Monday, April 16, 2018

An Emperor's Forgotten Story

Everybody loves a good story. Some of the most nostalgic pictures portray children sitting at the knees of their grandparents, listening to tales of the past.

Stories outlive the lives they tell about. They teach truths. They remind us that generations and ages gone by were no different from today.

God is the Author of stories. He sovereignly weaves them together and omnisciently knows their end from their beginnings.

But the stories God elevates the most are the ones that teach of His power. He highlights those that tell of His love and that point the next generations to Him.

This is why the story of an emperor, named Yu, lies forgotten. 

Yu was one of the few emperors in China to be given the title, “the Great," yet very little is recorded of this ancient life.

Around 2000 B.C., while Yu the Great ruled a dynasty and built flood control systems in China, the Creator of the universe turned His eye toward a young shepherd.

Jacob, poor and unfavored, lived a life of deception. But God chose to bless this man and give him twelve sons. From this one man’s story, God created a nation. God sent His Son to be a part of that nation. And many promises in Scripture center on the purposes He had for this man He later named, Israel.

God preserved Israel’s story in a Book, read by many generations. Some count Emperor Yu’s story fictitious, possibly passed down by oral tradition.

One man depended on his God to bless him with children, a land, and a name. The other ruled an ancient dynasty, and some wonder if he really existed.

While Emperor Yu lived a forgotten story, God wrote the history of a shepherd. His legacy tells of the reach of God’s power, highlights His love, and points future generations to the God who is their only hope.

Some think it strange that God would look to a poor man and take no notice of an emperor.

But when you belong to a King who chose to call you His child, your story does not go unnoticed.

The rulers of the world live and die. They leave legacies or lie in graves forgotten.

But the stories God writes for His children never go unnoticed. No hour of the day is forgotten. No hope is ignored. No need escapes His attention.

While Emperor Yu earned the title, “the Great,” God changed Jacob’s name to “Israel.”

And your story will not be forgotten by the same God who chose you.

“The LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name's sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people." (1 Samuel 12:22)

Next post (April 30):
"Three Reasons Why Tomorrow Helps Us Live Today"

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Day After Easter

Yesterday, we celebrated what every Sunday is about: the Resurrection of Christ. As Christians, we wouldn’t have hope of eternal life if Christ had not risen from the dead. If He hadn’t risen, our faith would be in vain. (1 Cor. 15:17) How fitting that we should celebrate this event every week and especially once a year.

But what about the days in between? What about Monday through Saturday? Or the fifty-one Sundays a year that we don’t emphasize His resurrection?

What about the day after Easter?

Mary Magdalene, Peter, John—these real believers who really saw His pierced hands and feet—what did they do the day after Easter? What did their life look like the other days of the year?

You and I weren’t there, but we read a little bit of what those days looked like in the book of Acts.

These early believers told others that Jesus rose from the dead.

They no longer hid in the Upper Room.

They no longer grieved His death.

They lived in hope.

Jesus’ death was the greatest event in human history. His death means that “God the Just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon [you and] me.” -- C Bancroft

But His death would have meant nothing if He hadn’t risen again.

Easter means Jesus is alive.

The day after Easter means we have Someone interceding for us.

Satan cannot accuse us to the point of despair.

God’s wrath will never be poured out on you and me.

We can boldly approach His throne.

Because He lives, we will live also. (John 14:19)

The day after Easter means we have hope. Peter and John and Mary Magdalene lived in the spirit of that reality. They knew they had hope, and they lived like they believed it.

What should the day after Easter look like for every believer?

Today, we have hope.

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus.” (Heb. 6:19)

Next Post (April 16): 
"An Emperor's Forgotten Story"

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Shattered Glass and Learning to Give Thanks

The day started like any other day off. The To-Do list penned. A load of laundry begun. Heading out the door to a dentist appointment.

In a rush, I slam a cupboard door. Because even a day off can feel urgent.

Instantly, I regret my hurried attempt to get one more thing done.

I hear a loud crash—the sound of a day’s To-Do list suddenly altered.

Carefully, I open the door and find a 9 x 13 casserole dish sparkling in a heap of tiny glass particles.

New tasks for my day get jotted down.

“Clean up every piece of glass.”

“While you’re at it, organize the cupboard.”

The day before, I’d been listening to Ann VosKamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts.”

“The real problem of life is never a lack of time,” Ann writes. “The real problem of life is lack of thanksgiving.”

As I started on my new “To-Do’s” for the day, my list was altered again.

With the shattering of glass and the day’s reorganization, my heart found a place of thanks that spilled on to a new list—an enumeration of gifts.

“Finding a pair of scissors I’d given up looking for.”

“Items to be recycled, removing the clutter.”

Life is full of the shattered. The urgent. The waiting to be found. The unplanned.

But when we find in these a way to give thanks, they turn from joy-stealers to joy-initiators.

Giving thanks isn’t a round-the-table game on a holiday filled with enough. Thanksgiving is a daily way to find joy.

When life surprises you with the suddenly shattered, pick up the pieces and make a list.

In every loss, thanksgiving will open the door to joy.

“Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
For the LORD is good.” (Psalm 100:4,5)

Monday, October 9, 2017

When God Asks 'Why?'

A few months ago, I found myself pouring my heart out before the Lord in a way I hadn't done in a very long time. A long list of trying circumstances and the question “Why?” characterized that prayer.

But as I prayed, I sensed God asking me the same thing.


“Lord, I’ve been working so hard!”

His answer thundered in a quiet rebuke: Why? I clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven. Will I not much more clothe you? (Matthew 6:29)

“Lord, I’m exhausted.”

Again, Why? Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

“Lord, I want to fix him/her.”

Why? And like His words to Peter, “What is that to you? You follow me.” (John 21:22)

“Lord, I can’t do this task You’ve given me.”

Why? Your help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)

That day I learned a valuable lesson about prayer and faith.

For every complaint we pour out before the Lord, His Word holds a promise, laced with God’s character that beckons us to trust.

When your prayers become filled with “me” and unbelief, let His answer be, “Why?”

And trust a promise.

“Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62:8)

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Best Thing to Tell Yourself in the Mirror

Ever talk to yourself? Ever talk to yourself in the mirror?

We usually have one thing in mind when we look in the mirror.


What we look like. What others will think. Whether what we do while we’re looking in the mirror will make us look better.

It’s all about us.

This is why the mirror is the best place to talk to ourselves.

It’s the best time to consider what our lives are all about.

Or Who they’re all about.

Looking in the mirror is the best time to practice turning our thoughts on Someone Else.

Each of us came into the world thinking we were the center of the universe. We were treated that way for the first few weeks of our lives. We went through years of growth, awkwardness, and trying to find ourselves.

Then we hit the age when we knew everything.

Right now, all of us are either at the place where God has shown us this isn’t the case, or He’s about to take us through something that will teach us this lesson.

If we were the center of the universe, we’d know all the answers, and the answers wouldn’t matter.

The best thing to say to ourselves in the mirror is this: “God is the King of all the earth.” (Psalm 47:7)

Kings reign and die. Subjects live and learn.

You and I live our lives. We eat, we work. We love, laugh, buy, and sell.

We look in the mirror.

But the sooner we realize our lives aren’t all about us, the sooner we’ll learn to cast every trouble, need, heartache, and question on the One who knows all the answers.

He is King over all the earth.

Let’s tell ourselves that every time we look in the mirror.

“The LORD reigns. . . Your throne is established from of old;

You are from everlasting.” (Psalm 93:1,2)