HOPE

Today let’s “chat” a bit about the term HOPE. Most of the time when we use this word it is very ambivalent. On a scale of “nope” to “defiantly” we’ll see hope close to “probably not”. If you mom says, “I hope we have time to get ice cream.” you know the odds are not in your favor. So when we read verses like Romans 11:1 that says “now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” It paints a picture of passivity. Maybe what God said is true, maybe not. Maybe He’ll show up and help me out maybe not.  But this is not the scriptural use to the word Hope.

Hope

Hope in the Hebrew and greek is an indication of certainty. It creates confident expectation. Like when a child sees their parent pull the top off the cookie jar. They are not wondering if they are getting cookies, they know. They are filled with eager expectation even though they have not yet seen a cookie. Even if there has been no verbal communication. They know that what they hoped for will occur. This is Biblical Hope.

Understanding Hope in this context changes everything. It helps us understand why it’s so important. Why it can save our very lives.  Hope is active. When you have certainty in your Hope it gives birth to faith.  When a farmer who Hopes with certainty that the seeds he has in his barn will produce a crop he moves with purpose to prepare the fields. He tills the ground, gears up the tractors and mobilizes the team. He plans for where the harvest will be stored. Why? Because he Hopes for things he cannot yet see, knowing it will come to pass.

Hebrew 6:19 “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.” What is this Hope? It is Jesus. God made a covenant with us that through Christ paying the price for our sins we could experience eternal life. This is the hope that we have as an anchor of our soul. This Hope, this certainty that we are Christ’s forever.

Hold onto this Hope and share it with others.

 

As always it first begins with knowing Him. Click here to learn how.

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Heart Issues Part 2

As we reviewed in Heart Issues Part 1 we are to “keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23. To keep our heart means to guard it.  What does this mean?  So many are familiar with the process of putting walls around our heart after having experience of great hurt. But this is not what we are talking about here. That type of confinement only brings more hurt as it separates us from knowing love and acceptance.  

So then how do we guard our hearts? 

  1. Trust in the Lord. Philippians 4:6-7 “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.”  Here we see that as we communicate to the Lord our needs and concerns and then rely on Him knowing that He will take care of us His peace guards our hearts and minds. It allows us to be at peace even when it doesn’t make sense to be peaceful.
  2. Watch what we allow ourselves to dwell on. Philippians 4:8 “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.” What are we allowing to captivate our hearts and minds?  Remember we learned that the heart is where the issues of life flow. We must use the verse above to determine what we allow into the river of our hearts.
  3. Know that we don’t have to fix ourselves. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” Philippians 1:6 Even King David called to the Lord and asked Him to give him a clean heart. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10.

As you grow in closeness and proximity to the Lord, we must allow the Him to purify our hearts. To remove the rocks of hurt, bitterness, pride and the like. Out of the heart flows the issues of our lives. As always the first step is giving our hearts to the Lord. Read how in Beginning a Relationship with the Lord.

Heart Issues Part 1

Ever feel like you really want to do what’s right, what’s healthy but when you try it seems like you end up with the opposite. Maybe you can relate to the Apostle Paul when he says “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15-25) What’s up with this? What keeps getting in the way of being who we desire to be? Who God created us to be? I don’t know about you but hearing one of the founders of the Church communicate that he struggled with this very thing brings some hope to me. (Full story Romans 7). Let’s take a look at what’s going on.

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life” Proverbs 4:23 Heart here is translated the essence of all spiritual and physical life. Where our thoughts, emotions and will live. Some also call it our soul. The connector between our mind and spirit. We see that we are to keep or some translations state guard our heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life. In Luke 6:45 we learn “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Next time some asks where you got that mouth of yours you can reply “the treasure of my heart”. But seriously  we are learning a lot about where the issues that we face in our lives are derived from.

Knowing this king David calls out to the Lord “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10 It’s so cool because we were created for good. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” We are the workmanship of God and He’s the best builder around. There is hope to end the cycle that Paul described above.

We see in Ezekiel 36:26 that God responds to His children when we call out for a clean heart like king David did.  “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”  Yeah! Winner! This is amazing. 

So we’ve learned that out of the heart flows the issues of life and that God can change our hearts. Take time today to call out to the Lord and ask for a clean heart. As always first step is giving God your heart and life read Beginning a Relationship with the Lord post on those details. Then continue the journey increasing your proximity to Christ and let Him give you a new heart.

Next proximity post we will look at what it means to guard your heart.

