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

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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.

Worshipful Wednesday: Owner of the Nations

Psalm 82:8

Rise up, O God, and execute judgment on the earth! For you own all the nations.

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Psalm 83:4-6

4 They say, “Come on, let’s annihilate them so they are no longer a nation! Then the name of Israel will be remembered no more.” 5 Yes, they devise a unified strategy; they form an alliance against you. 6 It includes the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites,”

Psalm 83:16-18

16 “Cover their faces with shame, so they might seek you, O LORD. 17 May they be humiliated and continually terrified! May they die in shame! 18 Then they will know that you alone are the LORD, the sovereign king over all the earth.”

As I read from my Bible plan this morning, I could not help but see the Scriptures above as being fulfilled right now during our time.  Upon examination, looking into the history of each people group mentioned as enemies of God’s people, it is amazing to see how small choices can impact families, people groups, nations, the world and all eternity.

Esau and Ham were both cursed for a moment of weakness indulging their flesh.  Esau was the favored son of Issac, but he was lazy and and took for granted his position… all over Lentil soup.  I am thinking it would have taken some more prized food than that to tempt him away from leaving behind his identity in Christ.  Tricked out of his birthright, he ended up an enemy of God’s people.  It hardly seems fair, and yet God knows the heart and His choice was Jacob.

Noah knew his son’s heart, and though it was a moment of indiscretion and mockery, Ham was foolish and not who God’s promise would be through.  His descendants apparently did not learn a lesson from their ancestor regarding walking in wisdom and restraining the curious sins of the flesh.

Lot just dumbfounds me.  He was spared by God because of the faithfulness of Lot’s uncle, Abraham, and his prayers on his behalf.  Yet his descendants became enemies of God’s people.  He surrounded himself by a godless people and grew comfortable there.  Given a choice as to where he would live, he inched closer and closer to Sodom and Gomorrah until he was smack dab in the middle of a fleshly, lustful environment.  He even offered his own daughters up to wicked men as potential sex slaves when the wicked men of his city wanted to molest the angels who were visiting Lot.  No wonder his daughters did not know right and wrong and opted to inebriate their father and bear his children.  Moab and Ammon resulted from their sin and are also modern day enemies of God’s people.  Keeping ourselves unpolluted is not enough. Our children need to be taught what it means to fear the LORD.

Enter the Hagites and Ishmaelites, who come from Hagar, who was Sarah’s backup plan when it seemed like God was taking too long to fulfill His promise.  The root from Sarah’s and Lot’s daughters’ decisions was impatience and a lack of trust in God.  What if they had not acted on their desires and just waited on God?  We will never know.

What a mess.  Oh how the heart of God grieves over the sinful choices man makes in His attempt to rule himself.  The consequences for decisions made outside of God’s will are painful and long lasting.  Distrust in God and impatience for the unfolding of His plan will not produce blessings, only hardship and pain for those who come behind us.  The motivation for acting outside of God’s will is idolatry – our desires become our god.

But what intrigues me the most are the Assyrians -they were not who I expected to be the enemies of God.  Surrounded by lands who worship false gods, the modern-day Assyrians are Christians in a land we are familiar with, that was once Ninevah.  Jonah’s obedience still paying off, perhaps?  How is it that Christians, who were grafted in to God’s promise to Israel, could ever be an enemy of Israel’s?

Ultimately, all of the enemies of God’s people are enemies of God.  They do not remember that He is the Father of all nations, the One Who made us all.  They want the favor of God their way and the fruit of their deeds goes before them and will be judged by the God of our universe.

Be ready.  The pieces are moving into place and the nations surrounding Israel think their plan is firm, but the One Who owns it all has a plan and it will stand.  Isn’t He amazing?  He gave us free will and we made a mess of things, but in the end He will work everything for good, because He can!

Lord, I am amazed at You.  Our hearts can fear when we see the circumstances in the world today, but to know that You are sovereign and in complete control is our source of everlasting comfort.  Have Your way, LORD, and defeat the enemies, as David prayed, that they might seek You and know You as the One true King who rules over all.

Integrity Has Its Own Rewards

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Integrity Has Its Own Reward

By: Denise Pass © 7/1/14

1 Samuel 26:25

Saul replied to David, “May you be rewarded, my son David! You will without question be successful!”

David is being praised not by his friend, but by his enemy who was pursuing him relentlessly. That is a rare find. What provoked such a response from Saul? David had just spared his life, when he could have easily taken it. He could have “gotten Saul back” for all the evil Saul wrought upon him. But he didn’t.

David could have taken matters into his own hands concerning the promised kingdom; after all, God Himself promised that David would be king. He did not even count himself worthy and revered his God and the position of being king, which Saul held.

David recognized something so profound and valuable – every position we have is only because God put us there. How beautiful that David trusted in God, even though it seemed the prophesy of Samuel would never come true. Oh to have such patience and operate in complete surrender to God.

We all want to be successful, but how we go about achieving that success is what defines us. How we define success is equally as significant a factor as the success we are striving for. Is it success to be wealthy? To be king? David valued being right with God above all else and walking in integrity as a way of life.

In life we will have people who attempt to throw us off the calling God has placed on our lives. We will also be guilty of not staying on that path ourselves, but God is always faithful and can enable us to walk before Him in integrity. The same David would also later choose to murder a man and commit adultery. He was not perfect, but he was a man after God’s own heart who would confess and renounce his sins and bear the consequence. He cared more about God’s glory than his own comfort or fame.

What is it God has called us too? Perhaps disillusioned along the way, perhaps taunted by enemies or our own flesh that hurl accusations and doubt upon us, we have forgotten our calling or stopped trying to find it. May we open our eyes afresh and realize the mission we are on. The time is too short to miss it. God needs us to be people of integrity in a world of compromise.

Sweet Lord, thank You that you have a plan for each one of us and you will never forsake us. Please help us to seek You and walk faithfully with you in integrity of heart. Help us to be people after your own heart who do not bow to please the world. Your will be done.