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Entries in Faith (20)

Wednesday
Aug282019

Whom Did Jesus Praise? Will He Praise You? - Part 1

In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE in two parts, Dawn Wilson encourages us to consider some of the people Jesus praised while He was on earth.


In Part 1 of “Who Did Jesus Praise?” we'll consider: (1) a group of people Jesus praised, (2) one of His near relatives, and (3) a woman He noticed who probably thought no one was watching.

Let’s explore each point of praise.

1. Those with “Unseeing” Faith

Thomas believed because he saw the resurrected Jesus—he trusted his senses—and Jesus gave him measured commendation (even though it was also a bit of a rebuke because his faith was slow and late). Thomas had an opportunity to believe Jesus was resurrected without seeing, but he rejected it. We have that same opportunity today.

Jesus, speaking to Thomas, also Jesus praised those—by saying they were blessed—“who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Jesus’ words looked forward to the birth and development of the early Church.

That would also be Christ-followers today!

It's people who see “by the eye of the Spirit”—those who base their confidence on the convictions of their faith.

Peter said,

“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and though you do not see Him now; you believe in Him and rejoice with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8).

Bible commentary writer Albert Barnes said, “All faith is of things not seen; and God blesses those most who most implicitly rely on His Word.”

Authentic faith depends on God’s words to us and not our eyes of flesh. Jesus praised those who would have faith that the Word of God is true concerning Him.

If I want to please the Lord, I will have “unseeing faith.” So will you!

2. One Who Turns People to Righteousness

In Matthew 11:7-19, we hear Jesus’ analysis of His friend John. (This is John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin who he likely loved (Luke 1:36)—not John the apostle, who Jesus also dearly loved).

John the Baptist was a prophet of God, but Jesus said he was “much more” (Matthew 11:9). John, unlike the Old Testament prophets, could be considered a New Testament servant of God. He was in a unique position of ministry in-between the testaments. He was a great witness regarding the Lord.

John pointed people to the Messiah, preparing the way of Christ. He preached repentance in preparation for the blessings of God and God’s Kingdom. John pointed Jesus out as the Lamb of God who would take away sin (John 1:29-37).

John baptized Jesus, and in that great event he heard God’s pronouncement about Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17). Jesus said there had not risen a greater than John the Baptist born of woman (except for Himself, of course). Jesus said (in Matthew 11:14) John’s ministry was like Elijah’s (see also Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6).

John turned many to righteousness—he was anointed by God for a great responsibility.

John was also a New Testament martyr. He was eventually arrested and killed for Jesus’ sake. He had lived and died what Jesus taught to His disciples in Matthew 10, and John’s enemies sought to kill him, just like they sought Jesus.

It is likely John, while he was in prison by Herod, likely for over a year when he wondered whether the Messiah would come to “set the prisoner free and loose the captives.” He asked two disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3).

The majority of Israelites were not receiving Jesus as Messiah and He was strongly rejected by the leaders. John likely wondered why Jesus wasn’t moving quickly to do His messianic work. (There’s a great post on this here.)

Jesus sent a message to John about the miracles He was performing, and then He proceeded to praise John. Jesus understood the trial His beloved relative was enduring. There was no condemnation.

John would have to trust that his relative, Jesus, knew what He was doing. And Jesus’ words to him were enough to bolster his faith.  

Jesus defended John’s integrity and believed John was firm in the faith. John wasn’t a fickle man, tossed about by public opinion and or conformed to their way of thinking. And he was highly disciplined. He was a great witness for the Lord—fervent and zealous—and God gave him the opportunity to announce the coming Kingdom, even though others would see it in its glory, not him.

Jesus indicated the most humble believer would have greater understanding and opportunity than John—and potentially be greater than John.

Believers today can also prepare the way for the Lord—for His second coming. We can, like John the Baptist, call believers to repentance. We may find opposition when we take a stand, share the Gospel, and point out the sorrows of sin. Many, like the proud and worldly scribes and Pharisees, will oppose us like they opposed John.

Remember, greatness with God is determined by faithfulness and obedience!

3. A Disciples’ Confession of Faith

In Mark 8:27-29, Jesus praised Peter for his extraordinary statement about His identity.

Jesus asked His disciple, “Who do PEOPLE say that I am?

Peter, outspoken and usually a spokesman for the disciples in the Gospel records, replied that some said Jesus was John the Baptist. Others said Elijah, and still others said He was one of the prophets.

