Here’s a question for you to ponder: Do you put your faith in your ability to face the circumstances of life; or do you put your faith in God’s promises?
It’s easy to trust in our own abilities to deal with whatever comes our way (especially for men who don’t even like to ask for directions), but in 2010, when I thought I was preparing for life after teaching as a pastor and God said, “I have a church for you now,” I knew I couldn’t handle both on my own. Since then, I have been on a journey learning daily how much better it is to trust God’s promises and turn to Him often seeking His path and not mine.
I like to work on developing a series to preach on, so I can delve deeply into a particular topic. Recently, as I began thinking about where I would go next (which I always begin with prayer, asking for God’s guidance), I came across an ad for a new book and study by Max Lucado called “Unshakable Hope.” It was as if God was saying, “Here you go. I thought you could use this.”
I say this because I had just gone through a week where I performed two funeral services and went to a third. I was reminded once again of the fact that in the face of death, our hope should be unshakable! Our faith in the risen Christ tells us that death in this world is not the end. That is not something we tell ourselves to make us feel better at times like those. It is the basis of our faith. It is the reason I look forward to seeing my brother and my dad again. I look forward to this with an unshakable hope.
What about you? Putting your faith in God’s promises instead of the circumstances of this world and your ability to handle them does not mean you will not face hardships. Here is one of God’s promises: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). This and so many other great promises from God are in His Word – the Bible. Just as you would take a dose of medicine when you’re suffering from a sickness – take a daily does of Scripture filled with God’s promises, making His Word your guide in life, and you’ll feel better every day. Be reminded in these verses of the need to put His Word into practice:
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matt. 7:24–27)
I love the way Max Lucado shares a modern-day version of these verses:
“Two people set out to build their houses. The first went to RPF Home Supply: Regrets, Pain, and Fear. He ordered lumber that was rotted by guilt, nails that were rusty from pain, and cement that was watered down with anxiety. Since his home was constructed with RPF supplies, every day was consumed with regret, pain, and fear. The second builder chose a different supplier. She secured her supplies from Hope Incorporated. Rather than choose regret, pain, and fear, she found ample promises of grace, protection, and security. She made the deliberate, conscious decision to build a life from the storehouse of hope.” (pg. 12, “Unshakable Hope”)
So – again – what about you? I pray that you will choose hope; that you will choose grace; that you will choose God.
The writer is the pastor of the Anna and Botkins United Methodist churches.