What it Really Means to Live through Faith, Hope and Love

My Chalkboard

I made this chalk board out bark and chalk spray paint… I then wrote this as a reminder of what God spoke to me.

 “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

– 1 Corinthians 13:13

This verse and passage of scripture is perhaps the most used along with Jeremiah 29:11. Wall art was created, tattoos done, all surrounding the truth that only faith, hope and love will abide. We have fallen in love with this concept, literally bought the t-shirt and placed it on the walls of our homes and hearts. But have we really understood what it means for only faith, hope and love to abide? Do we really get what this looks like when it is lived out on a daily basis?

If I may be blunt, my answer to this question is a resounding, big fat, NO! A couple of nights ago, I was spending sometime in prayer with my guy and as we took a couple of moments in silence I heard that very phrase play in my mind; ” Only Faith, Hope and Love will remain”. Now let me be clear, we were not praying for our relationship, or love etc. At the moment that I heard that phrase, I was asking God to make us both more like Him. I was praying to be people who dwell in the river of life that He has provided for us. I was asking Him to help me, not focus on the bad things I experience, the opinions of others towards me, etc., and to see what He sees in all people ( this is a daily prayer of mine). And God’s response to me was ” Only Faith, Hope and Love will remain.”.

CTA button for Blog UGI sat on that for a moment and then it hit me like a wave. What God was saying to us in that moment was that in ALL of eternity the ONLY  things that will last are the things that come from a place of “Faith, Hope and Love”.  No word that is uttered, no work that is done, no opinion, no idea, absolutely nothing done outside of faith, hope and love will stand in the fire on that day that before our God. All else will be burned up like kindling at a bon fire, but everything that was/is rooted in these three things will stand the test of time.

We worry about a lot of things. I could spend the next two hours writing a list of things we worry about. BUT I won’t, so insert your own worries/anxieties here _______________. However most, if not all of the time, the things that we spend our time and mental capacities worrying about, are things that will mean nothing and become ashes to be soon blown away and forgotten in eternity.

So my question for you is: How much of what you allow to dictate your emotions and actions is influenced by faith, hope or love? How much of what you do, say, or seek finds its origin in one of those three things? If you answer is less than “everything” ( and you know it is because you probably feel awfully uncomfortable now), my friend something has to shift.

Now what does it look like to live from a place of faith, hope and love? Well I think the beginning portion of the 1 Corinthians 13 passage makes it pretty clear; with patience and kindness, with humility and grace, with forgiveness and mercy, with justice and joy, with lots and lots of do overs, with seeing the best and believing the best always and in growing in the maturity and love of Christ daily.

In the words of my dear friend Janet, “Jesus put the flesh and bones on this passage”. In the gospels we see a beautiful picture of what this complex love, radical faith and un-moving hope looks like.

May we people who live from a place of “Faith, Hope, and Love”!

Lent Devotions Day 34: “Aladdin”


by Rafael Lara, Worship Ministries Coordinator


“And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.”
– Psalm 9:10


Having children, to me, gives me an excuse to watch all the cartoons I want to watch (not that really need one to begin with, lol).  Eliana (our 2 1/2 year old daughter) loves cartoons, so this is pretty great.

After months of coaxing (which you need to do with a steadfast toddler), she finally agreed to watch Aladdin for the first time.  She’s pretty set in her shows, so getting her to watch one of my classics was huge.

The first time Aladdin and Princess Jasmine meet, they are chased by the palace guards.  There’s a moment in which, prior to leaping down to hoped-for safety, Aladdin stretches his hand to hers and asks her, “Do you trust me?”

She didn’t truly know him.  Sure, he had just saved her from getting her hand potentially chopped off, but she had just met him minutes before.  She needed to place her full trust in him.  It was almost blind faith.

Near the middle of the story, he asks her the same question in a different scenario.  He was inviting her on a magic carpet ride.  I could imagine anyone being afraid of heights (um, mmmeeee) perhaps squirming at the invitation.  But Aladdin asks her again, “Do you trust me?”

This time was different.  It was not a blind faith.  Track with me.  I know in the story Aladdin was hiding who he really was.  Even at that, she knew who he was.  When she made the decision to trust him in that moment, it was based on how Aladdin had proven himself last time.

We have an invitation to trust in the Lord.  This looks different in each of our lives, but the opportunity is there nevertheless.  He desires for you to simply trust in him.  You don’t need to figure it out.  You don’t need to worry.  You only need to look back  and see how he has not forsaken you in the past, which means he won’t in the present or future either.

what now?

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the areas in your life where God is asking you to trust in him.  These might not be too hard to notice.  Pray about these areas today with the specific purpose of move towards trust in God in these areas.


Lent Devotions Day 26: “Faith – Do You REALLY Believe In God?”

“Faith – Do You REALLY Believe in God?”

by Rafael E. Lara, Worship Ministries Coordinator

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord.  ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” – Jeremiah 29:11 NLT


Do you remember hearing those testimonies growing up that struck a ‘faith’ nerve?  You know, the ones that were bold enough to trust in God’s provision for food or finances, only to hear a doorbell and find a bag of groceries at the door, or to wait until the last minute and miraculously have an unexpected check arrive in the mail?

