Uncertain Times

I had just finished shopping and was pushing my cart to the car. I assumed the woman walking toward me was planning to do some shopping. So when she stopped and spoke to me, I was a little surprised. She asked if I had some spare change so she could get a bite to eat. I said no. Then she approached the next car. He too said no. I didn’t see which direction she went after the second rejection.

I wondered if she noticed how full my cart was as I said no. I wonder if she realized that I had bought things I needed and then some things I just thought I needed. Oh. She didn’t know the amount of money in my bank account. She didn’t know I had cash in my wallet, but the bills were bigger than I was prepared to hand over to a stranger. Hungry or not, she didn’t get my money. It was reserved for other purposes.

I always feel awkward when a stranger approaches me. I couldn’t lie and say I didn’t have any money. Because I did have a little cash on me. And I knew that a little spare change wouldn’t be enough to feed her. Plus. There’s always that uncertainty that she really needed food. Or did she need a fix? I don’t know. I don’t mean to judge. I’m just always wary about strangers approaching me for money. Oh. There have been times that I’ve shared a few dollars. Just not today.

Did I do the right thing? Was my decision the best one? I have no idea. It’s not that I’m heartless or unkind. I am cautious and concerned. I am suspicious of strangers who walk up to me out of nowhere.

It probably took a lot of courage to walk up to a stranger and ask for money. What if she really was hungry? What if she hadn’t eaten in a few days? She did look a little unkempt. But that could also have been arranged. Just don’t bathe or comb your hair for a few days, and you will start to look different.


God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. Psalms 46:1


I wonder what I would do if I was hungry and needed food but had no money. Would I be bold enough to approach a stranger in the middle of a parking lot? Would I notice their overflowing cart filled with odds and ends? Would I wonder if they were lying when they said they had no spare change? Would I be as kind and considerate as she was when I said no? What if she was an angel unaware and I missed my opportunity to bless her? What if I could have been Jesus to her today and I blew my chance? I’ll never know.

Oh. I may someday know what it’s like to be hungry and penniless. These times sure are getting tougher. Gas prices are high. Food prices are high. Tempers are short. There are wars and rumors of war. Things are unsettled these days. And things could get much worse. So I can’t say I’ll never have days where I have nothing to eat. I can’t say that I’ll never have to wander through parking lots begging for food or money. I can’t say I’ll always be freshly bathed.

I see those people standing on street corners and at the entrance and exit ramps of the freeway. Oh. I see their faces. I read their signs. If I put myself in their shoes, I would probably hand them a few dollars. But more often than not, I try to put them in my shoes. I wonder if they really have money in the bank and just don’t want to work. I wonder if their job is begging on street corners. Is begging a new career option? I wonder where they lay their head at night. I wonder where they store their winter coats in the off season. I wonder if they are starving and when they last ate. I wonder how many people actually give them money. And I wonder, after months on end, why I still see them standing there holding a sign.

Life is full of hard choices. Life is also full of hard knocks. Good decisions aren’t always easy to make. Regardless of which side of the equation you’re on. If you have plenty or if you’re in need. One decision could change the course of a life forever. And it could go either way. No one knows what tomorrow holds. But we know who holds tomorrow. Whether in plenty or in want, we can be content in the Lord’s hands.

We know that our God is always ready and able to help us in our time of need. All we have to do is call on his name. Oh. He may not provide a hot meal at the exact moment we need it. But he may. He may not provide employment when the unemployment checks stop. But he may. He may not heal us from an awful disease. But he may. He may allow us to wait years on end to see an answer to the prayer that we’ve been praying. He may allow us to suffer in pain with no end in sight. Throughout difficulties, he continues to love us. Our suffering may be of our own doing. And it may not. But God is always faithful. His love never fails. And it endures to the end. Even when others ignore us or fail us. God is with us.

Building the Kingdom

He was a shoddy worker. Oh. When he worked, he could accomplish tasks. But his work was never complete. He left tasks undone. Someone would have to come behind him to finish the work. To clean things up. He didn’t seem to mind or notice that his work was below par. He thought he was doing a great job and should get a promotion. And a raise, of course. He always seemed to have an excuse to miss work. He missed more days that was allotted. He was written up. He was reprimanded. Yet he never changed. Those who came after him saw his neglect. They picked up the slack. They knew his work ethic was below par. But they also knew that, at the end of the day, the work must be satisfactory. They re-did his work on multiple occasions. And somehow through all that, he kept his job.

