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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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.

 

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?

Receiving God’s Love

 

This is the last post this month on the love of God. Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Ephesians 3:19, “and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”(CSB) The New King James Version says, “to know the love of Christ which passes all knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

To know the love of God we must experience His love toward us. We need to receive the love He offers to us, and not just receive it, but desire to experience the height, depth, and vastness of His love toward us. In order to do that requires a relationship. If I didn’t get to know my husband, his idiosyncrasies, his likes, his dislikes, the very heart of who he is, I would never experience the love he has for me, there would be no relationship. I would know about him, but not know him. The same is true about our relationship with Jesus.

Many people know about Him, but they don’t know Him. So, how do we go about knowing Jesus? The first step is to accept Him as our Lord and Savior, to allow Him complete control over our lives, and be the Master of our lives. We must confess our sins, ask for His forgiveness, and determine in our hearts to live for Him, living in a manner pleasing to Him. Then we must get to know who He is. This comes about by studying His Word, the Bible. The Bible is His love letter to us, it tells us of His love for us, it gives us instruction on how to live, and encouragement for walking by faith. He tells us Who He is and tells us of His love for us. His personality shows forth in His Word, it tells us of His attributes, it tells us how important we are to Him.

As mere human beings we can not begin to understand the vastness of His love for us. In Ephesians 3:18, the Apostle Paul tells the Ephesians, “I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saint what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love.” (CSB) God loves us so much that Jesus willingly gave up His life on the cross for our sins. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus calls us friends and brothers, we are His own, and He loves us to death! His death! We must receive His sacrificial death on the cross and accept His love for us to begin to experience a relationship with Him.

I for one, cannot even imagine having that kind of love, to lay down my life for another! It is beyond comprehension. But the more I dig into His Word and learn more about His love for me, the stronger my relationship with Him becomes. The more I learn, the more my heart is overwhelmed with how much He loves me, and I want to receive more of His love daily! His desire for me is to take the love He gives me and share it with others. We are to show the same attributes of love to a lost and dying world. It is the love we have for others that draws them to the foot of the cross.

I hope that you experience the love of God to the fullest. You will find that when you think He couldn’t love you any more, His love surpasses how much you know He loves you!

His Love For Us

As we continue to look at God’s love for us, we are focusing on Romans 5:8, “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” This is something I think a lot of us have a hard time understanding or comprehending. We know how much we love our family or friends, but God’s love isn’t like human love; it goes far beyond anything we can even imagine.

I know for some, the thought that God would love us when we were mired down in sin, undesirable, and self-centered is hard to grasp. We were a mess before Jesus got hold of us, and yet He willingly gave up His life for us because of His great love! I don’t know too many people that would naturally say, “Yes, I’ll die for them.” We tend to gravitate toward people that are loving, those who may look like or act like us, those who have attributes that we find attractive and lovely. If we are honest with ourselves, we usually don’t befriend someone who may be from “the wrong side of the track”, or people who are struggling with issues such as alcoholism, drug addiction, or who are tattooed and pierced over 95% of their body…they don’t appeal to us. But God looks past all of that! He looks directly at the heart.

I know a gentleman, that if you looked at him at first glance, you’d think he was part of a biker gang like “Hell’s Angels”. He’s a rough lookin’ dude! But he is the sweetest guy you’d ever want to meet. He came to our church for a while, and I know it took a little bit before some people in the congregation warmed up to him and really got to know him. He’d come to church on his big, old, Harley Hog, dressed in leathers, tattooed, and a long pony tail. He is a great big teddy bear of a guy! The teenagers loved him, and he was so sweet to everyone. He loves Jesus with all his heart and is part of the Christian Motorcyclist Association (CMA). He has since moved from the area and so I’ve not seen him in a long time. By first impression, most people would steer clear of him. But God saw something in him, and loved him unconditionally, and my friend accepted Jesus as his Savior, and he spread the news about Jesus to everyone he met.

God calls us to love like He does. We are to love those who we may deem unacceptable. Jesus reaches out to them with open arms, and we should also. His love for each of us is more than we can fathom. We don’t have to make ourselves acceptable in His sight, He loves us unconditionally. My friend didn’t have to get himself all cleaned up to come to Jesus. Jesus took him just as he was, loved him and saved him, and gave him to those in his circle of influence to reach for God. My friend would reach people I would never meet. He was put in a position to identify with a certain type of people and be an influence for God. Who knows how many people he’s led to the Lord!

So, as we think about God’s love for us, how deep and wide, how vast…remember that we are to love like He loves. Reach out to the unlovable, the unreachable, the outcast, and the downtrodden. Show God’s love to them, and thereby win them to Jesus.

