Hope During Times of Waiting

We all have times where it seems we are in a stage of waiting. What do we do in those times? Today we look at Romans 15:4, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (KJV)

The waiting time is hard, at least I know for me it is. My family will tell you that I am not the most patient person. I get ruffled easily and waiting for something is excruciatingly difficult. That includes waiting on God. Today’s Scripture tells us that we can find patience, comfort, and hope through reading God’s Word. As we dive into His Word, we learn how to live, we learn how to be patient, we learn that the Bible brings us comfort within its pages, and all of that tied together gives us hope.

Right now, I’m going through a time of waiting on God. Our house has been up for sale for a year and we haven’t had one nibble on it. Not one inquiry. My husband and I want to sell this house and move out of state. We haven’t decided yet where we want to move to, however; we have a couple of options available to us. At this stage of our lives we want to be close to family, so both options would put us either with my family or with his. We are praying for God to bring the right person or family to come and fall in love with our house.

It’s easy for me to become discouraged, but I must remember that everything is in His timing and not in mine. Lamentations 3:25-26 says, “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (NIV) As we search the Scriptures, God reveals Himself to us, He shows us how patient He is with us. He is our example. I know I have a lot to learn in the “wait quietly” department.

So, as we read of how patient He is toward us, we are learning how to be patient, that brings us comfort and hope in the situation. As we keep in the Word of God and allow His Word to change us and we make it part of our lives, we become more like Jesus. We can wait even though it seems that what we are waiting for will never come. God keeps His promises. We learn that through the Scriptures. Knowing that He keeps His Word, teaches us to be patient in the waiting. We learn that we can rely on His Word.

Making the Bible part of our essence, the “who we are” part of ourselves, gives us strength, gives us comfort, gives us hope! A daily communication with the Lord through reading and study of the Bible, and prayer, brings us closer to Him. It changes us and faith is increased. I encourage you to dig deep into God’s Word, learn how to be patient in the waiting times, and gain comfort and hope.

 

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We Hope in God and What He Has Done

Jeremiah 1422Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Jeremiah 14:22, “Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain? Or can the heavens grant showers? Is it not You, O Lord our God? Therefore we hope in You, For You are the one who has done all these things.” (NASB) In thinking about this verse and the hope we have in God, the thought came to me as I did my journaling page, that we can hope in God (have confidence in Him) whether we are in a time of trial or whether we are enjoying a life of ease.

God brings the rain as well as the sunshine in our lives. It is through the rainy times that we grow in our Christian walk. Just as in nature, the rain comes and causes growth. In the world around us we see the result by new vegetation sprouting up after the rains come. We hold that hope in our hearts that after the rain, comes the sunshine and a new beginning. Going through those times in our lives with Jesus causes growth as well. As we grow, we gain more confidence that He will be with us during those times.

In the sunny times of our lives we also have the confidence in God that we are not alone, He walks with us. We see His blessings all around us. We know that He will guide our walk with Him. We know and hope (have confidence) that He will direct us, whether it is in our job, or a ministry He has gifted us with, or in developing the gifts and talents He has given us.

He has given us reason enough to hope in Him. He proves over and over that we can trust in His leading. As we walk with Him, He proves Himself faithful, and with each victory we gain, we have confidence to rely upon Him in every instance. We say to ourselves, “If God can lead me through this, and I make it through to the end, He will do the same the next time I come to a hard time in my life.”

As I look at this verse, I’m struck by the question, “Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain?” Those false gods cannot do what our God can do. The prophets of Baal proved that when Elijah put them to the test. (I Kings 18) The prophets spent all day praying to Baal to bring fire down on a dry offering on their altar and nothing happened. Elijah put the offering on his altar and doused it with water until the water flowed over the altar and down onto the ground. He offered a prayer to God and immediately God sent fire from Heaven and consumed the offering. Our God is alive, powerful, He works in our lives, and He can be trusted. The false gods of this world are dead, weak, and ineffective. There is no hope or confidence in their abilities because they have no ability to show themselves powerful.

Our hope is certain because our God has proven Himself to be faithful. When our faith is weak, we can know that God will do as He has promised. We can depend on Him in every situation. When we struggle with issues of life, He is there to bring comfort and strength to persevere. He is more powerful than any illness, addiction, or circumstance. He loves us more than we can ever imagine, and He shows it in His care for us.

The Hope of Resurrection

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Acts 24:14-15, “But I admit that I follow the Way, which they call a cult. I worship the God of our ancestors, and I firmly believe the Jewish law and everything written in the prophets. I have the same hope in God that these men have that he will raise both he righteous and the unrighteous.” (NLT) If we read on to the 16th verse, Paul tells Felix, the governor, “Because of this I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people.” (NLT)

Paul had been in Jerusalem preaching. This stirred up the Pharisees and the High Council, and a riot was about to erupt, and the captain of the guard took Paul into custody to protect him. There were Jews threatening to kill him. Paul’s nephew heard the plan and had his nephew tell the commander of the guard. The commander and 200 of his soldiers took Paul to Caesarea to go before Felix the governor.

