My Hope is in God

Today I’m working on two passages as we continue our look at choosing hope. The first Scripture comes from II Corinthians 1:10, “Who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us.” (NASB) The second verse is from Psalm 146: 5, “How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the Lord his God.” (NASB) As I was thinking about these verses, the song, “The Solid Rock” came to mind. This is an old hymn that I’ve sung since I was a little girl.

The first stanza of the song says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” The chorus continues in a declaration, “On Christ, the solid rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.” Jesus not only is a rock for us to stand upon, but He is also our hope! Psalm 146 echoes this…our hope is in God! It is He in whom we can depend, it is from Him that all good things come, it is Jesus who delivers us, it is His great love that holds us together.

When I think of hope in God, it brings to me feelings of peace, a quiet confidence in knowing that there is nothing I can’t bring to Him, there is nothing that can happen to me of which He is unaware. He holds me in the palm of His hand, and I am engraved into His hand. (Isaiah 49:16)

The second stanza of the song says, “When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace; In ev’ry high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.” He is our rock, our anchor. He is our shelter in the midst of storms. That is also part of our hope…knowing that He will keep us sheltered through the greatest difficulties of our lives. Psalm 146 tells us that God is our help. He brings us salvation, encouragement, strength, peace, and life everlasting.

Stanza three says, “His oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood; When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.” He keeps His oath and covenant to us through the blood He shed on the cross, and He supports us and is our hope!

The last stanza of the song says, “When he shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found; Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.” This to me, is the greatest hope we have in Jesus. We who have asked Jesus to save us from our sins, live in our hearts and are endeavoring to live for Him, have a future! We have the hope of seeing Him one day. We have the hope of being called to meet Him in the air in one great rapture of the church. We have the hope of eternal life with Him, and to reign with Him during the Millennial Reign. We have a bright future with Jesus!

Psalm 146:5 says that we are blessed. “How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the Lord his God.” (NASB) Blessing follows those who hope in Christ. Where is your hope placed? Is it in the things of this world, the “sinking sand” if you will, or is your hope placed in God, who is your rock, your firm foundation, and your anchor?

Advertisements

Hope that Brings Confidence

This month as we look at hope, we have discovered that our hope comes from God alone. Today, we see how that hope brings us confidence and security. Job 11:18 says, “Then you would trust, because there is hope; And you would look around and rest securely.” (NASB). This chapter in Job is Zophar’s response to Job as he laments the circumstances in which he finds himself. For background on Job, he was a righteous man, very wealthy, with a large family. Satan complains to God that the only reason Job is following God is because of all the good things God has given him. Satan then tells God that if all of that were taken away, Job would curse God, and Satan asks permission from the Lord to prove his claims. God agrees, and says that Satan can throw anything at Job, but the one thing he can’t do is kill him. In the process, Job loses his sons and daughters when a big storm demolishes the house they were in, his livestock killed, all his wealth was gone, and he lost his health when he was covered in boils. Job was being attacked from every direction by Satan.

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar are “friends” of Job, who decided to come and cheer Job up, with their words of “wisdom”. However, their words were not of encouragement but of condemnation, telling Job that what has happened was because of something he did, or said, or an attitude, or sin, and that God was punishing him. Zophar condemned Job by telling him that there must be some wickedness in his life to bring such calamity. He says that if Job would turn his heart to God, and not let wickedness dwell in his household, then he could approach God without “moral defect” (Job 11:15 NASB), and life would be better, and then he says in verse 18, “then you would trust because there is hope…” Although Job had been righteous in God’s eyes, he still had to endure an attack of the enemy. Zophar says if Job would do these things, he would find hope by trusting in God.

This hope is not a wish that things will be better, it is a confidence that God will do as He promised, and as such then security is also found. By trusting in God and relying on His Word, our hope (confidence) comes in knowing that we can believe what God says, we can take His promises “to the bank” and make a faith deposit. There is security in knowing that we can trust God to work in our behalf and for our good.

Placing our faith and trust in God gives us an assurance that we will not be left alone, that God is with us through every situation. That hope strengthens our faith and we grow in our walk with the Lord, getting stronger each step we take in walking this pathway of faith.

The result of gaining hope in Christ is shown in the result of Job’s situation. Once Satan found out that Job would not renounce God, but instead, kept his faith in God, then God showered Job with blessings for his faithfulness and gave him double what he had before.

