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God’s Ultimate Yes!

For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the One whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” He always does what He says.  

II Corinthians 1:19 

The smile beaming brightly on her face seemed to light up the room, and all because this two-year-old had heard the marvelous three letter response to her question, “Can I watch Toy Story?” 


Now, to be quite honest, I wavered about responding in the affirmative.  During the past month, we’d watched Toy Story so many afternoons following nap time that I almost had the script memorized. Indeed, “to infinity and beyond” and “you’ve got a friend in me” may be permanently embedded in my brain! But Rachel had not only taken a good nap but also had been great all day, so ‘yes’ was a simple reward for her positive efforts. 

I thought about Rachel’s joyful spirit based on my response as I prayed about what to write for this season’s Sonkist message.  That’s when I also came across an incredible verse tucked away in the New Testament. Let’s look again at what the Apostle Paul reveals about such a seemingly simple word: 

For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the One whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” He always does what He says.  

I pondered the concept of ‘yes’ contained in this verse for some time.  Personally, I understand the powerful impact of the word.  After all, who doesn’t like getting a yes versus a no—especially when it comes to something very important to us? 

But by analyzing this portion of Scripture in greater detail, we discover that Paul is sharing a life lesson about the Yes that really matters most. Jesus is the confirmation of God’s promises to and for us. He both affirms and assures that they will come to pass.  Most importantly for His followers, Jesus won’t waiver but rather “always does what He says.” 

This led me to more thinking: what exactly has the Lord said? While there are so many promises found in Scripture, I considered three in particular that have a profound impact on our lives: 

  • For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) 
  • Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in Me. There is more than enough room in My Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am. (John 14:1-3) 
  • Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20) 

Friend, this is the real “to infinity and beyond” story! The opportunity to live eternally with God is possible for anyone who chooses to believe in Jesus (this is confirmed again by the Apostle Paul in Romans 10:9-10).  While believers await our eternal destiny, Jesus is preparing an incredible place for us in Heaven—our forever home (a reminder we find again in Hebrews 13:14).  Finally, as our truest of friends, Jesus offers constant companionship throughout life’s journey (John 14:16-17 explains more about the Helper the Lord promises to all of His followers).  

How can we be assured that Jesus will keep these promises?  By virtue of His being “God’s Ultimate Yes.”  Jesus is the One who says what He means—and means what He says. Every time. For all time. 

Oh, may the beautiful season ahead be a time of soaking in all the promises the Lord has for you!  Look for His guarantees tucked throughout the Word, those Truths about what God’s Ultimate Yes is doing—and will do—for you. 

Thought of the Season

God’s way is perfect. 
    All the Lord’s promises prove true. 
    He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection … God arms me with strength,  and He makes my way perfect. 
Psalm 18:30, 32 

I Choose Hope!

“Our world today so desperately hungers for hope, yet uncounted people have almost given up. There is despair and hopelessness on every hand. Let us be faithful in proclaiming the hope that is in Jesus.”

Billy Graham

Hope. It’s an intriguing word. Merriam-Webster defines it as a “desire accompanied by expectation” or “someone or something on which desires ae centered.” An individual who hopes is described as someone who is eagerly waiting for or trusting in what has yet to be revealed. Sadly, as Billy Graham expressed all too clearly in the 2013 post above, far too many people have been looking for hope without knowing exactly where to find it. Ten years later, that desperate hunger has only heightened.

Fortunately, the Lord in His goodness offers hope to everyone, everywhere. See how Romans 15:13 explains how you and I can tap into this incredible resource:

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

During the past few years, this has become a touchstone verse for me—one I keep going back to again and again for inspiration and reassurance. I’m encouraged that the Creator of everything, including hope, gives us the ability to trust Him to offer assistance in good times, bad

times, and those long, often monotonous, in between times. He also miraculously provides peace and joy in the midst of all seasons of life. The only task we’re given is to completely trust in Him. So, God offers positive outcomes, but we have a part to play in receiving those blessings.

This simple formula is an integral part of Sonkist Ministries’ new book, I Choose Hope!

