One evening, when our boys were still very young, our family shared together an evening devotion before bedtime. As we read the Bible together, we came to the place where it says, “… I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Philippians 4:11b-12 ESV).

“What’s the difference between a ‘need’ and a ‘want’?” I asked. Our sons thought a moment, and then, after waiting a moment to give his younger siblings a chance to respond, our oldest one replied, “A need is what a person must have to live.”

“Yeah,” answered our second oldest son. He then gravely began to list off several examples, “Like water and food.”

“And air!” chimed in our youngest son.

“That’s right,’ their mother said, “and we can think of even a few other things that we should consider ‘needs’, too, like shelter and clothing.”

Someone else chimed in. “And cash!”

“Now hold on a minute,” I cautioned. “Is ‘cash’ really a need? Or is money a tool we use sometimes to have a need met?”

“Don’t you need money to get other things you need?”

“Well, it is true that money is usually the way we have a lot of our needs met,” I answered, “but it isn’t a need in of itself. Don’t you think that God can meet our needs without the use of money?” Several heads nodded slowly as if considering the thought. “Can you think of a time when God met a need in our lives without money being involved at all?” After a few moments, there were several mentions of different ways that God had taken care of us without money ever changing hands.

“Now what about ‘wants’? Has the Lord supplied our wants, too?” I asked.

“Not all of them,” said our youngest.

“Right, but then some of the things we want aren’t what God thinks are best for us. But what wants has God granted us?” Again there was a great deal of conversation about various ways that God has gone above and beyond our need. “So how do we know that our heavenly Father loves us so much that He not only takes care of what we need, but also sometimes things that we simply want?”

There was silence for a moment so I went on with an answer. “Because His Word tells us so.” I then read Philippians 4:19, “… My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

“How should we respond to God’s kindness to us?” I asked and then followed up with another question, “What makes you feel good when you give something to someone?”

“When they say ‘thank you’?” one ventured. “When I can tell that he likes the gift?” suggested another.

“Those are good answers,” I responded. “So what are ways that we can ‘bless’ God when He has blessed us?”

They thoughtfully answered. “By telling Him ‘thank you’.” “By using His blessings in a right way.” And “By being generous because if we’re selfish then we’re not showing that we appreciate His generosity.”

Their mother and I exchanged glances and then nodded encouragingly. “Yes, those are all part of showing God our gratitude. We don’t want to be slaves to worry about our needs, do we? That’s why it’s so important to know that we can trust God.”

“It’s also important that we don’t become slaves to our wants. We’ve learned from Philippians 4:11-12 to be content with the blessings that God has given to us. And if ever we have trouble being content, finding that we don’t have a lot of things that a lot of our friends have, we know that we can ask God to help us with contentment… and He will!”

And then I read Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me!” We bowed our heads together and prayed, thanking our God Who loves us with an everlasting love!

This weekend we celebrate freedom. Be sure that your celebration rings true with the “inner freedom” that can only be known in an abiding relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. If you receive His gift of salvation, you are at once set free and are made His child, receiving all the privileges associated with being a part of God’s royal family!

True freedom is the privilege of entering into God’s presence without condemnation because His Son paid the price your sin.

True freedom is the privilege of entering into God’s presence without condemnation because His Son paid the price your sin.

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by Whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15 ESV).

Not only are you set free in Christ from the bondage of sin and selfishness that lead to spiritual death (separation from God forever), but in Him you are also released from the ranks of ‘spiritual orphans’, adopted into God’s family. As such, you are made free from the slavery of worry. And in learning to be content in Him, whether in a season of plenty or of scarcity, you are set free from the tyranny of “want.”

Let this “Independence Day” be a lot more than a simple summertime reveling or a rejoicing in our ability to do as we please or live as we choose.

Instead, let it be the occasion for solemn reflection as you meditate on a great gift given to you. And remember that true “freedom” hinges more on the condition of your heart before God than an abstract political affinity or even the unimpeded opportunity to act out whatever impulses fill your heart and mind, fear among these but also other compulsions that may prey upon us if unchallenged and cultivated.

