New Hope

Today we are looking at I Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (KJV) The Amplified Bible says, “Blessed (gratefully praised and adored) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant and boundless mercy has caused us to be born again (that is, to be born from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose) to an ever-living hope and confident assurance through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

This springs hope in my heart, to know that God’s mercy was extended to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus, so that we could become transformed, born again, renewed, and set apart for His purpose. Many of us can remember lives that were drastically different from the ones we live now before we were changed by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins. Some of us were raised in Christian homes and never had to deal with some of the things others had, but we knew that there was a void in our lives, and when we asked Jesus to save us from our sins and ourselves, our lives changed.

I like the way the Amplified Bible breaks this verse down. God’s mercy is “abundant and boundless!” That in itself, brings me joy…knowing His mercy has no limits! It is through that limitless mercy that we become Born Again Believers. We are “transformed and set apart to an ever-lasting hope and confident assurance.” We have a hope, a confident assurance, that is ongoing because Jesus rose from the dead! We have no fear of what is ahead because He has already conquered sin, death, and the grave! We know that He lives now and is coming back again to take us home with Him. That is our hope, that is our confidence.

We also have the hope and confidence in knowing that each day we walk with Him, He will walk with us. We are never alone. (Joshua 1:9) Isaiah 30:21 reminds us, “and whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: ‘This is the way. Walk in it.’” (CSB) God is guiding us every step we take.

To know He is showing me what trail to take, what decisions to make, letting me know when to stop and wait and when to forge ahead, strengthens me. I have nothing to worry about because I know that God has everything under His control!

This brings a newness of life every day, a confident hope of His love and grace, and in turn our spirit is renewed every day. He tells us that His mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23) We know then that He sees the end from the beginning, and we have nothing to fear. We are given a new hope!

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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?

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?

Adopted into God’s Family

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Galatians 4:4-5, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born to a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (ESV) The thought that popped out at me in this passage was the idea of adoption. Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection made the way for us to be adopted into God’s family.

Jesus came as a baby, fully human, to be our Sacrificial Lamb, to redeem us from the penalty of our sins. The verse says “when the fullness of time came…” At the right time, and in the right place, God sent His Son to be born of a virgin. Jesus was fully God and yet He was fully human. Before Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, humankind was under the law. God gave Moses the law so that we would be faced with the fact that we are not perfect, and can not fulfil the law, but God sent Jesus to rescue us from the penalty of not following the law. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, God adopts us into His family. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12 KJV) Because of that we are no longer under the law, but under grace. We experience God’s grace and mercy because of our acceptance of His Son and His finished work on the cross.

Now, in the Old Testament, those who trusted and obeyed God, the Father, were accepted by God as His people. They were faithful to Him and worshipped Him. But they still had to offer sacrifices for their sins because Jesus had not yet come to take the penalty for their sins. Romans 9:4 says, “…Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.” (NIV)

Once Jesus’ sacrifice was completed, the sacrifice of animals was no longer needed because He was the final sacrifice. When we ask Jesus to come into our hearts and forgive us of our sins, He does just that, and we then become children of God through adoption.

Adoption is such an awesome thing. It takes a child who is without a family and makes them part of a family. By law, that child is a bonafide member of that family, they have the same rights legally as a child born into that family. Because of Jesus and what He did for us, we can be part of God’s family and become a child of God. We can share in the same rights that Jesus has. God doesn’t see our sin, but He sees Jesus’ shed blood covering our sins and we are made perfect because of His blood shed for us. Ephesians 1:5 says, “he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” (NIV)

I have a friend who has adopted several children. Those children are her kids! She sees no difference between her blood birthed children and her adopted ones. She loves them all equally. In God’s family, God sees us as His sons and daughters, there is no difference between Jesus and us…we are His! We have the same rights of sonship as our big brother, Jesus!

