Archive | March 2015

He is Our Hope

Daffodils in Snow

1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NKJV) – But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.

 

You can’t be a Christian for very long before you become familiar with the scripture in Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  And I don’t know about you but I didn’t really go “Aha! Now it all makes sense.”  after reading that.  In fact, for a long time it seemed like a riddle that I was never really able to solve.  It was like describing something I didn’t understand with something else I didn’t understand!  In our culture hope has become like wishing…standing at the edge of a fountain, holding your coin and your breath as you toss it into the water making your wish.  And then walking away not really expecting much to come from it but not wanting to miss the chance just in case it might.  Sound familiar?  Under that context I certainly don’t have any confidence in faith if that is what its substance is…a kind of wish!  In reading the Bible we know that is not what it means and to have more confidence in faith we also have to have a revelation of what is meant by hope.

Hope in the New Testament is the Greek word elpis, which is defined as a “favorable and confident expectation” or “the happy anticipation of good”1.  When we make a wish that is not what we feel, so I think it’s important to think about under what circumstances do we have confident expectation and a happy anticipation of good?  For me, that happens when I know that something I want is coming.  My husband is wonderful about getting me things that I want (he tried it the other way, getting things he wanted to get me, and somehow that just never produced the excitement he wanted!), so when a special occasion arrives and I’ve had my eye on something I have the hope described here that even though I haven’t actually received it and it’s not actually in my possession I have confident expectation and happy anticipation of being the recipient of my special gift.  If we apply that concept to Hebrews 11:1, that faith is the substance of having that confident expectation and that happy anticipation of good, that begins to provide me a glimmer of what God is wanting to express in His Word about hope.

Like we talked about previously when we studied peace, the gifts God gives us in the areas of love, peace,  and joy are not how the world has translated them to us.  Instead, they are each life giving/life changing fruits of the Spirit.  The hope that God gives is also a gift that is meant to empower us and connect us to Him and through it He is able to move and do the very things that are His intent to do.  Where I think we’ve struggled, and I can say for sure that I have struggled, is we have focused our hope on the outcome not on God.  Let’s go back to my example of my husband and his gifts.  When those special occasions come around I’m not telling everyone that I know what I want and “hoping” that someone will have enough sense to get it for me, no, instead I have all the confidence in the world in Ed and my knowledge of his character and faithfulness and desire to bring me joy and because of that I have confidence in him providing me a wonderful and beautiful gift.  How much more our Heavenly Father, than an earthly loved one, to have that type of expectation of?  In fact Jesus says in Matthew 7:11 (NKJV)  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! where He’s also telling us that if we truly understood our Heavenly Father’s character and great love for us, we would have confident expectation and happy anticipation of good!

The whole premise of this blog, the reason I started it, was because I knew that I needed a purer revelation of my Heavenly Father’s character because religion, trials, and earthly junk had warped my view of Him.  We’ve probably all heard the saying that someone’s perception is their reality, whether it’s the truth or not.  I, frankly, was tired of living in my own reality, I wanted truth because I knew that without it I was not going to be able to be all He had created me to be and do all the things He had designed me to do when He planned for me when He was creating the world.  I was tired of the enemy and the world defining for me who my Heavenly Father is and robbing me of the joy, love, peace, kindness and power that belong to me as a daughter of God.  I say all that because we will continue to see that if we truly get to know our Heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit we will realize that they are the answers to our ability to accomplish what is written in the Word.  My faith becomes substantial (meaning, “of ample or considerable amount, quantity, size, etc.; tangible; real; of solid character or quality; firm, stout, or strong“) because my hope (favorable and confident expectation) is in a God that is for me, for my family, for us as His loving creation.  Honestly, I’m getting to the place that it’s less about what the specific outcome is and more about being excited to see what God is going to do in my life and the world around me.  I’m learning to spend time with Him, read His word, hear His voice and pray the scriptures and words He is giving me about situations and circumstances and then sitting back and watching Him bring all of the pieces together.  I’m learning, and He’s probably thinking, “Finally!”,  that He is my hope!

Resources:  During this unusual time God has had Ed & I in, one book that has been transforming how we see God’s character is Joseph Prince’s, “The Power of Right Believing”.  I have seen major changes in my view and even larger transformations in Ed’s view and personality as we’ve read this scripture filled, excited about Jesus, book.  Here’s the link if you would like to read it too, it will change your life.  In fact, our daughter, Ashley, just started it!  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_18?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the%20power%20of%20right%20believing%20by%20joseph%20prince&sprefix=the+power+of+right%2Caps%2C294

A Daughter’s Prayer:  Abba, in a world of wishful thinking and dashed expectations I have lost the meaning of true hope.  Jesus came that I might have life and live it more abundantly and You desire for me to have my hope firmly and securely set in You.  I do not need to be concerned about my circumstances, my situations or any problem that I am in because You have promised over and over in Your Word that You take care of me, my family and those You have given me.  Holy Spirit, continue revealing to me the lovely character of my Heavenly Father and increase my ability to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and not the distractions of this world.  In You I have hope and in You I do hope.  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

 

Notes:  1NT:1680, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words.  Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Nearness

This week I wanted to share the provided video from Jenn Johnson of Bethel Music on the song Nearness.  A few weeks ago I provided a link to her song In Over My Head.  This entire album, which is a compilation of a number of anointed songs and singers, has been so amazing and become a daily part of my prayer time and getting into God’s presence.  I think you will find the video and the song amazing.  If you want to download the album, which I highly recommend, there’s a link in the video post.  I bought the album as well as the song videos because the beauty of the live production out in the mountains of California are as inspirational as the music.