True freedom, dear one, is the privilege of entering into God’s presence without condemnation because His Son paid the price your sin. Please consider turning then from your sin and receive His gift of freedom, His give of love, and His gift of Himself through Christ.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Walking on Water

In the midst of turbulent times, we are easy prey to discouragement, cynicism, fear and hatred. Images constantly flash upon our television and computer screens of violence and human wickedness and it is very difficult to not be overwhelmed with all the “bad news” that incessantly bombards us. It is an easy thing to look at all this tragedy and surrender to despair.

Maybe we didn’t start that way. As we begin our relationship with God through Jesus Christ we are immediately drawn to His omnipotence and the beauty of His grace and wisdom. We want to know Him better. We want to walk with Him on the sea of circumstances, not enslaved to our problems and our failures but able to tread upon them victoriously.

Wasn’t that the Lord’s way of handling life? He never turned aside from His path to the Cross but instead “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him Who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3). He walked upon the swirling currents of resentment and jealousy of others, oblivious to the stinging winds of their false accusations and slanderous rumors.

Jesus inspired then and inspires now a desire to rise above mere “humanness”. When Jesus touches our lives, arriving unexpectedly on the scene as He did in Matthew 14:22-33, we may cry out to Him, “Lord, let me join You on the water” (from Matthew 14:28). He invites us to His side, spiritually opening our eyes to His perspective. We get out of the boat of our comfort zones and our plans for security and success. We start to walk with Him.

But then, in the corner of our eyes, we see someone’s smirk or condescension at our “religious crutch”. We feel the lapping of the waves of things demanding our attention, screaming for “their due”. We feel the sting of the rain of pseudo-responsibilities and we think, “I’ll spend time with God once I get this one other thing taken care of.”

Our eyes shift from Jesus, His love for us and His perfect wisdom. Our ears become so busy sifting messages from the world that Jesus’ words of guidance, grace and strength are lost and we find ourselves, like Peter in Matthew 14:30, sinking beneath the surging seas of stress and burn-out.

Sadly, we often don’t think to cry out to the Lord as Peter did. We stubbornly refuse to release control of our lives to Him. Or we panic and flail about desperately, trying to keep our heads above water as we try to find quick fixes to the predicaments that we seem to be surrounded by.

“Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me” (Psalm 69:1-2 ESV).

There is only one way to walk on the water. It’s to turn our eyes to Jesus and allow Him to pull us up to His side. The world will blow its hurricane winds upon us, trying to drive us on a course contrary to God’s will. Our lives will swirl with the turbulence of problems and loss, seeking to suck us down into the depths of despair and defeat. But the Son of God Who stilled the storms can bring hope and life again to our spiritually sea-sick hearts.

As we step out of our boats may His holiness, love and strength irresistibly draw us to His side.

As we step out of our boats may His holiness, love and strength irresistibly draw us to His side.

May our eyes then be drawn to the beauty of His face. As we step out of our boats may His holiness, love and strength irresistibly draw us to His side.

“I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because He inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live. The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the LORD: ‘O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!’ Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, He saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:1-9 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Standing Firm…

It is my observation that within the American “psyche” we essentially want to “have our cake and eat it too”. We thoroughly enjoy rehearsing all the “perks” that being children of God promises and yet run from the responsibility that it entails.

Consider our singing of songs about God’s love and the boasting of our surety of Heaven contrasted with our silence in the workplace or playground (grownup playgrounds, too!) when called upon to be God’s ambassador to a world that has forgotten Him.

Maybe we simply don’t realize that we ARE God’s ambassadors in the world today. But be careful! Ignorance isn’t really any excuse and it certainly won’t hold water when we stand in His presence giving an account of our doings here on earth.

His call and claim on you is not only that of “Savior” but “Lord” as well. If your life is not subject to His lordship to the extent that He governs your decisions and habits publicly as well as privately, He isn’t Lord of your life at all.

Although it is our preference to treat our Christianity as purely a private experience, the reason that it is NOT so is that God is on a world-wide mission to bring those who are lost in their sin to Himself through Christ Jesus. You just can’t shine a light in a dark room if you keep it covered.

Besides that, Jesus’ life in you allows no denial. If He really is alive in you then He must shine through. “For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26 ESV).