Jesus purposely set up this scenario, a contrast, between what His closest friends thought about him and what the people outside that group—who didn’t really know Him—thought about Him.

Clearly, the view of the crowds wasn’t accurate enough or high enough. Jesus was a prophet, but so much more, and the disciples had begun to see that. God the Father was opening their eyes.

Jesus zeroed in on Peter’s thoughts and heart, asking,

“But who you YOU say that I am?”

Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”

Peter saw Jesus as the Messiah, the Anointed One. In the Old Testament, under the old covenant, prophets, priests and kings were anointed (1 Kings 19:16; (Exodus 40:12-15; 1 Samuel 16). And

Peter likely saw Jesus’ Messiahship in that way.

Jesus, the Messiah is:

A Prophet (Matthew 21:11; Luke 7:16; Mark 6:4) – He taught the Word with authority, often speaking in parables (Mark 1:22). He foretold the future, predicting His death (Matthew 17:22-23), foretold Judas’ betrayal (Matthew 26:20-25) and Peter’s denial (Matthew 26:31-35). He predicted the Holy Spirit’s coming (John 16:7-15), His followers’ persecution (John 16:1-4, 33) and the Temple’s destruction (Matthew 24:1-2). He prophesied His second coming (Matthew 24:30-31; John 14:3). He also performed miracles like other prophets, and compared Himself to other prophets (Luke 4:24-27).

A Priest. His is the believer’s ultimate High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:2; Genesis 14:18). Jesus is our great High Priest forever.

A King. Jesus was given the title “Son of David” and the rightful eternal king after David’s kingship (2 Samuel 7:16; Matthew 1:1; Revelation 22:16). This was foretold to Mary by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:32-33). The “Son of David” would be a ruler and a deliverer for God’s people. Jesus will return to earth to rule during the Millennium, and then forevermore (1 Corinthians 15:24-28) with all authority (Matthew 28:18). He who has a name above all names will reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16).

That is Jesus’ true identity. Peter recognized Jesus as the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

And Jesus did not deny it. He praised Peter for this confession of faith.

Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 16:13-17).

When we don’t understand who Jesus is, it can erode the Church’s foundation. It is also far more intimate: it can erode our individual faith.

The Lord—in the Word of God—reveals who the Father is, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. We need to study the scriptures to be sure we get their identities right, so we can also make praiseworthy confessions of faith like Peter!

Observing these these who Jesus praised, we might examine our own hearts:

  • Do I have authentic faith, dependent on God’s Word and not what I see in my circumstances?
  • Am I taking a brave stand against lies in the culture—even when opposed—and sharing the Gospel with others?
  • What is my confession of faith concerning Jesus? Do I truly understand who He is and why that is important?

In Part Two of this post, we will consider two women—a woman who boldly stretched out her hand, and a woman who gave sacrificially—and our hope for future praise.

Do you need to make some adjustments to win the praise of Jesus?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator the blog, Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts, and a writer at Christianity.com (wiki posts) and Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Foto Rieth at Pixabay.

Thursday
May162019

How to Live with Expectation

Sally Ferguson loves sharing God's Word, and she does so in many practical ways. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she invites us to view the life of Mary, Jesus' mother, as an excellent example of living with expectation.

"Mary was barely 14 when she found out she would carry the Messiah," Sally says. "Her life was neatly arranged and orderly when everything got turned upside down."

I (Dawn) think we often forget how young Mary was when God interrupted her life. But she was a young woman of faith, prepared for His assignment.

Sally continues . . .

Somehow Mary became a model of hope—for generations to come.

What helped Mary live expectantly? Let’s take a peek at four things that set her apart.

1. She Was Called.

A calling gives a sense of purpose when you realize you’re a part of something much bigger than yourself. That calling motivates and equips you to lean on your heavenly Father in ways you never thought to do so before.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says God’s grace is enough. His power is perfected in our weakness.

Mary probably didn’t understand what God was asking of her when the angel, Gabriel, delivered his message. But, do we ever fully understand the work God has begun in us? If we did, we wouldn’t need Him. And we would miss the relationship fostered with Him in the struggle.

If left up to me, I would want the beauty without the struggle. But really, the beauty comes from the struggle.

Philippians 1:6 says, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.”

We are never alone in God’s calling.

2. She Was Blessed.

  • Gabriel told Mary she was favored.
  • Elizabeth told Mary she was blessed.
  • At the Temple, Simeon told Mary a sword would pierce her own soul.

Have you ever felt like a blessing was a double-edged sword?

