Hope is a positive emotion, the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. What is your hope based upon and on whom are you relying to achieve the outcomes you hope for?
Self-reliance has a proven history of mixed results. How often have you failed to reached the desired end of a hope born out of inspiration? Or encountered another human being that didn’t have a failure or two to remind them that hope in ‘self’ can not be trusted to get you where you want to be?
Jesus had something to say about hope. He revealed to us who our hope should be anchored in to ensure crossing the finish line of life without regret. He knew and took the steps to live His life in a way that would please His Father in heaven. He humbled Himself and followed every command of His Father without exception. He trusted God and placed all His hope in Him to the point of God becoming His all in all. And He did it for us.
“…then the Son himself will also be subjected to Him who put all things in subjection under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1Corinthians 15:28)
God is our sure and living hope offered through Jesus Christ who humbled Himself by descending from heaven to save a hopeless, self-reliant people striving after the wind.
It is in Christ Jesus we find eternal hope and triumph over failure and triumph in life. When we place our trust in Him He promises to stay with us to the end.
“…I will never leave you nor forsake you…” (Hebrews 13:5)
Out outcome has been guaranteed, sealed in eternity in the power of His Name. He is our One Hope, our all in all!
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you…” (1Peter 5:6)
Extenders of mercy are considered to be good Samaritans, willing to come to the aid of another. They seem ready to extend kindness by doing the unexpected, extending compassion instead of judgement, pity instead of criticism.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
Mercy extenders are mercy receivers.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6)
God made a promise to those who choose to follow Him as a shepherd leader who would never leave us during our journey through life. He promised goodness and mercy would dwell among us. Thankfully, He also gave us the insight into how this lifestyle could be maintained, He knew that we could not be extenders of mercy without first receiving His mercy.
“…for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
We are described as sheep without a shepherd, lost and exposed to all the dangers of life before coming into the sheltering mercy of God. He is the originator of Mercy, delivered to mankind through His Son, Jesus. (Luke 19:10)
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
We become recipients of mercy when we believe in Jesus, the Savior of the world. Once this happens we are called to become extenders of mercy. Only then can we begin to understand the vastness of the mercy we have received and the joy of extending it to others. It reflects the security we have in God to meet our needs.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)
Enjoy the mercies of God in your life by extending mercy to others!
Discovering God’s will for your life is the path of blessing and it begins the moment we surrender our lives to Him. A surrendered life is intentional about staying on God’s path, knowing that His path is where the blessing is.
We are given a wonderful picture of what it means to follow God in the story of the Israelites when they roamed the wilderness for 40 years in the Book of Numbers. God’s presence was associated with the tabernacle, His cloud covered it during the day and it took on the appearance of fire during the night. They were instructed to settle and move out according to whenever the cloud lifted up or set in place over the tabernacle.
“And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped.” (Numbers 9:17)
Following the blessing provides direction and provision towards being established in God’s will. This is the only path that produces lasting fruit in our lives and the lives we are fortunate to impact along the way. God’s path refines and clarifies, it rids us of sin and unnecessary baggage that hinders our effectiveness in the areas of our purpose. It cultivates obedience and intimacy as we get to know God better with every step.
To follow the blessing means placing your trust in God’s direction and His ways of accomplishing the desired results in your life. To do this well we must believe in His sovereign wisdom and care for us as we journey the path, even when it doesn’t make sense.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
When we choose to follow the blessing, God promises to fulfill every word that He has spoken over our lives. The Israelites that chose to follow God’s blessing came into the full inheritance that was promised to them under Joshua’s leadership. God’s path lead them into the ultimate blessing, the promised land.
“And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.” (Joshua 23:14)
Be sure that you are following the blessing by following God. He promises to offer strong support to those whose hearts are turned toward Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9) You will find that He is the blessing and that the blessing is found in Him!
Enduring faith requires a long-term view driven by divine purpose that is specifically designed to shape your heart for the work and impact God has placed you on this earth to fulfill. And the secret to enduring is obedience.
Jesus modeled obedience in a very practical way. His example did not require years of maturing and experience nor perfect life circumstances or achievements. He simply chose to submit Himself to God and His plan for His life. He believed that the only way to please the Father was through living in obedience to Him.
“But have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God…emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant…He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
Enduring faith is also rooted in our love for God. If we truly love God we will choose and commit to the process of enduring trials or tests that come into our lives. John the Apostle said that our love for God is proved by our obedience to Him.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
Lastly, enduring faith requires waiting. Those who endure are promised supernatural provision to persevere to the end. Jesus goes before us and brings light to our path, we must choose to follow Him. He is the way, the truth and the life according to John 14:6. And when our enduring has accomplished God’s desired end, when we have been transformed by taking on more of the likeness of Jesus, we will know that God’s work in this area is completed.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)
God cares for you.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time, He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
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Are you a ‘doer’ first and a listener second or a ‘listener’ first then a ‘doer’? Are you all about accomplishing tasks throughout the day based on what’s important to you and your priorities? God has a lot to say about those who are not willing to listen to His voice before moving through life with a personal agenda that is void of His influence. He longs to have a voice in your life. He knows that without Him we can’t possible make wise decisions all the time. We don’t have nor ever will have the mind capacity to know everything we need to know when we need to know it. The bible tells us that its foolish to think that we don’t need to listen to God. He is All-Knowing.
