Day 6: Revelation in the Darkness – Who Was the Thief?

salvation-5

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

“In all the strife of life, no one can steal our hope except ourselves.”

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 119:116

“Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.”

Hope is a necessary ingredient to life. Without it, we perish. The ultimate definition of hope, the daughter of faith, is trusting that God said He will do what He said He would. But sometimes we can feel that is for everyone else except ourselves.

Holding onto hope can take all we’ve got sometimes. So many things in this fallen world threaten hope’s survival. Maybe we are in the desert, seemingly with no end in sight and just find it too difficult to dare to hope. Maybe we are on the other side of a significant trial but are afraid to hope. Circumstances, discouragement and fear can surely hold us back from hope, but they are birthed in an environment all our own.

It might help to know where we stand, to set expectations aright. We are hated by an enemy who delights to steal our joy and hope, because he is angry that He can never take away our salvation. He will settle for wrecking our witness or get us sidetracked with trivial matters, but he really wants to discourage us from having hope at all. If he achieves this goal, God’s people go through life living defeated lives, without hope and ineffective to share God’s hope with others because our own hope has been extinguished.

Added to our enemy’s activity of destroying hope in us is his influence on others who are used, sometimes unknowingly – to try and dash our hopes, too. Who would want to do that, right? But we do it all the time when we try to discourage a brother or sister in the work of the LORD in their lives.

Naivety gone, we recognize we are surrounded by enemies, but we might not readily see the enemy within. Sounds dramatic, I know. But what we do with the pressures in this life that try to snuff out hope is on us. It is not easy to stand up to all of the attacks on maintaining our hope in God, but it is a fight God can help us to wage and win.

So, who’s the Thief? Who is it that ultimately steals our hope?

Satan, Satan working through people, circumstances – they contribute to our downfall, but there is another thief we do not recognize, because wait for it – it is ourselves. Why would we bear the blame – why would we ever want to harm ourselves or take away our hope?

Sure, the instigator was likely from another source, but what we do with the “hope killer” is our choice alone. We must consider where our hope is placed. Is it in others, ourselves or in the only One who is capable of making and keeping promises?

Here are some “Hope Builders” that have greatly helped me to hold onto hope:

Where our hope is placed. When hope is in Christ alone, we have a consistent source that does not sway with man’s fickle opinion or momentary circumstances. Reinvented hope is not dependent on a temporary goal or the success of achieving that goal – it is fixed on the author of hope itself.

Recognizing the battle and its source. People’s opinions are often formed in jealousy. Jealousy is hatred. Discouragement, gossip and negativity only come from one place – they are of the devil. His end is certain. Dismiss attacks from people or the devil as being evil and having a just end.  God already waged war against the enemy of our souls – satan is defeated and our hope is secure.

Pressing in and seeking God’s promises. Reality hits us square in the eye and sometimes it can be LOUD. We don’t have to let life’s troubles confuse us, even though they are convincing that hope seems like a futile effort. We have to go against our feelings and place our hope firmly in the hands of God’s word. It is hard work keeping the flames of hope alive, but God’s promises fuel that hope.

Crying out to God. We need help in this quest for this hope from another world. It is found only in relationship with Christ. Crying out for help and perspective helps us to overcome and triumph over hopelessness or false hope that always disappoints. Instead of adopting the world’s hope, we begin to see formed this new Reinvented Hope as we gain God’s view instead of our own.

Focusing on God and His Word, not the hope killers around us. This one is a tough one when our hope killers are not just in our mind, but flesh around us, focused on tearing us down. When we listen to the voices all around us instead of to the voice of the Holy Spirit, we easily succumb to the strategy of the enemy.

In all the strife of life, no one can steal our hope except ourselves. We have to get up and fight and resist pouring over the negativity of other people or our own self-doubt and insecurity. A great assurance for this soul is that nothing in this world can take away our hope – it is impossible, for our hope is certain. We might feel like hope is gone, but it never is for those whose hope is in God. Picking up the pieces of our shattered hope, we form it into a new hope that never disappoints.

In Christ Alone is a worship song that reminds us where our hope needs to be placed. Worship Him, our God of Reinvented Hope, a hope given to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Hope is alive!

Lord, thank You for keeping our hope secure in You. Help us to hold on to Your promises firmly.

Scriptural Saturday: Chosen in Christ

happylabor day!.jpg

Some Scriptures to meditate on as we prepare for the Sabbath tomorrow. He has chosen us in love to know Him and to do His work. We see evidence of this salvation at work in our lives. How amazing is that? Our salvation is sure. Our calling known from before the foundations of the earth. He has called, equipped and will fulfill His perfect will in us. Wow, what a God. What a salvation.

