WESLEY’S FAITH: COMFORT & HOPE

There is a quote by John Wesley that reveals his strong faith and trust in the Lord God:  “I have never known more than fifteen minutes of anxiety or fear. Whenever I feel fearful emotions overtaking me, I just close my eyes and thank God that He is still on the throne reigning over everything, and I take comfort in His control over the affairs of my life.”  (John Wesley, 1703-1791)

Wesley’s faith and trust gave him comfort.  When I live by faith and trust in the Sovereign Lord, it gives me comfort and hope. Wesley’s life of successfully walking with God makes me want to follow his example of always trusting the One Who is on His throne. It is important to remember it is His throne not mine or yours.

Anxiety and fear are very prevalent in our world today. No one wants to live beneath the weight of fear or anxiety. I believe that Wesley’s faith is the solution to those problems and will work for any of God’s children. The key is to know that I am His child then make a conscious decision to trust Him and exercise faith with which He gifted me.

If one wants to replace fear and anxiety with  comfort and hope, then follow Wesley’s example. Accept God’s salvation through Jesus Christ to be born again into God’s family and experience His forgiveness. Receive His Holy Spirit Who will give comfort and hope. Life here will be better, and a heavenly home in the life-to-come will be so glorious that we can only imagine!

 

But I have trusted in Your faithfulness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.” 
(Psalm 13:5)

“The LORD has established 

His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.” 
(Psalm 103:19)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 
(Romans 15:13)

“For our citizenship is in heaven from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; Who will transform the body of our lowly condition into conformity with His
glorious body, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”
(Philippians 3:20-21)

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”  (1 John 5:23)

"I can only imagine 
when that day comes,
When I find myself 
standing in the Son.
I can only imagine 
when all I would do 
is forever,
Forever worship You.
I can only imagine,
I can only imagine." 
(from the song,"I 
Can Only Imagine," 
written by Bart 
Millard and recorded 
by MercyMe)

REMEMBER SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: THERE IS HOPE

Today marks the twenty-year anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil that took the lives of thousands and changed the lives of the rest of us. We remember September 11, 2001, one of the darkest days in the history of the United States. It was a day when intentional violence and death was inflicted against fellow human beings that left hurting and broken hearts throughout our nation and among our allies around the world.

For Americans who experienced that day, we remember 9/11/2001, as an emotional time marked by fear, sadness, despair, anger… even hatred because of the huge loss of innocent lives. Some may have lost hope, but in the midst of such suffering, still there is hope if one knows in Whom to trust.

On that day and days following we witnessed innumerable  examples of heroism, patriotism, bravery, and compassion. The best of the human spirit shone forth after evidence of the worst of the human spirit. Lives were saved that can only be explained by the grace and providence of a loving Sovereign God. Feelings of peace to gradually comfort the deep personal sorrow of those who lost loved ones became real to many. Hope brings healing and is found when God’s people look to Him for help even in the midst of the worst storms — and continues even after twenty years. Surely remembering experiences rooted in hope is  better than harboring roots of bitterness.

What caused the evil that deliberately struck America on that tragic day? It was ultimately caused by demonic forces that rule rebellious hearts of sinful humans. I believe our nation is right to defend and protect, but humans who war even for right reasons must also act in righteousness. War is necessary to stand against terrorists — forces of darkness — which must be stopped.

Light is the only effective weapon against the darkness of evil. If America is led by the Light and the Glory of God upon which it was founded, we will stand as the land of the free. If we continue to replace godly principles with ungodly living, then we will not.

Judgment is real when God’s people ignore His warnings. Today we risk losing everything we hold dear. Will America heed God’s warnings and know His forgiveness and healing or be condemned to fall amid future tragedies?

