My parents are living on a farm in Zolfo Springs with my brother Nate and his wife Melissa. Recently, their guard dog Shepherd went missing. Less than a week later, Nate’s longtime companion, Minnie, was hit and killed by a truck on the road outside their home. As my parents were out walking alongside a ditch looking for Minnie, a car stopped and the driver asked what they were looking for. A conversation ensued in which the driver asked about getting permission to fish in the farm. Dad explained that he was the owner and he would agree for Alex and his wife Elisa to fish as long as they were willing to let him share with them about Jesus. They decided that was a fair arrangement and after fishing a couple of times at the pond and catching nice Bass, Alex one afternoon sat down on the farm porch and conversed with Dad about John 3:16. He ended up placing his faith in Jesus.
Matthew 6:10—Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Joshua 1:3—I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised Moses.
There are times when I am reading my Bible and a verse stops me in my tracks. The verse above qualifies—what an incredibly powerful 18 words. Let’s consider the context. Moses just died. To appreciate his loss, think of losing your parents as a child or your nation’s best leader right before a major war. The Israelites were poised to move into Canaan, a land full of bigger, stronger nations and now the man who spoke with God was buried somewhere in a Moab valley (see Deu. 34:6).
Jude 24,25—Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now, and forever. Amen.
Bob Wieland lost his legs to a mortar round in the Vietnam War. But that didn't stop the 57-year-old veteran from finishing the Los Angeles Marathon. Using only his hands and on less than twelve hours of sleep, it took Bob a week to complete the 26.2-mile course. Surrounded at the finish by well-wishers and admirers, Wieland said, "This was not natural. This was supernatural. It was only done by the grace of God."
Have you ever observed children competing in sports? I think one of the most hilarious heartwarming sights is watching boys and girls on a soccer field. Usually one or two kids understand the game and are competitive. They typically score the goals or perform heroically on defense. Meanwhile, the rest of the players sort of meander around as a herd not really sure what to do, not overly motivated but having fun.
Beware the dreaded Babylonians! Habakkuk, a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah, was a man of profound faith who voiced complaints to God that rose from a troubled heart. The world (605 B.C.?), as he knew it, abounded with injustice. His own nation, Judah, was awash in sin and about to be conquered by a godless enemy. “How long, Lord, must I call for help and You do not listen or cry out to You about violence and You do not save?. . . Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and You cannot tolerate wrongdoing. So why do You tolerate those who are treacherous? Why are You silent while one who is wicked swallows up one who is more righteous than himself? (1:2, 13). Ever felt that way towards God? Ever wondered amidst evil-dominated headlines if God was off on some celestial sabbatical?
The Bible references the number 40, 114 times. It often signifies completion for a period of blessing, testing or punishment. Consider: “You will bear the consequences of your sins 40 years based on the number of the 40 days that you scouted the land, a year for each day. You will know My displeasure” (Numbers 14:34). So God condemned a generation of Israelites to wander in the Sinai desert, a place of barrenness that aptly illustrated the shriveled state of their faith. They would not enter the promised land because it contained giants. The only exception God made was to 40-year-old Joshua and his friend Caleb. He blessed these two courageous men who saw opportunity where others feared defeat.
In the New Testament there is a little book called Galatians. In chapter 5 verses 16-26 is a powerful contrast between what our sinful nature produces and what God’s Spirit produces. I can tell myself I’m a pretty good guy and try to live in my own power but let’s face it—the end result reeks. My mind lusts, my eyes covet, my nature is inherently selfish. In short, there is a war going on. Every person on this planet is engaged daily in war—Flesh against Spirit. Whenever I choose the side of Flesh, life invariably gets miserable and all hell breaks loose. Whenever I yield to God’s Spirit, life becomes joyful and all heaven breaks loose. This is not an oversimplification of a classic struggle, just the confessions of a battle veteran.
The only marathon I’ve ever run was the San Diego Marathon. I trained hard and enjoyed running along the coastline. I determined to run at a 7:00 minute/mile pace. I was psyched on the day of the race to meet my goal of completing the 26+ mile race in under 3 hours.