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A few weeks ago, while in a very warm room just outside of Washington, DC , with several hundred other people in a conference dealing with the prevention of drug abuse, my phone suddenly vibrated indicating that a text had just been received. Normally, I wait for an appropriate time to read it, but I was strangely moved on this occasion to check it. I quietly pulled my phone out and read the message.

It was from a precious member of our church letting me know that a member of her extended family had just passed away from an overdose. I immediately began to pray for the family and texted back our love and prayers.

The loss made me very sad the way it does every time I learn of someone in our community who has lost his or her life to drugs. It always stabs my heart with grief and horror. On the other hand, every time I learn of someone who has had enough and sets out on the long path of recovery, I celebrate, knowing that while it may be a hard journey, the destination is definitely worth it.

When asked about the relationship between faith and recovery, many folks think of instantaneous transformations. I have very rarely encountered this, but have discovered that transformation is usually a process with its roots in perhaps one initial step, but is only realized through the hard work of applying the principles of God’s Word in progressive stages in all areas of life.

Faith and recoveryGod is the God of transformation. That transformation is bequeathed through 1) hope (that God can and will change us if we let Him; 2) peace (that we have peace with Him through His gift of forgiveness if we truly are willing to turn away from what holds us enslaved, as well as peace inside ourselves as we relinquish the need to try to control and manipulate others, ourselves, and maybe even God); 3) direction (though we cannot see very far ahead, we can find the one step we need to take right now); and 4) strength (He gives us the will to turn away from temptation if we are willing to turn away from it consistently and persistently – long before we encounter it).

Learning the Word of God (through Bible study at church and in small groups) helps to rewire our minds as we learn the thoughts of God, while prayer (conversation with God) puts us in touch with His almighty power! While we have wonderful resources in our community to help the recovering addict, never underestimate the healing and life-giving power of Jesus Christ!

“You have… been taught in Christ… to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:21-24 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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A long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away), while I was still a college student, I gave being a salesman a shot. It proved to not be one of my most successful enterprises in life. Frankly, it’s doubtful if I could have sold a fire insurance policy to a man whose house was on fire.

All these years later, I am still not a salesman. I am far more concerned with the substance of things than I am the appearance. Perhaps too much so. No, I may not be a salesman still, but, by God’s grace, I am a “sharer” who has something, not to sell, but to share in a world that has spent itself on cheap thrills that prove all too costly in the end.

Today, for example, with people running short on hope, wondering if talk about “faith” and “godliness” really means anything, and worrying about what tomorrow will bring, how can one not share with others about the significance of the resurrection of Jesus? How could one not wish to remind Christians of the implications of the resurrection for living life today? And how can one not desire to tell others who have yet to personally become recipients of that hope or not invite them to take that step of faith (no pun intended), trusting Him as their savior?

The resurrection of Jesus Christ should have tremendous significance to you. Why? Well, without the resurrection, our faith in Jesus is vain. While that may sound sacrilegious to you (though it is more sacrilegious in my mind to disbelieve in the resurrection), consider that the Bible itself declares in 1 Corinthians 15:14 ESV, “…If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

Because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, God's Word thunders with clarity and power as it continually echoes in our hearts!

Because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, God’s Word thunders with clarity and power as it continually echoes in our hearts!

First, the fact of God’s restoring Jesus to life authenticates God’s promises of forgiveness of sins for all who will believe. In other words, the resurrection is a physical demonstration of God’s satisfaction with the His Son’s atoning sacrifice. “Jesus paid it all… Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow,” we’ll sing. In Isaiah 53:10-12 (written about 500 years before the life of Christ) the Bible says, “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for sin, He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied; by His knowledge shall the righteous One, My Servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the many, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.”

Secondly, the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ validates the significance of the Gospel itself. Gospel means, “good news”, but without the resurrection of Jesus, there is no clear sense that there really is any good news. Without the resurrection, we have no proof that Jesus’ words were anything more than “good words” and “nice teachings.”

