Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

Here’s a great post written by a friend of mine from high school.  It offers encouragement to those who are facing difficult circumstances.

The Ultimate Rescue Operation

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Faith as it is used in the vernacular is “confidence or trust in a person or thing.”  [Dictionary.com]  This is far from what the Bible considers faith.  In Hebrews 11, Paul defines faith as ” the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  He goes on to add that “by it the elders obtained a good testimony” and “by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” [Hebrews 11:1-3]
Biblical faith can be understood in part by looking at what it is not:
  • It is not mere hopefulness
  • It is not mere optimism
  • It is not merely a hunch
  • It is not merely an emotional sentiment
Biblical faith is so much more . . .
  • Biblical faith makes the future present
  • Biblical faith makes the invisible seen
  • Biblical faith can grow
  • Biblical faith has God as its object
  • Biblical faith has God’s Word as its assurance
  • Biblical faith gives evidence for what can’t be seen
  • Biblical faith is a gift from God, not based on experience or works
  • Biblical faith has a certainty – being sure of what we hope for:
    • Forgiveness of sins
    • Acceptance into heaven
    • Rewards for faithful service
    • Living with settled conviction of His promises
    • Taking God at His word
  • Biblical faith takes hold of the future and lives based on the future now

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How many times in the day or week do you long for a do-over?  You just want to turn back in time and make a different choice, say something or just stay silent?

God offers the ultimate do-over in 2 Corinthians 5:17.    “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

The great thing about this verse is that it is without limitation.  Christ has given the ultimate do-over.

  • Gone are my mistakes and failures (they no longer define and limit me)
  • Gone is the deadness in my heart and conscience (He has given a heart of flesh to replace my heart of stone)
  • Gone is the hopelessness of being unable to change despite the harm to myself and others (now I have Holy Spirit power to overcome sin)
  • Gone is the futility of thinking (now I have the mind of Christ, wisdom of the ages)
  • Now I can have a fresh start (All things are made new)
  • Now I have hope for the future (He has gone to prepare a place for me and has promised to return for me)
The time for your do-over is now.  Today is the day of salvation.  Tomorrow is promised to no man.

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Sometimes as believers, we use terms that only we understand.  What some might call “Christianese”  Understanding these terms and being able to “translate” them to those who don’t speak our “language” is essential to effectively sharing the gospel.  What does it mean to be saved?  What happens when we are born again?

The Basics

  •  Salvation is a gift    (John 3:16)
  • The only Requirement is belief (John 3:16)
  • Jesus is the perfect sacrifice, satisfying all the righteousness requirements of the law (2 Corinthians 5:21)

What happens?

  • We’re made alive spiritually  (Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 2:1)
  • The charges against us are dropped (Colossians 2:14)
  • We’re forgiven of  all our sins (Ephesians 1:7)
  • We’re purified for God to be His own (Titus 2:14)
  • We’re made new – a new creation in Christ  (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • Old things are gone; all things are new (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • We’re reconciled to God (restored to right relationship) (2 Corinthians 5:18; Colossians 1:21)
  • We’re presented to God holy and blameless (Colossians 1:21-23)
  • We receive the Kingdom of God (Luke 12:32)
  • We receive lasting inheritance (1 Peter 1:4)
  • We have abundant life now (John 10:10)
  • We receive everything needed for life and godly living (2 Peter 1:2-11)
  • We receive the power of  the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)
  • We receive weapons for warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18)
A Word Picture to Illustrate
     If they still don’t get the idea, give them a picture:  “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.  Isaiah 1:18

May the One who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy keep you from stumbling  and present you to God as without fault (and only God can do that).

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Why send a babe to save the world, an infant in a barn?

Why reach eternal, loving hands to lift from earth the base?

Why bridge the gap?  Why save one man?

Why send Your son to die?

Why should the almighty, eternal God consider frail man’s fate?

Why offer such a special gift to those who walk away?

Why care even one wit for man, God’s surely seen his heart?

There is nothing he does that satisfies, his heart is wicked dark.

The questions, they go on and on.  Why would God do this thing?  Why come to earth for those who mock and say You don’t exist?

But Our God, He dwells among us.  He is Emmanuel.  He came a little baby, lived as man and later died; the perfect sacrifice given, His love can’t be denied.

But why, you reason, would He?  What was the goal He sought?  It’s that He greatly loved us, so He came, our souls He bought.  He came so I might live, child of the risen King.  Jesus came to show His face, to set the record straight.  Our God He loves us unto death.  He’s the vine, the door, the gate.  Just knock, He’ll open to you.  There’s no reason for you to wait.

This Christmas as you wonder, why a babe so small, so weak?  What’s the purpose of His coming, just let the record speak.  God came to earth to save us, while we were yet still lost.  He healed, He raised, He shed His blood, so we could see His face.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. This is the face (and heart) of God!


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In Psalm 27, the Psalmist says (and we often sing), the LORD is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?

