What’s In a Promise, part 2

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The promises of God have purposes far beyond just getting what we want.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Peter 1:4

“By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

The Purpose of Promises

Ever wonder why we have promises? Why do we need them? What is their purpose? Why couldn’t we just have all that we need?

When my children were little and really excited about something they could hardly wait for, they would sometimes look at me with their innocent, big eyes and ask, “promise?”. My kids knew that I would not say or promise something if I did not mean it. I wanted them to know that they could count on my being trustworthy in an uncertain world. They just wanted affirmation that it was going to happen.

Our Father is the same – only He has the means to fulfill all His promises where circumstances can throw our promises into a tailspin of delay.

The promises of man are often self-focused and materialistic in the pursuit of comfort. It is not evil to desire some comfort, but it can become a stumbling block if that is our desire above God’s purposes.

Faithfulness. God gives us His promises with a motivation much different than ours. He desires for us to be people of hope, living worthy lives yearning after His promises. When we look toward the fulfillment of His plan, we are not sitting idle, but become a faithful people. If every promise we ever had was already fulfilled, we would have nothing to look forward to and grow complacent.

Eternal Salvation. His goal is the pursuit of our souls with His promises. Drawing us near, He uses His promises for an eternal means. In trusting in His promises we do not waste time investing in temporary promises. Promises of the world are often formed in sin, but the promises of God are redeeming with purposes far beyond just getting what we want. His promises lead to the salvation of our souls.

Relationship. God wants us to trust in Him and to rely on Him, not ourselves. This is relationship. King Hezekiah demonstrates this relationship of trusting in God’s promises so well. The Bible says that there was none like him in his trust of God (2 Kings 18:5). Threatened by the king of Assyria who defeated everyone else, it would seem easy to fear and hard to trust, but Hezekiah staunchly placed his trust in God and the LORD was with Him. Even so, Hezekiah also had his moments of asking God to affirm His promises just like my children did (2 Kings 20). He was sick and going to die. Trusting God’s promise for healing was a real test in the face of such pain. So he asked for a sign. He did not ask with unbelief, but needed reassurance – God wants to give us His reassurance, too, as we wait eagerly on Him and walk in relationship with Him.

Sometimes a deep yearning of our hearts is never realized while other times promises are fulfilled that we never dreamed would happen. In both instances, we learn to trust our God is wise in all of His promises and the timing of the fulfillment of them.

It hurts while we wait and we can wonder what the purpose is of such pain. This is where faith comes in. Looking beyond the promises we hope for, we look to the One Who made them and His character –  then we understand. A God Who would leave the comforts of Heaven and choose suffering would ask us to do the same – set aside our purposes for His.

That God chose to patiently live a life on earth to achieve His purposes does not mean that God is not compassionate for our suffering and longing. He is growing our character and us into being a people after His own heart Who live worthy lives on purpose for His glory.

Lord, thank You for Your promises and for being a faithful God. Help us to be a people characterized by trust that is a witness to this world.

Is Your Plan from God?

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When God inspires, He guides and provides a purpose beyond ourselves.

Scripture of the Day:

Acts 5: 38-39

“‘So in this case I say to you, stay away from these men and leave them alone, because if this plan or this undertaking originates with people, it will come to nothing, 39 but if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them, or you may even be found fighting against God.’ He convinced them.”

We all want to succeed, all want to accomplish something that lives beyond ourselves. This cry for eternity is deep within our souls, so, we, like our Creator, set about creating and striving toward plans formed in our mind and soul.

We hope that our plans that will make a difference for someone, perhaps change someone’s life – even our own, for the better. And sometimes those plans fail. Sometimes we are successful and perhaps wish we never concocted the plan. Sometimes we pause and wonder what it is within us that urges us on to complete the work we are motivated to do in the first place.

