Defining life a paragraph at a time

A New Beginning

Sunday
Oct 9,2011

A New Beginning

I. Hope
We all mess up. We say things we later wish we could take back. We do things we wish we could undo. We miss opportunities. This happens in all spheres of our lives. Sometimes we make mistakes at work, sometimes we hurt the people we love, sometimes we disappoint God.

And because we all mess up, we like to start over—to turn our backs on the past, to look forward, to hope that this time round, things are going to be better.
There’s something exciting about starting over—new challenges, new experiences, new opportunities. I love starting a new year. I have plans, things I’d like to accomplish, big challenges ahead of me. Looking back over the past year, I realise there are some things I’d like to do differently. Perhaps you’ve had similar thoughts…

I remember what it was like for me to start a new year at school: new books, new textbooks, sometimes new teachers and new subjects. And then there were all the New Year’s resolutions: This year I’m going to write neatly. I’m going to do my homework everyday. I’m going to exercise regularly. And so the list begins.

I don’t think I’m so different. I think people generally like to start over. I think that’s why young people look forward to leaving school and going to university. I suspect that’s why some people are continuously starting new relationships. Perhaps that’s why we all like opportunities to rededicate our lives to God.

For Warren and Belinda today is such a day. It’s a day heralding a new start, a new dedication—to Courtney, to each other, to God. They’ve promised to work together to give little Courtney the best opportunities—physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually.

Yes, we all like to start over. Why? Because the future holds the hope for something better.

II. Lost Hope
But things don’t always stay this way. After too many disappointments we often give up, we lose hope. A person can only start over so many times before you begin to wonder, “What’s the point? What makes you think you’re not going to mess it up again?”

Of course, people vary. The number of disappointments necessary before someone gives up hope differs from person to person.

The Bible tells a story of a lady who had reached this point, who had lost all hope:

Sighing deeply, she picks up the earthen jar and places it on her shoulder. With her free hand she opens the door. Suddenly the heat hits her and for a few seconds she can’t see a thing. Then her eyes begin to adapt to the white light outside. She bends over slightly and walks through the low door.

Outside it’s quiet. Not dead quiet—the cicadas are buzzing in the trees. But there is no-one in sight. She’s alone. She looks up and down the dusty street but doesn’t see any of the other women. With another sigh she begins to walk to the outskirts of town.

The woman is on her way to fetch water. It’s not a good time to fetch water. In fact, it’s not a good time to be outside. The sun has reached its zenith and seems to hang in the air as it beats down mercilessly on her. She could have chosen a cooler time of the day, but that would have meant facing the other women.

You see, this woman is the town’s local “bad girl”. She’s not married to the man she’s currently living with. She’s already had five husbands. Five times she’s tried to start over. Five times she’s tried to build a new life. And now she’s given up on marriage, given up on happiness, given up hope.

For her there is no turning back. No new start. No new beginning. She’s accepted her lot as an outcast. She’s learned to live without hope.

It’s tragic to admit, but this woman is not alone in reaching this point of hopelessness. After too many disappointments, it can happen to anyone. After a while, you may begin to feel that there just isn’t a new beginning for you.

III. A New Creation
However, the Bible does not agree with this feeling. In stark contrast the Bible speaks of a completely new beginning:

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor 5:17; NIV)

A “new creation”—the Greek word used here is ktisis. If anyone has dedicated himself or herself to Christ, that person is a new ktisis. The two major meanings of ktisis are: (1) the creative act, the act of creation or (2) the thing created, the creation itself.

2 Cor 5:17 thus means that when someone has decided to dedicate their lives to Jesus, Jesus begins a new “act of creation” in their lives. They aren’t merely reformed or rehabilitated. No, they are recreated. They become a brand new person from within. And they begin a brand new life.

Paul explains how this can take place in vv. 14 and 15:

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Cor 5:14-15; NIV)

This is what baptism symbolises. Your old life dies and you are buried under the water, just as Jesus was buried in the tomb. Then you stand up out of the water, just as Jesus stood up from the grave. You stand up as a new person, a new ktisis. That’s why Paul can confidently say “the old has gone, the new has come!”

When we turn back to our Bible story, we see that Jesus offered just this sort of new life to the hopeless woman:

As she nears the well, the woman notices a man sitting on the wall. She hesitates. What’s he doing there? She wants to turn away, but she needs water. With downcast eyes she walks closer. Perhaps he will just ignore her.

But He doesn’t. Instead, He asks her for some water.
Jesus should not have spoken with her. The etiquette of the day forbade it. (1) She was a woman—and a man did not speak with a woman, particularly if her husband or father were not present. (2) She was a Samaritan and He was a Jew—and the Jews and Samaritans felt the same way about each other then as the Jews and Palestinians feel about each other today. (3) She was living in sin—nobody would speak with her anymore, not even the other women in town. Jesus should not have spoken with her. But he did.

And then Jesus offers her living water—the living water which quenches a persons thirst and gives eternal life. There’re a number of Old Testament texts which refer to God as the fountain of living water (Ps 36:9; Jer 17:13) and in making this reference to living water, Jesus is actually telling her, “Hey, I’m the Messiah! I’m what you’ve been longing for! I’m what you need in your life!”

But the woman does not realise what He’s talking about. And then He begins to get too personal. He tells her about her failed marriages.

He reminds her of her past, of all her disappointments. And with each word the door to her pain is forced a little more open.

She begins to realise what He’s offering her—a brand new beginning—but the pain is just too much and she slams the door shut. In her mind she steps away from His offer and throws up a smokescreen between herself and the Messiah. She changes the topic, tries to lure Him away with a popular debate, lure Him away from her sin, lure Him away from her disappointments, lure Him away from her pain.

It’s not easy to confront our failures, our disappointments, our pain. In fact, it’s possible for us to get used to living in spiritual poverty, to live without hope. To hope again is scary. If we begin to hope again, we can be disappointed again. If we try to start over once more, we might just fail once more.
But however scary it might be to think of making a new start, that is exactly what the Bible is promising: “[I]f anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”

IV. Ambassadors for Christ
But what happens with this new creation? What happens to us after we get this chance at a new beginning?
Paul says something interesting:

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors… (2 Cor 5:17-20a; NIV)

Here is something amazing. When we make that decision to give ourselves wholeheartedly to Christ, and He begins that work of recreation in us, we become His ambassadors! We aren’t treated like the naughty boy who apologises and is then allowed back in the classroom, but in a lonely corner separated from his friends. No, instead we are entrusted with the message of reconciliation. Suddenly our lives have a larger purpose than just earning enough to live comfortably.

Back to our Bible story:

Eventually the woman at the well realises that she has met the Messiah and that He has begun to recreate her. Outwardly she looks just the same, but inside—inside she is a new creation!

She begins to change. She no longer sees herself as a hopeless outcast. Instead, she realises that she has been entrusted with a message, with wonderfully good news: The Messiah is here! God has reconciled us to Himself! God has made it all okay between us again!
And this woman who walked to the well—walked to the well without a friend, without hope, without a future—this same woman runs back to town. She has met the Messiah. She has become Jesus’ ambassador.