It may not be all his fault that he’s a poor worker. Perhaps he had poor examples as he was learning to be a worker. Perhaps there were no strong role models he could mimic. Perhaps no one ever pulled him aside in the early stages and coached him about building a strong work ethic. Regardless of the reason he is where he is today, he is showing a less than stellar performance at work.

There are those now who are trying to coach him. They’re trying to encourage him to think before he speaks or acts. They’re encouraging him to consider all the steps he must take to completely finish an assignment. But it’s hard work to undo the poor training or lack of interest from the past. Only time will tell if his work ethic improves.


I recently read that the preaching of a popular pastor of a megachurch is controversial. In other words, his preaching is contradictory to the Bible. He denies certain biblical truths and speaks out of line. I also read of another pastor who is sharing mixed messages concerning heaven. These pastors don’t necessarily know how their words are impacting their hearers. They may not know the spiritual foundation of those hearing their words. The hearers of their message may not be on solid ground and can’t discern biblical truths. Perhaps, it would be good for those pastors to go back and read the Bible with a new lens. Their teaching may be laying shaky foundations or adding shifty layers to an already unstable foundation in the lives of innocent people. These men will be held responsible for their teachings.


Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15


We are builders. We’re all building something. We build a life. A career. A family. A home. A nest egg. A legacy. We build our lives one layer at a time. And the strength and stability of each layer determines the strength of the next layer. If one layer is weak, the entire effort can fail. And then we must decide the next steps. Do we start over? Do we make repairs and continue down the same path? Do we just walk away? These are hard decisions to make.

The same goes for our spiritual lives. There are layers to our growth as a follower of Christ. Each layer must be secured in the foundational teachings of Jesus Christ. If they’re not, then we can develop weak faith. A faith that crumbles when trials come around. We may develop a shallow faith where strong roots can’t develop. Then what happens when the storms of life hit us out of nowhere?

As followers of Christ, we all build into the lives of others. We are called to use our gifts to help others find their faith or to strengthen it. Each gift is unique to each person. We must use our gifts wisely. In order to use our gifts in a way that honors God, we must prepare. Our gifted foundation must be strong, so we can build into others’ lives in a way that pleases God. Otherwise, the faith of those we encounter will be shaky. And our testimony will be watered down. We must seek to know God’s Word so we can share it confidently with others we meet. We must be wise and humbly build solid foundations in the lives of those we are called to disciple. We will be held accountable for our leading.

Our work will be tested. God will examine and judge our work. We are builders. Jesus is the foundation, which is indestructible. But how solid is the rest of the building? We builders will give an account of our work. Oh. We may not be lost if we produce shoddy work. But we won’t receive a full reward. 

Let’s not settle for half truths or unfinished work. Let’s create a masterpiece. For on the day of final inspection, we don’t want to be found in violation of any of God’s codes.

Oh. May all who come behind us find us faithful. 

Put to the Test

He had waited years for an heir. God had told him multiple times that he would be the father of many nations. And at age one hundred, the promise was fulfilled. His son was born. Isaac. Born of Sarah, who was ninety. This son held great promise for the future. There was hope, because the family name would be carried on. Oh. How proud Abraham must have been.

And several years later, God put Abraham’s faith to the test. He instructed Abraham to sacrifice this son as a burnt offering. What?! And Abraham did exactly as he was told.

You can read the full story about Abraham’s obedience in Genesis 22.

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead. Hebrews 11:17-19

How many of us have seen the fulfillment of God’s long-awaited promise? Regardless of what was promised, the wait was excruciating. We thought the wait would never end. But we knew we had a clear promise from God. He led us down this path. Now he would fulfill his promise. Wouldn’t he? Wouldn’t he?

And then one day the promised event actually came to pass. Our hearts were filled with happiness and wonder. Relief. Confirmed trust in our Maker. We got the job. A baby was born. The lab results were negative. The debt was fully paid. The bank account was overflowing. Life was good.

And then another day came. And God asked for that promised thing or that promised person to be laid on the altar. He asked us to give the promised gift back to him. For his use. He asked us to sacrifice the gift that was so long awaited. And now we’re being asked to return it? What? To hand it over, as if it’s no longer ours?

But that gift was an answer to a long-prayed prayer.

God asks for our simple obedience. All the time. In every situation. Sometimes, obedience may feel complex rather than simple. But it’s either a Yes or No that God is looking for. That’s the simple part. It gets all complex and uncomfortable when we have to put that Yes into motion. Because that takes the control out of our hands. And we don’t know what God has in store for us when we give Him control.


And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6


Oh. God wasn’t planning to kill Isaac. He wanted to make sure Abraham was not making an idol out of Isaac, this long-awaited son. God tested Abraham’s faith. God may ask the impossible of us. What will we say? Will we surrender our most prized possession? Will we turn our long-awaited treasure back to God to use as he sees fit?