But Mary broke out into a song (Luke 1:46-55). Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by the Lord’s generosity that a melody just bubbled up and spilled out of you?

What happens when you acknowledge your blessings? Gratitude flows and peace envelops your frame of mind.

My mom adopted the phrase, “I’m blessed,” because she understood God’s blessing went beyond her circumstances to an underlying relationship she could count on.

Read Philippians 4:4-7. Did you hear “thanksgiving” in that passage? Did you catch that phrase about peace? It’s a reward for trusting God!

Peace shows up again in Philippians 4:8-9. I like to think of it as “a contentment that protects my thoughts from borrowing trouble.” 

3. She believed.

Read Elizabeth’s words in Luke 1:45.

What happens when we trust God to do what He says He will do? We are blessed!

I love how that thought cycles back around.

  • She was blessed and it enabled her to believe.
  • She believed and it blessed her.

The Bible is full of those kinds of circles.

  • Ephesians 2:8-10—We are saved by grace to do good works, but we don’t do the works to be saved.
  • 1 John 1:9—If we call out to the Lord, He will save us. And He will save us when we call out to Him.
  • Psalm 46:10—Be still and know; know and be stilled.
  • Romans 5:2b-5—begins and ends with hope.

Mary believed when she took God at His word and trusted Him to take care of her.

4. She Cherished What God Was doing.

Read Luke 2:19.

How do you store your God-sightings?

Do you write them down in a journal so they won’t get lost from your memory banks?

A boy named David journaled, and we know that as the Psalms. He later became a king in the land of Israel, but never outgrew his need for his journal. He recorded his misgivings, anger, pleasure, confusion, joy and fears.

Look though the Psalms at how he processed those emotions and turned them into prayers. David was able to take his weaknesses to the throne of God, the One who created and understands them. Through that release, David found acceptance and the burden lifted.

He began with hurt and ended with humility before God.

What about you? Could you turn today’s failures into a statement of faith?

Let the Lord carry those burdens for you as you turn them into a prayer for His redemptive action in your life. May you find a safe haven as you write down your story!

Luke 2:33 says Mary marveled at what Simeon and Anna said about her baby boy. Let your journal be a place where you can marvel at God’s goodness.

Beloved, know that you, too, are called by God, you are blessed by God, you can believe God when He says He is for you, and you have many things to cherish.

How do you cultivate a sense of expectancy?

Sally Ferguson loves sharing God’s Word in all different forms! Her coloring book, What Will I Be When I Grow Up? (Warner Press) and ebook, How to Plan a Women’s Retreat are both available on Amazon.  Visit her latest retreat release, a women's retreat playbook with templates.

Painting of Mary by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1898.

Saturday
Mar022019

Grasping God's Ropes of Hope

In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, Dawn Wilson shares how a medical diagnosis caused her to re-evaluate a familiar biblical word.

"As a Christian," Dawn says, "I believe in eternal hope, but the word "hope" was never a word I gravitated to or used much otherwise, because I mistakenly thought it was—I confess—for weak and "emotional" believers.

"Never mind that the word is found repeatedly throughout scripture: 129 times in 121 verses!"

Dawn continues . . .

I want to be honest and authentic here.

A medical diagnosis in mid-January, 2019, totally changed my perspective, perhaps because I was suddenly the one who was weak and needing hope. The doctor said I have an incurable disease, and my thoughts and emotions scattered everywhere.

Oh, how I needed hope in the moment I received that life-changing report.

What I discovered is, first, what "hope" is not, and second, how all hope for the Christian is linked to the surety of hope in Christ throughout our lives as well as in eternity. God cares about us womb to tomb, and He sends us ropes of hope to remind us of His presence every day.

From womb to tomb, God is there!

I discovered many "ropes of hope" God sent my way during my health crisis. Let me share a little of what God is teaching me:

1. What Biblical Hope Is NOT

Hope is not doubt or any shade of doubt. It's not related to a feeling, but rather a reality based on truth.

We show a measure of doubt or uncertainty when we say some doubt-filled things. Things like:

  • "I hope it doesn't snow tomorrow." (But it just might.)
  • "I hope I win the lottery." (But with the millions who bought tickets, fat chance!)
  • "I sure hope I'm going to heaven." (But don't you want to know for sure?)

The Old Testament saints didn't relate to God with "hope so" faith.  The Hebrew word for "hope" is batah. It is related to the concept of security and confidence. The concept of doubt was not connected with hope in the Jewish mindset.

We see this in verses like Psalm 16:9:  

"Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure."

