A Single Beam of Hope

Sometimes it’s all just too much. One thing stacks on another. You feel like you can’t take one more thing. But here it comes anyway.

All of a sudden, your senses seem to halt. You can’t hear. And you can’t speak either.

The stress has gotten to the point where you’re just completely overwhelmed. Even if it’s just momentary, it feels like the whole world is arrayed against you.

And in your heart? Perhaps it’s anger. Maybe it’s grief. Or worry. And it could just be a deep, deep hurt. Whatever it is, it feels crushing.

And yet, somewhere deep down inside, underneath layers and layers of all that dark, heavy emotion, there still lies just a tiny glimmer. A single itsy, bitsy beam of light — for your soul.

That little beam? It’s hope. The world may be caving in on top of you, but somehow all is not yet lost.

Because God is real. He does know you. And you matter to him.

After all, he gave you his one and only Son’s life to rescue you from sin and eternal death — from darkness that lasts forever.

King David knew that darkness. He also knew that beam of hope… and he knew that God hears and answers prayer.

“I am like the deaf, who cannot hear, like the mute, who cannot speak; I have become like one who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply. Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God” (Psalm 38:13-15, NIV).

Lord, you are real. You know me, and I matter to you because in Christ, I’m your child. I am burdened and weighed down. Please hear my prayers and answer them.

Our Bible reading for Monday, March 30, is Numbers 27:12 – 29:11, Luke 8:1-18 and Psalm 38:13-22.

Header image based on "hope" by Forest Wander, CC By-SA 2.0

Even Before It Happens, He Knows

Wouldn’t it be great to have a periscope that allowed you to peer around the corner of today, and see into the future? Personally, I think even an hour or two’s foresight would be great, much less a whole day!

Although you and I possess only the gift of cloudy foresight, Jesus is the Son of God. That makes him capable of seeing with 20/20 vision what’s coming in the future. This is pretty obvious from what happened as Jesus prepared to celebrate the Last Supper with his disciples. He knew perfectly well what was about to happen. And his love for you and me compelled him to go forward with the plan.

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away” (Matthew 21:1-3, NIV).

As the Son of God, Jesus not only knows the future, he controls the future. That means nothing can happen to me that is outside of his control and loving purpose for my life.

Maybe you’d rather have some sort of early warning system to see stuff coming for yourself. Would that feel safer to you?

The thing is, we have to be willing to surrender control to him. The person who wants an early warning system is a person who still feels he’s better equipped to be behind the wheel than Jesus is.

How about this instead? Move over. Let him provide the answers. Let him assemble the protection. Let him be your solid hope and help. After all, like the Bible says, Jesus is your rock, your fortress, and your deliverer. And nothing that’s coming up is going to catch him by surprise.

From David’s limited, human perspective, there were always a lot of invisible “moving parts” in his future. David learned to surrender the control to God and simply trust that God’s plan for him was good and gracious.

If we do it that way, we don’t need the periscope at all.

Because we can do the same as David and say, “I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:1-2, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Saturday, January 31, is Job 19:1 – 21:34, Matthew 21:1-17 and Psalm 18:1-6.

Header image based on "Periscope plans" by Connors, CC by 2.0

God to My Right

Sometimes it really helps to know that God is around. He hasn’t departed. And he’s not going to.

But it’s important for us to notice him, isn’t it? For that, we have to keep coming back to the words and promises of God. By reading our Bibles, we keep our eyes always on him. Coming back to the gospel keeps God at our right hand.

When God is at my right hand through his word, I can go through life unshaken by the challenges that test me, the sins that tempt me or the the failures that torment me. I can hold on to my joy, and hang tight to my hope.

“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (‭Psalm‬ ‭16‬:‭8-11‬, NIV).

There’s no better proof of these truths than Jesus himself. Peter tells us these same verses are a prophecy about our Savior. He went through a crucifixion unshaken. He willingly gave up his life in hope. He rose from the grave, because our Heavenly Father did not abandon him to the grave. He now reigns in heaven at God’s right hand. It’s just like David foretold.

So look right. God’s right there. Keep your eyes always on the Lord and he will help you get where you’re going safely.

Just like he did with Jesus.

Lord, remain always at my right hand. Give me the peace of knowing you will never leave me. Grant me the joy of knowing that you will get me safely home.

Our Bible reading for Monday, January 26, is Job 1:1 – 3:26, Matthew 18:10-35 and Psalm 16:1-11.

Header image based on "Look Right" by Knight, CC by 2.0

All In

Jesus makes it clear that eternity is on the line. And when the stakes are high, most of us realize that it’s time to be “all in.”

We do it all the time. When deciding on our educational path. When meeting our future spouse. When selecting our career. When opening our business.

In areas of life like this, we know that whatever we decide upon, we need to put our back into it and go for it.

Wholeheartedly.

Well, Jesus says that there will come a day when all mankind will be judged. And following that, heaven will be the eternal home of those who have been declared righteous by faith in Jesus Christ. Sadly–no, devastatingly!–for those who do not believe in Jesus there is only hell.

The stakes are most definitely high. Whatever it takes, Jesus tells us, obtain the kingdom of heaven. It’s worth everything you’ve got!

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46, NIV).

Lord, help me never to take you, or your kingdom, lightly. You want to give me eternal life. And you have already won heaven for me. By your grace, you want to give a “pearl of great price” to me as a gift. Amazing. Send me your Spirit so that I can be all in!

Our Bible reading for Monday, January 19, is Genesis 38:1 – 39:23, Matthew 13:36-58 and Psalm 11:1-7.

Header image based on "Mabe Pearl Ring" by Rutz, CC by 2.0