Hope for Today will inspire you to live a life connected to Christ by empowering you to fall in love with Jesus through personal spiritual growth. Teaching you the power of your identity and authority in Christ. Encouraging you in your inheritance as an ambassador for the kingdom of God!
There we sat, the room empty, except for one other man. The light was dim and dingy. Off in the corner the television was on and bleating louder than it ought to have been. She sat next to me doubled over in pain with tears streaming down her face wondering what was taking so long. It was 3:30 in the morning. The man brought my attention to the rain that had started again and the howling of the wind.
I sat feeling helpless trying to control the panic beginning to creep in. I closed my eyes and began to pray. I simply said, “Jesus we need you.” The door opened and we were called back. The man came right up next to me and followed us. Just as I was beginning to feel unsettled about this, he said, “I want you to know I was praying for your daughter.” With a relieved smile, I answered, “Thank you.” He said, “As a Pastor that is my job.” I thanked him again and told him there is something special about the prayers of a Pastor.
As we sat in the exam room engulfed by the privacy curtain, listening to the activity of a busy ER, I marveled at HIM. His lavish love poured over us creating a sweet perfume for our souls. Before I ever uttered a word in prayer, God had already answered and placed that Pastor right near us.
If that isn’t love, what is?
Precious One, God is ever close, his love knows no bounds and he is always listening to the sweet tinkling of your voice.
Whenever the enemy aims his fiery arrows at you, hold up your shield of faith, which is part of your armor, and remind yourself who you are and to Whom you belong too. Fight with God’s word, which is the sword of the Spirit, another piece of your armor of God. You ARE a warrior fight like one. If you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, HE testifies, he announces, he proclaims you ARE a child of God; hands OFF God’s chosen and beloved. If you don’t yet believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior what do you have to lose? What is stopping you? What are you waiting for?
One day, years ago, while there was still a need to make lunches for my kids take to school, I was at the grocery store buying snacks for their lunches and another woman saw me put a big box, the biggest box to be found, of fishies (gold fish crackers) in my basket. She proceeded to tell me, unsolicited, that those crackers were the worse thing I could give to my kids. Oh, the many things I could have said to her! What she didn’t know was that I had a picky eater at home and if fishies were one of the five things I could count on my hand that this child would eat, well then, fishies it would be! (if you have a picky eater, it does get better! This child now cooks some excellent meals on hi…their own and will survive, especially as this child gets ready to move out on their own). I thanked this woman for her concern and went about my business. Whether this woman had passed judgement on me or not, I certainly felt like she had and that I had earned the biggest mommy fail moment of the year in that one short shopping trip.
At first glance 1 Corinthians 5:1-2 would seem that Paul is passing judgement, and he is, but not the critical kind of judgement that is negative and depleting of others. In fact, Paul stated that he didn’t even judge himself, it is the Lord who judges him. (1 Corinthians 4:3-4). Rather, Paul is judging the sin of one of the brethren, which caused this man to lose fellowship with God and the sin seeped into the congregation like a thick, dark goo touching and sticking to the rest of the congregation, even though the rest of the congregation wasn’t directly involved in the sin. Like a paint can that is dropped and splatters onto everything around it, the sin of our faith families affects us spiritually, emotionally and mentally and we may not even realize this.
And they were proud! Rather than being deeply saddened by the spiritual state of this man and the influence, subtle as it may have been, on the congregation they boasted about the sin.
It is important to point out that the sin of the man in the verse above was clear and habitual, it was not a judgement based on motives or opinions, the man was not repentant and Paul came from a place of wanting this man to be restored in his relationship with God and with others. It is very important to state that Paul had a relationship with the Corinthians.
