Express His Glory in Your Life

Posts tagged ‘hope’

Difficulties Guaranteed. Choose Outcome: Weariness or Worship.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Difficulties and disappointments are guaranteed to come to every life.  The outcome of every situation is our choice.  We can follow the path of the Overcomer, or we can choose to blaze our own way.  Following Jesus will lead us to worship and the fulfilling presence of God.  Going our own way will lead to greater devastation and paralyzing weariness.

The choice seems easy; who doesn’t want victory?!  The reality is the path to victory demands stepping out in faith.  That path demands knowing the Promises and ways of God…and walking in them even when they seem impossible.  On the other hand, the weary path seems wise at first.  We trust the knowledge we’ve accumulated; we rely on our natural abilities and intellect.  It feels safer.  It is a deception.

The passages that precede Jesus’ words above lead us toward the desire of God–intimate fellowship with Himself.  Jesus explains the necessity of abiding in the vine–living in His love.  We love the concept and in quiet times, our mental agreement feels adequate.  But the power of the passage comes when we live it out in the dusty days of life.  Living in the love of God gives strength when the people around us are unreasonable and unkind.  Staying in the vine gives us nourishment when life is draining us with failures and insurmountable problems.

As Christians, we are on a mission to take the glory of God to the hurts of the world.  We can’t idolize the quiet spots; they are to be enjoyed but we have work to do!

So, what do we do with those heartaches that come into our lives?  First, we must remember that what we see is incomplete and in part, an illusion.  We are to live the G Morel flickr.comWord in the midst of the difficulties and enjoy the presence of God through intercessory prayer.

Intercession is so much more than taking God a to do list.  He knows the burdens that weigh upon us.  What He asks of us is to bring those burdens to Him and seek His view.  God has a good purpose and plan in all things; He has the power to produce what He desires.

From the earthly perspective,3241925633_310c42121a_z our problems loom large and feel impossible.  We often beg God to take them away.  In those times, we are carrying loads here that He wants us to bring into His presence.

Intercessory prayer becomes worship as we see inside the Father’s heart and feel His powerful presence reassuring us.  From the eternal perspective, problems relate to aweseom purposes we rejoice in when we seek His understanding.

The Truth of the Word is to be transformational–not tiresome.  Just as intercessory prayer is not a ‘to do list’ for God, neither is obedience to God.  Obedience is doing the will of God with a heart that trusts in His goodness in every situation.  A heart that trusts in Him enjoys His presence so much, lists of sin are unnecessary–because sin separates from Him.  Living Truth in the dust and difficulties of our days is not about getting everything right.  It is about being transformed by the Truth of Love so we can rise victorious over every circumstance.

Weariness comes when our list of ‘do and do nots’ consumes us more than His beauty.  “Love your enemy” is a burden until I see my enemy from God’s view.  “Do not covet” is impossible unless I see the generosity of God who meets my every need.  External measures of life tire us out; a heart resting in Him exceeds any ‘list’ and fills us with energizing life.

When we are growing weary, we are to take that as a reminder to WORSHIP!

Free from the Past!

‘Don’t cry over spilled milk,’ says the old adage.  ‘What’s done is done,’ we say.  Is it true?  Is there no hope in the past?  I believe Scripture tells us differently.

The lens of faith transforms the darkest images.

In Joel chapter 2, verse 21 we read “the LORD will do great things.”  Joel continues in verse 25 with:

“And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten,

the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.”

There is nothing in our past that God has not allowed.  It may not have been what He longed for us to have…sin and its consequences are never His desire…but He allows anything that can draw us closer to Him.  The call of God is always “Where are you?” because the desire of God is always that we will choose to be where He is!  Time does not confine God.  He was, is and always will be.  Taking the time to find Him in the hurts of the past brings healing to the present.

Nothing that happens—past, present or future—is devoid of the presence of God.  When we purpose to look for Him in the difficult things of our lives, we find healing!  Fear traps us in the traumas of life…faith frees us.  God promises we are never alone.  He is always faithful to His promises.

Living in the hurts of the past effectively nullifies the work of the Cross in today.

When we allow Jesus to walk in the depths of our pain, He touches us with love that brings peace.  Many of us learn to isolate emotions, to pack them away because they terrify us; it feels as if the pain is a tidal wave that will drown us.  Jesus walks on water…He quiets storms.  Let him into those reservoirs of fear and He will transform them to rivers of living water for others.

In the Old Testament we read that curses last for three or four generations.  We see generational curses all around us:  legacies of shame, rebellion and violence.  Every individual has opportunity to take the inheritances of yuck and let Jesus transform them into generational blessings.  The curses are short-lived in comparison:  blessings pass on to thousands of generations.  Take the hard stuff you have endured to Jesus; let Him speak life into you that blessings might flow forth from you.

