Everything!

“Everything” is all-inclusive! When I was a little girl, my mother helped me learn me how to pray by giving me a simple prayer outline. She suggested that I pray, “God, thank You for ______ and ______.” I was to fill in the blanks with two things for which I was thankful that day. Sometimes it would be easy for me to fill in the blanks. Other times, I might just pray, “Thank You, God for everything!” This could have been my prayer because my heart was so full of gratitude that I could not choose two specific things. Or, it might have been an easy way out because I was too tired to think. Today, when I think about thanking God for everything, it involves a greater risk than I perceived as a child. Can someone be thankful for a diagnosis of cancer? Can another person be thankful for losing their job? At this point in my life, I do not always find it easy to thank God for everything. However, I do still pray about everything. I have discovered some all-inclusive scriptures I want us to think about today.

Jesus looked at them intently and said,
“Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God.
Everything is possible with God.”
Mark 10:27 NLT

Nothing” can be replaced with “everything” when we allow God to work on our behalf! This verse from the gospel of Mark is Jesus’ response to the rich young ruler who asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Humanly speaking, neither this man nor any of us can do anything to inherit the kingdom of God. Admitting that we can do nothing opens the door for Jesus to do everything for us. Jesus did it all! He died on the cross to pay the price we cannot pay.

The other factor we need to remember is that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit and His power, we become capable of doing the impossible even though we are human. I recently heard Bill Johnson  encourage us to not run from the impossible. We are told in Acts 1:8, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” The power of the Holy Spirit is the power of God for whom nothing is impossible and we can receive that same power. Bill Johnson pointed out that this power of the Holy Spirit in us is enough for us to do the impossible. We can do the impossible not because we are human, but because Christ through the Holy Spirit lives and works through us. This leads us to the next scripture.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13 NLT

Everything” is “every thing.” From this verse, I gain the confidence that I can do everything that I encounter in life because Christ promises to give me the strength to do what I need to do through the power of the Holy Spirit. I should never say, “I can’t.” When faced with a regimen of chemo treatments for a cancer diagnosis, one may feel overwhelmed and be tempted to cry out, “I can’t do this!” However, Paul assures us that we can do the “everything” facing us because Christ will be with us and working for us during the duration of the treatment. Years ago, my uncle underwent numerous treatments for cancer and I remember my mother commenting that she did not know how he was able to keep going in spite of the side affects etc. However, less than a year later, she faced similar cancer treatments and I witnessed the grace of God sustain her during her time of trial. I need to have the mindset of “I can” rather than “I can’t.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
John 15:7

Everything: can be “whatever.” This verse can be dangerous if we do not focus upon the complete verse. We must not skip over the “if” qualification for receiving what we wish or ask for “ if you remain in Jesus and His word”. In I John 5:14-15 the “if”qualification phrase relates to God’s will, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” God is able to do everything we ask when we become so attuned to Him that whatever we ask is always in accordance with His will. Although God may not answer in the way we expect, He is able to give us everything as He promises when we surrender everything to Him allowing all our thoughts and desires to be His thoughts and desires. Psalm 37:4 NASB says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desire of your heart.” When we delight in Him, our desires are transformed into His desires.

Now there is another “if” scripture for us to consider.

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked.
“Anything is possible if a person believes.
Mark 9:23 NLT

Anything” is “everything!” In this scripture, Mark tells of a man who came to Jesus asking if He was willing and capable of releasing his son from the influence of an evil spirit. Because this man was thinking of Jesus’ capability from a human perspective, he was questioning Jesus’ ability to set his son free. Jesus responded by reassuring the man that through faith and trust anything and everything is possible. Like this man, we must be careful that we do not prevent the Lord from doing what He promises to do because of our lack of faith. We also need to remember that although anything is possible, God will only answer our prayers in His way according to His time.

And we know that God causes all things to work together
for good to those who love God, to those who are called
according to
His purpose. . . . predestined to
become
conformed to the image of His Son,
Romans 8:28-29

All things” is “everything!” The point to remember from this scripture is that while God is capable of causing everything to be used for His good, He does not cause everything that happens to us. Referring back to my simple prayer outline, I can pray “Thank You, God, for how You are going to use my current experience, whether it be positive or negative, for Your glory.” That is quite different from asking a recently unemployed person to pray, “Thank You, God, for my losing my job.” I like the thought that God gives us all kinds of situations so He can give us all things.

