Tag Archives: Hope

Hope vs No Hope!

“I meet millions who tell me that they feel demoralized by the decay around us. Where is the hope? The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us or what laws are past or what great things we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people. That’s where our hope is in this country and that’s where our hope is in life.”  Chuck Colson

During a time in my life years ago. Long before I was saved by the grace of God. I was searching for answers and looking for direction for my life. That search saw me go down many dead end roads. Alcohol, drugs, meaningless relationships and various self-help groups. One in particular comes to mind during these days of virus and stress.

Lifespring was one of the dead end roads this lost traveler went down. Without saying anything negative further about this organization I’ll simply say that I found those  involved to be sincere and caring. The trainings brought a short-lived revelation to my confused state. One particular thing that stands out after all these thirty-something years later is the concept put forth that there is “No Hope!” “There is no hope” is a fundamental tenet in the course.

There is no hope! or No hope, as illustrated by a facilitator  kneeling in front of a chair and pleading/begging for help. They taught that praying for help was futile and hopeless practice. In comparison, hope was illustrated as a standing up defiantly against the circumstances of life and proclaiming your victory. Through self-determination and pure grit one could defeat and enemy and overcome any obstacle. This exercise, as was characteristic of their teachings, was very emotionally charged, loud and almost intimidating in its delivery.

Thankfully God doesn’t work through our feelings. He doesn’t rely on our intellect. He doesn’t try to intimidate us or overpower us. He does, however, speak to us in a still small voice. We need only listen.

So, as we look around at this coronavirus pandemic and hear the voices of news broadcasts that calculate the numbers of sick and dead, we can have hope. We can look past the grim forecast by trusting in God and listen for His voice to speak to our hearts.

This is our Hope. The Hope we have is based on the reality of Jesus Christ. His life, death and resurrection are the foundation of our faith and the cornerstone of our hope. Without this foundation we are lost and truly without hope. Standing defiantly shaking our fist at the circumstance of life will not scare them away. Within our own limited ability we can do little but aligned with and trusting in Jesus means anything is possible.

Let’s review! Read this through. Let it sink in. This is our foundation. This is our Hope.

The Resurrection of Christ

15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importancea]”>[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,and that he appeared to Cephas,b]”>[b] and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”c]”>[c] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 

1 Corinthians 15; 1-27 NIV

I am unapologetic for my opinion regarding the reality of Jesus Christ, God’s unending Love towards us and the infallibility of The word of God. My prayer is that you be encouraged by His Love now more than ever. Be Blessed A&B

Pray Without Ceasing – Myth Busters 2

My sister asked me a very good question the other day – ” If God knows how and when a person will die why should we pray for them to recover from an illness if they are going to die anyway?” The short answer I presented was that God commands us to pray for the sick. After all He may know when a person is going to die – we don’t! We went on to discuss if this situation was in contradiction to the argument outlined in the previous blog (see Myth Busters). If it’s Gods’ will that someone is going to die then our praying for their healing is useless. Isn’t it?

If only it was that easy a thing. God’s not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9b KJV and even though He clearly knows all and sees all it can not be assumed that every human death (or suffering for that matter) is ordained by Him. There are so many reasons we have trouble in this life. Sickness, disease, accidents, acts of violence are only a few things that happen all around us.Simply because we are powerless to stop something doesn’t mean it an “act of God!” Jesus warned us –I have told you all this so that you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 Living Bible

So, what about praying for someone you love who is suffering with a terrible sickness? James gives an example of what to do – Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. James 5:14-15 KJV  Paul puts it very simply in his letter to the church – Pray without ceasing. 1Thess 5:17 KJV Jesus is our example Who we see praying always. 

I saw a sign years ago that read – Live each day as if it’s outcome depends on you and pray each day as if it all depends on God.  At face value this may seem contradictory and maybe somewhat egocentric. But we are expected to be a good steward of the gifts that God has given us, which I believe includes our bodies, mind and spirit as much as our gifts and possessions. Yet, Jesus told us that without Him we can do nothing. John 15:5 KJV So, we pray. Pray and then pray some more and afterwards, pray some more. We do not know what God will do with the prays that He hears from you. But I am sure of this  – He will hear you and He will be proud of you for bringing this situation to Him. The Bible is full of examples of how we are powerless without God as well as examples of how prayer has changed events. But if you do or do not get the answer or result you prayed for that does not mean God doesn’t hear you. We will live and die by the Faith we have (or lack thereof) in Him.