1 Thessalonions 1:4

“For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.”

Ephesians 1:4-5

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

Need some verses to meditate on to confirm your salvation in Christ? Click here.

Lord, we worship You and thank You for your salvation. May we endeavor to work for Your glory and remember that work is a gift from You that You will enable us to do.

 

Worshipful Wednesday: Surprised by Joy

Worship

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The very act of worship when we don’t feel like it is where God takes our act of faith and creates joy within us.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 100:2-3

“Worship the Lord with joy! Enter his presence with joyful singing! Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us and we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

One of the first things satan wants to steal from us when we are saved is our joy. Nothing as potent at killing the message of the Gospel as joyless believers wandering around this earth telling everyone they need to be saved. Who wants that kind of salvation?

We all want joy. We want to be able to celebrate this gift of life but get dragged down by obstacles and circumstances as if they were supposed to bring us joy in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong – to be human is to feel – and life hurts sometimes. But joy does not have to be connected to that feeling of disappointment. It is when our life is in the gift instead of the Giver of those gifts that we forget our original source of joy.

I am not talking about living an inauthentic life where we go around with a plastic smile saying everything is great when it isn’t. But joy in the LORD isn’t dependent upon our circumstances. That would not be real joy, after all. Just temporary happiness.

So how do we access this joy when life just doesn’t feel very joyful? Worshiping God. With joy. Not the answer you were looking for? Does it seem impossible to worship with joy when you don’t have any? But the very act of worship when we don’t feel like it is where God takes our act of faith and creates joy within us. For it is what we were made to do.

If worship is a sacrifice of praise, then it is in the moment of resisting our flesh and worshiping God anyway that we rise above our sorrows and discover a real abiding joy in Jesus.

When we focus on all our concerns and burdens, it is a joy killer. But when we come to worship God, remember all God has done for us and focus on Who He is, joy just invades the soul. You cannot contain it. Try it.

Each Wednesday I want to share a cover of a worship song at noon EDT on my Seeing Deep Facebook page from our worship set that captures what God has placed on my heart here. This week it is: “No Longer Slaves”. If that does not bring joy, I don’t know what will. We are no longer a slave to fear – we are His sons and daughters! We are no longer lost, but found. We are surrounded with God’s love and will enjoy all eternity with Him. Joy indeed.

Worship God with joy today. You are loved with an everlasting love that has no end. The joy of the LORD is your strength.

Oh Lord, we worship You! Set our gaze on You – for You are lovely. Transform our worries into worship and cause us to rise above it all and be filled with the abundant joy You provide.

Sabbath Reflections: Nation on its Knees

Prayer Can Move the Heart of God and Man

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Prayer can move the heart of God and man.

Scriptures:

Psalms 99:4

“The King is strong; he loves justice. You ensure that legal decisions will be made fairly; you promote justice & equity in Jacob.”

Proverbs 21:1

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD like channels of water; he turns it wherever he wants.”

As we near the culmination of a lively political race in just a little over a couple of months, the LORD reminded me while I was praying for both candidates that He is much bigger than our election. He not only controls the outcome, but is our great, sovereign God over all. He rules the entire universe, every government, every people, every land – and is able to affect the heart of our next President. It is to that end that I will pray.

Our nation needs more now than ever a people committed to pray for her. May we fill the next eleven weeks with intercession for our nation and for both candidates to turn their hearts back to God. Will you join me? We each play a key role in the next election – praying – and prayer can move the heart of God and man.

Oh God, this great land is Yours and Yours alone. Help us to not forget that truth. Help our people to turn from sin and to see Your worth is far above the worship of lesser things. Please draw our nation back to You and cause our leaders to bow to no other God but You. Move in the hearts of our Presidential nominees and help them to see their need of salvation. Your will be done. We trust You, Lord, to place Your person in office.

Mundane Monday: Keep on Keepin’ On

When life just seems to disappear (1)

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When life seems to disappear into a sea of never-ending challenges or failed attempts at reaching our goals, if we will just keep keepin’ on – each of those steps is one step closer to achieving our goals.

Scriptures of the Day:

Galatians 6:9

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.”

Philippians 1:6

“…Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”


Pursuing dreams is hard work. Seems unreachable and takes all we’ve got. But what would it be like if we never had a goal to pursue to start with? No bucket list, no aspirations. Just existing. Doesn’t sound like much fun.

Somehow in the longing and straining to be faithful to develop the talents God has given there is a peace. Even though the results of our efforts might not be what we had hoped, there is a sense of purpose in doing what instinctively God has placed on our heart.

