In The Word

  • Approaching the Word of God

    With warm tea in hand and a Bible open, I was excited to start my favorite time of week. It was an encouraging time when our friends from a Muslim-only country would come to our house, and we would study the Bible together. It was a joy to see their hearts leap with excitement as God revealed Himself to them through His word. Together we would read a passage of Scripture and discuss it. Then, because they were voraciously reading their Bibles at home, they would come with questions about what they had been reading.

    On one particular Sunday afternoon, the woman posed a question that I never thought of before, but impacted me greatly. “In the Muslim religion, before we begin reading the Quran, we have to shower and clean ourselves before we open the book. As a Christian, is there a ritual we should follow before reading the Bible?”

    The Bible doesn’t lay out a specific ritual we should follow, but in light of what the Bible is, is there an attitude we should have when we read the Bible? Before we answer this question, we need to think about what the Bible is.

    What is the Bible?

    In simple terms, the Bible is the written Word of God. As God communicated with people over the centuries, those people wrote those words down. Now, we who live today, can be blessed by words God has spoken through the centuries. The words found in the Bible are a testament to the character of God and how He wants to live in relationship with His creation. In other words, they are the actual words of a loving, powerful, creator God.

    At first glance, the Bible can appear to be just words on a page, but when those words are read or heard, those words become active and powerful. We first see the Word of God in Genesis, when His word spoke creation into being. The word of the Lord caused the sinful nation of Nineveh to turn from their wickedness (Jonah 3:6-9). Jesus hushed the storm with his words in the Gospels. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead with his words in John. The outcast Samaritan woman, whom Jesus met at a well, was transformed by Jesus’s words. The list goes on and on. The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). It has the power to create worlds, control nature, bring life from death, and transform people’s lives.

    How should we approach the Word of God?

    In light of knowing that God’s Word is actual words from the ruler of the universe, in light of knowing these words have life and power in the here and now, what should our attitude be when we approach reading the Word of God?

    We want to first approach reading the Bible with joy. God desires to communicate with us. He longs to be in relationship with us. He could have just left us to our own devices, but He didn’t do that. Instead, He chose to share with us what is good, what is not good, and how much He loves us. His desire to reveal Himself to us was so great, His word became flesh in the form of Jesus, and walked among us (John 1:14). The words written on the pages of the Bible are a labor of love from our God, and spending time in His word can fill us with incredible joy.

    We also want to read God’s word with hearts that are open, pliable, and ready to listen. If we know the Word of God is living and active and has the power to change us, we want to sit before the Word ready to hear what God desires to say to us.

    The attitude of our heart is important

    In Matthew 13:3-9, Jesus shares with us how the soil of a heart impacts how the Word of God can change us. If our heart is unengaged or hard, the word has no way to grow. If our heart is open and pliable, the word is able to grow into a harvest that blesses not only us, but those around us.

    When we sit down to read the Word of God, we have to be ready to accept the words of love and encouragement written there, even if we don’t feel love for ourselves. We have to know those words are true, because that is what we base our identity on regardless of whether or not our feelings agree.

    We also have to be willing to allow the words of God to reveal the sinful parts in our heart that need to change. Knowing that the Bible is a revelation from a good God that desires to bless us, allows us to courageously make room for Him to change the unrighteous behaviors in our lives.

    When we come to the Bible with grateful joy and an open-heart, it honors the God who wrote it. As we honor Him in reading His word, He blesses us. I have seen this to be true in my own life. The word of God encouraged me when I didn’t know if my sick kid would ever get better. It was His very words, found in the Bible, that let me know He was walking with me during that difficult time.

    When my mind spins on sinful negativity, it is His word that renews my mind and helps me set my mind on truth, instead of my negative perception. I could name countless other times where His Word has helped me navigate times of conflict and anxiety with wisdom and hope. I have truly been blessed by spending time listening to God’s loving voice as I read His word.

    There are plenty of books and articles out there vying for our time and attention. Many of them promise to help make our lives better or to offer encouragement, but none can provide us with the love, wisdom, and challenge that the Word of God brings when we read it with a joyful, open heart.

