Blessed with Hope

blessed with hopeFrom the end of last year up until now, our country has been riddled with various tragic events. Tragic events like the one that took place in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Events like what took place recently, where two young girls were sexually assaulted and the culprits displayed and bragged about the assaults on social media. Also, we have a nation threatening war against our nation for some kind of personal gain. Just recently, we had the terrorist acts that happened in Boston, where three people were killed and over a hundred people were severely injured. I believe that all of these things tragic events, without a doubt are signs that, loudly express to us one thing; man’s need for Christ in their lives. All of these events should be looked at as cries for help, from people who are frustrated and confused by the difficulties of life. Who are also “blinded by the god of this world” and are deceived into believing that they need to carry out these truly dreadful actions (2Cor. 4:4). These events should motivate us (the Church) to take action, because we know that it is during these trying times God’s word is most effective. It is effective because God’s word provides the thing that man needs the most; the “hope” of heaven.

The Bible teaches us that the “hope” we have in heaven is the “anchor of the soul” (Heb. 6:19). The Bible also teaches that our hope is dependent upon our faith (Heb. 11:1). Thus, teaching us that our belief in God and our desire to obtain heaven are the primary reasons why our are souls are anchored, in faithful obedience to God. These reasons keep us from, even thinking about, committing the egregious acts seen over the past several months. So therefore, we who are blessed with hope know firsthand the impact that the hope of heaven can have on a person’s life. Thus, we should be motivated to do all that we can, to spread that hope through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ.

These awful events of tragedy should be a sign to us that now is the time to start being more evangelistic. The Bible teaches us through many stories that God does his best work during times of distress (Judges, Ruth, Job, all the Gospels and Acts). There are so many people right now in this country who are hurting, because they were directly or indirectly impacted by these events. Families across this country who have witnessed these events on television are also scared for themselves and their families. People are looking for the hope and security only God can give. Therefore, we need to what Christ said in John 4:35 andlift up our eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest”. The time is now for us who are blessed with hope to spread that hope to the world.   


Called to Encourage


Jackie RobinsonWhen I was at preaching school, I heard a heartwarming story about the famous baseball player Jackie Robinson. Robinson is famous for being the first African American to play in the major leagues.In his first seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson faced venom nearly everywhere he traveled—fastballs thrown at his head, spikings on the bases, and brutal epithets from the opposing dugouts and from the crowds. While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error. The fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered. Then, shortstop Pee Wee Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Robinson and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that Reese’s arm around his shoulder saved his career.

This story without a doubt is a powerful example of true friendship, yet it also powerfully illustrates something else; the definition of the Greek word “parakaleo”. This word has many different forms in the Greek but it essentially means, “a calling near or a summons to one’s side” in aid (Greek &English Interlinear/Mounce). Hence, we find this word translated, in the Bible, into many English words such as comfort, consolation, encouragement and exhortation. However, the thing that I want us to focus on is Pee Wee Reese’s actions towards Robinson during the game. Reese’s actions epitomize the true meaning of the Greek word “parakaleo”. Reese came to Robinson’s side to comfort and encourage him in a time where Robinson was close to giving up and ending his baseball career. Yet it was Reese’s actions that gave Robinson the strength to endure, which is the desired result of encouragement. Therefore, Reese’s actions epitomize the true meaning of the Greek word “parakaleo”. And this story stands as a great example of what God expects out of us as Christians, when it comes to our calling to be encouragers. 

Our call to encourage is taught to us by Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 where he writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort (paraklesis), who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God”. This verse teaches us that all of us will face some rough times in our lives, but the best way for us to endure those times is to rely on the aid of a fellow Christian. The encouragement of a fellow Christian could result in someone being comforted, and thereby motivated, to stay faithful to God and endure their difficult circumstances. For this reason alone, we should all strive to fulfill our calling to be encouraging Christians.

Our Spiritual Pleasures


relaxRight now, in your life, what gives you the most enjoyment and pleasure? Is it your job? Is it the vacation you and your family go on every year? Is it sitting on the couch watching your favorite sports team, or maybe the thing you enjoy doing the most is a particular hobby. I believe it is safe to say that all of us have a particular hobby, pastime or place of leisure that provide for us great pleasure, which there is nothing inherently wrong with. However, the thing that I want us to think about is, how does our enjoyment of these earthly things (hobbies, pastimes, etc.) compare to our enjoyment of spiritual things? Does being involved in spiritual things provide for us more enjoyment than our earthly joys and pleasures? Or does our earthly joys and pleasures, and our desire to be involved in them, outweigh our enjoyment in spiritual things?

In the Bible, we have many examples that express the fact that spiritual things should provide for us overwhelming sense of enjoyment. David writes about his enjoyment of God’s word in Psalms 119:103. He writes, “How sweet are your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” David also writes about his enjoyment of worship. In Psalm 122:1David writes, I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD’.”  Likewise, we read about the first century Christians and their enjoyment of fellowship in Acts 2:46. Where Luke writes, “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart…Moreover, we find that Christ teaches us in Luke 15:10 that the angels in heaven rejoice when a lost soul is saved. Christ states, “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” All of verses I believe teach us that spiritual things should bring pleasure and enjoyment to the life of a Christian.