Of course, one cannot expect the world to look on with approval. The world is at war with God and the battlefield extends into every corner of the human experience. You cannot go to any public place, whether working, shopping or attending a ballgame, without worldliness assaulting your senses. Either you’re attacked with subtle invitations to compromise your calling as a Christian or with an attempt to oppress of the Truth living in your heart so that Christ’s face cannot be seen in you and His voice cannot be heard through you.

So what must you do when your witness for Him results in unpleasantness and even open opposition? How should you respond when standing for Him in matters of integrity could result in significant loss and pain?

You stand firm. And if you wonder with fevered anxiety how in the world you can stand firm when a trial comes your way, be encouraged by His admonitions in Ephesians chapter 6.

“… Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm…. praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:13, 18-20 ESV).

There is one beautiful passion that makes a Christian shine with brilliance in the boiling murk of sin and death about us: that of being faithful to the One Who has been perfectly faithful to us.

There is a noble beauty in faithfulness to Christ.

After all, our sufferings here are so minor and short-lived when held up against the fact of the brutal price He paid on the Cross and the sheer immensity of eternity He grants us through faith in His Son. Why would I not want to “stand firm” for Him when He has given so much to me?

“…Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-11 ESV).

There is then one beautiful passion that makes a Christian shine with brilliance in the boiling murk of sin and death about us: that of being faithful to the One Who has been perfectly faithful to us.

When your time comes at work, at home, at school, or wherever it meets you, will you close your eyes, grit your teeth and ignore your moment to demonstrate your love for Him? Or will you lovingly “stand firm” and say, do or be whatever He asks? Strive to be ready for those moments… ‘cuz ready or not, here they come.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Can you recall a time in your life in which you received really good news? Have you, for instance, ever had an unexpectedly good thing that popped up from off your radar that turned sorrowful situations into happy endings or turned awful adversities into serendipitous spring boards for success? If you have, then you know that really good news HAS to be shared!

In Romans, chapter 1:15, the Apostle Paul says, “So I am eager to preach the Gospel to you….” Why was he eager? Why did he care? Why was he so motivated to tell them about what Jesus had done for him and could do for them?

When I think of the awe-inspiring encounter that Paul had with the resurrected Lord Jesus, I can plainly see what God has done in my own life. Not only that, but I can also now discern what it is He does in the life of anyone who turns to Him in faith and becomes the receiver of not only forgiveness, but eternal life as well.

When your life is genuinely changed by good news, you naturally want to share it with others!

When your life is genuinely changed by good news, you naturally want to share it with others!

In his encounter with Jesus on his way to the city of Damascus, Paul (who was once called “Saul”) grasped at last the revelation that all his self-righteousness was merely a shovel in his hand in digging his own grave (see Acts 9:1-22). He was not free from sin as he had supposed nor was he purifying his religion from blasphemy. And he certainly wasn’t defending God’s honor.

He was a murderer, plain and simple, under the delusion that he was a hero. Worse yet, he was persecuting Jesus Himself Who suffers with His children when they suffer for Him.

Yet, in spite of all the vengeance and judgement that Paul (Saul) deserved, the living Lord of Mercy turned this man’s life around and brought him back from the brink of destruction. He made him clean. He made him new. He gave him a new name.

It’s no wonder then that Paul in Romans 1:15 can’t wait to get the good news to a people who had not yet heard this message of hope! He knew that they desperately needed to hear that God forgives sin! That God cleanses unrighteousness! That God makes things new! That God makes the dead alive!

“I am not ashamed of the Gospel,” Paul tells the Romans, “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16 ESV). The same message rings true today even after all this time. The Gospel of Jesus is still the power of God for salvation for every one of us who will believe, turning from our own self-sufficiency and the world’s cheap counterfeits and turning to the only One Who can save.

So then… if God has already brought the power of salvation to your life, how can you hold it in? Why would you not wish to share it? Who do you know that has not yet heard for him or herself that Jesus makes all things new? (see Revelations 21:5).