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 ‘‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him…
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘‘He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.
42 They said to the woman, ‘‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” (Jn 4:28-30,39-42; NIV)

When we meet Jesus as our personal Messiah, then our lives are filled with a deeper purpose, then we become His ambassadors, then we are entrusted with the message of reconciliation.

Conclusion

I could ask the question, “Where does this message leave us today?” Instead, “I am going to ask, “Where does this message find you today?”

Perhaps things are still going well. Sure, you’ve made some mistakes, you’ve messed up a little, but you’re still living with the hope that you will be able to start over, that this new year presents you with the perfect opportunity to turn over a new leaf—to drop some bad habits and pick up some good ones.

Perhaps things are falling apart. You’ve tried the starting over bit—over and over and over—and you’ve come to realise it’s just a futile attempt at making yourself feel better for a while. You’ve lost all hope in any real new beginning.

Perhaps you’ve met the Messiah. You’ve gone through the ups and downs. You’ve tried it all—you know what it’s like to promise yourself a new start, you know what it’s like to reach that point of hopelessness, of just giving up. But now you’ve met the Messiah. And suddenly you know what it is to really start over—to be a new creation.

Perhaps you’ve become His ambassador. You’ve been liberated, set free from you trust in yourself, your loss of hope. And now you can’t help but carry a message—the message that it’s okay. That God has made things right between you and Him, everyone and Him!

It doesn’t really matter where you are today, because today is a new day. Paul writes further:

6 As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says,
‘‘In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor 6:1, 2; NIV)

Today is a new day. Jesus is offering you what He offered the woman at the well—a new creation, living water. Go on. Drink it.

Who is the sponsor in your race?

Wednesday
Sep 28,2011

Life is a lot like a race, isn’t it? Think about it … our lives are so often lived in “overdrive.” We run here and there. There never seem to be enough minutes in the day to do everything that we really need to do. We have places where we need to go, places we have to take our kids. We get caught up in all of the motion of family, jobs, sports, entertainment … even church. And so often we wind up running circles around ourselves. We get wound up so tight, and so caught up in the race of life that we actually forget how to live.
Well, today is a day of beginnings. We begin the next chapter in the life. But we are also beginning a new way of studying God’s Word.

As people of the Lord, we need to be something more than “one day at a time” people. I know that was a wonderful old Kristy Lane song, but it might not be a good song to base your theology of life upon.
Yes, we ask the lord to give us each precious day … one day at a time … but we do so with the end goal in mind. We have our eyes fixed upon the end of the race. We all know that this race that we call life will end some day … it has a finish line. And all of the moments of our lives build up to and point to that moment. Because what we do …how we respond to God … our relationship with Jesus determine what comes next. You see, in reality, the finish line for this race called life is just the starting line for eternal life in heaven with our Lord. So we keep our eyes on the finish line, but we live life in the now … doing our dead-level best to make every single moment count. Amen?
Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to talk to God and ask Him to be here with us as we seek His truth today…

Now, with regard to racing, who can tell me what a sponsor is?

Now, let’s shift gears a bit. Think about your life from a spiritual and practical standpoint. If you were to identify a “sponsor” for your life, who would it be? Who should it be?
That’s what I want us to think about as we study God’s Word together today. I want each one of you to think about this question … “Who Is Your Sponsor?” Who does your life represent? If your life could be seen as a NASCAR racing car, what would be on the hood? Who would you represent in front of all the world?
Of course, you’ve probably already figured out what the correct answer should be. Your life and mine should represent the Lord Jesus Christ. All the world should know that we are about Jesus … our lives represent Him

… He is our sponsor.

Now, as we look at the word together today, we’re going to study a passage in Exodus 17. And I know what some of you are already thinking. What could anything in the Bible, much less the Old Testament book of Exodus, have in common with racing? What could it have in common with my life? Friends, this precious book tells us a lot about running this race of life.
So, today, I want us to look at a story from the life of Israel. The Exodus has already occurred. Moses wend down to Egypt land and said, “Let my people go…” And they are hot on the trail of the promised land … the land of Canaan. But there are some obstacles along the way. One early obstacle is an enemy of Israel called the Amalekites. Apparently, they didn’t care for this huge throng of people crossing through their lands. So, they attacked. Let’s read and see what happened…

Bible Reading
Exodus 17:8-15

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”

10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.”

15 Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner.
Isn’t that a curious passage? The men of Israel go out to do battle with the Amalekites. Moses watches over the battle from a nearby hilltop. And, for whatever reason, as long as his hands are up in the air the Israelites are winning. As his arms start to grow weary and droop down, they start to lose. It gets so bad that Aaron and Hur step in to help hold his arms up. And, finally, the men of Israel win a huge victory! To commemorate the victory, Moses builds an altar on that hilltop and he calls is Jehovah Nissi, which means, “The Lord is My Banner.”
What does this have to do with life? With living our lives? With running the race of life? I believe it has a lot to do with it. And there are some valuable life lessons that we can learn from this event in the life of Moses and Israel.

Bible Truths

1. This race of life has a finish line. (v. 1)
This race of life has an end. It has a goal. Just like the people of Israel. Once they were free from the bondage of slavery in Egypt, what were they trying to do? What was their singular purpose? They wanted to reach the promised land! God had promised His people a land of their own, a land so rich and plentiful that it “flowed with milk and honey.” They wanted to get there … that was their finish line. And the only way to get there was to follow wherever the Lord commanded.

And the same goes for us, doesn’t it? We have a promised land to reach. Life is good … most of the time … but eternal life with the Lord Jesus is perfect. And we are going to get there someday! Meanwhile, we live this life as best we can. And we have to follow the Lord as He directs. Why? Because He knows the way! He knows the best pat to get us successfully to that finish line.
But make no mistake about it, friend, this life is short. It has a finish line. And getting there isn’t always easy … which brings us to Bible truth #2…

2. This race of life is long, difficult, and dangerous. (vv. 8-11)

Life can really be a workout sometimes. Like comedian Flip Wilson used to say, “If I had my whole life to live over again, I don’t think I’d have the strength.”

The Israelites knew all about living a hard life. Generations in slavery. Being pursued by the Egyptians. And now, as they’re making their way toward that promised land, the Amalekites come out and attack them. It’s like they can’t catch a break!
So they had to do battle … and we have already read the story. The men are fighting. Moses is standing with his hands raised to heaven. And the battle was tough. Things went back and forth. For a while, it seemed like the Israelites could lose.
We can relate, can’t we? Sometimes, things just get so bad … so tough in our lives. Sometimes we just seem to reach the end of that rope. There’s not enough money in the checking account to pay the bills. Then a kid gets sick. The car breaks down. Someone gets laid off from work. You have a fight with a friend, and feeling are hurt. A loved one dies. This life is hard, friends. The race is long, difficult, and sometimes even dangerous. We can count on it. Even great heroes of the faith like Moses had to deal with the same, if not even greater, difficulties in life.
In water-safety courses a cardinal rule is never to swim out to a drowning man and try to help him as long as he’s thrashing around. To do so is basically to commit suicide. As long as a drowning man thinks he can help himself, he’s dangerous to anyone who tries to help him. The reason why is because his tendency is to grab the one trying to help him and the result is he ends up taking them both under the water in the process.
The correct way to rescue someone who’s drowning is to stay far enough away to where he can’t grab you. And then you wait. And when he finally gives up and quits thrashing around, you make your move. At that point the drowning man won’t work against you. Instead he’ll let you help him.

