Sunny Reminder


“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Ps. 119:1)

I love how this verse just reminds me that the creation around us speaks of God and that Someone did create all that is. I was outside in the beautiful and unusually warm weather today washing and waxing my car. (It’s rare that I take the time to do that.) I was standing in my driveway and the sun was shining and felt so warm. The sky was blue and there was barely a breeze. God’s creation reminded me of a passage of Scripture which sent to a moment of Spiritual comfort.

Here’s the passage that came to mind:

Matthew recorded Jesus’ words: “For [God] makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

I was reminded of this passage by the warm sun today that I will experience sunny days and rainy ones, both good days and difficult ones. And that’s ok. Because of who God is and who I am in Him, I know, just as Paul knew that “I can call all things good” in this life. (Romans 8:28)

I have two thoughts from this:

1. I can count all things good in my life because God is good. Because He loved and pursued me, I love Him and I am called to His purpose.

2. We will decide, when it’s sunny, how we will respond to the rain. I’m reminded during the sunny day that God is just as good and still at work bringing about His purpose in my life during the rainy day.

Maybe it’s best to remember, when the sun is shining, that no matter what happens in life, because God is good and loves us, we can call it all good. It brings new meaning to the cliche; “it’s all good!”

Thank you Lord for the sunny day…..and the rainy one!

Perspective is everything?


I often think about how perspective can make such a difference in attitude. We tend to be more driven and have more perseverance in our work when we believe things are going well. Often in life we evaluate how things are going based upon our perspective. I certainly understand how this works. But, how much should perspective control our attitude?

I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Ezra after the foundation of the new temple is completed and the different reaction between the young men and the old. It’s all based on their perspective. The young men shout with excitement because there will soon be a temple again. They’ve only heard about the former temple that was destroyed when their parents were hauled away to Babylon. The old men as children, however, saw the glorious temple of Solomon and were convinced the new temple could never live up to the glory of the old one.

The book of Ezra explains the confusion of sound as some cheered and other wailed at the sight of the new temple foundation:

And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.” (Ezra 11b – 13)

Have you ever experienced anything like this in life? I sure have. I’ve been in meetings with ministry leaders in which we looked at the same decision or situation, some view it with optimism and others with trepidation. The difference based solely upon perspective.

The question is; how much of our perspective really plays a part in God’s plan?

There’s an answer to this question, I believe, when Paul’s makes this monumental statement in his letter to the Philippians:

“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (Philippians 4:11)

The truth is; God’s plan is not limited or perpetuated by man’s perspective. God’s perspective is different, greater and more clear than ours every will be in this life. He is great, powerful and is working out His plan according to His perfect will. The good news is, how I feel about it doesn’t make any difference as to whether God will do what He’s set out to do.

I think this truth comes to fruition in Paul’s quotable statement that followed the verse above; “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I believe God wants us to have an optimistic perspective simply because we can trust Him in His work. As that work involves us, we work with confidence that He will complete what He’s set out to do. But, even if we’re experiencing struggle, we know, our perspective will not hinder the work of God. Just as the men of Jerusalem, both young and old, saw the completion of the temple, we will see the completion of God’s work too.

Then You’ll Be A Witness

For my morning Bible reading time during the last month, I’ve been following a pre-made reading plan called “thirty days with Jesus.” I’m constantly looking for Jesus when I read the Bible but it’s been great to spend 30 days in passages that consist of His story on earth and His teaching.

As Jesus instructs His disciples near the end of His life on earth, He spends a lot of time encouraging them about the future. Now, if you’re reading passages like Luke 21, you may wonder how I can use the word, “encouraging.” But, the focus of Christ’s words, in my estimation, are not about the end times as much as that the disciples, and followers of Jesus, will be ok.

Here are a couple of encouragements that I see in Luke 21 as Jesus teaches:

1.     The most difficult days of your life will be when God speaks through your life the most.

Jesus tells the disciples that they’re going to be arrested, imprisoned and some even killed because of the Gospel. But, His encouragement in all that bad news is found in these words: “This will be your opportunity to bear witness.” (Luke 21:13, ESV) In other words, Jesus is telling them, no matter their circumstances, they will be able to live the life to which He’s called them.

The same is true for you and me; difficult circumstances don’t mean that you can’t live your life in Christ today. Actually, Biblically, the opposite is true. Difficult circumstances mean you can live the life Christ has for you.

2.     The Gospel is never bound by circumstances.

If you were to study church history, you would notice that the church flourished when persecution was the highest. There can certainly be an argument for the same today as it’s believed that one of the nations with the fastest growing church is China which is a country that is closed to the Gospel.