The LORD is my light

  • He guides me as a beacon from a lighthouse guides a ship in the night away from the rocks.
  • He illuminates my life as candle gives light to a dark room.
  • He shows me things in my life like a searchlight reveals things or people hiding in the darkness
  • He dispels darkness from my life as light, by its very nature, must.

The LORD is my salvation.

  • He is the key to my life and relationship with God.
  • He is the key to me having eternal life.
  • He is the key to me living the abundant life.

Whom shall I fear?  If I have God as my light and my salvation, is there really any other significant area of vulnerability in my life?

I am persuaded as Paul was and as I pray you are, “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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Psalm 13 begins with the Psalmist sounding like he is accusing God.  “How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?  How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?”  (Ps. 13:1-2)

In these verses, the Psalmist evidences an uncertainty about God.  Uncertainty can cause one to doubt God’s motives or doubt God’s timing.   Sometimes when we become fearful and afraid, we accuse God.  We mistakenly consider Him to be reacting to us like the humans around us who may forget us or hide their faces from us or allow our enemies to over take us and do nothing to help.  But God is not like us or those around us.  He will not forget us.  Isaiah 49:15 tells us,  “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.”  Deut 31:6 tells us, “do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

From accusation in verses 1-2, the Psalmist moves into calling out to God and reasoning with God in verses 3-4.  In these verses, he says, “consider and hear me, O LORD my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”; lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.”

Finally, the Psalmist makes a choice in verse 5.   He states, ‘but I have trusted in Your mercy.”  He decides to trust in God’s mercy.  He decides to believe  and act upon what He knows about God.  This is internal to the Psalmist.  A choice to believe God and trust God must come from within.  I must, like priests carrying the ark across the Jordan, step into the water first rather than waiting for them to recede.  Trusting God is a choice I must make daily,  sometimes moment by moment.

From that choice, there is an immediate reward, the Psalmist says, “my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.”  When I choose to trust God, I am impacted in my walk with God, in my fellowship with God.  He immediately reinforces the positive step I have taken.

Verse 6 gives us the result for ministry, ” I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.”  When I trust God, my heart rejoices in His salvation, and from that comes an outpouring from me to those around me.  I will sing to the LORD!  I will declare to the world about my God, about His great bounty, His mercy, and His faithfulness!
To review, here is the progression:
  • Accusation against God
  • Calling out/reasoning with God
  • Trust in God (choose)
  • Receive from God
  • Give out in ministry

We all have times of accusing or doubting God, even if it is only in our thoughts.  The important thing is to move forward in the progression.  Cry out to God, choose to trust God, receive from God and then give out what you have received to those around you.

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Perhaps you have had a day (or two) when you asked the LORD, “How shall I go on?”  Perhaps it is illness, drug addiction, abusive relationship, fear, enemies who would seek to destroy you or just a sense of overwhelming fatigue . . . in looking at your circumstances, did you turn to God and ask, “How shall I go on?”  And what did He say?

  • Wait? Sometimes the LORD says to wait.  Don’t go forward or back.  Don’t go to the left or the right.  Don’t seek to change your circumstances, just wait.  Sometimes, the waiting is the hardest part.  But we wait because He is God.  Like a parent who tells a child to stay on the curb because a car is coming, God tells us to wait because He sees all things and knows all things.  He tells us to wait because that is best for us.  He promises “strengthen your heart” while you wait.  (Ps. 27:14)  Psalm 37:9 promises that ” those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth.”    Isaiah says, “who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”   (Isa. 40:31)  As you wait, the LORD may give you new strength.  He may allow you to soar above your troubles, keeping them from disturbing your peace.   He may take away your fatigue, allowing you to go a little further.
  • Cry out? Sometimes the LORD would have us to cry out to Him, recognizing that He is Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides everything.  There is certainly lots of scriptural support for crying out to God in times of trouble.  Psalm 18:6 tells us, “In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.”  In Psalm 34:17, we read, “the righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.”  Psalm 56:9 tells us when ” I cry out to You, Then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me.  In Psalm 57:2, it says, “I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me.”   He is a God who hears and answers, so maybe He would have you to cry out, expecting His response.

Whether you wait or you cry, or you cry out while you are waiting, waiting and crying out are done in expectation, in faith.  I wait for God to deliver me, to strengthen me.  I wait because there is none other like Him.   “LORD, what do I wait for?  My hope is in You.”  (Ps. 39:7)   He alone has the words of eternal life.  When I cry out, I cry out to God in faith because God alone knows my circumstances.  God alone has power over all things.  I cry out to God because He alone is God.