I’ve had some pretty crazy ideas in my time, can’t say I regret any of them because God has used them all to change me for His glory. I live outside my comfort zone constantly, and it probably drives my family nuts – because they are often a part of my plans. (Insert sinister laugh here and envision me rubbing my hands together, hubby rolling his eyes).

But a plan is insignificant and temporary if it originates in the flesh. When God inspires, He guides and provides a purpose beyond ourselves. This might sound grandiose, but truly everything we do originates in the flesh or the spirit and has a purpose that will accomplish temporary gain or impact souls for eternity.

Reading in the book of Acts, we see a passion that the disciples had in their plan to reach people with the Gospel that intimidated the religious rulers of their day. When we seek to honor God and make a difference, we will face people who are against us and wrongly judge our motives. We will likely not get support from those “closest” to us, doubt ourselves and wonder if it is worth continuing to try at all. So why plan at all, in the face of persecution and perhaps even hardship?

As hard as it is to stick ourselves out there to try to achieve something grand, this is what it means to live and not just exist. Seeking to grow and be used by God sometimes leaves us weary and worn, but inwardly there is a delight when we are fueled by God’s strength and vision.

As we plan for the new year, may our plans be formed in the Word of God, covered in prayer and done for His glory alone. May our plans have Kingdom purposes, stand firm and may we resist the enemy in the pursuit of our goals.

Every deed and thought is laid bare before the One we are accountable to. He completely knows our hearts, though we cannot even fully know our own hearts. We often do not recognize fleshly motivations and are easily deceived, but the Bible, Holy Spirit and prayer are our compass that lead us to eternal motivations.

Lord, You know us completely. Give us a heart and a passion singularly focused on glorifying You and may we be sensitive to the leading of Your Holy Spirit. Give us Your plans for 2017 and grant success that impacts souls for You – be glorified in us.

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 24: Superficial Hope

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We have to let go of our hope to find it.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Corinthians 15:19

“If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

Hope is vain if it is in the wrong place. Worse yet, pretending to hope but inwardly doubting really can leave us bewildered and disillusioned.

Hope is a scary thing. We have to let go of our hope to find it. Sounds ironic, I know. But the hope we cultivated in the natural cannot compare with the new hope we have found which is not based on human principles.

We cannot walk on the fence of pretending to have this new Reinvented Hope while trying to maintain our former hope. Often times people remain hopeless because they don’t dare to hope again due to the fear of their hopes getting crushed.

But this new Reinvented Hope cannot be crushed – it is eternal. It is not based on anything temporary or of this world, but in Christ alone. It is not superficial, but supernatural.

Rising above the fear of unfulfilled hopes, this new Reinvented Hope cannot be manufactured or faked – but it can be formed in the deep chasms of life in the word of God.

On the horizons of our lives, there is a hope ahead that never fades, discovered in the pages of Scripture and in the surrender of our hearts.

This worship song from Jeremy Camp called, “There Will Be a Day” says it well. He is the hope we long for!

Lord, thank You for showing me this new hope in You. Through all of the grief process when I was dismayed that my hope could never look the same, You showed me I never would want it to. Your hope is enough for me.

Mundane Monday: Security in Insecurity

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We could never be more secure than in that moment when we understood our great need for salvation and accepted it. Loved. Sealed for eternity.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Samuel 25:29 (NLT)

“Even when you are chased by those who seek to kill you, your life is safe in the care of the LORD your God, secure in his treasure pouch! But the lives of your enemies will disappear like stones shot from a sling!”

1 Samuel 2:9 (NET)

“He watches over his holy ones, but the wicked are made speechless in the darkness, for it is not by one’s own strength that one prevails.”

David was no stranger to enemies, like the persecuted church today. Far beyond what we normally call enemies today in our sanitized world and vain imaginations, enemies are very real, nonetheless.

In pursuit of God we have the enemy of our souls and our flesh to deter us, let alone people who want to bring us down. But there is an understanding that transcends our circumstances and gives us security when life feels insecure.