    While we may not have to shower and prepare ourselves with physical rituals, like my Muslim friends did with the Quran, we should come to the word of God with a heart ready to honor God and eagerly anticipate hearing from Him. My hope is that time in God’s Word will become something you look forward to. The Creator of the universe loves you so very much and has gone to great lengths to talk with you. As you spend time with Him in His Word, I know you will be greatly blessed.

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  • Living in the Truth of the Resurrection

    I love Easter because it is a reminder of the new life we have in Jesus. I love reflecting on the foundation of our faith and resting in it. Resting in the truth that Jesus lived among us, died for us, and conquered death, paving the way for an eternal life with a loving, merciful Savior. But did you know eternal life with Jesus starts now? It isn’t a far off dream that begins when our life here on earth is done. Eternal life with Jesus started when you decided to be a follower of Jesus. After the resurrection, I believe the disciples understood this and it changed their lives forever.

    Before Jesus’s death, the disciples had walked with Jesus for years. They watched Jesus perform amazing miracles and listened to his teachings. They were some of his closest friends and followers. Yet as close as they were, they all ran in fear when Jesus was arrested. Despite all the evidence of Jesus’s deity, fear in what would happen to their physical bodies was greater than their faith.

    However, after Jesus rose from the dead, their fear was transformed into boldness. Those who had previously run from the soldiers when Jesus was arrested, were now willing to be beaten, imprisoned, and even killed for the good news of Jesus’s resurrection.

    So what changed? What would cause a person who just months before ran in fear for his life so he wouldn’t be associated with Jesus, to now turn around and gladly take a beating for the name of Jesus? The answer: The truth of the resurrection.

    The truth of the resurrection means eternal life with Jesus starts now. We get to live this life and the next with Jesus by our side. And just like the disciples, the truth of the resurrection has a transformational impact on how we live.

    We get to live in confidence. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus commissioned the disciples to continue to make disciples and further the kingdom of God. He ended his commission with these comforting words: “I will be with you always.” Not, “I will be with you after you get all your work done and you come to heaven with me.” He promises to be with us always and that includes now.

    Before the resurrection, the disciples ran in fear because they thought they lost their Lord. Now they could live confidently, because they knew they would never lose him again. He would always be with them–a gift no one could take away. This confidence allowed them to boldly go into the world and preach the good news of Jesus.

    We get to live in power. Right before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his disciples they would receive power when the Holy Spirit would come upon them. They would receive great power to witness about Jesus (Acts 1:8). As you continue to read in the book of Acts, you see evidence of this. Peter boldly proclaimed the message of Jesus on the day of Pentecost and thousands were saved, and despite persecution, the church grew.

    But this promise of power wasn’t just for the disciples who walked with Jesus. It is for us, too! Ephesians 1:18-20 shares a prayer Paul often prayed for the Ephesians. 

    I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…”

    Ephesians 1:18-20

    Wow. Paul said that as Christians, we have the power of the Holy Spirit. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available for our lives. The resurrection made it possible for us to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, which is Christ living in us. How amazing is that?!

    We get to live in peace. In John 16, Jesus warned the disciples of what was coming for them. He was going to die and ascend into heaven. After his ascension, they would preach the message for him and because of that they would face intense persecution. However, he would send the Holy Spirit as a comforter to help them. As he finishes up his warnings, Jesus tells them, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  

    In this world we will have trouble. You probably know this truth well. But we can have peace in our struggles knowing Jesus has already conquered the world. The end has already been written. We have already won the battle through Jesus’s death and resurrection. The disciples knew, when they were beaten or even killed, it didn’t matter because they were already living eternal life with their Savior now and nothing could take that away. The truth of the resurrection gave them peace to handle life’s hardships with confidence, knowing Jesus had overcome the world and their salvation was secure.

    So what would your life look like if you lived daily in the truth of the resurrection? What would your life look like if you lived in confidence knowing your Savior walks the ups and downs with you every day? What would it look like to live in the power of the Holy Spirit and live into God’s calling in your life? Finally, what would it look like to live in peace knowing Jesus has already overcome the world?

    It would look different for each of us, but one thing I know for sure, your life would be dramatically changed like the disciples’ lives changed. You could walk in boldness and faith, living out the truth of the resurrection, and it would change the world as we allow God to work through each of us to accomplish His work. So my prayer is that we do not leave the truth of the resurrection to one Sunday a year, but we live the truth of the resurrection every day and watch in awe as God changes the world through us!

