Have you ever checked into a hotel, only to find that your room wasn’t ready yet? Or maybe when you got to your room, you were greeted with one bed instead of two, no towels, or something else that was askew? Earlier this month, I checked in to a hotel, only to find that the lock on the door did not work. In the second room, the shower didn’t work. In the third room, there were ants. Problem after problem, yet with each move, I knew I was closer to something better. While it may have had ants in the beginning, the third room that I was blessed with was a gorgeous 2-room suite. All I had to do was have patience, trusting that each problem would be resolved. I knew that God would take care of me, despite the shortcomings of my current surroundings.
In reality, this world is very similar to a hotel room. Every morning, God wakes us up and we go to work, to church, to school, or some other location. While all of these things are wonderful, they are temporary locations to which we attend. Just like a reservation at a hotel, none of these things will last forever. And just like there may be maintenance problems in a hotel room, we often awake to find various problems we need to solve or many bumps in the road that we must navigate. Perhaps you had a flat tire on your way to work, or lost your cell phone, or accidentally spilled something on your new coat. Many things in life cause us to become upset, lose patience, and often give us the desire to simply give up. But just like the lock and shower that could be fixed and the ants that could be dealt with in my hotel room, the things that happen to us on a daily basis can be resolved quite easily as well. One by one, God will send the answer to every problem in our lives, no matter how insignificant. He cares about each and every aspect of our lives, right down to the moments we trip over our own two feet or get tongue tied when talking to someone during the course of our day.
You may be reading this, thinking, “Jennifer, there’s something much bigger going on in my life. I’m at the end of my rope and there is nothing that could ever fix this problem. It is a hopeless situation.” Don’t be discouraged. Jesus will give you hope, even for the most hopeless situations. Maybe you have a loved one who is undergoing cancer treatments, or perhaps your son or daughter could be drifting away from you. Your heart could be broken in two because your husband or wife is having an affair. You may be wondering how you will pay next month’s rent, or where you will find money to pay for basic necessities like food and water.
I want to encourage you today. I know firsthand that there are some things in life that seem insurmountable. As a little girl, I sang at the funerals of my two baby brothers. I experienced the loss of three grandparents. Five years ago, my sweet Mama went to Heaven. I have spent many weeks in the hospital, wondering when I would ever get to come home. But through it all, God has remained faithful to me. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will never give us more than we can bear. He has a plan for my life and I strive every day to live according to His perfect will. While this world has its share of trials and tribulations, one thing never wavers. That is God’s love for you and me. He loves you and me more than we could ever comprehend.
Along with God’s unconditional love, we can take comfort in the fact that this life here is temporary. Just like the contents of a hotel room, we do not own this world. We are not here to stay forever, so the curve balls that life throws our way are truly just temporary inconveniences, no matter how difficult they may seem. They are not the end goal in life. The Apostle Paul wrote in the book of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NIV), “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The troubles we encounter in this world are just momentary setbacks, if you will, in comparison to the incomprehensible joy that awaits us in Heaven.
Maybe you are reading this, wondering how you could ever get into Heaven. You may have done things that you regret and you may feel that you are not good enough. The Bible says that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 NIV). Based on this verse, there is not one person who is perfect. Not one of us is good enough on our own. But Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, died on a cross so that our sins could be washed away. His sacrifice paid all of our debts. Call on His name today and repent of your sins. Ask Him to be the Lord of your life and save your soul. If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you will gain eternal reservations in Heaven with Him. And unlike a hotel room, there will be no checking out. Instead, we can joyfully anticipate the very moment that we walk through Heaven’s gates when we are finally checking in!
In Christ’s Love,
When was the last time you told someone that you would keep them in your prayers? If you’re like me, you may do this very often. But when was the last time you actually stopped for a moment, amid your busy schedule, and prayed for them right then and there? Recently I spoke to someone on the telephone who asked to pray for me and I also prayed for them. We both stopped, took the time to pray that God would bless each other’s families and ministries. It only took a moment of our time, but what a blessing it was to join together in prayer to our Heavenly Father. The Bible says where two or three gather together in His name, there He will be in the midst. I know for certain that He was in our midst as we prayed that day. We didn’t just make a promise to pray later. We determined in our hearts to pray now.