When there is a calling deep within our soul, to deny it or to not work toward that calling for fear of failure is a miserable existence. Sure, it is a bummer when it seems like we take two steps forward and one step back, but even this is progress. 

When life seems to disappear into a sea of never-ending challenges or failed attempts at reaching our goals, if we will just keep keepin’ on – each of those steps is one step closer to achieving our goals.

I hope this blog encourages whoever is reading it to continue to chase after that calling in your heart. I know I needed it. But even if my eyes never see what I am aiming toward, the best relief in pressing toward our goals is that as we seek to work hard, God is the One who brings the results He wants. Ultimately the pressure is off of us to produce the final result.

Isn’t that good news? And the fruit and character developed as we labor toward our goals and dreams is perhaps the most precious reward of all.

Oh God, all I have is Yours. Extend my territory as You will. May I be faithful to seek You and Your righteousness and to make You known.

Mundane Monday: Mission Possible

Mission-Possible-logo

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is when I praise God in the fire that gratitude fills my heart and displaces all the other attitudes that were threatening to steal my joy.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Peter 4:12

“Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

A sterile doctor’s office and an unexpected diagnosis. A sudden tragic circumstance. Broken hearts and hopes crushed. What do all these have in common? An opportunity to go on mission with God.

I know, I know. A little skeptical on such an optimistic perspective, right? But sometimes it is in the moments of the unexpected when we are stretched far outside of our comfort zone and are able to see our circumstances are not just about getting to the other side, but about choosing to be on mission in the midst.

Fear, pain, anguish, despair, anxiety and discouragement are all valid feelings and to feel them is part of being human. We do not have to stay there, though. These feelings can be a catalyst to draw us nearer to God and help us to see what we are blind to in the land of comfort.

Somehow in the suffering we see our Savior and are no longer repulsed at having to walk the same path, but instead are grateful that He is in the valley with us, asking us if we will accept the mission at hand.

Each bump in the road is a challenge. The main question to consider is whether we believe God is Who He says He is. If we trust His character, then we can resist the urge to complain and accuse God or others for the hardship we are in and choose an alternate route instead that makes the enemy flee – praise.

As a worship leader, it is when I praise God in the fire that gratitude fills my heart and displaces all the other attitudes that were threatening to steal my joy.

Seeing unpleasant or harsh burdens as an opportunity to serve God has rocked my world and changed my viewpoint radically. It does not mean I do not feel or long to be delivered by my great God, but it means I choose to accept what He has allowed into this life He has given and choose to let Him use me in every situation.

Instead of the default pity party, God gives grace to us so we can ask what He wants us to do in our new assignment. Instead of fear, there is an astonishment that God will somehow supply sufficient grace for anything we face.

To walk in His steps means to embrace every part of life that comes our way. Truly living is to feel pain and joy in life and be grateful for it all, and God uses it all for greater purposes. But more than that, when we walk through the deep waters, Jesus longs to be our Comforter and to use that thorn in our flesh for a greater goal – death to self and alive in Christ.

Lord, You are sovereign and good all the time. Help us to trust You when things seem uncertain, and to rely on You in every situation.

Denise Pass Promo PicDenise Pass | Worship Leader |Author |Speaker|Artist

http://www.seeingdeep.com | www.denisepass.com

Truthful Tuesday: Sacrificial Worship

Sacrificial worship

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Real worship is not consumerism, but being consumed by God’s greatness.

Scripture:

Genesis 22:7

“Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father?” “What is it, my son?” he replied. “Here is the fire and the wood,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?””

Romans 12:1

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.”

As a worship leader, I am constantly seeking ways to provoke myself to sincere, passionate worship.  This morning I was reading “Face Down” by Matt Redman and read his perspective on the discussion between Abraham and Isaac when they went to the region of Moria to sacrifice to God.  This same place is said to have been the place where Christ was ultimately crucified.  What a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s provision.

Abraham and Isaac were going to worship God.  Everything that was necessary for their act of worship was there, except for one thing – the sacrifice.  The son noticed the need and willingly provided himself.  God provided the Lamb.

When we come to worship God, whether it is in our homes or at church, where is our sacrifice?  The music is there, the stage is set, and we need to respond.

In an entertainment-saturated society, it can be easy to approach worship in a consumer-like fashion, but worship is not worship if it does not cost us something.

