Hope in the Lord

O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows. He himself will redeem Israel from every kind of sin.
Psalms 130:7‭-‬8 NLT

Life has been so busy here planning for our upcoming trip, finishing and then promoting my book so my wife wholeheartedly agreed for a sunset tour of a nearby park we had never been to. What a blessing to take a little break from our daily routine and spend a few quiet moments watching the sun set over the Gulf. It is as if every evening, Jesus takes His artist’s brush and paints a message of hope just before the darkness settles in.

Maybe He is telling each one of us individually to recall His faithfulness to forgive, by painting the ocean red. There is the place that He has promised to cast our sins if we repent and turn to Him when we stray. There under the waves, all our own actions and anxieties that have robbed the lives of ourselves and our families can be forgotten and forgiven because of the Cross. How glad I am of that new hope available for me!

So here are some photos of last night’s quiet sunset. They are just a few samples of the masterpiece of God’s mercy and hope for anyone who is looking. Where is your hope today?

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Will You Answer That?

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:1-2 ESV

When our cell phone rings, it is common for us to look at the number and decide whether to pick the call, reject it or just let it go to voice mail. But when I was a kid, a phone call was actually quite an event. Our only phone hung on the wall in the kitchen, and if it rang when mom had her hands in the dishwater, she would yell out, “Will somebody answer that please!” Then either my sister or I would run to pick it up. In those days, we couldn’t just say, “Hello!” Instead, we had to begin by saying, “This is the Jones residence; may I help you please?”

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The Bible tells us about the most important call of all: the one from God. Some of us may be letting God’s call go through to voice mail because we are afraid of what we think He is planning. We picture being sent off to some scary place overseas or emptying our bank account to help the poor. But we are missing what God’s call is about. Today’s verse tells us that He is far more interested in who we are than in what we do. So, go ahead. Be brave. Pick up the phone because you just may discover that God is calling for us to be humble in how we think of ourselves and gentle in how we treat others. We also may find out He is asking us to be patient when things don’t happen as quickly as we hoped (which is often) and loving forbearance when people fail us. And with all the callings and messages we are hearing it is most important of all to remember that everything God asks of us, He has already done when He picked up His phone and answered our call for mercy!

The DNA of God

Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?     Mark 2:7 ESV

When I was a young boy, I got in trouble a lot during summer vacations. My usual transgression was getting caught for wading in the pond on the other side of the creek from our home. See it wasn’t so much that I enjoyed getting wet, I just loved catching polliwogs so that I could bring them home and watch them turn to frogs. Though I ended up countless times being made to sit on my bed for disobeying, it seemed that it was just in my DNA. No matter how often I was told to stop, it never took more than a couple of days for me to gleefully return to the pond.

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Jesus got in trouble a lot too, but the trouble that Jesus got in was because He forgave people of their sins. “Just who does He think He is?” the religious people muttered. But, if they had stopped for just a moment to think about His name, they would have known the answer. You see God told Joseph and Mary to name their miracle child “Jesus”, precisely because “He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21. You see, forgiveness was part of who Jesus is because He is God’s Son and forgiveness begins in the very DNA of God. We need that forgiveness every day, and the good news for us is that no matter how much the punishment Jesus had to endure He came to forgive us so we could become His people!