God’s Everlasting Consolation

2Thes2-16-17--BeachSitting

 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself,
and our God and Father,
who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace,
comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.
—2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

One of my favorite places to spend time is at the coast, although we live far from there now. Almost 20 years ago I went on a solo road trip that took me up the California coast and back, where I decided to spend several days in Monterey. I enjoyed lots of time on the beach just sitting and contemplating the seemingly endless rise and fall of the ocean’s white-crested waves.

Recently it occurred to me how much the ocean is like God. For one thing, when you’re looking into the horizon, the ocean seems to go on forever. The rising and crashing of the waves keep occurring in a constant and mighty display of God’s power. This is not very surprising, considering the fact that He’s the One Who created the oceans in the first place.

Think of some of God’s attributes:

  • unchangeable
  • infinite
  • eternal
  • omnipresent

and several names we associate with Him:

  • everlasting
  • living
  • mighty
  • eternal

Some of these designations could describe the ocean’s characteristics, but all of them depict a God Who is unchanging and always there for us, no matter what is going on in our lives.

So many of us experience times when we feel like certain stressful circumstances will never change for the better. Or we’ll never find a decent paying job. Maybe we’ve finally realized that this chronic pain illness will never get any better. And then there are days when we think there’s no one who truly understands what we’re going through.

We start to believe we are completely alone.

That’s when we need to lean on God, “…Who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace….” We can always be assured that He will “…comfort [y]our hearts…” and give us the strength to persevere in spite of our circumstances.

Never give up, Beloved, because our God will never give up on you!

Please allow me to pray for all of us: Heavenly Father, I’m so thankful that You love us enough to be our everlasting consolation and comfort. Help us to remember to always turn to You no matter what we’re going through. Amen.

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God is Hope [REPOST]

 Here is another wonderful devotional by Patricia Knight. As always, I so appreciate you, Pat, and thank you for allowing me to share these special devotionals with my readers.

hope-one-way

God is Hope

By Patricia Knight

When we visited our grandsons at their home we were entertained with their evening after-dinner game. Our son, their father, would position himself on the carpet in the living room. Already the oldest boy was maneuvering into position in the kitchen for the run and jump assault on his Daddy. At age five and starting first, he gave himself a little thrust by pushing at arm’s length from the kitchen cabinets. In stocking feet he appeared to fly with a minimum of three to four steps to reach his Dad. Then, they both ended up in a congealed mass of love and fun rolling with arms and legs flailing out of control.

Daddy-Son-onthefloorNext in line, the four-year-old would rev his motors in the kitchen, his feet barely hitting the flour as he flew to his destination. His Dad was ready for him with arms outstretched. They would roll and tumble in the victory of the game, laughing and hugging in a big rollicking ball.

With each boy excitement mounted. The youngest was already running into the kitchen preparing for the game with his little fourteen-month-old body of determination. Having learned to walk only a few months earlier, he was hoping his actions would be the same as for his brothers; there was no doubt he had watched from the sidelines many times.

The littlest must have known he needed an advantage, for he started his journey in the middle of the kitchen floor. From the beginning he had a victorious grin plastered on his face. He was off and, uh, running. His shoes echoed “slap, smack” on the floor as he struggled to keep his balance while those hesitant tottering steps resounded on the surface of the hard kitchen floor.

He was gyrating with giggles and squeals. His top-heavy body struggled for stability with each new step. Just as he was ready to fling himself at his Daddy, he checked quickly for his parent’s outstretched arms. His Dad was waiting, smiling proudly at the mettle of his little toddler. The game ended all too soon with the son engulfed in a loving embrace in his Daddy’s arms.

Romans8-24-25

Most of experience hope many times a day. Even though they were unable to verbalize the process, the boys hoped their father’s outstretched arms would catch them, that his body would cushion them from the fall, or that he would laugh with hugs as he had done so many times before. “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:24, 25).

Hope is dynamic, involving a confident expectation. Hope relies on God’s blessings and provisions with the expectations of future goodness in our lives. Hope involves trust in One who can deliver. God is hope. We base our hope in God upon evidence of past events where He has proved He is able to keep His promises. Jesus is called the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). When we believe in our Lord and put our trust in Him, we transfer our worldly hope to Him.