Or do we take that treasure and hide it? Do we hoard our treasured gift?

There are those who run from hard times. They take the easy road. Or they just ignore the request to make a sacrifice. But Abraham walked right into the face of obedience. Perhaps it was the hardest thing he had ever done. He loved his son. But he never looked back.

He took his son on a journey to worship God. A sacrifice was required. And his son knew it. But no lamb was taken on the trip for the offering. Isaac asked about it. Abraham replied that God would provide. And later when Abraham tied his son with rope and laid him on the altar, I wonder what Isaac was thinking.

I wonder the thoughts swirling through Abraham’s mind as he drew the knife to slay his son. Oh. He was willing to offer his promised heir if that’s what God required of him. But God stepped in and told Abraham not to harm his son. God saw that Abraham was willing to give up his beloved son, if that was what God asked. And in the distance, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. The sacrifice was provided by God. Isaac, the long awaited son, was saved.

Abraham responded to God in faith. Not knowing the outcome, he moved in step with God’s heartbeat. He was ready to sacrifice what was dearest to him in a courageous show of loyalty to God. I have to ask. Would I be willing to do the same? Would I be willing to hand over the thing or the person most dearest to me in an act of selfless love for my Savior?

We don’t know what we may be called to sacrifice. It may be financial security. Or a close relationship. It may be a fulfilling career. Or our dream home. A prized possession. Our freedom. Our health. Are we willing to sacrifice for obedience to God? Because if God isn’t first in our lives, is he in our lives?

Strangers In A Foreign Land

We all come from somewhere. We are natives of one land or another. Our ancestors who came before us came from a distant land. Perhaps some of us are first generation immigrants. But most aren’t. Some can trace their heritage back for many generations. Some have learned interesting facts about some in their genealogy. And some of that information is humorous. Some is sad. But one fact that stands out for all of our ancestors is that they were fighters. They were survivors. They didn’t give up when the going got tough. They kept moving forward.

And here we are today. Whether we like it or not, we’re in this place at this time. And God has a purpose for us. Oh. We may not feel like this is the time for us. We may be wondering, especially with current events, why we were appointed for just this time and place. We must remind ourselves that God knows best. His purpose will be fulfilled. His plan is perfect. Who are we to thwart it? Oh. Some will try. And some will succeed. But God’s ways are higher than our ways. God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Why not trust him?

Now. There were those in biblical times who did trust him. God made promises to these people. But they never saw those promises fulfilled in their lifetime. But they didn’t stop trusting him. They believed every word he spoke, and they stood firm in their trust. Oh. If only we would do the same.

This group of people who never saw God’s promises fulfilled knew something that we need to consider today. Because we’re in the same boat. They knew they were foreigners and nomads on this earth. They knew this earth wasn’t their home. So they lived for their next home. Oh. They had work to do while they were here. Families to raise. Work to do. Debts to pay. And they did all those things. They lived their lives. Just as we are doing today. But their hope was in the future. Their eyes were set on a distant place. These people. Let’s name them. Abel. Enoch. Noah. Abraham. Sarah. They claimed God’s promise as their own. And they held onto that promise.

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13-16


Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Isaiah 55:6


We are called to do the same. This earth isn’t our home. Oh. Sure. We live here. It’s the only home we’ve known. But it’s not unusual to have a restless feeling come over us. Is it? A longing we can’t quite put our finger on. We find ourselves longing for more. Something sure. Something out of reach. Something final. And this isn’t it. We are called to leave this home. To leave our comforts and interests. To move beyond what we have. To live for more than just this moment. Because more awaits us. Something much bigger than this earth can give.

You see. We are foreigners. We are strangers. We don’t belong here. This isn’t the home we were made for. Our home awaits us. And it’s eternal. In ancient days, it was humiliating to be a foreigner in a country. Foreigners were treated with suspicion and contempt. They were outsiders. Outcasts. They had to pay a tax just to remain a member of their community. On the social scale, they were barely above a slave. They were unwanted and mistreated.

There are those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ and have bowed before him and confessed our sins. We are foreigners in this world. We know this world isn’t what we’re made for. But here we are. And we’re waiting and longing for the day that we cross over into eternity. We’re longing to be in heaven with our Creator, Lord and Savior. Because in this world, we will have trouble. And boy. Are we having trouble.