May you be as touched and changed as we’ve been as we’ve let our Abba speak to us through this amazing music.

Steadfast

Delphiniums at Dusk

Hebrews 6:18-19 (ESV) – 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,

 

 

The definition of steadfast is resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.  I think we have been realizing with more and more confidence that our Abba is steadfast, in fact James 1:17 (NKJV) tells us  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (emphasis mine).  Our Heavenly Father has no changing in Him, He is the epitome of steadfast.  We may not always respond to situations with that thought in mind but if we can take the time to pull away from emotions and look to the truth, we will find in the Word the fact that God is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  The steadfast that I want to think about today, though, is not God’s steadfastness, but ours.  The pursuit to have in our spirits a hope that is resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.  James tells us that we should not be like the waves of the sea driven and tossed by the wind, essentially a double minded individual.  I think when it comes to testings it can be challenging to be single minded but that is what God is working to develop in us, a steadfast spirit, a single-mindedness that does not waver during difficult times.

It’s pretty frustrating to go to bed confident and wake up the next morning with frustration, anxiety or fear.  It seems to make no sense that on any given day you can be totally confident in what you feel God is doing in you and in your life but by the time you’ve had lunch all that confidence went the way of your sandwich…it just disappeared!  I don’t know about you, but I want to leave my wishy-washy ways behind, I know it’s not pleasing to God, and I certainly don’t enjoy it!  What can we do to overcome this up and down cycle and become stable, steadfast women of God?

To begin to answer that, let’s take a further look at James to see what he has to say.  James 1:13-14 says 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Here are some key things that can help us recognize what is at the root of this unhealthy cycle.  First, God is not the one causing the wild swings in our emotions.  Picture a fish on a hook and he’s being reeled in and then there’s slack and he swims back out, only to be reeled in again.  That hook in the mouth, that line and that  reel are not the work of our Heavenly Father, it’s the work of the enemy and/or the work of our own emotions which we have not learned to discipline.  I believe if we understand that God is not responsible for our ups and downs it starts the foundation of stability because regardless of what we are feeling we can always remember that our foundation is Christ who is for us and is our firm foundation, our solid rock. 

Next let’s look at the fact, in verse 14, that we are individually tempted when we are drawn away by our own desires and enticed.  Here’s what I see when I read that, I see Peter, eyes on Jesus, walking on the water until he gets distracted by the winds and the waves and turns his eyes away from Jesus to look at his situation…boom! no more walking on the water, but Peter starts to sink.  Does that sound like a familiar event?  I have a conversation or get a phone call, email or letter that reminds me of my problem my mind starts to think about that, my heart begins to beat faster and my emotions really get the ball rolling and before I know it, I’m sinking just like Peter!  Here’s the good news, though, I can begin to turn that whole scenario around by realizing that what I’m feeling isn’t God’s truth on the matter, it’s just my human response to something I feel I can’t do anything about or have no control over, but God is doing something, God can do something and God wants to!

I think the most important thing I am learning is that I need to know what God has to say about what has been done for me through Jesus.  That no matter the situation or circumstance, God is the answer and in all of this He has made a way for me to have His peace, His joy, His love and His rest.  In previous blogs I talk about a number of these topics and there are many scriptures that are there to help erect walls of stability and steadfastness on the firm foundation we talked about earlier.

Being steadfast does not mean we don’t have the opportunity to be pulled away by bad circumstances or emotions, but like it talks about in our very first scripture, Hebrews 6:18-19, it means we’ve decided to have an anchor in Him who is always steadfast!

18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,

We can be steadfast because He is steadfast and through the blood of Jesus, we are now in Him.  Peter let Jesus do the work and we can too!

A Daughter’s Prayer – Abba, again You are reminding me that my hope is in You.  In You my seas are calmed, the winds of adversity have to stop their blowing and peace is found.  I am so grateful that my steadfastness is not dependent on my abilities but by He who is always steadfast, my Jesus.  I can have Your peace, Your joy and Your rest in the most difficult situations because Jesus was victorious and I have my victory in Him.  Holy Spirit, help me remember, when I am afraid, the truth that sets me free and to pull away my attention from those things that so easily beset me back to Him who ensures that I overcome.  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.