But with the resurrection, His words thunder with clarity and power and echo in our hearts when we grasp for hope! God is alive and well today ready to bring men and women, boys and girls into a right relationship with Himself. When we pray, as Jesus taught, “Our Father…”, we may be free from the millstone of condemnation that is unforgiven sin and unashamedly enter His presence in prayer. Our own eternal destinies become clear, too, as we trust Jesus as our only means of entering God’s favor, and Heaven, as promised by God, is guaranteed. Good news indeed!

Finally, the resurrection of Jesus associates the love of God with practical living so that it transcends mere rhetoric. It isn’t just a lot of mumbo-jumbo about something that happened two-thousand years ago, nor is it merely a lot of hooey about something that we tell people happens when you die in order to placate them. It means something about how we live our lives now, too.

“We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4 ESV).  God’s intention for you and me is to “live in newness of life” here on earth. The power of sin and the dread of death have been defeated by Jesus through His work on the Cross and His conquest of the Tomb.

Are you living a new life today in Christ? If not, will you yield your will to Him and surrender pride, fear, anger and selfishness to Him? Will you allow Him to “raise you up” with Christ in that newness of life? As the sun rises this Easter morning, celebrate the rising of the Son of God. Let this be a time for God’s love to dawn in your life today.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. With those words we are swept from boundless darkness into the glorious illumination of the countenance of God; from the brooding silence of an empty cosmos we are made the audience of the indescribable melody of God’s voice as He spoke Creation into being.

And though deceit, destruction, and death entered His world through the very ones He lovingly created to walk with Him in bliss, the grand and eternal themes of restoration, reconciliation and redemption triumph again and again.

From Adam to Peter, from Nineveh to Jerusalem, God’s hand ever seeks to bring forgiveness and relationship with Himself through what are at times discouraging, depressing and even painful trials.

In Genesis chapters 37, 39-41, God begins to work mysteriously in the life of Joseph, one of the sons of Jacob whose father Abraham had been the recipient of a special covenant with God. Because they choose to drink the sour elixir of jealousy, Joseph’s own brothers cast him into a pit and sell him into bondage, delighting in his humiliation. Joseph could be ruined by resentment and defeated by hopelessness after such an ordeal, but God has other plans.

Though rejected, Joseph’s trust in God remains and God blesses him. He works hard and with integrity follows this new path on which his feet must trod. But suddenly he is beset with false accusations and is punished as a criminal. Joseph could be poisoned by discouragement and broken by despair after this second wave of failure in his life, but God has other plans.

Profoundly moving in the faith and character of Joseph, God takes him from the bottommost pit of his life and sets his feet on the path toward renewal. Surely you see the hand of God moving Joseph closer to where God would most use him. By allowing him to be falsely accused and imprisoned, Joseph finds himself in the company of Pharaoh’s royal prisoners. Then, as God works through Joseph to reveal Himself to the royal attendants, word is ultimately taken to the most powerful leader in the world at that time and Joseph becomes his closest advisor and chief administrator!

Although things are not the same as before trials invaded his life, Joseph is ushered into an amazing restoration! Once rejected, he is now held in very high regard indeed.

Once falsely accused and wrongly punished as a liar and philanderer, he is so thoroughly trusted now that the supreme leader of the land entrusts him with power nearly equal to his own.

Though the wounds of his past have left deep scars, Joseph has been restored beyond his or anyone’s wildest expectations.

Joseph deeply suffers at his brothers’ hands, but a day finally comes when he and his brothers are reconciled. Unbelievable that after such suffering at their hands, Joseph one day falls on their shoulders, weeping with joy over receiving again the brothers he had lost.

God grieves over the brokenness of our lives and desires that we be lifted up and restored to the high and noble life for which He created us.

God grieves over the brokenness of our lives and desires that we be lifted up and restored to the high and noble life for which He created us.

And because of his faith in God’s promises and his obedience to God’s will for his life, Joseph’s suffering becomes the means by which the “world” is redeemed from famine and God’s covenant people are preserved in order to ultimately inherit all the promises that God had made to their forefathers.

Today, God’s heart still beats with the pulse of reconciliation, restoration and redemption for His creation. And we do well to listen to words spoken by the Savior to a people who thought that God didn’t care anymore… “My Father is always at His work even until now…’” (from John 5:17).

