Hope

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Hope… One word that we all need.

Some possess it and some are seking futilely for it.

The key to finding hope is perhaps best answered in the following questions:

  • In what do I hope?  Is my hope in circumstances, in feelings, in my ability to cope, in people, in things, in places, in promotions, in jobs?  All of those things are temporary and changeable.  There is no security in that which is situationally-shifting
  • In Whom do I hope?  Do I hope in a god that only promises “peace” if people, places, circumstances, feelings, and the environment are pleasant?  Do I hope in a god that only offers a paradise or rewards, based on how I perform?  Do I hope in a god that lived decades or centuries ago and is now dead?  Do I hope in a capricious god that cares not for the individual follower? There is no substratum of hope from a god that has no ability to offer life —  spiritual and eternal life.  There is no sanctuary of hope in a god that does not personally care for each individual.

If our hope is in a God who loves us perfectly because He is righteous and just, then we can rest in Him — even when circumstances around us are anything but peaceful.  There are the valleys and the “shadowlands” of life, but if we have a solid hope, rooted in a solid faith in a true and loving God, then we can have hope.

In what or Whom do you hope? 

Psalm 37:3-6

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.

Psalm 31:24

24 Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the Lord.

Ephesians 3:16-21

16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

 

Trust Is The Key To Our Relationship With God

 Abdicação

Toma-me, ó noite eterna, nos teus braços
E chama-me teu filho... eu sou um rei
que voluntariamente abandonei
O meu trono de sonhos e cansaços.
...

__
Fernando Pessoa

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If we are struggling in our relationships with others, then we have a pretty good indication that we are also struggling in our relationship with God (recently heard something like this at a wedding).

If we are struggling in our relationship with God, we have a pretty good indication that we have a trust issue.  I believe at the root of most rebellion is a trust issue.  Instead of trusting God and surrendering to Him, we trust in ourselves and pursue “distractions” to fill the needs in our souls.

The distrust starts when we believe a lie that somehow God wasn’t good enough, big enough, strong enough, just enough … that He wasn’t enough. 

Satan tempted Adam & Eve with the lie that God’s provision and God Himself wasn’t enough.  They believed the lie and disobeyed God and ate of the one tree they weren’t to eat.

In Think Differently, Live Differently, it says,

At the root of any fearful thought is the lie that, somehow, God doesn’t love me.

As a spiritually alive being, your focus and confidence should be upon your connection to your Creator.  [Confidence should be in our Creator/God.]

In the book, Freedom From Fear, it says:

As we draw closer to Christ in total obedience to Him, the enemy tries to intimidate us more than ever.  And it is usually at our weakest point.

Trust is pivotal to our relationship with God.  You can’t have a good and “intimate” (intimacy of souls) relationship with someone that you don’t trust, and you can’t have a personal and deep relationship with God if you are lacking trust in Him.  This is why the Bible is replete with verses on trust.  The following passages are a small reflection of what the Bible says regarding trust:

Isaiah 26:3-4

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.[a]

Isaiah 25:8-9

He will swallow up death forever,
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;
The rebuke of His people
He will take away from all the earth;
For the Lord has spoken.

And it will be said in that day:
“Behold, this is our God;
We have waited for Him, and He will save us.
This is the Lord;
We have waited for Him;
We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”

We can experience what it means to “abide in the Lord” when we are surrendered to Him

We are able to surrender to Him when we are fully trusting in Him.

It is this attitude of surrender that places us in the position of being “receptive” to the Lord: to the working of His Holy Spirit in our lives, to His inspiration as we read His Word, to His “voice” as we spend time communing with Him in prayer.

It’s interesting that “rest” — the perfect and best kind comes from trust.

A worrier, one who lacks trust, is one who also struggles with being at rest.

Hebrews 4:9-10

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

Hebrews 3:18-19

18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Hebrews 3:12-14

12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,

It’s interesting that unbelief equals unrest in the Hebrews 3:18-19 passage.  In Hebrews 3:12-14, we see that a cause of our unbelief is hardness of heart due to deceitfulness of sin.

We become hardened in our hearts/souls due to deception (lies) and our own sin (sinful natures) that deceive us.  Trusting in ourselves shows how fickle our god is.  We, in ourselves, are easily deceived.

The opposite is so wonderfully promising!  If we hold onto the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, we are become “partakers” of Christ!  What is the beginning of our confidence?  It is Jesus — the basis of our salvation and the hope of the Gospel!

Colossians 1:23

23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

1 Thessalonians 5:8

But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.

