Towering dunes along the north shore of Silver Lake put nearby homes at risk of sinking into shifting sands. Though residents have tried moving mounds of sand in efforts to protect their homes, they have watched helplessly as well-built houses were buried right before their eyes. As a local sheriff oversaw the cleanup of a recently destroyed cottage, he affirmed the process couldn’t be opposed or prevented. No matter how hard homeowners try to avoid the dangers of these unsteady embankments, the dunes simply cannot provide a strong foundational support.
Jesus knew the futility of building a house on sand. After warning the disciples to be wary of false prophets, the Lord assured them that loving obedience demonstrates wisdom (Matthew 7:15-23). He said that everyone who hears His words and “puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). The one who hears God’s words and chooses not to put them into practice, however, is “like a foolish man who built his house on sand” (v. 26).
When circumstances feel like shifting sands burying us under the weight of affliction or worries, we can place our hope in Christ‒our Rock. He will help us develop resilient faith built on the unshakeable foundation of His unchanging character.
When I walked into the ice cream shop with my five-year-old biracial son, the man behind the counter glanced at me and stared at my child. “What are you?”
His question and harsh tone triggered the all-too-familiar anger and heartache I’d experienced, growing up as a Mexican-American who didn’t fit stereotypes. Pulling Xavier closer, I turned toward my black husband as he entered the store. With eyes narrowed, the store clerk completed our order in silence.
I prayed silently for the man as my son listed the flavors of ice cream he wanted to try. Repenting of my bitterness, I asked God to give me a spirit of forgiveness. With my light-but-not-white complexion, I’d been the target of similar glares accompanying that same question over the years. I’d struggled with insecurities and feelings of worthlessness until I began learning how to embrace my identity as God’s beloved daughter.
The apostle Paul declares believers in Jesus are “all children of God through faith,” equally valued and beautifully diverse. We’re intimately connected and intentionally designed to work together (Galatians 3:26–29). When God sent His Son to redeem us, we became family through His blood shed on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins (4:4–7). As God’s image-bearers, our worth cannot be determined by the opinions, expectations, or biases of others.
What are we? We are children of God.
As my friend reviewed the pictures I took of her, she pointed out the physical characteristics she saw as imperfections. I asked her to look closer. “I see a beautiful and beloved daughter of the Almighty King of Kings,” I said. “I see a compassionate lover of God and others, whose genuine kindness, generosity, and faithfulness have made a difference in so many lives.” When I noticed the tears brimming her eyes, I said, “I think you need a tiara!” Later that afternoon, we picked out the perfect crown for my friend so she would never forget her true identity.
When we come to know the Lord personally, He crowns us with love and calls us His children (1 John 2:29-3:1). He gives us the power to persevere in faith so that “we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28). Though He accepts us as we are, His love purifies us and transforms us into His likeness (vv. 2-3). He helps us recognize our need for Him and repent as we rejoice in the power to turn away from sin (vv. 4-9). We can live in faithful obedience and love (v. 10), with His truth hidden in our hearts and His Spirit present in our lives.
My friend didn’t really need a tiara or any other trinket that day. But we both needed the reminder of our worth as God’s beloved children.
As Emma shared how God helped her embrace her identity as His beloved child, she weaved Scripture into our conversation. I could barely figure out where the high school student stopped speaking her words and began quoting the words of God. When I commended her for being like a walking Bible, her brow furrowed. She hadn’t been intentionally reciting Scripture verses. Through daily reading of the Bible, the wisdom found in it had become a part of Emma’s everyday vocabulary. She rejoiced in God’s constant presence and enjoyed every opportunity He provided to share His truth with others. But Emma isn’t the first young person God has used to inspire others to prayerfully read, memorize, and apply Scripture.
When the apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to step into leadership, he demonstrated confidence in this young man (1 Timothy 4:11–16). Paul acknowledged that Timothy was rooted in Scripture from infancy (2 Timothy 3:15). Like Paul, Timothy faced doubters. Still, both men lived as if they believed all Scripture was “God-breathed.” They recognized Scripture was “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16).
When we hide God’s wisdom in our hearts, His truth and love can pour into our conversations naturally. We can be like walking Bibles sharing God’s eternal hope wherever we go.
After ten-year-old Chelsea received an elaborate art set, she discovered that God used art to help her feel better when she was sad. When she found out that some kids didn’t have art supplies readily available, she wanted to help them. So when it was time for her birthday party, she asked her friends not to bring her gifts. Instead, she invited them to donate art supplies and help fill boxes for children in need.
Later, with her family’s help, she started Chelsea’s Charity. She began asking more people to help her fill boxes so she could help more kids. She has even taught art tips to groups who have received her boxes. After a local newscaster interviewed Chelsea, people started donating supplies from all over the country. As Chelsea’s Charity continues sending art supplies internationally, this young girl is demonstrating how God can use us when we’re willing to live to serve others.
