The cynic might say Valentine’s Day is the day for florists, candy and card makers to earn a great deal of money. I walked into a local supermarket yesterday, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of flowers, cards and candy that were on display. On the love side, Valentine’s Day is a day when we can express our love for one another freely and not be thought of as sentimental or mushy. How about God? How does God express His love for us? Here is a familiar verse that gets right to the heart of God.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that who ever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For He did not sent his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17
How much more love could God show towards us than sacrificing His only Son on our behalf? He loved us that much. He sent Him so that through faith in Jesus we could be saved and not condemned. Only sinless Jesus could erase our sin and present us whole and perfectly clean before our Holy God.
When you say ‘thank you’ today for a Valentine gift you receive, a card, note, flowers or someone simply saying ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’, think about thanking God too. Thank Him for sending Jesus. Thank Him for making a way for your salvation and eternal life with Him. That is the best Valentine I can think of that is filled with all of God’s love for now throughout eternity.
Blessings on this Valentine’s Day.
Today is deemed Martin Luther King Day in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who stood for rightness in the fight for freedom and equality for all men. He was very eloquent in speech and inspired many with his life and his fight against oppression. He challenges the generations to dream of equality and reach for it. Where do you have unrealized dreams today? Are you actively pursuing them, keeping them in focus and grabbing onto opportunities to make them happen?
This year my word is HOPE and like Dr. King I need to put my faith and trust in God and walk in Hope. What about you? Have you chosen patience as your word- do you need to purse patience in moving towards the goals God has for you? Have you chosen structure- do you need to form a plan or have a pattern for your daily success? Have you chosen peace- do you need to develop an attitude of peace in your heart and towards those around you this year? Like Dr. King, we want our dreams and goals to be accomplished and we want to glorify God in the process. I came across this verse today that fits in and encouraged me. Proverbs 16:3 in the Message translation. “Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.” Keep God in your focus, in your heart, in your prayer life and He will bring you to it and through it this year for your good and His glory!
As we remember Dr. King today and honor his achievements for mankind. think how much God has for you to accomplish and what wonderful purposes He has for you. We know for certain that He has a plan and a purpose for each of us. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 Put God in charge of your plans and He will align them with His will to accomplish His purposes. His are the best plans of all. Let go this year and let God be in charge. But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26.
Yesterday I was in the look back mode, but today January 1, 2020 I am looking forward. Each year I have a habit of choosing a word to guide my year. Last year God gave me the word Trust and Wow! did I see that word week after week. I learned to lean upon God and trust Him in new, painful, scary and exciting situations. It was amazing how Trust kept coming up again and again, reminding me of who I am and where my Trust needs to be placed.
This year God has given me the word Hope. I have always loved writing and talking about the hope I have in Christ, but I feel His Hope will reach into all corners of my life. So I thought it wise to spend a few weeks looking into HOPE and seeing how hope is described in God’s Word. The verse I found to start with is Psalm 71:14 as it seemed to capture the hope I feel right now as I begin this new year. “But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.” Psalm 71 was written by King David in his old age. He reflects upon God, his dependence upon Him and God’s continuing faithfulness. David resolves to continue praising God just as he has done since his youth. “For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.” Psalm 71:5
May my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
with scorn and disgrace may they be covered
who seek my hurt.
14 But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge. Psalm 71:13-15
David knows the ‘world’ will come against him, yet he knows God will deal with them. He has his hope placed in God and will praise Him. No matter what as he knows God is sovereign and in control of all things, people, and places. He vows to continue to proclaim what God has done for him.
This is a challenge as we face a New Year. We know for certain that things will come against us-as they always do. What we know, like David, is that God is faithful and will stand with us. We need to trust in His sovereignty and mercy and cling to Him in HOPE. That is my answer to, How will I survive in 2020? I will cling to Him in HOPE knowing with absolute faith that God is faithful, loving and merciful. He will be gracious to me as I place my HOPE in Him.
Looking forward to 2020 with HOPE,
I always love December 31 because it means I am on the brink of a new beginning. Those failures I’ve experienced during the year can end, and I can start fresh and new. Hope springs eternally in our hearts as we walk in faith and trust with our Lord and Savior Jesus. In Psalms 42 and 43 David questions himself repeatedly with these words: Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
David wonders, and so do I, why I fret over failures, defeats, troubling circumstances, etc? His answer, and mine, is in trusting God alone. His hope, and mine, is in God and the salvation He provides for eternity. So as I end this year, I will reflect on what I achieved for Him, what God did in and through me, and look forward to the New Year with Hope. I will look backward with thanksgiving in my heart as God has been 100% faithful in all things just as He promised.