That illustration helps drive home our third lesson today …
3. Sometimes you need some help to run this race of life. (v. 12)
But as long as we’re insistent upon helping ourselves, things just seem to get tougher, don’t they? But sometimes we just don’t like help, do we? We are too private … and too prideful. We don’t want anyone to know our business. We are afraid of the vulnerability that it takes to open up to people and let them in to our lives. So what do we end up doing? We try to carry all of our own burdens … on our own. And sometimes the weight of it all crushes us. Our spirits and our backs just give out, and we crash and burn.
Even the great Moses needed a little help. Think about it, he didn’t even have to fight. All that dude had to do was stand on the hill with his arms in the air. Sounds easy enough. Until you try to do it. So what happened? When he got tired, they pulled up a stone for his to sit on. And when things got really bad, they each grabbed an arm and helped him hold them up in the air. Yes, even the great Moses … burning bush and Ten Commandments Moses … needed a helping hand.
Why should you be any better? Friend, don’t try to carry all of your burdens alone. If you are in Jesus, then you are a child of the Most High God. And you have lots of brothers and sisters. We are here to help. That’s our job. And when burdens are shared, they are reduced. So, let’s be sure to help one another along the way of this race in life.
There was a very poor man down in West Texas in the 1930s who barely made a living on a very poor sheep farm around Odessa and Midland. His name was E. L. Yates and he was so poor that he was contemplating bankruptcy and allowing the bank to repossess his farm. He was constantly worrying about how he could pay his bills and feed his family.
One day a survey crew from an oil company came to him and asked for permission to drill for oil on his property. The contract stated that he was to receive every eighth barrel if any oil was found. At 1,115 feet they hit a gusher. The well produced 80,000 barrels of oil a day! Wells soon followed that could produce twice that capacity. Even thirty years later government surveys showed wells with a capacity for 125,000 barrels a day. It proved to be one of the richest veins of oil ever found on the North American continent.
Mr. Yates owned it all! When he purchased the land the oil came with it. During all the years of poverty he was rich and didn’t know it.

Friends, whether you realize it or not. no batter how bad things may seem, Jesus has already won. You are a member of the winning team. You already have the victory. If you will just run the race with all of your heart and soul, you will find that…

4. Victory is attainable in this race of life. (v. 13)
The Israelites learned about the victory that is found in God. They had a big battle before them against a tough enemy. Moses held his arms up. Aaron and Hur helped. Joshua fought with the army. And together, they led the people to victory!
You can have victory in this life. Don’t let all of the stuff get you down. Don’t get lost in a sea of bad decisions. Don’t let life get so out of control that you completely crash and burn. You can and will win in this race of life, it you will just run it God’s way. You’re already on the winning ide, you just need to live like it!

Closing / Transition Illustration
** While Secretary of State during the Reagan presidency, George Shultz kept a large globe in his office. When newly appointed ambassadors had an interview with him and when ambassadors returning from their posts for their first visit with him were leaving his office, Shultz would test them. He would say, “You have to go over the globe and prove to me that you can identify your country.” They would go over, spin the globe, and put their finger on the country to which sent–unerringly.
When Shultz’s old friend and former Senate majority leader Mike Mansfield was appointed ambassador to Japan, even he was put to the test. This time, however, Ambassador Mansfield spun the globe and put his hand on the United States. He said: “That’s my country.” The secretary later said, “I’ve told that story, subsequently, to all the ambassadors going out. ’Never forget you’re over there in that country, but your country is the United States. You’re there to represent us. Take care of our interests and never forget it, and you’re representing the best country in the world.’ ”

We must never forget where our home and our allegiance is. Our real home is heaven, and our allegiance is to the Lord. We are his ambassadors, and we are supposed to be representing Him while we’re here.

Before we leave today, I want you to consider one last and very important question:

5. As you run this race of life, one question must always remain in your heart and mind … Does the world know who your “sponsor” is? (vv. 14-15)
After the battle was over, after the Amalekites were wiped out, God led Moses to build an altar to commemorate the event. He called the place Jehovah Nissi, which means “The Lord is My Banner.” Do you understand what that means?
In doing this, Moses was telling the whole world. “Look at this hilltop! Look at this altar. Never forget what happened here! The Lord of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob won this battle! This is all His doing! We were just a part of what God has done. It’s not about me … it’s about God! The Lord is my Banner!”
Friend, what is the banner that flies over your life? What or who does your life represent? Who is your “sponsor?” And does the world know who your sponsor is?
If you know Jesus as Savior and Lord, you have a huge responsibility. You have become an ambassador of God on this earth. Everything you say and do counts. And every word and every action in your life has one of two outcomes. Either it brings glory to God, or it shames Him. There is no in between. There is no middle ground.
So what about it? Who is your sponsor? Is Jesus in front in your life? If not, are you ready to place Him in the driver’s seat and follow His way? Or are you just going to keep going your own way … waiting for that next crash? The choice is up to you. I pray that you will choose Jesus … today.

LIFE Applications
1. Set your sights on the end goal of life. Don’t just live life day by day, look toward the finish line!
2. Don’t be ashamed to seek help as you run this race called life. We are supposed to be here for one another.
3. Never forget, Jesus has already won this race for you! Live life like a winner!
4. Make sure everyone around you knows who you serve … who your “sponsor” is.
5. Make sure you have the lifestyle to back up the claims that your mouth makes.

Fall Semister for Your New Addiction

Sunday
Jul 31,2011

Well the summer is about over and it was a great break for all of us, except for the heat but that is a different story. August we will have at least one meeting to talk of this past year this group has been going and what we can focus on in the future. The Fall will pick up with two meetings a week again.

My apologies for not posting as frequently on here as I used to, 45-60 hour weeks with travel due take a strain on a person.

Looking forward to the next few messages I will share on here and try to keep posting more often, so please check back!

Traveling

  • Filed under: Updates
Thursday
Jul 7,2011

I haven’t forgot about this site. We have been on the road lately, it is good to take a trip once in awhile. I posted some photos over at our other page The Deffinbaugh’s in Charlotte

There’s Hope

Sunday
May 15,2011

Is there any hope for someone who always has his foot in his mouth? For someone who is hot and cold? For someone who can say things that bring high praise one moment and earn a severe rebuke the next?
Well, welcome to the apostle Peter. Peter the indecisive disciple who denied the Lord, but preached the sermon that kick started the church. Peter, falsely given credit for being the Bishop of Rome and the first pope. Peter the writer of two wonderful books of the Bible.
We’re going to start this morning with the glory of our salvation, which I have entitled, “There’s Hope.”
Hope is a very necessary commodity for the well being of human life. Now admittedly people are looking in a lot of wrong places for hope in our day. See them lined up for a lottery ticket paying the poor man’s tax, and you see what I mean. People are always hoping that their ship is going to come in. There’s a saying, “When my ship comes in, I’ll probably be at the airport!”
But just because people look in the wrong places for hope, and just because a lot of people get their hopes dashed on the rocks of circumstance, does not mean that there is no hope available to every person who looks in the right direction.
That’s what this message is about this morning for I want to remind you of the surest hope in the world. Listen to Peter as his voice rings out in praise to God: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to His abundant mercy, has begotten us again unto a living hope through the resurrection of Christ from the dead.”
A living hope! A life giving hope! A hope that is sure and steadfast that is rooted and grounded in a living relationship with God.