There will be wars and rumors of wars, but don’t panic. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. Matthew 24:6-8

We are not settled. We weren’t meant to be settled on this earth. Our eternal home awaits us. And we must prepare, because the day is coming soon for us to go to that long awaited home. While there is still time to choose, choose you this day whom you will serve. As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Don’t Play God

Life isn’t fair. It rarely is. And when it isn’t fair, we tend to complain. Or we take matters into our own hands. And that’s exactly what she did.

She was barren. And as all men in those days, her husband wanted and needed an heir. Because, you see, they were very wealthy. And if she didn’t produce a son, her husband’s servant would inherit all their wealth upon her husband’s death. That’s how unfair life was in those days. Because she certainly wasn’t in line to inherit her husband’s wealth. She was a woman.

So she did the unthinkable. She offered her servant girl to her husband with the hope that a baby boy would be birthed from that union. And so it happened. The servant became pregnant. And the wife became jealous. What did she think would happen? When a woman offers her husband to bed another woman and he accepts, does she think it will be all sunshine and roses? Did she think she could claim the child as her own? Did she imagine warm and fuzzy conversations about choosing the name with her servant? No. The women turned against each other. Obviously.

Oh. God had promised her husband that he would have as many descendants as the number of stars in the sky. But God’s timing is his own. To him, a day is a thousand years and a thousand years is a day. When he made the promise, Abraham was at least seventy-five years old.

Sarah took matters into her own hands. She decided that she would play God and make sure her husband had an heir. And the whole affair blew up in her face. I wonder how long it took her to regret her actions. This boy child born to her husband was not the child God had promised. This child was an act of Sarah, Abraham and Hagar. Not an act of God. Abraham was eighty-six years old when this child was born.

If we choose to play God and move his agenda forward when he isn’t in control, chaos ensues. This one act created a nation of people who have tried to rule the world in an evil way. And it’s all because one woman made one wrong decision. And that decision has impacted the world for all times.

But we know that God is in control.

When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him. He again told Abraham that he would be the father of a multitude of nations. Then God told Abraham that Sarah would have a son at the same time the following year. When Sarah heard the news, she laughed silently to herself. But God heard her laugh and called her out on it. She was afraid and denied her laughter.

A year later, when Sarah was ninety years old , she gave birth to their son, Isaac. Abraham was one hundred years old.


What is impossible for people is possible with God. Luke 18:27


It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them. Hebrews 11:11-12

At times, someone will promise us something and it doesn’t happen. And we know they’ve broken their word. We lose trust in them. We learn to doubt anything they say. We have selective hearing when they’re making a new promise. We know we can’t trust what them. Because they have failed us.

So when God dressed as a man paid a visit to Abraham and Sarah, he brought along two angels also dressed as men. And they sat outside the tent with Abraham. Sarah had no clue that the men who sat with her husband were of the heavenly sort. And when one of them said that she would have a child, she laughed to herself. She was almost 90 years old. Well. You can imagine what went through her mind. And God heard her laugh.

Sarah laughed because she was skeptical of God’s promise. Her laughter wasn’t filled with hope and expectation. Oh. She had already tried to fulfill the promise and made a sorry mess of the situation. Then God dressed as a man asked a question. Is anything too hard for the Lord? And his words stopped her in her tracks. He had heard her laughter, and he knew her barren anguish. He saw her heart, and he knew she believed. Perhaps a babe would spring from her worn body. Even at such an old age. Hope was rekindled.

If we look at the timeline from when God first promised to make nations come from Abraham, it took twenty-four years for the promised babe to arrive. Who of us wants to wait twenty-four years for someone to make good on their promise? We are slow to believe. Perhaps lengthy delays weaken our faith. Things thought impossible are achievable only through an act of God. And he proved his love for Abraham and Sarah by giving them a son to carry on their line. Isaac was the long-awaited son for this aged couple.

We can’t rush God. We just can’t. His timing is his own, and if he makes a promise he will keep it. God doesn’t lie. But he also doesn’t give in to our whining and whims in order to please us. In order to meet our self-imposed timeline. Eternity is at stake. And even though we can’t see the big picture, God is still working. Even when it takes years to see his promise fulfilled. Even if we don’t see his promise fulfilled in our lifetime. God will keep his word.

Walk by Faith

His father had packed up all his household and moved with his son, daughter-in-law and nephew many years earlier. Their destination was Canaan. But somewhere during the relocation, they settled in Haran. And that’s the city where they stayed until the father’s death. And then God asked Abram to pack up and move again. God asked him to leave his home country and travel to a place unknown. So what did he do? Abram packed up his household and all his belongings and began traveling. Destination unknown.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:1-3

God made an enormous promise to Abram when he called him to move to an unknown destination. Abram believed the promise and packed his bags. Now mind you. He had many bags to pack. He was very wealthy and owned many livestock. He employed many people who ran his household and managed his herds. Plus, his wife and nephew came along. It was a huge undertaking.

