What’s in a Promise, part 4

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Broken promises are a doorway that leads us to higher promises made by the Lover of our souls.

Scriptures of the Day:

2 Corinthians 1:20

“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”

Matthew 5:37

“Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’ More than this is from the evil one.”

Broken Promises

We have looked at the Source of Promises, the Purpose of Promises, and the Nature of Promises. I confess I want to get right to my last part to this series – Accessing God’s Promises (can’t wait!) – but I feel I would be remiss if I skipped over what I alluded to yesterday – Broken Promises.

I don’t really like to talk about broken promises. It hurts to contemplate both when someone betrayed our trust or when we did so, as well. I hate to see other people’s lives crushed because of one person’s decision to be unfaithful and to choose temporary pleasure instead of eternal reward. We long for the day when people’s yes is yes and there no is no. We root for people to be faithful. With man this is not possible, but with God nothing is impossible.

Christ knows our pain. He knew Judas was going to betray him, but he did not stop him from doing so. A promise He had spoken prior to this betrayal was on His mind – the redemption of our souls.

Sometimes we can sense that someone is going to break their promise with us and we try to stop them. We try to warn them of the consequences, but they still opt for the route of pain. Why?

Deceived.

The same one who deceived Judas gets into the hearts of men and women and blinds their eyes so they do not believe God’s promises. Man can tend to look at the here and now and shrink back from faith when things seem too difficult to trust in a promise that seems impossible. Seemingly yielding to what seems more pleasant, promise breakers are actually choosing a life of pain for themselves and those they have broken faith with.

The trouble with man placing his trust in our own actions is that we don’t often think it all the way through. When we do, we rationalize our way around the deception and think we will escape the principle of God at work in all of our lives – reaping what we sow. Deceived again. Notice that I say the word, “we” because apart from the grace of God, so we all are capable of being deceived and falling.

Who broke the promise? Can I trust God?

But what we might not want to readily admit is that we sometimes feel as if trust is broken between us and God when God allows pain into our lives. We stuff the thoughts down, not wanting our faith hurt. Somewhere we believed the lie that God promised us perfect lives free of discomfort. As favored children of God, we think we might have a better plan than God does for our lives.

Acknowledging our tendency to blame God for man’s sin, we still have a crisis – will God’s promises redeem the mess we are in? From the framework of the promises we make, this does not seem likely, until we examine God’s track record. Yes, friends, God’s promises are always fulfilled – but we have a role to play, too.

When we by faith take God at his word, we can still struggle with the temptation to break promises ourselves or avoid doing our part of the promises of God. Why doesn’t everyone do everything they can to gain the promises of God?

Vulnerability.

Trusting in promises is a vulnerable choice. We don’t want to feel foolish when our hopes seem to go unanswered. It might seem like a place of weakness to trust in what seems impossible, but it is, in fact, a place of strength. Our Almighty God is really the only One Who is fully trustworthy and able to make us trustworthy, too. Despite the suffering that broken promises produce, broken promises are a doorway that leads us to a higher promise made by the Lover of our souls.

Lord, heal hearts that have broken and help us to place all our trust in You, where we will never be disappointed.

 

Day 31: 31 Days of Reinvented Hope …How Was It?

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Hope Reinvented survives in the harshest of environments and is an anchor, sure and steady.

Scripture of the Day:

Hebrews 6:19

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain…”

1 Peter 3:15

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Zechariah 9:12

“Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.”

Psalm 119:114

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.”

You made it! (Or, if you just found out about the 31 days of Hope Reinvented, welcome!) Sifting through our hopes and dreams, fulfilled, broken or unrealized, has taken us on a voyage to discover a hope we never thought was possible.

Hope Reinvented survives in the harshest of environments and is an anchor, sure and steady. It reminds us of our core purpose in this life – to glorify God and live a worthy life filled with His eternal hope – and beckons us back to our Creator and His vision for this precious life He has given.

