“Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 NLT
Growing faith leads to abounding love. How does faith grow? One way is through persecution or trials, when we are forced to fully rely on God. How can we as followers of Christ, abounding in love, help those who are embroiled in such a predicament? Several years ago I began the practice of praying for someone who seemed to be wandering in a proverbial “desert wilderness.” I reasoned, if Jesus’ wilderness experience lasted forty days, then hat should be the measure of my commitment. My forty day commitment to praying for someone is often done without telling them. It builds up my faith to see God answering prayer in the life of another person.
Dear God, strengthen my faith by your mighty power. Remind me my strength comes from every word that comes out of your mouth. Guide my words and deeds to bring glory to your name. Show me someone who may be suffering, whether they’re facing a trial or struggling with doubts about their faith.
“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.” Thessalonians 1:11 NLT
I’m guilty of not washing my car as often as I should. Maybe it’s because I regard vehicles as transportation and not a stylish reflection of who I am. In the northeastern United States we use salt on the roads in the winter. So, after ten to twelve years of ownership, my cars invariably show signs of rust. At this point it’s a little late in the game to be putting more effort into washing my car.
I want to be one of those people who invests their time and energy into imperishable things like relationships. I know this will require regular housecleaning to keep my heart from forming rust-bearing thoughts that can corrode the relationships I hold dear.
“Store your treasure in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not bread in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:20-21 NLT
Many of us take for granted the trustworthiness provided in relationships. Yet, so many innocent lives have been abused, cheated or betrayed by a loved one. Make it your purpose in life to be a trustworthy relative, parent, spouse, sibling or friend.
The word trustworthy has been rattling around in my head for some time now. Maybe it’s because so many untrustworthy individuals have managed to dominate the news. I produced a series of pictorial posts to share some of my thoughts on the word. Here is the first one.
Only human. This quote accurately portrays humans as imperfect beings vulnerable to failure. As we travel through life, it is clear that some of these human failures can be devastating. Thankfully, relationships we have made with others as we journey provide the necessary framework needed to make forgiveness and restoration possible. In matters with eternal consequences, it is a personal relationship with God, not a membership in religious institution that provides authentic hope for forgiveness and restoration of the human soul.
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1 NLT
As I was researching material for my book, I found myself turning to my Bible to see how dogs were portrayed in scripture. In the book of Genesis all of creation was declared “good” by God. Then, after the flood of Noah’s day dogs fell victim to their own bad and unacceptable behavior. Because of this dogs assumed a deplorable identity in scripture.
But yet dogs of today are highly valued, loved and esteemed. What has caused this change? It is my view that mankind’s relationship with dogs had a “redeeming” effect on them. Today, our beloved pets are committed to the way of love.
When I see how dogs have responded to man’s love and affection, and consider my use of the word “redeemed,” I find myself reflecting on my own redemption and how I have responded to God’s love and affection. Am I committed to the way of love? Is my relationship with God such that I find it difficult to live without Him?