Just as it seems the proclamation of the Gospel may be stopped, Jesus’ words to His disciples rings true again. “For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.” (Luke 21:15, ESV)

Just when I think I can’t be a witness for the greatness of Jesus and His story, He gives me the words and wisdom to do just that.

This is the good news of Jesus’ teaching that can make all the difference for you today. If you’re having a difficult day, this is the greatest opportunity for God to work in and through your life.

The Day Jesus Didn’t Show

Do you ever feel like God didn’t show up? Have you ever thought, “I feel like God could have interceded in this situation in my life and it’s like He wasn’t even here?” Well, maybe He wasn’t. But that doesn’t mean He’s not coming.

The same verse always jumps out at me when I read the story of Lazarus in the Gospel of John. That being true, that verse still has incredible impact and is a great reminder every time I read it that God’s plans rarely match what I think He should do. In John 11:15, after reporting that Lazarus was dead, Jesus makes a startling statement; “I’m glad I wasn’t there.” What!? Really!?

Here are a couple of immediate truths I find in this passage:

  1.  Jesus does not take joy in your pain. If He doesn’t show up in a particular situation, it doesn’t mean He’s not coming.

Jesus may seem to be late according to our calendar but He’s always on time according to His.

  1. Jesus ultimately wants to give you even more evidence that you can trust Him.

If Jesus leaves you in an unpleasant life situation, it may very well be that He’s planning something even bigger in your life than what you’re asking for.

Those who witnessed Jesus’ interaction with Martha and Mary and witnessed Jesus’ heavy heart over the death of His friend asked a great question, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” Yes He could. But, Jesus didn’t show the day Lazarus died so all who were present could watch Him do something even greater; raise the dead.

Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’” (John 11:40, ESV)

So, if you feel that He hasn’t shown up in your life during a particular trial, just know, it’s in His nature to wait so He might show you something greater about what He can do.

The Good on the Other Side of Bad

I noticed a couple leave our worship service yesterday morning just after I began to preach. I didn’t take it personal but I did wonder if they were offended by the message. The thought of that bothers me a little but let me explain why. (Please don’t get the wrong idea I don’t think it’s about me at all.)

I began my message the way I usually do, since I preach in series, I was catching everyone up on where we were last week. So, I shared that God has the power, through the Gospel, to reach anyone no matter how far away they seem to be. I announced that we were all born into this sin problem and God has the power and ability to fix it; and He has. That’s just good news!

I did wonder, however, if some of the first time visitors to our church yesterday found themselves uncomfortable and offended by my statement that we’re all born sinners. If you struggle with this, just please know that this statement is completely biblical and the gateway of truth that opens up into the greatest news in all creation. This is why I say if someone is offended by this message it bothers me a little. They didn’t stay around long enough to hear the truth that relieves all the tension:

There’s a good that can only be found on the other side of the bad.

I would suggest that no passage of Scripture demonstrates this better than Isaiah 53. The words of Isaiah in this passage are just desperate. I don’t know how else to describe it. Line after line he writes of pain that actually begins back in chapter 52 with a man beaten beyond recognition. In the midst of all these descriptive words of agony like stricken, smitten, afflicted, wounded and crushed there is a ray of hope that this was all “for us.”

Why would Isaiah write about such punishment and brutality which could be surmised in one simple English word; bad? All these words are written to culminate in one attention gripping statement, “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him.” What?! The will of the Lord?

If you don’t already know, as Isaiah writes such soul piercing words he is actually writing about Jesus and what He ultimately did on the cross; and it went just as Isaiah said. He was beaten beyond recognition, He was mocked and yet did not return a word and he was buried in a borrowed tomb. This is where the good news comes in.

He did it all for us! There is a good (though the word “good” can barely describe this) that comes in complete contrast of the bad. In other words, what happens because of all these words of desperation is a promise of good that’s equally as breath taking as the words of wounds. Isaiah 53:11 sums it up completely:

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:11, ESV)

Isn’t that awesome news! “Many to be accounted righteous,” on account of the pain that Jesus suffered.

So, maybe those I noticed leaving our service had a stomach ache or a family reunion. I hope it was something like that. Not because it’s about me but because the news is so good. I want everyone to hear the entire message of the Gospel. There’s a difficulty that we have to deal with, that is, things are not ok. But, because of the work of God through Jesus, there is a good that we can realize on the other side of what seems so bad and that “good” ultimately affects every aspect of our lives. God is good!