When we encounter all kinds of situations, God has the opportunity to reveal His faithfulness to us by showing us how He actually uses all the things we experience for good. God will use everything we encounter to make us more like Him. We may not like everything we experience but we still need to embrace everything and allow God to turn negative situations into positive life lessons. 

“Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth
by your great power and outstretched arm.
Nothing is too hard for you.
Jeremiah 32:17

Everything” can meannothing.” Nothing is too hard for our Lord who created everything with His hands. Today, everything we experience passes through the hands of Him who created us and our surroundings. He continues to hold everything in His hands, so we do not need to fear anything we experience. If He could create this world we live in, then He can take care of it. There is no reason for us to doubt His ability. Truly, there is nothing too hard for God to do!

In Genesis 18:114, the Lord asked Abraham, “Is anything too Hard for the Lord?” My Reader, how do you answer this question? How does your response to this question affect how you feel about everything that happens in your life and how you handle every situation you encounter? May you remember the words of Colossians 2:10 in the Living Letters, “So you have everything when you have Christ.”

(Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.)

 

Advertisements

Unplugged

The image posted above is a calligraphy drawing done by our granddaughter Grace. It was appropriate that she showed it to me on a day when we did not have electrical power at home. The previous afternoon we had experienced a wind and rain storm that caused us to lose power. We had become unplugged from our source of electricity!

After the storm, we went out to get something to eat (without electricity I was not able to prepare dinner) and we saw a broken electrical pole and downed wires. The culprit of our power outage was a big tree that had been uprooted and entangled with surrounding electrical cables. As a result, there were pockets of darkness throughout our neighborhood: 6 homes on our street, almost 30 on another street along with an additional 15-18 homes on the third street. It seemed strange that only certain homes in our tract lost power while others remained unaffected. The homes appeared to have diverse connections to the source of electricity, and that influenced whether or not power was lost.

Why different power connections exist within one neighborhood still does not make sense to us in the natural, but I see a supernatural picture of a similar circumstance that is understandable. How securely we are wired to the Lord affects our response when spiritual disturbances blow our way. If we are deeply grounded in our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, our faith will not likely to be uprooted when doubts rain down upon us. James 1:6 says, “… you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” The Amplified Version of John 16:33 says, “In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration, but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted!] I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” As a result of our wind and rain storm caused by nature, we were frustrated by our loss of electrical power. However, because of our faith in Christ we were assured that this inconvenience did not have any power to harm us. We were still connected to the greater power of God. Matthew 22:37-39 tells us how to stay connected, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Romans 8:39 tells us, “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Nothing can separate us, or disconnect us, from the power of God’s love!

There is power in God’s Word and God’s Word reveals the power of God. We serve an omnipotent God and our primary source of His spiritual power is His Word. Let me share a few scriptures that will help us recharge our spiritual batteries.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed,
for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that
this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
II Corinthians 4:7

For nothing is impossible with God.
Luke 1:37

(He) is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to His power that is at work within us,
Ephesians 3:20

As I stated earlier, storms can cause us to become disconnected from our source of power both physically and spiritually. Let me conclude by sharing a couple of songs that also speak of additional sources of God’s power, namely the blood of the Lamb and the name of Jesus. There Is Power in the Blood of the Lamb was written by Lewis E. Jones in 1899 and still has a vital message for today. The specific words I want to emphasize are as follows, “There is power, power, wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb. There is power, power, wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb.” The second song is Break Every Chain by Tasha Cobbs. Again, there are a few specific lines for us to focus upon. “There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.

Mu Reader, I hope you physically have the luxury of electrical power in your home and may you spiritually stay connected to our omnipotent God who is the source of our sacred power. Do not become unplugged!

Are You Thirsty?

In a Sunday morning message, Pastor Bob Reeves made the following statement, “Jesus died thirsty so we will not go thirsty.” I have been thinking about this comment and want to share with you some of the understanding I have gained.