Here’s an excerpt to give you a glimpse of how this fifth book in the I Choose! series can encourage you and others in your life who need more hope too:

At this point in my life, I’m more convinced than ever that everyone has the choice to live more optimistically—if that is what they truly desire. In other words, making the choice to be more hopeful rests totally on you. No one can take away the hopeful attitude you want to have—but no one else can give it to you either.

So, you may be wondering at this point, “If I can choose to be more hopeful, how do I get started?” One of the most essential lessons I learned in my own I Choose journey is that I need to respond to life rather than react. Reacting is something we do rapidly or instinctively, often without thinking. Now, I recognize that some responses must be rapid—for instance, if a child tries to dart into a busy road, you’ll probably do everything possible to retrieve him or her immediately. If something catches fire on the stove, you will try to extinguish it right away. Most situations in life, however, do not require such spontaneous responses, but many of us employ this “put out the fire” strategy far too readily as we interact with people or handle everyday problems. What I’d like to recommend is, instead of being in a constant state of reacting, begin implementing a simple strategy I call the I Choose Formula:

Stop + Think + Respond

Let’s take a few minutes and apply this formula to the topic at hand. No doubt you are dealing with at least one dilemma where there appears to be little or no hope. Perhaps you are having difficulties in your marriage or are facing challenges with your children. Maybe you have aging parents you’re caring for, or you are trying to assist friends or family members who are struggling. Have you lost your job? Is your spouse underemployed or unemployed? Finances alone have been tough for many of us in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet even when dealing with these kind of problems, you and I have the opportunity to pause, process and then proceed rather than immediately react to people or problems. By implementing the I Choose Formula, we can take a step back, analyze and think through the situation, and then respond to the circumstances differently than we may have in the past. This process often involves replacing old ineffective patterns with new productive ones that can yield much better results. The problem person or challenging issue doesn’t necessarily go away, but our negative outlook and ineffective problem solving can …

Can we live more optimistic, hope-filled lives? Yes! I Choose Hope! will help you learn how to develop a more hopeful outlook and increase your level of perseverance. Using the Bible as the foundation for this hopeful development process, we’ll explore the lives of individuals who learned how to survive and thrive, even in the midst of the most challenging of life’s circumstances. In addition, each chapter includes a “Hopeful Thinking” section so you or the group you’re leading can practically apply the strategies provided throughout the book.

The team at Sonkist Ministries trusts that you’ll find I Choose Hope! to be as reassuring and relevant as other books in our I Choose! series. Click here to discover more about this tool for increasing your “confident hope,” or explore our Resources section at for additional materials that may be of assistance to you, your family, your friends, and your church community.

Thought of the Season

Lead me by Your truth and teach me, for You are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You.

Psalm 25:5, NLT

The Not-So-Silent Night

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, 
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” 
Luke 2:13-14, NLT 

I love the song Silent Night, but the holy evening about which the tune is based was probably far from quiet. Instead, the environment would have been boisterous and brimming with activity—including a plethora of angels praising God.  But before we discuss those divine visitors, let’s start with the most important part of the story. 

Whatever silence may have existed that evening was shattered by the beautiful wail of a newborn babe.  Jesus had entered the world, and his parents would have been eagerly awaiting that first, critical cry that confirmed the arrival of a healthy child. That’s when his mother “wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid Him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them” (Luke 2:7b). 

Which leads us to another aspect of that far-from-quiet night: because Jesus’ birth took place in a stable, animals were undoubtedly present, adding their own assortment of sounds to the setting. Perhaps a few critters vocalized their complaints—after all, that baby had just taken up residence in their feeding trough! 

I also can’t imagine Mary and Joseph remained muted during all the happenings that evening. They’d just experienced nine months of extraordinary events.  Visits by angels (Matthew 1 and Luke 1).  Elizabeth’s prophetic pronouncement when Mary arrived: “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.  Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?  When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy” (Luke 1:42b-44). Surely this couple must have exchanged many excited conversations as they held Jesus in their arms. 