Paul presented his case before the governor. Paul explains that he follows Jesus (the Way) and worships the God of the Jews and follows Jewish law. He tells Felix that he has the same hope in God as his accusers, that God will raise Believer and unbeliever alike in the resurrection and maintains a clear conscience by living a life consecrated to God. He wanted to be an example of righteous living before man and God.

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we have the hope of resurrection and to be with Him for eternity. Like Paul, we should desire to live in a manner that will give glory to God and be an example to those around us of why we hope in God. The hope we have for the resurrection is not what saves us. Salvation comes in belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, in His sacrifice on the cross for our sins. As we endeavor to live for Him, we should desire to live a holy life before all around us, showing how Jesus has changed us and how our reliance upon His grace brings us hope.

You will notice, Paul mentions resurrection for the righteous and unrighteous. There will be a resurrection not only for Christians, but non-Christians also. One resurrection is to eternal life and one resurrection is to eternal death. I’ve heard people say that once we die, that’s it. However, if we look at Scripture, it talks of a life for Believers and a life for unbelievers, one in Heaven and one in Hell.

Hell was never designed for people, it was created for Satan and his demons. But God gave us free will. It is our decision to accept Jesus into our hearts and live for Him. The hope of the Believer is one of joy, peace, and knowing that one day we will spend eternity with Jesus. The unbeliever has no such hope. There is only death, destruction and an eternity of torment. We all have a hope of resurrection; the question is, which resurrection will it be?

Choose Hope

In today’s world there doesn’t seem to be much hope. If we listen to the evening news, most of the stories are depressing, full of violence, and it seems the world is bent on destroying itself. Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Matthew 12:21, “And in His name the Gentiles will hope.” Our hope is found in Jesus Christ!

There are times in our lives when just like the evening news, there seems to be no hope. But God’s Word says that our hope is in Jesus. We can go to Him when life seems to fall apart all around us. Amid trials, Jesus is our hope. When life is going great, it is easy to hope. We are in a good place, circumstances and events are going our way. But in the times of distress, when we can not find any hope in what is going on around us, God has everything in His control, and we do not have to be discouraged.

I’ve mentioned before in other posts that the darkest time in my life was when my first husband had his first stroke. The doctors told me the brain bleed was very serious and if he didn’t get to surgery right away, he would die. At that time, there was no neurosurgeon in our area, so my husband had to be life-flighted to a hospital in another state. I was completely devastated, I could barely think, much less find hope in the situation. At that time, my hope was that he would live, and not die. I prayed so hard for God to save him. The surgery took so long, I was a complete basket case, and on top of that, my family were in other states, so I didn’t have my family with me. Praise God I have a church family who stood by me through the whole process. They held me up when I could barely function. Waiting to find out if my husband would be ok was excruciating. All I could do was hope that God would spare him. God worked a miracle through the doctors, and my husband survived, and this began a long seven-year trial of caring for my husband before God finally took him Home.

We can find our hope in God through faith in Jesus Christ. This is not just a, “I hope so” kind of faith, it is a rock-solid reliance on God for every day of our lives. The enemy of our souls wants us defeated, he wants us to lose our hope, to lose our joy, to lose our grounding in Jesus. He throws road blocks in our way to steer us off the pathway we are to walk. He distracts us, deceives us, and brings discord into situations where we should have our minds focused on God, and listening to the truth of God’s Word, and find peace.

So, in those circumstances we must choose hope. Our first instinct should be to turn to God, our Hope. Psalm 42:5 says, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.” (NASB) We have this assurance found in Psalm 38:15, “For I hope in You, O Lord; You will answer, O Lord my God.” (NASB) We have the promise that not only will He answer our prayers, He will help us in times of need.

But we also have a hope spiritually. Jesus Christ is our hope of eternal life. His sacrificial death on the cross gives us something to look forward to, a life with Him in Heaven. When we accept Jesus into our hearts and lives, He takes us into His family and offers us a life full of joy, peace, and the hope of His return for us, and eternal life with Him! Romans 8:24 says, “In hope we have been saved…” (NASB) We cling to that hope daily. Are you going through a difficult period in your life? Choose hope! Don’t allow Satan to blind-side you and discourage you. Hope in Christ!

Faith Without Works is Dead

Today’s Bible Journaling is taken from James 2:17, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (NASB) Sometimes I think this passage can cause a little conflict and confusion in the Believer. When we read what James says in this passage and then compare it to what the Apostle Paul states in Romans 3:27-28, Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 2:21, and other verses, the Bible seems to contradict itself.

