Day 28: The Fruition of Hope

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Having our hope transfixed on God causes us to seek to do His mission instead of our own.

Scriptures of the Day:

Colossians 1:27

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Romans 5:5

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Here we are – we have come so far. What began as a seemingly hopeless situation has been transformed into a Hope Reinvented and the fruit of this new hope we have found is sweet, indeed.

When life disrupts the plans we have, it is an opportunity to trust God and see what He accomplishes as we hope in Him.

With this new hope there is no more shame, no more cause to wonder if God is for us. We are confident of God’s purposes even when the situation is bleak. This is the fruit of a life invested in God’s hope for us instead of our own. Bearing within us God’s perfect peace and love, His hope brings our hearts in sync with God’s purposes as we look to Him as our hope.

When I sat in the back of a police station for the second time due to yet another court error, the pain of the nonsensical mess I was in wrecked my heart and hurt my faith. Why would God allow this? But the LORD used the painful mishaps of life and the relentless pursuit from others against me to cause me to desperately draw nearer to Him.

I longed for a simple life again, but realized that this hope would keep me in a state of comfort and complacency. It felt like walking on water as I stepped out the boat of my hopes and placed all my dreams in His Holy hands. This hew hope was unending and filled my heart with joy and laughter, even as my old hope faded away.

When a person has a living hope, the resulting fruit is a life lived for God’s glory instead of for vain hopes. Having our hope transfixed on God causes us to seek to do His mission instead of our own.

Thank You, LORD, for fixing our eyes on You – the Author and completer of our faith. Hope in You is always well placed and fulfills our life purpose.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Day 1: Salvation is Here

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Hope would be meaningless if we did not have a living God Who makes and fulfills His promises.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Peter 1:3-6

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Ever feel like salvation looks a little different than what you had hoped for? I mean, if we are on the Jesus team now, life should be unicorns and roses without the thorns, right? Or maybe you haven’t accepted the free gift of salvation yet because you are not sure you can hope in one more thing that will possibly let you down.

Seriously, life can send us some hard times and it is not enough to quote some nice sounding sayings to get us through it all. Our hope in God can begin to falter when we pray and we pray and circumstances don’t change. Where is God when life hurts? Why doesn’t He choose to end our pain sometimes?

It seems wrong to question, but in all honesty, the only path to healing and finding genuine hope is to walk through the door of pain and seek to understand the heart of God in it all.

It is in the moment of our angst and grief that we find more than comfort in God’s Word and His presence. We discover a purpose and a hope far less superficial than the quest for a perfectly pain-free life, and God surprises us with a living hope in Him.

If you have ever wondered where God was when you discovered the most horrific, painful truth that shattered your life and family, or your home was foreclosed, or when you suffer with multiple illnesses, or your marriage ends in divorce or your pregnancy ends in miscarriage . . . the list goes on and on with the disappointments life can bring . . . you are not alone. I’ve wondered, too, when I walked through all of the things I just mentioned. But that wondering has been transformed into a wonder at how awesome God is – even when life hurts.

Religiously saying He is there or won’t give us more than we can handle doesn’t cut it when the sky is falling. He is not just there when we suffer – He chose the suffering we seek to avoid – because He loves us so much. When He chose to be rejected by men, spat upon and to bear our punishment, the Bible says He had joy. He endured His suffering knowing firmly the hope He had. In His immense suffering, He knew what He was accomplishing in that suffering – the salvation of many.

So it is with us. When we suffer and long for our deliverance, long for just a glimmer of hope again, God is accomplishing something far greater than relief from our temporary pain. He is changing our hope and making us into His image, but He also gives grace in our time of need.

To be human is to hope – to hope and believe in an ultimate good end. God uniquely made us with a craving for hope and something more than we see around us. This is not ingratitude, but a longing placed there by a sovereign God, who knew we needed to be people of Hope to live worthy lives.

