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 That Brings Strength

 

Today we are looking at a very familiar verse to most Christians, Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (KJV) That kind of strength comes only from God! Our hope is in God. Remember, we have said that the kind of hope we are talking about is confidence…confidence in God, confidence that He will do what He has promised, confidence that no matter what we go through, He has our back, and that no problem is too big or too small for Him.

There are days we go through when it just seems like it’s too much. Everything seems harder than it should. We can barely keep ourselves together, much less accomplish a task. That’s where hope in God’s strength comes into play. We rely on His strength to get us through. When we feel we can barely crawl, He gives us the strength to walk, then to run. Our hope, our confidence is in knowing we are not alone, He walks with us, sometimes, He carries us.

Our Scripture reference talks about mounting up with wings as eagles. If you have never seen eagles fly, it is an absolutely amazing thing to see. When I lived in Montana, in the fall, the eagles would fly over the canyon in their mating ritual. It was awesome to see them do their mating dance and see the strength they had in their wings to be able to grab their talons together and fly hooked to one another. God gives us that kind of strength. We are held by God, He gives us strength to persevere through each circumstance, and our hope, our confidence, grows with each situation we face.

I know for me, God has given me strength in several instances. My husband and I have gone through a hard time over the last two years. We were married March 25, 2017, and right after that he went to the doctor for a yearly physical. The doctors found something wasn’t right and he had to have a biopsy. We waited to go on our honeymoon because my niece was getting married in May, and we decided to take it then. While we were on our honeymoon, the doctor’s office called and told us that my husband, Kraig, had prostate cancer. We both were rocked to our core. But God held us both up through the whole process of Kraig’s treatment. After having radiation treatments, a lot of prayer from family, church, and friends…Kraig was declared cancer free on October 23, 2017! His last test a few months ago showed an improvement in his test scores, in fact they were lower than previously! He still is being watched by the doctor, but for all practical purposes, there is no more treatment needed, just to keep an eye on things. We are rejoicing for God’s goodness and care. I thank Him for the strength He gave us and the hope of knowing that He is a healer.

That hope, that confidence, that God would do as He promised is what held us together and kept us from falling apart. It not only strengthened us spiritually, but also strengthened our commitment to one another. We found out that we could go through anything if we could go through that. We both held on to God, believing in His healing power for Kraig, and we gained strength.

Our Scripture says we are to “wait upon the Lord.” That means to trust His timing on things, trust that He knows our situation and knows the solution, and have the confidence that nothing that happens to us goes without notice by Him. Then we can fly like the eagles, we can run and walk, and not faint.

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 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!

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!”