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Christian Living

Live for Today

Celebrate the Past, Anticipate the Future, and Embrace the Present

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). Yet most people only celebrate what he has done or anticipate what he will do. They fail to see what he is doing now. That’s why we must live for today.

Yesterday

The Bible records what God has done in the past. We read these accounts and celebrate what he has done, of him saving his people from danger and rescuing them from their enemies. We take comfort knowing that our all-powerful (omniscient) God loves us and cares for us.

In the same way we celebrate what he has done for us in our past, of his provision and protection. Through our dark moments he was there. When we didn’t think we could go on, he walked with us. And for those times when the situations of life weighed us down, he lifted us up.

We praise God for what he has done as revealed in Scripture and as experienced in our own lives.

Tomorrow

The Bible also records what God promises to do in the future. We look forward to eternity with him in heaven. Yet we also anticipate his provisions for what he will do for us while we’re still here on earth.

Just as people in the Bible placed their hope in their Lord, we do as well. In the same way that he has cared for and protected us in the past, he’ll do so in the future.

Today

A friend once lamented about an elder in our church, “He’s so heavenly minded, that he’s no earthly good.” [Though this hails from Johnny Cash’s 1977 song “No Earthly Good,” it goes back much further to Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr about a century earlier.]

In being so future focused, like this church elder, we can forget the wonder of the present and fail to live in the moment of today.

Just as we can celebrate what God has done for us in the past, we can also wallow in sorrow over our mistakes and missed opportunities. While we want to learn from the past, we shouldn’t let it hold us captive to any shame we might have over what we once did.

Scripture Tells Us to Not Dwell on the Past

Paul writes to the church in Philippi to forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13). Paul also tells the church in Corinth, reminding them that in Jesus we are a new creation. The old is gone, and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Much earlier in the Bible, God tells Isaiah and his people to forget what was and don’t dwell in the past. This is because he’s doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:18-19).

Embrace Today

We need to embrace each new day for the potential it provides. An inspiring quote attributed to Charles E. Dederich, a reformed alcoholic, is “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

I understand that Alcoholics Anonymous follows this sentiment. Though I don’t drink and never have, I often begin each day with the perspective that fresh potential awaits me.

Some mornings, before I even open my eyes, I encourage myself for the day ahead with the reminder that, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life.” It sets in motion what happens next.

What we did yesterday—be it good or bad—is in the past. Today presents a new opportunity for us to embrace. Click To Tweet

What I did yesterday—be it good or bad—is in the past. Today presents a new opportunity for me to embrace. I shouldn’t coast on my accomplishments of yesterday anymore then I should be held captive by my disappointments.

Though God’s greatest gift is eternal life through Jesus, another amazing gift is the gift of today. With God’s help, may we strive to seize the day and make the most of it.

Live for today.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

What Does Perfect Love Do?

Love versus Fear

As we struggle with the paradox of fearing God and loving God, there’s another thought on the subject.

John writes that “perfect love drives out fear.”

Perfect love never fails. Perfect love is love that’s without fault, consistent and always present. God embodies perfect love.

Paul gives us a list of what love is and isn’t. Love is:

  • patient
  • kind
  • not envious
  • not boastful
  • not proud
  • not rude
  • not self-seeking
  • not easily angered
  • forgetting the mistakes of others
  • not delighting in evil
  • rejoicing over truth
  • offering protection
  • trusting
  • hopeful
  • persevering
  • never failing

This is love, perfect love, and it drives away fear.

[1 John 4:18, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8]

Read more in Peter’s book, Love is Patient (book 7 in the Dear Theophilus series).

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

The Bible Offers Us Hope for the Future

Because of God we can anticipate a better tomorrow

There are many reasons why I love the Bible, in fact I list thirteen. One of those reasons is hope. The Bible is filled with hope. It’s mentioned 180 times in both the Old and New Testaments.

Hope in the Old Testament

The word hope appears ninety-seven times in the Old Testament, in sixteen of the thirty-nine books. Interestingly, the word hope isn’t found in the first seven books of the Bible. Psalms, however, is filled with hope, thirty-four times (such as Psalm 9:18).

Job comes in second place with eighteen mentions (Job 13:15, for example). Much of the hope that appears in the Old Testament occurs in the writings of the prophets, who look forward in hopeful expectation to a better future (consider Isaiah 40:31).