 

The Beginning of the End of Separation

This time of year many take time to focus on the birth of Christ and I wanted to take a moment to highlight why this event is so important. First point is this was not just another birth. This was God coming in the form of man. His birth marked the next step in God’s plan for the redemption of man.

In Genesis we learn that sin entered the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience. This sin caused us to be separated from God. We learn in Romans that the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) Meaning eternal separation from Christ. God had created us for relationship with Him. His great love for us compelled Him to create a way for the separation caused by the sinful nature to be removed.  This way was Jesus.

In Luke 1:26 to 2:21 we read about the birth of Jesus. His birth marked the beginning of the end of sins ability to separate us from Christ. This is our road back.  The bible says that during His time on earth He was tempted in every way but did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15) . Christ birth and life here on earth set Him up for the next steps that sealed the payment for our sins and restored us back to the Father. God coming as man allowed Him to pay the price for our sins once and for all. This is the power and the importance of the birth of Christ. The rest of the story is found in His death and resurrection.

Read more: 
The Cross
The resurrection
Beginning a Relationship with God

Fun Song About the Birth of Christ: Enjoy- Little Drummer Boy by Pentatonix

 

 

You are loved…

The simple truth is that the God of all creation loves you. Not just a little, not just because and not without a full understanding of who we are. Many people struggle with this conception. Mostly through a good understanding that most of us have many unlovable attributes and most  of us have done unlovable acts. Yet the truth still remains that…

the God of all creation loves you.

Why? Why would He love us?  Why would he love me?  The struggle to understand God’s love for us often comes from our understanding of earthly love which often turns up short. Most of the love we know on this earth is a self serving love. What some have coined “Fish Love“. A self serving love.  If you are good I love you or at least love you more. If you are bad I will love you less. This is not the God kind of love.  The God kind of Love demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) He died for us to remove the barrier of sin between us so that we can be with Him eternally.

Take some time today and really dwell on the fact that you are loved by the creator of the  universe.

Deeper look: The cross and Starting a relationship with the Lord and Fish Love explained

Follow Me

Jesus said to His disciples “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” “And he said to them, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” “My Sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow Me: (Matthew 16:24, Matthew 4:19 & John 10:27)

When Jesus called the disciples we see in Matthew 4:20 that “immediately they left their nets and followed Him”

Follow Me…

This is the call of every disciple of Christ. Follow Me.  It is easy to find yourself struggling to know all the ends and out of what your call is. Or if you should be doing this or that?  What does the Lord want? How does it work?  Christ is asking you to set aside all the anxieties and just follow Him. There are times when God reveals the details of His plans before they are finished but more often you find that He reveals the marvels of His plans as they unfold.

When Jesus called the disciples He did not give them a syllabus of their entire time with Him. He just said follow Me. The rest was laid out as they walked with Him. This is both simple and complicated. Simple in the fact that you just have to hear the Lord and follow His leading. Complicated in that there are so many other distractions and “noise” that has the potiential to keep us from hearing or following. Also sometimes the path the Lord walks us through can cause us to doubt if we are really following Him. We see this in Joesph’s story.  God gave him a dream of saving his family and nation. The next thing he knows he is thrown in a pit, then sold into slavery, wrongfully accused, thrown in prison, and forgotten. You have to bet that there were days where he wondered what is going on with this path the Lord was taking him through. This is where most people loose faith.  We find ourselves tempted to create a doctrine on why this must be happening. We wonder if we have missed the Lord. When we are following the Lord let’s just say He doesn’t always take the routes that we think He would. We always imagine roses, angelic singing and dollar bills everywhere.  Just as in Joesph’s story, to walk with the Lord is to know Him along each step of the path. The Bible meantions several times that the Lord was with Jospeh and in the end Joseph was in a position to save his family and his nation from a famine that would have wiped them out. (Account of Joseph Genesis 37 & Genesis 39-48)

I want to encourage you today to cut away the noise and follow Christ. Ask for His help and He will teach you.

Follow Me… “immediately they left their nets and followed Him’

Additional References:

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

The Gathering Testimony: Joanna Gaines

***please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or if you need prayer.

Lessons from Nehemiah

Today I want to share about a few things God was showing me through the story of Nehemiah when he rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem. There is A LOT in this story so I am only expanding on part of the story. (Nehemiah 4:15-23) We find in this story that the walls of Jerusalem had been burned in previous wars. In chapter 4 of Nehemiah we see that the Israelites were in the process of rebuilding the wall and they had enemies that were not too keen on the idea. Read full story Nehemiah 3 to 7) Nehemiah had each person responsible for rebuilding and defending their part of the wall. They had a tool in their hand and a sword tied around their waste. If they were attacked they would defend their portion of the wall, and with the blow of a trumpet to alert the rest of Israel of the attack and the need for reinforcements.