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For God is not the author of confusion 1Cor 14:33 KJV This is why I steer clear of confusion caused by controversy and the landmines of arguments about God and Heaven and the Bible by asking myself one simple question. “Does my Salvation depend on this?” If the answer is a firm “NO!” i move on. Are my pets going to heaven? How old will I be in Heaven? Where will I live in Heaven? Will I need to sleep in Heaven? I do not know the answer to any of these questions and am not concerned with finding the answers either. Rather, I am more concerned with making sure I GET TO HEAVEN ! Once there all those questions will be answered. Now, if a controversy or the confusion about something in the Bible or my walk threatens my relationship with God and my possible goal of reaching heaven I need to keep it simple and decide if I am going to trust Jesus or turn away.

When faced with unanswered prayers and disappointment we are at a crossroad in our walk with Jesus – Trust in Him and live or doubt Him and die.

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life  Deut 30:19KJV

Myth Busters!

God works in mysterious ways. Well, I don’t know. It must have been God’s will. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.

These three commonly used myths sadden me because they are used at a time when people need to be comforted, but they do not comfort. When tragedy strikes and people have experienced a loss, the last thing they need to hear is how helpless they are. Telling someone that they are at the mercy of an unpredictable deity who does whatever he wants without any rhyme or reason does not bring comfort.

Does God work in mysterious ways? Is it possible to know how God works? In the Old Testament we read that God told Adam what he could and could not do. No mystery there – all this is yours just do not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Later, when the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah caused Gods’ judgement to fall upon it, God appeared to Abraham and told him His plans. God reveled Himself to Moses and told Moses of His plan to save His people.   Let’s look at Jesus – He said that He does not do what He wants but instead does only what He (God the Father) tells Him to do (John 9:4a).  Jesus said that he that has seen Me has seen the Father (John 14: 9d).  So it’s fair to say that Jesus personified God thus erasing any mystery as to how He works.  Finally, the Apostles tell us that God is Love (1John 4: 8, 16) and that Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Cor 13: 4-7 NIV)

So much for the “mysteriousness” of our God. But, what about His will for us? The famously quoted verse of the Bible – John 3:16 tells us that – For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  We also see how much love He has for us in 2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Gods’ will for us is to trust Him and love Him and take Him at His Word. When you read the Bible you will see Him clearly – a loving Father Who is Faithful to love us and care for us even when we aren’t aware that He is there.

But, wait! What about that verse in the Bible that says the Lord gives and the Lord takes away? True, these words are recorded in Job 1: 20 – “Naked I came from my mother’s womb,and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job said these words while mourning the loss of his children. He was upset, to say the least. Even though these words are recorded in the Bible it doesn’t mean that they are true concerning the character of God. NOW, before you go thinking I am discrediting the Bible or changing the Word of God, consider what I said. The Word of God is true and infallible for sure, but not everything that everyone said about God is true about God. Satan told Eve that God lied to her – And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Gen 3:4-5  Satan once said –  I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;  I will make myself like the Most High (Isa 14:13-14), But he did not (vs 15).  Solomon said that there is no purpose to life – that it’s all vanity! (see Ecclesiastes). This is not in keeping with what the Word teaches about how precious life is and how we are to live each day to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). But, Solomon said these things after he allowed his many wives and concubines to lead him far from God. Peter even told Jesus that he would keep Jesus from suffering when they got to Jerusalem and the Lord rebuked him (Matt 16:23; Luke 4:8; Mark 8:33).

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I am not trying to rewrite the Word of God but rather provoke YOU to open the Word and see for yourself just what it does and more importantly what it does not say. I believe that if you take the time to do this God Himself will meet you there and you will see Him clearly. Terrible things happen everyday to people and when they search for answers we believers should be able to encourage them with the truth of Gods love and not bewilder them with misguided platitudes.

Jesus left us with this encouraging word found in John 16: 33 “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

PS –

Basic Bible study rules tell us that at the mouth of two or three witnesses let every word be established (2 Cor 13:1). So if anyone can find three verses, in context, that support any of these myths I would be happy to discuss this further. I have tried to present a number of verses to support my opposition to these upsetting and misleading concepts. I hope I have done a good job of it.

Really? Seriously?!?

Just what are we becoming??

