Monday, April 30, 2012
Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Hope—we can't live life without hope. But to many people hope is nothing but wishful thinking. Some hope they win the lottery or a raffle. To the believer in Christ Jesus, however, it is a different type of thinking. God has established a way that we can know that what He has provided to us in Christ Jesus can become a reality in our lives. It is the biblical term identified as “hope”.
According to Strong's concordance this is the meaning of the biblical word “hope”
Hope—elpis means hope, not in the sense of an optimistic outlook or wishful thinking without any foundation, but in the sense of confident expectation based on solid certainty. Biblical hope rests on God's promises. Hope is never inferior to faith, but is an extension of faith. Faith is the present possession of grace; hope is confidence in grace's future accomplishment.
Hope, then can be described as “confident expectation based on a solid certainty”. What might that “solid certainty” be? It is the Word of God. That's where we find His promises to us. We are confident that what He has promised us in the Word will come to pass. He is the God of hope! That means that He is the originator of our hope and we can have joy and peace while we are waiting on His promises to be manifested in our lives.
The amplified Bible gives Romans 15:13 as this:
May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.
Faith and hope go hand in hand. Hope believes in the promise and faith is the vehicle by which that promise comes to us. Grace provides; hope is confident that it will happen and faith sees it as done! Wow! What a way to live; so filled with confident expectation in God's promises that our lives are filled to overflowing with joy and peace while we wait and our faith embraces it as if it were already here!
So, how can we know for sure that God will do what He has said? First, we find in His word that He is faithful to do what He has said.
2 Corinthians 1:18-20 But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.
God is faithful and the promises of God in Christ Jesus are Yes and Amen! God has given us His Word and stands behind it to perform it in our lives.
Second, God watches over His word to perform it. Jeremiah 1:12 AMP: “Then said the Lord to me, You have seen well, for I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it.” God is serious about making sure His word comes to pass in our lives. What He has promised He will do.
So, God will be faithful to do in our lives what He has promised. But what part do we play in seeing these promises come to life in us? We must stand in faith believing until we see the manifestation of what He has promised.
Hebrews 10:35-39 Therefore, do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
God says the reason we must keep hope alive within us is because it enables us to endure and we must have endurance to stand in faith until the promise comes. We must endure to the end so we will receive the promise. Walking by faith is being confidently expectant that what God has promised He will do until we see it happen in our lives. We must believe in order to please God.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Faith and hope go together! Hope is confident of what God has promised and faith brings it into manifestation. Without faith we cannot please God. We must first believe that He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do and then we must believe that He rewards us when we diligently seek Him for something. God has set us up to win! Whatever we see in His word that He has promised to us as a believer we can be assured it is ours! The hope that He gives will carry us through to the end, spilling out of us onto those around us. Hope is contagious! When others see what God is doing in us they will want to have that same kind of hope within them. It is life-giving!
My friend, what is it that God has promised you that you have not yet seen manifested? Are you confident that what He has said will come to pass? That is the beginning. Have faith in God; He will do what He has promised.
Father, I am so thankful today that I have seen the manifestation of Your promises so many times in my life. You are faithful to keep Your word. Today, I pray that my Spark Friends will rely only on You, Father. That they will trust You, Lord, to do what You have said in their lives. I pray that You will help them continue to endure, standing in faith, believing while waiting for the promise to arrive. Thank You for filling them with joy and peace while they are waiting. Thank You, for Your goodness to us, Father. You are awesome, Lord God! I praise You for what You are doing in each of our lives. Thank You, Lord, for watching over Your word to perform it in each of us. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Thinking about changing back over the the Weight Watchers program from counting calories. Any suggestions on which is better? Does anyone know how to keep track of my points on SP? All I can come up with is SP's program to count my calories, but can't see any way to adjust that to the point value of WW. I've been on Weight Watchers before and had good success. Thanks, friends! I appreciate your support!
Sunday, April 29, 2012
The Attitude Indicator is a very important gauge in an airplane, It shows the pilot exactly where the airplane is in relation to the earth's horizon. It helps the pilot to know whether the airplane is going up or down, to the left or right and at what angle. If the attitude is up the nose of the airplane pulls up; likewise, if it is down the airplane is heading down towards the earth and if not corrected, will crash.
Yesterday was one of those “attitude” days for me. It started out good with expectations of a fun day, but ended up in a “nose dive”. Several disappointments created a “negative attitude” with the potential for a crash! My attitude had a serious problem!
Most of the time I am able to correct my attitude without much effort. Just re-focus my eyes on Jesus, starting praising the Lord and my attitude changes. Yesterday I failed to make the necessary changes and by the end of the day was in a pickle.....not a sweet pickle, but a sour, dill pickle!