1. A Hope That Transforms Your Life

a. This hope comes from God Himself.
Too often hope is placed in the wrong source: people have hope in themselves; they have hope in their partners; they have hope in their jobs, they have hope in their futures; they have hope in their doctors; but all of these can fail.
The hope of the Christian is rooted in the God and Father of Jesus Christ, and He can never fail. His Word is true. His promises are sure. His salvation is eternal.
b. This hope issues from His abundant mercy. “…who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope…”
Our sin is an offence to God. He could have cast us off forever. But in mercy He sent His Son Jesus into this world to become a human being like us, to live a sinless life unlike us, to give that sinless life as an atoning payment in place of us, so that we who are guilty might be declared to be innocent because we have been forgiven by the very one we offended. Abundant mercy indeed. Beyond all measure!
c. This hope brings about a new or second birth.
By our first birth we were born sinners; by our first birth we grew up to be rebels; by our first birth we could not please God, no matter how hard we tried; so God caused us to be born again through faith in Jesus Christ. By our new birth we were born as children of God. By our new birth we received a new nature of servants but even more, of sons and daughters. By our new birth, we can please God, and live for Him and worship Him, and be like Him, and go at last to live with Him forever.
d. This hope is made sure by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. “Blessed be God… who has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
If Jesus had just died on the cross, we could not have been saved. That may be shocking to say that – not saved by the death of Jesus Christ? If Jesus had just died on the cross, we could not have been forgiven. But Jesus did not stay dead. He died for us but He also rose from the dead. His resurrection proved that His sacrifice was accepted by God. His resurrection proved that our sins are really forgiven. His resurrection proved that He is able to give us new life, that we too are raised from the death of sin into the glory of new life, that He is able to keep us forever, that He is able to take us to heaven when we die.
Here then is a sure and certain hope; here is a hope that cannot fail; here is a hope that is firmly anchored in heaven in the person of Jesus Christ. Oh, dear ones, we don’t know if we will live a long life, if our health will hold, if our money will be sufficient for retirement, but we know the thing that really matters, but there is one thing we do know: we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are safe in Jesus, and the He will never fail us nor forsake us, either in this life or in all of eternity. Man! There’s hope!

2. A Hope that Assures Your Inheritance! “…to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you…”
An inheritance is something that we haven’t earned, which we receive through the death of a loved one or friend. Receiving the inheritance means someone has to die.
You’ve seen the bumper sticker on the back of a motor home that says “We’re spending our children’s inheritance”.
Well here’s an inheritance that can’t be spent. It’s guaranteed. v. 4. “To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” The NIV says it can never perish, spoil or fade.
a. It is an inheritance that is secure
This inheritance can’t be decayed away – it is incorruptible or imperishable.
This inheritance cannot be diluted away – it is undefiled.
This inheritance cannot fade away, like our money in mutual funds at the moment- it is on reserve in the bank of heaven and the interest rate is out of this world!
b. It is in an inheritance that is guaranteed
“For it is reserved in heaven for you who are kept through the power of God through faith ready to be revealed in the last time.” v. 4,5
In v. 4 our inheritance is being kept for us. In v. 5 we are being kept for our inheritance!
c. It is an inheritance that will be revealed at last.
We are being kept by God through faith – but even our faith in Christ is a gift of God.
We are being kept unto salvation- we have been saved from the penalty of our sin; we are being saved from the power of our sin; we shall be saved from the presence of our sin.
And it will be revealed at last. It will be revealed when we close our eyes in death and open them in heaven. It will be revealed when Jesus Christ comes back to receive us unto Himself. And it will be finally and fully revealed at the judgement when it is shown forth to all of creation that our salvation was not based on any merit we may have thought we had, or any works which we have done; but it is based solely and completely on the finished work of Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of His name.

3. It is a Hope that will Keep Us Going Through Every Trial;
For there are trials in the way. This life was not designed to be easy or free from difficulty or sorrow or suffering.
Too many people base their whole lives on a false philosophy, that says life should be easy. Even Christians get seduced by a false philosophy at times and wonder why they have to go through any trials. We too have struggles; we too have financial collapses; we too have people break their promises or act terribly toward us; wee too have to fret over the kids. We too face health problems. We too face death. There are no exemptions just because you are a Christian. You know that, don’t you? Life is not easy. But this hope will keep you going.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials..”
I stood in the smelter at International nickel in Sudbury, and looked into the furnace that was burning at I believe 2200 degrees. The ore was reduced to a molten mass, and the ore was separated from the slag which was poured off. Then that ore was piped over the aisle into another smelter that was heated even hotter, and again it was separated until it was 99 % pure, and even then it had to be purified still further by acid until it was completely pure.
Do you think that we can be prepared for glory more easily than nickel can be prepared for earthly use?
Here is the answer: “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found unto praise and honour and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” My friends, God is in the process of smelting you.
Oh, dear ones, all those trials which seem so hard to bear; those minor irritants that get under your skin; those persons that rub you the wrong way; those illnesses which debilitate you and rob you of strength; those losses that sadden you and madden you; all are allowed by God as part of His refining process to get you ready for glory, for in heaven there can be no impurity whatever; nothing to defile or spoil or disappoint. It is indeed a prepared place for a prepared people.
In the midst of your disappointments, take comfort in this, “God is getting me ready for glory!” and it will make the trials more easy to bear.
But if all the trials do is make you angry, and resentful and bitter, then you are robbing them of their intended benefit, and you are refusing the sanding and the grinding that is designed to polish you not only for the future but also for the present. God designs that not only in the future but in the here and now you shall show forth the grace of God in your personality, reflecting His glory in your present world so that others may look at you and learn the value of the Christianity which you claim.
When we get our pout on, we short circuit the good work of God which is designed to show through you that this Christianity really does make a difference.
4. It is a Hope that is Centred in the Person of Christ your Saviour.
“In this you greatly rejoice…that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes… may be found to praise, honour and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen, you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet, believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
“Whom having not seen you believe.”
We have not seen Jesus Christ with our physical eyes but only with the eye of faith. We shall see Jesus, but that day is not yet. But having not seen him, we love him. There is the bottom line for the Christian life. What does it mean to be a Christian? It means to love Jesus; to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. It is to love Him in spite of the fact that we have not seen Him.
Down deep inside the Christian heart is a joy that cannot really be stopped or contained. It is a joy that is not natural; a joy that is not emotional; it is a joy that is rooted in your relationship with God, and nothing that can happen to you can get down that far into your life to destroy that which God has placed there in the bedrock of your soul.
The true Christian should be the most joyous person that walks the earth. This joy should show out through your eyes, through your face, through your expression, through your body language, through everything about you. Everything about you should speak to others about your relationship to the Lord God who has saved you, through the death, burial and resurrection of His own Son.
God loves you with an everlasting love, and that should put a smile on your face and a gladness in your heart and a light in your life and a bounce in your steps that speaks about Jesus.
When we talk about witnessing, the words of your mouth are useless if they are not given reality by the reality of your soul and your spirit and your life. When your words and your life match… ah, friends at its heart, witnessing is just being you ! You, in Christ!
My friends, the glory of the Christian life… in the midst of a hopeless appearing world, man there’s hope!
Amen.

