Day 15: Facing the Future

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

As we look through the ruins behind us, the past does not have to define us, but serves as a monument of what God brought us through.

Scripture of the Day:

Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

We have been facing a lot of difficult strongholds in the past couple weeks – fear, depression, disillusionment, judgment, sin, memories, reality and enemies. Some struggles we may have been aware of, some maybe not. The future on earth is a little more difficult to define, though. We cannot know it. At all. Such is the human condition. So how does one face the unknown? By faith.

Faith is the daughter of hope. We are confident not in faith itself, but solely in the object of our faith – our unchanging, faithful God.

The nebulous nature of what is to come can create in us a dependence on God or a shrinking back in fear, unsure of what God will allow across our path. This place of insecurity is beautiful, as it strips us of ourselves and brings us to our God, Who alone is our future.

Sometimes the past hurts so much that the future seems impossible. But, like the faith-filled saints who have gone before us in Hebrews 11, we can have a firm hope in the future because we know God’s promises are yes and amen.

In the hall of fame of faith, we see saints of old who did not receive what was promised on this earth, but their faith in God led them to live sold-out to the promises of God. Sobered by life’s often harsh realities, we learn that we cannot live for this world – it could never fully satisfy.

This hope in what is to come is not for our lives to be perfect and not just for the promised reward. It is a hope that God will make every wrong right, that we will finally no longer be apart from Him and be in His presence. A hope that we will be like Him.

Let those words sink in. To be like Jesus. That is our chief goal in this life and God promises to fulfill it. Delivered from this earthly frame, there will be no more burden of sin. No more fear of man. No more tears, no more pain. What a hope this is!

As we look through the ruins behind us, the past does not have to define us, but serves as a monument of what God brought us through. As we seek to process the past and ready ourselves for the future, the lessons learned in all of our struggles and victories can prove invaluable.

Nothing is wasted in God’s hands and everything is redeemed for use in the future. Wow, what a hope. No longer do we have to fear what this life brings, for it is temporary and our hope is fixed on Christ alone!

Lord, thank You for a living hope that never fades – kept in Heaven by You. Help us to not lost sight when life makes us weary. Give us a new hope that is only in You.

 

 

 

 

Freedom Friday: No Longer a Slave

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We will never be more free than we are now – we just have to walk in the freedom.

Scripture:

Galatians 5:1

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.”

Ever feel oppressed, pushed down?  We often think of freedom as being something given when a person deserves punishment.  But sometimes freedom is a choice we have.

So many things to be set free from.  Free from the fear of man, free from fearing the future.  Free from the fear of failure.  Free from other’s abuse of us – spiritual, emotional, physical, sexual.

Half the battle is recognizing that we need to be set free in the first place.  Spiritual battles are ongoing all around us, in our mindset, in circumstances – but we often look at the surface and respond accordingly.

People’s perception of us can have us trapped in the desire for their acceptance of us unless we realize we don’t need it in the first place.

Fearing the future assumes that what we are fearing will actually take place.  What a waste of energy worrying about something that may never come to pass.

Sometimes freedom is cruelly kept from innocent victims.  Even in that place, however, Christ can set us free in the midst.  Freedom does not mean we will not have scars to heal and need to continually bring our slavitude to things or people to our God Who is able to open our eyes to see the freedom we have in Christ.

Lord, set us free from all that threatens to enslave us.  Help us to see when we begin to put the shackles on again and when we forget the high price You paid to set us free.

Thoughtful Thursday: Possessive Possessions

LoveSelfishness

Inspirational thought of the day:

All that we think we own we cannot keep and it is not ours, after all.

Scripture:

Job 1:21

He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. May the name of the LORD be blessed!”

Ah.  The American Dream.  Much that is included in this utopic hope is good.  Freedom.  Peace.  Happiness.  But part of the American Dream is tied up in materialistic goals.

Somehow happiness becomes equated with owning things.  Lots of them. Or they own us.  A home that is much larger than necessary, nice things, a perfect family, involvement in a zillion things.

I confess, I bought it, too.  Still do.  But God continues to lovingly pry my fingers open to release it all to Him.

There is a comfort in owning things and having things settled, without fear of losing them.  Yet the human condition is that there is nothing certain in this life.  How does one function in an insecure world void of anything lasting?  Our future hope.

As devastating as it is when we lose something we cherished, or worse yet, a loved one passes away who is irreplaceable, there is an inner joy kindling with the inexpressible joy that we will have in Heaven when we no longer long for anything or anyone and have no fear that we will ever lose what God gives us.