In the New Testament, the word for "hope" is the Greek words elpis and elpizo.

For the most part, we don't see doubt running rampant in New Testament saints either. In fact, their proclamations we're more like "There's no doubt about it!"confident statements of assurance. God worked in their hearts to build their faith and hope.

Even doubting Thomas didn't doubt for long. The Lord changed his doubts to confident faith, the basis for gratitude and hope.

We see this confidence in Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is being sure of what we HOPE for and certain of what we do not see." Properly read, "The Faith Chapter" (Hebrews 11) oozes with confidence in God in the midst of great trials; it was faith in action.)

And that brings me to a second concept about hope.

2. What Biblical Hope IS

Biblical hope is founded in faith—and in a faithful God.

Biblical hope is the confident expectation or assurance Christ-followers have based upon the One who has proven Himself faithful time and time again. In other words, biblical hope is built on faith (Romans 8:24; Titus 2:13)

It's based on a sure foundation—Jesus, the solid "Rock" of our salvation. Jesus said, "Because I live, you also will live" (John 14:19). Believing that, we have great hope.

When we trust the words, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has eternal life" (John 6:47), we are expressing confidence in the One who died to set us free from sin's shakles and give us life with Him in heaven.

Biblical hope is founded on:

  • God's Word,
  • God's character, and
  • Our Savior's finished work.

God promised His children "the hope of eternal life" from before time began (Titus 1:2); and Christians are to testify to this living hope whenever anyone asks us about our confidence in God and His provision—the Gospel, God's plan of salvation (1 Peter 3:15).

Grasping Ropes of Hope

I read a great illustration about the difference between faith and hope:

The relationship between faith and hope can be illustrated in the joy a child feels when his father tells him they are going to an amusement part tomorrow. The child believes that he will go to the amusement part, based on his father's word—that is FAITH. At the same time, that belief within the child kindles an irrepressible joy—that is HOPE.

The child's natural trust in his father's promise is the faith; the child's squeals of delight and jumping in place are the expressions of the hope. Faith and hope are complementary. Faith is grounded in the reality of the past [God's faithful word]; hope is looking to the reality of the future....."

The truth is, since 1971, I have believed my Father's Word about eternal life. I staked my whole life now and forever on that truth. I know God has purpose even in my illness.

As Pastor Alan Redpath once said:

"There is nothing, no circumstance, no trouble, no testing that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has come past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose."

When I received my medical diagnosis, hope really came into play. Through hope, I have learned to express hope-filled joy—the childlike "squeals of delight"—even in the midst of bothersome side effects and extreme exhaustion. I not only believe God is sustaining me and I have an eternal home with Him; I'm getting more excited about going to heaven. 

Pam Farrel wrote about joy in her own difficult situation in her creative devotional study experience: Discovering Hope in the Psalms:

"When friends would ask, 'How are you?' I didn't know how to answer. So I went to the Word and read Psalm 30:5... JOY! That's what I needed. I immediately went on a joy hunt ...

"Joy was becoming my lighthouse of hope. ...

"That's the power of the Word. Its joy is not only your lighthouse; God multiplies the light as you share your hope and praise Him."

These days, I take action quicker when I feel overwhelmed:

1. God wants me to be tough.

So when Satan schemes and tells me lies about the future, I stay in the fight and remind him where he's going! And I remind him of God's words. In doing so, I gain FRESHLY-INSTILLED hope.

2. God wants me to stay thankful.

So when compassionate friends write or call to tell me they are praying for me, and share words of scripture, I am grateful; and as I praise God for them bolstering my faith, I see FRIEND-SHARED hope grow.

3. God wants me to embrace truth.

So when tears come because I cannot bear the thought of someday leaving those I love, FAITH-BASED hope reminds me I will see all my Christ-trusting friends and family throughout eternity.

In other words, I sow solid biblical fortitude, heart gratitude and powerful truths among my tears—and they blossom into many beautiful things.

I am grateful I'm not alone in this hope journey.

So many people from all the seasons of my life are sending their love, encouraging me, helping me in practical ways, and bearing this burden with me.

I'm thankful for all these strong Ropes of Hope I'm receiving that help me "bear up" under this new trial.

These days, scriptures about hope come alive. They are not for "weak Christians," they are for broken believers who chose to trust God and not themselves in their hour of need. They are for me!

John Piper wrote:

"Hoping in God does not come naturally for sinners like us. We must preach it to ourselves, and preach diligently and forcefully, or we will give way to a downcast and disquieted spirit."