Faith with Substance

Wednesday
May 11,2011

Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Time has come to push into what God has for us all!

No more sitting back and hoping something good happens.

A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO — God really impressed me concerning the word FAITH, the Lord began to show me that FAITH is the “Substance”!

A chair has substance enough to sit on, a floor has substance enough to stand on, a car has substance enough to sit in and drive, and FAITH has substance enough to get a hold of anything we desire to receive.

Substance means there is something there to grab hold of — it is something that exists in the natural.

So — FAITH is the substance in our natural world in order to get a hold of those things in the supernatural world and bring them into our natural world.

ROMANS 4:17-21

We think that Abraham said it & UPS delivered it the next week or since it was a son — that year

BUT THE TRUTH IS ….
ABRAHAM HAD TO KEEP BELIEVING IT & SAYING IT & BELIEVING GOD FOR 25 YEARS BEFORE HE ACTUALLY SAW HIS SON ….

That is exactly what Jesus was trying to show his disciples when he told them;
Mark 11:23 (NIV)
“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.

JESUS sets no “Time Limit” on the receiving part — BUT — KEEP BELIEVING TIL — KEEP SAYING TIL ….

Jesus says it is according to “WHAT WE SAY”

What mountain do you need to start speaking to and calling into evidence for you — start speaking & believing with No Doubt that FAITH has the substance to make it happen through the power of God.

How much of God’s power
exists for you?

What Can You Believe God For & How Long Can YOU Keep Believing …. That’s How Much Power Exists For You!!

Everything about your LIFE is totally dependent on “How You See It”

Proverbs 4:20-22 (NASB)
My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their whole body.

Most people are in trouble in their lives because the WORD OF GOD has departed from before their eyes!!

Mark 11:24 (NIV)
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

If God’s Word Says,
“by whose stripes ye WERE healed”
— We Are Healed!

If God’s Word Says;
“My God shall supply ALL YOUR need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus”
— Then He Does It!

If God’s Word Says;
“The Lord is the strength of MY LIFE”
— Then He Is!!

JOSHUA 6:2-5

God gives Israel the “Promise” the “Substance” of a Victory — BUT — in order to see it — THEY would have to believe it —The Men of War would walk around it 1x for 6 days in a row — THEN — 7x around on the 7th day

This is all happening just after they have lost Moses and mourned him for 30 days and now having passed over into the Promised Land and traveled just 3 days — JERICHO

NOW — Look at …
JOSHUA 6:16
And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city.

Joshua is asking ALL the People to “SHOUT” before they see anything Happen

JOSHUA 6:20
When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city.

The SUBSTANCE OF THEIR FAITH — was in the Faith To “Shout” before they saw God Move!

How many of us can “Keep Shouting” before we see God act in our behalf?

Everybody can “Shout” after something good has happened — BUT — that takes No Faith and Carries No Substance

FAITH WITH SUBSTANCE TO RECEIVE = DEMANDS = We are able to Keep Shouting Before We See It Happen — No Matter How Long It Takes!!

What is it you have been believing God for and haven’t seen happen yet — or what is it you WERE believing God for and gave up on ever seeing it happen?
CHANGE WHAT YOU’RE DOING ….

Quit changing your mind every other day & stay firm In Your Faith Talk
Quit Worrying & Keep Believing For It
Quit murmuring, complaining & Start Shouting Again For It

Faith With Substance Brings An Umbrella When You’re Praying For Rain!

BELIEVE — SPEAK — SHOUT

‘TIL YOU GET WHAT YOU WANT FROM GOD!!!

Our Hope, Now and Forever

Saturday
May 7,2011

I want to begin by asking a question; ‘where are you going’? Do you have hope for journey’s end? As you pass through the dark shadows of this life, are you afraid? Or do you walk with a confidence that ‘home’ is just the other side?
It all comes down to this, you know; either you know that when you leave this life you will enter into eternal life with the risen Christ, or you have no hope at all for anything beyond this life, and in your soberest moments you must face the fact that life is ultimately futile.

Any other attitude about some kind of balanced, spiritual bliss, becoming one with the cosmos, or reincarnation, or even total obliteration and nothingness after death, is deception with no basis whatsoever.
We know about the hereafter from the One who has been there and came to tell us about it and then returned, or we can only speculate; because all those of us who have passed over to the other side are still there, except for that One; Jesus Christ.

Paul is addressing the Christians in Corinth, when he says that some of them say there is no resurrection. These people were in error about the most important, the most fundamental truth of the Christian faith, a misconception that could only leave them hopeless. But Paul was to establish here that there IS hope

that our faith is NOT in vain

that Christ is indeed, risen from the dead

and that because He lives, we too shall live.

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (I Corinthians 15:12-20)

WHAT IF THERE IS NO RESURRECTION?

Paul was apparently addressing some Christians who were approaching their new faith, carrying a lot of baggage from the heathen philosophies they once stuck to.

They must have supported to the teaching that Jesus of Nazareth had risen from the dead. That was the primary message of the apostles and others who had been in and around Jerusalem during that time, and had actually seen the risen Christ.

But for whatever reasons, they could not believe that His resurrection held any promise that they too would rise.
Maybe they saw Christianity as a valuable religion, when compared to philosophies and religions all around them, but that is all.

Well, it might have been enough in their thinking. After all, it didn’t call for sacrifice of small children. It seemed based on high moral standards and did not call for going in to the temple prostitutes; a practice still actively held in Corinth even at this time Paul was writing.

Maybe they saw Christianity merely as a reformation. A “turning over a new leaf” and living a more wholesome life.

I’m afraid that is how many people see Christianity today. Not only among the unsaved and unchurched, but even among many who are active members of the church.

Oh, there is no doubt that the message of Jesus rising from the dead is still out front and one of the fundamental beliefs of Christianity. Even many in the secular world know that.

Folks in the church surely know it, and they go one step further than the unchurched community and believe that they too will one day be in Heaven with Jesus.
Unfortunately, the truth of what Christ’s resurrection really means for us often does not translate into significant change in the thinking or lifestyle of the believer.

Let’s look at it this way. What if there is no resurrection from the dead? What would it be like to be a Christian then? What would we do; what would church be and mean for us, if there was no hope of a resurrection?

