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!
May we not miss Wisdom and thereby injure ourselves. Rather let us love Wisdom finding favor with the Lord and living the abundant life Christ has given us as our inheritance here on earth.
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Last year, in an attempt to conserve water and because our state was in a severe drought, we set our sprinklers to come on once a week; just enough to give our plants a drink and hopefully keep them a brownish green.
The summers here can push upwards of 100+ degrees, and even though we live relatively close to the bay, we have micro climates causing the differing temperatures around this region. Needless to say, our plants began to die. I decided to start pulling out the dead plants to prepare our yard to become drought resistant. I started working on a fern like plant that was completely dead and thought that it would simply come up out of the ground with little to no effort. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was relying on the presumption of my first mistake and rather than test the ease of pulling this dead plant out, I grab a hold of it and yanked. Now, mind you, I was wearing some heavy duty, industrial strength gardening gloves; not those dainty gloves with cute designs of flowers and flower pots and gardening tools. There is nothing wrong with those glove, in fact I have owned many in my passion for gardening days.
Did I mention this dead plant had very dead thorns that were still as sharp if the plant had been alive? During my second mistake one of those thorns pierced through my heavy duty industrial strength gloves and into my skin. Thankfully, I was able to get the thorn out and continue my work.
Months later I realized that my finger was still sensitive where the thorn had gone into my skin and realized there was still a piece of the thorn left! With the help of some essential oils I was able to retrieve the rest of that pesky thorn.
Sensitive. That is how the subject of tithing can be. Very sensitive. I mentioned in this blog post about a Bible software I had been wanting and received a complimentary download of the basic package. It was while using this software that Holy Spirit began to speak to me about tithing from a verse in the book of Joel. I know, I was surprised as well and I love when He connects verses together and they walk hand in hand like the best of friends!
The seed shrivels under the clods; the storehouses are desolate; the granaries are torn down because the grain has dried up. Joel 1:17.
This verse reminds me of Malachi 3:10. While the NT does not comment on how much we ought to tithe, only that God loves a cheerful giver, signaling that we, indeed, ought to give.
And what does God say he will do when, we stepping out in faith, bring the full tithe to him? He tells us to test him. The Sovereign King of all heaven and earth and everything in it tells us to test Him and see if he will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing so great that there will not be room enough to store it! When was the last time you tested God with your tithing? Do you trust Him to do what he promises and to be Who He says he is?
The storehouses in Joel 1:17 were desolate because God’s children had turned away from God and having turned away they also stopped giving back to God.
Thank God for giving you the faith to bring your full tithe to Him so that there will be always be food in his house and wait expectantly as he pours out a blessing so large you will simply have to give more back to Him because you will not be able to contain it!
Precious One you were set apart to have faith that God will do what he promises and to believe He is Who he claims to be.
This morning I woke up singing the song “Same Power” by Jeremy Camp. Specifically, these words.
The same power that rose Jesus from the grave
The same power that commands the dead to wake
Lives in us, lives in us
The same power that moves mountains when He speaks
The same power that can calm a raging sea
Lives in us, lives in us
He lives in us, lives in us
These words remind me of Romans 8:11. If you are a believer in Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior then HIS Spirit lives in you! The same Spirit Who raised Jesus from the grave. If you grab a hold of nothing else today, may it be the truth that the Supernatural power of Christ lives in you and you can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you. Not some things but all things.
Precious One, dig deep into God’s word, He’s waiting there for you.
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.
This morning as I woke up these words from this song kept resonating through my mind “I’m no longer a slave to fear.” And as I sit at our big living room window looking out at the slightly foggy, mostly gray, wet dampness, as night turns into day, I felt led to listen to this song.
Immediately, Holy Spirit began to download a plethora of information. Over the past several weeks He has shown me that while the enemy has come to kill, steal and destroy, the drought IS over. that HE, the one true living God is restoring all the years that the enemy has stolen. That as a believer in Jesus Christ we have the authority to tell the mountains, that stand in our way and take our focus off of God, to move.
