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Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Promise of Hope

My husband and I went camping this weekend.  It was a quick trip, but it was nice to get away nonetheless.  Several days before we left God had begun to talk to me about the Promie of Hope.  When my husband and I were camping this weekend, it was cold.  Really, really, cold.  Like 30 degrees cold.  We were camping beside a river and there were men fishing all along the river.  Many even waded into the river and fished from the middle instead of the bank.  I thought they were crazy.  No way would I have been out in the middle of the river in the cold weather like that, but I began looking at all of them, and of course they were prepared for the weather and the water.  They had insulated waders that would keep them warm and dry while they were standing in the water.  Most of the waders came thigh high to them.  I was comparing the different gear the half dozen or so men had on while they were fishing and there was only one that had a small pack that I am sure held extra flies (they were fly fishing) and extra line, hooks, etc.  The same one also had a net attached to the back of his suit.  He was the only one that was truly prepared and had the hope and expectation of catching a fish.  He was the only one that would be able to remove the hook from its mouth and place it in his pack while staying in the river.  He had packed and dressed believing his trip and day of fishing would be successful.  I watched this man stand in the middle of the river constantly casting, reeling in the line, and recasting his line for over 3 hours.  He did not catch anything during that time.  But he was prepared to.  

That example is not unlike faith, hope, and expectancy.  We know what the word says about hope and faith.

Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

But what part does hope have?  

Psalms 39:7  "And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.

Our very hope is in Him.  

Psalms 62:5  My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him.

In these two scriptures, "hope" and "expectancy" are from similar words in the original Hebrew, and they both mean similar things.  But so often we expect to receive one thing and we experience disappointment because it isn't what we thought it would look like.  Our own expectations can blind us to the promise when it arrives because it doesn't look like what we thought it would.  But to receive the promise we have to be prepared with the expectation of receiving whatever the promise looks like.  Just like the fisherman in my example was prepared.

So, what is the difference between hope and expectation?  Expectation is the anticipation of a particular outcome or in other words, it is the belief that something will occur.  Hope is the desire for that particular outcome to occur. Ladies, let me give you another example of hope and expection.  When we find out we are pregnant, we expect the time we will be pregnant to be approximately 9 months and then we will give birth to a baby.  We hope the delivery is free of complications and we hope that we have a healthy baby after all the pain, strain, discomfort, and waiting for all those months.  

Our promise of hope with our heavenly Father is not unlike pregnancy, or even fishing in the river like I mentioned earlier.  In Hebrews 11:8-10 We see the retelling of God calling Abraham to "the place which God would show him."  Abraham did not know where he was going, he was just going to go until God said stop because the land would be his inheritance The word also said that he dwelt "in the land of promise"  with the "heirs of the same promise."  Did you know that when God makes a promise, He doesn't change its conditions or the outcome of it?  

Romans 11:29  For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

God is not going to take your gifts away from you.  He is not going to remove the calling He has put onto your life.  Whether we lose our hope through disillusionment and disappointment, He doesn't revoke what He has promised.  Look at Hebrews 6.

Hebrews 6:13-15  For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,  (14)  saying, "SURELY BLESSING I WILL BLESS YOU, AND MULTIPLYING I WILL MULTIPLY YOU."  (15)  And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

God made a promise to Abraham.  After Abraham had patiently endured, He obtained the promise.  The promise was Isaac.  Now, Sarah got impatient for a child, if you will think back to the story, and wanted a child; she wanted to give her a husband a child.  In her haste and her desire for a particular outcome, she got anxious and decided to give her hand maiden to her husband so that Sarah might obtain children through Hagar.  Sarah's impatience did not prevent God from fulfilling His promise to Abraham.  In fact, Paul said to the Hebrews in the scriptures above that Abraham had patiently endured and then received the promise.  When God makes a promise to us, only He can fulfill the promise He made.  We cannot on our own or in our strength or wisdom or knowledge make that promise come to pass.  Only God can and will fulfill a promise He has made to us.  We can have the expectation that His promises to us will be fulfilled because He is a faithful God and He will not revoke His gifts to us or the calling He has placed on our lives.  That expectation of God's goodness and faithfulness builds within us the desire (or hope) of what is to come through the fulfillment of His promises to us.  Especially when God said this:

