If you’re like me, Monday mornings can be difficult to navigate, especially if you have a lot going on. Today, I have been making flight reservations to see my sister out west. Doing that can be mind numbing trying to figure out times, seat assignments, etc. But what does all that have to do with the power of prayer? Nothing directly but indirectly it does.
Yesterday in my Sunday School class I was scheduled to teach the lesson. However, my back went out on me causing me pain just to stand. So, I sat down to teach the lesson. When class was over one of our class members invited all other class members to come up and lay their hands on me as he did. He prayed a very powerful prayer for my healing.
I am happy to report that as of this morning I’ve not experienced any pain in my back and I am walking pain free. That’s a good thing because I certainly didn’t want to travel in pain. I think sometimes that I’ve not experienced the full benefit of prayer because I’ve had a small seed of doubt. I am not sure why but yesterday I just believed I was going to be healed and as of this writing I am still pain free.
The next time you enter into prayer with our heavenly Father, just know two things—He hears your prayers and answers your prayers. Don’t be the unstable man who is tossed about by the wind and waves with a small seed of doubt but instead have concrete faith and trust in our Lord. When you do, you will receive answers to your prayers.
Today is the 3 year anniversary of my dog’s death. Jake was a red lab and the most friendly dog I’ve ever known. He loved me as only a dog can love someone. Unconditionally. Words cannot express how much I miss him. Toward the end of his life, his sicknesses became very worrisome. Ultimately, he got cancer causing him great pain. We tried everything to make him comfortable and to help him eat, but, to no avail.
My wife and I prayed about what to do and the answer we received from God was to let him go so as not to suffer any more. Needless to say making the decision to put him to sleep was the most difficult and emotionally upsetting decision I’ve ever made. If any of you have had a similar experience then you know what I’m talking about. I cried for a long period of time after his death. As a man I am not ashamed to admit it. Jake was my very first dog and so there was that additional connection we had.
Today, I will remember Jake with great fondness and a little sadness. This may sound silly but I hope I get to see him again in heaven. I love you Jake.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus said that the gate to heaven is narrow (Matt. 7:13-14). The easier route through life is the path of happiness, which has side roads to decadence and self-indulgence. But the way to eternal life is marked by self-sacrifice and humility.
The Lord warned His followers not to be deceived about their salvation. Those who find heaven’s road have trusted Him as Savior and acknowledged that His sacrificial death paid their sin debt in full. This is important because we meet many people who appear to be walking the narrow path but have never made a decision for Christ. They may be busy with church work, but they have placed performance before commitment. At the judgment, Jesus will tell them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23).
You don’t want to be among those who think their deeds will earn them admission to heaven. Receiving Christ as Savior is the only way (John 14:6). Then you can be sure that at the end of your life, you’ll step off the narrow road and into God’s presence forever (1 John 5:13).
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Some of the saddest words on earth are we don’t have room for you. Jesus knew the sounds of those words. He was still in Mary’s womb when the innkeeper said, “We don’t have room for you.” And when he hung on the cross, wasn’t the message one of utter rejection? “We don’t have room for you in this world.”
Today Jesus is given the same treatment. He goes from heart to heart, asking if he might enter. Every so often, he is welcomed. Someone throws open the door of his or her heart and invites him to stay. And to that person Jesus gives this great promise. “In my Father’s house are many rooms” (John 14:2). We make room for him in our hearts, and Jesus makes room for us in his house!
And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven.— II Thessalonians 1:7
It is helpful and hopeful that the Apostle Paul reminds us that our faith in Jesus Christ will one day be rewarded with rest. In this life many of us have received ill treatment for our faith. These times of trial and persecution are tiresome. They wear us out. The hope of a time of rest, the hope of a time of relief from all of it is encouraging. It helps us to hold on. It helps us to not give up. We may have troubles now, but the future is bright.
The promise of rest, however, is not exclusively a future reality. In the book of Hebrews it says, “So God’s rest is there for people to enter” (Hebrews 4:6). And already, by faith, we may enter into that rest (Hebrews 4:3).
Already, even in the midst of our trials and persecutions, our faith allows us to experience a rest of God that is a foretaste of the ultimate rest that is yet to come.
Yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God—Romans 4:20
The walk of faith begins at salvation and continues until we reach heaven. At first we may stumble, but along the way, our focus should begin to shift: Instead of focusing on the obstacles facing us, we should look to the Lord. And rather than battle nagging doubts about God’s trustworthiness, we should cling to the knowledge that He loves us and is always faithful to His Word.
This kind of thinking, practiced consistently, will lead us into mature faith, which rests in the goodness and sufficiency of God. We’ll begin to see our obstacles through the Lord’s eyes and grow strong in faith, giving glory to God.
Most people think that when they die, they are going to heaven. If you asked why, the majority would say they have been good people or their positive deeds outweigh any negative things they’ve done. Yet the sad reality is, most people will not find themselves in heaven—and that includes some who claim to be Christians.
It may not be a popular topic of conversation, but our Savior knew that hell was essential to understand. He uses illustrations of contrasting gates, trees, and houses to point out that there are only two possible destinies after death: heaven and hell. Jesus is warning us about a most sobering reality—that not everyone who calls Him “Lord” actually belongs to Him (Matt. 7:21-23).
What, then, distinguishes a true follower? John 14:15 tells us those who love the Savior will keep His commandments. This obedience begins with believing Jesus is the Son of God (John 3:36). In other words, the first step is to humble ourselves before God, admitting that we’re sinful and deserving of condemnation. Next, we must call out to Him, requesting the forgiveness for which His Son’s blood was shed on our behalf. From then on, we’re to live only for God.
If you hear the gospel but stop short of obedience, ask yourself, Do I fully understand the goodness of God’s love? That should inspire you to obey the Father. Looking good on the outside isn’t enough to enter the kingdom of heaven. Remember, to those who truly receive Him, He will give “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Won’t you make sure you’re among those destined for heaven?