Restoration? Yes! God grieves over the brokenness of our lives and desires that we be lifted up and restored to the high and noble life for which He created us. “My steps have held fast to Your paths; my feet have not slipped. I call on You, O God; for You will answer me; incline Your ear to me; hear my words. Wondrously show Your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge…” (Psalms 17:5-7a ESV).

Reconciliation? Yes! God desires to renew again our unfettered fellowship with Him through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Keep in mind that this reconciliation is supremely centered upon our relationship with God Himself. “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life” (Romans 5:10). But it spins off for us both a capacity and a desire to love one another as He has loved us (John 15:12).

Redeemed? Yes! Our Father hates that we have been overpowered and enslaved by sin’s soiled enticements. Even now He yearns for our release and works in human hearts to break the bonds of selfishness and self-satisfaction so that sin may no longer be our master. “…He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12b). Christ came and died and lives again that the world may have hope in spite of its brokenness and helpless condition.

Are you in the midst of a pit of discouragement or doubt? Are you haunted by humiliation and defeat? Have you been falsely accused or feel abandoned? You might be discouraged. You might even be defeated.

But God has other plans for you no matter how wildly things around the world may seem to be spinning and no matter how out of control your own life may feel. For any life that is surrendered to Him through Jesus His Son, there is reconciliation, restoration and redemption. As you allow God to unfold His plans for you, his power transforms your life and the lives of others in eternal ways.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him Who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:18-21 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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As much lamenting as is being done concerning the virulence of horrific persecution, tough economic times and perhaps joblessness, the threat of pandemic disease, and the collapse of Biblical morality and ethics, Christians should be reminded that this is a season of opportunity for the people of God to receive a two-part blessing!

Today is definitely an age in which most of us are beyond our ability to negotiate life’s circumstances, whether we have been laid off and cannot now find a new job, we have an illness for which there is no cure and/or very little comfort, or we have broken relationships that we simply can’t fix no matter how much we may desire to do so.  Even our “constitutionally protected right to free speech” is under fire and in jeopardy.

While there may be a few (somewhere) where optimism for both the supposedly inherent goodness of human nature and “good old fashion Yankee ingenuity” may be running high, many folks have already come to the realization that such hope has been misplaced and are realizing that the circumstances that have driven them from the high places of self-sufficiency are forcing them to turn to the One Who alone really has the answers for which they’ve been seeking.

 

While there is indeed much that is challenging and even troubling about today, there are indeed pearls of great value hidden within our circumstances.  Let us not overlook them and miss the treasure that can be ours!

While there is indeed much that is challenging and even troubling about today, there are indeed pearls of great value hidden within our circumstances. Let us not overlook them and miss the treasure that can be ours!

A “desperate” situation is frequently the spiritual crowbar that God uses to pry us out of the temples of self-reliance that we erect for ourselves. Ask yourself the questions, “When am I inclined to stop what I’m doing and really turn to God? What moves my heart to really reach for His throne? When does my spirit cry out to Him in earnest?” Chances are your prayers take on a deeper and more profound quality when you’ve been shaken to your core and all the props upon which you’ve rested have been knocked out from under you.

So let us not be hasty to whine about our predicaments, but instead stop to examine our hearts and ask the questions, “How is God dealing with me through this? How is He using His Word to instruct me? What is He specifically asking of me in the midst of this trial?”

If we are sincere when we as Christians say that God has created us for intimate relationship with Himself, we should then not be surprised to find Him working out our circumstances to bring us to the point of having to choose Him over other things. Will I embrace pleasure over the joy of daily delighting in Him? Will I place power to chart my own course in life above His will for me? Will I choose to value money or other material possessions over the gift of His Son?

If we were honest, we would probably have to admit that we do those very things. And since we have allowed such things to become rivals in our affections for the God Who created us and spent His own Son’s life for us, it should not surprise us that He would permit those things to be taken away.

Can there be pleasure in pain and suffering? No, not unless it drives us to the source of a higher joy, the pleasure of which physical experience pales in comparison.