 “Joy in the Journey” – Tools for Spiritual Growth helps those who wish to unpack the treasures God deposited in those tough times.  To be sure you hear about other new tools, sign up for Glory Glimpses, the newsletter for this site!

 

Light Over-rides the Dark

Reality includes ugly, hard truths.  Mistakes, evil and hardship touch every aspect of every life.  But contrast creates beauty…and against the backdrop of darkness, glory shines!  I am always looking for stories that illustrate such Truths of God.   Recently, I saw such a story at a local state park.

Every story, whether that of a business, a country or a person, has a mix of good and bad in its history–and its present.  A walk around Chester State Park reveals some incredible good that came in the midst of both sin and stupidity.  I take great encouragement in stories like this because darkness can sometimes deceive us into thinking nothing good is happening.  As a Christian, the Park story reminds me that ‘stuff happens’ but my good and powerful God has a way of bringing good in the midst of bad.  Take a stroll with me through the history of Chester State Park and be encouraged!

According to history documents, in the 1920s, the land of Chester County was severely over-farmed.  Some say South Carolina had the dubious distinction of having the most15742990546_5cbd1c4f35_m depleted, eroded land east of the Mississippi.  Undoubtedly, a lack of knowledge and a surplus of greed joined forces to mine the land for every cotton dollar available.  The result paralleled the mid-west experience and the great Dust Bowl horror.  The present day park land was a prime example of the dark reality of those years.  An old cotton field with a history of crop failures, it was worth little.

Into the darkness came the flickering light of a dreamer.  Carlisle White looked at the
dried up property with two trickling streams converging into one and envisioned a lake-side housing development.  He set about sharing his vision, purchased the land and formed Lakeview Corporation.    The corporation built a dam, created a lake and sub-divided the property into building lots.  However, no homes were ever built there; no lots were ever sold.  The Great Depression crashed down and the developers’ dreams never materialized.  Instead, necessity forced them to turn the property over to the federal government.  The light of the dreamer wavered precariously.

But darkness can never overcome light.  A new federal government program, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was about to fuel the flame that would redeem that plot of land.  Part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, the CCC put people to work re-building the infrastructure of America.  The State Park system across the US owes its beginnings to the CCC.  Chester State Park is one of the treasures that shines out of the dark years of the 20s and 30s because of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Darkness, though, does not surrender easily.  The first CCC crew sent to Chester actually abandoned the project because of the severity of the erosion.  Their inability to see beyond the difficulties joined forces with the darkness of another community to deliver the right team to Chester.  The work crew which did most of the work at the park was originally assigned to another county.  The ignorant racism of that community led them to reject the crew based on the African-American heritage of its members.  The fortitude of that CCC Crew, Unit 4475, conquered the darkness and became the primary tool of restoration for the land we now enjoy as Chester State Park.

Unit 4475 built an impressive array of structures–some of which remain today: the roads, a larger dam, shelters, a boat house and a residence for the rangers.  All of that construction was on top of the ‘camp’ the members built for themselves to live in while they created the Park!  Sadly, per federal law, every camp structure had to be removed when the CCC crew left.  Their camp included a chapel, store, barber shop, barracks, mess hall and administrative buildings.  This same crew also initiated several other projects to combat further erosion, including planting 400,000 trees and building additional dams.  Almost a century later, their labor continues to bless the County and countless visitors.

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Debbie Blakley, Photographer

Today, the Park is a picture of abundance and beauty.  It serves as a place of recreation and respite for many.  But its history includes a mixture of good and bad:  vision, discouragement, greed, racism, fortitude, foolishness and hope.  Goodness and light won out because that is how God designed this world.  The law of sowing and reaping means there are consequences from every action.  In the goodness of God, He deemed that curses are limited to four or five generations while blessings pass on for thousands.  May this picture of sowing, reaping and redeeming encourage you to rejoice in the goodness of God.

I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’  Hosea 10:12

Hallelujah!! Captive to Jesus

Do you ever have those verses that just stump you?  They tease you with an awareness that there is more than you can grasp.  Treasure those verses.  I promise you, that in the fullness of time, God will give you beautiful revelations with them.  I want to share one of those that tugged at me for years.  Paul quotes the Psalmist:

That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.”  Ephesians 4:8

Psalm 68:18 When you ascended to the heights, you led a crowd of captives. You received gifts from the people, even from those who rebelled against you. Now the LORD God will live among us there.

I have chewed on this verse for years…drawn pictures, diagrammed the sentence (yes, I am odd) and chased the root words in Hebrew and Greek.  But it was the sweet work of the Holy Spirit that finally showed me what that looked like in me.

It takes a confession to explain.  I have never denied being stubborn.  I wore it as a banner, in fact.  Confessing is not repenting.  I saw that the stubborn-ness had benefited me sometimes.  I saw that being stubborn helped me walk in obedience.