Isaiah encourages us in 49:29-31 that the Lord knows the way, will provide and lead us in His way of hope.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Will you join me in focusing on Hope and what God will bring your way in 2020? Not only is it a New Year, it is also the beginning of a new decade. Resolve to move Onward and upward with Christ alone!
Today we celebrate the birth of the Christ. His birth was foretold by the ancient prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born…” The place was foretold in Micah 5:3 “But you Bethlehem…”. He came to earth that day born as a human child, yet one who would lead a sinless life and die to save us from our sins. We believe that only God’s Son, Jesus, could satisfy Holy God and bring us back into relationship with God. Isaiah foretold in Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him.” So where does that leave us? If we believe He was born miraculously as a man who was both fully human and fully God, and He was able to die to save us from our sins, what more is there for us to believe? He is coming again. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
As we celebrate Jesus’ birth, we need to remember the story does not end in the manger or at the cross. The story of the redemption of mankind will end with us living with God for eternity. Just as His first coming was heralded by angels so will His second coming. Just as His first coming was miraculous, awesome and breathtaking so will His second coming be worthy of King Jesus when we meet Him in the air.
What do these events say about God? God is eternal. God exists outside of time. He is not measured by anything. We measure time by the movement of the planets and stars, which God created. God has always been and always will be. No one is like Him. We are not eternal because we have a beginning and an end. Because God is eternal, He can give us eternal life. David described God in Psalm 90:2 “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, form everlasting to everlasting you are God.” John wrote in Revelation 4:8 “Holy, holy, holy is he Lord God Almighty, who was, and is and is to come.”
With our finite minds, the eternality of God is difficult to grasp. However, we can be assured that God is who He says He is and will do as He has planned for eternity. Jesus is the one who holds the key to our eternal life. John 4:13-14 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Come to Him this Christmas and be filled with His eternal blessing. Look past the manger, past the cross and look forward to His return!
Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor – December 7, 1941. It began 78 years ago at 7:55 am. If you have visited the Memorial over the sunken Arizona where the sailors are still entombed, you are sobered by their sacrifice. War is a terrible thing yet through it men rise to honor and sacrifice for their fellow men. Over 2,400 were killed and 1,000 wounded that day. The most causalities occurred on the USS Arizona as it was hit 4 times by Japanese bombers. A piece of trivia- 37 confirmed pairs or trios of brothers were assigned to the Arizona and this battle cost 62 of these 77 men their lives and 23 sets of brothers died. I can’t imagine the grief those families suffered all in one day. President Franklin D. Roosevelt described it as “a date that will live in infamy.” Just like September 11, 2001 will live on in our minds so should December 7th.
Say a prayer of gratitude today for the sacrifices of the men who died this day so long ago and for the men and women who continue to sacrifice their lives, time, talents and family time for our freedom.
Seeking to honor their sacrifice and service.
This year I have read several novels set during WWII. They all describe the horrors of war and the tragedies inflicted on human beings surrounding war. On one occasion one of my high school students and I went to see the movie, They Shall Not Grow Old, which was about WWI. It was a moving account told through the eyes of the British soldiers. I did not realize until the ‘after talk’ by the producer that the narratives read during the scenes were actual accounts from soldiers who served in the pictured battles or areas. That made the scenes all the more moving and real. Although the film footage was very old and not at all what we usually experience in high definition, it was authentic and gave you a real vision of what the conditions were really like. I did not have a true concept of what the trenches actually were. When I saw for real the conditions, the extent and size of the trenches I was amazed. The film was a tribute, by the producer, to honor his relatives who served during that war.
Nothing adequately describes the horrors of war and its aftermath in the mind and soul of the individual. November 11th is set aside for the specific remembrance -the 11th month, 11th day at the 11th hour the armistice was signed ending WWI, named the war to end all wars, and yet it did not. Scripture tells us there will we wars and rumors of wars until the end of time. Today we remember those who served and those who died in any war or conflict with grateful hearts.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are some pictures of the beaches and cemetery at Normandy. This was a place of great sacrifice during World War II. Thank you to each Veteran on this Veteran’s Day for your service and the sacrifice of all those who have died to preserve our freedoms. I am most grateful.