Are we quick to bow to anyone else’s authority for calling the shots with our destiny, thereby relinquishing the power and right to make our own decisions? No, not unless we see that control of our own lives is illusionary and that there is One Who not only sees into our future but has already mapped out a life of purpose and significance.

Is it easy to choose sacrifice over a life of affluence and the false sense of security that money can give to us? No, it is not, unless one is enlightened to the fact that there are riches in eternity that await those who wholeheartedly follow God that make worldly goods seem like trash.

All in all, there is a sweet victory that belongs to those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ that only begins to become evident to their eyes when the smog of worldly thinking begins to be blown away by His Spirit moving through their circumstances. Sickness, poverty, and oppression, while real enough in our temporal spheres, are only temporary after all.

“Let us press on to know the LORD; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth” (Hosea 6:3 ESV).

In addition to teaching us reliance upon the Lord, our hardships and woes are also the arenas in which the glory of God can be seen.

For example, Christians are commanded to love one another. In fact, this is how Jesus said that they would be identifiable to the world as His followers.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 ESV).

Christians supporting and generously helping each other bear testimony to the abiding presence of the Lord in their midst.

Also, God’s people bring glory to God by upholding His Word. Naturally, defending it as His Word to a world that is hostile to truth is part of this. But inherent in the upholding of His Word is the child of God’s love for reading it, learning it, and applying it in his or her daily living. When the Bible is taken into the heart of a man or woman, he or she is changed and the change is apparent to those around him or her. Their values are revolutionized, their character is transformed, their homes are impacted, and their work is influenced. If we see Christians whose lives make very little difference around them, we are seeing Christians who aren’t taking the Word of God very seriously, evidently not feeling the need to do so.

But many people turn to the Word when times begin to get tough. They’ve begun to realize that they need a wisdom greater than their own to navigate life’s tough choices. They thirst for the comfort of assurances that science and worldly philosophies promised to supply, but couldn’t even begin to address. The fact that our painful circumstances can drive us to search out the promises of God sheds a light of hope for those around us who don’t know where to turn.

And finally, it is true that the prayers of God’s people often begin to be lifted up in earnest only if and when we feel we’ve reached the ends of our ropes. It is through prayer that our spiritual lives can be aligned with the Lord’s Spirit. Genuine prayer is the act of one who has no hope in anyone or anything BUT God and such apparent desperation gets the attention of those around him. But better yet is the fact that in our concentration upon Him in prayer, God delivers. And if what seems to be a fanatical reliance upon God through prayer will get folks’ attention, how much more will those moments when God visibly and miraculously answers those prayers?

I want to be quick to emphasize that God answers prayers in His time and in His way, but He definitely answers prayer. And if as God’s child you allow Him to instruct your mind and heart in His ways through His Word, you will see His hand move in power and in love, giving you a story to tell others about the faithfulness of God.

“Return… to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity!… Say to him, ‘Take away all iniquity; accept what is good, and we will pay… the vows of our lips. Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them” (Hosea 14:1, 2b, 9 ESV).

While there is indeed much that is challenging and even troubling about today, there are indeed pearls of great value hidden within our circumstances.  Let us not overlook them and miss the treasure that can be ours!

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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“Going home is never easy,” I once heard someone say. I’ve also heard that once you leave and set out on your own path in life, “you can never really go back home.” I’m not sure that such sweeping statements apply to every situation, but they certainly applied to the Lord Jesus Who did go back to His “hometown” in the days of His earthly ministry. He was born in Bethlehem, spent a very brief time in Egypt (when Herod the Great was trying to find and kill the “little King”), and was occasionally in Jerusalem in accordance with the instructions God had given His people at that time.

But the town of Nazareth had the privilege of being the place in which Jesus “grew up”. Remember that the Lord Jesus had entered fully into the human experience (except without sin, Hebrews 4:15), so it was Nazareth in which the Lord would have cultivated His earliest human friendships and fond memories. Did He feel sentimental towards this small town and wax nostalgic whenever He heard the first century equivalent of the Springsteen song, “This Is Your Hometown”? I have no idea, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that He did.