Jeremiah 29:11-13  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  (12)  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  (13)  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

We have hope because God gives us thoughts of hope.  He desires good things for us.  He desires peace and not evil; a good future for us.  He does not desire our demise.  That is why He sent His son to die for us.  Our Good Father even says that He will listen to us when we go and pray to Him.  We will seek Him and find Him, when we are searching with all our hearts.  

Hebrews 6:19-20  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,  (20)  where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

This hope that we have is an anchor for our soul. Because it begins from God, it is sure.  It is steadfast, and ushers us into His presence.  Jesus tore the veil separating the people from the presence of the Lord with His death and resurrection.  We now can go directly into His presence with nothing to separate.  We have that expectation.  We have that hope.  

Society has established so many false expectations for us.  From body image to relationships, somewhere we have lost sight of the hope that comes from our Father.  We forget where every good and perfect gift comes from.  We forget where our hope originates.  Our hope is in Him.  It begins with Him.  It ends with Him.  He is Alpha and He is Omega.  He is the beginning and He is the end.  Everything else is somewhere between contained within Him...not outside of Him.  We have this hope as an anchor for our soul.  What is the purpose of an anchor?  It is to keep something in place so it does not drift away from its position.  An anchor is only strong as what attaches it to its point of origination.  So, keep your faith intact.  Don't let society's influence be greater in your mind and thoughts than what God says.  Isn't it great the anchor for our soul is found within the Rock of our Salvation?  What is stronger?  Is there anything else that can keep us within the River of Living Water without drifting? 

 
Psalms 95:1-3  Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.  (2)  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.  (3)  For the LORD is the great God, And the great King above all gods.









Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Promise of Safety

Do you ever feel like the world is out to get you and you just want to run away from it all?  I know I have felt that way. How and where we run is important though.  People respond to pressure differently and they seek their escape from trouble in different ways, too. Some turn to drugs and/or alcohol.  Some turn to sex and promiscuity.  Some turn to self-harm.  All of these different methods of escape have one thing in common:  the people that turn to them are looking for a way out of the pain and trouble.  We see people from war torn countries that seek their escape in other countries.  We call them refugees.  The host country provides them safety and shelter. 

It is easy for us to feel as though we are pressed in on all sides.  When we feel as though we want to run away from it all, where should we run?  To the drugs and alcohol?  To sex? To self-harm?  How should we find our escape from all that is threatening to crush us?

Psalms 62:7-8  In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God.  (8)  Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

Ah, this scripture is comforting, is it not?  It is to me.  God is my salvation!  He is your salvation, too.  He is our place of refuge.  He is the rock of our strength.  Have you ever tried to bend or break a rock?  It is next to impossible.  The rock is solid.  It is strong.  It doesn't get blown about in the wind.  It stays firm.  We have to trust in Him...and we have to trust Him with our hearts.  It can be difficult to trust someone that we can't see.  It can be difficult to trust Him with our hearts when we have been hurt over and over again by those close to us.  But it's okay.  We can pour our hearts out to Him in the times of our trouble.  He understands. He is our safe place and our refuge.  We can come to Him when we feel as though we have nowhere else to go.  He is always there.  


Psalms 71:3  Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come; You have given commandment to save me, For You are my rock and my fortress. (NASB)

A habitation is an abode or a retreat.  It is a dwelling.  Just like we come home each day to the places we live after work, so we can come to God.  Why do we find it so difficult to say to God that we know He is our rock and our strength and we need refuge from those around us that seek our demise?


Isaiah 25:4  For You have been a strength to the poor, A strength to the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm, A shade from the heat; For the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.

