just that we are impatient.
Tell any child, “Wait five minutes,” and what happens? Those five minutes suddenly become the length of eternity itself! That, however, is nothing compared to promising a child a surprise. There have been times when I’ve told my nieces and nephews that we were going to do something fun, and every few minutes, until the second the surprise is revealed, they ask, pester, and beg for any hint of what my plan is. Does it matter that I know they’ll enjoy it? Does it matter that I’ve never disappointed them before? Does it matter that any surprise they receive will be good for them? No, not by one iota.
I’ve seen this in children. I’ve seen this in adults. I’ve seen this in myself. When we want something, especially something we’re excited for, it becomes very difficult to wait for it. In this day and age, patience isn’t a virtue that is reinforced very frequently. Want that obscure online purchase now? Upgrade to same day shipping. Like a product that hasn’t been released? Preorder it. Want to learn a new language or skill? Try out this app to learn it in just a few weeks. I don’t think this is a problem unique to our generation, or to America; this is a human problem. We want what we want when we want it.
There is a verse in Revelation that always catches my eye when I see it. After the fifth seal is broken, John sees all the people that have been martyred for Christ, and they ask God “with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer” (Revelation 6:10-11). It’s almost funny. Even in heaven, we’re still asking the Lord, “Yeah, but when?”
The Lord works in His own time, and though I’m anxious for an answer to my prayer, I still must wait with patience. Hebrews 6:12 says, “Do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
Life can be difficult at times. There are so many moving parts: kids, careers, finances. It can all feel so overwhelming. On the same note, life can also be so full of abundant blessings. It all depends on your perspective. So what is your perspective? As a Christian, a follower of Christ, we should always look at life from the best perspective. Yes, life is hard at times, but God is good, and that good God is the one calling the shots. That should give you peace and comfort. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Is there anything better than having Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives? Is there anything better than having an intimate relationship with the One who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be saved? For me? No, there is nothing better than that, because “God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
The Lord has definitely taken my family and I through many seasons. Some were difficult and some almost unbearable, but some had us praising Jesus from the mountaintop. No matter what the season or circumstance we were in, we had the comfort of knowing that Jesus was right there with us.
My husband was recently offered an opportunity that he just could not pass up. It was career opportunity to do something that he loves, an opportunity that we knew was literally handed to us from the Lord. With this new career came new responsibilities, and this new position is more demanding of his time than we have ever experienced in the past. In most recent events, we found out that he would now be traveling for work every single week. This is going to be tough for us. We have a very active lifestyle with four very active children. How on earth were we going to handle such a huge change in our lives? Well, we have Jesus. He has allowed all of these things to take place. His hand has been in every detail. He is with us, so we will survive!
Life with Jesus is not always easy, but life with Jesus is the only life worth living. The free gift of salvation is an opportunity you just cannot pass up! Those thoughts of a future and a hope that the Lord has are for those who accept the free gift of salvation. Live a life with Jesus by your side!
Have you ever heard of 16 Psyche? Don’t worry, it’s not some mystical level in a cult somewhere. 16 Psyche is an asteroid that has caught the attention of many people in the media and the space exploration industry. Some have said that this hunk of rock has a wealth of precious metals with an estimated worth of $10,000 quadrillion—that’s quadrillion with a Q! Many say that if the asteroid were mined and its gold brought to earth, it would completely collapse the economy because of hyper-inflation. Everyone would have so much gold, it wouldn’t be worth anything.
When I first heard this, I couldn’t help but laugh at how this reservoir of treasure is just meandering through the cosmos. People often get impressed when they meet people with wealth. Some people can become celebrities simply because they have a vast amount of money. Still, if you were to take every dollar on this planet, it wouldn’t even be a fraction of this single asteroid.
It hit me that this asteroid, for all intents and purposes, belongs to God. After all, no one else knew about it for most of history. Even now that we know about it, we still can’t collect it. This is just one asteroid. God created the entire universe, and everything He created rightfully belongs to Him. On that scale, this one asteroid is pocket change to Him.