As you have assessed where your hope lies, have you had a change of perspective in hope? Was it all you “hoped it would be”? (Sorry, my corny sense of humor had to chime in there).

If you are in a place of brokenness, hope is not easily seen. How have you navigated through such times?

This knowledge of the hope God has for us cannot be kept a secret. People need to know this life was never meant to be lived for the here and now alone. There is hope when life is not hopeful, but it is not in things or positions or earthly temporary success. Hope Reinvented is found in His precious Word alone as we are in a relationship with the God of this universe, our Abba Father.

Thank you for taking this time to come with me and explore what Hope Reinvented looks like.In case you missed it, below is a table of contents for all 31 days. God makes all things new and His hope for you is sure.

Oh God, You are our portion, our delight! Thank You that You have not left us without hope. We worship You, our Eternal Hope!

31 Days of Hope Reinvented

Day 1: Salvation is Here
Day 2: Not in Kansas Anymore
Day 3: Where Was God?
Day 4: The Grief Process: Finding Our Way & Thriving in the Desert
Day 5: Vision From the Pit: Purpose in Crisis
Day 6: Revelation in the Darkness -Who Was the Thief?
Day 7: Facing Depression
Day 8: Facing Disillusionment
Day 9: Facing Fear
Day 10:Facing Judgment
Day 11: Facing the Sin Within
Day 12: Facing Memories Through a Biblical Lens
Day 13: Facing the Enemy
Day 14: Facing and Embracing Reality – The New Normal
Day 15: Facing the Future
Day 16: Understanding Sin & The Sovereignty of God
Day 17: The Christian Culture
Day 18: Telling Ourselves the Truth – exposing Our Unbelief
Day 19: Fairy Tales Remixed
Day 20: Uncovering the Goodness of God When Life Hurts
Day 21: Hope’s Debtor: Gratitude & Humility
Day 22: Hope in Sorrows & Affliction
Day 23: Exploring Hope: Making Sense in a Fallen World
Day 24: Superficial Hope
Day 25: The Promise of Hope
Day 26: The Foundation of Hope
Day 27: The Formation of Hope
Day 28: The Fruition of Hope
Day 29: Hope Discovered
Day 30: Hope Reinvented
Day 31: 31 Days…How Was It?

Day 26: The Foundation of Hope

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The battle for Hope Reinvented begins at the foundation of our hope and is a battle in the mind.

Scripture of the Day:

Romans 15:4

“For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope.”

Ephesians 2:12

“In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.”

1 Corinthians 3:11

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

When we are at the place of broken dreams, trying to rebuild our hope can seem futile, especially when the future ahead does not appear to have hope in the natural.

If you have been reading this series on Hope Reinvented, we have walked through all of the pitfalls and detractors from having a living hope in Christ. We have examined our former hope and let it go if it was not the hope God has for us. We have also seen that real hope is only found in Christ. Now we will examine what is at the foundation of this Hope Reinvented in Christ alone.

God’s Word. At the foundation of this Reinvented Hope is God’s Word. Man’s word or promise could never fulfill the demands of a hope that never fails. His promises speak life when death is all we see, but another friend at the level of foundation must be present to apply God’s word . . .

Trust. Trusting when everything is going well is not trust at all. But trusting when nothing is going well – now this is trust. Some people think it is foolish to trust in what you cannot see, but this is the definition of faith, as well. Without faith no one can please God. God delights in us and in giving us His promises. He loves it when we look to Him and hope in Him. This is another layer of the foundation of hope – relationship.

Relationship is a necessary layer in our foundation, for without it we cannot claim the promises given by God. Sometimes we can be guilty of just wanting relief from the burdens of this life and seeking the hope of God to escape. Having a relationship with God enables us in times of adversity and also becomes our beacon of hope as we have confidence in the promises He has made to those who trust Him.