Well, first, I suppose our focus would all be on the here and now, wouldn’t it?
Since there would be no hope for anything after this life, then the point of Christianity would have to be whatever applies to ‘now‘.

So we’d have to start with a place to live. The church structure would have to be as pretty and as comfortable and as impressive as we could possibly make it. The larger the number of people in a congregation, of course, the more we could afford to put into the structure itself; therefore, the more impressive we could make it.

Then, since we would be in competition with all the other religions of the world, and in reality would have nothing more to offer than they, (since there is no resurrection from the dead), we would have to compete with them constantly with better music, better programs, better benefits, and a more attractive philosophy; one which does not offend or condemn or convict, but one which gives the listener a sense of peace and contentment and happiness and relief from the struggles of life. It would have to be a religion of comfort and personal satisfaction, so as not to drive potential paying members away.

After all, there is the upkeep of the structure to consider; and competitive salary and benefits for leadership and staff.

If there’s no resurrection; if there is only the here and now, then it would be important, in order to be a ‘good Christian’, to obey the rules.
But then, since there are so many different churches, and so many different types of congregations, in so many different places, then many of the rules could change from place to place, couldn’t they?
For some the rules would be very stringent, and for others not quite so tight.
A person could go to one place where a woman wearing slacks is shunned, and feel quite comfortable there; but another person would see that as absurd, and go to a place where the rules are more relaxed.

You might look for a church where musical instruments are frowned upon, because you don’t like the sound of pianos and organs and guitars and drums anyway. Or, you might be a real music lover, and you want to be someplace where someone is going to sing for you or play for you every Sunday.

You might even subscribe to going to church on some other day of the week because it would be more comfortable for you. But it wouldn’t be based on any perceived religious truth. These decisions wouldn’t be based on any real convictions, because, after all, this is all there is. So why shouldn’t every man do what seems right in his own eyes?

Oh, there would be some rules common to all, for the sake of maintaining the Christian ‘identity’. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” That would be a good rule to follow, wouldn’t it?
Or would it? If there was no resurrection, then the boundaries would be significantly smaller. For example; if I am dealing with someone old, and I know that soon they are going to die and I’ll never see them, nor they me, again, then I don’t have to be quite as careful about how I treat them, do I?

The rules are all open to some degree of interpretation, because they have no eternal value. How can rules have an eternal value, if there’s no one in eternity to benefit or suffer from the degree the rules were adhered to in this life?

If there’s no resurrection, then when it comes right down to it, the only consequences I’ll pay for disobeying the rules, are those natural consequences I bring upon myself here.
Am I willing to lose a friendship, or pay a fine, or break a heart, or spend some time in jail, or ruin a life so that I can enjoy some temporary personal gratification? Then why not just throw the Golden Rule out the window? It means nothing to anyone, if it means nothing eternally.

In fact, if there is no resurrection, then who cares what the other guy thinks at all? If he wants to start a day care in the church, but I think that would be unreasonable or unprofitable, why not kill him to have my will done?
Ok, I don’t want to go to prison or anything, so maybe I’ll just kill him with my tongue. Maybe I’ll just talk to other people about how inadequate he is; maybe spread some vicious rumors about his character; until he goes away or other people reject him and ignore him…then I’ll win.

Why not, if there is no resurrection?

But you know what? If there is no resurrection from the dead, if this is all there is, then that song makes all the sense in the world. For what is the point in even attempting to live the Christian life, if this is all there is?

“For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”

Christians, you find a quiet place later, and you ask yourself these questions.
“Do I live as though this is all there is?”
“What are the most important things to me?”
“What are the essentials? What are the things I would not give up if a gun were put to my head? And are those the things I give priority; or do I focus my life on what is passing away?
“Do I treat my fellow Christians as though I’m going to spend eternity with them?”
“Do I feel an urgency to call others to Christ, because I know that there is a resurrection, and that if they reject Christ they will spend eternity in torment?”
“What does my religion consist of? Relationship with the risen Christ; or in structures and programs and rituals and rules…as though this is all there is?”

Well I’m here to assure you today that,
THERE IS A RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD

How do I know?
Because my Redeemer lives.
So very much as been said and will be said about the resurrection and eternal life, but that is the simplest and most profound statement that could be made, as convincing proof of our future hope.

Because He is risen, we too shall rise.
I want you to listen to these words of Paul, and while listening I want you to keep in mind that he was writing during a time where there were still many people alive who could easily have refuted his claims, had they not been true. In fact, he says in verse 6 of this chapter that many of them who had seen the risen Jesus were still alive, so I’m sure that many who still wished Him dead were still around also.
Fact is. most of them kept their mouths shut because they knew the truth.

“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received; in which also you stand; by which also you are saved; if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now; but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”

There are so many convincing proofs of the resurrection of Jesus, that denial of the fact only exposes one’s ignorance.

In just these opening lines of chapter 15, Paul sets forth that all these things that happened in Jerusalem were simply fulfillment of what the prophets said would happen. Jesus died for our sins, He was buried in the ground, and He rose again, bodily, from the dead.
He appeared to more than 500 people at once, and most of them were still alive and available. When a writer wants to be credible, he quotes credible sources. Paul would have been an utter fool to assert that 500 people who are still around would be willing to attest to the resurrection of Christ, unless he knew for a certainty that they would do so.
Then he names names. James saw Him…go talk to James. The other apostles saw Him. Go talk to them. They were with Him constantly for over three years. They saw Him die. They have seen Him alive…and have even eaten with Him, touched Him, spoken with Him. Go ask them.

If that isn’t enough; do you want personal testimony? He appeared to me also. What a wonderful, though undeserved honor that was! He appeared to me, not fit to be called an apostle because I persecuted His church. But I’ve seen Him.
There are so many other convincing proofs.
Those who hated Jesus never officially refuted the resurrection, except to say that His disciples had stolen the body. By saying that, they confirmed that the tomb was empty.
If they didn’t believe He had risen, they would have opened the tomb themselves, and brought out the decaying body to show everyone and quash all rumors for good.

If they really thought the disciples had stolen the body, they had the resources and the authority to arrest the disciples and torture them, one by one, until someone revealed where the body had been taken.
Did they ever do this; even with one of the disciples? NO.

What about the gospel writers? If these people were lying, …if this was a fabricated myth, told for gain and profit, the story would have had a lot more flair.

What fiction writer wouldn’t include at least one witness to the fact, so they could talk about the loud ‘bang’, or the blinding flash of light, or the singing angels or the voice of God coming through the clouds when Jesus rose?
What fiction writer wouldn’t have had Him appearing first to Peter, or to John, or to Pilate or Caiaphas, instead of little reformed prostitute, Mary Magdalene in the quiet privacy of the garden?

Wouldn’t at least one of these apostles have tried to avoid the fact that they were still cowering like frightened dogs in a thunderstorm, when Mary and the others rushed in to announce that their Lord had risen from the dead? Wouldn’t at least one of them have said something like, “…as I was sharpening my sword in preparation for assassinating Pilate…” or some other macho thing like that?

We don’t have time for a great discourse on all the proofs of the resurrection of Jesus. I know that in your heart you know it is true.

