A ripple of hope

Acts 6:7, “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”

Many of us operate under the assumption that in order to change the world we have to do great and mighty things. The truth of the matter is: a simple act of kindness in the name of Jesus; a loving gesture displaying Christianity; an understanding word to honor Him can start a rippling effect.

How we interact on a daily basis influences others. Have you ever had your day interrupted by someone’s rudeness? Maybe you were grabbing breakfast on your way to work and the person in the car in front of you bought your meal. Or you are dropping your children off at school and someone holds the door for you. Maybe you are running 10,000 errands in a small amount of time and someone offers to help you. The way it makes me feel in turn causes me to respond to others in similar fashion. And the rippling begins…

Words and actions cross our paths every second of every day. Did you ever stop and think how your words and actions are impacting others?

I once read a church billboard which said, “Always testify to the goodness of Jesus Christ and when necessary use your words.”

Sometimes I see someone acting out in a loving way to another person and I think, “I know that makes God smile!” Other times I see someone acting in an ungodly way and I think, “I bet God is wishing he or she would just sit down and hush.”

As Christians we have a higher calling – to spread the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ – with our words and our actions. When we do so, the ripples start and make such a difference in the lives of others. Try it! You never know how God may use it to benefit His Kingdom.

In the arms of God

Psalm 16:7-10, “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.”

The other day I sat down at my computer, determined to write a Psalm, like David, to my Lord and Savior. It didn’t turn-out well. David had such an ability to use just the right imagery and say just the right words to speak wonderful praises to God and to fill our hearts with love for Him. My Psalm seemed quite shabby in comparison. There is such solace in his words to our Father.

This morning I am searching for a way to praise God as never before because my body is secure; I am confident He will not abandon me. Maybe it is my age, but I am realizing more and more the depth with which God loves us. He is not this Being who created us and left us to be. He is intertwined in our daily existence; more so than we could ever imagine.

I have a friend who designs buildings all over the world. He actually is the architect for commercial structures. Some of them are so amazingly breathtaking that I just want to stand before them and take it in. I asked him once if when he drives by them does he stop and get out and stare. Does he look at them and say, “Wow! I can’t believe I did that.” His response surprised me. He said, “You know Mike, God gives me images, visual pockets of how the buildings will fit into the structure of the city. When I drive by them I actually say aloud, ‘Wow God! That is a really good one!'”

Even in our occupations; our education; our health; our children; our friendship; our day-to-day tasks; God is there. We cannot be shaken because He’s got us with His strong right hand. No matter what our earthly life dishes out to us, the Creator knows how to fit us into the structure of His plan and purpose. Let your tongue rejoice and your heart be glad today because you rest in the arms of God.

There’s no denying Whose you are

Acts 17:28, “…in Him we live and move and have our being.”

Some time ago my son David called me. He had run into an old friend of mine and the first words out of my friend’s mouth to David were, “Boy, there is no denying you! If you aren’t Mike Franklin’s boy, I’ll buy you dinner!”

David laughed on the phone later with me, “He actually bought me lunch anyway!”

I’m proud my son is similar to me, and I’m also proud he is the type of man I want people to relate to me. As we hung up the phone, I thought of God. God must be everything in our lives. As we go throughout the day, we need to ask Him what He thinks we should do. The decisions we face, the conflicts, our direction, the people we meet – any and everything – we need to bring before God. In actuality we should hear, “Boy, there is no denying you! If you aren’t God’s boy, I’ll buy you dinner!”

Several weeks ago I was traveling home from Serbia and I encountered a young man serving as a missionary. He hadn’t been home in two years and was feeling apprehensive about reconnecting with his family. As I listened to his story and heard not only the struggles but the miracles of his work, he told me his parents were not Christian; in fact, his entire family thought him to be a religious nut. He smiled sheepishly at me, “That is the last thing I am.”

“What?” I quizzed.

“I’m not religious. Religion predetermines what God wants me and you to do. No, God has written on my heart what He wants me to do.”

He attributed his salvation to his neighbor who was a mechanic. As a young teenager, his car broke down. He didn’t have any money so he asked his neighbor for help. The deal was, the neighbor friend would fix his car at no cost, if he would help him and listen about Jesus. “It was the best deal I ever made.”

What about you? How do people identify you? How do you want them to identify you?

In Him we live and move and have our being.”

To truly be “His” we need to pay attention in all that we do. Listen to our inner conscience and what He tells us to do.

Throughout the day today, stop and connect with God. Ask Him if there is anything He specifically wants you to do. Strive, as I am striving, to hear the words, “There’s no denying Whose you are!”

What are you growing in your garden?

It all looked so good. It started out with such promise – this kingdom. The angelic announcement to Zacharias that Elizabeth would have a son, even though she was well beyond child-bearing years. The son would be John the Baptist, the voice calling from the wilderness to announce the coming of the King of kings, the Messiah. There was the angelic announcement to Mary, a virgin, that she would deliver the Savior of the world, the King of the Jews, and the one who would rule and deliver His people. And of course, the angelic announcement to the shepherds of His arrival in a manger in Bethlehem.