God has such a vast amount of wealth, it’s actually incomprehensible. He uses gold for pavement, for crying out loud (Revelation 21:21)! It actually makes me embarrassed when I consider how much we fret, toil, and squabble over the treasures we try to accumulate. God isn’t just willing to care for our needs; He’s able. In fact, He has more wealth than all of humanity, and it’s just floating around space. When I think of that, I can’t help but feel a bit silly that I question whether or not God will satisfy my needs.
I’m not saying that God would send down an asteroid to your backyard to fulfill your needs, but we should have confidence in the fact that our heavenly Father has resources at His disposal beyond what we can even conceive. “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Did you know it’s purported that the Las Vegas strip is the brightest spot on Earth when viewed from space, or that the casinos use about nine million lightbulbs per floor? If you’ve ever driven on the bright streets of Las Vegas, you would probably notice you could drive comfortably at night without your headlights. Once off the strip, though, things change, and the night gets very dark very quickly. From the dark, the brightness of the strip can be seen from any direction in the city.
I remember one occasion when I was driving into Las Vegas from a not-so-popular freeway. Without street lights or other cars, it was practically pitch black with a blanket of stars, but far away in the distance, I could see the orange glare of the city’s illumination.
In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus tells the people, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” It is not hard to picture that image of being in the countryside on a dark night and seeing a brightly lit city off in the distance. That’s the kind of hope that God wants us to be to the world, the kind of comfort we’re supposed to bring to the hopeless.
Something that I learned in chemistry is that light occurs from a reaction; it may be the intended goal, but it occurs because something else was done first. In other words, light doesn’t happen on its own. It takes work. There is no light that exists in the universe that occurs without some kind of energy to produce it.
That is like us in our spiritual lives. Being a light may be the goal, but it happens as a result of some other effort, like living in submission to God and showing His love to the world. Conversely, darkness is easy. Darkness just happens. It’s what the natural world has a tendency for, and there is no distinction between one darkness and another.
Just like the Las Vegas strip in the middle of a desert, we should be distinct enough from the world that we stand out. As we live in a way that honors God, showing His love to each other and to the world, the light of heaven will naturally flow out as a beacon to those that wander in the dark.
Before I was saved, I was an atheist and believed that there was nothing more than this earthly life. This worldview led me wondering and wandering down a dark path. If it all ends in nothingness anyway and life is hard a good portion of the time, what is the point? Obviously my answers to those questions came once I was saved, but I recently heard a phrase that has caused me to remember those times: “Make your life meaningful enough to be worth the pain.”
No matter what belief they hold, I believe all people have an innate yearning to have a purpose for living. Having meaning is especially crucial when life becomes hard. They can fall back on that meaning in times of distress and remind themselves why they press on in the first place, as if meaning is almost like a lifeline or a safety net.
Once I was saved, I found the meaning I’d been missing. People living for the world, however, try to give their lives meaning in many ways. For some, it is in a successful career. For others, it’s in leaving a positive environmental impact. Some find it in their family legacy. While all of these are great pursuits, and are even espoused to some degree in the Bible, they are all temporary! How many of those people will have the fruits of their labor disappear after they’re gone? “For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits” (James 1:11).
The only meaning that truly matters is the one that is eternal. As Christians, we are fortunate to know that God has an eternal purpose for us and that each one of us has a meaningful place in the Body of Christ. We can take solace in this life because our purpose is greater. It reminds us to not take things with temporal meaning too seriously.
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:18).
Something happened to me recently that made me feel a bit convicted. I’ve been concerned about money. I know that the Lord will provide my needs, but I’ve still been fretting over it. In this worry, my heart was growing bitter, and even though I didn’t say anything out loud, I was grumbling silent complaints when the money I had left my fingers—especially if it was in generosity to others, or if it was to pay off a sudden, unexpected expense. I was in this state when a question hit me: “Why are you complaining?” The question struck a deeper cord. I have a lot to be thankful for, and much of it I haven’t done anything to earn; it’s simply a gift from God. I have a job, a good family, a healthy church, lots of friends that somehow tolerate my presence, and I’m fortunate enough to be in a prosperous country. That little voice in the back of my mind reminded me, “Life’s pretty good, so what’s wrong with you?”