Ps119-147Hoping in our Lord is so different from the hope of what will happen to us or around us. When we believe in God, we transfer our trust and worldly cares to Him. We are free to put our hope in God, awaiting His good works and provisions for us. “I have put my hope in your Word” (Psalm 119:147).

We willingly transfer our cares and concerns, wishes and desires, to God. If we only place hope in ourselves or in other people, there evolves a perpetually disappointing cycle. As we transfer our hope and trust to God, He gives us strength by removing the burden of hope from our own lives. God’s love and understanding are vast compared to our limited resources. “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31).

There may be times when we are ready to give up on all hopewhen the situation seems hopeless and we have no more strength to hold on. God is in the business of hope and strength renewal.

Those who have no faith in God can only cherish a desire with anticipation, without any basis for expecting attainment. However, the Christian has his hope placed firmly in God, who is the fulfillment of all hope. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

We can place our hope on a firm foundation of God’s promises. All of His covenants to His people from the beginning of time have been accomplished exactly as God specified. Since God is immutable, all of His promises remain constant and without error.

1-corinthians-13-13Faith and hope are inseparable. Having faith in our God is defined as trust, belief, and hope combined. Faith and hope are both dependent upon belief in a God who is worthy of faith, hope, and love in God’s Word. “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

For centuries the Israelites were promised a Savior who would establish His kingdom and rule on earth. That promise was fulfilled when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Like the people who had witnessed Jesus ascend from earth to His heavenly home after His three years of ministry among them, we, too, hope for the promise of Jesus’ second coming to earth to rule in righteousness. “There is surely a hope for you and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 23:18). God wants to simplify our lives by assuming our expectations. His Word is full of promises to His people. We are able to expect a beautiful life and a future full of greatness when we hope in God’s Word.

During their nightly playtime our grandsons eagerly ran to their father’s outstretched arms, hoping the same events would play out in excitement as they had the previous time. We, too, are invited to run into the arms of our heavenly Father, the same arms that were outstretched on the cross for us. There is hope in the crucifixion and resurrection and the promise of eternal life with our Savior and Lord. We know because God has promised it from the beginning of time (Titus 1:2).

Titus1-2

“…in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:2)

“God is Hope” is taken from Pat’s book, REJOICE!

REJOICE

AnnaSmile…..

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Sunrise Faith

 

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Faith is like radar that sees through the fog.
~Corrie Ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord

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The Time Bank

Eccl3-1--Time

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, NKJV

 

Time is something that we either do not have enough of or that we waste. In my own case, I have often referred to painful days that I spend not being able to do much as wasted days. Yet God has shown me that what I might consider as wasted He is using for my good and His glory. 

When I am not able to do much, I still can pray for others and sing songs of praise and worship in my heart to my Savior and King. That’s not only something, it’s what we were made for. How can we look around and not see the glory of His creation? And if we understand that He made all of it from nothing, how is it possible for us to not acknowledge it by praising and worshiping Him?

As Solomon’s words above tell us, God created all things, all purposes and all times. It is up to us how well we use the time allotted to us.

My good friend, Donna Baker, sent me this video the other day titled “The Time Bank.” It speaks to how important time is to us. 

Beloved, if you cannot view the video here for any reason, click here to take you directly to the youtube site.

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I Will Stand My Watch

 In conjunction with Part 2 of my Habakkuk series,
please enjoy this devotional by Charles Spurgeon.

Hab2-1--watchtower

I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower,
and will watch to see what he will say unto me (Hab. 2: 1).

There is no waiting on God for help, and there is no help from God, without watchful expectation on our part. If we ever fail to receive strength and defense from Him, it is because we are not on the outlook for it. Many a proffered succour from heaven goes past us, because we are not standing on our watch-tower to catch the far-off indications of its approach, and to fling open the gates of our heart for its entrance. He whose expectation does not lead him to be on the alert for its coming will get but little. Watch for God in the events of your life.
 
The old homely proverb says: “They that watch for Providence will never want a providence to watch for,” and you may turn it the other way and say, “They that do not watch for providences will never have a providence to watch for.” Unless you put out your water-jars when it rains you will catch no water.
 
We want to be more business-like and use common sense with God in pleading promises. If you were to go to one of the banks, and see a man go in and out and lay a piece of paper on the table, and take it up again and nothing more–if he did that several times a day, I think there would soon be orders to keep the man out.
Those men who come to the bank in earnest present their checks, they wait until they receive their gold, and then they go; but not without having transacted real business.
 
