Remember those connect-the-dots pictures that you drew as a child? The Bible is like that: Connect certain passages in the right sequence, and you reveal a hidden picture, a spiritual truth, a mystery of God. There are thousands of pictures between its covers. Here’s a favorite of mine.
1. Romans 5:8: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Some people live in eternal insecurity. They can never be sure, no matter what they do or don’t do, that they will go to Heaven when they die. It’s enough to make a nervous wreck out of anybody—and I once read about a man that it did just that to.
He had received Jesus as his Savior and tried his best to live according to Jesus’ teachings, but found he couldn’t live up to other people’s standards, what they said was necessary to merit salvation. According to them, every time he made a mistake or had an unholy thought, he lost his salvation and was right back where he had started, a lost sinner.
When you stop to think about it, our modern means of communication would probably be totally incomprehensible to someone living only a few generations ago. Yet without a second thought we pick up the telephone and talk with someone thousands of miles away, or send a letter via e-mail to someone on the other side of the world, which we’re confident they’ll receive in a matter of minutes.
Overworked and underappreciated. It’s sad whenever that can be said of anyone, but even sadder when it describes people who deserve extra appreciation for sacrificially giving of themselves day after day. I’m thinking at the moment of one group in particular—women.
It’s a complicated and demanding business, being a woman these days. Women make up a large percentage of the workforce and account for more of the average family’s earnings than they used to. More women worldwide are leaders in the political and professional sectors than ever before. At the same time, women are expected to continue to fill their traditional roles in the family and community—roles that in some ways have become tougher in these challenging modern times. An increasing number also carry the responsibility of raising children alone. In all, far more is expected of women today than even one or two generations ago.
Optimist or pessimist? Is your glass half full or half empty? According to staffers at the renowned Mayo Clinic, your answer to the second question not only answers the first, but it also reflects your attitudes toward yourself and life in general, each of which plays an important part in how well you live and possibly even how long you live.1 It almost goes without saying that positive thinkers are far more likely to reach their goals than negative thinkers. If your thought patterns have that much bearing on your happiness and well-being, it makes sense to stop from time to time to examine the way you think and to work at making positive thinking a habit.
Genuine, lasting friendship is built on communication. You know how it is with a close friend—you share your thoughts, they understand you, you understand them. That’s how Jesus wants to be with us. He wants our close friendship, not merely a distant relationship. And for that friendship to grow, communication is essential. Directing our thoughts and needs to Jesus in prayer is one side of this communication; hearing from Him is the other. He reveals His thoughts to us through His Word—both the recorded Word in the Bible and the living Word that He speaks to our hearts when we listen to Him while praying.
Ask those who have achieved greatness in any field for the secrets of their success, and somewhere near the top of most lists will be a visualization of their goal. Throughout years of rigorous training, the Olympic champion pictured himself on the podium, receiving his gold medal. The prima ballerina saw herself doing grand jetés on the world’s finest stages. The Nobel-winning scientist imagined his eureka moment. The star saleswoman mentally packed her bags 365 times for that prize spa vacation. It took hard work to be sure, but they got where they did in part by picturing themselves already there. When it finally happened, many will tell you, it was exactly as they had seen it in their mind’s eye.
Life sure can be confusing! We search for answers, but often end up with more questions. What are we here for? Why is there so much pain and heartache in the world? Where can we find hope, even when things seem to be going all wrong? Where can we find the strength to face life’s challenges? Where can we find happiness that lasts?