Satan also saw how God dealt with Job’s friends. God was angry because they didn’t speak of God in truth. They said that God was punishing Job, and they portrayed the Lord as a vindictive God. Satan saw that those who speak evil of God will themselves be punished. When we are being assaulted by those, unbeliever and Believer alike, with the idea that we have done something to deserve what we are going through, God will defend us. Those who don’t speak the true character of God will themselves be faced with God’s wrath, just as Job’s friends did, and repentance is required. We can have that hope that God will fight for us. We can rest in security and confidence, knowing God is Who He says He is, and will do as He has promised.

God’s Love

In this month of February, we are focusing on love, particularly God’s love for us. I John 4:8-10 says, “The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His one and only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (CSB)

God’s ultimate demonstration of His love for us was the sacrificial death on the cross, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus did this because of His great love for us. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NASB) When we accept Jesus into our hearts and lives, God’s love is put in us, and we should exhibit that love to everyone in our realm of influence. John says that anyone who doesn’t love, does not know God. That means we are to love our enemies as well as our friends and family. Loving our enemy is not easy, it isn’t supposed to be. It’s a conscious choice. By choosing to love our enemies, those who have hurt us, those who seem to delight in our failures, we are exhibiting God’s love for them.

Jesus set the example for us. Even when He was being beaten and hung on a cross, His love showed for those who tortured Him. He asked God, the Father, to forgive them. If He can forgive those who killed Him, we can forgive those who come against us in horrific ways. It may not be easy, but He is with us and will help us to show love to those who are against us. In this way, we can show the light of God to those around us.

I look around at the world we live in today. I see so much hatred, violence, discord, and complete anarchy. The Bible says the end times will be as in the days of Noah (Luke 17:26), and we are seeing it played out right in front of our eyes. My sister emailed me today and shared a news story. In the city where she lives, a police officer was shot and killed while delivering a search warrant. This is the third officer shot in the last eight months in that city. I can remember growing up there, you hardly ever heard of a police shooting. In fact, you hardly ever heard of a shooting! But today, violence is out of control. These people do not have love, and it shows in their actions and in their speech. My heart breaks for this police officer’s family. The pain they must be going through is unimaginable!

The only solution to this epidemic is God! I know it probably sounds cliché, but it’s the truth. Without the love of God in the hearts of people, there is no peace, no light, no harmony; there is only pain, darkness, violence, hatred, and confusion.

We can rejoice in the love God shows toward us. He shows us in so many ways- Salvation (John 3:16), blessings above and beyond anything we can even imagine (Ephesians 3:20), guiding us through the pathway and plans He has set before us (Jeremiah 29:11), and the promise of being with Him in Heaven one day (John 14:1-3). God is the ultimate in love, for He IS love!

God Sees

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Isaiah 58:11, “And the Lord will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” (NASB) I decided to read the entire chapter to get a background of this verse. God is giving Isaiah a message to deliver to the Israelites. They observe the fasts as God required, however; they were doing so with wrong attitudes, wrong motivation, and a wrong commitment. They were fasting and observing holy days with an attitude that was not one of complete dedication to God. They would appear to be holy, yet mistreat their fellow Israelite, not feeding the hungry, having an attitude of, “It really doesn’t really matter if I’m totally committed to this, I’m going to do it my way.”

I decided to look up the definitions of attitude, motive, and commitment to be sure I was applying the correct words to the thoughts I’m trying to convey. Motive is defined as, “a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious.” Attitude is defined as, “a settled way of thinking about someone or something…” Commitment is defined as, “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.” In my mind, all of these can be combined in our justification for doing something.

Scripture tells us that God sees the heart (I Samuel 16:7) when others see the outside. We can appear to be so holy and yet have motivations and attitudes that are totally opposite from our actions. God was pointing out that they were not totally sincere in fasting and carrying out the observances He required, and therefore, He didn’t recognize their efforts. But if they would change their motivation, their attitude, and their commitment to Him, then He would bless them, He would guide them.

My mind goes to being on the Worship Team. I love being on the Worship Team! God has called me to use my musical abilities for Him, and it’s my outlet to show God how much I love Him! It gives me an opportunity to lift my voice and my instrument in praise to Him for everything He has done for me. But I also have to be very careful, because I can play and sing with wrong motivations and attitudes. Am I doing this for my own self-gratification and to get the accolades of those in the congregation, or am I singing and playing to give honor, praise, and glory to God? Does what I do point others to Jesus or to myself? Every time I get ready to step onto the platform at my church I pray and ask God to check my attitude. Is it proper, does it reflect Him and not myself? I’m committed to playing and singing, but why? That’s where I must look at myself and check that I’m doing this for Him and not me. I must remember it’s all about Him and not about me.