One of the most powerful actions I'm taking these days is to do just that—to preach to myself. To stand against Satan's lies and argue down the disquieting emotions within me as I allow God's Word to "throw me a rope of hope."

But I must grasp those ropes firmly.

I feel like the psalmist when he wrestled with his emotions and then counseled his heart:

"Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? (The STRUGGLE)

"Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God." (The SOLUTION!)

(Psalm 42:5, HCSB)

We all have a choice in how we will respond to trials and great difficulties. Seeing from God's perspective—knowing our sovereign God makes no mistakes and He is up to something wonderful—increases our hope.

As Dr. David Jeremiah wrote in A Bend in the Road:

"How will you choose to deal with your personal crisis—as an emergency or an opportunity? A stumbling block or a steppingstone?

"The moment you and I can begin to see things through the heavenly lens, the picture becomes bearable—and we find new strength."

Perhaps you struggling today with a heavy burden, desperately needing hope. God is the only sure foundation for your hope. The Lord is constantly throwing you "ropes of hope." Slow down and become more aware of them. Grasp for them. They will not break.

In trusting Him, you will see your hope grow.

What biblical truths can you believe today, and not only believe, but preach to yourself so you can overcome doubts and rejoice in hope? Who can you throw a "rope of hope" to today?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator the blog, Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts  and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Conger Design at Pixabay.

Thursday
Dec062018

Living Beyond the 'But'

Kolleen Lucariello always makes me think outside the box, spiritually. In this Christmastime, Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she considers two people God used, in His own timing, to help prepare the way for Jesus' first coming.

"I’ve never been a fan of the 'but'," Kolleen says. "Well, that’s not entirely true; I can handle “but then God” moments; however, the 'but' that follows an apology? The one that says, 'I’m sorry I… but you.' No thank you.

'Equally as unappealing is the 'but' that attaches to you, becoming the heartache of your story."

When I (Dawn) think abut the situations in my own life where the word "but" stopped me in my tracks spiritually and in my writing, I know what Kolleen's saying is true. I needed more faith and hope!

Kolleen continues . . .

Luke wrote about a couple who had a "but" attached to their story—Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist.

It would seem as though they were the couple rocking at life. Zechariah was a Jewish priest serving in the temple, and his wife, Elizabeth, was a direct descendant of Aaron.

“They were both lovers of God, living virtuously and following the commandments of the Lord fully” (Luke 1:5-6, TPT).

They were the couple we look at today and think, Wow. They’ve got it all! Prestige from the family name, and they were solid believers, living righteously before the Lord.

Yet, behind everything they were doing right was one word they couldn’t escape—"but."

The "but" holding them hostage?

But they were childless since Elizabeth was barren, and now they both were quite old” (Luke 1:7, TPT—The Passion Translation—emphasis mine).

I’m fairly certain Elizabeth would’ve given anything to escape the pain of the "but."

In a culture where great significance was placed on motherhood, one word stole that from her.

  • "But" took away her ability to present her husband with a son, and replaced it with shame.
  • "But" also took away Zechariah’s ability to believe the angel, Gabriel, when he appeared to him and gave him the exciting news he was indeed going to be a dad.

The "but" had followed them for so long, doubt took over the prayerful heart that once held hope.

That can happen to anyone who has found but attached to his or her story. "But" has followed a good many faithful prayers of the righteous.

Perhaps you:

  • prayed faithfully for your children, and raised them in a home that honors God, but you’re still waiting for the return of the prodigal.
  • pray faithfully for your marriage to find healing and restoration, but have yet to see any hope of change.
  • fought hard for that job, but lost it anyway.

Like Zechariah and Elizabeth, have prayed for your womb to hold a baby, but the pregnancy test was negative one more time.

The "but" behind our hopes can be a painful word—one we’d like to escape, but can’t—even in our attempts to do everything right.

Like many we think: I’ve prayed. I’ve done everything I knew to do. I’ve tried to live righteously, BUT I don’t see, I don’t feel, and I don’t hear.

Hope can be hard to hold on to when we focus on the "but" of our story.

It’s easy to get lost in disappointment.

However, part of Gabriel’s message to Zechariah was that his son would arrive at the appointed time (Luke 1:20).

Not their time—the appointed time.

Who knows the appointed time? Only God. And until that time comes we must live in the "so it was" like Zechariah and Elizabeth did.

So it was that while he was serving ... his lot fell (to him) to burn incense" (Luke 1:8 NKVJ, emphasis mine).