Lest anyone considers this to be a hopeless message, realize there is hope always if we repent and follow Biblical instructions. God’s promises are found throughout Scriptures, including 2 Chronicles 7:14:  “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

 

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” 
(Hebrews 12:15)

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  (Ephesians 6:12)

“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness but will have the Light of life.”  (John 8:12)

OUR GREATEST ADVOCATE:  OUR ONLY HOPE

Many of us are praying for covid patients all around the world as well as for those much closer to home. Many have prayed during recuperation of a loved one and some perhaps even at the time he or she passed from this life into the Savior’s presence.

It is then that the Holy Spirit surely intercedes and prays for that which is needed. We pray for healing and then trust that prayers are always answered according to God’s purpose.

Sometimes our loved ones receive ultimate healing — no more sickness, no more pain, no more weakness, no more infection… ever again. Everything God does — including healing — is for His glory and for our ultimate good.

When passed into heaven our loved one becomes perfectly whole and well — and waiting for a reunion with loved ones. This may come soon as Time seems to be winding down toward the Lord’s return.

May God’s comfort, peace, and strength help grieving families through times of huge loss, and may joy of precious memories and thankfulness of times shared gradually overtake the deep pain and overwhelming grief. May anticipation of a future reunion become a greater reality in hearts and minds.

Everything God does has purpose, and He wants His children to trust Him in all things — even loss of loved ones.

There is an essential condition for a future reunion. We must be adopted as God’s children, joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Be sure you are God’s child, that you have accepted His free gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ, and be sure your loved ones have the opportunity to choose that relationship with Him.

For those who have suffered loss, I pray for your needs: peace, comfort, strength, perseverance to keep praying, healing of a broken heart, faith to trust God. Whatever comes into our lives may we continue to pray and trust God, Who is our greatest advocate  and our only hope.

 

“…But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
(Romans 8: 11)

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He Who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8: 26 – 28)

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”  (Romans 8: 31)

“that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”  (Romans 10: 9, 10)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works so that no one may boast.”  (Ephesians 2: 8, 9)

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”  (1 John 5: 13)

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.'” 
(Horatio Spafford)

HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH:  FAITH, HOPE, & LOVE

Today is our wedding anniversary. I cannot help thinking how quickly the years (decades) have passed! I remain thankful for my spouse and for God’s blessings.

Together we have tried to build a home filled with faith, hope, and love. Some days we succeed but only with help from the God of faith, hope, and love  and only by His grace.

I wish to dedicate a song to my spouse of 34 years. Since early in our marriage we have been blessed by Steve Green’s music in concert and by recordings. The following song is especially meaningful to us.

HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH

“Here we are at the start committing to each other
By His word and from our hearts.
We will be a family in a house that will be a home,
And with faith we’ll build it strong.

We’ll build a household of faith

That together we can make,
And when the strong winds blow, it won’t fall down.
As one in Him we’ll grow and the whole world will know,
We are a household of faith.

Now to be a family we’ve got to love each other
At any cost unselfishly,
And our home must be a place that fully abounds with grace
A reflection of His face.

We’ll build a household of faith
That together we can make,
And when the strong winds blow it won’t fall down.
As one in Him we’ll grow and the whole world will know
We are a household of faith.”  (Marijean Green & Steve Green)

“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
(1 Corinthians 13:13)

“Let all that you do be done in love.”  (1 Corinthians 16: 14)

We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  (1 John 4:16)

(You may listen online to “Household of Faith” sung by Steve Green to be blessed.)

TERMINAL:  HOPE AND HEAVEN

Terminal! Typically this is not good news when included in a medical diagnosis. However here is an important revelation that I think needs to be understood. We are all terminal! Each of us enters life with a terminal condition. A long and healthy life is generally desired and planned, but there is no guarantee of either.

Today I will share a few of the many Bible verses regarding life. I believe God’s Word is the best Source of wisdom and knowledge. When understood and obeyed, Scriptures will lead me to the best life possible no matter its length or health.