Abigail entreated David to consider that despite the evil intent of those around him, he was indeed secure. Not because of alarm systems or body guards, but because the God of this universe had his back. God would take care of those who stood against David in His perfect timing and way. It might have taken 15 years for Saul to be deposed, but the character gained in those years could not be formed otherwise.

Hannah saw this same security from the strength of her living God who granted her deepest desire to have a son. Her security came from an insecure place, and God met her there. Her need for God’s provision and security through family caused her to go deeper with God and to rear a son who would be a mighty prophet for God’s people.

This insecure world invites us to accept the challenge of the difficulties around us and to place them at our Master’s feet.

Maybe you are hated. Maybe people are jealous of you like they were of David. Maybe it is an unbeliever hating you for your faith in Jesus, or maybe it is believers who are caught in a mire of covetousness who slander you to elevate themselves.

Either way, none of this is new underneath the sun. We can expect adversity if we are seeking to do God’s will, but that need not remove our security that we have in Christ.

We could never be more secure than in that moment when we understood our great need for salvation and accepted it. Loved. Sealed for eternity.

All the security we ever need is found Jesus, Who perfectly accepts us and heals our wayward souls. Our eternal security cannot be provided in anyone else.

But the temporal burdens in this world which frighten the human soul long for something more tangible. We want to be free from all fear and terror. How does this eternal security impact the temporal station where we reside?

It is in the recognition of the brevity of life that we see how all we are investing in the here and now impacts all of eternity. 

The suffering, the joy, the blessings and burdens all are a part of living. We cannot avoid pain, but we can call on El Elyon – the Eternal God Most High – for grace and strength while we battle through this life to live in a way that pleases Him.

For if our goal is the removal of fear or suffering we have set our bar too low.

To be secure in the security this life offers does not prepare us for eternity.

But to live this insecure life with abandon before our King, fully trusting and seeking to glorify His Name – this is really living a secure life, no matter what life brings.

Lord, You are awesome and Holy, our living Refuge! Help us to live lives that are radically transformed and surrendered to You.

Worshipful Wednesday:Favored Favor

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The favor of God is our greatest reward.

Scripture:

Psalm 4:2-3

“You men, how long will you try to turn my honor into shame? How long will you love what is worthless and search for what is deceptive? (Selah) 3 Realize that the LORD shows the godly special favor; the LORD responds when I cry out to him.”

Psalm 5:12

“Certainly you reward the godly, LORD. Like a shield you protect them in your good favor.”

The thrill of receiving a gift is a surge of elation, a cherished favor; but sadly, it does not last.  Nope, the hard-earned new car or house, the pretty new outfit or exciting new relationship eventually become old.  The pursuit of the next new thing is futile, as the endless cycle of newness wearing off leaves us disillusioned, wanting for more.

The irony is that the things we often desire are not worth our time at all.  No one would choose a lump of coal for their stocking over a priceless, cherished gift, yet we daily are duped into pursuing things of lesser value compared to the riches God has in store for His children.

We might not at first recognize that we are esteeming worthless things, but that is often because we are deceived.  Blinded by the desires of our flesh, we long for things that temporarily satisfy us while God has riches beyond our greatest imagination.

Often we fall short of receiving God’s best because we are impatient or do not trust in what we cannot readily see.  Like the rich man who yearned for the comfort that Lazarus had after the sorrows on this earth, we have a choice right now to put our trust in the future hope that God has for us and not look only for rewards that this world offers.

To love what is worthless when the King of kings offers Himself, instead, is perhaps the saddest deception of all.  He longs to have us look up and worship the only One of worth, Himself, and to bless us, but we choose things that do not last and ultimately our own destruction apart from the grace of God.

What is this favor He longs to give?  We have an audience with the Almighty Creator.  Not just an audience, but One Who hears us and acts on our behalf.  He is our Shield, our Protector, the Lover of our souls.  His favor is eternal salvation for those who recognize and receive the gift.  The highest favor, indeed.