But more; THERE IS RESURRECTION FOR US.
His resurrection assures our resurrection.

“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.”

The festival of “Firstfruits” is celebrated 2days (or, on the third day) after Passover.
The Passover lamb is slain, the blood sprinkled, the Passover dinner is eaten, and on the third day, the people take the first fruits of their crops before the Lord as a wave offering.

Now this was what they were thanking Him for, and I want you to pay close attention to the type of Christ here;

The first fruits were the early fruits of Spring, that came before the main crop. Seeing the early fruit was a promise of the fuller harvest to come. Therefore, when they took the first fruits into the temple and waved them before the Lord, they were thanking Him for this promise of a later harvest.

They were not allowed to eat of the first fruits, or partake of any of the crops until after the feast of Firstfruits; after they had given thanks to God for them.

Two days (or on the third day) after our Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, was crucified, He rose; the first fruits…the pledge or promise from God, of a greater harvest, when all the saints will be ‘harvested’, when they raise from the dead in the last day.

This is our great hope, Believer in Christ. It is a hope, not just for now, but forever.
You see, it is not a hope, as in waiting to see if a desired event will take place. It is a hope which is an assurance, a settled conviction, a confidence. And our confidence is in our risen Lord both now and forever.

“If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied”
But don’t you pity us; because our hope is most certainly not in this life only; but in eternity in the presence of the Living God; as the latter harvest of our Lord and King; according to the promise presented by the first fruits of the resurrection; Jesus Christ our risen Savior!

Now as I close I want to point out something very important. All men everywhere will rise on the last day; not just the Christians.

Dan 12:2 says this: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake; these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”

There is not escape. There is not rest. There is not even merciful oblivion for the one who rejects God and His promise of forgiveness through the shed blood of His Son.

There will be a resurrection for them also; but it will be a resurrection to judgment and then terrible, eternal separation from God, and consignment to the Lake of Fire.

If you’re here today and you’ve never confessed your sin to God and received His free gift of eternal life through faith in that shed blood and death of Christ, then today is the day of salvation. Today is the day you need to turn to Him, the first fruits of the resurrection to eternal life for all who believe. Don’t miss this opportunity. You never know what opportunity will have been your last.

Believer, knowing that Jesus is the first fruits of the resurrection and that therefore your great and undying hope for eternity is in Him; how should your faith be expressed?
Has your focus been on the forms and rituals of religion? Do you often relate to your fellow believers and men in general as though this is all there is; and there is no resurrection to eternal life?
Where is your focus? What are your priorities?

These are things for you to take before God and honestly ask Him to reveal in you, tendencies toward faithless living; and ask Him to make real to your mind and heart the precious truth that because He lives, you too shall live, and therefore everything, everything, everything, should be measured, categorized, implemented, disposed of, dealt with, in light of that eternal truth.

This is your hope, now and forever: BECAUSE HE LIVES, YOU TOO SHALL LIVE!

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord”. I Cor 15:58

The Source Of Hope

Saturday
Apr 30,2011

People in difficult circumstances often rely on advice of
· friends
· neighbors
· and experts

Hope is vital – in fact it’s critical – for our every day survival in life.

God understands that. That’s why, in Romans 15:4 we’re told: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have HOPE.”
When we speak of this type of hope. We’re not talking about the kind of hope we have when driving and hope someone does not run into us.
That’s not the kind of hope that God talks about. His kind of “hope” could best be described as an attitude of confidence, expectation, and trust.

In Job 6:11-13, Job says: “What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient? Do I have the strength of stone? Is my flesh bronze? Do I have any power to help myself, now that success has been driven from me?”

Job was saying that if he had Godly hope, he would be confident and he would live expecting good things to happen.

Proverbs 29:18 tells us “Where there is no vision the people perish.” That is, without hope, people huddle up in the corner and die. No vision/ hope – no life.

Turn to Hebrews 6:17-20. We’re told there:

“Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.
God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the HOPE offered to us may be GREATLY ENCOURAGED. We have this hope as an ANCHOR FOR THE SOUL, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

Our hope, as Christians, is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 13 tells us that one of the three greatest gifts God gives us is “hope.”

Thus Hope is such a valuable gift from God… I want to know how I can get that kind of Hope.

I. Romans 15:4 says we gain hope by “Endurance”
It is God’s good pleasure to give you the desire of your hearts. BUT, it is God’s practice not to always give us what we want when we want it. Thus we learn to wait upon God and learn endurance.

But, why would God delay fulfilling that which we hope for?

* One possible reason would be: so that we would gain “appreciation”

for what He gives when it arrives. For example, when God created Adam, He didn’t immediately give him Eve. We’re told: “The LORD God said, ’It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’” (Genesis 2:18). Then, almost inexplicably, God asks Adam to name all the animals. What? Couldn’t God figure out names for all these creatures? Sure He could. But God wanted Adam to see and review all the rest of creation BEFORE Eve was taken from his side. Thus, when Adam first sets his eyes on Eve, he declares: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘for she was taken out of man” (Genesis 2:23). God delayed in creating Eve, so that Adam would fully understand and appreciate the value of what he was to receive.

* Another possibility would be our need for purification and strengthening. Romans 5:1-5 tells us:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

God’s delays serve to prepare us to handle the responsibilities of our desires and the gifts we receive from God.

Whenever we are young we think it would be great to drive a car or have a job – at the time we are not mature yet to have a car or work. So also, many of the things we desire in this life – we’re not ready to handle yet. We’re not mature enough.

II. Romans 15:4 tells us that another way to gain God’s kind of Hope is through the encouragement of Scripture.

Psalm 119 reinforces this truth:
43 “Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws.”

74 “May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.”

81
” My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.”

114
“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.”

147
“I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.”

Not only can we hope IN His word we can obtain hope FROM His word.

Here is an interesting story from Guideposts: “It was a beautiful spring day, and a sense of peace stayed with me as I left the cathedral on Easter Monday morning. I paused for a moment on top of the steps leading to the avenue, now crowded with people rushing to their jobs. Sitting in her usual place inside a small archway was the old flower lady. At her feet corsages and boutonnieres were parading on top of a spread-open newspaper. The flower lady was smiling, her wrinkled old face alive with some inner joy. I started down the stairs – then, on impulse, turned and picked out a flower. As I put it in my lapel, I said, “You took happy this morning.”
“Why not? Everything is good.”
She was dressed so shabbily and seemed so very old that her reply startled me.
“You’ve been sitting here for many years now, haven’t you? And always smiling. You wear your troubles well.”"
“You can’t reach my age and not have troubles.” she replied. “Only it’s like Jesus and Good Friday. .. ’ She paused for a moment.
“Yes?” I prompted.
“Well. when Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, that was the worst day for the whole world. And when I get troubles I remember that. and then I think of what happened only three days later-Easter and our Lord arising. So when I get troubles, I’ve learned to wait three days … somehow everything gets all right again.”
And she smiled good-bye. Her words still follow me whenever I think I have troubles. Give God a chance to help… wait three days.