Have you heard of Epaphras? While he is only mentioned three times in the Bible, he is truly what we would deem a prayer warrior. For his ministry was one of truly gigantic proportions because he knew the secret to touching God with his prayers. We don’t know much about him, other than the fact that we know he traveled with Paul as a fellow servant of Christ. Paul wrote concerning Epaphras, “He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Colossians 4:12 NIV). Epaphras didn’t just tell someone he would pray for them. And he didn’t just pray once in a while. He prayed always. He was “always wrestling in prayer” (Colossians 4:12 NIV). Paul compares Epaphras’ prayer time to that of a wrestling match. Epaphras struggled and fought, making sure that every word uttered to Heaven counted. He knew the power of prayer and he knew that it required concentration, stamina, and strength, just as a wrestler would need inside the ring.
Sadly, it’s hard to find any Epaphras’ in the world today. For there are not many people who will set aside time every day for uninterrupted prayer time. While I certainly pray every day, I am also guilty of not setting aside enough time to pray each and every day. There are work and school schedules, church functions, meal times, and so many other things that must be attended to in our daily lives. But even in the midst of the hectic rat race we find ourselves in, one thing is clear: there is always time to pray. Through prayer, we can see our lives change for the better. Through prayer, our grief turns to joy, our tears turn to smiles, and our wayward loved ones can find their way home. You may have seen it on a bumper sticker, a bookmark, or a t-shirt, but I know firsthand that this motto rings true: Prayer truly does change things.
My parents prayed for me when I was born. The doctors gave up on me. My parents did not utter some complicated prayer out of a prayer book. They prayed, “Jesus help.” Jesus used these two words to change my life. He answered their prayer when they heard what sounded like a small kitten coughing. While it was a long road in the neonatal center, baby Jennifer finally got to come home. The doctors may have given up on me, but my mom and dad joined together in prayer. Two people were praying on my behalf, with Jesus Christ in their midst. And He heard their cries. I thank Him every day for giving me the opportunity to live. I know that I have a purpose on this earth and I take every chance I get to tell others about the saving grace and love and mercy of Jesus Christ. He is the reason I am alive today. And I am living proof that He answers prayers!
But even though we know that He answers prayer, it seems it’s hard to find time to follow the advice given in the book of Hebrews that tells us to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). We may spend hours at ball games, watch numerous television shows, and ride in our cars for long periods of time, yet the majority of us cannot give even 15 minutes, half an hour, or an hour to Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Even Jesus had a difficult time convincing His disciples to pray for an hour with Him shortly before He was to be crucified. The Bible says, Jesus “returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’” (Matthew 26:40 NIV). He went away to pray two more times and each time, came back to find that their eyes were heavy and that they had fallen asleep. Jesus tells His disciples, “‘“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’” (Matthew 26:41 NIV).
When I read this passage, I am reminded of the exercise bike that I purchased a while back. I thought it would motivate me to exercise, having it sit in my living room. I always plan to ride it in the evening while watching television. I have “good” intentions. While I plan to ride it, I always find an excuse: I’m too tired; I’ll ride it tomorrow, and many others. My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak. In the meantime, I am gaining no benefit from the exercise bike other than the effort it takes to dust it off, since it rarely gets used. In a similar way, Jesus is telling us that we may have good intentions to pray, but “life” gets in the way. Our earthly bodies become tired, too stressed, or complacent. Yet a life without prayer is one that can lead to temptation, as Jesus warns us. Prayer is the key that keeps us closer to Jesus and further away from evil.
