Jesus Is Our Hope

“Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds because of your evil actions. But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him — if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard.”  Colossians 1:21-23a

Greetings fellow sojourners!  Do you know Jesus to be your only hope?  Yes, we casually speak of putting our hope in less significant things such as hoping for a phone call or hoping for a sunny day but any kind of significant hope we hold that is placed in anything other than Jesus is misplaced hope.

We have known the Lord as both helper and deliverer.  When we place our hope in Him we are expecting to see the Lord’s magnificent power surface yet again in our hour of great need.   Our hope is rooted in Him because we know His character is THE reason we have hope.  There is a great chasm that exists between optimism that instructs us that our circumstances will surely improve with the passage of time and possessing hope that convinces us that the character of God alone gives us reason to place our hope in His covenant faithfulness.

It is interesting to see the Hebrew word translated ‘hope’ is at times translated ‘wait’.  As we know, if we are hoping for something it is because God’s promised outcome has not yet arrived and there apparently will be some passage of time before it does arrive.  Here is the key.  While we place our hope in the Lord during our waiting, it is Him we are waiting on and not the actual outcome itself.  Hope in an outcome becomes misplaced hope.  Always during the waiting, we wait on the Lord, look for Him, and place our hope only in Him.  Indeed, we may be relieved when we observe the outcome with our eyes of flesh but our hope never shifts from the Lord.

Highly regarded ones, Jesus is our hope when we are burdened.  He is our hope in our weaknesses. He is our hope when our senses attempt to reveal there is no hope.  He is our hope in our strained relationships.  He is our hope in our conflicts.  He is our hope for new opportunities.  He is our hope in all seasons!  We have courage in Him to do anything we are called to do because He IS our hope.

Rise up friends and rejoice in hope (Romans 12:12a)!  Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you are the God of Hope and you fill us with all joy and peace as we believe in You!  Fill us to overflowing with Your hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (based on Romans 15:13)

Happy Easter!

“Make mute the stones this day, Church! Shout hosannas and wave palm branches. Let there be no doubt to all who hear, we have a King. One crucified for our sins, raised from the dead, triumphant over hell and grave, seated at God’s own right hand. And He will again come riding in.” Beth Moore

Friends I love, love, love this comment. NOW is the time to lay aside our petty disagreements, our disappointments, our frustrations, our fears, our strivings, our surging emotions, and our misplaced hopes and instead open our mouths and raise our hands in praise and rejoicing!  

In His grace,

Amanda

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Take Responsibility for Your Sin and Embrace Your Acceptance

“The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he looked despondent.  Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent? If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”  Genesis 4:4b-7

The Lord asked Cain why he was furious.  And why did he look despondent?  He asked not because He was unaware of Cain’s wrath and resentment but because the question posed was intended to stir Cain’s awareness of his sin (which was the cause of God’s rejection of the sacrifice) and to stir his desire for repentance.  No one else was to blame for Cain’s conduct.  It was Cain’s responsibility alone for regulating his own demeanor.  In neglecting to do so, he not only missed the opportunity for his sacrifice to be accepted by God but his untamed wrath and the resentment in his heart led to the physical act of murder.

Cain expected God to accept his sacrifice because pride was at full work in him.   When God did not regard his sacrifice, the initial response in Cain was not to question himself but to be furious with God.  The condition of the heart is of paramount importance to God and still holds true today.  Jesus tells us the stirrings of our heart toward others must be in line with the Word before we offer our sacrifice to Him (Matthew 5:24).

When Cain’s offering was not accepted he became full of intense anger which fueled the brutality in his heart.  The Lord warned Cain of sin’s presence which bides its time waiting for an opportunity. Therefore, we must ‘rule over’ sin by doing what we know to be right or evil passions will take advantage of our slack.  We are obligated to take authority over our thoughts and emotions and resist the lies of the enemy (John 8:44) as sin always begins with a lie.

Cain had the opportunity, as we do daily, to resist sin and receive the blessing, or give in to sin and be devoured.   We have no need for despondency in life as our hope is in the Lord.  If we do what is right we will be accepted.  Let’s keep in mind that doing what is right does not mean being perfect.  Just like God gave Cain an opportunity to repent when we make an error we also are given the opportunity to repent.  The problem arises when we know the right thing to do but refuse to do it.

We must realize we are deeply loved by God and He knows our frailties.  He knows what tempts us as He is the God who sees (Genesis 16:13).  Allow this truth to flood your heart, “We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:7)  Even though he sees our trespasses the richness of His forgiving grace is lavished upon us.  What an amazing demonstration of love towards us.