First of all, I validate the fact that Jesus died thirsty by noting the scripture of John 19:28, “Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’” The soldiers who were near the cross offered Him wine vinegar on a soaked sponge. He took their drink but then spoke His last words, “It is finished.” This little bit of liquid could not have satisfied His thirst. He was still thirsty when He died.

The fact that Jesus died thirsty is rather ironic because He promises us living water. Listen to Jesus’ words in John 7:37-39, “‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” Notice that Jesus does not say that He is the living water, but that He will give living water, the Holy Spirit. Such a beautiful satisfying promise for us!

There are two kinds of thirst – physical and spiritual. We all crave to have our cup filled at various times throughout our lives. At one point, we may desire a drink to satisfy our physical thirst while at another time we will experience spiritual dryness. There is reference to both thirsts in Isaiah 44:3. The Lord says, “For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants.Isaiah 12:3 refers to spiritual water, “Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.

In the fourth chapter of the gospel of John, we have the story of Jesus asking the Samaritan woman for a drink of well water. John 4:9-15 says, “The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’ ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?’ Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’” In the beginning, Jesus and the woman were talking about physical water but their conversation concluded with reference to spiritual water. While our physical thirst needs to be repeatedly satisfied, Jesus told the Samaritan that when she received the living water of the Spirit, she would not thirst again. He still offers us this same message today. The Holy Spirit will continually give us a fresh drink of living water. However, we must heed the words of Paul in I Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit.” We may be able to quench our physical thirst but we must never allow our thirst for the Holy Spirit to be quenched to the point of not desiring His ongoing supply. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” The Lord promises in Jeremiah 31:25, “For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.”

In his sermon, Pastor Bob emphasized that it does not cost us anything to satisfy our thirst but it cost Jesus everything. It cost Jesus His life. The offer of free water is noted in Isaiah 55:1, “Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat.” In Revelation 21:6, Jesus says, “to the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” John describes the source of this water in Revelation 22:1, “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

I identify with the Psalmist in Psalm 42:1-2 who says, “As the deer pants for steams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Jesus still hears our pleas for Living Water. While being thirsty upon the cross where He died, Jesus paid the price and provided the source for water through the Holy Spirit. I like the wording of John 7:38 NASB, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” Not only do we receive this spiritual drink from the Lord, but we also have the privilege of offering it to other parched people around us.

My Reader, are you thirsty? Drink deeply of the Living Water!

SNOOPY!

I have a special email friend and fellow blogger who writes on the website “Esther’s Petition.”  In one post, she asks “What Are You Like, God?” When reading her inquiry, I knew I was about to be challenged and to learn something new about God. Without reading further, I stopped and personally prayed “What Are You Like, God?” The Lord answered Bette’s question with one word, “snoopy.” The Lord answered my question by telling to “think about Snoopy.” I want to share both of our responses to this question.

When I hear “Snoopy”, I think of the Peanuts cartoon by Charles Schultz. Although comical, I can glean some spiritual insight about who the Lord is from this little beagle. The first thing I notice it that DOG is GOD when spelled backwards. Hmmm. Maybe there is more to this dog than a cartoon for me.

Most of the time Snoopy is portrayed as living on top of his dog house rather than living inside it. Snoopy lives outside the box. This reminds me of the Holy Spirit who is with and upon and in us. Jesus tells His disciples in John 14:16, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” We see this promise fulfilled according to Acts 10:44, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.” Finally, Paul says in I Corinthians 3:16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”

A common phrase originally accredited to Frederick the Great of Prussia says that a dog is man’s best friend. Snoopy is Charlie Brown’s dog and best friend. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” And in John 15:15 Jesus says to His disciples , “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” I am reminded of the old hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus

In some cartoon strips, Snoopy thinks he is another kid belonging to the gang and on occasion he even tries to be a player on the baseball team. From this perspective, I see Snoopy as both a dog and a kid reflecting Jesus as Son of God and Son of Man. Jesus acknowledges Himself as both in scripture. In John 5:16-30, we find Jesus as both Son of God and Son of Man. Jesus begins by explaining how He can only do what He sees My Father doing which reveals Him as the Son of God. However, in this passage in verse 27, Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man by saying, “And he (God the Heavenly Father) has given him (Jesus) authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.” Then, after Jesus was arrested and before He was crucified, He was brought before the Sanhedrin and Luke 22:70 records, “And they (the elders of the people) all said, ‘Are You the Son of God, then?; And He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Yes, I am.’”