Lord, help us to invest our lives in what matters – pursuing You.  May we not waste the precious gift of life on worthless endeavors, but pursue knowing You above all things.

Mundane Monday: Unruly Rulers

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Inspirational Thought of the day:

God has given us everything from provisions to positions, yet still owns and rules it all.  

Scriptures:

Genesis 1:26-27

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.’ 27 God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.”

Genesis 2:18

“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.'”

No one likes to be told they have to follow someone else’s rules. Ugh. Our flesh in this culture cries out, “no one can be the boss of me”. That’s our nature. God made us to rule, after all. But in what manner?

Man and woman were both made to rule over God’s creation according to His boundaries, but the tendency of mankind is to add or subtract rules to define our own boundaries to suit our desires.

We were to be stewards of all He had given, and within that work was a blessing – our enjoyment. But we can easily forget that it all belongs to Him. The One Who gives us the right to rule is still the owner of it all.

Something innate within us wants to own things, but in God’s economy, He shares it all with us freely.  While He was demonstrating love and generosity to Adam and Eve, they were pursuing their own glory and wants instead of His.  Their rulership became all about them and was no longer blessed.

He knew all that they needed, provided food and even provided for their need for fellowship – woman was made as a companion for man.  With such blessings, why would they ever want for more?

Both of them were present when they chose to violate God’s law.  Both confused the purpose of the role of dominion and what they ruled over was therefore cursed.  Even their fellowship would never be the same.  A sad ending, if that were the end of the story.

In Christ, we can see the impact of the curse in our own lives and resist evil, but it is a battle we will have to fight our entire lives.  Our flesh gets wearied by this continual internal and external conflict, but it is a battle worth fighting.  Even though the curse is evident all around us, God uses even curses for good in our lives.

When things are not perfect, the curses in our lives can be a catalyst for seeking God and seeing our need of Him.  The initial punishment meted out by a Holy, righteous, perfect Judge ends up as a blessing to those who die to self and seek God’s glory and not their own.  What an amazing God.

It is ironic that the pursuit of wisdom would lead to their demise.  A pursuit of wisdom for our own glory bears cursed fruit, but loving wisdom in order to glorify God bears eternal fruit.  If we can see our rule over what God has given us as a position of servitude instead of a position of power, we begin to see the wisdom in God’s plan and reverse the curse.

Lord, thank You for Your kind provision.  You have blessed us beyond measure and we still always want for more.  Help us to be faithful stewards and to care for everything You have placed in our hands.  May we be content and grateful, never forgetting that everything we have is Yours and for Your glory. 

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Five: Joy

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Proverbs 10:28

“The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.”

James 1:2-4

2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

John 15:11

“I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.”

Joy can happen instantaneously and vanish just as quickly, but for those who are in Christ, there can be a lasting joy deeply embedded in our souls.

This gift of joy sometimes comes in surprising packages.  What we might think of as having no use in our lives ends up being a big blessing because of the greatness of God to utilize everything for our good and His glory.

What we often would not choose and have no delight in can instead be the very thing we need.  What a sovereign God, Who knows exactly what we need to have real joy in this life.

Sometimes life’s burdens can be so very hard to carry and the sin around us grieves our Spirit, trying to stifle out our joy.  It is in those moments that we reflect on what the trials surrounding us are achieving and choose to accept this gift of joy that Christ came to give us.

When the temporal burdens of this life threaten to steal our joy, the joy of the LORD is our strength and is the gift that keeps giving if we run to Him.  Our delight in Him is further ignited when we consider the joy we have in our glorious future with Christ.  Greater still is sharing that joy with others who desperately need to know that there is more than this world has to offer.

Lord, thank you that the gifts you give us for this life are eternal.  We have joy in You because of Who You are – the Great I AM – Lover of our soul and our joy.

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 7 – In Hot Pursuit

Luke 15:4

“”Which one of you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, would not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go look for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 Then when he has found it, he places it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”

Psalm 139:7-8

“I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.”