The Word of God fills us with hope because it gives us examples of the faithfulness of God and the way in which He can and will work in our lives. For example:

There is Principle that repeated regularly throughout scripture. It is a description of how almost all the great lives of God’s people went through a 3 stage process.
First there was a vision given of great potential. One man described this as “the birth of a vision.”
Next, the vision, the hope that was placed in the future of their hope, was destroyed (the death of the vision).
And lastly, their was the fulfillment of the original vision.
Consider the promise Abraham received that he and his wife would have a son. Abraham believed the promise originally, but when God visited him on the plains, Genesis 18:11 tells us “Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.” 9 months later, Isaac was born in fulfillment of the vision.
At the age of 17, Joseph received a vision that prophesied he would be a man of greatness. Almost immediately, his brothers began to hate him, and when the opportunity arose – they sought to kill him and ended up selling him into slavery. Later, when his brothers were reunited with him, Joseph calmed their fears that he would seek revenge by saying: “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
At a very young age, David was given the promise of Kingship by Samuel. But once he was introduced to Saul – when he came close to the throne he’d been promised – he spent the next several years running and in exile from a man who sought to kill him. But in due time, God came through on His promise.
And, of course, there is the story of Jesus who came to become the King of Israel. But, rejected by the people and plotted against by their leaders, He suffered and died a terrible death. Three days later (as the woman on Easter noted) everything changed, and the promise was fulfilled.

So, we attain God’s kind of Hope by Endurance, by the Encouragement of Scripture… and lastly

III. Romans 15:1-2 tells us we attain God’s Hope by true servanthood.

Do you remember what the Disciples always seemed to be arguing about? Who is the greatest? Jesus replied: “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:25-27)

Servanthood is God’s way of making us great. That’s because God created us to be happiest, and most fulfilled, and most at peace, when we learn to serve others
In the town of Port Hope, Canada there is a monument erected, not for the leading citizen who just died, but for a poor, unselfish working man who gave most of his life and energy to help those who could not repay him.
Joseph Scriven was born in Dublin 1820. In his youth, he had the prospect of a great citizen with high ideals and great aspirations. He was engaged to a beautiful young woman who had promised to share his dream, but on the eve of their wedding her body was pulled from a pond into which she had accidentally fallen and drowned. Young Scriven never overcame the shock. Although a college graduate and ready embark on a brilliant career, he began to wander to try to forget his sorrow. His wanderings took him to Canada where he spent the last forty-one of his sixty-years. He became a very devout Christian. His beliefs led him to do servile labor for poor widows and sick people. He often served for no wages.
It was not known that Mr. Scriven had any poetic gifts until a short time before his death. A friend, who was sitting with him in an illness, discovered a poem he had written to his mother in a time of sorrow; not intending that anyone else should see it. His poem was later set to music and has become a much loved Gospel song. It is said to be the first song that many missionaries teach their converts. In polls taken to determine the popularity of hymns and Gospel songs, his poem set to music is always near the top.
What was his poem?
What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry, Everything to God in prayer.
Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear;
All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer.

In Closing Romans 15:13 states “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
THE KEY – to true Hope is to focus on God

Hope

Monday
Apr 25,2011

APR 30, 2011

11:00 am -1:00 pm (EDT)

Anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  (Hebrews 11:6)

In the first principle, we admitted we were powerless.  Now in the second principle, we come to believe God exists, that we are important to Him, and that we are able to receive God’s power to help us recover.  It’s in the second step we find HOPE!

Principle 2:  Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover.  “Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”  (Matthew 5:4)

Step 2: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. “”uc”>For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose”  (Philippians 2:13)

How do we find hope?  By faith in our our Higher Power, Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 11:1)

Faith with Substance

Monday
Apr 25,2011

Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Time has come to push into what God has for us all!

No more sitting back and hoping something good happens.

A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO — God really impressed me concerning the word FAITH, the Lord began to show me that FAITH is the “Substance”!

A chair has substance enough to sit on, a floor has substance enough to stand on, a car has substance enough to sit in and drive, and FAITH has substance enough to get a hold of anything we desire to receive.

Substance means there is something there to grab hold of — it is something that exists in the natural.

So — FAITH is the substance in our natural world in order to get a hold of those things in the supernatural world and bring them into our natural world.

ROMANS 4:17-21

We think that Abraham said it & UPS delivered it the next week or since it was a son — that year

BUT THE TRUTH IS ….
ABRAHAM HAD TO KEEP BELIEVING IT & SAYING IT & BELIEVING GOD FOR 25 YEARS BEFORE HE ACTUALLY SAW HIS SON ….

That is exactly what Jesus was trying to show his disciples when he told them;
Mark 11:23 (NIV)
“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.

JESUS sets no “Time Limit” on the receiving part — BUT — KEEP BELIEVING TIL — KEEP SAYING TIL ….

Jesus says it is according to “WHAT WE SAY”

What mountain do you need to start speaking to and calling into evidence for you — start speaking & believing with No Doubt that FAITH has the substance to make it happen through the power of God.

How much of God’s power
exists for you?

What Can You Believe God For & How Long Can YOU Keep Believing …. That’s How Much Power Exists For You!!

Everything about your LIFE is totally dependent on “How You See It”

Proverbs 4:20-22 (NASB)
My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their whole body.

Most people are in trouble in their lives because the WORD OF GOD has departed from before their eyes!!

Mark 11:24 (NIV)
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

If God’s Word Says,
“by whose stripes ye WERE healed”
— We Are Healed!

If God’s Word Says;
“My God shall supply ALL YOUR need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus”
— Then He Does It!

If God’s Word Says;
“The Lord is the strength of MY LIFE”
— Then He Is!!

JOSHUA 6:2-5

God gives Israel the “Promise” the “Substance” of a Victory — BUT — in order to see it — THEY would have to believe it —The Men of War would walk around it 1x for 6 days in a row — THEN — 7x around on the 7th day

This is all happening just after they have lost Moses and mourned him for 30 days and now having passed over into the Promised Land and traveled just 3 days — JERICHO

NOW — Look at …
JOSHUA 6:16
And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city.

Joshua is asking ALL the People to “SHOUT” before they see anything Happen

JOSHUA 6:20
When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city.

The SUBSTANCE OF THEIR FAITH — was in the Faith To “Shout” before they saw God Move!

How many of us can “Keep Shouting” before we see God act in our behalf?

Everybody can “Shout” after something good has happened — BUT — that takes No Faith and Carries No Substance

FAITH WITH SUBSTANCE TO RECEIVE = DEMANDS = We are able to Keep Shouting Before We See It Happen — No Matter How Long It Takes!!

What is it you have been believing God for and haven’t seen happen yet — or what is it you WERE believing God for and gave up on ever seeing it happen?
CHANGE WHAT YOU’RE DOING ….

Quit changing your mind every other day & stay firm In Your Faith Talk
Quit Worrying & Keep Believing For It
Quit murmuring, complaining & Start Shouting Again For It

Faith With Substance Brings An Umbrella When You’re Praying For Rain!

BELIEVE — SPEAK — SHOUT

‘TIL YOU GET WHAT YOU WANT FROM GOD!!!