Action. As we begin to live out this Reinvented Hope we see another layer in our foundation – action. Living hope in action means we live boldly in the face of dashed hopes. We exemplify this reality by going against the flesh and taking God’s promises at face value. Studying His Word, applying it, memorizing it and living it out is what makes this eternal hope come to life. Action must accompany mentally agreeing with God’s hope.

Discipline. Consistency in nurturing our hope is necessary to cultivate and grow our confidence in this secure hope we have. Taking captive hopeless thoughts and replacing them with God’s, coupled with studying His word daily are not optional. We will be tossed to and fro, otherwise.

When my world was encompassed by constant strife (and this still happens from time to time), I thirsted for God’s promises and read them constantly. I put myself in a place to receive those promises by seeking Him fervently and crying out for Him to deliver me instead of running to other vices or “hopes”.

The challenge in such times is to not look around you at the waves or the supposed failures. They work to tear down our hope. Mental toughness is created and our faith strengthened when we choose to focus only on God and His Word. Sometimes we have to guard our heart to keep away the “hope stealers”. These hope stealers or crushers can be pretty convincing, but they are not eternal.

The battle for Hope Reinvented begins at the foundation of our hope and is a battle in the mind. We must choose which hope we believe in and fight for it with all we have. I close today with words from Woodrow Kroll from his series, “Back to the Bible”: “No one who utterly despairs will pray, for prayer is the proof of lingering hope. Even in the midst of despair, the psalmist recognizes that, should there be any hope, it will be found only in God.”

Lord, You are awesome and faithful, our only Hope! Help us to stay rooted in this hope and to share this hope as stewards of the only real eternal hope that only You can give.

Good News Friday: Broken and Beautiful

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We are never closer to God than at our most broken moments.

Scripture of the Day:

Isaiah 57:15

“For this is what the high and exalted one says, the one who rules forever, whose name is holy: “I dwell in an exalted and holy place, but also with the discouraged and humiliated, in order to cheer up the humiliated and to encourage the discouraged.”

Sometimes we we feel bummed we think we are not good company.  We are supposed to always be cheerful and never admit to our brokenness. But sometime we have to be still and see our need.  It is in those moments that we draw nearer to God.

He is with the broken and contrite and He came for those who were lost – not for those who have everything together.

We might try to avoid brokenness.  It hurts.  We don’t want to admit that life is hard and often confusing.  We are supposed to have the answers . . . and we do.  The Word of God has all we will ever need, but it does not mean we are perfect.  It means we know where to go when the chips are down and when we are in seasons of blessing, as well.

Most amazing of all – there truly is no one higher than God, yet He chooses to associate with the lowly, the downtrodden and forgotten.  Perhaps it is because we recognize our need for a Savior when we are vulnerable enough to face our own lack.

To be broken truly is beautiful – because in that moment we are able to be healed by a God Who knows how to perfectly fit the pieces all together.

Lord, thank You for loving the weak and coming for the hurting.  Thank You that You are all we need.

 

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 5 – Nothing is Wasted

Ecclesiastes 1:8-10

8 All this monotony is tiresome; no one can bear to describe it: The eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear ever content with hearing. 9 What exists now is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing truly new on earth. 10 Is there anything about which someone can say, “Look at this! It is new!”? It was already done long ago, before our time.

If this world is all we have to live for, perhaps Solomon’s insight would ring true, but not so for the believer.

To a parent changing diapers and attending to screaming kids with snotty noses, seemingly mundane chores become a holy work, changing our character and molding us into His image.  Selfishness is washed away as we are absorbed in the well being of others.

To a farmer striving to yield a bountiful harvest yet confronted with the brutal realities of drought or a flood, reliance on self dissipates and a dependence on the God over all becomes paramount.

To the family head, struggling to make ends meet, waiting for the next paycheck or provision to come and overcome by bill collectors, faith begins to blossom in the midst of hardship.  Insight is formed, revealing that provision was not to be chased after in the first place.  God is our Provider.