The heart cry of all of us is that we would be loved and accepted just as we are.  We long for our spouses to cherish us and be crazy about us.  At the root of that desire is a craving for an unconditional, secure love.

God is wild about us.  When we stray, He is jealous for us with a righteous jealousy and hunts us down.  When we hurt, He hurts.  He conveys this love a million times over in a million ways, yet we still often can miss it.

Perhaps because many of us have heard the salvation story so much we have forgotten how radical His expression of love was and is for us.  To suffer and die for someone who did not love Him back, out of a selfless, zealous, passionate love is the most amazing love found on this earth.

It is not a superficial temporary, fickle crush, but an eternal, lasting love that never gives up on us.  He defines Himself as a Shepherd who has a multitude of sheep surrounding Him, yet notices one that slips away.  Have we ever felt small, forgotten, in a sea of “more important” people?  God notices.  He is that awesome that He can see everything and everyone and not let even one go unattended to.

The security we have in Christ is unparalleled anywhere.  He calls us, saves us, but does not leave us there.  He sanctifies us through and through, pursuing us all the way to draw nearer to Him – the One our souls really need.

Lord, thank You for chasing after us when our first impulse is to wander.  Thank You for revealing and demonstrating Your amazing love to us so we could understand what it means to know our great God, Who is so much greater than ourselves, yet chooses to love us anyway.

Thoughtful Thursday: The Heat is On!

Photo credits freeindeedtravel.blogspot.com

Photo credits
freeindeedtravel.blogspot.com

Proverbs 17:3 “The crucible is for refining silver and the furnace is for gold, likewise the LORD tests the heart.”

Proverbs 25:4 “Remove the dross from the silver, and material for the Silversmith will emerge.”

Malachi 3:3 “He will act like a refiner and purifier of silver and will cleanse the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will offer the LORD a proper offering.

Romans 5:3 “Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance…”

Analogies can help us comprehend deeper spiritual application, but we no longer live in a time where the local silversmith is around the next corner.  Scriptures detailing the process of purifying silver might not seem as relatable to our microwave generation.  The process of purifying silver takes time and careful attention.  Standards can be lowered when impatience is allowed to reign over quality and purity.  But it is uncomfortable to remain in the heat and difficult to tarry when refining hurts.

Another analogy has proved helpful to me in understanding this process of refining that God does in the life of His children. If we had to undergo surgery for an infirmity but hopped off the surgical table every time there was pain, we would never be healed. But remaining in God and trusting His hand despite the perceived harm will produce a rare treasure.  If the uncomfortable shaking allowed into our lives was avoided or placated by running to alternative sources of comfort rather than God, then perhaps the refining would be extended – not out of cruelty, but out of love and a desire to rid us of dross in our lives.

The humanistic philosophies of the day would say we should tolerate and accept our dross and not judge one another for our shortcomings.  That is actually not kindness at all.  Neither should we judge when someone is going through a difficult season.  We cannot understand why, but loving accountability walks alongside and knows that we all have dross that must be purged.  To keep the cancer of sin in our lives or to make excuses for it instead of submitting to God to remove it is folly.  Who would choose to keep a disease if there was a known cure?

Sometimes we can think the refining process is pure evil – why do such difficult times have to be allowed in to produce beauty?  I remember foolishly asking the LORD why I had to go through such difficult trials until I understood they were the very source of inspiration for my music or writing.  I could wish that I would not have to undergo such dire circumstances, but then I would not trade the closeness to God in the midst or the character gained in that fire.

The bride of Christ is being made beautiful, one crucible at a time.  Through blurry, tear-filled eyes it can be difficult to see clearly the fruit that God is producing, but to rejoice in that moment of suffering at what it is achieving is truly seeing with eternal eyes.  The jewel in the rough is becoming a gem that will shine forever.

Lord, help us to yield to You when in the fire of life’s challenges.  Make us more like you!