Isaiah makes it clear above that God is our shelter and protection from the elements around us.  Not only is He our place of refuge, but He is also our hiding place.  


Psalms 32:7  You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.

Psalms 31:20  You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.

God will hide us.  He will give us refuge in the secret place of His presence.  Psalm 31:20 even says He will hide us from the conspiracies of men and keep us secretly in a shelter...safe from the "strife" of tongues.  What does that even mean? Strife means "adversary" or "contention." There is an enemy that seeks to kill, to steal, and to destroy us.  Even when people are plotting against you, it is the unseen invisible enemy at work against you.  Remember, our fight is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12).  Don't try and seek your escape in anything other than the presence of our Father.  

Proverbs 18:10  The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.

Just call on the name of the Lord and you will be safe from the enemy.  Call on the name of the Lord and take refuge in His presence.  His very name is a tower of strength.  

Today, don't let the things the enemy would use crush you.  Become a refugee in the strong tower of the name of the Lord where you will find safety, rest, and peace.  

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Do we understand the words coming out of our mouths?

There was a movie several years ago where one of the lead characters had a line where he said to the other lead character: "Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth?!"  I was thinking about this the other day.  Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason as to what runs through my head and sometimes God will use the strangest things to speak to me.  When I was thinking about this phrase, I wondered do we really understand what we are saying sometimes?  

There is a new song by a Christian music group that I really enjoy listening to.  I love their music and I love the messages in their songs.  But there is a line in their newest song that says, "The cross has the final word..."  This sounds good, right?  We all know what the cross is a symbol of.  We all know the cross held our Ransom to it...but did the cross really have the final word?  Was the death of Jesus where it ended?  Remember the cross is an instrument of death...not life. When He was hanging on the cross, Jesus said, "It is finished." Then He gave up His spirit to the Father.  But that wasn't the end of the story.

If you grew up on hymns in church, then what about many of our older hymns?  "Just as I am, without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me, And that Thou bid'st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!"

Or, "I surrender all.  All to Jesus my blessed savior...I surrender all."  

What about the words we say to each other.  "Be blessed and highly favored today!" or "I love you with the Love of the Lord." and there are so many more cute little phrases we have that we use everyday. But...have we surrendered all?  Have we come to Him just as we are or are we waiting to clean up our lives first for fear of rejection?  Jesus just wants us to come to Him.  How we get there is immaterial.  Do we really love others with the love of the Lord?  Do we understand what it means to love someone the way the Lord loves them?  The word says,


John 15:12-13  This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  (13)  Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.

Are we ready to lay our lives down, if necessary, for our friends?  That is how Jesus loved us...So, do we really love someone with the love of the Lord?

Or how about this one:  question: "How are you today?" answer: "Oh, I am okay under the circumstances."  My response to this answer is always, "Why are you under the circumstances?"  After all, Paul said we are more than conquerors.  (Romans 8:27)


But beyond that:


Revelation 12:11  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

What testimony is passing your lips today?  How are you laying hold of the victory Jesus Christ has already given you?  Are you overcoming by your testimony?  What are you confessing with your mouth that gives away your victory to an enemy that does nothing but roam to and fro looking for whom he may devour? (1 Peter 5:8-9)

Has Christ not redeemed you out of darkness?  


Colossians 1:13-14  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,  (14)  in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

Oh what a reason to rejoice!  Oh what a reason to guard our mouths and be mindful of the testimony we give to others.  

We have to remember that what we speak is so very important and we need to have an understanding of what we are saying.  We know life and death is in the power of the tongue.  Are our words empty that are providing nothing to those we encounter...or even to those we love?  Or are words weapons we use to make others around us feel small so we look bigger?  Or do we bring life into the lives of those we encounter each day? Do we give away our victory instead of overcoming by the word of our testimony? 

So today, I am going to think about what I say before I say it and make sure I mean it. Today, I am going to do my very best to make sure my thoughts and my words line up with the Word of God.  Will you join me?

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