I am so grateful to God for adopting me into His family. I can go to my Abba Father anytime and talk to Him about my struggles, my joys, my anxieties, and those things I need His help with. Jesus’ birth and death has helped make all of that possible, and I love Him so much for what He has done for me!

Our Hope

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from I Peter 1:13, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” When I read this from the devotion time the Scripture comes from, I wondered why this verse was used for Christmas…it just didn’t seem to be a Christmas kind of verse. But, as I went through the devotion, I began to see where it can apply to this Season.

The first thing the verse tells us is to gird up our loins. Now, in modern times, this phrase doesn’t mean much to us. I mean…what does it mean to gird up your loins? In Bible times, people wore long robes. If they needed to do something like running a race, take a journey, or do work of any kind, they needed to fasten their robe so that it didn’t get in the way of what they were doing. It denotes getting prepared, becoming ready to accomplish the task you are about to undertake. The commentary I read (John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible) referenced the Israelites as they prepared to leave Egypt. They were to leave at a moment’s notice, so they had to be sure that everything was ready so that they could take off quickly. We are to have our minds prepared for this journey we call the Christian life. We are also to be sober-minded, not allowing anything to distract us from the things God calls us to do, keeping our minds focused on Jesus and the precepts the Bible teaches us to apply to our lives.

Our Scripture also says we are to “hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” In trying to answer a question in the devotion about what it means to hope for grace, I turned to the commentary. The commentary said the Arabic version of the verse interprets it to mean “trusting with confidence.” So, I understand that we are to trust confidently or completely in the grace God gives us through Jesus as He is revealed to us. That hope comes us through trusting in the finished work of the cross of Jesus Christ. He paid the penalty for our sin completely.

The revelation of Jesus as I see it, is the birth of Jesus, coming to earth, as fully God and fully human. That hope we have when we ask Jesus into our hearts and make Him the Lord and Master of our lives, is because of His birth, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection!

When we live in preparation for whatever He has for us to accomplish as His followers, stay focused on that task He has given us, and trust completely and confidently in what He has done for us, we not only have hope for today, but we have hope for the future. We, as Believers, look forward to, or HOPE, in the eternal LIFE with Him we receive, and we anxiously await His return to come for those who are still alive at the time of the Rapture of the Church.

Therefore, Christmas is a celebration of that revelation. We rejoice because Jesus has come to do the work that God the Father commissioned Him to do, He accomplished it perfectly, and we are the recipients of that work. His grace, unmerited favor, is poured out on us when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We receive what we do not deserve (eternal life) and are released from what we do deserve (eternal death.)

I hope that you have accepted Jesus into your heart and are trusting in His finished work on the cross. Rejoice! Our Savior has come! May you and your loved ones have a very Merry and Blessed CHRISTmas!

Jesus, the Lamb of God

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from John 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (KJV) At first glance, this seems to be a strange verse to equate with Christmas, but when we really understand why Jesus came, it fits perfectly. Often, we don’t think about Christ’s sacrifice when we think about the Baby in the manger. However, the two are so interconnected that we really cannot separate them.

God had a plan set up to save us from the very foundation of the earth. He needed a way to deal with sin. There had to be a punishment for rebellion against Him, for after all, that is exactly what sin is…rebellion against God. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (KJV) Every single one of us has had rebellion in our hearts toward God. When we decide in our hearts to disobey God, there is a consequence, and with that consequence comes a penalty. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (KJV) Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

We cannot pay the penalty for our sin. We cannot work our way into salvation, we can’t buy our way into salvation, only through Jesus’ sacrifice are we redeemed, are we made pure. God requires a perfect sacrifice, without blemish, without sin, pure, and by the shedding of blood from that sacrifice. There was only one who could fulfil those requirements, and that was Jesus. Jesus, who was born of a virgin, the Holy Son of God, who walked this earth and experienced everything we do, and who knows just what we go through, yet He was perfect. The book of Hebrews says He experienced everything we do “yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15 KJV)

The four Gospels look at Jesus from different vantage points. The book of Matthew shows Jesus as our King, the book of Mark views Him as the Servant, the book of Luke shows Him as the “Son of Man”, whereby Jesus shows His compassion toward those who are considered outcasts, and the book of John shows Jesus as the Son of God. All these attributes of Christ are given to us so that we understand more clearly Who He is, What He came to do, and Why He came to do it.