When I am obedient to what He wants me to do, then He blesses my efforts, He blesses my life, and He fills me with joy at having the opportunity to minister to others. He makes my soul satisfied, and I am like a well-watered garden, growing and full of Spiritual fruit. The more I am obedient to what He asks me to do, the more He blesses me and gives me peace and satisfaction. When I have the proper attitude and motivation, He is pleased with me, and my commitment to Him is even greater, and it is a joy to serve Him in everything I do. Doing an attitude/motivation check is a good way to be certain we are in line with God’s will and plan for our lives.

God of the Impossible

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Romans 4:21, “and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.” (NASB) This Scripture is about Abraham and the promise God gave him. To get background on the story we need to read Genesis 15 -18. God promised Abraham (Abram at the time) that he would have a son. Now to most people, that’s not a problem, but Abraham was 100 years old and his wife, Sarah (Sarai), was 90 and barren. But God did the impossible and they had their son of promise, Isaac.

There is great comfort in knowing that God does the impossible! It strengthens my faith and reinforces my trust in His ability to carry through on the promises He makes to me. When things look the most dismal, when all I see is impossible situations, God is there. The phrase, “But God” says it all. When logic tells us that nothing good can come out of this thing we’re going through, “But God!” When we are in despair and all we see is a deep, dark pit, “But God!” When we see NO answer in front of us, “But God!”

He is the answer and He provides the answers. He makes a way where there seems to be no way. The promises in His Word are for us and we can believe with our whole hearts that He will keep His promises. He proves it over and over again.

I can’t imagine what Abraham and Sarah must have thought. I mean, they are both well up in years, Sarah was well past the age of giving birth and had been barren her entire life, and yet God says they will have a son! The Bible says that when Sarah heard it, she laughed. (Genesis 18:12) I think I would too. I’d be thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding!” Abraham believed God, and the book of Romans tells us that “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3 NASB) God’s promise was a covenant between Abraham and God (Genesis 15) God told Abraham that his descendants would be as the stars in the sky! God made a great nation from Abraham’s seed. As I was reading this passage, I saw that God told Abraham that his descendants would live in a land that was not their own and be enslaved (verse 13). They would have great possessions when their enslavement was over and the country who captured them would be punished by God. Then God gave the land we now know as Israel to Abraham and his descendants. That was a promise made to Abraham, and the fruition of that promise came about in 1948 as Israel became a nation. At the time, Jews had been escaping to the Promised Land, what we now know as Israel, to get out of the reach of the Nazis. Jews have been persecuted since the very beginning, and still are today. Their situation seems hopeless, enemies on all sides, the nations come against them…” But God!” They are His people and He protects them.

I love “But God” moments! It proves to me that He loves me, it proves that He knows just where I am and just what I’m going through, it proves that He will always have my back! He is the God of the impossible! Are you going through an impossible situation? Does the world seem to be at odds with you? Just remember, “But God!”

You Can Trust God’s Promises

Today’s Bible Journaling is taken from Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (NASB) I find so much comfort in reading this passage. God has made so many promises to us, and to know that He will do as He promises brings a sense of well-being, a sense that He is in control and will never go back on His word.

I was talking with my hubby about this passage and he relayed a story of something that happened when he lived in California. He had been offered a position as a maintenance man at a trailer park by a lady, and there was no contract drawn up, but an agreement was made by shaking hands. In my husband’s mind your word is your bond and should be taken as seriously as a contract. Well, a month goes by and he hears by way of the grapevine that he’s been let go and a relative of this lady has been put in the position. She never told him and so he confronted her. She gave some excuse and that was that. Well, evidently the relative didn’t work out because she came back to my hubby and asked if he would take the job again. Well, she had gone back on her word before and my husband wasn’t about to give her that opportunity again, so he said no because he couldn’t trust her. People will make promises and then not keep their word. But Moses writes that God is not man, He does not lie, and what He says He will do, He will do it.

Some people have problems in trusting God because of the actions of people. Especially if they have issues with their father. God is our Heavenly Father, and for us, our earthly father is supposed to be an example of our Heavenly Father. When that example is not a good one, then our view of God is skewed. Then it is hard to see God as a loving, Father who will keep His promises. Too many times those who have had that poor example have a hard time trusting. They can’t believe that what they are promised will come to fruition and that they will always be disappointed.

God keeps His promises. His love for us is so vast it is hard for us to comprehend, and because He loves us so much, He wants to provide for us in all ways. He promises good for us. (Jeremiah 29:11) We can trust Him, even when we don’t understand what is going on, when things are turned upside down, when it feels like we are standing in the middle of a hurricane, we KNOW we can trust Him, because as we look at how He has taken care of us in the past, we can see that His character is to be truthful, and to keep His promises.