The book of Revelation ends looking at a glorious future with a new heaven and a new earth. Click To Tweet

Hope in the New Testament

Hope appears eighty-three times in the New Testament and pops up in twenty-four of the twenty-seven books (consider Romans 5:2). Interestingly, in the five books written by John—who writes extensively about love—hope only pops up once, in his gospel.

The final book of the Bible, Revelation, doesn’t mention hope directly. However, the book winds down looking at a glorious future with a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1). That’s something to hope for.

Hope in Our Present World

Some of the times hope is mentioned in the Bible, it anticipates a better tomorrow in our physical world: a hope for provision, a hope for deliverance, and a hope for protection, to name a few (check out Psalm 37:9).

When we place our trust in God, we can be filled with hope that he will take care of us throughout our life.

Hope in Our Future Reality

In other places when the Bible mentions hope, it’s a perspective that transcends our physical realm (such as Acts 23:6). It’s hope in a spiritual eternity with God. It’s the hope of heaven.

This anticipates an existence with no pain, sorrow, or disappointment. Some might call it paradise and others, Eden reborn. In this future reality, we will commune with God. We will worship him, serve him, and just hang out.

Some people follow God for the hope he gives them for a better tomorrow in this world. And that may be enough. Other people pursue God for the hope he gives them for a better tomorrow in the afterlife. And that is another reward.

The Bible is filled with hope, and it fills us with hope: hope in God for tomorrow and beyond.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalm 6-10, and today’s post is on Psalm 9:18.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Are You At the End of Your Rope?

A Hopeless Situation

Imagine you are going down the side of a 200-foot cliff—with a 100-foot rope. At 99 feet down, you find yourself literally dangling “at the end of your rope.”

What an apt metaphor for a hopeless situation. At this juncture, there are but three options—none of them good:

  1. Try to climb back up (which is physically impossible for most people)
  2. Hang on as long as you can in hopes of an eventual rescue
  3. Give up and let go.

Eugene Peterson uses this powerful image in his paraphrase of the Bible, which puts ancient thoughts into contemporary terms. Consider the following references from The Message:

  • “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.” (Matthew 5:3)
  • “The owner was at the end of his rope. He decided to send his son. ‘Surely,’ he thought, ‘they will respect my son.” ([Matthew 21:35)
  • “When someone gets to the end of his rope, I [Paul] feel the desperation in my bones.” (2 Corinthians 11:28)
  • “Hurry up and help us; we’re at the end of our rope. You’re famous for helping; God, give us a break.” (Psalm 79:8)
  • “Your anger [God] is far and away too much for us; we’re at the end of our rope. You keep track of all our sins; every misdeed since we were children is entered in your books.” (Psalm 90:3)
  • “Oh, God, my Lord, step in; work a miracle for me—you can do it! Get me out of here—your love is so great!— I’m at the end of my rope, my life in ruins.” (Psalm 109:21)
  • “God takes the side of the helpless; when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.” (Psalm 116:1)
  • “Hurry with your answer, God! I’m nearly at the end of my rope. Don’t turn away; don’t ignore me! That would be certain death.” (Psalm 143:7)

When we are at the end of our rope—and it happens to all of us sooner or later—God is there to rescue us; so don’t give up.

God can help in a number of ways, either directly or indirectly: a timely visit from a friend, some encouraging advice, the perfect Bible verse, or a visit with a pastor or counselor.

But not everyone has these options. If that’s you and you’re at the rope’s end, reach out to TheHopeLine, staffed by Christian Hope Coaches. They will listen, offering understanding, encouragement, and prayer, along with practical resources to help move you in the right direction.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalm 114-118, and today’s post is on Psalm 116:1.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Our Present and Future Hope

God Will Answer When We Pray

After Zechariah’s discouraging implication that God is weary of his people and will no longer be their Shepherd, Zechariah has some good news. He concludes his prophetic writings with an optimistic prophecy of a better tomorrow, a future hope. This is a hope that the people of his day can anticipate. But it’s also a hope we can claim today.

What is this grand, future expectation?

For the people of Zechariah’s day, when they pray to God, he will again answer. They can count on him to be there for them. He will again call them his people, and they will again call him their Lord. They will turn to each other. Reunited.

