Rest Time #HOPE

This is a short post to let you know that I need to take some time away from my blog for a short time. There are things going on in my life right now that need to be taken care of and that leaves me with little energy for most everything else. I HOPE to be back by the beginning of May. Thank you all for being so faithful to my little corner of the bloggy world!

But JOYFUL are those
who have the God of Israel
as their helper,
whose HOPE is in
the Lord their God.
—Psalm 146:5

#Resurrection HOPE in Jesus

Happy Resurrection Day! What a HOPE we have in Jesus Christ our Savior, who rose from the dead so that those who trust in His saving grace can enjoy life everlasting in heaven with Him. Hallelujah!

This was originally published at Today in the Word.

1Thes1-9-10-OpenTomb--AMP

HOPE in Jesus

Read 1 Thessalonians 1:2–10

  His Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—
Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. 
1 Thessalonians 1:9–10

 

One biblical scholar describes HOPE this way: “From a biblical perspective, HOPE may be best imaged as a line suspended between past experience of God’s reliability and a future that is still open, a line stretched taut between the reliability and the freedom of Israel’s God.” The greatest demonstration of God’s reliability is Jesus: the Son of God who willingly became fully man, who suffered an unjust death by crucifixion, and who was vindicated by God in the resurrection. What a wonderful example for our own HOPE!

Our reading today is from the introduction of Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica. Throughout these verses Paul unpacks the multiplying nature of HOPE in Jesus. The Thessalonians had been persecuted since they had accepted Jesus (v. 6). But despite their suffering, they were enduring “inspired by HOPE in our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 3). When the Thessalonians looked at Jesus, they saw that He had suffered and been resurrected, and with Him as their model they too could continue to HOPE.

The HOPE of the Thessalonians was inspired by the example of Jesus, and then their own lives and HOPE became encouraging examples for others (v. 7). This is the power of HOPE in Jesus: not only does it strengthen our own endurance in the spiritual life, it also provides a witness of God’s power for others to see.

Finally, notice the specific HOPE in Jesus that produced faithful obedience. The Thessalonians had embraced faith in the living God, and the resurrection of Jesus and the promise of His return and ultimate deliverance to live with Him kept them motivated to love and serve the Lord. Jesus endured suffering—and so did they. Jesus had been resurrected to eternal life—and so would they. What a basis for HOPE!

Apply the Word

The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation for our HOPE—not just the theology we believe but also the HOPE that inspires our daily lives and sustains us in difficult days. Without the resurrection of Jesus, we Christians should be pitied (see 1 Cor. 15:19). But because our HOPE is in Jesus’ victory over death, we know that our work for God is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).


All emphasis on the word HOPE is mine.

The Wonderful #Cross

Is53-5-Cross-Flames--AMP

Have you ever wondered why the day Jesus Christ died such a horrible death is called GOOD Friday? Doesn’t it seem as if it should be the blackest day in history? What can possibly be GOOD about it?

Beloved, Jesus willingly allowed Himself to undergo the horrendous, torturous beatings and then be put to death so that we might live with Him for eternity! This is why it is commemorated as a GOOD day. We are all born as sinners and there is no way we can get to heaven apart from the saving grace and mercy of Jesus Christ’s death on that cross at Calvary. That one death paid the price for us to have the opportunity to be in heaven with Him when we die. 

Yes, we should mourn the death of Jesus Christ because He endured so much on our behalf. But even more, we should celebrate this day as the beginning of mankind’s chance to share in the intimate fellowship with Jesus forever! 

This is our HOPE!

Please enjoy “The Wonderful Cross” by  Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman. Remember and be JOYFUL that Jesus paid it all!

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
—Isaiah 53:5

If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

Faithful, Fabulous Promises

Faithful, Fabulous Promises

By Patricia Knight

On Resurrection Sunday, Jesus approached two men walking from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus. When He joined the duo, He noticed their sad countenances and detected they were raptly engaged in conversation. When Jesus walked beside Cleopas and his friend, neither recognized their Master’s resurrection body.

