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?

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!

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.

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!