No matter where you are in your life right now, Jesus loves you. He wants you to talk to Him, just like you talk to your family and friends. There is no need for an eloquent prayer. Just share your heart with Him today. Don’t be afraid to ask Him for help. Whether you are driving down the road, standing in the shower, running on the treadmill, cooking dinner for your family, going to work, or an infinite number of other things you may be doing, you can always pray. Maybe you’re sitting there, thinking, “I’m not good enough to pray. Jennifer just doesn’t understand. I’m a sinner and I know that Jesus would never want to hear from me.” Let me assure you, friends, Jesus Christ loves you and me unconditionally. It doesn’t matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done. Jesus Christ died on a cross so that we could have our sins forgiven and receive eternal life through Him. We are all sinners, but through the grace of God, our sins have been washed away. Don’t wait to pray to Jesus tomorrow or the next day, for it may be too late. Stop what you’re doing, call on Jesus Christ and pray now!
In Christ’s Love,
Have you ever wanted to tell God no? Has there ever been a time when He was leading you to do something, but you simply had no confidence in your ability to pull it off? Perhaps He wanted you to face your fears and speak in front of a large crowd. Or it could be that He asked you to volunteer your time to help those in need, time you didn’t have to spare. And He may have asked you to minister to someone while you were simultaneously going through a trial of your own. Although it may not always be easy, we need to follow God’s guidance in every aspect of our lives. We need to be willing vessels. As the song sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir says, “If you can use anything Lord, you can use me.” God can use us, right where we are, if we are willing to give our lives to Him. By trusting Him fully, we will experience the abundant life that He has promised us, assertively living our lives with the knowledge that all things are possible with God.
If you have ever had the desire to tell God no, don’t be downhearted. You’re in good company. We read in God’s Word of how Moses essentially told God no. God came to him one day and told him to speak to a large group of Egyptians. Moses immediately responded by telling God to “‘send someone else’” (Exodus 4:13 NIV). He makes a lot of excuses, saying that he has never been an eloquent speaker and that he is “‘slow of speech and tongue’” (Exodus 4:10 NIV). In the end, Moses’ brother Aaron traveled with him and did most of his talking for him. While things went okay at first, Aaron caused Moses quite a bit of trouble, even fashioning a golden idol in the image of a calf when Moses was up on the mountain (see Exodus 32:1-6 NIV). Surely this was not good publicity for Moses’ ministry, having his brother put up an idol that the people began to worship, instead of worshiping the one true God whom Moses and Aaron were there to preach to them about. But many of the problems associated with the partnership of Aaron and Moses could possibly have been avoided if Moses had not said no to God.
Think about it. What if Moses had said yes to God? What if he had put aside his fears concerning public speaking and being in front of a large group of people? What if he had fully trusted the God who created him? Moses was afraid and felt ill-prepared and inadequate. But God said, “‘I will help you speak and will teach you what to say’” (Exodus 4:12 NIV). God was on his side, but Moses let his fears get in the way. While we will never know what might have happened if Moses had said yes, it is a good opportunity for us to examine our own lives.
Let’s take a look at Newton’s third law of motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. While we are not talking about forces emitted on particular objects, the same theory applies. Everything we do impacts our future. Every decision we make can have a negative or a positive outcome. Saying no to God or saying yes to God can have a negative or positive impact on our lives. He knows the outcome no matter our decision, but He gives us the freedom to choose the direction our lives will go.
What about you? Has God called you to do something, yet you have repeatedly told him no? Has He placed a burden on your heart to minister to others who are sick, help collect food for the less fortunate, or travel to a foreign mission field? Maybe He has simply called you to help out in your local church, visit the home-bound and hospitalized members of your church, or call someone to encourage them during a difficult time in their life. Or has He called you to fervently pray every day for your family, your friends, your church, your community, your nation, or even the world? Whatever your calling is, don’t tell God no. He knows that you can handle the task. Just as He helped Moses, God will give you the tools you need to be successful. He is more than enough! As the Bible clearly states, “‘with God all things are possible’” (Matthew 19:26 NIV). So the next time God asks you to do something, go forth boldly and say, “Yes, Lord!” Then reap the blessings you encounter as God makes the impossible possible!