Just think of the power that God could unleash in your life if you would turn wholeheartedly to Him and let Him into your heart!

Just think of the power that God could unleash in your life if you would turn wholeheartedly to Him and let Him into your heart!

What I do see, however, in reading of His experience in “going back home”, is His hometown’s failure to recognize just Who it was that they had in their ranks for nearly thirty years.

“Jesus… came to His hometown, and His disciples followed Him. And on the Sabbath He began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this Man get these things? What is the wisdom given to Him? How are such mighty works done by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.’” (Mark 6:1-4 ESV).

What a shame! Here was a whole town of people who thought that they had Jesus figured out! A whole community who thought that they knew Jesus, but didn’t really know Him at all. And in “dismissing” His divine identity, they were dismissing the very hope and only source of life that each and every one of Nazareth’s citizen’s so desperately needed.

“He could do no mighty work (miracles) there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief” (Mark 6:5-6 NSV).

A great many people have taught a great many things about verse five, saying that somehow God’s power was curtailed by the hard hearts of the people of Nazareth. But that isn’t so. Refusing to recognize the glorious identity of Jesus’ Person cannot in any way diminish His essence. What it DOES do, however, is tragically limit what we could have otherwise hoped for in knowing Him. If we choose to not recognize that from Him flow life-giving waters, we’ll not be able to quench our parched souls’ thirst for something more than what this physical life alone can supply (John 4:10, 14-15; Jeremiah 2:13). Or refusing to accept that He has the authority to forgive sin prevents us from having that cursed burden lifted from our shoulders, liberating us from crushing condemnation (Matthew 9:2, 5-6; John 8:10-11; Romans 8:1).

What miracles then couldn’t He do in the little burg of Nazareth? Well, His power over the physical realm was clearly unhindered for He was still fully capable of bringing healing to physical bodies (and did so for some). The people of Nazareth spiritual diseases, however, remained with them. The people’s collective refusal to accept Jesus for Who He was closed their hearts to His power over their sick souls and the spiritual hunger that only He could satisfy. In fact, Matthew 13 says that they “took offense at Him” (verse 57) and Mark 4 records that they not only were offended but just about “lynched” Him. And why? Because they didn’t like the fact that this “carpenter” forgot His place and was “meddling” with their personal lives. People don’t like people who point out their depravity, especially if the people pointing it out are their own people.

We’ll say things like, “Just who does he think HE is anyway? Why that hypocrite! Where does HE get off telling ME how to live my life!” and so on. And how do I know that the spiritual realm is where Jesus “couldn’t” do His miracles in the hearts of the Nazarenes? Because of what happens next in Mark 6. When Jesus leaves Nazareth and begins to reach out with the love of God to the neighboring villages, He sends out His disciples with the message that “people should repent” (Mark 6:12).

Again, Jesus’ essence cannot be diminished by lack of faith on your part or mine, but we are rendered “unreachable” if we refuse to climb down off of the pedestal of our pride or relinquish our selfishness. Rejecting His right to our lives as Lord or refusing to acknowledge the truth of His Word as applied to our lives (e.g., that we need to forsake sin and follow Him) leaves us shut out of the grace that He would lavish upon us if we would simply humble ourselves and turn to Him.

Just think of the power that God could unleash in your life if you would turn wholeheartedly to Him and let Him into your heart! Such power can transform you, your family, your community, and your country!

“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV).

We as a people need miracles. We need the miracle of lives being changed from self-serving to serving God and others. We need the miracle of hearts being set free from hopelessness and despair, given instead a new destiny filled with purpose, peace, and joy. The fact is that God is wanting to do just that in our lives. The only thing He is waiting on is for us to really start believing that He is Who He says He is, repent, and turn to Him.

 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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As precious as sparkling drops of crystal clear water in parched and dusty desert land are the words of God in today’s spiritually arid day and age. Promises, invitations, and declarations of His holy identity are priceless… particularly when the best alternatives the world can offer are nothing more than philosophical and spiritual band aids. Such plastic alternatives to the real life that God would give us inevitably lead us in ways contrary to the divinely appointed purpose for which you and I have been created.