What does this sacrifice look like?  It will be different for everyone, but it begins with a contrite heart, provoked to in Holy fear to be in awe of the sacrifice that God made for us. Complacency is not on the altar, nor distracted sheep going through the motions.  No, just grateful hearts, spared death, alive in Christ, laying down their burdens and overcome with God’s amazing love.  Basking in His Word, afresh with new revelation, we lie prostrate before the King of kings.

Lord, we worship YOU!  You are Holy, perfect and beyond our comprehension.  Help us to worship You in spirit and truth.  Be glorified in our worship services and provoke our hearts to sincere worship. 

Mundane Monday: Living Between a Vision and Its Fulfillment

Waiting for the Vision

Genesis 12:1-2

“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you. 2 Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing.'”

The chasm between the calling God has placed on our lives and the ultimate fulfilling of that vision can be rife with challenges and doubts.  To our limited understanding, it would seem that the all-powerful God would call us, then fulfill what He had spoken without a lot of delay or consequences.

But in His omniscient wisdom,

the process is often more important

than the receiving of the promise itself.

God is surely capable to crush everything that stands in the way of accomplishing what He has called us to, but in this fallen world the enemy is busy trying to undo what God has already finished.  We are stuck in this space called time that God is already outside of, fully knowing how everything will turn out.  Mind blowing.

Often I question whether God has really given me a vision or if it is myself trying to achieve a calling on my own.  I get confused and feel I cannot pray for success because I do not want it to be for my own glory.  It is then that I realize that a vision that is of God and for God will be tested and that testing process will refine the character needed to accomplish the task placed on my heart.

I don’t have to be perfect to be used by God.  I just have to yield to Him in the process and continue to press on in the work He has called me to.  Back to Abram.

God told him to go – he went.  It does not say that he labored over it.  He just obeyed.  He then promised incredible blessings, which, although Abram would be blessed, the goal was not just for Abram – it was for all people and ultimately “to exemplify divine blessing”.  Abram’s response?  To worship – even though He had not yet received the blessing.

When people look in our lives and see God’s blessings, it is not so we will be comfortable, but so people can see what being in a relationship with God is like.  When we are in between a promise and a blessing and face trials of all kinds, our worship in the midst can inspire many to do the same.

Abram was not spared hardship – he faced famine right after He worshiped God for His promise.  How we respond during the famine will often determine how long we stay there.  When Abram doubted God’s ability to protect he and his wife, God was faithful and protected them, anyway.  The world will see us fail, but the righteous man will rise again and again and continue to walk until God’s purposes are fulfilled in him.

When God places a vision in our hearts, we do not know how we will get there and many obstacles will stand in our way.  Abram faced famine, quarelling, war, family problems – but through it all he worshiped the God of the promise.  In the end, Abram became Abraham; his name and his life changed forever because of the faithfulness of God to keep His promise.

In His faithfulness, God will remind us of His calling and His promises.  He did not promise us a pain-free life, but He did promise to carry us through the challenges we face and that all of it has meaning for those Who would trust in Him.  In the process, on the other side of our calling – our nature is changed, too, for we can never be the same when we encounter the living God.

Lord, help us to trust You when the road seems long and burdensome.  You are faithful and You will complete the work You have begun in us.  Praise Your Name!

Worshipful Wednesday: Praising Our Vindicating God

Vindication

Psalm 135:1-5, 13-14

1 “Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD! Offer praise, you servants of the LORD, 2 who serve in the LORD’s temple, in the courts of the temple of our God. 3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good! Sing praises to his name, for it is pleasant! 4 Indeed, the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel to be his special possession. 5 Yes, I know the LORD is great, and our Lord is superior to all gods. 13 O LORD, your name endures, your reputation, O LORD, lasts. 14 For the LORD vindicates his people, and has compassion on his servants.”

In this passage, David is speaking to God’s people here – His servants who serve in His temple.  If ever anyone needed encouragement, it is those who serve in God’s temple.

My heart breaks when I see injured people traumatized by a misunderstanding, conflict or by someone else’s actions.  All the more when this happens within the walls of the church.  Sometimes we, the church, get so wrapped up in doing what’s right that we are in the wrong.

I’ve been there.  In the most devastating time of my life, when I sought refuge in my church – I found I was silenced, instead.  The enemy is a master at concealing things that need to be brought to light so people can heal and move on.

In the name of being above approach and not gossiping, the silence is deafening and sins can be glossed over.  But the lack of addressing the elephant in the room will only cause it to become larger, still, morphed into something even more devastating.

The sheep are harassed and helpless, and oftentimes those who minister to the sheep bear burdens that are heavy.  But the beautiful secret weapon shared in this Psalm is for everyone.