Jesus questioned them about their comments regarding occurrences around Jerusalem in the past few days, so the men assumed He was a stranger. The men were incredulous that the stranger hadn’t heard the news. Such a verbal exchange of current events would be comparable in our day to interrupting a conversation between two people excitedly discussing the first moon landing, while the entire world was abuzz with the chatter. So it was two centuries ago around Jerusalem: all conversation surrounded the local news of how the Jewish religious leaders handed Jesus over to be sentenced to death. They crucified Him as King of the Jews and buried Him in a borrowed tomb.

Cleopas characterized his Master to the stranger:  “‘A prophet powerful in word and deed before God and all people…we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel’” (Luke 24:19,21). It is likely Cleopas meant the Israelites were hopeful Jesus would militarily mount a coup to defeat the Romans, establishing the kingdom of God. Now it seemed all hope was dashed.

Cleopas also lamented that women who were at the garden tomb early that morning found Jesus’ tomb empty, with the stone at the entrance rolled away. They met angels there who reported their Master was alive. Though other disciples confirmed the women’s story, no one had seen Jesus.

If only the men had known that Jesus himself was the stranger with whom they were speaking and witnessing in the flesh!  “Then Jesus said to them, ‘You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?’ Then Jesus took them through all the writings of Moses and all the prophets explaining from Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27,NLT).

The two men invited the stranger to dine with them that evening. As Jesus “took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them, then their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Luke 24:31). Their recognition was more than mental recall: their eyes suddenly developed spiritual sight to discern what divine intervention had previously prevented them from knowing. Their hearts were suddenly on fire with the familiarity of their Master’s characteristic love and divine authority. When a mortal interacts with the immortal, a change of heart naturally occurs.

At the moment the men’s hearts and minds acknowledged Him, Jesus disappeared from their presence. Immediately the duo walked back to Jerusalem to announce to the eleven disciples that they had met their Savior after His resurrection. When the two men finally arrived to join the other disciples, “while they were still talking, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’” (Luke 24:36).

Imagine the advantage of having a camera mounted inside the Emmaus Café to record body language, the utter wonder and amazement registered on the men’s faces when they suddenly discerned Jesus’ true identity. Or if Jesus had been equipped with a listening device in his tunic pocket, their entire conversation would have been captured for all posterity.

But wait! There was no need for modern technology to preserve the interaction of the resurrected Savior and His devout followers. God has equipped us with his written Word filled with inspired dialogue and prophecies. The Old Testament is interspersed with myriad covenants promising a future Messiah. The Magi who followed the supernatural star in the east were apprised of an ancient prophecy that the King of the Jews would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). The prophet Isaiah described the Savior’s humble beginnings, His divine ministry, and His amazing triumph over sin and suffering as the Lamb of God, centuries before Jesus’ incarnation on earth (Isaiah 53).

Our heavenly Father is faithful, sharing His most vital plans with His children. His integrity is impeccable; what God promises, He delivers, even when a covenant is established centuries in advance. Every detail is meticulously followed with no last minute changes. Many prophesies have already come to pass, exact in every detail as the Lord specified through His prophets. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

With such numerous promises from Almighty God, we need only open our Bibles to access the prophecies that assure us of a marvelous future spent in heaven in the presence of our Savior. Although we anticipate the grandeur of heaven, worshipping our Savior face-to-face, we need not wait until then to celebrate a daily walk with Jesus.

Consider the staggering reaction of Cleopas and his friend, whose downcast spirits were suddenly exalted to a pinnacle of emotional triumph when the truth of Jesus’ identity was revealed. Take heart; God still promises unsurpassed victory to believers today. “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). A new age of grace and mercy was initiated when Jesus suffered and died for us. All of God’s plans for His Son, who willingly accepted His role in the salvation of mankind, were carried out as prophesied.