“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not.” (Jeremiah 5:21)
Like a parent assigning a task to a child that runs off without instructions, we tend to charge through life without taking the time ask God for His instructions. If we don’t ask or listen we will always come up short of God’s best for our lives.
Jesus lived His entire life on this earth based on what He heard from God. To the very end it was all about fulfilling God’s will and not His own. He was so in-step with God and His will for His life that He said:
“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” (John 4:34)
Jesus listened and followed God’s instructions for His life. He was fully obedient and surrendered to accomplishing the work that God sent Him to do.
In a similar way we have been called to follow Jesus’ example, to listen and obey, to do the will of God for our lives.
“This is My beloved Son, listen to Him.” (Mark 9:7)
Become a listener and you will accomplish what God sent you to do!
“When the heart sees what God wants, the body must be willing to spend and be spent for that cause alone.” Oswald Chambers
Image: Healing Gardens
When you find yourself in what seems like ‘the trial of your life’ with personal resources exhausted and it looks like the enemy of your soul is about to throw the crushing blow, how do you respond?
In the days of the prophet Isaiah, Ahaz the King of Judah found himself in such a situation. They were facing the real threat of a crushing blow from the King of Israel who had allied himself with Syria to attack Judah. It goes on to say that “the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.” (Isaiah 7:2)
The Lord instructed Isaiah to go speak to Ahaz a word. He also instructed Isaiah to take his son with him. I love this small detail about his son, “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son.” (Isaiah 7:3) Isaiah’s son was a sign from God for Judah that “a remnant shall return.” God was letting the people know that their sin would be judged but with mercy, they would not suffer total loss, that a remnant would be left to rebuild and restore the nation.
What looks like ‘the trial of your life’ may be the refining tool that God has allowed to purge out sinful attitudes and lifestyle choices that hinder and sabotage God’s good plan for your life. The words that God instructed Isaiah to speak to King Ahaz and the people gave them the opportunity to see this trial through His perspective of faith and trust:
“Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint…” (Isaiah 7:4)
God went on to put the enemy in the proper perspective; “two smoldering stumps” in His eyes and in which we are to see any enemy coming against us. Now that their eyes have been opened by God’s perspective they can see that this is a test of faith and trust in God to not only deliver but to bring them through this trial. They are left with this gentle rebuke from God:
“…If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.” (Isaiah 7:9)
If you truly desire to glorify God there comes a time when we must decide to stand firm in our faith, trusting in God’s promise to never leave us or forsake us, no matter what trial is allowed into our lives. If we refuse to embrace His instruction our destiny in Christ will be plagued with instability, doubt and immaturity, failing to live the abundant life that Christ died to give us.
“…until we all attain…to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ…” (Ephesians 4:13-15)
Be firm in faith!
Photo Credit: LetsGoPlanting.co.uk
Love wins. It triumphs over all things. And this is possible because God loved first and through His all-powerful love He caused His light to shine upon the just and the unjust. We all enjoy the daily benefits of the light of His grace and love.
“The Lord is God, and He has made His light to shine upon us.” (Psalm 118:27)
God is love. We can know His love by placing our trust in His Son, Jesus, who is the light of the world (John 8:12), the bright morning star (Rev. 22:16). This Jesus, who loves us is the rock and anchor of our faith, the answer to all that we will ever need, the Savior of the world. He died and rose again in order to offer eternal life by taking our place on the cross. He is the Stone that the builders rejected who in triumph has become the Cornerstone of faith.
“This is the Lord’s doing, it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:23)
Jesus said that we can know that we have come to know Him and God’s love if we keep His commandments. We can know that His love is being perfected in us. (1 John 2: 3-5) Our new nature in Christ removes the right to be selective in the commandments that we keep, our new nature delights in responding like Jesus would respond in everyday circumstances. His love did not leave us as orphans to work this out for ourselves, He gave us a Helper, the Holy Spirit who empowers us to walk in God’s light.
“And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.” (1 John 3:3)
We are called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) as we pursue fulfilling a lifestyle of obedient faith in love.
“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15: 9-11)
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Have you ever questioned God’s presence in your life? If the answer is yes you are in good company. God knew that you would struggle with this dilemma. He provides an illustration that sheds light on and gives application to you knowing that He is with you. We can see it in the life of King Saul and King David.
“The word of the Lord came to Samuel: I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not performed My commandments.” (1 Samuel 15:10)
We can know that ‘God is with us’ when we walk in obedience to His commandments. King Saul had a rebellious heart and was more about doing what was right in his own eyes rather than obeying God. A true God follower delights in obeying His word. And this delight in obedience God promises to bless because obedience shapes our heart after God and His ways.
“And David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him.” (1 Samuel 18:14)
“And David became greater and greater, for the Lord of hosts was with him.” (1 Chronicles 11:9)
God departed from King Saul because of his disobedience and unwillingness to follow Him with his whole heart, Saul broke faith with God. The prophet Samuel was instructed by God to seek out a man after His own heart. (1 Samuel 13:14)
True success in your life is measured by obedience to the God of the universe. You can count on His daily support in every area of your life and the blessings of obedient living.
“Blessed is the man…his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” (Psalms 1:1-3)
You can know that ‘God is with you.’