He does not tell us to hope and then crush our dreams. Hope would be meaningless if we did not have a living God Who makes and fulfills His promises. Hope is an overused word that can lose its meaning, unless we begin to look deeper into what this hope is really like that God has for us.

The Scripture above says that when we are saved we are saved into a living hope. Not just a concept, nor a thing to strive for – this hope is alive and given to us. Our hope is alive because our Savior is alive. This does not mean the removal of pain or sorrow, but it does mean He will rescue us. It might be a mighty deliverance that brings Him glory or it might mean an awesome testimony of His enablement throughout. The irony of God’s salvation is that God does not always save us from our troubles, but He often saves us through our troubles.

Some of the most amazing men of God in the Bible died, never having seen their hope fulfilled, yet their hope was certain. Their hope was beyond the grave and eternal.

When we feel without hope, it is in that moment that our hope is in the wrong place. Don’t get me wrong – it is not wrong to hope to see the goodness of God in the land of the living – the Psalmist echoed the same heart cry – but when our hope is in Him alone, we are no longer disappointed.

There is an awe that God will somehow use the mess to bless and also glorify Himself. He promises to. Instead of hoping I will no longer have to suffer, I now hope that I can honor God in every situation that arises.

During one of the greatest sorrows of my life, I was crying out to God and asking Him why He let someone else’s sins destroy my life and why I was suffering consequences for their sins. “I wasn’t angry when I bore your sins” was the answer. God forgive me. I had forgotten about His glory and felt forgotten by my loving Father, when He was inviting me to get hope and strength from Him in the midst of the fire.

On the day God drew me to Himself, I was saved from eternal suffering, but my circumstances did not change. I was submerged into a litany of newfound persecution, but my heart was full of hope. This is the mystery of a supernatural hope – it does not depend on anything this world has, but is firmly anchored in God alone.

This hope is anchored in a future salvation that is yet to be fully revealed. It is not anchored in a problem-free, perfect life on earth.

As we explore this hope together, the verse above reminds us that this salvation is a living hope. Our salvation is a constant hope that we look to and can depend on. It never fades, it is certain. It is a relationship with the God Who made us.

One last promise to keep us going – Jesus is interceding for us. He knows we get discouraged. He will not fail us and will restore our hope if we will just hang on to His word and promises.

Hebrews 7:25: “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

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.

A Season of Thankfulness: Day Two – Our Faithful Intercessor

Day two thankfulness

Hebrews 5:1-10: 22-28

“Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”  During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.  

Hebrews 6:16-20

16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

Hebrews 7:

22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.  23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.  26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins,and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.”

King of kings and Lord of lords, and yet we were on His mind.  More than that, He still prays for us, perpetually.  And Who is this prayer warrior?  Jesus.  The One true living God, Holy, blameless, selfless and the bearer of all of our sins.

The prayers He offers up are sovereign, perfect, offered by a God whose purposes NEVER change and Who is incapable of lying.  Wow.  His prayers are outside time, always exactly what we need.  Perfect.

I am thankful for Christ’s modeling of what our prayer life should look like.  Being God incarnate, He humbled Himself and cried out with “loud cries and tears”.  He understands.  He became man and demonstrated what a passionate life in God should look like.  He did not pray for His own comfort, instead He prayed for His enemies and strength to do the perfect will of God.  God answered and we are the fruit of those prayers all those years ago in the Garden of Gethsemane.

How humbling that the imperfect would be the very apple of God’s eye, and the very ones whom Christ cried out for and laid His life down for.  May our prayer lives imitate the Master’s.

When it appears that His answers to our prayers are wrong or God does not hear, we begin to understand that His ways are far higher than our own.  When the cessation of pain is our goal, His goal is that we will be changed in the midst, become more like Him and that we would know Him.  Our faithful Intercessor is our faithful Friend, always knowing how to pray for us.

Lord, what a faithful intercessor You are!  Thank You for giving us what we need and not what we want.  Thank You for being our ever-present help in times of trouble.  Thank You, God, for never changing and for being perfect, righteous, faithful.  I love you, Lord!