It is impossible to have this hope and to have this “restfulness of soul” if you don’t have a foundation of truth.  The blog post, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/and-the-truth-shall-set-you-free, says, “If we want to know what is absolute truth, then we need to know who God is.”

In the devotional book, Men & Women Of The Bible, it says the following concerning this:

“Today many people treat the teachings of Christ lightly.   To them, faith boils down to little more than personal preference.  But a faith that has no conscience or that is not anchored to the truth is a ship sailing to disaster.  How would you describe the seaworthiness of your ship of faith?  Can it handle the rough seas of temptation, or does it need to return to port for repairs?”

We can trust God because God is truth. 

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

We can trust God because He creates reality.  What He says is.

Isaiah 42:5-9New King James Version (NKJV)

Thus says God the Lord,
Who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it,
Who gives breath to the people on it,
And spirit to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness,
And will hold Your hand;
I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the Gentiles,
To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the prison,
Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.
I am the Lord, that is My name;
And My glory I will not give to another,
Nor My praise to carved images.
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
And new things I declare;
Before they spring forth I tell you of them.”

We can trust God because He is a good God.

Deuteronomy 32:4

He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice,
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He.

We can trust God because He loves us unconditionally.

Jeremiah 31:3

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

Romans 5:6

[ Christ in Our Place ] For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

We can trust God because He works all things together for good to those who love Him.

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that all things work together for good

As we trust in God because of Who He is, we have the wonderful promise that we will be “partakers of Christ.”  We will experience the joy of His presence in our lives!

Trusting in the Lord speaks of receptivity to the Lord and also of an attitude and heart that actively invites and welcomes His Presence into our lives.

God desires to be present in each and every aspect of our lives.  Do we actively welcome and receive Him… as our Peace, our Joy, our Strength, our Love, our Truth, our Patience, our Righteousness?

 

 

Afraid Of My Children… Part Two… The Cause And The Solution

I detailed in my recent blog post, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/afraid-of-my-children-part-one, we can fear that which we cannot control and our need for control is indicative of a fear problem.

Our need for control isn’t just indicative of a fear problem; it is indicative of a trust problem.

Understanding the cause and specifics of our trust problem will also lead us to the solution.

Healing isn’t just the absence of the problem, hurt, or sin.  It’s the presence of the opposite: new life, peace, joy, the power of His Holy Spirit.  It’s the Presence of God.

In other words, when we have a problem in a specific area it means that we don’t just have a problem with fear, for instance.  We have a problem with faith — more specifically with our relationship with God. 

When we have a problem with our identity, it means we have a problem with seeing ourselves as God sees us.  We have a problem with our relationship with God because you can’t see yourself as God sees you, if you don’t know personally how God sees you.  (I am not talking about what others say, what your church has said, what books say.  I am talking about what God specifically says and what you believe about it.)

All problems stem from the same cause: a problem with our relationship with God.  There may be layers to it, but healing is intrinsically tied to our relationship with God.

Before you think I am just one of many people come to preach at you and tell you something you have already heard or read, stick with me.  I am going to share with you some things that I have learned through the “school of life experience” and what God showed me in the midst of my own darkness.  (To read this in greater detail, feel free to read my blog: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/the-second-part-of-my-testimony-the-second-most-incredible-experience-of-my-life.  Warning: it’s heavy reading.)

In Exodus 15:26, it says, “I am the LORD, who heals you.”  Julie Ackerman Link says in Our Daily Bread, “…no healing takes place apart from God.”

The reason why so many people are not being “healed” by God is because: they. are. trying. to. do. the. healing. in. their. own. strength.

You might ask, “What about all the prayers I have prayed, all the books I have read, all the sermons I have heard?  It’s not like I haven’t tried.”

Yes, YOU have tried.

When your “connection” to God is “broken” or “clogged,” it is impossible to rely on God’s strength to claim victory over whatever negative patterns (thoughts and/or actions) you have going on in your life.

Just praying a prayer, reading books, and listening to sermons does not guarantee or ensure that your relationship with God is where it needs to be.

Our relationship with God starts in the heart/soul — not in outward actions.  The outward actions will flow correctly out of a correct heart relationship.  (For greater detail on this, see my blog post: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/being-or-doing.)

For me personally, my relationship with God wasn’t where it needed to be, and I didn’t recognize this at first because I knew (in my head) all the right answers.

The root cause for me began when as a teen I had to face some hardships that I shouldn’t have had to face.  In the midst of those hardships, I began to believe that I had to protect myself.

This was the first and greatest lie Satan tries to get us all to believe.  It’s the lie, called self-preservation.