John the Baptist declares in John 1:29, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” And Jesus’ ministry was launched. Tens of thousands of people gathered to hear Him. And He preached of the Kingdom of God. Luke 4:43, “But He said, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God…'” Miracles happened. People were healed. Demons were cast out.

Then, He became a threat to the leaders of Israel. Slowly, things began to fall apart, or so it seemed. The Kingdom, which He spoke of, was not external but internal. I mean, where was the gold, the silver, the trumpets, the conquering armies? Where was the final escape from persecution for the Jews? Who was this man who called Himself God?

And as they walked, watching in horror, this Messiah carried all their hopes, dreams, and plans alongside Him to hang and die on the Cross. The Kingdom of God was not as they thought. Was it all a hoax? What was He talking about? What Kingdom?

Luke 13:18-19, “Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”

He was saying to the disciples, “This is only the beginning. This is just the start.” Some 2000 years later, we understand what He meant. We see the fruit of those who spread His word. But what about the kingdom?

Pick up any newspaper, anywhere in the world, and its easy to see, the world is in trouble. Maybe more so than its ever been. It is easy to become despondent, to lose heart, to wonder if there is a God, to question if it is all a hoax. Some of us are on that path, the same path walked by the initial followers of Christ. Some of us are watching our hopes, dreams, and plans destroyed. Fear of the unknown causes some of us to wonder like they did, walking behind the cross, what kingdom?

Initially small and insignificant, the seed grows into something totally unexpected. Sometimes our perceptions cause us to see things out of proportion; but Jesus shows us, like the man who planted the mustard seed in his garden, that the Kingdom of God is very much growing. Now, more than ever, we need to become disciples of Christ. We need to spread the word of God’s love and the significance of the resurrection and not allow the situations around us to alter our persistence.

So, what are you growing in your garden?

Guess who?

John 1:10 reads, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him.” Another translation of the verse says, “He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him.”

If Jesus Christ knocked on your front door this morning as you are getting ready for your day, would you recognize Him? Would a huge smile come across your face and your arms quickly wrap around His neck? What would your children do? Would they jump up and down with excitement that the Savior of the world was standing on your front porch?

How well do you really know our Savior?

When I was a kid, a popular game we played in my elementary school was called, “Guess who?” Someone would sneak up unsuspected behind another child and cover his or her eyes with hands saying, “Guess who?” Usually, the child would reach up and feel the hands that covered his or her eyes and make a guess based on the voice or the feel of the hands. I always tricked my friends by having someone else say, “Guess who?” I’d get a girl to say it so that the hands and the voice didn’t match and it was a fun way to confuse someone.

Infants know the sound of their Mama’s voice. I remember when Daniel was born. He was screaming at the top of his lungs until he heard Connie’s voice and settled down. If I’m in a dark room, and my daughter walks in and speaks, I don’t have to question who is there, I know who is there. Do you know the voice of Jesus?

John 1:11 reads, “He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.” He was born into the Jewish faith. He grew-up the son of a carpenter; yet, His people did not know Him. When He returned to His home town to preach to them, He was rejected. Scripture says, “they took offense of Him.” (Mark 6:1-4).

If you are uncertain what your reaction would be to Jesus on your front porch, it’s time to learn who He is. Start in the Book of John. After you have read it several times, move to Acts. Realize what Jesus says about certain aspects of life. Learn how we are to respond to people. Understand how to honor God in all things. Remember, if Jesus didn’t say it, it isn’t so. There are many people in this world putting words into Jesus’ mouth that are not correct. Be a true voice for Him. When you are finished with Acts, start in Matthew and read through the New Testament. Get to know Jesus at the most intimate level so that when He does knock on your door, you’ll know without a doubt, who He is.

Time to enjoy

It is time that you enjoy God’s best for your life. He wants to give you His favor. He wants to extend kindness to us even though none of us deserve it; but He wants to bless our lives and show us favor because we are His children.

Genesis 39:3-4, “And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight…”

Job 10:12, “You have granted me life and favor, and Your care has preserved my spirit.”

Psalm 5:12, “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.”

Psalm 23, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Numbers 6:25-26, “The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. “

We have to find a way to believe what God’s Words say about us more than we believe what the world says about us. When the negative comments come our way; when failed businesses define us; when our grades don’t display our efforts; when people misunderstand us or exclude us; when our thoughts tell us we are worthless, God’s Word must hold true in our hearts. Self-doubt causes us to put stock in those around us and not God. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,    I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14. You are no accident but designed and created uniquely. You are an incredible creation of God!

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” – Jeremiah 33:3

Today, realize who you are in Christ. Tell yourself that you walk in God’s favor; that you are the child of the King of kings; and you are loved more than you can imagine.