As they began their travels, they had no clue where they would settle. They didn’t know how long they would travel. Was it a one week journey? Was it a year? When would they settle? Where would they settle? But God didn’t tell Abram anything about the destination. So they headed in the direction of Canaan, which was approximately four hundred miles from Haran. They set up camp in Shechem for a bit, but over time they kept moving in stages.

During this time of travel, they never had a real home. They lived in tents. They moved their herds and flocks from one place to another. Always looking for enough food and water to keep their animals alive. God provided for them on each step of the journey. After all. It was God’s idea to move them. He was faithful to them in their travels. And when they finally settled, they stayed in their tents.


For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7


It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

Hebrews 11:8-10

Abram followed God with each move. Oh. There were a couple of incidents over time that could have ended poorly. But through it all Abram stayed faithful. He followed God on a path that wasn’t clear to him. His faith endured the test of time. Oh. He didn’t see the fulfillment of God’s promise. He didn’t live to see it. But should that always be the goal? Isn’t trusting God enough? Or do we always expect to see the promise fulfilled?

Much later in his life, God made another promise to Abram. He promised to make a great nation out of Abram and his descendants. And then God changed his name to Abraham, because he would be the father of many nations. At this time, Abraham was ninety-nine years old, and he and his wife were childless.

God may call us to follow him to ends unknown. He may allow changes in our life that make us uncomfortable. But he will always lead us along a path that he has ordained. He will be with us in those unknowns. Our role is to trust him. To obey him. Will we be found faithful?

Faithful followers aren’t perfect. We stray from time to time. At times, Abraham’s decisions led to problems. But he always returned his focus back to God. And over time, his record of faithfulness shone through. We have to remind ourselves that we’re not called to perfection. We’re called to faithfulness. And in our faithfulness, we grow and become more like Christ.

Abraham was a stranger in a foreign country, but he was content. He was holding on to the promise that God had given to him. He knew that God would keep the promise, but he had no clue as to God’s timing. But he didn’t give up hope. He knew that in time a great nation would come from him, even though he was old and childless.

Abraham’s faith was the faith that was ready for adventure. God’s summons meant that he had to leave home and family and business; yet he went. He had to go out into the unknown; yet he went. In the best of us there is a certain timorousness. We wonder just what will happen to us if we take God at his word and act on his commands and promises.

Barclay’s Daily Study Bible

God may require us to leave our comfortable life and serve him in uncomfortable surroundings. He may lead us through deep waters that cause us to feel as if we’re drowning. Perhaps our faith is too cautious. Perhaps God would do much more amazing things through us if our faith was expanded. Don’t we trust God? We aren’t living by faith if we know every detail of God’s plan. Living by faith is living in the unknown.

And when we know God is leading us but don’t see the fulfillment of his promise, it’s hard to explain to those who don’t have faith. They may question our actions or motives. If someone doesn’t know God, they won’t understand our will to follow God’s way. The question is. Who should we follow? God or our friends? Obedience or comfort? Temporary status or eternal rewards? The answer seems obvious, because God is always faithful. He won’t lead us down a dead end street. Let’s walk by faith.

Ark of Faith

He was commanded to do the impossible. Literally. God told Noah that he was going to destroy all living creatures and people on the earth, because of all the corruption in the world. God couldn’t find any righteous people on the earth. Except for Noah. God told Noah he was going to flood the entire earth. And he gave Noah specific instructions on how to build a boat that would house two of every living creature and all of Noah’s family. So Noah started building the boat. Without question. He just started gathering lumber and laying out the dimensions.

Oh. It took him approximately fifty to seventy-five years to finish the construction of this boat. And oh yes. He was laughed at. He was ridiculed. He was humiliated. In our day and age, he would have been canceled. No doubt. But Noah kept plodding along. Never looking back. Never stopping. He worked until the boat was finished. And it was a show stopper. Everyone could see it. It was huge.

It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

Hebrews 11:7

Noah’s faith condemned the unbelief of his neighbors. His obedience to God condemned their contempt and rebellion against God’s commands.

I have to ask myself. If I were in Noah’s situation, would I have stepped forward in faith? Doing what God asked me to do? Would I have built that ark in front of my neighbors? In front of my community? And have them ridicule and laugh at me? Would I have done that?

Would I have been willing to put myself out there? Based on God’s command, would I have obeyed?


Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 2 Corinthians 2:15-16


And I think of that today. Am I willing to obey God and put myself out there in front of my neighbors and community and boldly obey God even when it seems like it’s a joke? Even when others may ridicule and mock me and say I’m crazy. Am I willing to obey God’s still small voice? Even when that task will prove to be unpopular in the eyes of those around me? And I’m the only one being asked to do a certain task?

Who am I trying to please, anyway? God or man?

What would have happened if Noah hadn’t obeyed? What would have happened if God found no one else who was righteous? There was no one else for God to choose. Did Noah know that? Would God have just destroyed the entire earth if Noah had refused?

But Noah said yes. And it took him years to build that boat. And during the time he built that boat, he had sons and they grew up and began to help him. He didn’t give up on obeying God, no matter how long it took him to finish the task. He continued. He pushed forward regardless of what his neighbors said. Regardless of the names his neighbors called him behind his back. He was the laughingstock. The butt of the joke.

Am I willing to put myself in a similar position if God requires it of me?

What if I’m the only righteous person God finds for the task? I find that highly unlikely. But perhaps Noah felt the same. Perhaps he felt unworthy of the task set before him. But he did it anyway. Can I?

What did the neighbors think when the animals started coming two by two to the ark? What did the neighbors think when the rain started falling? God hadn’t called them to build an ark. He hadn’t chosen them as righteous people. God knew they were wicked. And he left them out of the ark. They all perished in the flood.

How many of us will be called faithful today? How many of us would God reach down and say, I’m choosing you? Because you are righteous, and you obey. How many of us would not be chosen? How many would be left out of the ark today? It’s not mine to answer.

We all have a choice. We can stand faithful to God and obey him regardless of what anyone says about us. Regardless of how long it takes us to fulfill that obedient call. Are we ready? And are we prepared to answer? Am I prepared to let others know that God has set me apart to do a specific thing that only I can do? If God chooses me to do this task or to run this ministry or speak certain words, whatever it is, God is asking. Am I ready, willing and prepared to say yes at all costs? Am I willing to stand for God’s Word and truth regardless of what the world says?

So when I think about Noah’s neighbors, and all the people on the earth at that time, I wonder. Did they think they were living in obedience to God? Did they think their lives were a pleasing aroma to God? Or were they willfully disobedient? Were they willfully living in opposition to God’s will? Did they flaunt evil in the face of God? And when they saw Noah begin building the ark, I’ve got to assume that they laughed at him. Did it bother them that Noah never gave up? Did their taunts grow louder the longer Noah worked on the ark?

Noah never gave up building the ark. He never stopped working on it. And all those years, Noah was faithful to the call of God. He didn’t give up when times got hard. He didn’t wait until his boys were old enough to start helping him. He dug in and began building the ark when his boys were young. So he answered the call of God immediately. And he remained faithful for many, many years.

Who of us would do that? Who of us today would God use? Who of us living today would remain faithful for so many years? When all we had was the voice of God saying, “Do this for me.” And there was no other evidence that God had spoken, but just his nudge. His quiet voice to you. A whisper in your ear. Here is the path I want you to take. Who of us would have remained faithful for so many years?

Noah was faithful. He stood strong. He withstood the test of time. When all the other people on the earth could not stand the test of faithfulness to God, Noah did. And they died because of their lack of faith. Because of their lack of obedience. Who of us on this earth today would pass that test?

Think about it.

Pleasing Faith

We don’t know much about the man. All we know is written in just a few verses in the Bible. But those few verses tell us that this man had a close relationship with God. Enoch walked in close fellowship with his Maker. And one day he disappeared off the face of the earth. He didn’t die. God just removed him from the earth.

It would be interesting to be his wife or children and try to figure out what happened to him. How would they have explained his disappearance to their neighbors and extended family? Did anyone see him disappear? Did they call out a search party? How did they know it was God who took him? Was he surrounded by his family when the moment came?

But that is all beside the point.

It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Hebrews 11:5-6

Imagine the stir it would cause if you never died. Imagine God took you straight to heaven. What would people say? How would they know you were in heaven? Did anyone see the hand of God reach down and pluck you off the earth? Would you be surrounded by your loved ones when it happened?

And why you? Why would God choose you for this? 

This is exactly what happened to Enoch. He was a man who was faithful to God. He walked with God and lived a life of faith in obedience to God. This means that he followed the will of God. He stood for truth and he spoke it. He obeyed when God led him. He had studied and knew the Jewish law. He was faithful.


And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11:6


But we can’t get all hung up on the fact that Enoch just disappeared from the face of the earth. Let’s think about why God chose him.

He was faithful. He pleased God.