If Satan can disconnect us from God, he has succeeded in disconnecting us from our source of power, life, healing, peace, etc…

That’s what Adam & Eve did in the Garden of Eden when they ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil.  They began to look to themselves to make the decisions for what was best for their lives, instead of to God.  Not only did they become disconnected from their source of life, but they got the opposite of what they “wanted.”  Instead of getting true “knowledge” of good and evil.  They got only their own deceived and twisted view of these things, that only had their own experiences, desires, and logic as its source of interpretation.

When we look to ourselves to interpret “knowledge” and “truth,” we are limited by the scope of our own experiences, desires, and logic. 

For me, I began to believe the lie that I had to protect myself, which meant I turned away from God and became, in essence, my own god.  I did a lot of the “right” things.  My heart was still wanting to do what was right, but my heart wasn’t fully engaged in it.  The problem that I hadn’t recognized was that I was trying to walk in God’s power, while still trying to walk in my own.  It doesn’t work.

When you are trying to do things in your own strength, self is still in control.  When self is in control, there isn’t room for God in your life — not fully.  This can be so confusing because you can still have self as your god and yet still be doing all the “right” things.

When self is in control, circumstances will have a way of revealing this and showing the inadequacy of our god (self).  Take tragedies: natural disasters, disease, deaths, financial ruin, etc…  That’s when people often will cry out to God.  They suddenly realize the inadequacy of their own god of self.

For me, it was the simple situation of not having enough strength and wisdom in myself to know how to deal with two other little people who had minds and wills of their own and so many needs.  I “tried” to look to God, but I had already begun to believe the lie that I was a failure, not good enough for my kids.

The truth is I wasn’t enough for my kids — not by myself, in my own limited resources of power, strength, and patience.

What I didn’t fully believe was that I did have enough Strength at my disposal — the power that comes from being “more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

I couldn’t believe the truth because I was not fully trusting God.  Remember, what you believe is revealed by what you live — not what you know.

In the book, Think Differently, Live Differently, by Bob Hamp, it says:

“Our thoughts have the power to instigate and even inflame our feelings, but conversely, our feelings have the power to reveal what we really believe about a given situation or person.

… I am convinced that our feelings will always tell us the truth; not necessarily the truth about reality, but the truth about what we believe.”

In recent months, God revealed the specifics that led me to believe the lie that I had to protect myself.  Once I finally “saw” when I first believed the lie, I was able to then ask the Lord to forgive me for believing the lie that He wasn’t enough.  I also had to forgive a specific person.  Once I was able to do those two things, I was finally able to let the “little girl inside me” run to Abba (“Daddy”, God).  When I did that, my heart finally came “home.”  My relationship with God was healed, and I was able to completely rest in Him.

It was at that time, I felt complete Shalom (true peace that comes from a well-being of soul).

Having my connection to God healed has meant I have been able to be receptive and responsive to His voice and am able to rely on His power.  I will catch myself beginning out of habit to repeat old patterns, but God quickly reminds me of the truth.  I am able to adjust my thinking and beliefs to accept the truth and to reject the lies.  This means keeping a very close connection with God. 

In Think Differently, Live Differently, it says, “At the root of any fearful thought is the lie that, somehow, God doesn’t love me.”

In a future blog post, I want to address this very important question, “Where was God when such and such happened?”  This may be the key to helping individuals (you) finally be able to trust God.  So often we don’t ask this question because we are afraid…

I asked that question recently, listened, and was finally able to hear the answer.  I was a blubbering mess, following what God showed me.

I didn’t ask this question or receive the answer until the following three things happened:

  • I first acknowledged the lie I had believed: that God wasn’t good enough.
  • I then “allowed” God to replace it with the truth: that He is my Provider, Protector, Healer, Truth, and Life.
  • I then chose to surrender my heart to God — before knowing the answers to the question I would later pose to Him.

I recently read in a book, and I can’t remember which one because I have been reading so many lately, that freedom and healing isn’t the absence of something but the presence of Someone.  Finding freedom from fear isn’t just ignoring the thing you are afraid of or distracting yourself from the fear.  Finding freedom is actually replacing it with the true thing itself: Shalom (well-being of soul). 

True peace isn’t reliant on our external surroundings: music, scents, colors, physical positions.  True peace comes from our spirits being aligned with God’s Spirit, which in turns heals our souls (mind, will, emotions), which in turn manifests itself in our physical bodies.  True peace can happen no matter where we are, what we are doing, what is happening around us.  True peace isn’t physically-related; it’s spiritually-related.

True peace doesn’t come from emptying our minds of fear.  It comes from the Presence of Peace Himself.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on the question, “Where was God?”  Until then, may you begin to ask the question, “When did I first begin to believe the lie of self-preservation?”