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every matter under heaven — A time to give birth and a time to die….”  (Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 2)

So teach us to number our days that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”  (Psalm 90: 12)

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” 
(1 John 5:  9 – 12)

The best news is that there is hope! There is another life after this one — a much better one that is filled with glory, grace, and the presence of the Savior of the world, Who is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3 : 16)

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.'” (John 11: 25)

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23)

To enter the next life in heaven, I must have received the free gift of the Savior Jesus Christ. Faith alone in Him alone determines our eternal home in heaven.

Trusting Him with the next life makes getting through this life more bearable. The better that I know Him, the better I trust Him and rest in Him. Death is not so fearful when I trust that a heavenly escort will carry me home.

Death can be a welcome transition when I understand the joy, perfection, and glory to come. I have a sure hope that heaven will be even better than I imagine!

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms; if that were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you also will be. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going; how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.'”
(John 14: 1 – 6)

“For our citizenship is in heaven from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3: 20)

“…I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk by Your side.
I can only imagine
What my eyes would see
When Your face is before me.
I can only imagine.

Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You, Jesus,
Or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in Your presence,
Or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine.
I can only imagine….”
(Bart Millard)

2020 OLYMPICS: HOPE AND PEACE

Earlier this month the 2020 Olympic games were held in Tokyo, Japan. Many of us viewed the televised competitions of the strongest, fastest, highest, and best. We cheered for those who are now Olympians for life whether medal winners or not.

We were amazed by athletes who broke world records and were inspired by results of years of training, discipline, and dedication. We were proud of those who represented their home countries well and were touched by true examples of sportsmanship. We were awed by those whose triumphant accomplishments overcame seemingly impossible challenges. We witnessed the best of the best regarding athletic competitors and sport successes.

Many viewers came to know and love favored athletes, such as American swimmers, “queen” Katy Ledecky and “king” Caeleb Dressel. I think their humility formed the invisible crowns on their physically fit and gold medal-draped bodies. It pleased me to learn that these two as well as others use their positions and influences to make our world a better place. 

This gives me hope, and this is needed throughout our planet today. Most of us will never occupy such renowned platforms as Olympians, but we can still impact others. May we each do that which we can to share hope and spread peace.


International Olympic Committee mission: to build a better world through sport  (www.olympics.com)

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also shall rest in hope.”  (Psalm 16: 9)

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31: 24)

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven…. A time for war and a time for peace.”
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1 & 8)

With love in mind you can’t go wrong
For love it is that fosters peace,
So sing it loud and sing it strong.
With love in mind you can’t go wrong….”
(Richard Doiron, poet)

REJOICE ALWAYS: JOY AND HOPE

I am reminded of a verse that brings hope to God’s children when we do what it says. Rejoicing and hope go together well. In fact we can expect blessings when we obey God’s Word.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice!”  (Philippians 4:4)

It is clear that Philippians 4:4 tells us to rejoice always. This does not mean only when life is easy… when circumstances are pleasant… or when things are going as we planned. We are to rejoice always, and it is even repeated for emphasis.

If we memorize this verse and ponder it often, then it will add joy and hope to our hearts. God’s children can experience hope always when we rejoice always. According to Romans 12:12 we are to live “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.”

God wants us to have joy, and that gives me hope. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes far from it, but we can always rejoice in the Lord when we trust Him, obey Him, and focus on Him. He is enough when there is nothing else that seems joyful or hopeful in our lives.

A couple that leads worship known as Brad and Rebekah have experienced God through their darkest days and in their struggles. They have learned to rejoice and share joy through their music. They recorded a worship song, “Rejoice,” and the lyrics are below. Find it online and listen to be blessed.

REJOICE

Lift your eyes, don’t worry about tomorrow.
Peace will come and still every anxious thought,
‘Cause He’s not done, forever and always faithful.

Rejoice, rejoice, oh, my soul.
He is good, He is always good.
Rejoice, rejoice, oh my soul.
He is good, He is always good to us.

Place your trust in what you can’t see with your eyes.
He’s enough to shoulder the weight you carry.
Victory is found in the name of Jesus.