Now, God also showed me those terribly convicting verses that equated stubborn-ness with witchcraft and rebellion.  But they just didn’t fit–or so I thought.

A casual remark that a more mature Christian held me accountable for opened the door to the Light.

“I hate rules,” I said.

“God loves rules.  He is a God of order.  Where do you think that came from?” my mentor challenged.

In my natural mind, the answer was honest:  “I don’t know.”  But the Spirit knows and when I asked, He immediately revealed that pivotal point in time when I choose rebellion.  The details of the scene are something I’ll share with those who ask but they don’t matter to this piece.

I was a child–perhaps 12.  It was a decision that changed my future but not one that confounded God.  He knew and He mapped my life to utilize that offensive choice.  I chose captivity to rebellion.  It cost me a lot.  It injured many.  But God kept wooing me, and I surrendered to Him to the limits I understood.

I didn’t know to surrender the stubborn-ness. I suspect I didn’t trust Him Freedbyloveto guide me without it.  I had used it for so long.  I couldn’t see it for its deadly yuck.

Now, look back to those verses that had called to me.

In His loving patience, He had taken that sin captive.  I was not using it for good…God had it all along!  He accepted ‘gifts’ from this rebel simply because I believed in Him. He worked greater things than I understood…He let me take credit for His work.  He let me even give credit to sin.   That’s the heart of the loving Father, the heart of the humble Savior!

Do you see the mercy, power and glory of God in that?  

He is not daunted by our dirt, but He doesn’t leave us in it!  His transformation plan includes taking the yuck into captivity until such time as we can surrender it to Him.

Our journey through life is about allowing the Spirit increasing room in our lives.   Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil.  He came to provide abundant life.  The Spirit leads us into that life when we walk with Him in faith!  Will you let Him do what He desires?  When God created the world, he said “Let there be…”  We have the same creative option!  Will you let Him?

Knowing God by Name: Hope

Hope is a life necessity.  It is an anchor that holds us in storms–and a power that propels us forward.  Paul, writing to

Give me a hope, M.G. Kafkas

Give me a hope, M.G. Kafkas

Timothy, call Jesus our Hope (1 Timothy 1:1) and in Colossians, he reminds that our Hope of Glory is Christ dwelling within us.

Tools for Growth – Divine Reading of the Word

Faith in Jesus Christ is both simple and complex.  Romans 10:9 is absolute truth:

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Jesus Christ completed the work of salvation.  Living a believing life is not always quite so simple.

Loved ones die.  Tragedies happen.  Lives shatter.

Macro Monday - Joanne JohnsonHope hides in the despair.  Pressing in to find the hope takes courage and strength beyond our capacity sometimes.  Many have walked this road before us–many walk with us.  It is always too soon to quit.  For personal assistance, visit my Personalized Mentoring page.

The Bible is the source of the answers, but it makes no sense to those without the Spirit of God; sometimes it baffles those with the Spirit.  The devil loves to cloud our minds; he does it well.  God is greater.  God wrote the Bible (through forty-some scribes over a few hundred years); He understands it and wants us to as well.

Far too many think they cannot read the Bible.  That is a lie from the pit of hell.  Satan knows the Bible–he uses it all the time.  We MUST read the Word and know it…know the history, the facts and know the heart of each passage.

Listening with the ears of the heart is an art.  In the second century after Christ’s death, this method of reading the Scripture began to be taught.  It was (is) called Lectio Divina or Divine Reading.  It is a deliberate, intense way of approaching the Holy Bible.  It is a way of digging for the hope when despair chokes.  There are many articles on the detailed depths of Lectio Divina, but here is the simplified version.  As you read ask God to show you in the Word:

  • Who He is.

  • Who you are.

  • What He wants you to do with your life.

God created us to be connected to us.  He wants us to know Him and His love–and to share it with others.  You will find that message again and again in the Scriptures.

My Song – full of joy

Jesus says He came that our joy would be full.  We need to sing a song of joy to this hurting world that is starved .  God and Christ are joyful–not mindless mirth but abiding joy that knows the depths of grief as well.  Scripture uses the metaphor of

Tristan Martin, Flickr.

Tristan Martin, Flickr.

“Song” to describe our God.  Isaiah 12:2 and Exodus 15:2 are a couple places to soak in.  These words from John Piper convey the beautiful complexity of the song we sing when we live in the joy of God.

Indomitable joy does not mean there is only joy.  Was he then divided, torn between joy and sorrow?  Can an infinitely glorious soul be troubled?  Yes, troubled but not torn and disunited.  Christ was complex but not confused.  There were divergent notes in the music of his soul but the result was a symphony.

Sing of the King who loves with passion and paid the price to deliver us from pain, won’t you?!

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