Thank you, Lord, for Your Spirit that guides and counsels me in the truth.  Thank you for your gift of love and repentance that allows restored fellowship.  Help me Lord to see my sin and take responsibility for it so that I may receive your full acceptance and lavishing grace.

In His grace,

Amanda

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Satan’s Tactics

Greetings fellow sojourners!

Let’s consider this quote, “One of the most sobering facts about life is that all humans have a supernatural enemy whose aim is to use pain and pleasure to make us blind, stupid, and miserable.”  (Piper)  Below are some scriptural examples of this statement.  If you look closely at the Scripture, you will even find the remedy.

Blind ~ “The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:4

Stupid ~ “But a stupid man will gain understanding as soon as a wild donkey is born a man!”  Job 11:12.  Well, that is direct.  But here is the rest.  “As for you, if you redirect your heart and lift up your hands to Him in prayer — if there is iniquity in your hand, remove it, and don’t allow injustice to dwell in your tents — then you will hold your head high, free from fault. You will be firmly established and unafraid.”  Job 11:13-15

Miserable ~ “All the days of the oppressed are miserable, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.”  Proverbs 15:15

Here’s the good news.  None of Satan’s tactics are hidden from God; he is not that clever.  As a matter of fact, the Bible warns us of Satan’s tactics so that we will know his playbook in advance; therefore, they are also exposed to us.  Shame on us if we do not get into the Word so his tactics are made clear to us!  We have no excuse.

Secondly, James 4:7 tell us if we “Resist the devil, he will flee from you”.  It is conditional.  You resist…he flees.  God backs up His word.  If you resist the devil, he WILL flee from you.  Are you resisting his tactics?

Thirdly, prayer is vital.  Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.”  Prayer will put us on the offense.  It will strengthen and refresh our mind and heart.  If during prayer you are prompted to repent take the opportunity God is giving you.  It is a powerful tool.

You are a blessing.

In His grace,

Amanda

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Guard Your Heart

“Listen closely to my sayings.  Don’t lose sight of them; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to one’s whole body.”  Proverbs 4:20b-22

Greetings fellow sojourners!  Before we get started let’s recall, “no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus”  (Romans 8:1) but an opportunity for change!  It is easy to judge a sin by what we observe with our fleshly eyes and then apply our own weights and measures.  However, Jesus says he looks at what is in the heart and judges there.  We have no idea what goes on in someone else’s heart and if truth be told we rarely admit and face what is going on in our own.  Let’s also recall, “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but you don’t notice the log in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) Someone who corrects the minor faults of others without attending to his own more serious fault is a hypocrite.  Interestingly, a hypocrite originally referred to actors who performed in Greek or Roman theaters.  Hypocrites are spiritual actors who pretend to have piety in order to win human approval.  Yuck.

We must guard our heart.  What stirs in our heart is just the beginning of a future action.  When the action is birthed we view it and are shocked, yet it has already been stirring in the heart for some time.  And, the Lord has already seen it.  Are we allowing thoughts that are out of line with the word of God to take up residence in the same temple as the Holy Spirit?  We think all manner of things in our mind without saying it out loud.  We also pray quietly in our mind without saying it out loud.  Do we seriously think The Lord hears only the prayer?

We each must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).  God works in us, enabling us both to desire and work out His good purpose (v13).  Let’s take a look at some verses from Matthew 5:21-44, keeping in mind the importance of guarding our heart.  We have heard we should not manifest certain behaviors but Jesus says it is a matter of the heart.  The following are generally known as the “Six Antitheses.”  Jesus always upheld the Old Testament authority but opposed the misguided interpretations of the scribes and Pharisees.

~ You have heard do not murder, whoever murders will be subject to judgment.  But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.  (v 21-22)

~ You have heard do not commit adultery.  But I tell you, everyone who looks in order to lust has already committed adultery in the heart.  (v27-28)

~  It was said whoever divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce.  But I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery.  And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.  (v 31-32)

~ You have heard you must not break your oath, but you must keep your oaths to the Lord.  But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all.  Let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’. (v33-34a, 37a)

~ You have heard an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.  But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer.  (v 38-39a)

~ You have heard love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  (v 43-44) (Interesting that ‘hate your enemy’ does not appear anywhere in the OT.)

I want to go further with God, don’t you?  We have been in the shallow water long enough, let’s go to the deep places with Him.  Let’s give the Lord full access to the attitudes in our heart.  He loves you.  You can trust Him completely, even in the hidden places.

In His grace,

Amanda

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