Now back to those angels.  Not far from the stable, shepherds worked in nearby fields, watching over their flocks in the still of the night.  Yet their peaceful evening was interrupted in a most remarkable way: 

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified,  but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!  And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 
Luke 2:9-12 

Shortly after this announcement, other angels appeared—and they had no intention of remaining quiet either.  Here’s how Joseph Mohr, the author of Silent Night, described the scene: 

Silent night, holy night! 
Shepherds quake at the sight. 
Glories stream from heaven afar, 
heav’nly hosts sing, Alleluia! 
Christ, the Savior, is born!  
Christ, the Savior, is born! 

Those startled shepherds didn’t take long to follow the angel’s instructions, adding to the noisy nativity scene.  And afterward, they kept the conversation about the Christ child going.  See how Luke 2:16-18 explains what happened next: 

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.  After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.  All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 

That’s right, those typically isolated members of society “told everyone what had happened.”  A tranquil evening was no longer on their agenda; they desperately had to share what they’d just witnessed. Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah, had been born! 

Oh, may you and I experience this same kind of raucous Christmas celebration! Like the angels, we can sing loudly and proudly about our Lord and Savior. Let’s spread the good news about Jesus to family, friends, and anyone else who crosses our path this festive season. And may we encourage each other with our Hope of Salvation who arrived that one, not-so-silent night. 

Thought of the Season

He has given me a new song to sing, 
    a hymn of praise to our God. 
Many will see what He has done and be amazed. 
    They will put their trust in the Lord. 
Psalm 40:3 

Harvesting Hope

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord 
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. 

Jeremiah 17:7 

Did you know that optimists tend to have a better sense of well-being and lower levels of stress? Were you aware that positive people also are more likely to have stronger cardiovascular and immune systems?  This data helps explain why many of these hopeful individuals experience “exceptional longevity,” a term researchers use for those who outlive their pessimist peers—sometimes by a decade or more.   

While there seems to be increased scientific evidence to support the belief that hopefulness and good health go hand-in-hand, this probably isn’t much of a surprise for those who believe in God.  Why?  Because Scripture is replete with the benefits of a hopeful outlook, as the prophet Jeremiah so eloquently summed up in the verse above:  “blessed are those” who have decided to believe in the Lord, trusting Him for everything, including their future in Heaven one day. 

But let’s be honest with one another, this is a challenging season for hope.  After months of pandemic fears, fighting in the streets, and a floundering economy, people are fatigued.  Add to these public crises personal dilemmas like finances, health troubles, aging parents, and problem kids, and no wonder so many individuals struggle to have a positive rather than pessimistic perspective. Indeed, you may feel much like David did when he cried out to the Lord so many centuries ago: 

Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress. 
My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all! Feel my pain and see my trouble. Forgive all my sins. See how many enemies I have and how viciously they hate me! Protect me! Rescue my life from them!  

Psalm 25:16-19 

Like this overwhelmed psalmist, we feel the pain of living in a fallen world, and these past few years have only exacerbated the “deep distress” we’ve experienced.  How can we continue to hold up, let alone try to harvest feelings of hope in such troubling times? 

Well, why don’t we take a look at how David completed his plea for help in Psalm 25: “Do not let me be disgraced, for in You I take refuge. May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in You” (verses 20-21).  

David’s source of strength and support, even when “problems go from bad to worse,” was the Lord.  Actually, he reiterates this trust in God over and over again in the Psalms.  Here’s a sampling of how this bruised and battered believer harvested hope, even in the most challenging of circumstances: 

And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in You. Psalm 39:7 

But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. Psalm 56:3 

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. Psalm 62:5 

The Apostle Paul also discovered he couldn’t make it through life without completely trusting in God, and he often encouraged believers to focus on the hope that only the Lord can offer.  In the book of Romans, one of those passages is particularly poignant: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (chapter 15, verse 13).  This leader of the early church understood the stresses and strains of living in a far-from-perfect world, and no doubt he cried out to God just as David had done “see how many enemies I have and how viciously they hate me!” Yet because of life’s difficulties, Paul had learned to rely on the Source of Hope who not only promises His assistance but also peace, joy, and a confidence that no one or nothing else this side of Heaven can provide.  

