The year is 1933. America is in the middle of the Great Depression. In an orphanage in New York City, an eleven-year-old orphan girl is taken by the assistant to a billionaire to spend the Christmas holiday at the mansion of her employer. Soon, this spunky and ever-optimistic orphan girl wins the heart of the billionaire and, in the end, he decides to adopt her. The little girl is Annie and the billionaire is Oliver “Daddy Warbucks. And the rags to riches story, of course, is from the Broadway musical “Annie,” based on a comic strip called Little Orphan Annie.
When Annie was adopted by “Daddy” Warbucks, she was given the right to be called his child. She no longer needed to live in the orphanage, where she would spend her days slaving away along with the other orphans who lived there with her. When we receive God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as our Lord and Savior, when we believe in His name, we are given the right to be called children of God (John 1:12). We receive adoption as His children and are able to call Him Abba and Father (Galatians 4:4-7; Romans 8:15).
When Annie became the adopted child of “Daddy Warbucks, she became his heir. All of his riches would one day pass to her. When we become children of God through salvation in Jesus Christ, because of God’s grace, we also become heirs. We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). As heirs of God, what do we inherit? We inherit the kingdom of God (Matthew 25:34). We inherit the Word of God (Psalm 119:111). And, we inherit the Lord Himself; He becomes the strength of our hearts and our portion forever (Psalm 73:26). And the best part is that this inheritance, unlike any earthly inheritance, is guaranteed for eternity (1 Peter 1:3-5).
There are many insurance companies out there competing for your business and they all want to give you a sense of confidence and comfort. They want you to know that, when you need them most, they will be there for you. So, they use slogans such as, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there,” or “You’re in good hands with Allstate.” They want you to look at them as a source of stability so, a company like Prudential uses the Rock of Gibraltar as its logo along with the slogan, “Get a piece of the rock.”
We all need to have things like life insurance, homeowner’s insurance, and auto insurance because they give us protection against the unforeseen and often inevitable circumstances of life, such as death, accidents, and other loss. So, we choose one of these companies and invest our money and confidence in it. But, when it comes to our spiritual lives, when it comes to our heart and soul, the only insurance policy we need is God.
No matter what we are dealing with in life, God is there. He is always with us and will never forsake us. In our times of trouble, He is with us. Through pain and loss, He is with us. He is even with us when we turn from Him, no matter how far from Him we may run and how dark a place we run to. Psalm 139:7-10 tells us that there is no place we can go that He is not there with us. He is there when we are in a good place, and He is there when we are in darkness.
Whether we are in a dark place as a result of sin, or because our circumstances have driven us there, we can be sure that God is with us. But, more than that, we can be sure that, if we call on Him, our cries will be heard and He will lift us out of the pit we are in and set our feet on solid ground (Psalm 40:1-3). When we need God, He is there. With Him, we are always in good hands. And, through His Son, Jesus, He has provided a Rock that we can stand on.
Have you ever bought a product with a lifetime guarantee? I’m sure most of us have. If you have, you likely did so because you believed the product would last for many years. After all, a lifetime guarantee means the product will last a lifetime, right? Now, here’s another question. Do you still have that product that was supposed to last a lifetime? Chances are, the lifetime guarantee was really not for your lifetime but the lifetime of the product itself. And exactly what is the lifetime of a product? Basically, a lifetime guarantee may not even worth the paper it was written on.
God has given us a lifetime guarantee. His guarantee is in writing, found in His Word. And His guarantee is not just worth the paper it is written on. It is worth more than all the wealth in the world. So, what exactly is this lifetime guarantee we have from God? God’s lifetime guarantee is found in the book of Isaiah: “I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” (Isaiah 46:4, NLT)
God guarantees that He will always be our God. We are His creation and He will care for us, carry us through our lives and save us. That salvation comes in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ, who He gave as a ransom for our sins so that we may have eternal life. Jesus Himself said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)
The lifetime guarantee that God gives us in Isaiah 46:4, like all of God’s promises, is one we can truly count on. His guarantee will last not just for our lifetime here on earth, but for eternity.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations are marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
“It isn’t my fault. That’s the way I was brought up.”
“It wasn’t me. It was him!”
“She made me do it!”
The blame game. At one time or another, we have all likely taken part in it. Rather than take responsibility for our own actions when we are wrong, we look to pin the blame on something or someone else. After all, it’s easier to blame someone else than to accept responsibility. When we are wrong or have done something wrong, our human nature is often to go on the defensive, so we look to shift the responsibility away from ourselves.
The blame game has been in existence since the creation of man. It began in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. When God confronted them with their disobedience, the blaming began (Genesis 3:8-13). Adam blamed Eve. He even blamed God because, after all, God created her! Eve blamed the serpent. The fact is, they each made a decision to do exactly what they had been told not to do, but neither of them was willing to take responsibility for their own actions.