I like the attitude of the apostle Paul. He said, when speaking of all the bad things that happen to him, in Acts 20:24:
“But none of these things move me; or do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
Paul experienced great persecutions while serving the Lord. We're not talking about having a “bad hair” day here! He was beaten, persecuted, imprisoned and chained to a Roman soldier! And yet, his attitude was that “none of these things move me”. He didn't allow the negative occurrences of his life to drive him to a “negative attitude”. Instead he said in Philippians 3:8- 16:
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
Paul said he counted all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord! He saw the tribulations of his life as nothing compared to His relationship with the Lord. His attitude was to let it roll off because he had a higher calling. The things of this world had no hold on him; he learned the secret of being content in all situations because the most important aspect of his life was that of attaining what Christ Jesus had died to give him. The one thing that enabled him to move forward through all the “yuck” of life was that he learned to forget the things that happened yesterday and embrace today for the “prize” that the call of God on his life held. He said “goodbye” to the old and “hello” to the new!
We see Paul's attitude further described in Philippians 4:4-8:
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Paul rejoiced in the Lord always! He didn't moan and groan about the bad things, but took those things before the Lord and allowed God to take care of them for him. I did pray yesterday about the computer problems I was having and God directed me to call HP for assistance, and even though the warranty was out the technician said their system was down and they were offering free help to all who called yesterday. Praise the Lord, he was able to help me get the issue resolved without charging me for it!
Verse 8 is very important in determining our attitude and how we “feel”. What we think on, or meditate on will determine where our feelings go. I noticed on SP this morning that they had a blog entitled “Think Yourself Fit” and it is on how your thoughts affect your body. If we continually think on the negative happenings in our lives we will go downhill! But if we think, as Paul instructed, in Philippians about things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely and of good report; those things that are virtuous and praiseworthy, we will have peace and experience a “positive attitude”.
Today I choose to make it a better day! I choose to think on the good things and not allow the disappointments of yesterday to ruin my day today.
Father, first I ask You to forgive me for allowing the negative happenings of yesterday to affect my attitude. Please forgive me for not doing what I know is right in overcoming the wiles of the devil to throw me off course for my day. I thank You for allowing me to see the error of my ways and for giving me another opportunity to experience a good day today! Father, please help us to see beyond the negative aspects of life to what You have for our futures. The good that You have planned for us in knowing You is worth the minor trials that we experience on a day to day basis. Help us to keep our focus on You, Lord. Thank You for this “Lord's Day”! I will make it a good day, Father! In Jesus' name. Amen.
Saturday, April 28, 2012
2 Corinthians 2:14-17 NLT But thanks be to God, who made us His captives and leads us along in Christ's triumphal procession. Now wherever we go He uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Good News like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those being saved and by those perishing. To those who are perishing we are a fearful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? You see, we are not like those hucksters—and there are many of them—who preach just to make money. We preach God's message with sincerity and with Christ's authority. And we know that the God who sent us is watching us.
Paul says in this portion of Scripture that those of us who belong to Christ are a fragrance to not only God, but to those around us. He says we are the fragrance of Christ, a sweet perfume to those who are being saved, but a fearful smell of death and doom to those who are perishing. I often think about that when I wonder what kind of testimony I am to those around me. Sometimes we seem to grate on people's nerves, so to speak. We are like sandpaper to sand off the rough edges. Jesus said in Matthew 10:34:
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. “For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law”, “and a man's enemies will be those of his own household.”
Jesus didn't sugarcoat His reason for being sent by God to save mankind. He made it very clear that there would be a distinction between those followers of His and the general population. He was a fragrance that made a difference in the hearts and lives of people. As His followers, we too, express a fragrance, that of death to some and life to others. To those who are perishing we are a constant reminder of their doom and to some who are running from the Lord and not ready to receive Him we will repel. But to those who are being saved, we send out the aroma of life and they identify with us and are drawn to the life of Christ Jesus within us.
Regardless of what our fragrance does to people we should not be disappointed when we are not received by everyone. There are times when I speak the Word of God to someone and find myself shunned and rejected by them. It is disappointing but Paul said in Galatians 1:10 that his desire in preaching the gospel was not to please people, but to please God. We can either choose to be people-pleasers or God-pleasers. I would rather say what God has instructed me to say that will set people free from the bondage that they are under than to sugar-coat the gospel and cause them to stay in their bondage. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't speak the truth in love, being considerate of their feelings, but that we should desire to see them set free more than we desire their friendship.
Paul records in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5: Dear brothers and sisters, when I came to you I didn't use lofty words and brilliant ideas to tell you God's message. For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. I did not use wise and persuasive speeches, but the Holy Spirit was powerful among you. I did this so that you might trust the power of God rather than human wisdom.”
You see, the pre-eminent thought in our minds should and must be Jesus Christ, not another person's thoughts, feelings or actions. For us to come before others and share Jesus with them in a way that is effective we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and not our own human understanding. It is not my words that have an effect on people around me; it is Him speaking through me that brings the lost to salvation, that sets prisoners free and delivers people from bondage. It is His fragrance being expressed through me that brings results; not anything that I would do in my own limited abilities.