I remember telling my wife about two years ago, “I want to be the kind of person that LIVES the faith that I profess to have.”  Sometimes I wish I knew what I were getting into.

In the move, “Evan Almighty”, I remember the interaction Morgan Freeman (playing the role of God) had with the character of Evan Baxter’s wife.  He proposed an interesting reality that, even in Hollywood, had tremendous spiritual implications and realities.

When you ask God for patience, does he strike you with patience, or does he present you with opportunities to be patient?  When you ask God for boldness, does he strike you with courage and boldness, or present you with opportunities to be bold and courageous?

This was my experience.  I asked for the type of faith I grew up hearing.  What did I get in return?  I got a plethora of opportunities to LIVE that faith out.  I couldn’t really complain for something I asked for, right?  It was hard, but I was able to go through it, and am going through it still.

When you think of ‘faith’ in the bible, perhaps the only person (or at least the first person) you think about is Abraham.  He is the father of faith.  He believed in God.

But early in life, when he was still referred to as Abram, we see an interesting scripture on him.  In Genesis 15:6, we read, “And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.” (NLT).

Abram believed the Lord.  Have you ever believed in someone?  Has someone told you something and you believed them?

I remember asking my parents do go to McDonald’s (a desire I perhaps should NOT have had a child).  My dad would tell me would would go for our birthday or on a special day.  We did, and I believed in his word.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord.  ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” – Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

How does this apply to God?  Do you REALLY believe what God says?


what now?

This is one of those moments in time where we need to remember.  Spend a few minutes meditating/praying/writing the ways in which God has already come through for you in life.  Don’t discount the small things.  How has he been there for you before?  Let that build faith for this next season.

Lent Devotions Day 18: “Don’t Ask. Just Do, and See”

“Don’t Ask. Just Do, and See”

by Joe Kim, ATS Graduate Intern, Senior High Pastor @ Presbyterian Church of New Jersey


Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.

“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
    and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
    Who can speak of his descendants?
    For his life was taken from the earth.”

The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”  And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.  – Acts 8:26-40


My younger brother and I were raised in the church. My brother attended church until he graduated high school. He never really liked church to begin with. Sure, he believed in God but He did not like church.

After he graduated high school and went off to college he stopped going to church living life the way he wanted to. My brother is a lot bigger than I am. For years I tried to talk to my brother about going to church and he would always get angry with me and I would always cower because of his physical superiority.

After two years of not asking or even mentioning the word church to my brother, something started to tug at my heart again. God was telling me that I should ask my brother. I was so scared but I figured I would give it one last shot.

As my brother and I were in the car going somewhere, I felt a strong tugging at my heart, the Spirit was telling me this was the moment. I finally just gave up and did not ask God any questions and I asked my brother if he would like to go to church. He simply said ok.


The moment I stopped fearing and questioning God and complaining to Him about how my brother was not going to church, the moment I decided to just do it and ask my brother, I was able to see what God was going to do. And now at the age of 28, my brother is a deacon in the church and is in charge of all the finances for the church.

When Philip was called to leave the great revival he was having, Philip did not say anything back to God, he simply got up and left to the desert where God told him to go. Once there, he was able to see the wonderful opportunity that God had provided for him. To minister to a Eunuch, a powerful one at that.

When we learn to not question God about anything He asks of us and just act on His calling, we will see the amazing things that He will do in our lives.


what now?

Is God calling you to act in a certain situation right now?


Father, I pray for a heart that will wholeheartedly trust in You and Your guidance. Please give me the confidence and faith to not question Your will an to just act when You tell me to so that I can see all of the amazing things You have in store for me.

Lent Devotions Day 3: “Faith + Works = Perfect”

“Faith + Works = Perfect”

by Joe Kim, Graduate Intern, Senior High Pastor @ Presbyterian Church of New Jersey

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God.Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.  In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?  As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. – James 2:14-26


David Livingstone was a pioneer missionary in Africa. When H.M. Stanley went to Africa in 171 to find and report on him, he spent several months in the missionary’s company, carefully observing the man and his work. Livingstone never spoke to Stanley about spiritual matters, but Livingstone’s love and patient compassion or the African people, was beyond Stanley’s comprehension.

He could not understand how the missionary could have such love for and patience with the backward, pagan people among whom he had so long ministered. Livingstone literally spent himself in untiring service for those whom he had no reason to love except for Christ’s sake.

Stanley wrote in his journal, “When I saw that unwearied patience, that unflagging zeal, and those enlightened sons of Africa, I became a Christian at his side, though he never spoke to me one word.”


David Livingstone had already proven his faith by leaving the comfort of his home and going to Africa to minister to people that would most likely have a hard time understanding him. However, it did not just take faith to fulfill the will that God had for him. He needed to take action, he needed to do good works in order to communicate to these people the love that God has for them. H.M. Stanley was able to witness, first hand, what happens when true faith turns into action.

James also uses another great example. In verses 21-22, James makes a reference to Abraham and how his faith was completed BY his works.


what now?

If you were unable to speak a word, how many people would know that you were a Christian?


Father, I pray that you would convict my heart and continue to use the faith that I have declared to spread Your kingdom. I pray that I could do good works, and not just any good works but works that are done because of my faith in You and because it glorifies You. Amen.

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