Even now, you can invite the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the desperate and dire need for Jesus Christ’s forgiveness that those with whom you live, work and play have? And if you haven’t yet received His life-changing power into your life and experienced the wonder of His forgiveness and love, place your faith in Him and allow Him to lead you into a transformed life of obedience!

May He indeed open our eyes to our need for His grace and to the eternal needs of those around us. Heaven has plenty of room and Hell is full enough.

 Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Let’s face it. Spiritual things are hard to discuss with everyday words. In fact, they’re not only hard to talk about, they’re hard to think about! There are just some things about Faith and the Kingdom of God that make us sprain our brain muscles when we really try to understand them.

As a result of our difficulty in understanding such things, there is often a temptation for us to assume that because the spiritual realm is so “spiritual”, it is therefore unapproachable – that it is too mysterious for us to understand and consequently impossible for us to experience meaningfully.

For example, we sometimes feel too intimidated to make prayer a practical priority in our lives or we dress it up with so much formality that it ceases to be genuine prayer.

On the other hand, there is also a temptation to sometimes take prayer too much for granted and then approach it tritely (if we approach it at all). Prayer may seem to us either lacking in any real benefit or is a religious duty, a strict discipline with which we afflict ourselves.

But real prayer is neither of these things. First and foremost, prayer is the activity of a life which dwells in the presence of God. It is quite literally, “going into His presence” though we still stand here on this solid earth in the full light of the material world.

How sad then if we neglect that for which we were created! Remember that Jesus died so that your sin may be forgiven and removed from you so that you may stand in God’s presence without guilt or shame.

Prayer is simple child-like dependence and devotion of one who implicitly trusts in God

Prayer is simple child-like dependence and devotion of one who implicitly trusts in God

If you never trouble with going into His presence, then you cannot “come to know God”. If you are not “coming to know God” then you are not receiving eternal life (John 17:3). If you are not availing yourself of eternal life, why did Jesus then die?

If we do not pray, we trivialize the purpose of His suffering and death. We also surrender the abundance of joys and comforts that His presence affords us.

Prayer is a stance and attitude that we adopt signifying our reliance upon His love and awesome power rather than the foolish alternatives given by the world. It further declares that we have the strength and good will of Almighty God sustaining us though the weight of the world oppresses us.

Prayer is simple child-like dependence and devotion of one who implicitly trusts in God. It is a love song sent up from a heart overflowing with adoration and passion for its Creator. It is the soul-wrenching lament of one trapped in the mire of loneliness and pain. Prayer is the crying out of one life for the deliverance of another.

Prayer is talking with God but is also sitting silently before Him.

Prayer is the giving of thanks and praise to the Most High but is also the receiving of the blessings of His presence, joy and peace.

To not pray is to be completely and utterly alone though surrounded by a sea of people. But to really pray is to be with God as we walk along through life.

To not pray is to languish in failure and futility however successful the World tells us we are. But to really pray is to be about our highest calling of all.

Let us be careful then to be a people who pray.

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ…” (Colossians 4:2-4 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

As a father, I have over the years often been implicated (I mean “involved”) in my kids’ various sports activities. As a result, I have often been left reflecting on my own athletic endeavors in the past. Let’s see. There was the time that I was running Track, tripped on my own feet and slammed my knee into the cinders and the cinders into my knee. The pain didn’t bother me so much but the spectacle I had made of myself very nearly caused me to die of embarrassment.

It didn’t help, of course, that the coach didn’t give tuppence about my injury even with the sight of blood gushing down my leg and mingling with the black cinders on the track. Incidentally, I’ve noticed that coaches don’t cater much to self-pity. Oh, well. At least I’ve got cinders still in my knee as a souvenir.

I remember too as an older teenager playing some two-on-two basketball and slam-dunking the ball through the hoop (with a little help from short stone wall nearby). I guess I should not have hung on the basket’s rim so long. Who would have guessed that the backboard might not have been designed for such abuse? As you might suppose, the game ended with my accidental destruction of the basket and backboard.

Then there was the time that I had just moved. It was my eleventh grade year at a new high school and I had just gotten up to bat in front of my new team. Maybe subconsciously hoping to impress my new coaches and teammates with how tough I was, I was immediately beaned with a fastball. “What a way to start the season,” I thought as I crashed backward from the impact of the ball. No pain, no gain, right?