OK. I have shared mt lighter version of how God revealed what He is like to me. Now I want to highlight what my friend learned from her encounter with the Lord. God revealed to her that He is snoopy in a curious sort of way. He does not want to be snoopy to find fault, criticize, condemn or gossip. He just wants to know how He can best soothe our hurts and strengthen our weaknesses. Bette concludes by quoting II Chronicles 16:9 KJV, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is perfect towards him.”

My Reader, are you willing to ask the Lord what He is like to you? You can be assured His answer will be enlightening, and it may even be humorous.

A Tenderized Heart

(Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.)

In a recent conversation with my daughter-in-law, she made reference to there being a time when God tenderizes our hearts while He prepares us for something more. When I first think of tenderizing something, I relate it to the process of breaking down tough spots in meat before it is grilled. Can I find any similarities between tenderizing a steak and tenderizing our hearts? Let us answer this question by looking at a couple of scripture verses in Ezekiel.

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes
Ezekiel 36:26-27

A heart of stone is a heart full of sin. Jeremiah 17:9 NLT describes the condition of the heart by saying, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” This verse confirms my need of a new heart! A heart of stone refers to a hardened heart that refuses to hear from God. Ephesians 4:18 NLT states, “Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against Him.” Only God can change this condition of a person’s heart. Being born again is how God replaces a heart of stone with a heart of flesh. Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:7, “You must be born again.” (To apply the meat tenderizing process, I might say that thawing a hard frozen steak is similar to removing the hardened heart of stone.)

By accepting the new birth offered to us by Jesus Christ, we can be born again and our sins are forgiven. God’s forgiveness removes the sin and stone from our hearts. Going back to my primary scripture for today, Ezekiel describes the heart now as a heart of flesh. Flesh is softer than stone but the Lord offers more. Paul warns in Philippians 3:3 that we are to “put no confidence in the flesh.” (For tenderizing meat, I can say that when the steak is thawed it becomes a pliable piece of beef.)

Referring back to Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus says in John 3:5-6, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” One’s heart can still be tremendously influenced by fleshly, or earthly, desires even though the heart no longer is a hardened stone. The flesh continues to require the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promises us in John 14:26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Now looking closely at the words of Ezekiel, he promises not only a new heart but also a new spirit in verse 26. This new spirit is the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:5-6 says, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” This Old Testament promise of a new spirit recorded in Ezekiel is fulfilled in the New Testament scripture of II Corinthians 1:21-22, “Now it is God who establishes both us and you in Christ. He anointed us, placed His seal on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a pledge of what is to come. (The work of the Holy Spirit symbolizes the tenderizing process. When meat is allowed to marinate in specific ingredients, “tough stuff” is broken down.)

I want to further develop this concept of tenderizing our hearts. Before I put a piece of meat into a marinade, often I will pierce it with a fork so the marinade, acting as a tenderizer, will penetrate into the meat more deeply. Now consider this from a spiritual perspective. We all encounter experiences when our hearts of flesh feel as if they are pierced with challenges. However, the Lord works in these poked holes of our sensitive hearts. He will also convict us of any sin that might piece our hearts so we will confess our sin.  The Lord’s desire is to pour the Holy Spirit into our hearts so that not only is the Holy Spirit upon us as a seal but the Spirit penetrates our hearts and flesh. We are baptized, or immersed, in the Holy Spirit. This is first recorded in Acts 2:4, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.” I believe the Spirit works within us to tenderize our hearts towards Him before He can move in our lives through more manifestations and revelations of His nature and character. Once again looking at Ezekiel, we notice in verse 27 that the outcome of our tenderized heart is that “He will cause us to walk in His ways.” The New English Translation says, “I will take the initiative and you will obey.” This is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit. We no longer have a hardened heart or just a heart of flesh but a heart controlled by the Holy Spirit. We may have to chew on a tough steak, just like we may need to meditate upon what the Lord is showing us. However, it is easier for us to enjoy and digest a more tender steak. Similarly, we can more easily comprehend the will of God and enjoy serving Him for kingdom purposes when the Holy Spirit has softened our hearts toward the things of God. One final similarity I find interesting is that many marinade recipes include olive oil, and oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit in scripture. Acts 10:38 says, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him.”