So, what does it look like practically for me, for you, for our faith families when a brother or sister has fallen into sin? I believe relationship is key and that is part of the beauty of fellowship with one another, we commit to each other in deep and intimate relationships through Christ and we hold one another accountable; unlike the lady in the grocery store, whom I am certain thought she was doing good by informing me of the disasters of feeding me kids fishies. I also believe it is vital for us to remain, abide, be at home with Jesus on a consistent basis and prayer is the foundation on which we ought to make all decisions. Everything we say and do ought to bathed in prayer before we ever open our mouths and take action. Ask God what your role is. Is He asking you to pray, be His voice piece or a mediator. If you are still unclear seek wise and godly counsel without giving particulars. Ouch! I can recall a few instances lately where I have failed to follow my own encouragement!
As Believers nothing can ever separate us from the love of God but sin does break our fellowship with God (1John 1:6-7) and broken fellowship with God hurts us all.
Over two thousand years ago a man and a woman travelled from Nazareth in Galilee to the town of David in Bethlehem and most likely they walked the entire distance of roughly 70 miles. The woman was pregnant at the time, very pregnant, yet because Caesar Augustus had proclaimed a census to be taken over the entire Roman world, this man and woman were compelled to make this trip back to the town of the man’s birth for he was a descendent in the line of David, King David and there was no other choice.
While this man and woman were in Bethlehem in the town of David the woman went into labor and gave birth to a baby boy. A Miracle was born. A Miracle because the woman was a virgin yet here she was giving birth to a baby boy, imagine that! And, because there were absolutely NO rooms available the woman gave birth in a manger. Talk about humbleness and humility.
This boy grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. When he was a man people followed him throughout Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan, because, get this, he not only taught the good news of his Father’s kingdom he was healing people! People who were suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, just to name a few, AND HE healed them.
Sadly, the people, most of them, that he came to save; HIS chosen people, rejected Him, the Living Miracle. But God had chosen HIM for such a time as this.
Once again, God has chosen a man for such a time as this. You may ask how can God choose a man that has purportedly been accused of rape, racism and hate?
I can only tell you what God has done in the past. He used Moses, who was a murderer to deliver his people out of Egypt, He used David, who was an adulterer to be the king of an entire nation, His nation and ultimately the descendant line he chose to birth his Son into and from, God chose the birth line of an adulterer to be the ancestral line of his Son, huh. The Son who was born in a manger, who came not to judge the world but to save the world through Him.
Precious One, miracles are real and God is still in the miracle business. I pray and truly believe HE will do wondrous and miraculous things through the man HE has chosen.
When I was a little girl I dreamed of being a mommy. A mommy who could stay home and raise her children and do mommy stuff, whatever that entailed, in my five-year old mind. In the late 70’s we finally moved into the 20th century and got shag carpet! Think mult-colored carpeting in avocado; brown with shags of gold and tan; and blue. Each room had its own color designation; a true kaleidoscope of color! However, before that time we had hard wood floors with a huge area rug in the living room. I would lay out a blanket and line up all my dolls and play house. Some might say that during that era, that’s what little girls did; played house, but there was something more to that for me. My mom was a stay at home mom, or in those days, housewife. Despite her flaws my mom was really good at her job. So good was her love of being a mom that I wanted that for me too. My mom modeled to me motherhood.
Recently, a dear Friend posted the above picture and caption on social media and it caused me to stop and wonder, “Indeed, when did we get so far from this?” The same morning I began a journey through the Book of Isaiah; this was days ago and I am still only on chapter 1! The method that feels comfortable to me is asking Holy Spirit to highlight words, thoughts, themes or ideas and He never disappoints, because, well, He is the Spirit of God and his job is to reveal to us insights into God’s word. Holy Spirit is really good at his job.
As I was reading through Isaiah chapter 1, verse 4 really stood out at me.
Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD: they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their back on him.” Isaiah 1:4.
As I thought about Isaiah 1:4 my mind connected it to what my Friend had posted. Initially, what came to mind are the words from Ecclesiastes.
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9.
When I sat down to journal this morning Holy Spirit brought to mind the words of Moses.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9.