The Psalmist reminds us to focus on what matters – praising God.  Unless God’s people refuse to tolerate religiosity and utilize our most powerful tool in the face of strife and troubles: praising God in the midst, we will be nothing more than a club; a group of people gathering together.

Those who know God and are informed about His awesome deeds are reminded in this passage to sing praises to God.  Catalysts for our praise are reflecting on His character, His miraculous deeds and His faithfulness. Praising Him is our greatest calling and strength.  We must refute anything that would distract us from this great purpose in our lives – glorifying God in the church and in our personal lives.

You see, there is something intrinsically powerful about worshiping God. We cannot truly praise the LORD without Him revealing motives that need to be exposed.  We cannot come sing to the One without conviction rising if we are attempting to hide something from the One Who sees all.  It is in praising Him that we are delivered and walk in forgiveness and freedom. It is in praising Him that we are vindicated form the enemy’s accusations, set free to no longer focus on the temporary things of this world.

No matter what goes on around us or where we serve God – in the temple or in a secular post, we will all face burdens that only God can lift.  Perhaps the sweetest truth in the lives of His children is that He notices us – and not just sees our inner turmoil, but He has compassion on His servants and vindicates them, all for His glory.

Curiously, the act of worship and praise is not solely for God, for it is while we all praise God together that He works in our hearts, exposing darkness and drawing us nearer to Himself.

Lord, thank You for the gift of praising You.  We need to worship You. Purify our hearts and Your bride, Lord.  All for your glory.

Not in Vain

 

Isaiah 49:1b

The Lord summoned me from birth; he commissioned me when my mother brought me into the world.

Isaiah 49:4

But I thought, “I have worked in vain; I have expended my energy for absolutely nothing.” But the Lord will vindicate me; my God will reward me.

Isaiah 49:5-6

So now the Lord says, the one who formed me from birth to be his servant – he did this to restore Jacob to himself, so that Israel might be gathered to him; and I will be honored in the Lord’s sight, for my God is my source of strength – 6 he says, “Is it too insignificant a task for you to be my servant, to reestablish the tribes of Jacob, and restore the remnant of Israel? I will make you a light to the nations, so you can bring my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth.” 7 This is what the Lord, the protector of Israel, their Holy One, says to the one who is despised and rejected by nations, a servant of rulers: “Kings will see and rise in respect, princes will bow down, because of the faithful Lord, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you.” 8 This is what the Lord says: “At the time I decide to show my favor, I will respond to you; in the day of deliverance I will help you; I will protect you and make you a covenant mediator for people, to rebuild the land and to reassign the desolate property. 9 You will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ and to those who are in dark dungeons, ‘Emerge.’ They will graze beside the roads; on all the slopes they will find pasture. 10 They will not be hungry or thirsty; the sun’s oppressive heat will not beat down on them, for one who has compassion on them will guide them; he will lead them to springs of water.  11 I will make all my mountains into a road; I will construct my roadways.” 12 Look, they come from far away!  Look, some come from the north and west, and others from the land of Sinim!  13 Shout for joy, O sky!  Rejoice, O earth!  Let the mountains give a joyful shout!  For the Lord consoles his people and shows compassion to the oppressed.

To those who watched as Christ was crucified, it might have seemed as if His work was all in vain.  He, who was to restore Israel, was nailed to a cross, along with the hopes of those who were looking to Him.  If my Redeemer, my Messiah, knew what it was to be rejected despite being God in the flesh, I should expect nothing less as His servant.

We, too, were chosen before the world began.  God knew all of our days before one began.  He is not surprised when we are rejected or when we are seeking to do His will and are met with adversity.  Instead, He uses it all to fulfill His plan.

This world has a lot of politics and striving.  Sometimes we can feel insignificant with our little portion that we offer for God’s service.  But God sees.  When people denounce us for their own gain, or try to minimize His calling on our lives, His will still stands.  Worry is gone, because of the sovereignty of God, nothing is ever in vain.  Our work might be small in man’s eyes, but big or small, it is all for Him.  We might not see the fruit in the here and now, but we can know that all labor done in the LORD is lasting.

When others even within the fold seek to tear down our calling, we have to remember that Christ can relate.  This is expected in the territory of ministry, just harder to bear when it is within the church.  The beauty in it is that God uses it to refine us and make us more like Him.  Recognition is not the goal, but faithfulness to God’s calling.  The only thing in vain is to be concerned with other’s opinion of us instead of pleasing God.

Lord, thank you that Your purposes always stand.  Help us to look to You in the trenches and to not grow discouraged when the work of our hands, all done for You – is rejected by man.