What about you?  Are you ready to experience more of these blessings in your life?   

While researchers continue to look for explanations about “exceptional longevity” and other benefits of being more hopeful, you’re already promised some pretty amazing results when “you trust in Him.” Our Source of Hope offers everyone who believes a harvest of blessings, which extends from the here and now right into eternity!   

  May this season of Harvest be filled with many blessings and an increased sense of hope about the Lord’s plans for you! 

Thought of the Season

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called—His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance. 

Ephesians 1:18 


No one could miss the dark script boldly emblazoned on the nurse’s forearm: Strength Through Pain. It didn’t escape her notice that my eyes were fixated on her tattoo as my mind whirled, wondering what could have caused this young woman’s anguish. 

“I’ve been through a lot in life,” Ava* smiled sweetly as she broke the silence, “but I have also grown stronger because of it.” She went on to tell me about the birthday party she was planning for her three-year-old, and the upcoming visit to church on Sunday with her family and the barbeque they’d have together afterward.  She never divulged any specifics about the reason for her tattoo. She didn’t really need to because, like her, I can relate to painful experiences that have indelibly marked my soul too. 

Shorty after this experience, I read an email sent by a friend about a woman named Suzy* who is battling brain cancer.  Despite the tremendous trial she’s enduring, Suzy penned a positive message about her fight against the disease—connecting it to a struggle she’d had years ago while trying to break a horse named Storm.  Here’s part of her poignant note:  “I think God has to break us to make us useful.  If God has broken you, it is because He loves you.  You are more beautiful because you have been broken.” 

Whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, all of us carry painful scars that are a result of living in this world.  In other words, we’re all marked by something, but what would a tattoo artist inscribe as a result of your distress?  Would your tattoo read Strength Through Pain, or might it be something more like this:  

Bitterness Through Pain 

Sadness Through Pain 

Defeat Through Pain 

Anger Through Pain 

I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to have an attitude like Suzy and Ava.  They’ve taken their suffering and transformed it into something far more powerful and productive, no doubt due to their willingness to look to God for strength and support. 

There are many individuals, including some Christians, who struggle with the existence of pain in our world.  After all, doesn’t God want people to experience “abundant life” (John 10:10)?  Of course! But the reality is that our lives must be lived in an imperfect world—one far different from the ideal creation God had originally designed.  Sin changed things, as Jesus reminded us about when He said “here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b, New Living Translation). 

I love the ending of that verse.  Take heart!  In other words, don’t get discouraged. Don’t be sad, bitter, or angry.  Because of the Lord’s gift of salvation, we can rely on His assistance in the here and now as we await our perfect, eternal home.  Indeed, Jesus summed up our circumstances this way: “ So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy” (John 16:22). 

There’s a day coming when we’ll finally be with our Heavenly Father and live the way He had initially intended. And that environment will never be tainted by the problems we contend with now.  Actually, Scripture tells us “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:4).  Until that day, may each of us seek the Lord’s assistance as we walk through life.  Let’s strive to “rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation” (Romans 5:3-4).   

Please know all of us at Sonkist Ministries ae praying that, even during those tattooing seasons of life, you will “keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you” (I Peter 4:19b). 

*The names have been changed to provide anonymity. 

  Thought of the Summer

For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him. 

Philippians 1:29 

Does Jesus Still Love Me?

Does Jesus Still Love Me?

The three-year-old was quite serious when she asked her mother this age-old question:  “Does Jesus still love me?” Harper had disobeyed and knew her mom wasn’t happy, but most importantly, she wondered what Jesus thought.  Could He possibly love her even though she’d “blown it” again? 

Little Harper’s question is poignant because, if we’re honest, many of us have asked this very question.  You may be pondering this question right now.  Or you may know someone who is wondering whether or not God can ever forgive them.  

Amazingly, the answer to that question is simple. Yes, the Lord loves us.  Indeed, we discover time and time again in Scripture that God loves everyone (“For this is how God loved the world, He gave His one and only Son…” is how the New Living Translation’s John 3:16 explains this fact).  Most of all, He is “not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9, New American Standard Bible). 