How do we plan to respond to Jesus? As Cleopas and his friend did, with wonder, amazement and action, or do we shrug Him away with disinterest, thinking matters of the world are more important? Jesus is patiently waiting for you to seek Him. Let us follow the disciple’s example, who upon learning of Jesus’ true identity, prayed with Him, loved him, served Him, and sought every opportunity to tell others that their Messiah had come. In light of Jesus’ sacrifice and the fulfillment of His faithful, fabulous promises, how can we offer any less than our love and our lives to Him?

The Love of #Christ

The Love of Christ

by Joni Eareckson Tada

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor
demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither
height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39

The supreme reason that you can and should trust God through suffering is found at Calvary, for no better argument can be voiced apart from the cross. That He would endure the full fury of hell so you could escape it should tell you something as you face your own hellish circumstances.

The greatest love scene in the world happened when Christ hung and bled on the cross. It was God saying, “Look, see, this is how much I love you!” What’s amazing is that He played out this love scene while we snubbed Him in cool, callous indifference. Who would want to escape that kind of love, or ignore or deny it? And what Christian could ever dare doubt it? Christ died for you. What love!

Sometimes after I’ve snapped at a friend or chipped in my two cents’ worth of gossip, I catch myself thinking, “Oh, God, these are the things that nailed Jesus to the cross…I am so sorry.” Human logic tells me that He should turn away from me. But nothing, absolutely nothing can separate me from His constant outpouring of love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

Often we twist God’s arm for the “reasons why” before we decide to trust Him with our circumstances. We want the blueprint spread before us. But the bruised and battered apostle Paul who probably had every reason to wonder “why,” never said, “I know why all these things are happening.” Rather, he said, “I know in whom I have believed.” The love of Christ was enough.

Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.


Taken from Diamonds in the Dust. Copyright © 1993 By Joni Eareckson Tada. Published in Print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version.

Sunday Praise and Worship: #Forgiven

Today is Palm Sunday, commemorating the day when Jesus jubilantly entered Jerusalem. Later that same week, the people demanded that Jesus be crucified.

“Palm Sunday is the day we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, one week before His resurrection (Matthew 21:1–11). As Jesus entered the holy city, He neared the culmination of a long journey toward Golgotha. He had come to save the lost (Luke 19:10), and now was the time—this was the place—to secure that salvation. Palm Sunday marked the start of what is often called “Passion Week,” the final seven days of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Palm Sunday was the “beginning of the end” of Jesus’ work on earth.” (from GotQuestions?) [emphasis mine]

Beloved, if Jesus had not died for our sins, we would not have the HOPE of everlasting life in heaven with Him. “Forgiven,” by Crowder, could be sung by any of us because we are all born sinners in need of a Savior: Jesus Christ. Through His death on that cross, we have been forgiven!

  38 Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim
that through this man Jesus
there is forgiveness for your sins.

39 
Everyone who believes in him is made right in God’s sight—
something the law of Moses could never do.

—Acts 13:38-39, NLT

 Please excuse any ads that may appear before the video begins
If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

What is propitiation?

From GotQuestions?

Question: “What is propitiation?”

Answer: The word propitiation carries the basic idea of appeasement or satisfaction, specifically toward God. Propitiation is a two-part act that involves appeasing the wrath of an offended person and being reconciled to him.

The necessity of appeasing God is something many religions have in common. In ancient pagan religions, as well as in many religions today, the idea is taught that man appeases God by offering various gifts or sacrifices. However, the Bible teaches that God Himself has provided the only means through which His wrath can be appeased and sinful man can be reconciled to Him.

Read the rest here.

Why Jesus Was Hated and Put to Death {Repost}

This is a wonderful article about Kevin DeYoung’s blog post, “Why Did They Hate Jesus?” by Randy Alcorn on his Eternal Perspective Ministries blog.

Why Jesus Was Hated and
Put to Death

By Randy Alcorn

I’ve shared before my appreciation for pastor and writer Kevin DeYoung’s blog, as well as for his books, including The Hole in Our Holiness, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?, and his children’s book The Biggest Story.