Do I have the qualities that God is looking for? Do I please God? Does God call me faithful?

Christians are sometimes criticized for having faith. After all, isn’t that what being a Christian is all about? But when you think of it, everyone has faith in some way or another. Even atheists have faith. They have faith that there is no God.

But the faith of a Christian can’t be stagnant. It must be fed and watered. Pruned and shaped. Molded into a faithful follower of Christ. God requires it of us. Otherwise, it isn’t faith. Is it? We must believe that God exists. That’s the essence of our faith. We must put forth an effort to live as Christ commands. We must follow his teachings. We must walk worthy of our calling in obedience and submission to God’s will. We can only do these things by the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. According to Hebrews 13:21, God equips his saints with everything we need to do his will.

When we walk with God. When we listen. And obey. When we continually seek out truth from God’s word. When we seek to be in his presence. We will find Him. We will meet him in prayer. And in the Word. As we sift the wheat from the chaff in our lives, we will find truth and faithfulness. We will toss the lies of deceit and fear from our hearts. We will feast on His goodness.

Enoch walked with God. He listened to God. And he obeyed. We, too, can be as Enoch. We can walk with God and obey. We can be called faithful. Oh. God may not reach down and take us to heaven without us having first tasted death. No. That isn’t what will happen. But he will be with us. As God is faithful to us, so we must be faithful to him. He rewards those who sincerely seek him.

As Matthew Henry says, we cannot come to God, unless we believe that he is what he has revealed himself to be in the Scripture. Those who would find God, must seek him with all their heart.

The Excellent Gift

Cain and Abel were brothers. They were the first brothers in the first family that God created. Adam and Even were their parents. Cain was a farmer, and Abel was a shepherd. Competition may have been fierce between them. Brothers will be brothers. As many will say. Or perhaps. Their personalities and demeanor were completely opposite. Nevertheless, things didn’t end well in their relationship.

They both presented gifts to God according to the custom of the times. Cain presented some of his crops. Abel offered the best portion of his firstborn lambs. God accepted Abel’s offering, but he rejected Cain’s. Scripture isn’t clear why Abel’s offering pleased God, but Cain’s didn’t. Many speculate on the reasons. But we can’t read into Scripture what isn’t there. And I’m no biblical expert or theologian. What I know is that Abel’s gift pleased God.

But that pleasing gift cost Abel, because Cain was angry that God didn’t accept his offering. So he took matters into his own hands. He killed Abel in a moment of rage. Was it jealousy? Did the brothers always provoke each other? Did Cain have an evil intent and Abel’s was pure?

Abel’s faith cost him his life. He gave his best offering to God. He wasn’t competing with his brother. He was offering the best of his livestock. His heart was pure. His motives were pure. He didn’t hesitate to give the best to God.  And God saw that and was pleased.

What we see in the story is that Abel offered the best of his livestock. Cain, on the other hand, offered some of his harvest. Perhaps he didn’t offer his best to God. Perhaps he offered second best. The leftovers, as an afterthought? Or perhaps an act of defiance. We don’t know what we don’t know.

When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord . Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.

Genesis 4:2-8

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. Hebrews 11:3


Cain and Abel had been taught to love and obey God from an early age. Because oh. Their parents, Adam and Eve, had learned a very hard lesson on obeying and respecting God’s commands. Oh how the disobedient fall.

God respected Abel’s offering of faith. Perhaps God had given specific instructions on the types of offerings he would accept. Perhaps Abel obeyed completely and without hesitation. 2 Corinthians 9:7 tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. He sees the intent of our hearts when we give.

When we give our best in service to God, not everyone will be pleased. Some will be jealous. Some will ridicule. Others will try to discredit us. And others may want to harm us. We must still be faithful and serve God wholeheartedly, without fear of the actions of others. God is on our side.

I think of Stephen. He was defending his faith in front of the council. The crowd was angered by his testimony and charged at him. They rushed him out of the city and stoned him to death. And in those unbearable moments as stones were beating down on his body, Stephen asked God to forgive them. Stephen held no contempt for his killers. Stephen lived his faith in front of those who hated him. His faith stood strong to the end. Just as Abel’s.

There will be times in our lives, as we’re living in obedience to Christ, that our faith will be tested. There will be those who pursue us with the intent to destroy our witness. Perhaps there is the intent to destroy our lives. Our faith must stand strong in the midst of evil. We must remain steadfast in our faith, knowing that faith is the reality of what we hope for, the evidence of what we can’t see.

