Hope. Peace. Joy.

The theme of hope has been continually brought to my attention this Christmas, especially through the music. I began to think about how Christmas is blanketed by the “happiest time of the year” and how that is not always true, as life happens. In the Old Testament starting in Ruth, the term hope is first introduced when Ruth essentially said she had no hope. The rest of the Old Testament has the theme of longing for and needing hope. And between the Old Testament and New Testament, there’s 400 years where God remains silent.

Therefore say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: None of my words will be delayed any longer, but the word that I speak will be performed, declares the Lord GOD. — Ezekiel 12:28

Guess what? God always provides and fulfills His promises. Christmas is the fulfillment of God’s promise of hope, foretold nearly 1000 years earlier in Isaiah:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. — Isaiah 7:14

Hope was given to us in the form a baby who was born in a barn with hay and animals, the most humble entrance for a King. As “Hope Was Born This Night” by Sidewalk Prophets says in the chorus, “Glory to God in the highest / Peace on Earth, good will to all men / Let all of the world sing the chorus of joy / Because hope was born this night” ^. When Christ was born, hope was restored. With that restoration and reassurance of God’s promises through the Savior’s birth, future generations can have peace. We can have peace knowing that Immanuel, God with us, was sent to this earth to teach us and show us God’s mercy, love, kindness and ultimately forgiveness by Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. This peace, which is so often spoke of and sang about at Christmas time, is freely given to us through faith.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33

This peace leads us to joy. We can have joy knowing that we are saved through faith by the redeeming power of God’s love displayed on the cross. We can have joy knowing that Christ will come again for those who are waiting in hope for him.

so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. — Hebrews 9:28

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^ Sidewalk Prophets. “Hope Was Born This Night.” Merry Christmas to You, Fervent Records, 2013.

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Limitless God

We’ve all got our limits, right?  We feel this in strength, wisdom, health, and in any aspect of our lives.  But, God knows no boundaries as He created every little thing.  Yet, we find ourselves always taking the burdens of this life on our own shoulders and not coming to the One whose abilities are greater than we could ever comprehend.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” — Matthew 19:26

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Look at where we are now from where we were, personally and humanity as a whole!  God created a perfect world and place for His children to reside and reign.  Then, sin came in the craftiest of ways and broke that perfectness into pieces (Genesis 3:1-24).  However, God’s power was not quenched; instead, He was able to do far greater than we could ever deserve.  Death was defeated through His Son, Jesus, who took our place on the cross for the sins of this world (Matthew 27:32-56).

Was God finished?  No!  Jesus was raised from the dead, when all hope was lost, and we are able serve the Living God.  God’s power was endlessly spoken of through the Gospel where the dead raised (John 12:17), lame and sick healed (John 9:1-7), and the lost became found (Matthew 18:12-14).

In our lives, we can look back with our hindsight in Jesus 20/20.  We are sinners who are in need of saving.  We have all made choices that were less than glorious.  Our path currently could be on the same road.  And if we’ve received that undeserved grace by faith through Christ, we are looking forward to the things to come.

Do you find yourself hoping for a better tomorrow in any aspect of your life?  Do you want to be freed from the internal prison of depression, anger, addiction, or pain?  GOD HAS MADE THIS POSSIBLE.  His power is limitless, so believe that He can do what His name commands.  You can be sure that He holds His children close to Him and will never let go.  There is nothing greater than our Father’s love, so lean on Him and just believe in the King of Kings.

Please listen to “Greater Things” by Mack Brock^ and let God’s never-ending power and hope prevail over your current trials and waiting.  We are His.

“You never fail
You never will
I trust Your name for greater things
You will come through
You always do
I trust Your name for greater things” ^

 

^Mack Brock. “Greater Things.” Greater Things, Capitol Christian Music Group, 2018.

 

Clean

How often do we fall into the trap of regret?  Our past may be less than glorious, filled with bad decisions, unwise relationships, and other shameful moments.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been burdened with that feeling of wondering how can God love me and/or save me when all of my past mistakes are just too much.  And those thoughts can even send us into a deeper spiral of loneliness and can even lead to depression.

This is not reality.  Jesus was sent to this earth to take away our sins.  The Bible tells us that we are saved when we believe in Him, the perfect Son of God who took on all sin to save humanity.

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

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There is nothing greater than the freedom given through the saving grace of Christ!  You can have your chains of regret broken.  You can be freed from the grip of death and live eternally with the King.  Just call on Jesus and ask to be forgiven of the way you’ve lived, the wrong choices you’ve made.  You can be forgiven through Christ!

Take a listen to “Born Again” by Austin French^ to take the message of being set free from our past, what we thought defined us, through Jesus.

For more encouragement, read: Isaiah 1:18Romans 6:23Romans 10:13, and Revelation 3:20.

If you want to learn more about being set free from regret and sin, please check into the following resources: The Story by SpreadTruth Ministries (Video) and Salvation: Plain & Simple.

^Austin French. “Born Again.” Wide Open, Fair Trade Services, 2018.