With Good Friday and Easter upon us, Kevin recently posted an answer to the question, “Why did they hate Jesus?” It’s common to hear people focus solely on the compassion and love of Jesus, and neglect the other parts of His character, including His holiness and wrath, sovereignty and lordship. Jesus was indeed a friend of sinners, but He was crucified for much more than that. The gentle, compassionate Jesus is also the Jesus who drove the merchant-thieves from the Temple and spoke condemnation against self-righteous religious leaders. Were Jesus as meek and mild and utterly tolerant as many think, He never would have been crucified. But His less popular qualities so outraged people that they nailed Him to a cross.

Read the rest here.

Sunday Praise and Worship: At the #Cross (Love ran red)

Our Lord Jesus Christ is always faithful and trustworthy. No matter what is going on in your life, you can always lean on Him for comfort, peace, help and support. When the things of this world get you down—and they will!—turn to Jesus. He loves you beyond measure. How do I know this? Because He chose to take the punishment for our sins on Himself. His death on the cross is evidence of how much He loves us. And His resurrection from that death on the third day attests to a fact we can always count on:

Jesus made a way for us to be in heaven with Him for eternity.

The song “At the Cross,” by Chris Tomlin, attests to the faithfulness of Jesus. He deserves every bit of our thankfulness, praise and worship. Yes, and all glory should go to Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding His blood for us.

This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia.

Grace and peace to you from the one who is,
who always was, and who is still to come;
from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne;

and from Jesus Christ.
He is the faithful witness to these things,
the first to rise from the dead,
and the ruler of all the kings of the world.
All glory to him who loves us and has freed us
from our sins by shedding his blood for us.

He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father.
All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven.
    And everyone will see him—
    even those who pierced him.
And all the nations of the world
    will mourn for him.
Yes! Amen!

“I am the Alpha and the Omega—
the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God.
“I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—
the Almighty One.”

—Revelation 1:4-8, NLT

 Please excuse any ads that may appear before the video begins
If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

The Marriage Triangle: The Power of Prayer #LoveWins

Please visit TRC to read more of the great articles in this issue!

Devote yourselves to prayer 
with an alert mind and a thankful heart. 

Colossians 4:2, NLT

A couple of weeks ago I went to visit my children who live about two hours away. Before I drove off, Rick and I held hands while he prayed over me. This always makes me feel completely covered by God’s love and care, as well as Rick’s. To me, this is no small thing.

Rick and I also pray together before we leave on a trip, or when we go for a motorcycle ride, asking God to bless us during our travels.

Prayer is so important that Jesus made a point of teaching us how to pray in Matthew 6:9-15, NKJVLet’s talk about different ways we can pray as a married couple.

Let’s first take another look at the Marriage Triangle. If husbands and wives are keeping our eyes focused on Jesus, we will want to pray for His will in our lives. What happens because of that is the more time we each spend focusing on Jesus and His will and plan for both of us, the better and closer our relationship with Jesus will become. And the closer we walk with Jesus, the closer we get to each other. Prayer is an integral part of His plan for us.

Praying together for each other

 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray.
Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 
James 5:13, NLT

I touched on this above. Spouses can pray for each other before they are about to be apart. This doesn’t just mean when one spouse will be traveling and the other one is staying home. How about praying before you each leave for work? Or if the wife works as a stay-at-home mom, her husband can pray for her day with the children as she prays for his day at work.

Is one of you struggling with something in your life? Share it with your spouse so you can pray about it together.

The same holds true when exciting things are happening. Praise God together in prayer. God loves it when we acknowledge the wonderful things He is doing in and through us!

Praying for each other separately

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other
so that you may be healed.
The earnest prayer of a righteous person

has great power and produces wonderful results.
Elijah was as human as we are,

and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall,
none fell for three and a half years!
Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain

and the earth began to yield its crops.
James 5:16-18, NLT

Husbands and wives should pray for each other on a daily basis. What great things do you see your husband doing as he seeks to live as the Lord wants him to? It is a nice gesture to let your spouse know how much you appreciate the way they are walking with the Lord, but how about also lifting her up to the Lord in prayer? Thank Him for the blessing of her in your life.

