Hope is a Promise

The tracking information on my package said “Delivery by 8 pm today.” I went out in the dark with a flashlight to check. It was not there. I looked for it again the next day, but it was still not there. I rechecked the tracking, and it had changed delivery dates to the following day. I was beginning to lose hope that it would ever arrive, but it finally came by the end of that week. Given the state of things, it really isn’t surprising, yet it was still disappointing. This is a broken world, so we often lose hope because of broken promises; however, when we trust in God’s promises, we always have hope because he will never fail us.

I have been drawing the scripture references randomly, so I can see God’s hand directing the choice of these verses, especially when you look at all of this week’s selections together:

Day 22

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

1 Corinthians 2:9

Day 23

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Romans 5:5

Day 24

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. Ephesians 1:18

Ephesians 1:18

Day 25

Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.

Malachi 3:16

Day 26

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope….Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Romans 15:4,13

Day 27

Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.

Psalms 119:114

Day 28

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:7

God has prepared unimaginable good things for those who love Him (Day 22). He put his love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Day 23). He has called us, and we will receive the riches of his inheritance (Day 24). God hears those who fear him and will put them in a Book of Remembrance (Day 25). He gives us patience and comfort through His scriptures, and fills us with joy and peace through the power of the Holy Spirit (Day 26). He is our hiding place and shield, and we have hope in His Word (Day 27). What God says, He will perform (Day 28).

We have hope through the promises of God’s Word, and His Word never fails. So, whenever you are feeling hopeless, let the Word of God and His Holy Spirit minister to your heart for they are the source of all hope. Let’s spend more time meditating on the scriptures, and less time worrying about things only God can handle. Then let’s leave those things in His capable hands.

Fear Not!

Fear. A knot forms in my stomach, I clench my jaw, and I feel the world closing in around me. I want to run and hide, but where? Then, I remember the safest place to be, so I go there and find peace and comfort. Where is that, you might ask? It is the presence of God through prayer, Bible study, and worship.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18

The enemy’s two biggest weapons are fear and anger. When we listen to the world, all we hear is a good dose of both of these. When we are under spiritual attack and sometimes verbal assault, we have a defense: the sword of the spirit, the Word of God. It is a source of comfort and the only effective means of routing the enemy. We need to remember that is not people we fight against but a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12). Spiritual battles require spiritual weapons, so use the Word of God as a source of comfort and a means of taking down our spiritual enemy, Satan, and sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

My readings for #MyHopeNotebook this week emphasized that we don’t have to fear because we have hope in God:

Day 9: The Lord is everywhere.

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 11:9

Day 10: I will not be afraid because God can defend no matter how great the size of the enemy.

Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah. But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.

Psalms 3:2-6

Day 11: When we desire the things of God, we will be full of life and firmly planted like a tree.

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12

Day 12: With God all things are possible if we believe.

Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

Mark 9:23

Day 13: We don’t have to fear because we have hope in his mercy.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; 19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. 20 Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. 22 Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.

Psalms 33:18-22

Day 14: We don’t have to fear because no matter what happens God will take us through.

But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

Isaiah 43:1-2

Trials will come. That is a given; however, we don’t have to fear because God is with us. When you feel the fear or anger creeping up on you, turn off the news and social media and open the Word of God. It is a refuge of comfort, peace, and power over the enemy. While you are at it, don’t forget to grab the shield of faith because the Sword will do you no good if you are wounded by the enemy’s darts. Put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6), and let perfect love cast out fear. Then let the peace of God fill you so that it overflows into an angry world.

Fear not!

Suit Up

I know several motorcycle people, and all of them are into wearing protective clothing when riding. I usually see them putting on jackets and gloves as well as goggles and helmets. They are always wearing the proper clothing and shoes for riding. I found the following acronym on a biker lingo blog:

ATGATT = All The Gear, All The Time (helmet, gloves, vest, trousers and boots).

Some even talk about armor, or specially reinforced gear. I thought it was a great reminder that has spiritual implications:

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesian 6: 11-17

The reason we put on the armor of God is the same reason bikers put on their gear: protection. When I took martial arts, I wore gear when I was sparring to reduce the chance of injury. Bikers and martial artists suit up as protection  just in case there is an incident. Even more so, we should wear our spiritual armor because we are going into battle every day. It isn’t a chance of battle; it is a foregone conclusion.

Not only should we wear it every day, but we should also wear every piece of armor. Each piece protects a different part of our being. Whatever we leave undefended, the enemy will target. For example, if I want to retrieve something from my car but I don’t want to take the trouble of finding my shoes. I tiptoe out over the hot concrete, and while I am digging around in my car, a fire ant bites my foot. It’s the same in our spiritual lives. Every piece has a purpose.

We wear a helmet to protect our mind, we wear the breastplate to protect our heart, the belt of truth keeps us grounded, the shield of faith protects us from the enemies weapons, and our feet are prepared to step out to do God’s Will. Our only weapon is the Sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word. People often say talk is cheap, but not this talk. God’s Word is powerful, more powerful than a two-edged sword because it can cut to the heart of the matter. Not only that, God’s Word also brought the world into being. What He says happens. When we wield His Word wisely, no foe can stand against us.

So, before you leave the house, or maybe even the bed, suit up. You never know what the day will bring.

