#HOPE for Every Day – February 25, 2017

 HOPE Beyond Death

By Billy Graham

The righteous hath HOPE in his death. —Proverbs 14:32

We don’t like to talk about death; it’s the forbidden subject of our generation. Yet it’s real for all of us. Sometimes on television I see motion pictures featuring actors who are no longer living. They seem very much alive in the picture, but they are dead. Some of them were my personal friends. Death is real, and when we die, that is a battle we have to fight all alone. Nobody can be with us in that hour, but David said he had found an answer that would take the fear of death away. David said that there is an answer to death, there is a HOPE beyond death. That HOPE is centered in the risen Christ. Paul wrote that to be “absent from the body” is to be “present with the Lord.” So the fear of death is removed.

Prayer for the day: Lord Jesus, with complete trust I look toward that day when my soul will be with You for eternity.

[All emphasis on HOPE is mine]

Restore to Me the Joy of Your Salvation

Shared from Unlocking the Bible.

Restore to Me the Joy
of Your Salvation

by Sarah Walton

My husband and I recently sat in on a meeting to discuss the options, challenges, and hurdles of our child’s special needs. As we sat surrounded by several specialists, listening to them list the problems at hand, a lump began to grow in the back of my throat in an attempt to fight back the tears of our painful reality.

I felt a fresh wave of sadness for what’s been lost, a struggle within me to hold on to joy, and a resistance to accept what God has allowed. I never imagined this for my life and, although I see God working through it in so many ways, my flesh still wants relief, answers, and sometimes a way out.

Everyone faces these unexpected and often unwanted circumstances at some point in life. Nobody gets a free pass from suffering, disappointment, and grief.

But as believers, our hope is not in this world. So where do we go with these heartaches that are so real, so consuming, and often threatening to steal our joy?

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:12)

This is my prayer today, and may it be yours if you find yourself in a similar place. For this is where we must go when we feel battered by the trials of life.

Restore to Me the Joy of Your Salvation…

What most often threatens our joy? Pain, fear, shattered dreams, disastrous effects of sin, circumstances that strip us of comfort, and prayers that seem to go unanswered, just to name a few.

I admit that too often I attempt to find joy in what I think will make me happy and comfortable. It’s so easy to confuse the two when our flesh is so drawn to comfort. We are too easily satisfied with short, temporary bursts of pleasure, rather than pure, satisfying joy in our Savior.

Read the rest here.

What is the blessed HOPE?

#HOPE for Every Day – February 17, 2017

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Today’s message about HOPE is from Got Questions?

Question: “What is the blessed HOPE?”

Answer: Titus 2:12–13 says that the grace of God teaches us “to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed HOPE—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” This passage identifies the “blessed HOPE” as the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ, our great God and Savior.

The word blessed can mean “happy” or “beneficial”; our HOPE is “blessed” in that Jesus’ return will be an amazing, joyful experience for the believer in Christ. We will be blessed beyond measure when we see Christ. The trials of this life will be over, and we will see that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). The word HOPE does not communicate uncertainty, as in “I HOPE that something might occur”; rather, it is the glad assurance that something will take place. Jesus is our HOPE, and no one can take that HOPE away. “HOPE does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

The “blessed HOPE,” then, is the joyful assurance that God will extend His benefits to us and that Jesus Christ will return. We are waiting for this event now.

Read the rest here.

Emphasis on HOPE is mine.

Happy Valentine’s Day 2017

Welcome to my annual Valentine’s Day post that I believe is so appropriate
for a day that’s all about love. 

The other day I got to thinking about Valentine’s Day and how it’s supposed to be all about love. 1 John 4:19 immediately came to mind, and I knew this was to be my message about  love … God’s immense love … for us.

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The Dimensions of God’s Love

We love because he first loved us. —1 John 4:19

We have all been told how much God loves us. That fact is unquestionable, especially as we look around and see the evidence of His love in all of His creation. God’s love for us can be described as multi-dimensional, so let’s look at the different ways God loves us—the Breadth, Depth, Height and Length of His love—by examining the universe He created.

Breadth

When a man and a woman get married, they usually exchange wedding bands. If you look closely at a wedding band, you cannot see where it begins or where it ends. This circle of metal is therefore used as a symbol of unending love between husband and wife. In the same way, a circle represents eternity.