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  • Guiding Us Toward the Path of Peace

    I love reading the Christmas story with my kids each year. We curl up on the couch in front of the fireplace, all cozy in our fuzzy blankets and jammies, each night before bed and read about when our Lord came to earth as a baby (out of his great love for us) to bring us hope and joy and peace.

    And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

    Luke 1:76-79

    These words were spoken by Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, when he saw his miracle child. Zechariah was a priest, and he and his wife, Elizabeth, had just given birth to their son, named John. Zechariah and Elizabeth had been childless for many years and were well past child-bearing age when this miracle happened to them.

    John was the one prophesied to come before Jesus and sent to prepare a way for Him, announcing His coming. Up to this point, the whole world had been waiting in the darkness for the light of hope to come. This story of John ushers us into the very beginning of the Christmas story–a story of when the light of the world came to “guide our feet into the path of peace”, to bring us hope in salvation and forgiveness of sin. John’s role was to point to Jesus and go ahead of him, giving the people hope that the one whom they have been waiting for, for so many years, is finally here!

    Jesus is “the rising sun”, shining light into the darkness in order to guide us into his peace. As we allow the light of Jesus to illuminate the dark places in our life, the peace of Christ comes to us and replaces all fear and doubt with rest and assurance.

    Father God, we ask that you help us see the areas of our lives where we need your light to shine forth in darkness. Bring your everlasting peace to our hearts and souls, replacing all fear and doubt, and helping us point others to you, the Prince of Peace. We long for true peace that comes only through your son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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  • Praying When The World’s Got You Down

    Lately it feels as though the world has been falling apart at the seams. A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling especially bombarded and weighed down by the mess of the world around me. I had been consuming more news than was healthy for my well-being and had ended up in tears, finally admitting to my husband how sad I felt about the state of our world.

    But as I talked through it, something began to happen. We got to a place where, in the midst of all the hopelessness, we started speaking truth to each other about those problems, pulling each of them back into the warm glow of God’s presence. I began to sense God’s clear, calm voice piercing through the fog of all my fears, saying, “It’s alright, my dear. Take some deep breaths. I’m with you and I’m still on my throne. Come talk with me and tell me the things that are troubling you. I know the world feels chaotic right now. I can see everything you’re seeing and much, much more. Give me your worries and let me carry these heavy burdens. I can handle ALL of it – don’t be afraid.”

    In that moment, God’s Spirit shone so brightly through the dimness that I saw with clarity the reality of our fragile humanity and my own desperate need for God and prayer. Not the tidy, practiced prayers we say around the dinner table, or the flowing ones we read into a microphone from a church platform, but the raw cries for help driven by fear, sadness, uncertainty and grief. The prayers we whisper with tears streaming down our faces as we fear the worst. Prayers that offer all those fears and worries back into the hands of our eternal and omnipotent God, asking for His help and direction through each and every step. These types of prayers exercise our faith in a way that stretches far beyond our limited human capacity.

    Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

    Hebrews 4:14-16

    How often we forget! We have a high priest – the most powerful advocate possible, Jesus the Son of God, working daily on our behalf. He longs for us to come to Him, partnering with Him in prayer. That time in prayer not only informs and directs our actions, but also reminds us to entrust the end results to God. No matter how ill-equipped we may feel to bring all the change we want to see in a chaotic world, we are far from powerless – in fact, we have been granted full-access to the most powerful One through the gift of prayer. This truth is foundational to our faith. As we pray, Jesus the advocate, hears our prayers with compassion and works on our behalf, tending to the wounds of a world we ourselves are unable to heal.

    I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.” Psalm 17:6

    “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

    These are just two out of countless verses from the bible that speak of our human need to turn to God in times of trouble. Today, let’s decide to remain faithful in prayer, no matter what happens. Communicate with God about what’s going on in your life today and in the world around you. There is so much more happening behind the scenes than we can even begin to see or understand – but God sees and knows all. His Word tells us that He can and will supply ALL of our needs. So instead of getting lost in the maze of trying to solve all the world’s problems, we can pray to God, the one who supplies all our needs, as we give our burdens to Him.