Be Not Deceived

Lately, I find myself being aggravated and irritated at every turn. It usually occurs after I read some post on social media or just the media in general. I start going over and over a comment, replaying it in my mind and getting more annoyed. I was praying for God to help me get past this attitude when I came across verses in my daily reading and was reminded by the Spirit of other verses. You see, I had recently determined to have a more Christ-like attitude. Let’s face it, I had decided to be less grumpy because I had so much for which I should be grateful. The minute I determined to work on that goal, I was hit by every kind of temptation imaginable in direct opposition to that goal. I had gotten the enemy’s attention.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

 (1 Peter 5:8)

The devil is always looking for ways to trip up Christians. He wants to make us ineffective as ambassadors for Christ. The more you try to follow Christ’s example, the more he will attack. However, he is sneaky and tries to use others to do his dirty work.

 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

(Ephesians 6:12)

We spend our time fighting things and people when in reality we should be fighting a spiritual battle. We need to recognize who the true enemy is and how he is at work. Only then can he be defeated.

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

(James 4:1-3)

We need to stop fighting each other, and recognize our true enemy. The devil keeps us so busy fighting one another that we fail to do what we have been commanded: Love one another. The only remedy to eradicate hate is love. We can jump on every bandwagon to fight injustice that there is, but if we do it without love, then we are just a lot of loud noise (I Corinthians 13).

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

(Romans 12:21)

So, instead of going on a rampage on social media, let’s try and show a little kindness to our neighbors. Instead of returning hate for hate, and meme for meme, let’s spread the Good News of hope in Christ. Let’s be an agent of good.

Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

(I Corinthians 15:33)

To me, this verse sums up the problem these days. We have allowed the enemy to divert us from our purpose. Let’s not be deceived anymore. Let’s take up our only spiritual weapon, the sword of the Spirit (God’s Word), and turn it on our real enemy (Ephesians 6: 17).

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

Stand and Face the Storm

Faith & Storm

Retrieved from Link

April 27, 2011 started off with a bang as straight-line winds blew through my area, downing trees and power lines. I thought the worst was over as I gingerly traversed a number of problem areas on my way to work, but it was only the beginning. I was already back home and watching the nightly news for a weather update when I saw a live feed of a tornado touching down in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was shocking, but I figured it would blow out before it reached my side of the state, so I carried on as usual. An hour or so later the storm had not subsided at all and was headed toward me. I grabbed my cats and a blanket and pillow and hunkered down in the bathroom floor just before I lost power. My only communication for weather updates was through texts from a friend. The cats, who were normally jumpy by nature, were unusually calm. Meep, still a kitten at the time, burrowed under the bathroom rug at my side and was quiet. Goldie, my Maine Coon crawled into my lap and lay down in quiet dignity and purred. I felt my own fears subside as I waited for the coming storm. It hit with a fury of wind and lightning. I knew the minute it had passed because the cats got up and went to the door and looked at me expectantly. It was over. You see the cats had the right idea. I had prepared the best that I could by sheltering in place and praying for protection and peace. There was nothing else I could do except wait it out.

Storms are inevitable. Our first instinct is to run away from danger. We begin to imagine all of the possible negative outcomes, but riding the “what if” bus will get you nowhere because its route is an infinity loop. It just keeps taking on more passengers and going in circles. We don’t know what the future holds, and we weren’t meant to. Acts 1:7 says, “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” Therefore, we can run or we can choose to face the storm. I recently heard a guest on a Dave Ramsey video discussing the different ways animals deal with storms. When cows see a storm coming, they try to run away from the storm, but eventually the storm will catch up with them. Buffaloes, on the other hand, run into the storm. In the end, they spend less time in the storm because it passes over them. When we face our troubles head on, then we spend less time in the situation. We can stand in peace knowing we have done what we can do, and leave the rest to God.

When the storms come, Ephesians 6:13 says, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” The verses that follow describe the armor:

  1. Helmet of Salvation – When we have salvation, we know the end of the story (John 3:16).
  2. Belt of Truth – Be cautious where you get your information (John 8:32).
  3. Breastplate of righteousness – It is Christ’s righteousness we are putting on (Philippians 3:9).
  4. Sandals of the gospel of peace – Have the peace that God gives (John 14:27).
  5. Shield of Faith – Have faith that God will work things out (Jeremiah 29:11).
  6. Sword of the Spirit – The sword is the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12).

God has given us armor, but we have to put it on in order for it to be effective. Once you put it on, the only thing left to do according to the last part of verse 13 is just stand. In times like these we need spiritual armor even more than we need masks and gloves. The enemy wants to take your peace and turn you into the worst version of yourself through fear. Instead, put on the armor and do what you can do. Wash your hands, follow social distancing, and find a way to serve others. The armor only protects your front because God has your back. So, stand and face the storm secure in the knowledge that God will walk with us until the storm passes by.

Life is a Battle

In Oswald Chambers’ book My Utmost for His Highest for December 4th, he states the following:

“To him that overcometh…” (Rev. 2:7) – Life without war is impossible, either in nature or in grace. The basis of physical, mental, moral, and spiritual life is antagonism.”

The goal is to overcome anything that is not of God. We have to do battle on every front, sometimes all at the same time.

Whenever we enter a battle of some sort, we think there must be something wrong, like it is against nature. The truth is that battle or antagonism is the nature of life in this world. We are at war with our sinful nature and a fallen world. Just as we battle against disease in our bodies from the day we are born, we also battle against diseases of the mind, the morals, and the spirit.

The key is to know that the battle is not ours. It is God’s. Jesus Christ has already overcome the world. We only have to let the Holy Spirit do the work within us. It’s not easy, but nothing worth winning is easy. This is why Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the Armor of God every day.

“13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17)

First, it is a daily battle, so we must prepare every day. Second, we are not without protection. We have a full suit of armor at the ready. We just have to put it on and stand firm and allow God to fight our battles for us. Begin each day preparing for whatever the day may bring by putting on his armor and knowing that God has already overcome and won the war.