However, there is no contradiction. James is not saying that our salvation comes by works, but that our salvation is shown in the works we do. We do those works because of our love for Jesus and what He did for us on the cross, and not because we feel we must work our way to Heaven. Paul focused on the fact that salvation comes by faith alone, and James believed that also, but he was pointing out that we can talk about having faith in God all day long, but if that faith is not poured out in action, it’s basically all talk and nothing more.

James gives an example in verses15-16, “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” Faith is important, for without it we cannot be saved, our lives are made more difficult if we don’t have faith to believe God for the things we need, and we cannot grow in our Christian lives. But having faith and not showing that faith by our actions, does no good. James explains that we should show our faith by our works.

I remember having a conversation with a young man many years ago. He was in a denomination that was very works driven and he hammered away at this passage as his proof for why he believed as he did. I tried to explain that works could not buy his way into Heaven, it takes faith in the sacrifice of Jesus’ death and resurrection that gets us a place with the Father in Heaven. He had a very hard time grasping it. It was obvious he had read his Bible, but the idea that faith alone would get him to Heaven, and accepting Jesus’ sacrifice as payment for his sins, was something he just couldn’t understand. I tried to explain that it takes a personal relationship with Jesus that is the basis of our faith, and that through that faith and love for Jesus that our works are displayed. I don’t know if that young man ever came to know Jesus as His Savior, but I pray that he ran into someone who could minister to him in a way that he could understand.

Faith requires obedience as well. The Apostle Paul explains in Romans 1:5 that it is through Jesus that we receive grace that brings about obedience of faith. Because we have faith in what Jesus has done for us, we are obedient to His will for us, and that obedience of our faith shows forth in our deeds.

I believe that as we act on our faith, it will show forth the love of Jesus to others as well. That is where we can become an example to unbelievers. As we pour out our love for them in the deeds we do, they begin to see that it is because of our faith in Jesus that we love them and show our concern for them and their spiritual condition, and that makes them want that same love and faith. So, let your faith take action!

God’s Got This!

 

I’m going to take a little break from our study on God’s Plans and Promises for today. My heart is heavy today because our pastor relayed a health issue he has to the congregation and in human terms, it isn’t good. I’ve been in prayer for him and his wife since last night when they told us, and this morning as I did my morning devotions the Scripture was on James 5:16, “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (NASB) I decided to read before that passage a little, and starting in verse 12, James is asking questions, are any suffering, is anyone cheerful, are any sick? And then he gives solutions or answers to those questions.

Are you suffering? Pray. Are you cheerful? Sing praises. Are you sick? Go before the elders and have them lay hands on you and pray for your healing. Verse 15 says, “and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.” Prayer is the key, and not just praying, but praying in faith, believing! Our faith and belief that God will do as He promises, is the key to getting prayers answered.

Giving praise to God for whatever circumstance we find ourselves also is a pathway to getting prayers answered. My husband is a big proponent of this. When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer shortly after we were married, he began to praise God for the cancer. Now, I know that sounds weird, and to the world, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But, praising God in your situation changes the atmosphere, it changes your whole outlook on what you are going through, and it strengthens your faith in God’s ability to bring about a good outcome. Now, that isn’t to say that the situation itself is a good thing, but Romans 8:28 tells us that “God works all things together for good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (NASB) In other words, GOD’S GOT THIS! I firmly believe that my husband’s praise and prayer in faith is what set the stage for God to heal him of cancer.

I’ve gone through this cancer scare with my family; four grandparents, my Mom and my Dad, and then my husband, all had cancer of one form or another. My grandparents all were claimed by the disease. My parents survived and passed away from something else, and my husband is cancer free today. I’ve come to learn that the best thing I can do is not panic, but turn to God immediately, and go into prayer warrior mode. When I intercede on behalf of someone, Heaven is listening, ministering angels are put on alert, and the gates of Hell are being bombarded against this attack.

Our church is on the verge of something big, it’s been building for months, and as I’ve heard many times before, Satan turns up the heat even more when a great blessing is about to come forth. So, of course, the enemy attacks the head, in an effort to kill the body, or to make it ineffective. Our pastor and associate pastor are both under attack in their health, and I agree with my pastor, the enemy is really trying to thwart whatever blessing God has in store for us. But I keep coming back to GOD’S GOT THIS! These attacks haven’t slipped up on Him, it isn’t by any surprise to Him. He’s not shocked to find out our pastors are dealing with health issues. He knows what is in store for our church, He has a plan for our church, and He has called us according to His purpose. Are we shaken? In human terms, maybe a little. But we serve a God Who is our Healer, and He’s Got This!

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!”