Chelsea’s compassion and willingness to share reflects the heart of a faithful steward. The apostle Peter encourages all believers in Jesus to be faithful stewards as they “love each other deeply” by sharing the resources and talents God has given them (1 Peter 4:8–11).
Our small acts of love can inspire others to join us in giving. God can even rally supporters to serve alongside us. As we rely on God, we can live to serve and give Him the glory He deserves.
Intense pain and a debilitating headache prevented me from attending services with my local church family . . . again. Grieving the loss of community worship, I watched an online sermon. At first, complaints soured my experience. The poor sound and video quality distracted me. As I wrestled with my frustrations, a voice on the video warbled a familiar hymn. Tears flowed as I sang: “Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart. Naught be all else to me save that Thou art. Thou my best thought, by day or by night. Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.” Focusing on the gift of God’s constant presence, I worshiped Him while sitting in my living room.
While Scripture affirms the vital, essential nature of corporate worship (Hebrews 10:25), God’s not bound within the walls of a church building. During Jesus’ chat with the Samaritan woman at the well, He defied all expectations of the Messiah (John 4:9). Instead of condemnation, Jesus spoke truth and loved her as she stood next to that well (v. 10). He revealed His intimate and sovereign knowledge of His children (vv. 17–18). Proclaiming His deity, Jesus declared that the Holy Spirit evoked true worship from the hearts of God’s people, not from a specific physical location (v. 23).
When we focus on who God is, what He’s done, and all He’s promised, we can rejoice in His constant presence as we worship Him with other believers, in our living rooms . . . everywhere!
Feeling overwhelmed, Sierra grieved her son’s fight with addiction. “I feel bad,” she said. “Does God think I have no faith because I can’t stop crying when I’m praying?”
“I don’t know what God thinks,” I said. “But I know He can handle real emotions. It’s not like He doesn’t know we feel.” I prayed and shed tears with Sierra as we pleaded for her son’s deliverance.
Scripture contains many examples of people wrestling with God while struggling. The writer of Psalm 42 expresses a deep longing to experience the peace of God’s constant and powerful presence. He acknowledges his tears and his depression over the grief he’s endured. His inner turmoil ebbs and flows with confident praises, as he reminds himself of God’s faithfulness. Encouraging his “soul,” the psalmist writes, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (v. 11). He’s tugged back and forth between what he knows to be true about God and the undeniable reality of his overwhelming emotions.
God designed us in His image and with emotions. Our tears for others reveal deep love and compassion, not necessarily a lack of faith. We can approach God with raw wounds or old scars, because He knows we feel. Each prayer, whether silent, sobbed, or shouted with confidence, demonstrates our trust in His promise to hear and care for us.
My husband and son surfed television channels looking for a movie to watch and discovered that their favorite movies were already in progress. As they enjoyed watching the final scenes, the search became a game. They managed to find eight of their favorite flicks. Frustrated, I asked why they wouldn’t just choose a movie to watch from the beginning. My husband laughed. “Who doesn’t love a great ending?”
I had to admit I too look forward to the endings of my favorite books or movies. I’ve even skimmed through my Bible and focused on my favorite parts or the stories that seem more palatable and easier to understand. But the Holy Spirit uses all of God’s reliable and life-applicable words to transform us and affirm that His story will end well for believers in Jesus.
The Lord declares Himself to be “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13). He proclaims that His people will inherit eternal life (v. 14) and warns those who dare add or subtract from the Word (vv. 18–19).
We may not know or understand everything in Scripture, but we do know Jesus is coming again. He’ll keep His word. He’ll demolish sin, right every wrong, make all things new, and reign as our loving King forever. Now, that’s a great ending that leads to our new beginning!
From a manmade bridge on the small Caribbean island of Eleuthera, visitors can admire the stark contrast between the roiling dark blue waters of the Atlantic and the calm turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Over time, storms washed away the original strip of land once marked by a natural stone arch. The glass window bridge that now serves as a tourist attraction on Eleuthera is known as “the narrowest place on earth.”
The Bible describes the road that leads to eternal life as narrow “and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14). The gate is considered small because God the Son is the only bridge that can reconcile fallen man and God the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit (vv. 13–14). However, Scripture also says that every people, nation, and societal rank can enter heaven and will bow before the King of kings and worship together around His throne (Revelation 5:9). This phenomenal image of contrast and unity includes all of God’s beautifully diverse people.
Though we are separated from God by our sin, every person God created is invited to enter eternity in heaven by walking this narrow path of reconciliation through a personal relationship with Christ. His sacrifice on the cross, resurrection from the tomb, and ascension to heaven is the good news, accessible to all and worth sharing today and every day.
[MOU1]Xochi would like us to keep the reference to the Holy Spirit.