We know that living a holy life is an act of choice. Abel obeyed God’s commands. He chose to live under God’s authority. So must we. Regardless of the cost. Abel’s faith pleased God. Perhaps it’s time to ask ourselves if our faith is pleasing to God.

When God Ordains Hard Things

We know that bad things happen to good people. And good things happen to bad people. Bad things happen to bad people. And good things happen to good people. All these happenings are fore-ordained. They’re known ahead of time by God Almighty. He allows all things. All circumstances. All the time.

Matthew 5:45 tells us that our Father in heaven gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. This means that everyone on this earth can plan to have some good days and some bad days. There’s no way around it.

What does it mean that God ordains all things? You ask. What does it mean that he ordains our days?

Ordain: To order or decree by virtue of superior authority. To issue an order. To order or command.

He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Acts of the Apostles 17:24-28

If you’ve read the story of Job, you know that he lived through one very difficult time. According to the Bible, he had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area. Read Job 1:2-3. The Bible doesn’t say specifically how long his troubles lasted, but in the course of one day he lost everything. Literally. His donkeys and oxen were stolen and some of his farmhands were killed. Only one escaped to tell the story. All of his sheep and shepherds were burned in a fire. Only one shepherd escaped to share the news. All of his camels were stolen by raiders, who killed the servants. Only one servant escaped to give a report. Then a powerful storm blew down the house where his children were partying, where they and all the servants died. Only one servant survived to give an account to their parents.

And just when Job was wallowing in grief, he was hit with boils all over his body. He was miserable. He wanted to die. He asked God why he had even been allowed to be born. And his wife suggested that he curse God and die. But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong. Job 2:10


His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him–though he is not far from any one of us. Acts 17:27


How do parents respond when they lose a young child? Because we know that it’s not in the course of natural events for a parent to outlive their child. The heartbreak and disappointment can be crushing. The grief and pain of loss is devastating.

These past two years have brought many deaths and disabilities from a new virus. The pain and suffering have been immense. No population on the earth has been left untouched. How are we to process this event? What does normal even look like anymore? Can we adjust to a new normal that is full of roadblocks?

There are Christians in other lands who are hunted, imprisoned, tortured and killed for their faith. They’re living for God, but they’re in the minority in their land. And those hunting them are determined to rid their world of anything godly.

Consider the police officer who accidentally killed someone when she pulled her gun instead of her taser. And then there’s the cop who killed a child when his bullet ricocheted off a wall. These are hard times for these two individuals and their families. And also for the families who lost loved ones. No one is a winner here. The lives of all of these people are changed forever.

Then there are women and girls being trafficked for sex by ungodly people. They’re sold for their bodies to be used against their will. They have no say in the matter. They can’t escape the abuse on their own. They’re held prisoner by unlawful people.

We may wonder why God allows such evil to happen. After all, he is a loving God. Why do bad things happen? We can question God, but he doesn’t always provide the answers we long to hear. We don’t always learn the reason of the whys that we ask. We may never know.

We’ve been given the ability to choose how we live our lives. We can decide to do good or evil. We can chose to treat others with respect or not. We can choose to hurt others and ourselves. We can choose to deny that God exists. We also can choose to walk in step with Him.

If we choose to walk our own path, then our life will reflect those choices and consequences. And we live that life on our own. We live that life without the comfort or strength that only God can give.

If we choose to walk with God, He walks with us through the valleys and mountaintop experiences. He never leaves us. He will give us strength to face each new day, whether that day brings rejoicing or sorrow. Even when days are hard, and there will be hard days, God is with us.

For some, the suffering and struggles may be lifelong. Even if we are Christ followers, we may live hard lives. We aren’t promised an easy, rose colored life.

Oh. We can grovel and complain and moan and groan. We can question God and curse him. We can cry and destroy ourselves. All in the name of suffering. But suppose we stopped and quieted ourselves. Suppose we listened for the still small voice of God. Suppose we reached out to Him at the darkest moments of our lives. And just suppose He brought peace in the midst of suffering. Because it is possible.

Some of the things that you’ve lost in your life, God is not going to bring them back in the exact same way.

Havilah Cunnington

To experience joy in our struggles and difficulties, we must first acknowledge who God is. Everything but God is secondary in our lives. Everything else is secondary. Yes. That’s right. It’s tough to hear, but God must be the priority. Even during times of intense suffering and grief. If we focus on God, we will see that He is supreme. His love is never ending. His compassion knows no boundaries. His mercy is new every morning. His grace is all sufficient. His power is all encompassing. He is the alpha. The omega. The beginning and the end.

So when the thing we have always feared happens to us, we can have peace and quiet and perfect rest in God our Maker and Redeemer.