To church leaders dealing with complaining sheep, their work becomes a holy endeavor as God changes their heart and perspective toward the people God calls them to minister to.  They discover that this calling is for God’s glory and not their own, not about them at all.  Offenses are dismissed and concern is raised for the offended one, instead.

To the sick who wonder if God cares at all, He shows the need for spiritual healing and uses the affliction to draw us nearer. He becomes our comfort in the midst of pain and humbles us to depend on Him.

To the wounded, broken heart, shattered by another’s sin – God sees you.  Even this is not wasted in His hands.  Instead of death, if we hope and wait on Him, He will turn our greatest sorrow into a thing of beauty.  Suddenly our eyes are opened to realize that a human being was never supposed to be our joy or our life.  Hoping in fallible humans is idolatry and temporary, but hoping in our living, loving God is eternal.

Everything is vanity apart from God, but everything done in Him has a purpose.  All of the wearisome repetitiveness and burdens of this life are working something great for those who will see more deeply. Thank God that we serve a God where nothing is meaningless and nothing is wasted.  He uses it all.

Solomon was the wisest man and yet he chose women who ultimately turned his heart from God and cursed the next generation.  Big consequences for someone who had allowed his blessings to become his snare.  Boredom replaced gratitude and awe over all that God had provided.

Mundanity has its purpose, after all.  Satisfaction was never meant to be fulfilled completely apart from Christ.  In the endless pursuit of meaning and happiness in a world that could never deliver that quest, we finally end up at His feet, where we were always meant to be.

Lord, all of the tasks, burdens, joys and sorrows are ultimately serving Your purpose in our lives and in this world.  Give us Your eyes and understanding and the wisdom to walk and chase after You, not the things of this world that always disappoint us.  Thank You for being our sovereign God who wastes nothing.

Answering the Call – Test Time!

Photo Credits: tfttraumarelief.com

Photo Credits:
tfttraumarelief.com

2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 5, 7

Therefore, since we have this ministry, just as God has shown us mercy, we do not become discouraged. 2 But we have rejected shameful hidden deeds, not behaving with deceptiveness or distorting the word of God, but by open proclamation of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience before God. 5 For we do not proclaim ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.

2 Corinthians 13:5

Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you–unless, indeed, you fail the test!

Psalm 26:2

Examine me, O LORD, and test me! Evaluate my inner thoughts and motives!

Psalm 139:23

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Students do not typically look forward to exams.  It is in the moments preceding the exam that they wonder if they have done enough.  Have they mastered the material?  An unprepared student hopes and prays for success, but it is not based on their work; they are just hoping for mercy.  So it is with us, in our calling as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Have we been in the Word of God and diligent to seek Him?  Are we prepared in season and out of season to share His salvation?  Are we willing to subject ourselves to an examination by God?

I woke up this morning with a sense that my heart and this ministry God has given would be under examination this week, as we are in our final week of raising support for the new music to be recorded.  As I asked God to confirm this ministry, I opened my Bible to the verses above in 2 Corinthians 4 and wept.

Stepping out to minister the word of God through song and word is the most amazing position I could ever have.  Each of us who have seen and understood God’s salvation has a ministry.  Each person’s calling will look different, but it is a calling, nonetheless – to share God’s salvation with a dying world.  How is it, that we should have a ministry?  That God would entrust this treasure – knowledge of Him and His salvation to broken clay pots?  Nothing short of a miracle by an amazing God.

With such a gift comes responsibility.  We must prove faithful.  We must remove any obstacles that stand in the way of people seeing Christ.  Any hidden sin must be seen and removed, so that we can, without hindrance, present a clear message from a pure heart.  God requires nothing less.  We might be broken clay pots, but God is in the business of taking broken things and making them beautiful.