Mundane Monday: Beautiful Death

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colossians 2:6-10

“Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness 8 Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human traditions and the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form, 10  and you have been filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”

Colossians 3:3-6

3 “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  4 When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him. 5  So put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth: sexual immorality, impurity, shameful passion, evil desire, and greed which is idolatry. “

When we hear the words philosophy and tradition, what is our first reaction?  *Yawn*.  Well, to be honest, I confess I love to discuss deep thoughts and perspectives and to analyze why we do what we do.  Isn’t it a blessing to know, though, that being in Christ is not contingent upon recitations of sayings or following a set of rules?  No, our relationship with Christ is vibrant and full of life.

This invitation to the greatest adventure known at first blush does not sound very appealing.  Come, die.   Die to self, die to your former ways.  Until you discover the beauty in this death.  The freedom to walk away from sin and to invite God Himself to indwell us and to enable us to live for His glory.  Unparalleled joy, beyond comparison.

When we first die to our flesh, our flesh cries out, complaining about having to do so.  The argument about the Christian life being boring begins to try to tempt our souls that it is unbearable to have to discipline our flesh.  But wisdom reveals that our flesh is not our friend.

All the time wasted listening to our flesh crying out about what it wants, when the inner man longs for what is really our joy – time with Christ.  What joy was found in disobedience?  What grief and sorrow have been born from choosing to walk after the things of this world?  Seems hardly worth it now.

But time with Jesus is sweeter than any other vocation on this earth and satisfies our souls long after the temporary satisfaction of pleasing the flesh does.  This God of the universe chose to live in us!  That, my friend, is far more exhilarating than anything else this world has to offer.

Lord, help us to be filled with your joy when the world makes us feel like fools.  Whatever sacrifice we have offered pales in comparison to Your sacrifice and the greatness and privilege of walking with You.  

Worshipful Wednesday: The Living Spring

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Psalm 84:1-2, 4-7, 10-12

1 How lovely is the place where you live, O Lord who rules over all!  2 I desperately want to be in the courts of the Lord’s temple.  My heart and my entire being shout for joy to the living God. 4  How blessed are those who live in your temple and praise you continually! (Selah)  5 How blessed are those who find their strength in you, and long to travel the roads that lead to your temple!  6 As they pass through the Baca Valley, he provides a spring for them.  The rain even covers it with pools of water.  7 They are sustained as they travel along; each one appears before God in Zion.  10 Certainly spending just one day in your temple courts is better than spending a thousand elsewhere.  I would rather stand at the entrance to the temple of my God than live in the tents of the wicked.  11 For the Lord God is our sovereign protector.  The Lord bestows favor and honorhe withholds no good thing from those who have integrity.  12 O Lord who rules over all, how blessed are those who trust in you!

What a beautiful picture of devotion to God.  The Psalmist’s entire being is caught up with the thought of just being in God’s presence.  It is enough for him to just stand at the door, rather than to live with the wicked.  He is fully aware of the price to get to God’s temple (Heaven) but fully trusting in God to provide during the bitter moments of life in this journey with God. He is willing to pay the price and recognizes that many are not.

Reminiscent of Paul Bunyan’s novel, “Pilgrim’s Progress”, this Psalm shows the blessings of walking with God.  He is faithful.  We all will have different troubles to bear in this life, but God makes a spring in the midst of them all.  Do we perceive it?  Or are we focused on the difficulties instead?

It is easy to focus on the uncomfortable thorns which pierce our flesh and dissipate temporal happiness.  Our attention is upon that thing which distracts us from joy, but looking toward the reward of the temple of God is the most beautiful spring in the middle of every valley.  He is our living joy and those who long for Him are satisfied in His presence.

Lord, I worship You for providing nourishment and refreshment along every path in our walk with You.  Help us to recognize your springs in the midst of the desert and on the mountain tops.  You are enough.