    There is power in prayer to connect our hearts and minds to the all-powerful God. Our Father knows that we are not capable of bearing the weight of the world or of knowing all the answers to every problem, so why do we think we can? Let’s continue to come to the feet of Jesus, one day at a time, knowing that He’s still got the whole world in His hands.

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  • Our Prayer For You

    “So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

    We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.”

    Colossians 1:9-14

    Did you know that we pray for you? Every time we sit down to write, we pray that God would use our words, our stories, and above all, His Word to reach right into your situation and show you His love that never, ever fails.

    If we were to sum up all our prayers for you, it would be this prayer from the book of Colossians. It is our heart’s desire that you will grow in your faith, in your purpose and in wisdom and understanding of God and His word.

    We pray that you will hold steadfast to your identity as God’s beloved one, and know without a shadow of a doubt that you are deeply loved. As His child, God has given you the Kingdom of Light. He will strengthen you and empower you so that you can live a life of purpose and love. May the world see Christ’s love through you as you allow God to work in your life.

    All this month we will be focusing on the power of prayer to transform our lives and shape us to be more like Christ. Stay tuned for more devotionals about prayer and what that looks like in real life as daughters of the King. Also, if you feel like your prayer life could use a jump start, we’ll be revisiting a special podcast episode with Revive! Conference speaker Amanda Swick on how to Revive Your Prayer Life.

    Finally, if there is something specific we can be praying about with you, please email us and let us know. We want to link arms and pray for you, friend.

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  • Spirit of Freedom

    This year, my family missed out on watching fireworks for the Fourth of July. It’s been so hot and dry in our area that the city completely banned them due to fire risk. We were totally bummed out – especially since it also happens to be my son’s birthday and he loves them! But at the end of the day it was all ok because we still found other meaningful ways to celebrate.

    It reminded me that the way we celebrate isn’t really what matters most – it’s what (and whom in our case) we’re celebrating that matters. Fireworks or not, we found ourselves incredibly grateful to be alive and free and together. And that was enough.

    Since the beginning of time, people have yearned for freedom; sometimes to the point of spending their entire lives trying to gain it or protect it. We honor those heroes and their sacrifice because freedom is worth fighting for.

    But as we sit with this, we need to remember that not all freedom looks the same. We tend to think first of the physical freedoms of a country – its laws, economy, and practices. But the internal freedom of our hearts was fought for too – bought with the life and death of Jesus, offered to us freely by God, and experienced through His Spirit. (Gal. 3:14; Col. 1:13-14; I Tim. 2:5-6). That’s the best news we’ll ever hear!

    So what exactly does our God-given freedom look like?

    There’s a moment I love in Luke chapter 4 where we find Jesus returning to His hometown Nazareth after 40 days of testing and temptation in the wilderness. He goes to the synagogue and stands up to read scripture. As they hand him the scroll of Isaiah, He searches until finding this passage:

    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18-19)

    Then He dramatically rolls up the scroll and sits down, saying to the speechless crowd, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (Luke 4:21)

    This story gives me goosebumps. I can just imagine the shocked, maybe doubtful looks on everyone’s faces as they look at this familiar yet unrecognizable man – the one they watched grow up from a boy – filled with the Holy Spirit and fulfilling prophecies. Jesus the Christ was boldly proclaiming His identity! He was filled with God’s Spirit, and He knew exactly who He was and what He’d been sent to do – to bring freedom. This was God’s plan all along – for all people to have access to His kingdom, healed and free through the power of His Spirit.

    All throughout the Bible when the Spirit of God is present, incredible and miraculous things happen. People who were bound up with disease and illness are healed, demons are cast out, the last become first, the “unlovable” are loved, and we are all set free from the grip of sin and death itself through Jesus.

    It’s all too easy to find ourselves looking at the world around us for the keys to our freedom – things like having a picture perfect life, or climbing the ladder of success, or believing that electing the “right” politicians will magically solve all the world’s problems. But none of these things will fill us up or save us from despair. John 8:36 tells us that “who the son sets free is free indeed.” Nothing and no one on this earth can bring us true freedom except God through His Spirit. As our creator and savior, He is the first and best advocate for our freedom that has ever been or will ever be.