But because the hand of God Himself has fashioned you and placed you in your corner of the universe at such a time as this, you have inestimable worth and unfathomable significance! Your life, precious and priceless in the mind of God, is a vital thread in the tapestry of creation. You’ve been given life from God and just as God observed that each phase of His creation was not only good, but with the triumphal arrival of human life was “very good” (Genesis 1:31), so does He look upon the potential of your life for His glory. The kind of thread that you will be, will be shaped to the extent that you drink in the words of God, absorbing His thoughts towards you and all of humanity, and fleshing out the truth His Word would bring forth in you.

Not only that, your precious life, when it is placed under the hedge of divine protection apportioned to those who would choose to trust Him, has every opportunity to intimately know the goodness of God. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1 ESV).

What an incredible destiny is yours for the taking! What an amazing invitation has been extended to you! All He awaits is faith. Make no mistake, the faith that He desires to harvest from your life isn’t some sort of super spirituality that you have to somehow muster up on your own. Real faith is simply the trusting obedience of regular men or women, even if and when doubts stir in their hearts or nagging whispers of worry and apprehension gnaw at them. Trusting obedience tenaciously lays hold of God and is an unshakable commitment to live life His way.

“And now… what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it… the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, Who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:12-14, 17-18 ESV).

Amazing, isn’t it? Humanity spurned its Creator and chose to attempt to rise to divine heights on its own (see Genesis 2:8-17, 3:1-23). But no matter how much we may have deserved rejection from the broken heart of a perfectly holy God, He did not shrug His shoulders and point His finger at us with accusatory brow-beatings, “You made your bed; now sleep in it!” Instead, He vindicated His holy Law by taking our punishment upon Himself in the form of Jesus Christ and simultaneously extended to each of us the offer of reconciliation. Oh, yes! How precious indeed is your life in the eyes of its Maker! How precious is the life of every man and woman, boy and girl to this amazing God!

How comforting to know that in a world as twisted and riddled as is ours with the disease of sin and selfishness, that one’s destiny doesn’t need to be a lifetime of futility ending in spiritual death. And what a tremendous blessing to know that this same God, Who bequeathed to me an enduring hope even as I placed my faith in His Son. This loving God has plans for me, my children, their children, and their children’s children, even though our world paints horrid pictures of despair and surrounds our young people with images of hopelessness and terror.

There are children today that the world says don’t matter and don’t count. There are children today who have been abandoned, orphaned, as it were by society. Nevertheless, they matter in the mind of God.

There are children today that the world says don’t matter and don’t count. There are children today who have been abandoned – orphaned by society. Nevertheless, they matter in the mind of God.

There are children today that the world says don’t matter and don’t count. There are children today who have been abandoned – orphaned by society. Nevertheless, they matter in the mind of God. Whether handicapped, abandoned by one or both parents, or unborn and unexpected, they too have His eyes watching over them and are objects of the same blessings that our Maker would lovingly pour out on all His creation.

Are you wrestling with feelings of inadequacy? Are you finding that a sense of belonging is eluding you? Have you ever been told that you’re not wanted or awakened one day to find yourself left behind by someone who should have loved you and helped you? Have you ever felt shut out of life and happiness, wondering if you’ll always feel like an outsider, wandering aimlessly through life?

Remember that God specializes in lifting up the downtrodden and repairing the broken-hearted. Remember that He is a guardian to those who are weak and afraid. Remember that “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18 ESV).

A person’s life is precious to the One Who gave it… even the one given to you. Guard it well and invest it wisely. Give it back, day-by-day, to the only One Who can enrich it and fill it with purpose, joy, and peace. Surrender it daily so that God Himself might multiply it and give back to you the riches of eternity, as He moves through your life and makes His goodness known to the world.

“… Fear the LORD your God….  Serve Him and hold fast to Him, and by His name you shall swear. He is your praise. He is your God.…” (Deuteronomy 10:20-21a ESV).