In quick succession the following verses came to mind.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 1 Corinthians 3:17.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36.
I believe fear is one of the greatest weapons Satan uses to keep us bound and tied down. Fear immobilizes us. We know deep in our soul what God has called us to do, what our gifts are that we hear God, but fear, fear steps in and distracts us from what God’s calling is for us.
Here are some of the lyrics to No Longer Slaves
You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
‘Til all my fears are gone
I am surrounded
By the arms of the father
I am surrounded
By songs of deliverance
As I continued to listen to this song I realized this is what deliverance feels like. It isn’t some big production with glitz and flashing lights. It is a subtle, gentle assurance like the petals of a rose as they drop one by one until there is nothing left.
Precious One, you are no longer a slave to fear. You have been set free.
I sit at my desk looking out my big front window as the pre dawn morning begins to take shape. Commuters leaving their houses to get to their jobs, mostly likely traveling down the craziest two lane road left in our once small farming community, that has become one of the more expensive places to rent and own and raise a family. I pray for them.
And, as I sit and pray for my family I am struck by the many changes that have happened already in this new year. I no longer make resolutions for each new year because every day is an opportunity to become more of the person God created me to be. To be restored by Him and released from the years of familial spiritual bondage that takes our focus off of God and causes us to forget that we walk in victory, we walk in the love of a Savior who died a torturous death on a cross for the forgiveness of sins for all mankind. The bondage that causes us to forget the truth of God’s word and his promises.
Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18).He also said, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:19).
Father God gave his beloved Son, Jesus all authority in heaven and earth and Jesus gives us authority to trample on snakes, serpents, lions and scorpions. Interestingly, one of the words in the original text for serpent is monster. I think that is an accurate description of the enemy. And regardless of what childhood memories the word monster may bring up for you, we overcome all the power of the enemy and nothing; no man, woman or thing, will harm us; acting contrary what is divinely approved.
Here is the key and I can’t say this often enough, we must practice the spiritual discipline of reading and studying God’s word daily. A few verses back from the one in the cobra picture, we read:
If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling. Psalm 91:9.
When you make the Lord your shelter, the place you hang out the most, that safe and trusted place then surely you will tread on the lion and the cobra and trample the great lion and the serpent.
Precious One, press in and persevere, sit in the presence of the Lord and put on your stompin’ boots.
If you have ever had the pleasure of smelling jasmine you know that it’s aroma can be intoxicating. It’s fragrance is warm and exotic. Even now as I look out our big front window and watch the beginning of the falling rain on this cold, windy and cloudy day, the memory of the scent of jasmine takes me back to bright sunny summer days spent relaxing in the perfect temperature – not too hot and not too cool.
Jasmine is also a prized essential oil. One of the processes of extracting the oil from the delicate flowers is through steam distillation. Steam is passed through the flowers causing its cellular makeup to break down and burst forth with its precious oil. Actually, the liquid that comes from the break down is a combination of water and oil, which is funneled into a vat where the oil floats on top of the water and is then collected to be bottled. It takes eight million jasmine flowers to produce just two pounds of this precious oil.
This process reminds me of the ongoing work of Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, especially when we are in seasons of being broken down so who we are in Christ can burst forth and that newness floats to the top and replaces old habits and thought processes and all that remains is a sweeter fragrance of who we are and are becoming in Christ, which we can offer as a beautiful sacrifice to God.
The distillation process is rarely easy but God doesn’t ask you to go through it alone. He promises to never leave you or forsake you and at the end of each juncture you are infused with even more of the sweetest aroma of heaven.
Precious One may the fragrance of who you are burst forth onto those you come in contact with today and everyday.
Many times the beauty of God’s word is enhanced when we hear Him speak to us from his ancient words. Allow the Ancient of Days to speak to your heart with his words from long ago.
Yet the LORD will command in the daytime his covenant loyalty and in the night his song with my prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:8.
Covenant loyalty stirs in my heart and strengthens my faith in his commitment to me, rather than “directs his love.” I no longer view, “his song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life,” as two separate thoughts, rather, his song and my prayer meet together to praise Him, the God of my life.