Therefore, the question that needs to be asked is how much do we enjoy being involved in these spiritual things? Is God’s word sweeter than honey to us? Do we enjoy worship to the extent of David? Do we enjoy fellowship to the extent of the first century Christians? Are we filled with joy, like the angels in heaven, when a person repents and is saved? One of the greatest joys and pleasures one can have is realizing that he or she was instrumental and leading a soul to Christ. Are we trading this pleasure, among many other spiritual pleasures, for our earthly pleasures? I believe this is something we should examine ourselves and think about.

While we have Opportunity


The Apostle Paul in his letter to the church of Galatia reveals to us a major responsibility that is expected of God people; the duty of being benevolent to all people. In Galatians chapter 5 and verse 10, Paul writes, “so then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially those of the household of faith.” It is apparent that Paul’s intent, with these words, was to encourage the Galatian church to make the most out of every opportunity, to do good to both Christians and non-Christians. Yet, I believe that there is something else taught in this verse that deserves our attention. And it deals with the significance of the word “opportunity”.

ripe fruitThe word translated as opportunity in this verse comes from the Greek word “karios”, which simply means time. Not the general sense of time but the right time, a suitable and convenient time, the right point of time that a thing should be done. Thus, we see this word being used in the Bible to describe a specific point in time (Matt. 12:1; 14:1), but also used to describe fixed times like the time of harvest (Matt. 21:34; Matt. 24:45). With this understanding in mind, we can clearly see that to the Greeks, time and opportunity are synonymous. I believe because if one has time one always has opportunity. However, on the other hand we learn something else from this Greek word that signifies opportunity. Opportunity is also something that can be developed.

We saw in the two of the verses mentioned above that this word “kairos” can be used to describe the time of harvest (ripping fruit). Meaning that the time of harvest (a fixed time) was something that was prepared for, and developed through the work and labor of a farmer. Therefore, we can conclude that opportunity can also be planned for and developed. I believe many of us overlook this important aspect of this verse. We sometimes look at opportunity as something we should wait for, something that will just fall in our laps. However, in all actuality most of our opportunities to do good are developed through planning a preparation. I believe the essence of this thought is seen in the statement Paul makes just two verses before, where he encourages us to take advantage of our opportunities to do good. He writes, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from his flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:8). Doing good to all men is the seed that we sow to reap the wonderful and extraordinary blessing of eternal life. Hence, we need to look for opportunities to good to reap that benefit. Yet this will not be accomplished by just sitting around waiting for these opportunities to present themselves. We must plan and prepare for their development. The same way, in which, a farmer makes plans to prepare for the time (opportunity – kairos) to reap his harvest. So we all must examine ourselves and ask ourselves this question, are we planning and preparing for our opportunities? Or are we just sitting around waiting for them to happen?

Confess Strong


livestrong_wristbandAfter fourteen years of accusations and testing, Lance Armstrong has finally confessed to the doping allegations that have marred his career for so many years. Armstrong has spent well over a decade denying these allegations with lawsuits, abusive words, and insults. However, recently, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey he admitted to using performance enhancing drugs throughout his cycling career. His confession came as a result of a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency releasing a detailed report describing him as the ringmaster of the “most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen ( 2013).” This report, constructed by the USADA, is filled with insurmountable and undeniable evidence against Armstrong, which seems to be the primary motive for his confession

Understandably, there is no way for us to know for certain what motives were behind his confession. However, by his actions and through the statements he has made throughout this whole ordeal, we can know one thing for sure; his confession did not flow from a heart filled with Godly sorrow. Herein is the issue that I want for us to think about in this article. Armstrong’s confession, which may potentially benefit him in some ways in a worldly sense, is lacking spiritually due to the fact that it didn’t come from the right spiritual motive. Therefore, his confession truly doesn’t accomplish anything, because he never developed true repentance which makes him unable to obtain forgiveness from God. The Bible teaches us that true repentance only comes from “sorrow that is according to the will of God…”, which, produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death(2 Cor. 7:10 NASB).

Armstrong’s confession may have satisfied many of the people he cheated and deceived (a sign of worldly sorrow), but the Bible tells us that his confession does not satisfy God. Godly sorrow is and should be the key element behind confessing our sins, because those who have this feeling towards their sin are the ones who are going to seek God for the solution. Yes, we have an obligation to confess and apologize to those we have wronged in the world, but we should never neglect our obligation to confess our sins to God and seek His forgiveness. His forgiveness is what leads to salvation (1John 1:9-2:2).