A man shoots another in a movie theater for texting during the previews! Another man kills his girlfriend during an argument over a TV show! Road rage incidents abound and young children are harming their parents! These aren’t television show story lines – they are news items. These are things which continual get broadcast at dinnertime each night and we say “Oh My!, pass the potatoes.” We live in a violent society. We accept it as entertainment in our television shows, music videos and movies. We are only slightly shocked when we hear about it on the evening news. And, we accept it because, well, these things happen. Really? Seriously?!

I can still remember my reaction to a gory scene in a movie even though I don’t remember the movie. I recall seeing a mangled mess of a person presented in a crime scene and how it made me feel sick in my stomach. I don’t get that feeling any more. Some would say I have grown up. Others might say I have become tougher, more manly, and thus able to see these things. I say that I have been desensitized. Brain-washed by our society to accept such unacceptable things as the norm. The truth is that the blatant disregard for human life and civility has caused us all to slide down a slippery slope of inhumanity.

In the late sixties and early seventies if I had a problem with another classmate we might get into a fist fight. If I had a problem with a teacher I would talk about it at home or maybe with the Principal. We all know too well how many of these scenarios play out today – with gun shots and bloodshed. Many times innocent bystanders are harmed as vengeance is being exacted. Driving on some roads becomes a completion with terrible outcomes. Unborn children are ripped from their mothers womb and discarded. Newborns are found in trash cans. Amber alerts are sounded when children are snatched from the safety of their own homes. Metal scanners attempt to keep our schools safe and millions of people get searched daily just to take a plane to work or vacation.  Technological and scientific advancements may give us many new and exciting things that previous generations did not enjoy but they haven’t halted the downward spiral that we as people are in. There really isn’t anything scared any longer. It’s truly all about – ME! Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!

The Apostle Paul tells us that in the last days –

 For people will love only themselves and their money; they will be proud and boastful, sneering at God, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful to them, and thoroughly bad. They will be hardheaded and never give in to others; they will be constant liars and troublemakers and will think nothing of immorality. They will be rough and cruel, and sneer at those who try to be good.They will betray their friends; they will be hotheaded, puffed up with pride, and prefer good times to worshiping God. They will go to church, yes, but they won’t really believe anything they hear. 2 Timothy 3:2-5 Living Bible

All I can say to that quote is – IF these aren’t the last days (considering what we are seeing done around us each day) then God help us as we go forward into the last days. Either way – all of us who believe in the Lord Jesus should pray daily that the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit guide us and protect us while we walk in a world that is getting darker and more dangerous day by day. Amen? Amen.

Darkness 1

ps – Jesus said I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. John 9:4 KJV

Giving Thanks!

Is it Thanksgiving Day, Turkey Day or the just the day before Black Friday? The start of the hectic holiday season or a day to reflect on just how fortunate we are and give Thanks to He Who gives us our daily bread? I am sure it means something different to all of us according to our particular traditions and upbringing. Some families at Thanksgiving will go around the table expressing what they are grateful for before dinner. Some of us will have the TV set to the Parade or the game or maybe we use the day to begin playing holiday music. There may be that special dish served at dinner that isn’t seen any other time of year. Perhaps the special china is lovingly unpacked for the occasion. Perhaps the special part of the day is that the whole family is gathered together in one place.

Thanksgiving Day has always been special to me for so many reasons. It represents the start of the Christmas season – which is a magical time of year. The holiday season is a time to express our love and appreciation for those close to us and to also smile at strangers everywhere. Something we might otherwise not do if not for the festive spirit in the air. For me, it is a time to consider where I was and where I am and how I got here. I am thankful for the life I have. This doesn’t mean I have a Norman Rockwell picture perfect life. It means the opposite actually. I can turn around to look down the road I have traveled and see potholes, roadblocks and caution tape. I have been saved from a life of troubles by the Love of God and for that I am grateful.

An attitude of gratitude. The expression “give thanks” is noted so many times in scripture and is encouraged by prophets, kings, apostles and is exemplified by Jesus Himself. It was the ungrateful and hard hearts of the elders in the wilderness that cost them their entrance into the Promised Land. Ingratitude paints a dark picture over the memory of days gone by and diminishes any hope for the future. No matter what our past or current circumstances there is a light of hope and reason to be grateful. As long as we are alive we can have hope for tomorrow because He lives and loves us and wants to see us safe, healthy, loved and secure.  This Thanksgiving Day we encourage you all to be of good cheer, be thankful and be hopeful because He loves you. A&B

All creation

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. Jeremiah 29:11NIV
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18KJV