Examining ourselves is a tricky thing to do.  We can easily come up with excuses or believe the best in ourselves.  But laying our hearts bare before God and asking Him to reveal our heart’s attitudes and hidden sins is a question God knows how to answer.  We can also ask godly people around us to evaluate us.  This takes humility and trust and ultimately what they share should be brought before God.  Sometimes the people around us who know that we are broken clay pots cannot receive our message.  That is okay – God will use another; and God can use us as messengers in other places, too.

As we examine ourselves, the litmus test cannot be man’s approval or numbers – it has to be our hearts and the evaluating tools God chooses.  Instead of fearing examination or being discouraged when we are tested by trials or personal choice, it should be a source of encouragement.  Being tested means we are seeking God and being prepared for being used by Him.  Those who submit to God’s test will come forth as refined silver – of great worth in God’s sight.  That makes the testing process worth it – beautiful indeed, and all for His glory.

Won’t you join me in evaluating the ministry God has given you?  This week I will be blogging about this process.  May our hearts be fully surrendered to Him.

Lord, I am Yours.  I am nothing apart from You.  Oh God, use me for Your glory.  Use all the brokenness form the pages of my life to give someone else courage.  Examine me and reveal hidden sins or attitudes that displease You and draw me nearer to You.  Be glorified in this clay pot. 

Promises, Promises

Promises, Promises
By: Denise Pass © 7/8/14

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Isaiah 54:4-6, 13-14, 17

:4 “Don’t be afraid, for you will not be put to shame! Don’t be intimidated, for you will not be humiliated! You will forget about the shame you experienced in your youth; you will no longer remember the disgrace of your abandonment. 5 For your husband is the One Who made you – the LORD who commands armies is His Name. He is Your Protector, the Holy One of Israel. He is called “God of the entire earth”. 6 Indeed, the LORD will call you back like a wife who has been abandoned and suffers from depression, like a young wife when she has been rejected, says your God. 13 All your children will be followers of the LORD, and your children will enjoy great prosperity. 14 You will be reestablished when I vindicate you. You will not experience oppression; indeed, you will not be afraid. You will not be terrified, for nothing frightening will come near you. 17 No weapon forged to be used against you will succeed; you will refute everyone who tries to accuse you. This is what the LORD will do for His servants – I will vindicate them,” says the LORD.

Have you ever felt shame from a circumstance in life, like there is no recovery for you? Not so, according to God. He is never finished with any of us. I remember the biggest fear I had in the wake of the scandal that rocked our home was that my children would no longer believe in or love the Lord. How could a Christian do something like this to his family? Hypocrisy from a believer is almost worse than the crime itself. The damage infidelity and abuse do to the human soul is incomparable. Lives are shattered by a parent who do not keep the sacred promise to not harm their own children. But God.

Maybe it was a family member, a friend, a co-worker, a stranger who you were counting on, or maybe you were the one someone else was counting on. In an uncertain world, we all cling to the hope that there is something, someone we can count on. But when that person lets us down, our innocence and hopes are dashed temporarily and we can search for something, someone to fill that void. The problem is, no one is perfect but the One. Whatever we find that we think will deliver perfect comfort simply cannot bring lasting peace and security.

So how do we learn to trust again in promises in such a shaky world? Promises are the foundation of every good relationship, but being vulnerable to another person or entity is an act of faith and difficult to do in a day and age when promises can be taken very lightly. Without promises, there is no security, but broken promises can be mended by the One Who always keeps His Word.

These verses above are full of amazing, precious promises from God to … His servants … not just anyone. Who would not want to be His servant when you see what God does for them? We have all been on the receiving end of a promise not kept, or kept a promise that was not deserved. But nothing is ever wasted with God and what we detest which was a reproach to us can be the very tool God uses to bring us into a beautiful place. Instead of trying to cover over our shame and pain, lay it bare before the Lord and trust Him to pick up the pieces. He’s good at that… and He keeps His promises.

Lord, Thank you for making and keeping your promises. Help us to honor our promises and to let our yes be yes and our no be no.