Rejoice, rejoice, oh, my soul.
He is good, He is always good.
Rejoice, rejoice, oh, my soul.
He is good, He is always good to us, oh.
He is good, He’s so good.

This is where my peace comes from:
Immovable One, unshakeable God.
There’s freedom where I place my trust:
Immovable One, unshakeable God.
I know where my peace comes from:
Immovable One, unshakeable God.
There’s freedom where I place my trust:
Immovable One, unshakeable God.

Rejoice, rejoice, oh, my soul.
He is good, He is always good.
Rejoice, rejoice, oh, my soul.
He is good, He is always good.
He is good, oh, He is always good.
He is good, He is always good to us.”  (Bichsel, Bichsel, DiMarco, and Silverberg)

(“Rejoice” was written by Brad Bichsel, Rebekah Bichsel, Kristene DiMarco, and Joshua Silverberg.)

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

GOD OF BIRDS AND LILIES: HOPE NOT WORRY

God’s Word in the New Testament book of Matthew promises God’s children that He cares not only for the birds but also for us. We can choose hope not worry, because He cares for us, and we are more precious to Him than the birds.

He cares for us more than the beautiful lilies, and He will take care of us. He is God of birds and lilies — of all Creation in fact.  We can trust Him to keep His promises.

We do have instructions though. We are told to first seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness to receive His promises. We receive His righteousness when we receive Jesus Christ as Savior. God’s blessings benefit us in this life and eliminate the need to worry. God’s kingdom in the next life benefits us forever thanks to salvation by faith alone in Jesus Christ.

There is hope in His promises. Surely we can agree that hope is a better choice than worry. The following promises should be memorized and pondered often!

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing?

Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

Do not worry then saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  (Matthew 6: 25-34)

CAR ART CREATOR:  AMERICAN DREAM and HOPE

Isaac Cohen, owner of Classy Art Wholesale in Houston, was featured on the History Channel’s tv show, “Larry the Cable Guy.” Larry described him as, “… this guy who’s typical of what the show is about: ‘Only in America.'”

Cohen is a designer and woodworker creating car art that has earned awards for entries in the unique Car Art Parade in Houston, Texas. His cars are beautifully and artistically crafted of wood, and he has received offers as high as 6.5 million dollars for a car. As special as his car art, his personal history is equally amazing!

Cohen had dreamed of becoming an American since he was a child in Israel. He grew up, got a green card, and journeyed to America with nothing but a dream. He met a girl who had come from Mexico without resources. Their meeting must have been orchestrated, and together they shared a beautiful dream! Both determined, both hard workers, and within five years they were both citizens of the United States.

According to Larry the Cable Guy, “Now the guy’s a millionaire because of woodworking, and it’s the perfect American story, and it’s awesome.”

I have never met Isaac Cohen, but I have learned some important things about him. He is patriotic and loves his country; he is incredibly creative, highly-skilled, hard-working, and successful; and he cares more about helping others than building his wealth. I think Isaac Cohen exemplifies the American dream and inspires hope!

“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”  (Jeremiah 29: 11)

Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be established.”  (Proverbs 16: 3)

Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men.”  (Colossians 3: 23)

“IF”:  HOPE, TRUST, HOLD ON

Happy Birthday to my dear son! My tribute today features a well-known poem by Rudyard Kipling. “If” was published over a century ago and still offers good advice for challenges that a man often faces.

Son, after these years and the experiences that you have faced, I hope you know that I am proud of the man you have become. You’re the man! You give me hope! The poem below advises to trust yourself and hold on! I’ll add to trust God more than yourself and trust that He is the One holding you (better than you holding Him)!


IF

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good nor talk too wise:

If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!
(Kipling)


“The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who sires a wise son will be glad in him.”  (Proverbs 23: 24)

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD.”  (Jeremiah 17:7)

“Do not fear for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’”  (Isaiah 41: 10, 13)

“Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you, and I will deliver you.”  (Isaiah 46: 4)