Without the Cross, Jesus’ birth is just another baby that was born. Without Jesus’ birth as the Son of God, His death on the Cross would just be another execution. The two are tied together. Jesus’ story is complete only when we include His miraculous birth and His redeeming death on the Cross.

Then, once we know and understand Jesus’ plan for us, we have a decision to make. What will we do with this information, what will we do with Jesus? We must choose to accept His loving sacrifice. He took the penalty for our sin to save us from having to meet that requirement of death for our sin. What better way to celebrate His birth than to accept Him as our Lord and Savior!

Dear reader, if you have never chosen to accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord, now is the perfect time! Just pray and ask Him to come into your heart, to be the ruler of your life, to forgive you of your sins, to cleanse you from all of your sin, past, present, and future, and then promise to allow Him to be the Master of your life, and to follow Him all the days of your life, serving Him in all that you do. My friend, He will do just that, and as He takes over, you will find peace, joy, and contentment.

God is Able

 

Today we’re looking at II Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need you will abound in every good work.” (NIV) The New American Standard Bible (NASB) says, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” What jumped out at me is, GOD IS ABLE!

That is such an encouragement for me. No matter what I’m going through, God is able! He is able to bless me above anything I can even dream of, He is able to hold me tight when I am going through a trial, He is able to guide me in wisdom, HE IS ABLE!

What a blessing to know that I don’t walk this walk alone, He is with me! I have Pandora on at the moment, and a little bit ago, it was playing, “Good, Good Father”, and that song just resonated with me. He is able because He loves me, and He is a good Father who desires to give me all that is good for me. When discouragement hits me, He is there to bring encouragement and remind me that I have peace, joy, grace, and salvation through Him and Him alone. When I am burdened, He is there to lighten the load, for He tells me to “take my yoke upon me and learn of me.” (Matthew 11:29 KJV)

As I write this, my heart is heavy. In the middle of working on this post, my sister emailed me to let me know that my nephew is in the hospital after a heroin overdose, and he almost died. How “on time” God is…to remind me that He is able, and then to hear news that could shake my foundation of faith in Him if it weren’t for that reminder that “He is able!” He can take my nephew and turn him 180° in the opposite direction, save his life, physically and spiritually, and set him on a new course. My faith in God is not shaken. I’ve already put my nephew on a couple of prayer boards, and I’ve heard from so many who have said they’ve been there, and sent me encouragement, and are praying for my family. How good God is to surround us with a body of Believers who uphold each other in prayer, give encouragement, and sometimes even wrap their arms around us physically to keep us on our feet.

That is such a great blessing from God! I am so grateful to Him for His care. He knows right where I am. He knows what is heavy on my heart, He knows just what I need, He knows! We do not serve a God who is distant from us, nor unconcerned with our lives and what we experience. He loves us with an everlasting love, He walks with us, His desire is to bless us immeasurably, and He is faithful!

As I just looked at the verse again, I notice it says that He is able to bless us abundantly so that at ALL TIMES we have what we need. Do you need encouragement? He is able. Do you need healing? He is able. Do you need financial freedom? He is able. Do you need peace? He is able. Do you need your marriage restored? He is able. Do you need chains broken? He is able. Whatever your need is…HE IS ABLE!

My friends, even in the depths of despair, GOD IS ABLE! Take courage and gain strength in the knowledge that God is able no matter what your situation. Reach out to Him and give Him whatever it is you need for Him to do for you. Remember, “the God of Angel Armies is always by your side!”