You are Loved

 

Today is Valentine’s Day and love is in the air! As much as I love my husband, God loves me more! In fact, our Bible verse today is taken from Hosea 2:19, “I will take you to be my wife forever. I will take you to be my wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion.” (CSB) To give a little background on this verse, God has asked Hosea to take a harlot for a wife. This marriage was to be a representation of Israel’s relationship with God. He loved Israel, but they were unfaithful to Him in many ways, just as Hosea’s wife was unfaithful to him. Hosea 1: 2 relates God’s instruction to Hosea, “When the Lord first spoke to Hosea, he said this to him, “Go and marry a woman of promiscuity, and have children of promiscuity, for the land is committing blatant acts of promiscuity by abandoning the Lord.” (CSB)

Despite Israel’s unfaithfulness, God still loved her, just as Hosea loved his wife, Gomer. No matter how many times she would run to other lovers, Hosea always took her back. Hosea is an example of how God loves us. The Bible says that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8) and “We love, because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19) We were unfaithful to Him, and yet He loved us, He loved us first!

God’s love for us is an example of what married love should be like. We are to give each other totally to the other. Their needs come first before our own. God uses the example of marriage to explain our relationship with Jesus. He is the Bridegroom and we, as Believers, are His Bride. We are to be spotless and pure. His love for us is an example of how we are to love each other. Marriage is a covenant between God, the Bride, and Groom. It isn’t just a piece of paper that says we are married, it is a contract, a covenant, promising to love, honor, respect, obey, and be totally devoted to each other and to God. Marriage consists of three people, God as the Head of the family, the husband is to be the head of the wife, loving her and being submissive, obedient, and under the leadership of God; and the wife is to honor, respect, obey, and be submissive to not only her husband, but also to God.

My husband is such an awesome man. He loves God with all his heart and carries that love for God to me. He realizes that my first love MUST be God and he comes second, just as I recognize that his first love MUST be God and I come second. As we love each other, we in turn love God, and together, we serve Him. When we faulter in our walk with the Lord, God loves us still, and draws us back to Himself, just as Hosea pleaded for Gomer to return to him. No matter how many times we turn our back on God or choose to be rebellious, God still yearns for us to come back to Him and love Him just as He loves us.

God is the total embodiment of love, the Bible says, “God is love” (I John 4:8). Love describes God, it is His total essence. The description of love is God! He is the ultimate example of pure love. He is our example! We are to pattern ourselves after Him.

God’s love to us is Agape love, that unconditional, selfless, sacrificial kind of love that Jesus showed as He hung on the cross for our sins. That is the kind of love we are to have for each other – selfless, unconditional, sacrificial, giving ourselves for the other.

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day with our spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends, remember to love as God loves us.

His Love Leads Us

 

As we continue to look at aspects of God’s love, today’s verse tells us that His love leads us. Exodus 15:13 says, “In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed; In Your strength You have guided them in Your holy habitation.” (NASB) I love the idea that God leads us through each mountain and valley of our lives.

As I was thinking about this verse, I began to think back at my own life. I can see God’s hand guiding me and I see where He led me even though I had no clue which way to go. I became a Christian at the age of 11 in a Youth Group meeting on a Sunday night. I had been having disturbing dreams for a few weeks, dreams of not being a Christian and finding myself in Hell. I know God was talking to me through my dreams, trying to draw me to Himself. I don’t know why I didn’t accept Jesus after having those dreams, but I didn’t. One Sunday night, a guest came to our Youth Group and asked this question, “Why are you a Christian?” She asked it to the whole Youth Group. Each person gave their reason for why they asked Jesus to be their Savior. When it came my turn, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I couldn’t give her an answer because I wasn’t a Born-Again Believer, and I admitted it. It was then that my pastor asked me if I would like to ask Jesus into my heart, and I said yes. God just wouldn’t let me get out from under His loving invitation.

He guided my life in a miraculous way, at least I think so. When I was in my mid 20’s I wasn’t in the habit of listening to the Christian radio station in our city, but one day I was having a really bad day and decided to tune in. It was then that I heard a promo for their singing group, asking those who wanted to join to come to an audition. I decided I didn’t have anything going on, and it might be nice to be part of the group. I went to auditions and was accepted and it was there I met my first husband. God led me to decide to listen to that station at that particular time, and it changed my life! It began almost 40 years of ministry in broadcasting as my husband and I served Christian radio and television stations for the majority of our lives. I’ve often said God has taken me on an adventure. I had no inkling that broadcasting would be in my life. In high school that was the farthest thing from my mind.

The hardest day of my life was when my husband died. God led me through that dark valley for six years. Being a widow was very hard for me, but God was right there carrying me through that dark time. In the midst of that valley a guest speaker came to our church and he spoke a prophetic word over me, telling me that I would minister to people all over the world using journaling. That troubled me, because I wasn’t a good journaler…very sporadic. But his words haunted me, and about 2½ years ago I found Bible Journaling. Another one of the ways God has led me.

He also led me to get on the Internet and do some online dating and at the end of that six years, I met an incredible man on a Christian dating site, and six months later we were married. God led me to him and birthed a new ministry for me. My new husband has a ministry online and I have a blog into which I incorporate my Bible Journaling.

As I look back, I see God’s Hand so plainly in my life. He has led me every step of the way. It’s good to look back and see from where God has led us. His love is so incredible!
It is because of His love for us that He leads us along the pathway He has chosen for us. (Jeremiah 29:11) He guides us in His strength Exodus 15: 13 tells us. He leads us right to the gates of Heaven, His holy habitation. Oh, how I praise Him for His guidance!