When I took the time to remember all of the good things that are in my life, and more importantly to thank God for them, my heart’s condition improved. Having a heart of thankfulness makes a difference, compared to a heart of indignation. When the you feel that you’re not being treated fairly, or that you deserve more, then it’s easy to get upset; after all, no one likes feeling like they’re being taken advantage of. We see this all the time with children, celebrities, political dignitaries, and bitter relatives, but it just as easily can come from our own hearts.
If you recall the blessings you’ve experienced from God but have taken for granted, then it makes you grateful for what you have. After all, many of those things are not deserved. Remember the surprise presents, or that unexpected mercy from a police officer that pulled you over, or moments that just put a smile on your face and made you say, “Thank you.” Instead of coveting the things you crave, or bemoaning the struggles you have, it will bring so much more joy to you—not to mention to God—when you remember to count and consider all of the great gifts that God has rained down from heaven.
I was raised in a non-Christian—or what some people would call an atheist—family. Being raised in this culture’s traditional household and public school’s education, I tended to lean more into a secular paradigm. Growing up, when I had big questions, I would turn to science more than I would to faith. Science was the thing that I held as true.
After becoming a believer, I found out that a lot of the scientific views that I held as true were the complete opposite of this biblical paradigm, which is something I struggled to reconcile. After reaching out to many different sources (such as Paster Chuck Missler, the Creation Science Institute, and a wonderful documentary called Is Genesis History?) I came to a new understanding that science never contradicts the Word of God; in fact, the Word of God substantiates science. For a long time, I studied science with this newfound view. It was definitely a paradigm shift! Looking at things from a biblical perspective before the a scientific perspective, I was able to find my vast love for science again. In this new light, I found more truth in it, since it was based on faith rather than speculation.
Recently, I have been experiencing another level of struggle that I have not yet faced since becoming a believer. Although I grow closer to God, I still find myself going to some of my old comforts: documentaries, advancements in new studies, and the wisdom of man. Even though this pursuit gives temporary reprieve, there are no answers to be found in it. In fact, sometimes I feel that they’ve been pulling me away from the paradigm shift I’d had.
Within a few days after I prayed for the Lord to help me clarify these thoughts, I opened my Bible and read the following passage: “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (I Corinthians 1:20-21).
Again my perspective has been pulled away from the worldly and into the divine truth: our salvation is found through our Lord Jesus Christ. My confidence should always be in Him, not my own understanding.
At the very beginning of King Solomon’s reign, he decided to build a temple where people could offer sacrifices to the Lord, to worship and be reconciled to Him. He asked a nearby nation for supplies, writing in his letter, “Behold, I am building a temple for the name of the Lord my God….But who is able to build Him a temple, since heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him? Who am I then, that I should build Him a temple, except to burn sacrifice before Him?” (II Chronicles 2:4-6) Building God’s dwelling is a pretty big deal, and when Solomon said that he—a mere human—was unworthy to take on such a feat, he made a pretty good point.
A lot of times, I can relate to that feeling of insufficiency. I look at all the darkness and despair the world is in, and I see the people’s need for Jesus—but then I freeze. I don’t act as a light because, when I take a good look at myself, I see I’m not perfect, either. When I notice specks in other people’s eyes, I’m scared to address them because I assume I have a plank in my own. I worry I’m a hypocrite, or that I won’t have all the answers, or that—God forbid!—I’ll actually lead someone astray. I feel unworthy to be an ambassador for Christ. God is so big, His wisdom so profound. Who am I to step out, fill emptinesses, and shake things up? Who am I to build God’s kingdom, where people can worship and be reconciled?
However, Paul offers an entirely different perspective: “Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph….Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant….Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness” (II Corinthians 2:14; 3:5-6, 12).
That perspective encourages me to build God’s kingdom “heartily, as to the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). Immediately after Solomon received the throne and a blessing of abundant wealth, he set to building the temple, putting all he had into the project—precious metals, beautiful wood, and the labor of his best craftsmen. Solomon’s first act as king was to honor God’s authority, and his first use of his gifts brought God glory. He could have started by changing laws he didn’t like, or he could have built his own palace first. Instead, Solomon wasn’t stingy with his time or gifts. He wasn’t selfish with his power, but rather used his position as a platform to point others to God.