Thus, Christians should never be afraid to go to God and confess their sins. Confession may be done by personally praying to God asking for his forgiveness (Acts 8:22). However, in some cases it may be better suited for one to confess their sins to another person. So that one may receive additional prayers, on their behalf, to obtain God’s forgiveness and help in overcoming sin. One of the greatest blessings we have is the privilege to have fellow Christians praying on our behalf. This is a luxury that we shouldn’t neglect because according to James the “prayers of the righteous” are “effective” (James 5:16). Therefore, let us always strive to have a heart where we are never afraid to confess our sins to God.



“Fanfare of the Faithful”

It was a very impressive sight on television last Monday night at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami Florida. Where the location for 2013 BCS National College Football Championship game was held, between Alabama and Notre Dame. The game was accompanied by a full arena, with around some 70, 000 fans attending the event. Throughout the night anyone watching this event on television would have seen images of a host ofansf people, painted or adorned in either Crimson Tide red or Notre Dame navy blue, enthusiastically cheering on their beloved teams with excitement and passion. Without a doubt these fans were hoping that their shouts and cheers of encouragement would somehow motivate or inspire their team to a victory, which apparently seemed to be of no help to the Notre Dame team. Nevertheless, anyone watching the event could not help but be impressed by the fanfare that was on display.


However, as I was watching this grand event unfold on my television screen, it brought to mind the imagery that the Hebrew writer uses to illustrate an idea in Hebrews 12:1-2. In these verses he writes, Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”. The imagery used by the Hebrew writer, in these two verses, is of an athletic contest, similar to the athletic event on Monday night. Yet, in this setting the event is a race that is filled with spectators (witnesses) who are cheering on the runners of the race. The spectators are the “Heroes of Faith” discussed in the previous chapter (11) and the race contestants are the Christians that the Hebrew writer is writing to. His words express the idea that the spectator’s exemplary lives (spoken of in chapter 11) can be a source of encouragement and inspiration for theses Christians who are close to giving up on their faith. By looking to their example they should be motivated to lay aside any sin that will weigh them down, and run the race with the intent to endure and never give up.  Also, at the same time, they should fix their eyes upon Jesus, the “author” and “perfecter” of the faith, which refers to the one who takes the lead and sets the perfect example on how to masterfully finish the race.


Without a doubt this is some powerful imagery that can and needs to be used by Christians today as a source of motivation and inspiration in their lives. To keep us steadfast and grounded in our faith so that we may gain and lay hold of the ultimate prize for finishing our race, which is eternal life in heaven (Phil. 3:13-14). Therefore, let us also look to our fans (figuratively speaking), the same way in which those two teams on Monday night looked to their fans as motivation, to motivate us in our spiritual athletic competition.

“An Imaginary Cliff”

Itfiscal-cliff has been the fear of an imaginary cliff that has saturated the television airways for over the last month now. Virtually everyone in this country, unless you live under a rock, has heard about the infamous and dreaded “Fiscal cliff”. In Tony Nitti’s article, “The Fiscal Cliff for Dummies”, he states that the “fiscal cliff” is a term used to describe the convergence of two events on December 31, 2012- the expiration of almost every tax cut enacted since 2001 and a scheduled reduction in government spending. Experts believe, when taken together it will threaten to bankrupt America, shift the world balance of power, and knock Earth off its orbit, sending it hurtling through cold, dark space ( 2012). The fear is so strong that, for once, many in our country are desperately calling for government officials to band together, putting aside party ties and ideologies, in order to make a deal that will keep us from falling off of this terrifying cliff.


However, my intent behind this article is not to downgrade the seriousness of avoiding descending the cliff. But rather examine the mentality of those whose hearts are filled with anxiety over it. It seems that many in our society believe that economic stability is somehow the only true source of security, peace and happiness in this country. And if one has watched the news over the last month many of the analysts, in so many words, have said just that. If we really look at how people are reacting and listen to what many are saying about avoiding the dreaded cliff, it seems that they have more trust in it bringing peace and prosperity than in God; and that’s the problem. But what does the Bible say about this kind of mentality?  The Bible states in Matthew 6:24 that “no man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (NASB).


This verse teaches us that one cannot adequately serve God when their life is consumed with the gaining of wealth and material things, because one will naturally be wholeheartedly devoted to obtaining one over the other. When we look at our country’s economy as the true source of happiness, peace and security we fall into a category where we put wealth in the place of God, and thus live in fear of things like the Fiscal Cliff. However, Christians don’t have to live with this fear because we trust in our master (God) who is awesome, powerful and able to do beyond all that we ask or think (Eph. 3:20-21), and if we just seek His kingdom He promises to provide all of our physical needs (Matt. 6:25-33), no matter what troublesome and difficult circumstances may come our way. I believe the Apostle Paul’s comments in (Phil. 4:11-13) are a powerful example of this point. Therefore, Christians should not live with the fear of an economical collapse or falling off an imaginary cliff. Because we have the comfort in knowing that we have a God who is always there waiting to catch us (Psalm 34:7-10).