Colossians 3:12 NLT admonishes us, “Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” A tender heart has a softened quality of being gentle, affectionate and compassionate. It is sensitive, pliable and yielding to the Spirit of God. Tenderizing one’s heart is part of the process of a deep commitment to the Lord. Let the tenderizing begin!

 

 

 

Anchored to Hope

While HOPE is one of my favorite topics to blog about, I have chosen to emphasize it today in honor of a dear friend of mine, Judy, who went to be with Jesus a year ago in April. June 17 was her birthday on earth, and while she is celebrating that day in heaven now, I want to honor her with the following insights regarding HOPE. She anchored her faith to hope throughout her illness. The anchor with a yellow ribbon pictured above, was given to each of us at her celebration of life service. I still cling to this anchor pin as well as to the spiritual promises of hope.

In the bigger picture, the view from which Judy now experiences it, hope is the eternal full manifestation of eternity with God. Our eternal hope is promised in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” But in the meantime, we walk by faith and not by sight because according to Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

My Reader, what comes to your mind when you hear the word HOPE? Do you perceive hope as a fluffy, flimsy desire floating through your mind or do you picture hope as an anchor uniting with faith in your heart? We often have trouble describing hope because it is invisible. There is an anonymous quote that says, “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” A scriptural definition of hope is found in Romans 8:24-25, “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

Although HOPE is invisible, I want us to envision the anchor as a picturesque image of hope.
Hebrews 6:19 states, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Sarah Young says in Jesus Calling, “A good way to remain anchored to Jesus is to whisper His name as often as needed. We can pray and proclaim “Jesus, You are my HOPE!’”

With this in mind, I have created an acronym for HOPE that elaborates upon four descriptions of the Lord that will help us understand why He is the One in whom we must put our hope and trust.

H.O.P.E.

H = Helper – Zechariah 4:6
John 14:26 NASV says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” In this verse, Holy Spirit comes from the Latin term paraclete that means advocate or helper. II Corinthians 5:7 tells us to walk by faith and not by sight, but as human beings this is hard for us to do. We tend to want to follow what we see and what we know in our heads, so we need the assistance of the Holy Spirit to help us secure HOPE deep in our hearts.
In Zechariah 4:6, the Lord Almighty declares that victory is attained “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.” So, with this assurance, we can assume that Helper is an accurate word for the letter H in our acronym for HOPE. Only as the Holy Spirit helps us, can we grasp the assurance of hope.

O = Omniscient – Isaiah 55:8-9
Omniscience is defined as “the state of having total knowledge, the quality of knowing everything.” Although God is beyond our full understanding, He is omniscient. He is sovereign and knows all about all His creation. We serve a God who thinks about our lives, our world, and Yis creation on a completely different level than even the smartest human being can think. Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit.”
With this in mind, I have chosen Isaiah 55:8-9 as our scripture to describe how the omniscience of God is appropriate for the letter O in our acronym for HOPE. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

P = Perfect – Jeremiah 29:11
Psalm 18:30 begins by saying, “As for God, His way is perfectand Deuteronomy 32:4 declares,His works are perfect.” God is the only one who is perfect, being without sin or weakness. As I looked for a definition of perfect I read such phrases as “complete and right in every way; having nothing wrong” – “exactly right for a particular purpose or situation” – “being entirely without fault or defect.” I also think of the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy that describes the Lord as being “perfect in power, love, and purity.” God is the only one who is perfect!
When I want a reason to have hope in God, perfection is a good choice of words to use for the letter P in the acronym for HOPE. Jeremiah 29:11 supports this by stating, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

E = Emmanuel – Deuteronomy 31:8
When the angel announces that Mary will conceive a child by the Holy Spirit and have a son, it is declared in Matthew 1:23 that they shall call His name Emmanuel which is translated “God with us.” This is a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. In Genesis 28:15 the Lord says, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” Not only does He promise to be with us but He also promises to watch over us! So, if God is with us, we can rely upon His help because of what we previously said about the Holy Spirit being our Helper. And, we can trust His help because God is omniscient and perfect, also based on previous statements.
T
he choice of Emmanuel as an applicable word for the letter E of our acronym for HOPE is supported by the scripture found in Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” It has been said that “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.”

