The #JOY of #HOPE in the Lord

2016 was the year of JOY for me. 2017 has been all about HOPE. Today’s post is about how JOY ties in so closely with HOPE.

What is true JOY? Charles Spurgeon describes it this way:

 “The JOY OF HOPE—who shall measure it? Those who are strangers to it are certainly strangers to the SWEETEST MATTER in spiritual life. With the exception of present communion with Christ, the JOY of a believer in this present state must be mainly the JOY OF HOPE.

“It does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He is (OUR HOPE),” (1 John 3:2) We thank God that we shall be satisfied when we wake up (from the sleep of death) in the likeness of Jesus! This ANTICIPATION (HOPE) of Heaven makes (the hurt of) earth become endurable! And the sorrows of time lose their weight when we think of the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of Glory (Our future HOPE). (2 Corinthians 4:17)”

Recently I’ve been contemplating the phrase Quality of Life. Here are some of the definitions of Quality of Life, also referred to as QOL:

Wikipedia: is the general well-being of individuals and societies. QOL has a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development, healthcare, politics and employment. Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of living, which is based primarily on income. Instead, standard indicators of the quality of life include not only wealth and employment but also the built environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging.

The Free Dictionary: Noun, quality of life- your personal satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the cultural or intellectual conditions under which you live (as distinct from material comfort); “the new art museum is expected to improve the quality of life” gratification, satisfaction – state of being gratified or satisfied; “dull repetitious work gives no gratification”; “to my immense gratification he arrived on time” [Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.]

Medicinet.com: The patient’s ability to enjoy normal life activities. Quality of life is an important consideration in medical care. Some medical treatments can seriously impair quality of life without providing appreciable benefit, whereas others greatly enhance quality of life.

BusinessDictionary.com: Daily living enhanced by wholesome food and clean air and water, enjoyment of unfettered open spaces and bodies of water, conservation of wildlife and natural resources, security from crime, and protection from radiation and toxic substances. It may also be used as a measure of the energy and power a person is endowed with that enable him or her to enjoy life and prevail over life’s challenges irrespective of the handicaps he or she may have.

As you can see, there are differing opinions on what quality of life actually means. Some people use it as a measurement of how happy and fulfilled a person is. Others think of it as a way to gauge how someone can enjoy life in spite of physical handicaps or limitations. And many others consider it to be an indication of how much people have overcome in order to enjoy their life no matter what obstacles they face.

Where is God in all of this?

“The world is filled with people trying to adjust to the pain, trying to deal with life without total collapse, break down, burn out, hopelessness, fear, apathy or just giving up. And all of that really is a matter of learning how to endure. And that’s our key word this morning because the passage in front of us gives us the secrets to endurance…the secrets to endurance. How can we endure the pain of life? The profound difficulty of life? The great disappointments, broken dreams, broken bodies, broken homes, broken lives, broken relationships? How can we handle all of that? How can we face life like the Apostle Paul did who said back in verse 8 of this chapter, “We are afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed but not despairing, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed”? How can we live like that? How can we be so triumphant?” —John MacArthur, GraceToYou.org

So, how can we think more like Paul? Is it possible to be afflicted and still triumphant? I have shared with you before that I live with several chronic pain illnesses. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic migraine plague me every single day. Some days are worse than others, but I can honestly count on one hand the number of pain-free days I have had in the last 15 years and still have fingers left over. And yet I still have more JOY than I ever thought possible.

To me, the HOPE of JOY = the JOY of HOPE.

I do not think we can have one without the other because each produces the other. For example, I can have the HOPE of JOY because . . .

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes— I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
—Job 19:25-27, NIV

And I can also have the JOY of HOPE because of this . . .

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the God of HOPE fill you with all JOY and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.
—Romans 15:5-6, 13, NIV

Beloved, don’t you see? It doesn’t matter what is happening in our lives as long as we continue to hang our HOPE on our Savior. That thought alone produces so much JOY that it is impossible to stay down or depressed about our circumstances for long.

Choose JOY!

Yes, JOY is a choice that we make every single day. If we have invited Jesus Christ into our hearts as our Savior and Lord, then we have the certain HOPE of everlasting life in heaven with Him. And if we have that certain HOPE, how can we be anything but JOYFUL, no matter what our circumstances?

My Redeemer lives!

Please enjoy this video of Nicole C. Mullin singing one of my favorite and comforting songs, “My Redeemer Lives.” I know it will fill you with as much HOPE and JOY as it does me!

If for any reason you cannot view the video, read the lyrics here.


[Emphasis on the words HOPE and JOY are mine]

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The Wonderful #Cross

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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

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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?

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

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

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

Sunday Praise and Worship: #Jesus

The song “Jesus” sung by Chris Tomlin is a beautiful praise to our Lord Jesus Christ. As you sing along with it, think about the many attributes and names of Jesus. Here are just a few:

  • Almighty
  • Creator
  • Alpha and Omega
  • the Word
  • Lamb of God
  • Jehovah

My favorites are included in the lyrics to this song:

The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ).
“When He comes, He will tell us all things.” 

Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
—John 4:25-26

Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said,
for we ourselves have heard Him and we know
that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”
—John 4:42

I will love You, O Lord, my strength. 
The Lord is my Rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
m
y God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
m
y shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
—Psalm 18:1-2

Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One,
t
o Him whom man despises, to Him whom the nation abhors,
t
o the Servant of rulers: 
“Kings shall see and arise, p
rinces also shall worship,
b
ecause of the Lord who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel;
a
nd He has chosen You.”
—Isaiah 49:7

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

What Christianity Offers that World Religions Don’t

Shared from the Radical.net blog.

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What Christianity Offers
that World Religions Don’t

By Patrick T. Dolan

Standing behind a row of worshipers in Kolkata, I saw the blackened figure of Kali. Around the idol’s neck lay a garland of skulls. Hanging from her earlobes were earrings draped with dead infants. Her dead eyes stared transfixed and her lolling red tongue revealed her vicious appetite for destruction and blood. At her feet, a man laid the severed head of a goat which was decapitated for ritual sacrifice. As people squeezed into the narrow passageway in front of the idol, their moans and prayers created a cacophony of desperation, but Kali was unable to answer.

Reaching Up in Vain

Almost every major world religion shares a similar story. The details are different, but each tells a tale of human beings attempting to reach up to the divine for purpose, blessing, and hope. Hindus yearn for the gods and goddesses’ blessing, so they offer daily sacrifice at their preferred shrine. Jains aim at perfection through non-violence, but no matter how diligent, negative karma floods their lives like water rushing in a boat with a cracked hull. Sikhs worship the one divine light, but their acceptance is based upon their dedication to a specific code of conduct and diet; however, moral effort cannot heal the corruption of a soul. Islam teaches that people must submit to Allah and perform five religious acts in order to please him, but even then, there is no guarantee of salvation. Buddhists renounce desire thinking they will eliminate personal suffering. They live within rigid guidelines hoping to achieve divinity or nirvana. Orthodox Jews wait for messiah and perform, as much as possible, the religious requirements of the law in hopes of gaining God’s favor.

Read the rest here.