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To Be Known

We all have passions and desires in life, right?  There’s the obvious ones like having a family, great job, and traveling the world.  But what about the ones that affect us emotionally?  One of the most prevalent ones, be it a conscious desire or not, is to be known.

We all want to be accepted as we are and not worry about meeting the standards of others.  However, we have made that very difficult for ourselves.  Our lives are being lived in constant updating, looking for the approval of anyone who would even pay attention to us.  The original design of who we once were has shifted into what others want us to be.  Sometimes, that results in changing ourselves in a negative way to get noticed which, in the end, can affect areas of our lives such as relationships, careers, thoughts, and desires.

Is there anyone who can truly know just who we are?  Do we ever let ourselves be real instead of influenced by those around us?

Let me tell you that there’s someone who knows us better than we could ever imagine, the One who created us.  He knew us before we even existed!

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
–Psalm 139:13

Not only did God know what we would look like, but also He formed our inwards parts.  That means He knew our hearts, desires, needs, and dreams all before we were even born.

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God knows us so well that He knew the only way to save humanity from itself was to send a Savior, Jesus, His Son to die on the cross for our sins.

He is waiting for us with open arms to come to Him.  His love for us is far greater than we could ever imagine.  Instead of relying on others knowing us, why don’t we step forward in confidence because we are wholly known by the One who gives us life?

Please take a moment and listen to Known by Tauren Wells^.  It’s such a captivating song of how we should feel comforted knowing God knows every part of us.  We are loved by the Creator.

“I’m fully known and loved by You
You won’t let go no matter what I do
And it’s not one or the other
It’s hard truth and ridiculous grace
To be known fully known and loved by You
I’m fully known and loved by You” ^

For more encouragement, read: 1 Corinthians 8:31 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 John 4:16.

^Tauren Wells.  “Known.”  Hills and Valleys, Reunion Records, 2017.

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That God Moment

Have you ever had those moments when you feel like your life is just being swallowed by finances, responsibilities, and anything in between?  Recently, I have been feeling very overwhelmed with what seems to be a growing mountain in my path.  I have always said that God meets you where you are in the deepest of need, and He did just that today.

In moments of despair, but trying to “keep it real” with God, have you prayed something that includes “have Your will” or “Your time is best”; you mean these words, but at the same time you want your prayers answered immediately?  In complete honesty, I have done this exact thing.

Me: “God, please throw me a line and pull me out of this place of worry and anxiety.  Change the circumstances I am in because I am all out of options and feel like I could break.”

God: “You’ve asked me to rescue you and that I have already done.  I sent Jesus to this earth to rescue, and He’s done that in your life.  With the same confidence you came forward in being saved through Jesus, have that same confidence in My abilities to lead you into the future that I’ve already planned for you.”

*Jaw and tears drop*

When will we realize that it’s all because of Jesus that we are even alive?  We ask for being relieved of this world’s pains and burdens; at the same time, we also ask for everything this world gives us.  Myself included, Copy of focustwitterThere is nothing that can take us away from His hands.

I encourage you to listen to Lauren Daigle’s “Everything” and see how much God loves us.  His love is our rescue.

For further encouragement read: Psalm 91:4, Colossians 2:6-7, and John 10:27-28.

 

^Lauren Daigle. “Everything.” Look Up Child, Centricity, 2018.

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The Waiting Game

When it comes to running, I believe anything is more appealing than that (even jumping into a cactus or rolling around in poison ivy). And running a race? Forget about it. It ends up feeling like you’re trying to lift your legs like a marionette as the ability to even walk seems to be lost!

But there is indeed something harder than running – waiting. When you run, you feel like you are getting closer to the finish line (be that in a physical race, something you’ve been praying for, etc.). Conversely, there comes anxiety, worry, and frustrations in the waiting; these feelings increase when the end is not in clear view.

Thankfully, God gives us encouragement saying when we wait on Him, our strength will be renewed! Many times we think we cannot get through these times. Yet, He will show us time and time again that He is with us in the waiting, through the times when we’ve ran the race, and even when we are exhausted and want to call it quits. Trust in God in your waiting, and He will give you strength for the journey ahead.
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Quiet Talk

Do you feel like you are on a roller coaster ride when it comes to life’s ups and downs?  We have started a season where it feels like we are beginning our descent after a big climb to the peak.  In front of us, we see a mysterious tunnel that makes us wonder what the rest of the track looks like!  We have this idea of what we imagine the other side to look like, the direction we want our life to go.  However, it still remains unclear if that is what truly lies in the waiting.

In these times of our lives, when the future seems unclear, it is easy to rely on ourselves to either find the answer or just give up hope in what may come.  However, God is with us always and hears every time we come to Him in prayer.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. — Psalm 145:18-19

God hears His children, no matter where on this roller coaster life we find ourselves.  He is the Great Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine to find the lost one and bring them back to the flock (Matthew 18:12).  When we need Him, He is there for us and His love surpasses all understanding. hopetwitter Listen to Lauren Daigle’s “Look Up Child” – all we have to do is call upon Him, as He hears every word we speak.

 

^Lauren Daigle.  “Look Up Child.”  Look Up Child, Centricity, 2018.

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