Let’s go back to the idea that your spouse is struggling with something that’s going on in his life. Even though you have both prayed about this together, continue to lift it up to the Lord in your private prayers for him.

He saw that there was no man,
and wondered that there was no intercessor;
therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him;
and His own righteousness, it sustained Him.
Isaiah 59:16, NKJV

Intercessory prayer on behalf of another is an excellent way to seek God’s will for the other person.

“Quite simply, intercessory prayer is the act of praying on behalf of others. The role of mediator in prayer was prevalent in the Old Testament, in the cases of Abraham, Moses, David, Samuel, Hezekiah, Elijah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Christ is pictured in the New Testament as the ultimate intercessor, and because of this, all Christian prayer becomes intercession since it is offered to God through and by Christ. Jesus closed the gap between us and God when He died on the cross. Because of Jesus’ mediation, we can now intercede in prayer on behalf of other Christians or for the lost, asking God to grant their requests according to His will.” 1

Praying even when it feels awkward

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.
Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers
for all believers everywhere.
Eph 6:18, NLT

I don’t think prayer comes easily to anyone but like most things, the more you pray the more comfortable you become with it. Before you know it, praying becomes second nature to you.

Think of prayer as a conversation between you and God. Talk to Him as if He is right next to you, because He actually is! We cannot see him with our eyes now but we can feel Him in our heart. In fact, the Lord knows what is in your heart but loves to hear you say it to Him. And isn’t that the way marriage is too? We know our spouse loves us but I don’t know anyone who does not like to hear that said out loud.

Pray for specific issues separately and together

When there are big decisions to be made, prayer should always be at the center of those considerations. Pray for what God wants you to do – together as a couple and also separately.

Years ago Rick and I started praying about moving out of California. We didn’t know the when or where of it, but we kept praying about it. During the waiting time, we considered and visited several different places, and northern Arizona seemed to be where God continued to direct us. 

A couple of years later, our prayers were answered as we each finally felt God telling us it was the right time to move. The moving process itself was not easy but we prayed about and followed God’s leading through every step. Almost 13 years later, here we are, still thanking God for planting us in this beautiful area.

If God doesn’t answer your prayers right away, don’t give up! Keep on praying for His direction and timing.

“I don’t know how to pray/I’m not comfortable praying out loud”

Have you ever said or thought this, especially when listening to someone pray a long, moving prayer? Verbal prayer doesn’t come easily to any of us, does it? I still stumble with words when praying aloud as I try to turn my thoughts into prayers.

My initial experience in hearing others pray aloud was at the first Bible study I ever attended. It was a women’s Bible study and there were at least 20 of us seated around a large table. At the end of the study we shared prayer requests. When no further prayer needs were shared, our teacher said she would start us off in prayer and then we could take turns as we felt led to do so.

I listened to one woman after another pray eloquently for some of the needs we had heard, marveling at how easily they expressed themselves. I chose not to pray aloud that day because I couldn’t imagine how to pray like they did. However, a little at a time I learned that each of us has our own way of praying out loud and that we shouldn’t ever feel inadequate about what we’re praying, or for how long ─ or short ─ our prayers are. God hears all of our prayers and appreciates every one of them!

Don’t worry about “proper” prayers!

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything;
tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.
If you do this, you will experience God’s peace,

which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.
His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest

as you trust in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7, TLB

As you can see, we are not to be anxious about anything, and that includes how we pray. God hears all our prayers, so just pray from your heart and don’t worry about how they sound.

God puts much value in our prayers. If you don’t believe this to be true, check out these passages in the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 5:8: And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.

Revelation 8:3: Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great amount of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people as an offering on the gold altar before the throne.

Revelation 8:4: The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out.

Like almost everything else, our prayer life takes time to develop so don’t give up. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your prayers. Since God places so much importance on prayer, He will gladly direct you in what to pray about and how to say those prayers.


1 What is Intercessory Prayer?