How did we get so far from what God originally intended? Somewhere along the way and over centuries there has been a consistent breakdown of the commands of God. Rather than adults modeling lives of morals and integrity, we have adults leading innocent children into corruption.
Precious One, be the person you want the children in your sphere of influence to be.
…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
Not long ago, our youngest lovebug told a young man she was ‘talking’ too that if he started coming around to our house to expect to have a conversation about Jesus. I love that!
I use to be an in your face Jesus freak. Oh, I’m still a Jesus freak but then I met grace and grace completely dissolved the legalistic world view I had. As a believer in Christ I believe it is important to realize and understand that, unless God has opened up the mind of someone yet to believe, they can’t understand the revelation of Scripture because they don’t yet have Holy Spirit living in them. For that matter, I believe many of us who do have Holy Spirit living in us don’t take the time to consistently dig deep and have a relationship with the holy Scriptures. They, the Scriptures, are alive and crying out to have a conversation with us.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
You see, Scripture is Jesus and having a relationship with Scripture is nurturing a deep and intimate relationship with Christ.
What we’ll find when we talk with Scripture is that God loves all his creation and he wants none to perish but all to come to the knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Is this going to happen if we spout our frustration about current world events all over social media? I can assuredly tell you, “no, it is not.” And the reason it is not is because you are spouting to a world that doesn’t understand. The change you want to see happen begins with you and it begins with me.
2 Chronicles 7:14 above confirms this for us. Are you called by the Name Jesus Christ? Then it is your responsibility to humble yourself, to pray and seek God and turn from your wicked ways. Yes, you are forgiven of all your sins and yes sin no longer identifies who you are, but we still sin and we are to confess and repent of our sins because sin stands in the way of our fellowship with God. (1 John 1:8-10). Here is the best part, when we take responsibility for these things God promises to forgive our sins and heal our land! Not simply heal but completely heal, which is the original context of the word and land is not only physical land but the people in the land!
We can’t cause anyone to have a relationship with Jesus, that is Holy Spirit’s job, but we can live our life is such a way that others notice the difference and want to know more about why we seem different. Those are the moments we pray for; moments to share Jesus in a loving and grace filled way not an in your face beat them over the head way.
Precious One be the change you want to see in your sphere of influence and ask God to multiply that around the world. Jabez did and God granted his request.
Sometimes I believe we mix up tough love with God’s grace, especially when it comes to our children. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be consequences for their unwise choices or actions, but it is how we mete out those consequences that make the difference between tough love and grace.
Grace is God’s unmerited favor, but even more than that grace is God’s favor freely extended to us because He gives Himself away to us and others and is always leaning toward his beautiful creation that is created in the image of Him.
I think of the Samaritan woman at the well, who had been married at least four times and was living with a man that was not her husband. She was an outcast and wouldn’t go to gather water from the well in the cool of the morning with the other women because she was shunned and judged by them. Instead, she would wait until the hottest part of the day, when no one else would be there and she could gather her water in a bit of peace. Then she met Him, the Man, who would die an excruciating death of pain and asphyxiation nailed to a cross for her sins, my sins and your sins. Yet, what did Jesus do? He offered her grace and set the foundation for a culture of honor.
A culture of honor is where we recognize that we all fall short of the glory of God and realize that we all mess up and sometimes those mess ups have consequences and to give those consequence in a way that honors God and not simply feels like the right thing to do. Many times the consequences in a culture of honor feel counter cultural to what society says we should do. But Jesus was radical in his thinking, perhaps that is part of the reason the Pharisee’s didn’t like Jesus, because he didn’t play by their rules. Jesus also calls us to think like him.
But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16b.
Which means we have the intellect to receive God’s thoughts through faith, which also means we must stay connected to God consistently to create a culture of honor in our homes and in our communities.
Precious One, you and I, we deserved to die that torturous death on the cross but Jesus took our place. That’s grace and grace is what we ought to extend to others, nothing less. Even when, no, especially when the actions of others are deserving of consequences.