    His Spirit at work in us leads to freedom from comparison and striving for others’ approval, so that we are no longer held captive by the world’s definition of perfection, beauty or success. We can live freely in our identity as beloved daughters of the King! Friends, let’s take our eyes off all the constant distractions of life, rally around each other in support, and draw closer and closer to God, the source of our ultimate freedom.

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  • Identity of A Scripture Based Life

    Have you ever struggled with feeling lazy and lonely with daily Bible reading and dealing with constant guilt? Or gotten so serious about Bible reading, only to end up turning it into a mechanical routine of religion?

    It’s a trap either way, but the point of spending time with God is not to avoid guilt or to religiously maintain to-do lists. God wants our hearts. He wants our love and devotion. He wants you to WANT to spend time with Him; not out of habit and not out of obligation.

    Relationship with God, through Jesus, contrary to popular belief, is not accomplished through a one time prayer or acceptance of Him. Like any other relationship, it must be cultivated with intentionality, interest and love.

    As I look at my life and my relationship with the Lord, I realize how easy it is for me to find myself living in between guilt and habit when it comes to my quiet time. Maybe you are the same. But I am comforted by the truth and knowledge that God always gives us new mercies to start again with the right perspective and the right motives to spend time with Him.

    Here are some ways to put authenticity and genuine sincerity back into our daily devotion time:

    Read His Word as Daughters

    Think of the Bible as a gift from your Heavenly Father just for you! Little girls love to receive packages with bows and sparkles. Maybe your Bible is just plain and simple on the outside, but it’s the content and truth on the inside that is such a precious gift!

    God doesn’t use His word as a lecture, and He isn’t just sending swift text messages to His buddies. He’s written letters of love to His precious children.

    In 1 John 3:1, we are called children of God. Being a child of God is an identity changer. Once we recognize our rightful place, title and position in God’s point of view, reading our Bibles becomes so much more engaging. So, when we believe our Father God when He says that we are His precious children and daughters, we experience His scripture as a holy gift, one He’s gladly extending for our spiritual and practical use.

    Dig Into His Word as Friends

    Not only are we called God’s children, we are also called His friends (John 15:15). We are told in this scripture that we are not servants, but friends, and what is a friend? According to Proverbs 17:17, a friend loves at all times. We are God’s friends because He chose us and loves us. To show our mutual agreement to enter into this friendship with Him, He declares that, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:14).

    In Scripture, we are commanded to read diligently (2 Timothy 2:15), hide the word in our heart (Psalm 119:11), be doers of the word and not just hearers (James 1:22) and to meditate on God’s word day and night (Psalm 1:2). Being God’s friend requires that we do what He commands. So, when people question why they should read the Bible, the simple answer is because obedience reflects our love.

    Speak His Word as Mothers

    As we begin to approach our time with the Lord as daughter and friends, it prompts us to share His word as Mothers. Now, I understand that not all of us may have children, but we all have influence. Even if you are young and unmarried, you are a mentor to someone who needs to hear the Word that you’ve been reading, digging into and chewing on.

    The call that God has given all of us is to run on mission daily, carrying the baton of truth and sharing the torch of Salvation with those around us.

    Colossians puts it very plainly, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:16). Mothers, mentors, ambassadors, influencers … all these roles entail teaching and guidance.

    As we spend time in God’s word, His Holy Spirit begins to change us, restore us, re-create us and fill us with His wisdom. In turn, we will naturally begin to share this with others. Our speech begins to change. Our intentions begin to change. Our outlook, advice, interests and motives all begin to change, and those around you will take notice.

    “Honor Christ and let him be the Lord of your life. Always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope” (1 Peter 3:15).

    God gives us opportunities to share His love and truth with others for the benefit of their lives, their relationships and their souls. He desires to use you to point others to Him. Just as mothers direct those entrusted to her, so we, as Christians, are called to do the same.

