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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)

“‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Benjamin Franklin (1789)

Funny how these words penned so long ago still ring true today. Maybe it’s not really so funny if you think about it. Nor really much to look forward to, is it? Unless you have your head in the sand, you, like the rest of us, have this uneasy feeling in the bottom of your stomach.

Perhaps you are going through some personal issue with your relationships, your job, your kids or your finances. Maybe your health isn’t what it used to be. Maybe you are looking back on life and wondering how you got where you are, and why you haven’t accomplished what you hoped to do.

It’s not hard to get discouraged with the way things are. Politically and economically the world seems on the brink of disaster. If that weren’t enough, if war or bankruptcy doesn’t get us, natural disasters and new disease outbreaks will!

Part of the problem we all have is that we see just a small slice of the pie, a tiny square of the jig-saw puzzle of life. Wouldn’t it be great if we could back up and get an eagle-eye view of the landscape of this journey we are on? To be able to get high enough to see what is on the other side of that mountainous obstacle that seems to be sapping your strength?

There are many reasons why that’s not possible. The obvious one is that we are finite beings only capable of understanding a small part of the dimension we are in. Looking beyond that would just be too much to take in.

The good news we need to be reminded of (constantly?) is that we have someone who sees the final curtain. He has the whole thing planned and when it’s done we’ll give him (and us) a standing ovation for making it through!

One of my best friends is a drama director at our local high school. I’ve watched him direct plays for years and have been involved in some community productions with him as well. It never ceases to amaze me how he puts certain changes in the script to match the cast and situation. There have been times I’ve thought he was crazy, only to watch the play in its finality and realize everything worked out just right.

When life seems to be out of control, remember this. We are not in a play where all the actors and actresses are going their own way, doing their own thing, using their own script and ideas to accomplish a stunning and understandable end!

Life is a play of sorts in which we have a small part to play. Our director has each scene precisely choreographed for a stunning and grand finale in which we will meet him face to face.

Paul says ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER, not just a few. Our part? Love God. Trust God. Do the work of grace, mercy and forgiveness.

PRAYER: Father God. Great Director. Even though I question and worry about what is going on around me, help me to remember that my part may be small, but you have assured me it will work exactly according to plan. Amen.


Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

It’s during those wilderness times that true character shows forth. Set aside for the moment the fact that Jesus was the son of God; that he was fully God and fully man. Born of a virgin, Jesus was perfect in all his ways, yet this divine person had within him the emotional and physical attributes of man as well.

Isn’t that the same as us in some respects? We are created in God’s image. Within each of us there is both divine and earthly, and in that is the conflict we deal with for all of life; the battle between good and evil; the struggle to regain the relationship with had with our creator and the desire to fill the void humanity has left in us.

Gerald G. May states: “There is a desire within each of us, in the deep center of ourselves that we call our heart. We were born with it, it is never completely satisfied, and it never dies. We are often unaware of it, but it is always awake.”

Stunning words. Meditate on them for a moment. “A desire within each of us… We are often unaware of it, but it is always awake.”

That desire rears its ugly head at the most inopportune times. When we are weakest it whispers in our ears. When our dreams seem less likely to be fulfilled it screams accusations. When our choices lead to pain for ourselves or others it mocks us.

Jesus Christ knows how you feel during those times of weakness. Forty days without food would make any man weak. Forty days without bread leads the body to scream for comfort; awakens the desire within for fulfillment.

When we are at our weakest desire pleads with us to take matters into our own hands. We don’t deserve to be treated this way. Life would be better if others would listen to us. I can find what I need in a new relationship, a new job, a new set of surroundings.

When confronted with desire in the form of the great enemy, Satan, Jesus response was classic. It’s not about bread. Even the physical yearnings of hunger and the weakness brought on by a lack of food did not keep him from being focused on the true source of fulfillment; the true cure for desire.

Later, Jesus would say in the Sermon on the Mount, “Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are the ones who will be filled.”

Where has desire taken you? What path have you found yourself on that you never imagined you’d walk? What physical pain are you enduring because of your attempts at quieting the screaming voice of desire? Jesus is enough. His forgiveness, grace and guidance through the Holy Spirit is the only way desire will be silenced.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. I wrestle daily with the attacks of desire on my thoughts and attitudes. I want it my way. I want to fill this hole in my soul with things I know are temporary fixes. Fill me with your Spirit and quiet the voice of human desire today. Amen.


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 (NIV)

My joy got stolen from me the other day. Ripped right out of my heart before I knew it. One moment it was there, the next it was gone. I thought it was secure, in fact, looking back, I was probably a little too smug about its secure position.

I don’t think I’m alone. You’ve probably had your hope snatched a few times as well. Hope is fragile and valuable. If you have hope, you can conquer most any obstacle before you. If you have hope the old phrase ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ becomes a truism. If you have hope the daily frustrations of life seem to run off your back like water off a duck.