What I want to share about this story:

What’s your place in the wall?  Each of us have a place in the Kingdom of God. After we have made God Lord of our lives. (Learn how here) It’s important to hear the Lord on what is your place on the wall? (Learn how to hear the voice of the Lord)  God has a place that is uniquely yours. It’s crafted for you. When a person comes to know the Lord, but does not seek the Lord for their place in the Kingdom you’ll find that their passion and love for the Lord will wain. We learn in Proverbs 28:19 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” We will find true joy being in the place that the Lord has for us.

What tool have we been given? God has given us each gifts and talents that we were created to use. The list is long. Someone’s tool could be their creativity, being a parent, being a friend, etc. The list really is so long I can’t even begin to do it justice. What is the tool that God has given you?  What are the things that He’s placed in your heart? It is so common to limit what we believe God counts as a gifting or calling. 2 Timothy 1:6 says For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” We must seek the Lord and learn what is the tools He’s placed in our hands?

Keep your sword polished. Ephesians 6:17 says  “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”. The Word of God is our sword of the Spirit. Please keep in mind we do not fight flesh and blood but the works of the enemy the devil. (Ephesians 6:12) It’s important that we keep ourselves sharp in the Word of God. Reading, memorizing scriptures, studying and asking the Lord to help us understand.  As with a physical sword it is little use against the enemy if we do not know how to use it. If we don’t spend time getting familiar with the weight and balance.

Know that your part is important. We have a place in the wall, we’ve been given the tools and we are polishing our swords. We must also understand that the part we play is important. We are way to quick to dismiss ourselves as not important. I encourage you to examine that thoughts and see it for it’s falsehood. The God of all creation created you. Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” He loved you enough to die to pay the price for every sin you’ve committed and will commit Hebrews 12:1-3 we learn that for the joy (us) set before Him He endured the cross. Christ counted you worth of the cross. Remember your part is important.

I encourage you take time and really take these points into your heart and mind. Seek the Lord as you learn: What’s your place in the wall? What tools have you been given? How to polish and use the Word of God. And allow your importance to truly sink in.

The Cross

Most of us are aware of the Cross. We’ve seen it everywhere. From a decretive piece on church pulpits to the backdrops for heavy metal bands.  From the mountain tops to the adornments around our necks. But what does it mean? Truly it would take pages to write about the fullness of the meaning of the Cross. The cross was where love met sacrifice.  When God created man, He created him with the purpose of relationship. Sin through disobedience separated us from that relationship. (see what happened) Now sin through our human nature passes that separation from generation to generation. There is no good deed, level of humility or amount of penance that can restore us back to fullness of relationship with God.

Romans 6:23– For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

There was a price for sin. It was eternal separation from God. But the Bible tells us in Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ He paid the price for our sins. He stepped in and paid a price we could not. The cross is about a love. The true pure love that Christ has for us. There has been so many things that have tried to distort the meaning of the cross. I wanted to dedicate this post to refocusing the the purpose of the cross. To refocus back to the fact that Christ loves us with a passion that caused the God of all creation to send His only son to die for us. To restore relationship again. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

If you have had a revelation of the FullSizeRender
cross but have allowed the things of the world to dull the closeness of the Lord, I’d encourage you to call out to Him again and ask for a renewed passion and closeness.

If you’ve never had an encounter with the Lord or revelation of the cross. I encourage you to call out to the Lord and ask that He’d revel His love and the purpose of the cross. Begin to open the bible to the New Testament and learn who Christ is and what He’s done for us. (How to give your life to the Lord)

Know that the God of all creation sent His Son to die for you. So you could be set free from the wages of your sin. He loves you and He has great plans for your life.

 

The Cross Video

Stories of people who have had encounters with the Lord

Rappers – Lecrea – Dillon Chase

 

 

Uniquely His

This week I’ve been pondering the beauty of God’s creation. If you examine all the individual details of creation. How every snowflake is uniquely different.  If you look at the ocean and how the eco system is precariously balanced to sustain life. The
mystery of the human body built cell upon cell, each part with individual purpose yet part of the whole. Taking time to examine the plant world in it’s billions of variation. Each flower painted with it’s own beauty. You see purpose and plan in every detail. This is the God of the Bible. And of all creation He created us in His image. He breathed life into us. He created us with our own specific design. Not just in our human bodies, but in our gifting, calling, personalities and purposes.