This morning, Father, I want to thank You, first and foremost, for making me a triumph of your conquest; a part of Your triumphal procession; a trophy of Your victory on the cross over death, hell, and the grave. I thank You for making me Yours! I pray that I may forever express Your fragrance to those around me. Father, help me to depend on You and You alone for the witness that You are in me and I am in You. Help me, Lord, to express You to those that I come into contact with in a way that will bring the lost to salvation and the saved to their destiny in You. May Your Spirit so flow through me that others experience the power of God in their lives and not simply my own human wisdom. Father, I pray for my Spark Friends this morning, that You would reign supreme in their hearts and lives. Father, for those who don't know You, I ask that You would draw them by Your Spirit to a saving knowledge of Jesus. For those who are Yours, Father, I pray that they will be that fragrance unto God and those around them of the life of Christ, that fragrance that draws the perishing to You and gives hope and life to those who are experiencing turmoil and tribulation in their lives. Help us together, Lord, to express the fragrance of Christ in our world. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Friday, April 27, 2012
You are awesome in this place, Mighty God. You are awesome in this place, Abba Father. You are worthy of all praise; to You our lives we raise. You are awesome in this place, Mighty God.
We often sing this chorus in our pre-service prayer time at church on Sunday mornings. It is an older worship song but has so much meaning to me. God is awesome! He is the One true God! There is none above Him!
As I think about my life as a new believer and how He led me to grow in Him, the scripture comes to mind in John 17:3 where Jesus is praying for Himself, His disciples and those who would follow after them:
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Eternal Life – Life without end of existence or duration; everlasting; endless; immortal; perpetual; ceaseless; continued without intermission.
Jesus said the life without end; that life that is everlasting is knowing God and Himself. When you look at that word “know” in the Greek it is the word “ginosko” and according to Strong's concordance it means:
Ginosko – To perceive, understand, recognize, gain knowledge, realize, come to know. Ginosko is the knowledge that has an inception, a progress, and an attainment. It is the recognition of truth by personal experience.
I think many times when a person becomes “born again” or “saved” that they have a tendency to think that there is nothing more to do than say the prayer and you're in; safe, nothing more to it than this. But Jesus said that eternal life is more than just saying a prayer, it is a progression of knowing someone. That someone is the Father and the Son and it comes through personally experiencing them. That personal experience is ushered in through the presence of the Spirit of Christ or the Holy Spirit. We come to know people through spending time with them. Ginosko is knowledge obtained not by mere intellectual activity, but by operation of the Holy Spirit upon acceptance of Christ. When you receive Jesus as your own personal Savior His Spirit comes to live within you. It is at that time that eternal life begins; not when you die. Eternal life is an ongoing life lived as God's Spirit leads you into a deeper knowledge and understanding of Him.
This word “ginosko” is used in Matthew 1:25 where the Bible records the story of Joseph and Mary and is talking about Joseph not having intimate relations with Mary until after she had brought forth her firstborn Son. It is the word depicting marital intimacy, showing us that “ginosko” is that intimate relationship between a husband and wife. In the same way, Jesus is speaking to us about knowing Him as being an intimate, spiritual relationship. He uses this term for intimacy to tell us that our relationship with the Father, through Him and by His Spirit should be one of growing closer through out eternity. It is a growing time where we become closer and closer. When we cross over from this life to the next our spirit continues to live just as it has in our earthly body. We simply change residences. We move from earth to Heaven; from mortality to immortality. But as we go through this life on earth we should be growing spiritually in our relationship with the Lord.
Are you growing closer to God every day, or has your life become mundane, stagnant, without meaning or purpose? Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came to give us life and that more abundantly.
Abundantly – superabundance, excessive, overflowing, surplus, over and above, more than enough, profuse, extraordinary, above the ordinary, more than sufficient.
Wow, what a life! We are to live above the ordinary in Him. Our life in Jesus is to be excessive and overflowing. Do those around you see an overflowing believer in you? Or are you always living “under the circumstances”? Life in Christ, that eternal life, is an ever-living, abundant, profuse life. He died that we might know Him; really come to experience Him so that He can spill over out of us onto others around us. Our life in Jesus is to reflect Him; to flourish and show others that He is the One true God; that He is awesome in the place of home, work, church, community and relationships. He is life and life itself and we are in Him!
Father, I thank You this morning for being awesome to me! You are the One true God and there is none above You or beside You. I thank You for leading me into a living and vital relationship with You through Your Spirit Who lives within me. This morning I pray for my Spark Friends that may be stuck in a mundane relationship with You that You would fuel the fire within them for a deeper understanding of Who You are and want to be to them. Cause them to burn within with a hunger and thirst for You that is unquenchable; a desire to grow in their relationship with You. Place people around them who would encourage them to know You more, to experience that life in You in a deeper way. Thank You for growing them into the people that You want them to be. In Jesus' name. Amen.
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