Word of the Week: Hope

1  Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – Romans 5:1-5 (ESV)

Hope – the joyous anticipation of something we have not yet received, but know in faith that we will obtain.

Faith – “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1, ESV).

The two go hand in glove.  Indeed, the Greek root word elpis is translated 53 times in the New Testament as “hope” and once as “faith.”  And, while the two terms are interrelated, they are not interchangeable.  We hope for specific outcomes.  And, in faith, we know we will receive what we hope for.

It is hope that lifts our hearts.  As Paul points out, we begin with faith in Jesus Christ, whom the apostle refers to as “our hope” several times in the New Testament.  Through faith and hope, we change our view of the suffering we face in life, seeing it through God’s eyes.  After all, as believers, our ultimate goal has nothing to do with this life – a mere vapor.  No material thing on this earth is of any value compared to the riches of God (which are our eternal inheritance).

When we suffer, we grow in endurance.  Its like the old saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.”  Not only will we strengthen in spirit and soul, but in character as well.  As we face trials in life and see that the Lord works through us – even if the problem persists, we have an even stronger faith, and even greater hope.  When we realize that just because we do not see God doesn’t mean He isn’t working, that His will is what is important, then we can rest easy in the hopeful faith that every aspect of our lives is in God’s hands and, no matter how situations may seem, no matter how great the pain or difficulty, He is here. 

He is with us.

He is our strength.

He is our endurance.

He is our hope.

Today’s encouragement is simple: hang in there.  Know that God hears your every prayer.  Even David knew this: “In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears” (Psalms 18:6, ESV).

Cling to this: what you are going through now is not permanent. This won’t last forever. You will get through this. The light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train. It is hope. 

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:28-31 (ESV)

It is my prayer that the pieces I write be a blessing to others in Jesus’ name.  Please feel free to copy this article, share it via e-mail, and share the link to this website to others.  Thanks so much and God bless!!


The Indescribable Joy of Seeking God

Words escape me.  Now, I realize that is a bad confession for a writer to make.  After all, words are my medium, the paint I use to color the canvas.  And yet, when I think about Jesus – when I truly stop to marvel in wonder at the Lord and His goodness and mercy, lavished on such an undeserving sinner as I…

Words escape me.

When I’m seeking direction and getting frustrated, smacking my head against so many brick walls, that should be a key indicator that I am seeking something other than God first.  When I realize that I am seeking in vain – usually about the time that my head butting causes a severe headache – I stop, regroup, and pray.

However, when I am truly seeking God, pursuing His will and His way (what Matthew calls His kingdom), and my heart is turned Godward, there is a peace that washes over me.  There is a joy that fills my innermost being.  When I have turned off all the distractions of life and given my attention fully to Jesus Christ, to Who God is and how He loves me…

Words escape me.

It is in the Lord that I find strength and direction. This is where my spirit is refreshed, my soul energized.  I find hope in the Lord when I meditate on His Word.  I see the world with different eyes and discover that God truly is all that God claims He is.  I get a glimpse of the Great I AM, and a glimpse is all we need.

When I seek the Lord, I see that He has brought me so, so far.  And I see that I still have so, so far to travel.  It is in His grace that I seek to journey down this path of life.  God – the Love of God – makes me want to be a better man.  Like David, I want the Lord to say of me, “I have found in (Chris) a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (Acts 13:22, ESV).

You should want that too.  Here, say it out loud: I want the Lord to say of me, “I have found in (insert your name here) a man / woman after my heart, who will do all my will.” Go ahead, say it again.  Repeat it.  Write it down somewhere.

Seeking the Lord first brings an indescribable joy and incredible peace of mind and heart that can be – should be – life changing.  When we find our wills bent far less inward and far more in the direction of the kingdom of God, we find that He truly changes the desires of our heart and meets our every need.

And when I truly begin to realize these things… well, you know what I’m going to say…

Word of the Week: Rise

“The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.” – Deuteronomy 28:7 (NIV)

I hope today that you are facing opposition.  I hope you are in the midst of some trial or working through an uncomfortable situation.  And, moreover, I hope you are staying connected to God through it all.

Now, you might be thinking, “Wow… gee thanks.  That was real inspiring!”  I know it sounds awful to say “I hope you are facing some issues.”  And, truly, I wish none of us had to face troubles or trials or hardship or pain of any kind.  But, one of the great truths of this life is just as Jesus put it: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b, NIV).

As we well know, life is not easy.  We face temptations, trials and turbulence at various points in life.  And for good reasons.

Consider this: you are alone at a cabin in the woods.  Two men break into your cabin.  One looks like he could do you some harm.  He’s mean, menacing, armed, big and bold.  This guy is bad news. 

The other guy is… well… he’s there.  He’s leaned against the door.  He’s a skinny guy, totally oblivious to the evil intent of his cohort.  He’s got his smart phone out, texting to his friends and Tweeting.  He’s even snapped a photo of his partner ransacking your belongings, with the caption “LOL.”  He’s no threat.  In fact, you’re not really sure why he’s even there.

Which one of these guys is the real threat?

Now, flip this scenario around.  The devil, the prince of this world (John 14:30), is seated comfortably in the midst of his kingdom.  Two Christians show up.  One looks like he could do the devil some harm.  He has “put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Galatians 6:11, NIV). He recognizes his enemy, and that his battle “is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Galatians 6:12, NIV).  He’s not perfect, but he’s faithful, prepared and bold.

The other guy is… well… he’s there. He’s leaned against the door. He’s a skinny guy, totally oblivious to the evil intent of his enemy. He’s got his smart phone out, texting to his friends and Tweeting. He’s even snapped a photo of his partner, standing strong in his faith in Christ, with the caption “LOL.” He’s no threat. In fact, you’re not really sure why he’s even there.

Which one of these guys is the real threat?  And who is our adversary going to pursue?  Surely not the guy with the cell phone.  Satan is going to set his sights on the one who can do him harm. 

If anyone knows this, it is the apostle Peter.  From the moment Jesus declared Simon to be Cephas (or Peter), the rock upon which Christ would build His house (the church), the disciple had a humongous target on his chest.  Peter knew all too well what he was talking about when he wrote, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  But, it’s not fair to simply look at this one line.  This is actually good news!

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5:6-11 (NIV)

I do not truly wish upon anybody any sort of trouble.  But the simple truth is, if you are the least bit effective for the kingdom of heaven, the prince of this world is not going to be happy.  If you are facing absolutely no opposition, you may want to rethink your life strategy.  (By the way, if you are, in fact, sailing smoothly through life, do not be lulled into the false belief that this will always be your lot.)

Be bold.  Be faithful.  Rise up in the power and authority of Jesus Christ.  Proclaim His majesty!  Do the good work put before you.  Rest in faith, knowing the battle is not yours, but God’s.

And the enemy, the devil, is a defeated foe.

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. – James 1:2-8 (NIV)

Stay strong.  Trust God, for He alone is your source.  Expect opposition to rise.  But know that it is only for a season, and that the LORD has won the battle – and the war.  After all, Jesus is truly the One Who has Risen!