God created each of us with free will. We have the ability to choose things for ourselves, to choose to do what is right or what is wrong. But, along with free will comes responsibility. We are responsible for the actions we take and the things that we choose. But, man’s sinful, fallen nature leans toward choosing that which is wrong and then looking for someone else to blame. And, that someone can be another person, a circumstance, or even God. Fortunately, God has given us a way to choose to do what is right and avoid the blame game.
When we live according to the flesh, according to our sinful nature, we live in opposition to God and cannot please Him (Romans 8:7-8). But God has given us His Holy Spirit to help us. When we turn from our sin and accept Christ as Savior, the Spirit of God dwells in us. When the Spirit dwells in us, we are able to set our minds on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5). The result for us is life and peace (Romans 8:6).
The loss of peripheral vision is called tunnel vision. When a person suffers from tunnel vision, he retains only central vision, the result of which is a constricted circular field of vision which resembles a tunnel. The term tunnel vision can also be applied to someone who is reluctant to consider alternatives to his preferred line of thought. That person is so set on looking at things one way that he is not open to seeing things differently.
When it comes to looking at people, God has a kind of tunnel vision. Scripture tells us that the eyes of the Lord are focused on the righteous. The righteous occupy God’s central field of vision. And not only are His eyes focused on the righteous, but His ears are inclined to them as well, so that He hears their cry (Psalm 34:15). God is on the side of the righteous, protecting them and shielding them (Psalm 34:17).
On the other hand, God’s face is turned against those who do evil (Psalm 34:16). But, while His eyes may be focused on the righteous, the wicked or unrighteous should not think that this means they can get away with sin and wickedness. God sees all and knows all. And while the righteous, those who live a Christ-like life, will be delivered by God on the day of the Lord, those who live sinfully, rejecting the Lord, will receive the judgment that they have earned.
It’s clear that the better place to be is in God’s “tunnel vision,” to be among those whom He will redeem and deliver from the judgment that we all truly deserve as a result of sin. And the way to stay in the center of God’s vision is to turn from sin, to stand with His Son, Jesus Christ, to accept Him as Savior, and to walk in His ways.
On November 26, 1938, in Ottawa, Canada, a child was born who would one day be known as “The Man of a Thousand Voices.” That man is Rich Little, an impressionist and voice actor who became famous for his spot-on impressions of many celebrities, U.S. presidents, and historical figures. Little is a master mimic of more than 200 voices, such as Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy, John Wayne, Jack Benny, and Jimmy Stewart. In some cases, he could convincingly mimic not just the voice, but also the walk and mannerisms of the person he was impersonating.
As believers, we are called to be imitators. We are not called to mimic a voice, a walk, or a mannerism. Just as a child imitates his father or mother, we are called to be imitators of God, to display His characteristics in all that we say or do (Ephesians 5:1). We are also to be imitators of Christ by walking in love as Christ did, a love that is made evident by the fact that He willingly gave Himself as a sacrifice for us (Ephesians 5:2).
The apostle Paul knew the importance of being imitators of Christ. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul exhorted the believers in Corinth to be imitators of him, just as he was an imitator of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). And as we just saw, he encouraged the believers in Ephesus to be imitators of God and of Christ. Paul also commended the Thessalonian believers for being imitators of him and his companions and of the Lord Jesus (1 Thessalonians 1:6). He later urged those same believers to continue to imitate the Lord, noting that what they were doing was pleasing to God (1Thessalonians 4:1).
When we walk in the ways of Christ, when we work at being imitators of God, we can be sure that God is pleased with the way in which we live our lives. After all, we are created in His image (Genesis 1:27).
In the 60’s, American singer-songwriter Barry McGuire released a song called “Eve of Destruction.” This song spoke to what McGuire felt were signs that the end of the world was near. We were on the “eve of destruction,” a time when wars, violence, natural disasters, and the like were pointing to the end of this world as we know it. Decades have passed since that song was written and the end has not come, but there are still signs that we are living in end times.
It is so easy to get caught up in looking at what is going on the world. Terrorism is rampant throughout the world. Countries are at odds with each other with the threat of war, and even nuclear war, becoming more and more real. Hate and violence threaten to tear our nation apart. And earthquakes and other natural disasters are occurring with more frequency and with more devastation than ever before. We are in the midst of the storm, and it can be downright frightening when we focus our attention on the storm.
Instead of looking at the storm, we should be focusing our attention on the One who calms the storm. Rather than keeping our eyes on the storm, our eyes should be on Jesus. In Matthew 14:28-31, seeing Jesus walk on water, Peter says, “Lord, if that is You, command me to walk on the water.” Jesus does so and Peter steps out of the boat, his eyes on Jesus and not on the wind that had been tossing the boat around. He begins to walk on the water toward Jesus. But, as soon as he takes his eyes off of Jesus and focuses back on the wind, he begins to sink.
The conditions in the world today point to end times. But, as believers, we need to keep our focus on Jesus rather than on the world around us. He controls the storms, and it is through Him we can find peace. And, rather than concerning ourselves with looking for the signs that the end is near and He is returning, we need to make sure not only that we are ready, but also that we are doing our part to make sure that others are, too.