Given my lack of athletic finesse, “Going for the Gold” was naturally never really a catch phrase for me until I began to understand that I indeed am an athlete… spiritually at least, if not also physically.

As Christians are we not “running a race”, a marathon run in which only perseverance brought forth from faith in Him can keep us going? Are we not “wrestling” today with powerful social and ideological opponents that watch us with shifting eyes, seeking to lay hold of us and topple us over with confusion and “pin us to the mat” with doubt? Are we not hoping to daily “score a goal” by holding forth Truth, so that someone will see His light of love and reach for the prize of eternal life?

Don’t assume that because “Rocky’s Theme” isn’t blaring every moment of every day that we may squander life as spiritual couch potatoes. Are you waiting for someone else to run into the ring? Hey, you! Put your gloves on and get in there!

And don’t get caught running on the wrong track! Can you see Him in your mind’s eye, this One Who shed His blood for you to receive the gift of eternal life? Coach and Team Manager, He’s also the Great Reward of those who will receive Him as Lord.

“…I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12b-14 ESV).

The race is on! The goal is before us! The starting gun has fired! Let’s get out there and win!

The race is on! The goal is before us! The starting gun has fired! Let’s get out there and win!

The race is on! The goal is before us! The starting gun has fired! Let’s get out there and win!

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV).

Perhaps you can even hear in your heart’s ear the crowd in Heaven as they roar their approval of those who start the race and then stick with it until finally reaching their goal – the goal of remaining true to Him until the end.

“…Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrew 12:1-2 ESV).

 Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Ever feel like your voice can’t be heard?

If you’re a parent then it is a foregone conclusion: you do feel that way at times. “Can’t we turn the video game volume down a little bit?”; “What’s that? You can’t hear me over your brother?”; and “Didn’t I say that you needed to clean up your room?”.

Perhaps in your role as a “common citizen” you may feel that no one listens to you. You may feel that your stand for “right” over “wrong” is ignored by all and your vote doesn’t make a difference. If that isn’t enough to depress you then just remember that this is an election year.

Not being heard when you have something to say is terribly frustrating, particularly when what you have to say is a matter of life and death.

As a Christian, my life revolves around a message that truly is a matter of life and death. As carefully and as determinedly as I might try to share that message, there is no denying that there are multitudes of voices and messages trying to compete for the same ears.

God's still, small voice is hard to hear over the clamor of the world, but He does indeed speak to us, inviting us to join Him in relationship and on mission.  The questions is, do we have ears to hear?

God’s still, small voice is hard to hear over the clamor of the world, but He does indeed speak to us, inviting us to join Him in relationship and on mission.

In fact, I’m confronted daily by this when I share about God’s love with folks. “Well, I’d like to learn more sometime and maybe even be in church but I’ve got yard work on this day, meetings on that day, ballgames on this night, my favorite show is on the other, and don’t forget my unused vacation days. Sorry: no time left. Sundays? But that’s the only day I can sleep in.”

And if I, merely a messenger, feel frustrated about a culture that won’t slow down and carefully listen to the message of Eternal Life, what does the One Who sent the message in the first place feel?

In Isaiah 48, the Lord laments over His people who have gotten so far away from Him and His loving commandments that they only know heartache, disappointment and loss. “Oh that you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea” (Isaiah 48:18 ESV). God’s yearning to be heeded in order for us to possess the peace that He has promised has not faded.

“Listen to Me… I am He; I am the First, and I am the Last. My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together…. Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go” (Isaiah 48:12-13,17 ESV).

Think of it! Even the heavens stand at attention at the summons of the King of Kings. How much more then, as God summons us from among a people too busy to walk with Him and too busy to serve, will those who hear Him calling, jump to attention and respond to His invitation of grace?

As He calls you to come out from under the power of sin, death and despair, will you have ears to hear and receive His invitation to join Him?

“Thus says the LORD: ‘In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages, saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’ They shall feed along the ways; on all bare heights shall be their pasture; they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for He Who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them” (Isaiah 49:8-10 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan


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