They do not put the paper down, speak about the excellent signature, and discuss the excellent document; but they want their money for it, and they are not content without it. These are the people who are always welcome at the bank, and not triflers. Alas, a great many people play at praying. They do not expect God to give them an answer, and thus they are mere triflers. Our Heavenly Father would have us do real business with Him in our praying.
–C. H. Spurgeon
 

“Thine expectation shall not be cut off.”

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Taken from Streams in the Desert Devotional by L. B. Cowman. Copyright © 1997 by Zondervan.

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Cast Your Cares [REPOST]

Here is another great one from Pat Knight, reposted from June 2013.

Cast Your Cares

Guest Post by Patricia Knight

1Pet5-7

“Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

 Some days we feel like gathering up remnants of worries and sins, all frayed from receiving such a vigorous workout, and seek a disposal means for them. Search no more–God commands us to turn all of our cares over to Him. There is a key word that indicates exactly how to conduct the transfer of our anxieties to Jesus. Very specifically, we are told to “cast” our cares on Him.

Cast is an active verb. God wants us to deliberately throw our troubles and cares at Him.  God is always ready and waiting to receive our miserable care package. Our Lord is constantly alert to our needs; it is not His wish that we be overburdened.

Have you ever observed the expertise of a fly fisherman? There is no hesitancy or reluctance to the art. Casting a fishing line is a powerful and decisive action accomplished with a quick flick of the wrist. Once the line connects with the surface of the water, it is energized and ready to accomplish its goal.

Fly-Fishing_CastingJust as the fly fisherman’s line is thrown with great purpose, we are commanded to give our worries, cares, and weights a resolute fling in the direction of Jesus. Then we are able to walk away with no intention of retrieving anything from our bundle of burdens.  It now belongs to Jesus to swoop up for disposal, patching, or complete replacement.  There is no better way to deal with troublesome occurrences in our lives.

The action of casting heavenward in prayer is in itself remedial. Knowing we have a Person who desires to accept our brokenness provides great encouragement as we forcefully throw our burdens to the Lord.

Casting our cares on God is not a singular event. Life is full of ongoing hardships and tribulations. Our goal is either total elimination or a solution for our troubles.  God stands ready to catch our continual flow of anxiety. If we hone our skills at casting directly at the heavenly Father, He then knows we are serious about giving up the burdens to which we so desperately cling.

Just as we admire the grace with which a fly fisherman plies the art of fly-casting, be reminded that God is imbued with grace; the author of mercy and compassion. He waits patiently to reclaim us from the petty or the monstrous cares that plague our daily lives.  If God wants to relieve us of our cares and we desire to dispose of them, why drag through life over-burdened any longer?  Let go and let God transform your life to His purpose.

psalm-139-vs-23-24

“Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me to the way everlasting”
(Psalm 139:23-24).

Pat, thank you again for sharing your heart with us!

Beloved, life is indeed hard. We live in such a stressful time that I am very thankful for Pat’s timely reminder to cast all our cares on God.

AnnaSmile

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Fruitful Living

Gal5-22-23

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives:
love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
 
gentleness, and self-control.
There is no law against these things!

—Galatians 5:22-23, NLT

 

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Our Selfless Savior (Part 6) [REPOST]

~This is the last part of the 6-part series on John 13 by Donna Baker~

Donna ended last Thursday’s teaching with this magnificent statement:

Jesus knew He must be the sacrifice—the Lamb—so the timetable could be kept.

Recall that none of the disciples seemed to suspect Judas, not before this and not now. This should convince us that we cannot be the judge of the hearts of others—the wheat and tares again [see Our Selfless Savior, Part 4].

Immediately, Jesus begins to talk of the fact that He is going to be glorified “…and this will be accomplished through His death and resurrection. From the human side the cross looks like shame and defeat, but God is glorified in [Jesus] because the salvation of the world will be wrought through the cross.” (1)

Therefore when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately…” —John 13:31-32

Then Jesus addresses His other disciples as His “little children.” He tells them again that He is leaving them and they can’t go with Him now but will follow later. He gives them instructions to love one another as He loves them:

Notice that He says (in verse 35) that “by this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.