Repentance is key to a secure relationship with God, just as it is critical to restore any relationship.  Harper’s mother still loved her despite the willful disobedience, but in order to make things right, Harper had to ask her mom for forgiveness.  When she did so, they moved on because there wasn’t anything to interfere with their healthy, harmonious relationship. 

Merriam-Webster explains that repentance basically means “to feel or show that you are sorry for something bad or wrong ….and that you want to do what is right.” In other words, attaining forgiveness involves these components: 

Feeling sorrow or regret.   

Expressing that regret specifically.  

Seeking forgiveness to make the relationship right again.   

These three steps heal broken relationships, including the one we have with God. Whether it’s the first time (as we find in Romans 10:9, NLT, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”) or the many times over a life-long journey that we need to ask God for forgiveness, the process is very straightforward.  This is how the Apostle John described it: 

“If we admit our sins—simply come clean about them—He won’t let us down.  He’ll be true to Himself.  He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.”
(I John 1:9, The Message Bible) 

So, if you feel you’ve blown it with God, ask for His forgiveness. While God loves you, He is going to wait for you to “want to do what is right.”  

If you know people who feel unsure about the Lord’s love for them, encourage them today with the truths we’ve just covered.  Remind them of the simple steps to either begin a relationship with Jesus or to reconnect with Him. 

And if you want to stay reassured of the Lord’s love for you, read His Word in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Why? Well, Harper would probably explain it this way:  “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” 

Thought of the Season

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Romans 8:38-39, New Living Translation 


Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship,
    and punctuate it with Hallelujahs:
Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers;
    give glory, you sons of Jacob;
    adore Him, you daughters of Israel.
He has never let you down,
    never looked the other way
    when you were being kicked around.
He has never wandered off to do His own thing;
    He has been right there, listening. 

Psalm 22:22-24, The Message Bible  

Never before in human history have we been besieged by so many words. Like the blast of a winter storm, words whirl in and out of our lives via airwaves or the Internet. Some people inundate us with incessant conversation; others simply send a surplus of texts, tweets, and email messages. Most of the time we process those words promptly, then prepare ourselves for the next round of communication coming our way.

It is for these reasons, particularly during this busy season, I felt it important to keep this Sonkist message short and, hopefully, sweet. In fact, I’d simply like to have you focus on one single word: Adore.

Now, as often happens, one word can lead to another—but hold on for a few more paragraphs for that second, far more important “word”. Right now, let me briefly explain what I mean by the term adore.

Like the famous song Adeste Fidelesadore finds its origin in Latin. The root meaning, aōrāreliterally translates “to pray or to beseech.” In ancient times, anyone who used this word would have understood it meant “to plead with, appeal to, or approach (a god) as a suppliant or worshipper,” ( No one centuries ago would ever have thrown around the term loosely as it often is today, for instance, “I just adore that outfit” or “We found a new restaurant we adore.” Instead, adore would have involved the greatest respect and reverence as the “oration” (prayer) was offered up.

The passage of time doesn’t mean the significance of the word need change for those of us who worship the One True God. Indeed, as the psalmist encourages in the passage above, we can and should adore Him, especially during this most holy of seasons. Why? Because, unlike others in our lives, He doesn’t let us down, look away, or stop listening. He is worthy of our praise, so let’s be sure to “punctuate it with Hallelujahs.”

This time of year, that praise might come in the form of Christmas songs like O Come All Ye Faithful, which when translated from the original Latin leads us to that second, most important Word we should know:

Yes Lord, we greet Thee
Born this happy morning
Jesus to Thee be all glory giv’n
Word of the Father
Now in flesh appearing
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord!

 Why should we adore Jesus? Because He is literally “the Word” (John 1:1-4). He is not only with God, but He also is God. He is  “the Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—” (Luke 2:11a). If we are going to adore anyone, it must be Him—and there’s no better time to do so than right now.

Can you take a few minutes today to adore your Lord and Savior? To do so, simply put everything else out of your mind and just focus on Jesus. What has He done for you? Thank Him for that. If you have a little extra time, read a favorite passage of Scripture, or listen to some music that inspires you to worship Him. Make this adoring process a priority each day of this holy season—and in all the seasons He gives you along life’s journey.  