Most importantly, I remember to follow the Holy Spirit’s gently whispered blueprints, asking what He wants me to say or do. As mere human, I know that "unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1).
Giving into temptations is so easy. Some people have radical testimonies, and they tell of how all former lusts and sins and addictions and behaviors were completely removed the moment they accepted Christ. Others of us, however, don’t have the “I used to, but now I don’t” kind of claim. Sometimes our testimonies sound more like crock-pot sanctification stories rather than fast-food salvation stories. Our brains aren’t on a switch, and sometimes when temptation comes, victory over a moment isn’t as quick as a drive-through prayer for help. Sometimes victory over sin takes more of a Thanksgiving dinner type of battle—chaotic, slow, and multifaceted. Not sinning takes effort, and in all honesty, sometimes it’s simpler to just fall.
How much effort are we willing to exert to avoid sin, though? Hebrews 12:4 says, “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” In other words, you want to resist sin, but where’s the blood, sweat, and tears? Are you so opposed to the cravings of the flesh, that you actually wouldn’t mind if your flesh actually got hurt in the process of denying it?
This isn’t a call to self-harm by any means, but rather a check on priorities. This is Moses fasting far longer than the human body is meant to last without food—for the sake of hearing God’s instruction. This is Joseph violently tearing away from Potiphar’s wife and leaving his cloak in her hands—for the sake of staying pure. This is Jesus in the garden, about to face His death, stressing over not caving in to what wouldn’t hurt, and raising his blood pressure so high that the capillaries in his forehead burst—for the sake of bowing to the Father’s loving will to save the world.
The greatest example of flesh-denying bloodshed, though, is simply the cross. Jesus engaged in the greatest battle against sin in all of history, even to the point of undeserved death—and He won.
In all our efforts to obey the spirit rather than the flesh, Christ’s victory is vital to remember. Just one verse earlier, Hebrews 12:3 says to “consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” Not sinning takes effort, and it can be painful, but when we remember what Jesus already did for us, our perspective and our priorities straighten out. Because of Him, our blood, sweat, and tears are not shed out of fear of failure, but out of love and a desire to be like the One who saved us. Whenever we strive against sin, we obey not out of obligation, but out of immense gratitude, and that’s worth working up a sweat over.
“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus...who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
“A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). Are you a best friend? Not do you have one, but are you one? A best friend is one that is always there, is ready to help, wants to spend time around you, and enriches your life. Perhaps one of the best examples of a best friend is Jonathan, son of King Saul. Jonathan was a unique person. He feared the Lord and was a brave warrior, but most of all, when he came face to face with the man who would replace him, he embraced him into his life. The Bible says that Jonathan knit his soul to David and, as if to demonstrate how much he valued him, he immediately gave David everything he had on him—even his belt (I Samual 18:1, 3-4). Very few people are so invested in the life of another that they'd go so far.
The depth of Jonathan's love for David is enough to shame even the most soft-hearted of Christians. Jonathan cared about David's success, even more than his own. When King Saul wanted to kill David, Jonathan helped David escape. When Jonathan came to recognize that David was destined to become king of Israel, he supported him, even though the throne was rightfully his. Jonathan was willing to humble himself so someone else could benefit from his own royalty. That doesn't sound so different from a particular carpenter from Galilee.
Strictly speaking, there was no advantage for Jesus to sacrifice Himself for us. He was the Son of the Most High King, yet He was willing to give up His privilege so that we could enjoy the royalty that He rightfully deserved. Jesus understood how much it would cost to give us royalty, yet He still chose to lift us up. He chose to be the very best of friends for us, so that we could decide to be friends with Him. It is with this passion for others that Jesus instructed His disciples, and us, to love one another.
He said in John 15:12-14, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”
Being a best friend isn't always easy—in fact, it implies to be friends even in the face of adversity—but Jesus didn't ask us to live an easy life. He asked us to live a life of compassion for others and of genuine care for their betterment. We do not all have friends like Jonathan, but we can all be one for others.