Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

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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Promises of Hope

ISAIAH 58:11

The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

This verse is filled with great promises that give hope.
The Lord will :
  1. guide you continually,
  2. satisfy your soul in drought,
  3. strengthen your bones,
  4. make you a flourishing garden, and
  5. make you a never-failing spring of water.

1) The Lord will guide.  He is not setting us on a twisting, curving path with a maze of roads to choose from without help.  He is with us.  He will guide us continually.  With God, the connection is never broken.  He is on task with us, ready to help us twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  He takes no vacations.

2) The Lord will satisfy your soul in drought.  Before I was walking with the Lord, I sometimes felt a longing in my soul for something that would satisfy.   The emptiness was, I now know, my soul calling out to be filled by God, with the things of God, His Word, fellowship with God and other believers, and the Holy Spirit.  In times of drought which occur even after we believe and walk with God, God will bring satisfaction to our soul.  He feeds our souls with “God things”, e.g. His presence, His Word, and His blessings.

3) The Lord will strengthen your bones.  He will strengthen us physically, healing us and giving us the stamina to serve Him.  When we ask to be strengthened for His work, His call, He gives us the strength and energy to do good works in His name.  If we need healing in our bodies, He will do that work.

4) He promises to make us watered gardens, lush with fruit (of the spirit) and never lacking in the living water (Jesus Christ).   Psalm 1:3 says that the man who delights and meditates in God’s law “shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.”  Jeremiah 17:7-8 says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD.  For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

5) He promises we will be springs of water that never fail.   In John 7:38, Jesus promised “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  He gives us what we could never give or obtain for ourselves.  What He gives to us, He will cause to bubble up out of us to overflow to those around us.  It is out of that overflow that we are able to minister His love and mercy to others.

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