The anchor of HOPE prevented death from having a hold on Judy. I desire the anchor of hope to prevent hopelessness from having a hold on me. To us, our situation may look hopeless, but according to Mark 10:27, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” I like the New Living Translation of Hebrews 11:1 that says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” These are the words upon which I desire to anchor my heart to God’s heart.

I want to conclude by extending to all of you the message of Romans 15:13, “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.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

 

End the Year with Gideon

 

colored-candlesHow do I describe the month of December? Busy! A good busy, but busy. Now it is time for me to take time to reflect upon not only the past few weeks but the whole year in general. Listen to the message of the quote below taken from the December 24 entry of Streams in the Desert by L. B. Cowman.

Yet our time is never more profitably spent
than when we set aside time for quiet meditation,
talking with God, and looking up to heaven.”

When I first read these words, I was too busy to do what was suggested. I know it would have been to my benefit to sit by the manger and look into the eyes of Jesus, the baby who became my Savior, but I did not choose to tarry in His presence. Now at the end of the year, I want to accept the challenge of setting aside time for quiet meditation. And, My Reader, I challenge you to do the same.

spread yourself like Gideon’s fleece,
allowing itself to be soaked with the moisture of the dew of heaven.
We should have intervals of time when we do nothing, think nothing,
and plan nothing but simply lie on the green lap of nature and “rest awhile.”

These words are also from December 24th reading in Streams in the Desert. I like the image of my lying down and soaking in the presence of God. After all the commotion of Christmas, I tend to have a feeling of spiritual dryness regarding some aspects of my life. The dew of heaven is very appealing! I want to drink in the Lord’s nearness. I desire to sit in the lap of my Lord. I open my Bible to the story of Gideon.

Then Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel
by my hand as You have promised –
look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor.
If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry,
then will I know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You said.”
And that is what happened. Gideon arose early the next day;
he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a bowl full of water.
Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me.
Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test
with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground
covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry;
all the ground was covered with dew.
Judges 6:36-40

Commentators have criticized Gideon for testing God, but that is not my focus today. I want to think about what happened for Gideon with his fleece. I reread some handwritten notes in my Bible that suggested the fleece represented Gideon himself. When the fleece was wet, it promised Gideon that he would be filled with the Holy Spirit who would empower him to fulfill the task the Lord was asking of him. When the fleece was dry, it assured Gideon that even though he felt dry, God could and would still use him. The message for me today is that even though I feel tired and dry at the end of 2016, if I will bring myself before the Lord, I will experience the presence and power of His Spirit. He is just waiting for me to lie down in His green pastures in order to be refreshed with His quiet water. (see Psalm 23:2)

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Mark 6:31

This is how I want to end the year of 2016. I want to take time to be alone with Jesus in a restful quiet place. Judges 6:24 tells how Gideon had made an altar to the Lord and had called it “The Lord is Peace.” I find it interesting that Gideon knew God as his source of peace before he made his petition to the Lord regarding the dryness and wetness of the fleece in Judges 6:36-40. He may have needed this extra reassurance of a sign from the Lord as to how God worked in his life. Maybe he had been busy working on the threshing floor and needed a touch from the Lord before he began his next assignment. Maybe he needed an additional anointing. I have been reading the words “Peace on Earth” on Christmas cards and singing about it through the words of the traditional Christmas carols. However, I have not been experiencing the peace that passes understanding to its fullest extent. I, like Gideon, need a fresh anointing.

My Reader, how are you feeling today? Are you still too caught up in the busyness of Christmas celebrations? I pray you will find a quiet place and take time to drink in some of the dew of heaven. Let the Holy Spirit fill you with His presence so that you will be able to spend your time more profitably in 2017.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new