That is how I think of God’s all-encompassing love for us. I visualize the circle that His arms form to surround the earth. This thought both amazes and comforts me. I am amazed because it shows how big God is. I can’t imagine any human who can hug the whole world. I am also comforted because I enjoy being hugged. But the true illustration of the breadth of God’s love is found in Scripture: But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), —Ephesians 2:4-5

God loved us “even when we were dead in trespasses.” What a truly astonishing thing!

Eternity is a difficult concept for us to understand, but God has it all under control. He loves us so much that He can’t stand the thought of being apart from us, so He has provided us with a way to spend eternity with Him:

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For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.
—John 3:16

The breadth of God’s love for us is that huge. He made sure that we have a way to be with Him forever—in other words, for eternity. Trying to figure out what eternity could be like is the same as trying to count all the stars in the sky. It is impossible!

I like to imagine what it will be like to spend the rest of eternity with God, but I’m sure my limited picture of heaven falls far short of the truth. All I know for sure is that: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. —John 1:12-13

Depth

The Grand Canyon ranges in height from 9,000 feet at the North Rim all the way down to 2,400 feet at the Colorado River. Those of us here in the Southwest know that there are no easy ways to get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. In fact, portions of the Colorado River are barely visible from above because of the depth of the canyon. Now that’s what I call deep, but it is still measurable.

We read in Romans 5:8 that …God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The love God has for us is so deep that it is immeasurable. It is impossible for me to imagine something that cannot be measured. Everything that surrounds us can somehow be measured, whether by weight or volume. But not God’s love. It is bottomless and keeps going on and on to infinity. Even though we don’t deserve any of it, He loves us that much anyway.

We hear a lot these days about “unconditional love.” The truth is that the only true, unconditional love we will ever receive is from God, Who loves us with a pure love found nowhere else. How better to explain God’s love for us in spite of all our sins and shortcomings? The fact that God loves me in spite of myself is the ultimate proof of the depth of His love.

Height

Have you read about those who have succeeded in climbing Mount Everest? This 29,035-foot mountain range is the highest in the world and the most difficult to climb. There are many people who attempt this climb more than once in the hopes of finally being able to complete the challenge of making it to the summit.

I cannot imagine being at a point 29,035 feet above sea level. That is so high that one’s breathing becomes quite labored and therefore requires extra oxygen. But that is still not as high as the heavens. In Ephesians, Paul gives us a taste of what it will be like when we’re in heaven: and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,. —Ephesians 2:6

There is no way we cn ever understand the height of such “heavenly realms.”

I love knowing that those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord will be up in heaven with God forever, seated with Him and serving Him in all His honor and glory. Even though we’ll be higher than we’ve ever been, we will not suffer the usual effects of high altitude such as headaches, nosebleeds or labored breathing. God has made sure of that. I believe that heaven will be the most comfortable place ever!

If then you were raised with Christ,
seek those things which are above,
where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above,
not on things on the earth.
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
—Colossians 3:1-3

Length

It is estimated that right now the universe is at least 46 billion light years in radius. My puny human mind cannot comprehend such a measurement. Look up at the billions of stars in the night sky and then try to understand the lengths to which God will go for us. He could have designed just an adequate place for us to live, but did He? No. He chose to give us a wonderful universe filled with beautiful planets and stars. It stretches on and on, just like His immense love for us.

The daytime sky and the night sky are the same, yet very different. During the day we cannot see the stars because of the light of the sun. At night, the stars and moon illuminate the dark sky. When we are in heaven, things will be greatly changed.

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There shall be no night there:
They need no lamp nor light of the sun
for the Lord God gives them light.
And they shall reign forever and ever.
—Revelation 22:5

No more night? Really? What will that be like? And imagine not needing a lamp to read a book.

Being part of such an exciting eternity with God requires only this:

  • recognize that we are sinners and be truly sorry for our sins
  • believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and our Savior
  • acknowledge that He died on the cross at Calvary and that His death paid the penalty for our sins
  • and trust that He rose from the dead on our behalf so that we might live forever with Him—and all because of the length of God’s love for us.

Paul related this aspect to Timothy:

However, for this reason I obtained mercy,
that in me first Jesus Christ might show
all longsuffering, as a pattern to those
who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.
—1 Timothy 1:16

The definition of longsuffering is: suffering for a long time without complaining ; very patient during difficult times. I need this reminder because even though I so often lose patience with the things and people in my life—and with myself—God never loses patience with me. His longsuffering patience is eternal!