Am I loving others to this extent? Am I an example of His love to those I don’t even like?

With all I see going on around me in this world, it grieves to me to confess I know that I don’t. I must guard my heart. I must ask God to instill the love of Christ in me when my natural inclination is to lash out in indignation.

We are to hate evil, as it is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). But like Jesus showed us over and over again, we are to love the sinner.

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.”  Jesus *answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.” —John 13:36-38

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The last verses are so poignant. Can you just imagine what Peter must have thought when he declared his bravado for his own strength and Jesus told him he would deny Him three times? Do you think perhaps Peter thought Jesus was going to overthrow the Romans now?

From all accounts none of the disciples seemed to understand that Jesus had to die.

Jesus even said in verse 7 of this chapter: “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.”

In the Garden of Gethsemane, we see Judas “guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees” and that “they were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons” (John 18:3).

This passage goes on to say that Jesus asked them, “Who is it you want?” and they replied, “Jesus of Nazareth.” When Jesus responded, “I am He,” the multitude “drew back and fell to the ground” (John 18:6).

When Peter witnessed all of this, do you think he believed this is where Jesus was beginning his “takeover” of the Romans and that was what fueled him to use his sword to fight and cut off the ear of Malcus?

We can’t know, but it is comforting to read what Jesus says immediately after He told Peter he would deny Him three times:

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. —John 14:1

It is my hope that my heart won’t be troubled either as I fail to be all He would like me to be.

How about you, Beloved? Where is your Hope?

(1)  J. Vernon McGee, Through the Bible with J. Vernon McGee (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983), 456.

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Donna, thank you once again so much for allowing me to share your teachings with my bloggy family. I am sure they appreciate your words of wisdom as much as I always do!

AnnaSmile…..

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Finishing Well [Repost]

Once again, here is another great one from Pat Knight, reposted from May 2013.

Here’s another devotional written by my wonderful friend, Patricia Knight. I know you’ll appreciate this one as much as I do!

finish-line-1

FINISHING WELL

By Patricia Knight

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
—2 Corinthians 12:9, NAS

 2Cor12-9-Grace

At the end of his life and his remarkable career, the apostle Paul turned his responsibilities over to Timothy, his friend and co-worker for Christ. Paul expressed self-satisfaction with serving God and promoting His Gospel; he had totally depended on his Lord’s leadership and power. He carried God’s love throughout most parts of the known world, on four missionary journeys. Paul’s ministry work for His Lord was impeccable.

After being stripped and beaten, then thrown in a dark, dank jail where his feet were secured in stocks as an added measure of security, Paul gave thanks and sang hymns.  From inside another jail he wrote letters to encourage fellow Christians, the same Gospel letters that minister to us today in God’s Word.

Paul asked God repeatedly to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” a particularly burdensome physical problem. Instead of curing Paul, God answered that He would convert Paul’s weakness to His sovereign strength.  We do not know to what extent Paul’s physical problem interfered with his endurance, but we are aware that Paul remained steadfast in his faith and service to His Lord, daily buoyed and empowered by God’s strength.  Paul was determined to boast about his own weaknesses so that Christ’s power could be glorified in his life. Today, God is faithful to convert our weakness into His strength, just as He did for Paul centuries ago.

Humble obedience is God’s intent for us.  Whatever our plight in this life, we are   commanded to enthusiastically accomplish God’s work.  Using our unique abilities, God delights in custom designing a personal service plan for everyone who loves Him.

2Tim-4-7-The Race

“Few Christians finish well” is a haunting prediction.  Let us not allow that warning to come to fruition in our lives. By maintaining tenacity of faith and service to God throughout our lives, in the end, like Paul, we can claim, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).  Though Paul readily identified God as his Source of strength, he also persevered during hardship, allowing God’s power to burst through his circumstances.

James2-26

Our gift of eternal life is secured by grace, not by works. As a result, our good deeds for God and our fellow men spill over as a natural outpouring of our faith “Faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). Paul knew that truth and so do we.  Why not practice with discipline that which we know to be true, and finish our life well, with a remarkable career for Christ?

Thank you again, Pat! What a blessing you are in my life!

.AnnaSmile….

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God’s Unfailing Love

Ps36-5-7--BeautifulGreenMountains

 

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
    You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

—Psalm 36:5-7

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