Even though they dragged a "but" behind them for all these years, they remained faithful to serve the Lord. It was in this particular moment of serving that the angel showed up.

Imagine if Zechariah had missed it, because he decided to give up on God for not answering their prayer—in their time. God knew the plan for John was to prepare the way for Jesus (Matthew 3).

It was all in the timing.   

We upgrade our lives when, regardless of the "but" attached to our story, we live with hope in the "so it was."

  1. So it was—she prayed without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  2. So it waseven with the evidence of things not seen, she still had faith in what she hoped for (Hebrews 11:1).
  3. So it was—she refused to lean on her own understanding, and instead trusted in the timing of the Lord (Proverbs 3:5).

What is the "but" attached to you, and how are you managing your faith in the "so it was" moment?

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am; and as a speaker, she speaks into women's lives "one letter at a time." Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She's a mother of three married children and Mimi to four incredible grandkids. For more information about Kolleen, visit her website.

Monday
Jul022018

Things Unseen

Rhonda Rhea is a humorist. That means she writes to hit your funny bone while she touches your heart. But she also writes to convince people to consider the truth in God's Word—and she does so in the sweetest way. In this UPLIFT post, she encourages us to see life from God’s perspective.

“We’ve been talking about getting an invisible fence for the dog,” Rhonda said. “Then I got to thinking, wouldn’t it be cheaper to just get an invisible dog?”

I (Dawn) was wondering, “OK, Rhonda, where are you going with this one?” But as always, this girl has a point behind her punchline.

Rhonda continues . . .

Think about it. With an invisible dog—immediate reduction in food costs. And the yard clean-up? No comparison.

If your invisible dog decides to use your sofa as a giant face towel, you’re not any worse off. Not to mention, taking your invisible dog to the imaginary vet could save a boatload of bucks.

On the other hand,

  • Invisible dogs are not very effective when you try to blame them for your missing homework.
  • If they bark at intruders, I doubt you’ll ever hear it.
  • And how about having a little beast so excited to see you that it can’t stop wiggling? I think we’d miss seeing that. 

Faith is not exactly something you can see either.

But even still, it solidifies in our minds and hearts everything that is most real.

“Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. For our ancestors won God’s approval by it. By faith we understand that the universe was created by God’s command, so that what is seen has been made from things that are not visible” (Hebrews 11:1-3, HCSB).

Everything we can see with our eyes has been created by the God we’ve not seen. The evidence brings faith. And the faith is more evidence.

Do you know what happens as we allow the Lord to grow our faith and use it in serving Him?

He gives us eyes to see people in a way we’ve never seen them before and to love them in a way we can’t in our own flesh.

God gives us glimpses of what He sees.

Paul expressed great gratitude to God for the people in Thessalonica. Why? “Because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing” (2 Thessalonians 1:3, ESV).

Singer, songwriter and—my favorite role of his—son, Andy Rhea, wrote a song about putting feet to our faith in the song “Drop Your Nets.”

In it, he writes,

            Lay me down, I will stay right where you want me to;

            Pick me up, and I will go. Oh, Lord, you know I’ll go.

            Break me to the ground so I’ll be face to face with all the ones that I’ve

            Stepped on, passed by—

            Missed their mute cries.

            Come on, people, we have eyes to dry.

Sometimes our call to faith beckons us to hear some cries and dry some eyes. It calls us to drop what might be most comfortable and to sacrifice.

The song continues:

            This is the call for disciples’ nets to fall down.

            This is the broken up soil; it’s time to seed it.

            This is the call for disciples’ nets to fall down.

            This is a vein full of love; it’s time to bleed it.

A “dogged” faith, if you will, is one that shows up in how we see people. And how we love them.

A key line in Andy’s song is, “Let’s lay down our nets and scream, ‘We were made to see things unseen.’”

Invisible. Yet seen.

As far as our invisible dog goes though, I’m still looking. But they’re just so hard to find.         

How long has it been since you’ve seen the “unseen” around you—people who desperately need God’s love? What can you do to get His perspective?

Rhonda Rhea is a humor columnist, radio personality, speaker and author of 10books, including How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person?, Espresso Your Faith - 30 Shots of God's Word to Wake You Up, and a book designed to encourage Pastor's Wives (P-Dubs): Join the Insanity. She is co-author of Turtles in the Road with her daughter, Kaley. Rhonda, a sunny pastor's wife, lives near St. Louis and is "Mom" to five grown children. Find out more at www.RhondaRhea.com.

Invisible Dog Leash at The Costumer.