That’s the God we serve, graciously beckoning us to join him in all that he does, even as he sings a song of ancient words over us for all the heavenlies to hear, he calls to us to join him right there with words of prayer.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “that is as different as apples and oranges.” While both are fruit, their flavor and texture are very different. Some of you prefer apples over oranges and some of your prefer oranges over apples. I personally enjoy both, however, by winter’s end I have had my fill of apples and eagerly await the wonderful bounty of summertime fruit.
What about you? As a believer in Christ do you appear different than the world? As God’s human creation we are all human, but is your ‘flavor and texture’ different?
The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John. Revelation 1:1 NIV.
From Revelation 1:1 we begin to see a picture of Jesus being set apart and if we follow the path of Scriptures that connect with it we are led to John 17:19.
For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. John 17:19 NIV.
The word sanctify means to be set apart as holy and it is connected to a similar word that means to be different. We are different from the world because of our likeness in character and personality with Jesus Christ.
Growing up I didn’t want to be different because that made me feel awkward, and, well, different, like I didn’t belong.
Being different in Christ is part of your identity in Christ.
He asks us to be different and act according to His character not because he wants us to feel awkward but because he wants us to think beyond ourselves to a hurting world that needs to see the different we are and desire what we have. And, what we have is Him. Jesus Christ, who came not to judge the world but to save the world through his own sanctifying; being set apart as holy and accepting willingly the job God gave him to do.
Precious One, are you as different as apples and oranges?
Hello Friends! It has definitely been a while since I last blogged. I hope all is well with you and yours!
I had a radical thought this morning. But first, let me back up and fill in the flowery, fluffy bits and pieces on the trail to how this thought came to me. I am after all an expressive and we love flowers and fluff!
Several weeks ago I began asking God what it looks like to be more intimate with him because I’ve been feeling that there is more that I desire in my relationship with him. This past Sunday during worship, wait, let me back up. Before worship began our Worship Pastor said some very encouraging words that I really appreciated. He told us we would be worshipping with a song that maybe some of us didn’t feel was true for our life right now; that it was okay and to ask God to help us understand – I am paraphrasing.
During one of the worship songs I realized that to be more intimate with God I need to surrender more of me to Him, except I wasn’t sure what that should look like. At the time what I saw was a stark white room and that was all there was. Since Sunday God has been showing my daily, sometimes more than daily what it looks like to be more intimate with him through surrendering more of myself to him.
One of the things he showed me yesterday, through a book I finished reading, of all things, is that I need to surrender what my perception of unconditional love looks like toward others. Wow, saying this out loud and for all the world to read seems even more selfish on my part than simply talking about this with God. None the less, I love seasons of transformation, they aren’t fun to go through but the hope the outcome holds is oh, so much sweeter than we can even imagine. It’s like working in a garden full of weeds, once the weeds are pulled and discarded we are able to view the beauty of the garden unhindered. I know there is so much more to my relationship with God and I want to do what it takes to pursue all he wants to give while I’m still here on earth. There is so much value in giving care and concern to nurturing our relationship with God. This is an exciting season for me even though I know there is much hard work ahead of me.
This brings me to my radical thought for today. On my way home from the gym I saw a young friend, whose parents use to worship with us and be a part of our faith family gatherings. I started thinking about my friends who have left to worship at different ‘churches’ and here’s the radical thought: Ought we take a field trip of sorts ever now and then to other faith family gatherings to bring and share with them what God’s blessings are for us and to receive and bring back from them their blessings? Think about this, we all worship the same one true God just in different physical locations. Every believer is a part of the same family of Christ. It isn’t one faith family against another faith family, we are all united through the love of Jesus Christ!
To be intimate with God means to cross over denominational lines; to cross over the invisible lines that separate the physical locations of all faith families and simply love one another in unity in Christ. Indeed, we are called to do this!
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35.
Precious Ones, love deeply, love intimately, love across the lines.