Eternity is in the hearts of all men.  A desperate want for something more than what surrounds us.  We pacify this want with what we own or our earned place in this world, but that is only temporary.  Why would God create such a condition for man to live in?

Because we were not made just for this world.  We were made for eternity with Him.  We are passing through down here and it is so very hard for us to remember when things are given and stripped away that we have something far greater, beyond comprehension that Christ has already given to us.

What we are given is not for us, after all, but for His glory.

We are in the waiting room right now, waiting for our complete blessing in Him in Heaven.  While we wait, we temporary hold onto what God has placed in our lives with open hands, palm up – worshiping Him when He gives and when He takes, for He allows it all for our good and His glory.

Lord, help us to be filled with gratitude for everything You allow into our lives, even when things don’t make sense.  Give us Your eternal perspective and help us to glorify You in it all.

The Context of Promises

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victoryoutreachwhittier.org

Jeremiah 29:10-11 “For the Lord says, ‘Only when the seventy years of Babylonian rule are over will I again take up consideration for you.  Then I will fulfill my gracious promise to you and restore your homeland.  11  For I know what I have planned for you, says the LORD.  I have pans to prosper you, not to harm you.  I have plans to give you a future filled with hope..'”

Jeremiah 30:10 “So I, the LORD, tell you not to be afraid, you descendants of Jacob, my servants.  Do not be terrified, people of Israel.  For I will rescue you and your descendants form a faraway land where you are captives.  The descendants of Jacob will return to their land and enjoy peace.  They will be secure and no one will terrify them.  11 For I, the LORD, affirm that I will be with you and will rescue you.  I will completely destroy all the nations where I scattered you.  But I will not completely destroy you.  I will indeed discipline you, but only in due measure.  I will not allow you to go entirely unpunished.”

We all fondly cherish God’s promises, in particular the very popular verse found in Jeremiah 29:11.  We all want to believe, especially in dire times, that God does have a future and a hope for us.  Yet we often ignore the context of such promises.  Just before the wonderful promise of Jeremiah 29:11, God is letting Israel know that they are about to get a big spanking (ok, that is greatly minimizing being made eunuchs and taken into captivity 70 years).  In that moment of promised retribution, He also injected encouragement and a promise of good things to follow the hardship about to visit His chosen people.

This reminds me of how much I detested punishing my children when they were young, but the folly bound in their hearts had to be purged, in order to get to the blessings in store for a child who would walk in wisdom.  My heart deeply desires blessings for my children, but sometimes the road to blessing is paved with discipline.  The one who disciplines is often viewed in a harsh light.  Why can’t sin just be overlooked and we still get our reward?  Because God knows that treasuring sin will ultimately destroy us.  If we excuse sin, we allow it to live in our members and grow.  Dealing with sin as it should be dealt with is actually a kindness and brings life.

Discipline is never meant to be rejection, but rather restoration of our relationship to God.  Living in the moment, we can neglect to see the larger picture of God’s activity in the lives of His people.  Perspective of hardship is altered when we recognize it is but one piece of fabric in the large quilt of our lives.  Herein lies a bittersweet truth: We cannot claim the promises of God without claiming what precedes and follows them.  Will we be a sunshine Christian, only praising God when blessings come, or a faithful follower, during blessings and hardships?  Trusting His character, we can have eyes to see that what He permits is truly always for our good and achieving something far greater than what we see on the surface.

This morning, I was contemplating the fourth poor soul awaiting execution by ISIS, displayed for the world to see.  Wanting to cling to God’s promises through this crisis, I asked my children to pray with me for this man and for God to show Himself strong in this situation.  I asked that God would strike the executioner dead and inject a fear of God in this vile enemy.  My daughter then injected a prayer of her own – “can we pray that they would be saved, too?”  I was at once humbled.  Could I pray that?  Is it possible that even this wicked organization could be saved?  God knows.  But while we wait for God’s deliverance, we have to trust that even these difficult times serve a purpose – God will not waste this sufferingOn the other side of every atrocity in history, there is a plan of redemption all for God’s gloryThat is where I place my hope this morning – in the context of God’s promises.

Oh Lord, just as You were sovereign and Almighty when Paul was murdering Christians, You are the same All-powerful, All-seeing, All-knowing God who can convert a murderer into a man of God used by You to save many.  Lord, I want to see You glorified in these times.  Help us to understand and endure all hardship as discipline from a loving father.  Please defend your people all for Your magnificent glory!!