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The God of Hope

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

When you hear people argue about God being a man-made construct I always wonder what they think about the concept of hope.  Hope, in general, is experienced by other animals in simplistic forms.  My dog hopes that a piece of my dinner will fall off my plate in to his mouth.  And given his level of whining and drooling his hopefulness can get pretty intense.  But if my dog were to say, get cancer, would he understand the hopefulness of being cured?  When my previous dog, Molly was old and ill we called in a woman who does home euthanasia.  As the drugs were administered into Molly’s body we gave her a feast of her favorite treats.  She resisted succumbing in her desire for one more treat.  But was she able to hope to not die?  To hope that something better awaited her after death?

It seems throughout God’s animal kingdom creatures were gifted with just enough mental capacity to meet their basic needs.  It’s obviously so or else we’d see them building super computers and skyscrapers.  The animal kingdom doesn’t concern themselves with their fellow animals’ living conditions in far off lands, much less those in the house next door.  As humans, God instill in us something that no man can truly explain.  A sense of the past, the present, and a hope for the future.

It’s that hope, that “looking forward to God’s good work” in our situation that is so uniquely human.  And I praise God for it.  

Like love, hope is found in many forms.  We can hope it doesn’t rain out the baseball game.  We hope we get the job.  We hope our vacation turns out the way we dream.  We can hope for a better life.  Hope for a cure.  Hope for a child.  But the hope God really wants us to rely on is the hope based on trusting that what He has in store for you and I is for good.  

We can have hope that the trials we currently are going through will teach us something important and will leave us with something good.  We can have hope that God has a good plan for not only ourselves but for our families who believe in him. We can place our hope in a future beyond this place more glorious than we can imagine.

I’m so thankful God gifted us with this unique brand of hope.  Without it we have hopelessness and despair.  We would be left only with anger and disappointment and confusion.  

When I look around these days, I can see the destructiveness from lacking in God’s hope.  The aching and yearning for answers.  It leads people to depression, violence, and self- harm.  But that’s because deep in each of us is the knowledge that brokenness is not the state God wants for us.  Its foreign in our bodies and therefore makes us uncomfortable and unhappy with life.  We desire to be hopeful.  Some of us just haven’t accepted the prescribed method – God.


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A Tiny Message #4

Therefore, since we have these 
promises,dear friends, let us 
purify ourselves from everything 
that contaminates body and spirit, 
perfecting holiness out of 
reverence for God. 
2 Corinthians 7:1

When you think of the word “holy” the most likely target of our thoughts is God or Jesus. But the pursuit of holiness is what is required of us upon professing our faith. The word “sanctification” may be more aligned to what we think that process entails.

The ancient Israelites were tasked with bringing complicated offerings to God in order to work on their path toward holiness. Not only were the 10 commandments expected to be obeyed but many detailed animal sacrifices were to take place for the cleansing of sin. But the Israelites only could receive a shadow of complete forgiveness. As Christians, Jesus has taken the place of all those rituals. The rituals and forgiveness yes, but not the task of working toward holiness through obedience. I read this quote the other day while studying Leviticus that might help to spur us on toward right thinking about holiness.

Happiness, not holiness, is the chief pursuit of most people today, including many professed Christians. They want Jesus to solve their problems and carry their burdens but they don’t want Him to control their lives and change their character. It doesn’t disturb them that eight times in the Bible, God said to His people, “Be holy, for I am holy,” and He means it.

Warren Wiersbe on Leviticus

Let’s work together offering ourselves as living sacrifices so that our sanctification process brings us closer to God’s desire of holiness for us.

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, Faith, Uncategorized

Anchored In Joy

And foreigners who bind themselves to 
the Lord to minister to him,to love the 
name of the Lord, and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without 
desecrating it and who hold fast to 
my covenant—these I will bring to my 
holy mountain and give them joy in my 
house of prayer.
Isaiah 56:6-7

These months of Coronavirus lockdowns and limitations have led to varying degrees of modified social gathering, decreased family contact and less human contact than any time in my 55 years on this earth.  Certainly, the psychiatrists and social scientists will write about this period of time for decades to come. The scientific themes and research will revolve around isolation, depression, anxiety and the overall physical decline of those who were compromised and the most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.

There is no question that decreased physical contact and changes in routines and habits can throw all of us off our game. So many have lost their solid hold on the anchor lines of routine, comfort and familiarity. But did our dependence on other people for our happiness and joy make us vulnerable in ways we never expected? 

Happiness or Joy?

During the last nine months, I’m confident in saying we all have experienced the side effects of these pseudo government-imposed quarantines, confinements and solitude from limited human contact. Not many of us think it has been good for us and others, the social animals amongst us, think it has been the work of the devil himself.

Personally, I have learned some very valuable and lifelong lessons from this pandemic imposed by the changes to our day-to-day lives. Most importantly, my joy is not dependent on those around me and what they bring to the game. My joy comes from within and from above.

Praise the Lord! For he has heard 
my cry for mercy. The Lord is my 
strength and shield. I trust him 
with all my heart. He helps me, 
and my heart is filled with joy.
Psalm 28:6-7 

While happiness is temporary and fleeting, joy is deep, sustainable and long-lived if based in the promise of God’s plan for lives. Happiness is equivalent to a thread that can bind items together but has little strength under pressure and strain. Joy is a thick, tightly-woven and multistrand rope created to anchor and restrain heavy items like a ship or a barge.  When joy is fixed in our soul and anchored to Jesus’s love for us the anguish, the discomfort, and the turmoil we feel during a pandemic doesn’t knock us down to our knees. 

Joy is my equalizer that levels the panic and threat level and brings everything back into focus. I am not dependent on other people for my joy and my peace. My anchor rope is fixed to my Father who has promised strength, protection, salvation and joy.

Until now you have asked for 
nothing in My name; ask and 
you will receive, so that 
your joy may be made full.
John 16:24