My heart has been overwhelmed this week thinking about people who have not met the Lord, but have been told many lies about Him. One of those lies is that to serve Him, to give your life to Him means to conform to a set of standards that gthumb_IMGP1851_1024rind against who God has created them to be. Some might call it a “cookie cutter” Christian.  God does call us to a life set apart for Him. Serving Him allows the life He breathed in us way back in the garden to flow freely. It brings life! He takes those places that are hurt, wounded, lifeless and He brings them to life. For those that are in the arts He expands your artistic vision and abilities to a new level. The leaders He gives you vision you’ve never dreamed of. To the dads and moms He teaches you how to raise strong men and women. To the music artist He is the creator of music and there’s nothing like learning from Him.  My prayer is that people would see the Lord and His purpose for their lives clearly and that the lies would fall away. I pray that they can walk in the freedom that comes from knowing the Love of the Lord.

The other group of people that have been on my mind are those that have met the Lord. Those that at one point had felt His breath of life in their lives. Those who cauthumb_IMGP1870_1024ght fire(passion) for the Lord. Those who experienced His love and have never been the same. Those who through interactions with people who only knew about the Lord  but do not know Him were taught “don’t be so excited”, “don’t be to loud”, “dress so, so”, “talk this way”, “sing that way”.  The interactions that preoccupied their mind and heart and caused them to stifle the breath of life that was from God. No shame, Many people have found themselves here. For you I pray that you will call out to God again. To breathe fresh in your heart. To step out again in the passions that God placed in your heart. That business idea, that humanitarian aid, become that doctors, mechanic, the ideas to love your neighbor, the wild passionate display of your love for your God.

I truly believe that if people encounter the love of God their lives will be changed forever. Be the unique child of God He has created you to be. No fear. Freely walking in your purpose.

A few examples of people doing what God has called them to do.

Music and Spoken Word- Dillion Chase and David Bowden

Humanitarian Aid, Science, Botanist, Business People all working together- Bridge of Zion

Retirement Homes- Heritage Communities

Business Men & Women- Kingdom Business Association

Please keep in mind these are just examples. It’s important to first come to know the Lord. Then second as you spend time with the Lord, ask Him. What’s my purpose and begin to walk in it.

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

This blog is dedicated to inspire people to build a relationship with the Lord. As we go about our daily lives one of the most important things is knowing the voice of the Lord. There are a lot of books, videos and training materials out there that can support you in understanding the theological aspects of hearing the Lord. I encourage you to read/watch them when you get a chance. The one thing I want to highlight in this post is that there is no substitute to spending time with the Lord. This is how you will truly know the voice of the Lord.

Proximity: Nearness in place, time, order, occurrence or relation

John 10:27-My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

How do the sheep know the shepherd’s voice?  He has been with them daily since they were lambs. He’s led them to their food, protected them from harm and mended their wounds. They have spent their lives with their shepherd.

How do we learn the Lord’s voice? What does it look like to “spend time with the Lord”?

The Bible gets called many things, but at the end of the day it is the very worthumb_IMG_5585_1024ds of the Lord. And just like getting to know the voice of a friend or relative it starts by hearing what they are saying.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Romans 10:17– So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

As we read the Word of God we are training ourselves to know what the Lord has said. It enables us to know if something lines up with who He is.

Another part is talking with the Lord. This means just what it says, talk to Him. You will often hear this called Prayer. Prayer in essence is talking to the Lord. After I had made Christ Lord of my Life (The Day I Understood His Love) I began talking with the Lord. It does not need to be fancy. “Hey Lord want to go on a walk?” “Want to go shoot hoops?”. While I was doing these activities I would share with Him my heart, my joys and my pains. I would do them to bring Him honor. I would listen for His voice.

When it comes to methods that the Lord uses to speak to us we must remember He is God, He uses whatever method He would like. We see in scripture a wide range of conversational styles. A few methods include: Life events, other people, music, internal sense, His Word (the Bible), sometimes an audible voice, and more.

I encourage you to begin talking to the Lord. Spend time reading the Bible, share your heart with Him. Don’t focus on getting things from the Lord but on knowing Him.

This is a wide subject and this post has no intention on completely covering the  subject in one post. Please checkout the following resources. Let me know if you have specific questions and please talk with a mature Christian you may know to deepen your understanding.  Most important talk to the Lord. He will answer you.

Other Resources:

How to Hear the Voice of the Lord- Andrew Wommack

Brother Lawrence- Practicing the Presence

Practicing the Presence of God – Brother Lawrence (Full Audiobook)

TD Jakes – Learning to Hear Gods Voice

Friendship with God – Rick Joyner with Sid Roth’s It’s Supernatural!