 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

 

 

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In an age characterized by massive transference of information (or “false-information” as most of it proves to be) from one entity to another, it has become a culturally accepted notion that one must learn the skill of multi-tasking so that one can navigate the complex and perplexing responsibilities and requirements of today’s dizzying pace. I suppose, to a degree, there is some practical truth to the idea that one must know a little about a lot of things just to survive our technologically driven world.

That being said, however, a huge mistake that many make is to believe that one can “multi-task” in the sense of living a life of faith while at the same time living according to the whirling whims of a world that marches according to its own agenda.

Why, when we're called to live in a new and wonderful land of light and joy, would we settle for living merely along its borders... the sad and lonely "hinterlands"?

Why, when we’re called to live in a new and wonderful land of light and joy, would we settle for living merely along its borders… the sad and lonely “hinterlands”?

It is as if a man, called to live in a new and wonderful land, settles for living merely along its borders, a sort of “hinterland” (a remote or undeveloped part of a country) wherein he celebrates the light and the glory of the new kingdom from afar, while still not quite free from the enamoring boasts of the old life.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus met such a man who queried, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16 ESV).

Jesus countered him with a question of His own, one intended to give pause to a quick and easy solution to the man’s dilemma of wanting to live in two worlds simultaneously. “Why do you ask Me about what is good? There is only One Who is good” (v 17a).

The very fact that Jesus asked this question is, in my opinion, evidence that Jesus had (and has) an uncanny ability for seeing into the heart of a person and knowing how to deftly tackle the idols and issues that hinder his coming fully into God’s light and life. It is as if Jesus was asking him, “Are you willing to acknowledge My authority and will you truly hear and receive what I am about to say to you?”

Jesus then mentioned to this searching soul what all shallow seekers already know to do. “If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (v 17b).

But there was the rub. The man had already been keeping them. Well, he had at the very least been keeping them externally. He had obeyed them with his hands and possibly with even his bank account (so far as the Law required). Yet, he was unsatisfied. He was unfulfilled. He was seeing from a distance that glorious light glowing and was hungry for what it represented, yet he was merely in the margins of the realm, and had not fully disclaimed citizenship of his old country.

“The young man said to Him, ‘All these I have kept. What do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect (as in “whole, complete, or fulfilled”), go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (vv 20-21).

What a quandary for that young man! He wanted the joy and peace of Jesus’ life, but found himself forced to make a choice: he had to either surrender the few places in his affections that he had reserved for his own comforts, so that he could run unencumbered headlong into the life God had reserved for him; or he had to choose to continue as he had been doing, and never completely cross over into the land of promise.

“When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (v 22).

It evidently was too a hard choice. In the moment of crisis, when forced to choose between continuing as he had for years (never quite in the light) or denouncing his citizenship of the world by surrendering the one thing of that old world he loved most (his stuff), his stuff won out.

Rather, his love for stuff won out. Keep in mind that owning possessions was not sin; but those possessions were his idol. But Jesus, loving him as the Savior loves each of us, brought to him the invitation to enter into the lovely meadows and fruitful groves of spiritual abundance that life in Christ is to those who whole-heartedly respond to His call.

By calling him to give up those things by giving them to the poor, Jesus invited him into a new life complete with new purpose and new meaning.

Today, the call to follow has not changed for those who are hungry for more than the mere phantoms of joy and pleasure that this world offers. We must still choose Him over pleasures and comforts; we must still decide between pleasing Him and forgoing popularity and good will; and we must still acknowledge Him as Lord (by which I mean we must obey Him) over following attitudes and philosophies of the world that are contrary to God’s Word.

But many of us will continue to dwell sorrowfully, knowing that we are missing still the glory and gain of the Kingdom of God while we remain on the borders, prisoners of the hinterlands of heaven, chained still to our old lives. Though we attend church and do our good deeds, there are “possessions” in our lives which still hold the place of supremacy, which still hold our allegiance.

Do not settle for the hinterlands, beloved. Fully surrender to the Savior your life and will and see if He will not fully satisfy your soul’s deepest needs. He invites you to come in and desires for you to be filled with the joy and peace of His presence.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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