In Christ’s Love,
When you were a small child, did you ever dream of being a treasure hunter? Of being that lucky individual who would find the elusive treasure map, follow the trail, and claim a chest full of gold coins, jewelry, or other valuables. I’m sure many of us would like to strike it rich, whether it is through the good fortune of finding a lost treasure, winning a cash prize, or receiving a large sum from a lucrative donor. But for the vast majority, the odds of our finances skyrocketing to new heights are quite slim. Nevertheless, there are treasures awaiting us if we just take the time to look for them. God’s Creation is full of awesome wonders that reveal His love for us in the most unlikely ways.
Think about the sand dollar. Have you ever swum down to the bottom of the ocean and pulled one of these unique sea urchins up to the surface? Or maybe you found the dried skeleton of one of these creatures on the shore. Have you ever looked inside one of these magnificent works of art? God, in His infinite wisdom, designed this creature so that it could breathe through pores that are arranged in a petal-like pattern. He also gave it spines, so it could move about the seabed. Perhaps the greatest feature of an sand dollar is the Aristotle’s lantern inside that functions as the sand dollar’s teeth. For these amazing objects are shaped like tiny little doves. Imagine...inside one of God’s intricate sea creatures, He placed miniature replicas of one of His beautiful birds of the air. Surely this was not an accident, but instead, it was part of His divine plan.
Did you know that doves mate for life? A female or male dove will not search for a second mate until the first one is no longer living. They also cooperate and work together to build the nest for their young. They are the true epitome of loyalty and devotion to one another. Jesus told His disciples to emulate their behavior when he told them to be “innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16 NIV). Even God trusted a dove to bring the olive branch back to Noah to let him and his family know that the waters had receded and that it was safe to return to the land. Without doubt, this special species is a symbol of peace and is a treasure in the sky. God trusted a dove with an important task, but I have a question for you and me. Can He trust us? Do we follow His guidance as the dove did after the flood? Or do we whine and complain when He tells us what we should do? Sometimes, it is easier to follow a treasure map than to blaze an uncharted trail as we follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. Inevitably, though, it is through devotion to God that we will find genuine and enduring treasure.
Some people spend their whole entire lives looking for treasure, or searching for fame and fortune. In the end, what truly matters is what we have done for the cause of Christ. The things we accumulate in this world will not last. Although many people have tried through the centuries, you cannot take anything with you when you leave this world and enter into Heaven or Hell. Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV) says, “‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’” You see, friends, you and I need to focus on the important things in life that will have eternal value. These are the things that will last. Instead of worrying about the kind of car we drive, the clothes we wear, or the food we eat, we need to focus on what we can do to share the love of Jesus Christ with everyone we meet. The Bible says that our Heavenly Father knows our basic needs and that He will supply them (Matthew 6:32). He knows our needs before we even ask.
What about you? Are you tired of searching for a treasure that you cannot seem to find? I don’t know what you may be going through in your life at this very moment, but I can tell you that I am 100% certain that Jesus Christ knows exactly what struggles you face. He knows if you are dealing with financial burdens, physical or emotional battles, or something so difficult that you cannot even put it into words. Just like He will provide for the sand dollars of the sea and the doves of the air, He will provide for you. He knows your heart. He knows if you are hurting. Jesus Christ loves you so much that He gave His life for you (see John 3:16). Call on the name of Jesus Christ today. For the greatest treasure that any man can ever hold on this earth is not a chest full of gold, but the priceless knowledge that they have a personal relationship with the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In Christ’s Love,
“If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.” – Mark 11:23
A few summers ago, my dad and I traveled to Washington State. Following a picturesque cruise to Alaska, we planned to visit Mount Rainier National Park where we would spend a few nights at Paradise Inn. Built in 1916, this lodge is designated as one of the “Great Lodges of the West.” The only thing more beautiful than the lodge itself is its surroundings. For this particular lodge sits in the shadows of Mount Rainier, a majestic mountain that is crowned with a snow covered cap year round. No matter where you stand in and around the lodge, you are captivated by the 360° views of mountain vistas. The lobby is adorned with gorgeous woodwork, hand-painted lampshades, and enormous stone fireplaces. The dining hall serves succulent dishes that would satisfy the taste buds of the most discerning palette. But of course, the main attraction will always be the mountain.