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at Sonkist Ministries!

  Thought of the Season

In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through Him,
    and nothing was created except through Him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and His life brought light to everyone.

John 1:1-4, New Living Translation

The Harvest Shout

Each fall for countless generations, Cornish gleaners would hear a familiar euphoric cry from the master of the harvest:  “Yma genef! Yma genef! Yma genef!”  This jubilant shout signified that the last crop had been cut, so field laborers would gather to lift up their own joyous reply because their season of toil had ended, and a great time of celebration was about to commence.

Most of us can understand the reason behind such enthusiasm, although we may never have experienced an agrarian lifestyle.  Indeed, people around the world appreciate the benefits that an ample harvest brings to their individual homes.  Yet even with such autumnal blessings, many in 2021 may not feel like celebrating anything.  The fallout from a global pandemic is still creating a plethora of problems. There’s also an unbearable amount of worldwide atrocities delivered to us daily in the news. More locally, some in leadership have failed us while a few families we know are floundering. 
If you are feeling overwhelmed by life’s circumstances right now, you are not alone. Actually, centuries ago the Apostle Paul shared how the difficulties of this world are particularly challenging for Christians:

And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as His adopted children, including the new bodies He has promised us.  We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it.  But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
Romans 8:23-25, New Living Translation 

Like those early believers, today’s Christ followers know a better season is on the horizon.  Once you and I accept Jesus as our Savior, we are given the promise of eternal life (John 3:16; I John 5:11-12). And although pain, grief, and even groaning are normal reactions to living in a fallen world, we’re encouraged to do more than mourn our losses.  Instead, in these verses we are urged to “wait with eager hope” for God’s perfect plan to unfold which includes an amazing future we can’t even imagine (Jeremiah 29:11; I Thessalonians 5:9).

Why would God have us wait for the joys of Heaven, which include new healthy bodies that will never again experience the pain brought on by sin?  The answer to this query involves the most important harvest season the Lord has sanctioned, as the Apostle Peter explains:  

The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed but wants everyone to repent . . . and remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— speaking of these things in all of his letters . . .  
II Peter 3:9, 15-16a 

What are we waiting for?  God’s timing—not only for our futures but also for the many souls yet to be saved. The seeds of salvation are still being planted, and the Lord is patiently gathering all who wish to join His forever family.  Jesus made this mission clear when He shared a farming analogy with the disciples:

You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!
John 4:35-36 

Since the Lord’s mission is focused on gathering souls, those of us who follow Him can take up this mantle while we await our “full rights as His adopted children.” In other words, while we “wait with eager hope,” we can be involved in His harvest process.  And notice what is bestowed upon those who choose to work alongside Him:   Joy!  Joy in 2021?  Joy in the midst of problems, even a pandemic? Yes, most definitely yes!  The Lord is the purveyor of joy, and He wants to share this jubilant feeling with His co-laborers. 

As we slowly shift into this fall season, remember another much-anticipated shout is coming soon.  When He deems the timing is right, “the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven with a commanding shout.” This will signal the end of His harvest season for “the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Can you participate more in the Lord’s mission? Despite what you are going through, could you help plant seeds that may lead to someone’s salvation? Would you join in the efforts of fellow believers and assist in the gathering of souls, decreasing the number of those who might cry “the harvest is finished, and the summer is gone . . . yet we are not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20)?

May you experience great joy this Harvest season as you await the Lord’s return with eager anticipation!

  Thought of the Season

The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So, pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields.

Luke 10:2

Hopeful Summer

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
Jeremiah 17:7

For many people, summer is typically a season for rest and relaxation.  Sunshine is plentiful, and the outdoors beckon.  Even if a vacation isn’t in the plans, trips to the beach, lake, or river are definitely on the docket.  It’s the time of year when we give ourselves a pass to unwind and reboot, literally kicking off our shoes as we relish the warmth that long summer days send our way.