This union with God reminds us of how Adam and Eve walked in the garden of Eden with their Creator. In the cool of the evening, they hung out and enjoyed one another’s company. They lived in community with God in his creation, spending time with one another.

We can also anticipate community with our Creator today. Though we don’t physically walk with him in a garden each evening, when we call out to him, he answers. He is our Lord, and we are his people.

Our Future Hope

But Zechariah has more. This message for the people’s future is for our future too (Zechariah 14:9). We await it in eager expectation . . . but for what?

Centuries after Zechariah, the disciple John has a compelling vision of the future, a look into our future. In his forward-looking revelation, John writes of a time when all nations and all kings will come together in the holy temple of the Lord and the Lamb (Revelation 21:22–26).

Where do we place our hope? Do we live lives that reflect both our present hope and our future hope? Click To Tweet

What a day that will be, a day we hope for and long to see. We can look forward to this time with great anticipation, the day when God will reign as King over the whole earth. He will become the Lord of everyone. His name will stand as the only name for people to call on for their rescue, for their salvation.

This will restore our community with God, just as he intended from the beginning.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Zechariah 12-14, and today’s post is on Zechariah 13:9.]

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

What’s the Only Thing That Counts?

Paul tells us that faith and love is what matters most

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he opens chapter five with a discussion about freedom and slavery, about following the law and not following the law. He says that in Jesus these things have no value. So what counts the most?

His explanation of this is a bit confusing. It’s a passage we need to go back and reread to try to understand what this prolific biblical writer is trying to tell us. But if we don’t quite grasp it, that’s okay.

Paul summarizes his point in one succinct line: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6, NIV).

The only thing that counts is love expressed through faith.

Think about it.

May we use our faith to express our love to others. It’s the only thing that counts. Click To Tweet

Faith

Faith is the starting point. We have faith in God the father through Jesus the son as revealed by God’s Holy Spirit. We have faith that God lives in us and is through us. We have faith that a better tomorrow awaits us, both in this world and in the next.

We have faith that God is with us in all circumstances and at all times, that he answers our prayers aligned with his sovereign wisdom.

Love

But faith alone fall short. James tells us that faith without action is dead (James 2:17). While action could mean many things, let’s go back to Paul. He says that through our faith we are to express love. That’s what matters.

If faith is the starting point of the one thing that counts, love expressed is the outcome. Love is a confusing word in today’s modern society, covering the full gamut of emotions from preference to passion.

To understand the kind of love that Paul is talking about, we should go back to the Bible, we should go back to the words of Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. He starts out by saying, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NIV).

Hope

He ends his explanation of love with these words, “Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Did you catch this? In Paul’s trio of traits, he starts with faith, and he ends with love. Hope is what connects the two.

May we use our faith to express our love to others. It’s the only thing that counts. Paul says so.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Galatians 4-6, and today’s post is on Galatians 5:6.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Let Us Persevere in Our Faith

The Book of Hebrews Tells Us How to React to What God Has Done For Us

An interesting passage in Hebrews opens with a reminder of who we are in Jesus and through Jesus (Hebrews 10:23-25). With this as our perspective, the author tells us four things we should do in response.

Let Us Pursue God

The NIV says to “draw near to God.” I like this imagery of us steadfastly moving toward God, getting closer and closer, almost as though he gently pulls us to him. Though we can accept or reject his supernatural yearning to pull us close, we consent to his attraction when we pursue him.

May we pursue God as if nothing else matters—because nothing else does. We need to do this with a sincere heart and full of faith.

Let Us Hold Onto Hope

Next we need to grasp the hope we claim to have within us. If we say we have hope but don’t act like it, what good is that? Instead our behavior, both in thought and in action, must align with what we believe.

And if we face temptation to waiver in our hope, Hebrews reminds us that he will faithfully give us what he promised. Cling to our hope.

Let Us Encourage One Another

Third is the reminder to encourage each other. While we can nurture many godly traits in others, this passage specifically mentions two: love and good deeds. It’s as if nothing else matters.

We love others in the same way God loves us. He shows us his perfect love and we strive to follow his example. And we help others. Why? Not to get God’s attention or to achieve some agenda, but because he says so.