Trust is a big issue for some people, I know for me, it is. If I don’t feel I can trust you, then I will be careful about what I tell you, I will watch closely at what you do to be sure that I will be protected. I don’t have that issue with God. I know I can always trust Him. I can trust His Word, I can trust His actions, I can trust everything about Him. I’ve seen Him work in my life in the past and He has always come through, even when I didn’t understand what He was doing at the time. I found that He always had my good in mind. He had a plan for me, and it was a good plan, even though I couldn’t see what the next step was, or how He was leading me. Even in the times when it felt like He was far away from me, He was there guiding my footsteps, holding my hand. I look back now and see His handiwork in it all.

Be encouraged dear reader, God can be trusted to keep His promises. Do you have family members far from God? God hears your prayers and He loves them more than you do. He is working in the background even when you can’t see it. (Isaiah 65:24) Trust Him. Are you going through a situation that seems as if there is no solution? He knows all about it and He is working in your favor. (Psalm 91:5) Trust Him. He loves you and He will see you through. Are you in a financial crisis? He knows all about it and He will provide because He has promised that He will. (Exodus 23:25) Trust Him. Have you wandered far from Him? He’s drawing you back to Himself. He loves you. (Ephesians2:4-5) You can trust Him!

Take Account of His Blessings – Part 4

The final part of our series on “Take Account of His Blessings” deals with the church of Ephesus. Revelation 2:1-7 (NASB) gives Jesus’ praise, admonition, and warning to the church. Jesus says, “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for my name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent.”

In the book of Revelation, Jesus tells the church how proud He is of them, and yet there was something with which He had to fault them. They had lost their First Love. I remember when I first was saved. I couldn’t help but tell others about what Jesus had done. I loved Him so much, and I was filled with this incredible joy! Everything was new! I was looking at the world through different eyes. Bible reading was fun! I couldn’t wait to get to church so that I could learn more about Jesus. Then when I tried witnessing to my classmates, I ran against resistance. I tried witnessing to my grandmother who wasn’t saved, and I met resistance. Suddenly, I found out that not everyone is wanting to hear about how great it was that Jesus saved me. I still loved Jesus, but my enthusiasm waned…a lot!

I imagine that is what happened with the church at Ephesus. They were very good at doing the right things, they stood up against persecution and persevered, and they were diligent at weeding out the false teachers that had managed to weasel their way into the church, but all that they did was more out of duty, not because they loved Jesus. They had lost the blessing of their First Love!

Baby Christians are so excited when they first come to know Jesus, and then they meet up with older Christians who are just holding on to the end. The more “mature” Believers will see how excited the Baby Christians are and say, “That won’t last long.” But it doesn’t have to be like that. For me, it took a good long while to get to the point where sharing my testimony, talking to people about accepting Jesus as their Savior, Bible Reading, and praying were not so much something I had to check of my list of things to do, but I truly wanted to do it.

My pastor says when there is no love, there’s no life. So, in essence, the church at Ephesus had become dead. They had forgotten what it was like at the very beginning of their walk with the Lord, how reading the Scriptures, praying, and witnessing, was a joy, it was as if they could do nothing else. But Jesus gives them an admonition…repent, remember, go back to your first love, do the deeds you did before. I believe they may have been doing some of the things they did at first, but not out of love, more out of duty. There was no joy, kind of doing “the same ole, same ole” and not realizing that they were becoming a dead church.

It can be so easy for us to fall into that trap ourselves. It’s a good thing to go back and remember what it was like when we first came to Jesus. Remember the joy in our hearts, remember the thrill of reading His Word and learning all we could, and marveling at the truths found in Scripture, remember the joy we had of leading someone to know Jesus, and how excited we were about getting to church so that we could learn more about the One who held our heart in His hands.

We need to take account of our lives…have we ever had a closer relationship with God than we are in right now? If so, then we are in a back-slidden condition. There is a solution to that condition… repentance. When I was in a singing group in my 20s, we sang a song that said, “Repentance is turning around my friend”, and that is exactly what repentance is, turning around and going in the opposite direction…a 180-degree position from where we are right now. Taking account of our lives is needed every so often. It helps us to know where we stand with Jesus.

Many will reject the Good News that Jesus loves them and wants to save them from eternal darkness, they will lose their souls to eternal darkness. If you have never asked Jesus to be your Savior, now is the time. Jesus made the process so simple, a small child can do it. Simply, ask Him to come into your life and heart, forgive you of your sins, tell Him you are sorry, and promise and endeavor to live your life for Him the rest of your days. Revelation 3:20 (KJV) says, “Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” That’s His invitation to us!