There’s also another delightful aspect to Summer 2021:  HOPE is in the air! Despite residual problems from a global pandemic, people not only seem hopeful about the future, but they are also talking more and more hopefully. 

For believers, a hopeful outlook is always possible because we have access to God, the Creator of hope.  Indeed, the Bible is full of stories about how the Lord has offered hope to individuals just like us.  Whether in good times, bad times, or even uneventful, between times,  God can give a peace about the present and confidence regarding the future that no one or nothing else can provide. A prayer by the Apostle Paul gives us some insight about what this kind of hope entails:

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Notice that joy and peace are certainties when you and I choose to put our trust in God.  In other words, we are part of the Lord’s hopeful equation. After we take this initial step of belief, the Holy Spirit can powerfully impact our lives, even allowing us to “overflow” with a confidence we never imagined possible.  Jesus explained exactly how the Holy Spirit can assist us:

“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own but will tell you what He has heard…” (John 16:13).

Believers have a connection with a powerful triumvirate—God the Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit who look after and provide for us at all times and in every season.  This alone should give us renewed hope, even helping us to change our perspective about the negative circumstances we sometimes face while living in a far-from-perfect world:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.
Romans 5:3-5 

These verses explain the most important reason why you and I can have hope:  God loves us! Because of this reality, we should be able to trust Him to assist us with our burdens and also help us relish all of His blessings.  And no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, we can rest in the knowledge that the Lord is using everything to develop our character, strengthening us in the here and now while preparing us for all the seasons of life yet to come.

At Sonkist Ministries, our prayer is that your summer will be full of hope.  We encourage you to dive deeply into the Word, and soak in all the wisdom the Son has to offer.  Rest in the joy of your salvation—and be sure to share God’s love with others around you since Harvest season is on the horizon!

  Thought of the Month

We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. Let Your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in You alone.
Psalm 33:20-22

The Promise Keeper

So, God has given both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.
Hebrews 6:18 (New Living Translation)

  Promise-breaking starts way too early in life.  In fact, if you consider your own history, you may have interacted with a child who promised to be your friend one day but changed her mind the next. Or maybe you recall with trepidation the scene from middle school when a buddy promised to save a seat for you but then decided to give it to someone else.   Or perhaps you can relate to so many who have had their feelings from a first “love” dashed within days of the budding romance. These are just some of the painful experiences that have marred our developmental years and, sadly, seem to multiply as we move through adulthood.

Of course, as adults we realize that broken promises are just part of living in a far-from-perfect world.  Maybe what’s most disappointing to those of us who are believers is that we struggle with the same promise-keeping problem as everyone else.  Like the Apostle Paul, we recognize that “nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t.  I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway” (Romans 7:18-19).

Thankfully, as the author of Hebrews points out in the Scripture above, God’s children have access to the one and only Promise Keeper.  And because the Lord doesn’t lie, we can have confidence in everything He promised—most importantly His assurance of eternal life, that “hope that lies before us.”  So, when God says that everyone who believes in Jesus “will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), we can trust that truth.  When Jesus reminds us,  “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), we don’t have to worry about some missing step needed to earn our place in Heaven someday.

What more do we need in life than this?  Nothing—but, as our amazing God always does, He offers His forever family so much more.  See how The Message Bible explains the “additional benefits” our Promise Keeper provides:

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have Him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.
(I Peter 1:3-5)

These verses make it perfectly clear that God is at work for us in the here and now, giving us “a brand-new life” and “everything to live for.”  We find these assurances over and over again in Scripture, for instance, “anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (II Corinthians 5:17). Part of this new way of living involves the Lord developing us into keepers of His promises too:  “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him” (Philippians 2:13).

I don’t know about you, but I need to focus on the Promise Keeper much more in the days ahead.  After all, we can’t change the past or avoid every promise-breaker, but we absolutely can connect with the One keeping an eye on us today, tomorrow, and forever.  

Many blessings to you during this season of rebirth and renewal from all of us at Sonkist Ministries!

  Thought of the Spring

God’s way is perfect.
    All the Lord’s promises prove true.
    He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection.

Psalm 18:30