In John 15:13 Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”. These brave men and women paid the ultimate price, and they did not even know me. I am humbled by their patriotism and sacrifice on my behalf.
As we ponder the significance of 9/11 today, what comes to your mind? This is the 19th year anniversary of that tragic attack on the twin towers in NY and the Pentagon. Many of those alive today have no memory of that horrific day and those terrifying events. The same could be said for December 7th and the attack on Pearl Harbor. Both bring extreme sadness at the unnecessary loss of innocent lives, the aftermath of the events and their impact on families, the nation and our way of life. A great sense of invasion and insecurity looms in my mind.
As I looked back, four years ago on 9/11 my new book, Promises for Dynamic Living arrived. The arrival of a new book you’ve written is a momentous time for an author. At the heart of this book is hope and security. God’s Word provides us with an anchor for our souls in Christ and redemption though His work on the cross. Knowing promises our Heavenly Father has made to us, gives me hope as I know He is eternal and always faithful to keep His promises. He promised to send a savior and He did in the person of His own Son- Jesus. What hope we have in Christ! He fulfilled all the promises in the Bible about himself and all questions about redemption are Yes in Him. We do not need to fear for our future as it is guaranteed by Christ himself.
So what of 9/11 and those fears and insecurities? Turn them over to Jesus and depend upon Him in all things. We can cling to Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Nahum 1:7 “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” Isaiah 26:3-4 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” I pray one of these verses gives you added hope in Jesus today.
Living in a troubled world with HOPE,
A study in God’s Word that will bring you hope and assurance for living in a troubled world. Available on Amazon or at Certa Publishing.
I want to wish each of you a Happy 4th. The 4th of July is a favorite holiday filled with BBQ’s, games, swimming, picnicking, corn on the cob, apple pie and fireworks. But as you know, the 4th is more than that to each of us. The freedom we enjoy in America was bought with a price. The cost to those that came before us was filled with sacrifice, hope and struggle. It continues to cost those who labor daily in the military to ensure our freedom. Our struggle over the centuries has been to secure, defend and maintain freedom of religion, peace, prosperity and hope for us and our children. We desire to live in an unbiased, loving and accepting society. Is this possible? Actually, I believe it is NOT possible without Christ. He is the one who can make all things right and gives us the power to love and live in harmony with others.
Today’s thoughts of freedom bring me to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and Galatians 5:1. Paul was teaching the Corinthians how to live together in harmony and purity. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own: you have been bought at price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Paul was reminding the Galatians what they had in Christ and that it should be their desire and ours to honor God in all we say and do. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves by burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Christ died for us so that we might be free from sin and its bondage and have the ability to live lives that honor Him. The cross was the ultimate sacrifice for us. Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He bought us with a price, his life. He redeemed us from sin’s ultimate consequence-death. My freedom in Christ was bought with the price of His life on the cross.
I have FREEDOM in Christ- freedom from my sins, freedom to live for Him, freedom from eternal death and freedom to live with Him for eternity. Just as we are thankful for those who died to secure the freedom we have in America, we need to be thankful for the freedom we have in Christ alone. He is the one who secures it all and brings us to the place where we can enjoy freedom.
Today as you are thankful for America, think also of the greater freedom you have though Christ and say a prayer of Thanks to Jesus.
Mom and Dad on their 50th Wedding Anniversay
Dad in his 50’s.
Psalm 103:13 “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.”
Proverbs 23:24 “The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him.”
Sunday is Father’s Day and it’s approach has caused me to think reflectively about my earthly father, Henry Beecher Chrisp. He was a loving father, but demanded that we behave well, work hard, show respect and not give up easily. He loved to work with his hands building things and to fish. Dad loved the outdoors by cultivating flowers, growing a vegetable garden or simply taking a hike or ride through the forest. He had a deep faith in God. He showed me God, the Father, through his compassion and love for me. Dad was always one to love what we did and took pride in our accomplishments.
I hope your own father reminds you of God, the Father, in some personal way. I felt blessed and fortunate to have a father who loved me and wanted the best for me. I know all earthly fathers are not like that. Fortunately, we all have a perfect Heavenly Father we can look up to and depend upon. He will always be there for us and promises to never leave us or forsake us. Thank you Lord.
Have a blessed Father’s Day filled with good memories or activities with your father.