The practical extension of love is to do kind things for others. Click To Tweet

The practical extension of love is to do kind things for others. Love connects to good deeds.

Let Us Not Isolate Ourselves

We can’t realize all God desires for us if we separate ourselves from his other followers. Together we stay strong. Apart we falter. As the Bible says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

The oft-quoted text for this is to let us not give up meeting together, which many misapply (read more about this). The point is to hang out with others who follow Jesus. The details of what this looks like is for us to determine.

As followers of Jesus, may we pursue God, cling to hope, offer encouragement, and spend time with each other.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

What Do People Remember About You?

Be Memorable In All You Do

When Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica he professes three things he recalls about them. He remembers them and their characteristics before God, presumably as he prays, offering thanksgiving to God for their lives and the examples they provide.

Three things stand out as the testimony of the Thessalonian church, their witness to the world around them:

Faithful Work

Their faith in God produces their work. They don’t work for the sake of working or do things just to do things. They work with intentionality because of their faith. They couple actions with belief, with their actions springing forth from their spiritual moorings.

Loving Labor

Their love for others prompts them to help others. They don’t love in name only or in theory, they show their love by their deeds. For them love is a verb. Because of their love, they toil for others, laboring for the benefit of those around them.

What Are You Known For? Is it something worthwhile? Click To TweetWhat do people remember about us?

Enduring Hope

They persevere because of Jesus, through their hope in him and the promises he offers. This hope inspires their endurance; it motivates them to persist regardless of the situation or circumstances. Their hope propels them forward.

When Paul thinks about this church, this is how he remembers them. He recalls their faith, their love, and their hope. In another letter Paul upholds all three of these ideals and then adds that the greatest of them is love.

(1 Thessalonians 1:3, 1 Corinthians 13:13)

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

What Does it Mean to Have Fallen Asleep?

The Bible sometimes uses the quaint phrase fallen asleep. It’s a polite way to say that someone died. I smile at this ambiguous language and wonder why Bible writers used a euphemism instead of being direct.

But I think there might be more to it. To say fallen asleep is not merely an understated way to communicate that someone’s life is over. It’s a hint that there is another life awaiting us after death, that we will awake to a new kind of existence.

To say “fallen asleep” is not merely an understated way to communicate that someone’s life is over. Click To Tweet

Just as natural sleep is a respite between one day and the next, so too figurative sleep is a transition from one form of life to another. While our body ceases to function, our spirit moves on to a new dimension. And we must first fall asleep to make that transition.

When the Bible talks about those who have fallen asleep, it’s more than a gracious way to say someone died, it’s the suggestion there is even more to look forward to as we move into the spiritual realm. But first we must sleep; we must die.

Read more those who have fallen asleep in Matthew 9:24, Mark 5:39, Luke 8:32, John 11:11, Acts 7:60, Acts 13:36, 1 Corinthians 11:30, 1 Corinthians 15:6, 18, 20, and 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15.

[Discover more about the Bible at ABibleADay.com: Bible FAQs, Bible Dictionary, Books of the Bible Overview, and Bible Reading Plans.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

A Hint of What is to Come

Last month I shared that my yard was a blank canvas, a palette of browns awaiting a fresh start. At last, that transformation has begun.

Trees have been added, bushes inserted, and plants strategically placed. Grass seed sown, just now showing the fragile green tips of what is to become. Watering has begun in earnest.

My yard is in the process of change, from lifeless to life-filled. What is presently there shows promise, the promise of what is to become. Trees will grow, bushes will flourish, plants will bloom, and grass will thicken into a rich carpet of lush goodness. Change awaits.

At least that is my hope. Until then I can only anticipate what will one day be. However, I can glimpse what is to come. One plant is already displaying its glory. While it will take time to realize the overall landscaping dream for my yard, this one bush now offers a hint of what is to come: a beautiful scene.

So it is with us. Our lives possess potential; we anticipate a better tomorrow. Yet even as we envision what will one day be, if we look carefully enough we can now see hints of our future. Today’s limited beauty foreshadows tomorrow’s complete glory.

Just as I hold on to hope that my life tomorrow will be better than today, I have an ever greater expectancy in the spiritual realm, that today is but a dim reflection of the eternity that awaits.

God gives us hints today of what our future with him will be like. Do we see it?

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.