    God’s Word Brings Joy When We Know Who We Are

    My friends, the Bible is more than just a book. It’s more than just inspirational words or stories or suggestions. It’s God’s actual breath (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It’s His heart to us so that we can know His heart and do His will in all things. Please don’t miss the joy of spending time with Him with the right motives. Daily reading is not a superstitious act to ensure our day runs smoothly. Neither is it a burden that should weigh us down with guilt. Remember who you are: you are God’s child, you are God’s friend and you are God’s ambassador. Keep your relationship with your Lord into perspective as you read His word. It will change your outlook and your life!

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  • Confident Hope

    At the beginning of last Fall, my family found ourselves needing to find a new place to live. The house we had been renting at a low price for the last 9 years was being put up for sale and we had to move. The housing situation in our area was a bit precarious, with high rent prices and even higher sale prices, so we weren’t sure what we were going to do. With housing prices that seemed out of reach and not very many houses on the market to begin with, our situation didn’t seem to have a good solution. We were faced with a situation that we certainly did not know how to solve–all we could do was pray and hope in the Lord to bring us the right place to live in the right time.

    Sometimes we are afraid to hope…to let go and trust that everything is firmly in God’s grasp. Hope can be difficult when we live in a broken world that is filled with disappointments. But hope, true hope, is found in trusting in the Lord. Though hope in the things in this world may have brought disappointment, we never have to fear putting our hope in the Lord.

    In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause. Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

    Psalm 25:1-5

    Psalm 25, in the words of King David, says that those who hope in God will not be put to shame. Usually when we hear the word “shame” we think of humiliation or embarrassment, but “shame” in this verse refers to being let down or disappointed, meaning that if you hope on the Lord, He will not let you down. Some translations use the word “wait” or “trust.” In other words, no one who waits, hopes or puts their trust in the Lord will be let down. He is SO trustworthy–we never have to fear placing our hope on our Lord!

    “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

    Romans 5:5

    Now that doesn’t mean that as a Christian you will never be disappointed. Instead, it means that as you wait actively on the Lord and hope in Him, not in what He will do for you, but confidence in who He is, then you will not be disappointed. Sometimes we make the mistake of focusing on the thing we want or need most, instead of focusing firmly on the Lord. We can actively participate in hope through our prayers lifted up to God, asking Him to teach us His ways and to guide our hearts toward His will.

    The Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary describes hope as “the eye of faith which looks forth clear and fixedly into the future.”

    While we didn’t know where we would land or how it would be possible to make getting a house a reality, God knew. We trusted in the fact that God already knew our future and had it all under control. We may not have been able to see it yet, but He could. He knew how our situation would all work out and He was actively bringing it all together for our good. We had faith that God would take care of us and we didn’t need to fear (although, I must admit it was still stressful at times for this “must-plan-everything” gal!).

    So, we actively stepped forward in faith and took the steps that we knew to do, and God led and guided us to just the right house. In His loving kindness, God provided all we needed to make buying the house a reality. Things came together in ways that still blow my mind when I think about it! It had God’s fingerprints all over it!

    Sometimes we must wait a long time for what we hope for to happen. It can be difficult to always see where and how God is working in our lives and in our situations. Even in these times, we can have confidence in who God is and that He is indeed working on our behalf to bring about good in this world and in our lives. Biblical hope is an active waiting with confident anticipation.

    In Psalm 23, King David is appealing on behalf of all of us in his prayer, that we might not be ashamed of our hopeful expectation, by the delay, or the denial of what we ask–that as we wait on the Lord in worship, trust in His love, seek and experience His presence, and look ahead to salvation in Jesus, we will not be put to shame.

    Maybe you have been waiting in hope for a long time for that job, a spouse, a child or a realization of a dream. If you are weary in waiting or lacking in confident hope today, I pray that you will hear these words prayed thousands of years ago by King David, that were prayed for you as well, and be encouraged. Even if you are unsure on how God is working, you can be confident that He is a God who loves you more than you can even imagine and has wonderful and amazing plans in store for you! Hold on to hope in God and His promises–it doesn’t disappoint!

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  • You Are Redeemed

    The last few weeks we’ve been taking a look at different aspects of our identity in Christ. As we turn our focus to Easter this weekend, we are reminded that the most important part of our identity is that we are REDEEMED!

    Redemption is not a concept we hear about much in our daily lives. Every year, around Easter, we focus again on what Christ has done for us, but to be honest, my brain kind of just glosses over the term. What does it mean to be redeemed? What was I redeemed from?