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible,
the only God,
be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
—1 Timothy 1:17

Beloved, on yet another Valentine’s Day I am so glad we have a God Who shows His awesome and immense love for us in so many ways, in spite of our sinful selves!

Sunday Praise and Worship: O Come to the Altar

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Lately there have been things happening in my life that have threatened to destroy my JOY and HOPE. I say threatened  because although I have been tempted to be discouraged, I am thankful that I know that my real JOY and HOPE are found in Jesus Christ, who comforts me and always holds me close. I have that assurance because Scripture tells me so. And since I know that “all Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), I believe it is true.

Beloved, how are things going for you these days?

Are you struggling with the frustrations and problems of this world? Do you feel there is no hope for you in this life? Do you wonder where you’ll end up after you die? If so, you’re not alone. We all have questions such as these, but there is a way to be filled with a true HOPE that never ends.

How well do you know Jesus Christ? If you long for the assurance and HOPE that you’ll spend eternity in heaven with Jesus but have never asked Him to be the Savior and Lord of your life, you need to make that important commitment to Him. It is very easy to do:

ADMIT that you are a sinner and repent of (to feel regret or remorse for) your sins:

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. —2 Corinthians 7:10 

BELIEVE: that Jesus Christ took the punishment and died for you and your sins:

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.—Romans 3:22-25

and…

CONFESS that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of your life:

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” —Romans 10:8-11

I call these the A-B-C’s of salvation. When you admit that you are a sinner and repent of your sins; believe that Jesus took the punishment for them in your place; and confess that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of your life, “the God of HOPE [will] fill you with all JOY and peace in believing, that you may abound in HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

The song “O Come to the Altar” by Elevation Worship reminds us that no matter what we’ve done or where we are in our life’s journey, we can rely on the fact that the arms of God our Father are always open wide. He longs for us to put our faith and trust in His Son, Jesus Christ. As you listen to this song, consider the Bible verses below that tell us how much God loves and cherishes us. 

The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
    He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
    he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
—Psalm 34:17-18

But now you have been united with Christ Jesus.
Once you were far away from God,
but now you have been brought near to him
through the blood of Christ.

—Ephesians 2:13

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

Beloved, if you would like to talk about any of this, please write to me at  faithlhj777 at gmail dot com. I would love to answer any questions you have and help you in your Christian walk. 

Links to read more about how to be saved:

Change Always Begins with HOPE

HOPE for Every Day – February 9, 2017

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Today’s message about HOPE is from Unlocking the Bible.

“No one turns from their sins unless they have HOPE of something better. So Jesus begins by laying out the better that lies ahead. The prodigal son said, “I will return to my father; perhaps he will make me one of his hired servants” (Luke 15:18, 19, author’s paraphrase).”

Read the rest here.

Emphasis on HOPE is mine.

The True Identity of Jesus of Nazareth

Shared from GraceThruFaith.

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The True Identity of
Jesus of Nazareth

Of all the so-called holy books, only the Bible authenticates itself. It does so through a method we call predictive prophecy and it works like this. Only God knows the end from the beginning. To help us learn to believe Him, He told His ancient people things that hadn’t happened yet. Then when they came to pass just like He said they would, He had them document everything and preserve it for future generations. We call this documentation the Bible, which by many accounts consists of nearly 40% predictive prophecy, some fulfilled and some still to come.

When asked what work God requires of us, Jesus replied, “The work of God is this. Believe in the One He has sent.” (John 6:28-29) Because He’s told us so many things in advance and has always been right, He expects us to believe in Him. His view is that He’s proven Himself so far beyond any reasonable doubt that people who say they don’t believe in Him are really being disobedient by refusing to believe. And belief is a requirement. That’s why in the New Testament the Greek word translated unbelief also means disobedient.

The Old Testament is so chock full of the proof of God’s existence that there’s simply no justification for unbelief. (In my article Proving The existence Of God I used the examples of Cyrus the Persian and Alexander the Great to show that anyone with a Study Bible and a competent history book can verify the existence of God simply by comparing fulfilled prophecy with world history.)

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”(Psalm 14:1). Only a fool can say that. But even a fool can’t say it logically, with his mind, because there’s too much evidence to the contrary. He has to say it emotionally, in his heart. Foolish opinions based on emotion don’t need to be true.

Read the rest here.