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Matthew 11:28-30   (Jesus Speaking) says,  “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

This scripture speaks to us of 2 aspects of the promise of rest in this scripture.
1. Eternal aspect of the promise of Rest:  Salvation and Eternal life with God
  • The Bible, teaches that it is appointed man once to die and then the judgment.  You will not be able to take your “protections” with you.  Things will not keep you safe from the judgment of God. One day, you will stand totally exposed before the Holiness of God to answer for your life, to answer the questions, “What have you done with my Son, Jesus?”  What will you say?  Not knowing for sure or trying to earn your way can leave your weary and in need of rest.  This is the rest that Jesus is offering.
  • If you haven’t dealt with the issue of eternity, it is likely you have not dealt with your sin.  The older we get, the more are failures and mistakes seem to increase.    Are you weary and heavy laden from carrying the burden of failed marriages?  Failed relationships with family?   Failed parenting?  Failed careers?  Failed attempts to overcome self-destructive addictions or behaviors?  Failed religious experiences?  Despite all your bravado, your jokes, your defenses, do you know deep down that you have fallen short of God’s perfection and there is nothing you can do to bridge that gap?  Does sin weigh on you?  Are your failures heavy?  Have you gone too far?  Have you been too bad, hurt too many, fallen to far?  Even for God?
  • Do you long for rest – to settle with God the issue of your sin – to accept the gift of His Son – the perfect sacrifice – the atonement for your sin?   There is good news!   Jesus offers hope.
  • Jesus will take all you have – all the evil, the sin, failures, pride, self-reliance, arrogance, rage, revenge, abuse.   He’ll trade all your garbage – and for that, He’ll give you rest.
2. A life of rest is characterized by walking by the power and under the direction of the Holy Spirit  There are 6 places you can find rest (6 essential truths – when understood and incorporated into our life, will allow rest)
  • At the cross
  • In the acceptance of God’s Grace
  • In Surrender to Lordship of Jesus
  • In obedience to God
  • In fellowship with God (knowing Him and His promises – spending time with Him)
  • In walking yoked with the Holy Spirit

May you find the rest today that is available through Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross.  There is much to be busy about, but Jesus told us that the “good part” was sitting at His feet.

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Are there workers of iniquity in your life?  The LORD has a strategy to deal with them.  This strategy is laid out in verses 1-7 of Psalm 37.

1.  Do not fret (worry) or be envious of the workers of iniquity aka “the bad guys” Don’t worry over them and their doings. Don’t envy them.  Their prosperity and success is short-lived and shallow.  This message is so important that it is repeated in this psalm at least 4 more times in verses 7b-10, 12-15, 17 and 20.  Psalm 73 walks us through the near calamity that befalls the man of God when he becomes envious of the wicked.  Taking my eyes off of the sovereign God can cause me to lose perspective on my true position and provision in Christ.  (See Ephesians 1, 2; 2 Peter 1:3-4)

2.  Trust in the LORD and do good. His Word is full of promises; read, study and know them.  Then trust them.   If He is LORD (and He is), then trusting Him is like trusting my heart to keep beating.  It requires no effort.  It is a fundamental truth of my existence.  I trust that the God who went to all the trouble to communicate with me, save me and provide an eternal life for me, will keep His promises.  Trusting God’s promises means living as if they are true. Do good means I should obey what God says to do in His word.  Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”  John 14:15.

3.  Delight yourself also in the LORD. As I get to know Him, I enjoy the love He lavishes on me and the time I spend with Him.  He is good!  He is so much more than dead letters on a page.  In order to delight in Him, I must think on Him, study Him, listen to Him, sit with Him, seek His face and be open to His guidance and correction.

4.  Commit your way to the LORD; trust also in Him. Decide to go His way.  Surrender your life, your path, your future to the LORD.  Remember this is a progression.  Only after you stop fretting, learn to trust, obey and delight yourself in God, will it come easily and naturally to surrender to His hand, His yoke.  Jesus was clear in Matthew 11:29-30 when He said, “[t]ake My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  This is, however, best understood through personal experience with God.

5.  Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him. Ugh!  This is the hardest phase of the progression for me.  I find it hard to wait.  I am like a filly at the gate waiting for the race to begin, anxious for the gate to open and to leap out . . . . but God knows when it is best for me to stay and when it is best to go.  He hedges me in to keep me safe.  I always want to move.  When my circumstances are difficult, I want them changed to be easier, happier, different.  But God, in His wisdom, knows there is benefit for me in the waiting.  In the waiting, I must focus on God and listen for His voice.  In the waiting, I must look at me, and consider my heart and my conduct.  In the waiting, I am left with plenty of time to move through the Psalm 37 progression again and again.  I must give up worrying (again).  I must trust in the LORD and do good (again).  I must delight myself also in the LORD (again).  I must commit my way to the LORD (again).  I can find much to do while I wait.  The LORD will keep me in perfect peace when my mind is stayed on Him because I trust in Him.  (Isa. 26:3 paraphrased)

Don’t let the workers of iniquity in your life (we all have them), keep you down.  Study and apply Psalm 37.  Work the program; see the results.  The Psalm goes on to speak in greater detail about the concepts laid out in the first 7 verses in the later verses.
Delight in the LORD!  What could be better?

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