    For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

    1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV

    This Scripture so beautifully captures not only what we were redeemed from but shows the weight of the cost. In the New Testament, redemption is used to refer both to deliverance from sin and to freedom from captivity. When Adam and Eve chose disobedience and brought sin into the world, humanity was now held captive by sin and death. This way of life only brought grief, evil, destruction and separation from God. Sin owned us–we were helpless against its power. This life of sin kept us from living the life we were intended to have–a life of joy and peace and flourishing.

    But God in His deep abiding love for us, began making a way for us to be brought back to full relationship with Him–restored to who He created us to be. He rescued us from darkness and a life of imprisonment to sin, and set us free so sin no longer had control over us. Jesus redeemed our life by restoring ownership to God.

    It is only through Jesus giving up His perfect life in exchange for ours, that we are redeemed. We were not redeemed by things that don’t last, but a once and for all act of mercy and grace. Our redemption cannot be undone–it is eternal.

    Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

    Romans 5:1-2 NLT

    This redemption and new life that God has given us comes from the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Praise be to God! Not only are we redeemed but we are also chosen by God to be His sons and daughters. He has set us free in order that we may live in the world that He intended. As His redeemed, beloved daughters, we can boldly run into His arms without guilt, shame or hindrance. We are now His and we now belong to the Kingdom of God.

    As we enter this weekend of remembrance, please take some time to thank Jesus for rescuing us and redeeming us. Rejoice in knowing that Jesus has paid the price for our freedom and we can walk confidently and joyfully in God’s love and grace this Easter!

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  • Enduring Hope

    What a year, right?! This has definitely been a year that has pushed our patience and endurance to the limits. Since March, we have all been expectantly waiting for this pandemic to end so we can return to life as we once knew it. We long for life to feel normal, for gatherings with loved ones, for outings and adventures. But more than that, this season has revealed a deeper need, one that has been there a lot longer than the pandemic–a longing for peace and justice, for the world to be made right, for healing and restoration, for Jesus to return and make things the way they were intended to be.

    In the book of Luke, we are introduced to a prophetess named Anna, who understood firsthand this kind of expectant waiting. She endured faithfully, waiting in hope for 84 years for the Messiah. 84 years! Can you even imagine??

    Anna had only been married 7 years when her husband passed. Instead of getting remarried, Anna dedicated herself to the Lord and lived in the Temple, fasting and praying every day as she waited expectantly for the Messiah to come and bring justice and peace to the world. One day, a devout man named Simeon, led by the Holy Spirit, shows up at the Temple and experiences with Anna the fulfillment of a life-long hope.

    At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

    ….Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.

    Luke 2:25-32, 36-38

    The season of Advent is a time of expectant waiting for the arrival of the Messiah. As we celebrate Advent each year, we often stop when we get to the scene in the manger. Jesus has arrived! But the advent story isn’t truly complete until we see those who have been waiting for the Messiah finally experience their hope fulfilled. What a glorious moment that must have been when Anna saw Jesus and Simeon held the Savior in his arms! Their prophetic testimony in the Christmas story brings a conclusion to this time of waiting and announces a new season has begun–the season of restoration and reconciliation!

    Like Anna, we too are expectantly waiting for Jesus to return and bring restoration and reconciliation to its fullness. But waiting is hard and enduring in hope can be even harder. Anna saw no evidence of God’s approach, no reassuring signs that pointed to the coming of the Messiah…and yet she persevered in hope because her confidence in God was sure.

    Hope isn’t just a wish that good things will happen, but rather confidence in the author of the outcome. True hope is deeper than mere wishful thinking–it is the confident belief that God is faithful and will complete what He has begun, that history in all it’s difficulties and details is fully under his control. And that God’s outcome will be good and glorious!

    Following Jesus is an exercise in hope. We spend much of our lives like Anna–being faithful in the waiting while God is powerfully (and often invisibly) at work all around us. Our hope is sustained in times of waiting because we know that the same God that kept His promises to Simeon and to Anna, will keep His promises to us.

    So today, wait patiently in hope, secure in the One that can be trusted with the future, the One who redeems the time of our enduring patience. Remind your friends and loved ones and be encouraged that hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)

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