The first time I laid eyes on Mount Rainier, I felt as if I was one step closer to Heaven. The atmosphere is so clean and fresh, with the smell of Evergreen trees permeating the air. The views are so breathtakingly beautiful, like a National Geographic postcard. The location is aptly named because it truly does feel like you have stepped into paradise. I’ve been blessed to travel to several locations in my life where I felt entirely safe, where I was utterly stress free, and where it seemed like the peace filling my soul could never be jolted, even for a moment. While our entire stay at Paradise Inn certainly fit this description, we encountered a major interruption on the way to the airport. For this seemingly perfect day that started with a huge smile on my face would transform itself into one where my face was streaming with tears.
As we were driving between Mount Rainier National Park and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, a mother deer charged toward the front fender and bumper of our vehicle. We swerved, braked, and did everything we could do to avoid hitting the deer. We did all we could do. But it was no use. When we finally came to a complete stop, I looked back at the deer in the middle of the road. Although my first thought should have been one of gratefulness for our safety, I happened to notice a couple of fawns standing on the other side of the road in the grass, looking toward what appeared to be their mother lying there, still and unmoving. The fact that they would have to go through the rest of their lives without their mother overwhelmed me. It was at that very moment that tears began to stream down my face.
You see, it wasn’t the deer for which I was primarily grieving over. I saw myself in those precious fawns. One moment they were walking with their mother, having a perfectly good day. The next moment, their life turned upside down. The shock, the sadness, and the disbelief all came back to me in a wave of emotion. I had cried before, but this time I let the tears truly flow. I couldn’t control them anyway. But somehow, someway, I feel as if God used these tears to cleanse the sorrow that seemingly overshadowed everything I did, including the bittersweet feelings I had whenever my dad and I visited a new destination. Through this moment filled with shock, God showed me that life does go on. He showed me that even though life would never be the same, we could truly find a new normal, something I thought was not even possible up until this time.
Since that day, I have realized several things that were not apparent to me in the midst of those circumstances. First, God sent His angels to protect us, bringing our vehicle to a complete stop. Neither my dad nor I received any injuries. The air bags did not even deploy. How much worse it could have been. The volunteer fire fighter we spoke to before heading back to Seattle said a local family could use the venison from the mother deer and he was hopeful that another deer would adopt the two orphan fawns. While none of these things on their own made this a “good” experience, I see now that God did take this unfortunate situation and turn it around for good. Through this detour on our journey, food was put on a family’s table, and my dad and I were reminded that God has not forgotten us. For no matter what we are facing, I know for certain that God never fails.
What about you? Are you struggling to find emotional healing from a detour in your life? Is there a mountain that you just cannot seem to climb? I want to encourage you today. Jesus will help you move that mountain out of your way. All you have to do is have faith and believe. No matter what you are going through, Jesus Christ is the answer. He will pick you up, dust you off, and give you a brand new beginning. Do not let anything or anyone stop you from living your life. Get back on the road of life, keep your eyes on Jesus, and keep on driving. You can’t change the past, but you can find a new future. Jesus wants to give you hope and life eternal. Whatever you are suffering from, whether it is drug or alcohol addiction, verbal or physical abuse, grief over the loss of a friend or family member...whatever it is, Jesus will meet you right where you are. He loves you more than life itself. That’s why He gave His life for you. Call on the name above all names, Jesus Christ, today. Then watch that mountain move!
In Christ’s Love,