Paul's Ponderings

Spiritual Formation. Discipleship. Christian Living.

Tag: Hope (page 1 of 5)

There is Evil

We live in a fallen and corrupted world.

One of the features of this reality is the violence and injustice that prevail in throughout the world. The gruesome images that have come out of Syria recently are evidence that evil is alive and well in the world.

While Christmas is to be a time of hope and joy, for many people their experience during the holiday is something quite different.

Whether it is due to some tragedy, illness, accident, or crime many people are in the midst of great evil rather than great joy.

It is important for us to remember that this was true for the first Christmas as well:

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
Matthew 2:16-18 ESV

In the midst of the beauty of God’s love pouring into the world through the birth of Jesus, Matthew reminds us that there is evil in the world.

The joy, peace, and hope of Christmas is painted on the backdrop of a world corrupted by evil.

I know that we don’t want to think the world has been corrupted by evil, but it doesn’t take a long examination of history or the evening news to realize that evil has a hold on our world. Herod’s slaughter of the baby boys of Bethlehem is just the tip of the iceberg of how evil has infected the world.

For us living in the United States we are insulated from much of the evil that plagues humankind. We see glimpses of this evil, but we don’t know the daily struggle many people face just to survive. Nevertheless, we feel that stirring in our hearts that tell us that life is not what God created it to be.

Life is not what it should be, because the days are evil.

Why are the days evil? The days are evil because God’s will is being opposed.

There is an enemy who seeks to corrupt and destroy God’s good creation. This means we are caught in the middle of a cosmic war between good and evil. Evil was present that night in Bethlehem, because the enemy had no intention of allowing God to invade the world.

Herod was but a pawn in the cosmic battle. The enemy used him to spread death and misery; to create doubt in people’s minds that God was good, loving, and kind.

Even today, the biggest objection to the existence of God is the reality of evil. People insist that evil is incompatible with a loving and good God.

The reality is that what happened in a stable in Bethlehem was God’s answer to the problem of evil.

Jesus reminds us that God has not abandoned us to Satan, sin, and death. Evil does not have the final word. It is because of Jesus that we have hope that one day we will experience life free from evil. Free to live life the way God created it to be lived.

Time to Go to the Beach

beach-holidayHave you ever felt like there was more to life?

You fall into a routine and you get comfortable as you navigate the responsibilities, joys, and frustrations of every day life. Yet, even in the midst of the comfort, there is a gnawing in your heart causing you to wonder if you are missing out on something larger.

I know I have.

C. S. Lewis wrote; “We are halfhearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” 

I have settled for a life that is far less than the life God desires to give me. This isn’t about how successful my life is, but about how closely I am living out God’s purpose for my life. I am content to live a moral life and enjoy time with my family, but often I miss out on the life that God is calling me to live.

This is true for many American Christians. Our lives are so easy and smooth most of the time that we are able to live life on cruise control and pay little attention to God. We have settled for a life of moral living (when it suits us), attending Sunday worship (when we have nothing better to do), and giving $10 (if we can spare it). We have made Christianity something we do rather than who we are. In the process we have settled for life in the slums, when God wants to take us to the beach.

The problem is that we don’t understand that God promised us a life that is greater than we can imagine. He intended for our lives to have a purpose, to be lived with joy, and to have a positive impact in this world. God created us to be part of something greater than ourselves.

This thought makes me excited. The reason I get excited is because this truth means I was created for a purpose. That purpose is not to sit in a pew once a week, to  live a nice and moral life, or to give a certain percentage of my income to Kingdom work.

I was not created for such a life, and neither were you. Don’t settle for life in the sandbox. Accept God’s invitation to the beach.

Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 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 1:15-18; NLT)


The Apostle Paul prayed that the Ephesians would receive the wisdom and understanding they needed so they could have the knowledge of the life God created them to live. This prayer implies that the Ephesians did not understand the hope they had been given through Jesus. In the words of Lewis, they could not imagine what an offer of a vacation at the beach would be like.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of our lives I think we fall into the same trap. We have settled for the emotional experiences of a worship service and the fellowship of a small group, but we don’t grasp all that God has for His people.

The full extent of our hope is difficult to describe. In fact, human words cannot do it just. That is why Paul prayed for the Ephesians to be filled with the knowledge of this hope. We need to make it our practice to ask God to fill us, and our church families, with wisdom and understanding, so we too can have the knowledge of the hope we have in Jesus.

I think it is time for us to leave the slum. Let’s ask God to take us to the beach.

Everlasting God

Authentically Human

The Christian hope is not about going to heaven when we die.  Rather it is about the reality that we become new people (2 Corinthians 5:17), because of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  It is possible for you and I to be the people God created us to be!  There is hope for our lives.  We can be authentically human.

Sunday Prayer: Thank You for Christmas

My Father in Heaven,

I thank You for this day, another day of life, another day of worship, another day of love. You have graciously given me Your forgiveness, compassion, provision, and love.

Father, I will worship You all the days of my life.

I thank You for this Christmas holiday, a time set aside so I can celebrate the first coming of Jesus. This is a time when I can pause from my busy schedule and remember that You are the God who keeps His promises. You promised 4000 years ago to send a Savior and a Messiah, and 2000 years ago You did.

Father, may I always trust You to keep Your promises.

I ask that during this Christmas season that You will remind me of the great love You have for me, the love that is seen in the precious gift of Your son Jesus. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit to transform my life and empower me to live a life that reflects Your love into this world.

Father, make this Christmas a joyful, hopeful, and loving time of the year.

It is in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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