But when the hope snatchers sneak in, all bets are off. The issues of life are the same whether you have hope or not. It’s not if you have hope that counts, but what you have hope in that matters.

Put hope in politics and you’ll be miserable indeed. Put hope in people and relationships, your heart will be crushed as the hope is ripped out. Finances? Healthy living? Social action and volunteerism? All fine and good, but put your hope in them and you are putting your hope in something that’s as full of holes as Swiss cheese. Even religion offers little hope beyond what we can see, touch and feel.

Where then can we get this hope in a world where hopelessness seems encamped on every street corner?

Paul writes, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12) The key to the whole verse, and life, is found in the word ‘hope’. If you put your hope in something that is secure, solid and trusted then patience and faithfulness come easier. If, on the other hand your hope is put in something fallible, affliction will rob you of your joy and frustration will set in.

The key to hope, joy and patience is faithfulness in prayer. Prayer is the lifeline between you and the hope you have in Christ Jesus. Pray when your hope seems gone. Pray when your patience is thin. Pray when you have no desire to pray at all.

The next time your hope is ripped from your heart like mine was, step back and ask yourself where you were putting your hope in the first place. It may be time for a change in perspective.

PRAYER: Father God, forgive me for the times when I’ve put my hope in things rather than in you. Help me focus my prayers and my attitude towards you so that I can remain strong when hope-snatchers attack. Amen.


God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Acts 2:32

For those of us who have lost a loved one, we know what it’s like. We are reminded of him/her in those little things of life. Sometimes they are unrelated events in life that trigger those feelings. Other times the memories come out of the blue. Events take place and we find ourselves wishing we could share with them what we are thinking.

It seems the closer we are to the passing of a person, the more passionate we are about talking about them. The closer our relationship with them, the more intimate our memories. Those of us on the outside may even feel like we know that person because of the stories.

Can you imagine then, the passion the disciples must have had in those days following Christ’s ascension? Add to their stories the power of the Holy Spirit to take away their fears, to grow their self-confidence and to strengthen their resolve.

Whenever they saw a blind man begging along the road, did they remember when Jesus gave sight? When storms rose up in the night, did they remember the night they were terrified on the lake? When the funeral procession went by, did they remember the first time they visited the empty grave?

I’m sure they did. Those memories of Jesus were vivid to those who had seen him long after the rest of the world had forgotten. It was, no doubt the memories that spurred them on to spread the good news of the gospel. Theologians may say it was the power of the Spirit that moved them, but the real passion behind them was the memories.

People around us aren’t really interested in the doctrines of the church, they want to know how to get rid of the guilt. People around us don’t need to be reminded of their weaknesses; they see those every morning when they look in the mirror. They don’t need to be reminded of the futility of life, the unpaid bills piled on the kitchen counter are reminder enough.

The disciple’s most intense proof of Jesus, their most powerful argument was simply the fact that they saw Jesus. In the same way, our most powerful weapon won’t be our church experiences, or our scriptural knowledge, it will be the reminders of what Jesus has done for us. When we remember what Jesus did for us it’s easier to show others the love and grace he has to offer them.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, let me never forget what you have done for me. Keep your grace and mercy towards me ever before me as I rub shoulders with those who need to find you. I remember, and I thank you. Amen.


They will be so kind and merciful and good, that they will be a light in the dark for others who do the right thing. Psalm 112:4 (CEV)

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! Ephesians 5:8 (NLT)

Light. It’s comforting to the young mom after a night comforting a sick child; it’s calming to the sleepless heart after a night of storms; it warms the fingers and toes and brings a smile to those in the cold; it brings relief to the ship captain as he guides his cargo and crew safely into harbor; it provides needed nutrients for plants to produce their fruit. Life can not exist without light.

It’s no wonder Jesus and others use this analogy in reference to the church, his body. He knew the importance of providing light to those in darkness. Light has nothing to do with darkness because light by its very presence dispels darkness once and for all.

The world is full of darkness. We see it in the politics of the nations, the lies of its people, the deceptive tactics of the enemy. Darkness can creep into the church itself with words of condemnation, criticism and legalism. Religion based on rules and dogmas is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, ready to distract us from our real purpose of giving those around us hope, sharing the message of forgiveness, showing mercy to those who are lost.

We are called to be the light of the world. When we use the tactics of the world to respond to the issues of life, we become part of the darkness, not the light. People are looking for light, not more darkness.

Spread the grace of Jesus to those who need some light today. Our purpose is not to pass judgment; not to condemn; not to burden down with guilt. That is the work of darkness. Rather, spread light today to those around you who disagree with you. Rather than defending your cause to their face, talk over the issues with your father on your knees. Only he can change hearts.

PRAYER: Father God, it’s so easy in our culture to become messengers of darkness rather than beacons of light. Empower me today with your Spirit so that I can spread the light of your grace, forgiveness and hope to those seeking the light. Amen.

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