buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Hope”

Curve Balls

You just can’t tell when life will throw you a curve ball. Swoosh! Car accident. Swoosh! Fall off a ladder and break a leg. Swoosh! Someone you know dies suddenly. Those balls can come fast and furious. In every event, a new normal takes shape. Life continues on; we move on, sometimes slowly; but we go on. Things will never be the same again. However, nothing is a surprise to God. He saw it coming. In His Sovereignty, He allowed it to happen. He could have stopped it from happening. But for some reason, that “thing” happened. But God always has the last word on it.

I started this blog posting about three weeks ago. However, there was another word that was pressed upon me at the time. I woke up this morning with these words circling in my heart. You just never know when life will throw you a curve ball. What a difference a year can make or even a month or even more a day. The future is uncertain right now for me and my family. There is a season for everything, and the season is about to change. It’s a matter of when not if. A new normal is about to take shape.

Three weeks ago, my family celebrated my Dad’s 90th birthday. Today, he lies in a hospital bed. We don’t know the time when God will call any of us home. We just never know when things will happen that will change our future. Sometimes we ask why and we only get silence. We want life to be fair, but it’s anything but fair. We want justice, but there is no justice to be found. How can we live with this uncertainty with a peace beyond our understanding? Because of Jesus. When Jesus is in the picture, there is peace.

Peace beyond understanding. God is still Sovereign and on His throne. He is still glorious. His ways are still higher than ours. His thoughts still transcend ours. God still triumphs over evil – even when it looks like evil is winning. Whatever Satan has planned, God has a counter move. What Satan has planned for evil, God will make good out of it. It’s just the way God works. Satan can throw whatever he has at us, but when we have the peace of God, nothing will move us away from Him.

Satan will attempt many things to throw us off-balance. The curve balls can be his attempt to move us away from God. When we walk with Jesus, we are Satan’s target. Those curve balls will try to separate us from the only one who can keep us in the game. I heard a statement Tuesday night attributed to a singer who was questioned about Jesus being a “crutch” for all us Christians. The singer replied Jesus isn’t a crutch to him; Jesus is his stretcher. Jesus carries us. Sure we lean on Him, but it’s so much better when Jesus just picks us up and carries us through.

Levi Lesko wrote a powerful book written from a place of brokenness after he lost one of his daughters several years ago during the Christmas season. Right after they said goodbye to their precious one, Levi’s wife asked him to hand the hospital staff an invitation to the Christmas Eve service. In the midst of his pain, he handed the staff an invitation to make good out of a bad situation. Because of that invitation at a time when these parents could have walked away in their grief, they reached out and two of the staff came to know Jesus. Levi didn’t just lean on Jesus during that time. He couldn’t have delivered a message that would change people’s lives unless he was carried through it.

We never know how God will use the time of our greatest pain, but He will. We have to be open in those moments for God’s glory to come through. We have to be able to see the curve balls for what they are in this moment in time – God’s grace and mercy for such a time as this. There are hurting people all around us. Let us give them the gift of hope and let them be carried to the throne room of grace. Good can come out of a bad situation. Let God have the last word on it. And hit the curve balls out of the park, the game is already won but we can add to the number!

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

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The Message of Hope

On Sunday, we had a guest speaker deliver a message about hope. He is a person on a life-long mission to deliver hope to the world. He has visited many countries around the world and has many stories to tell of the adventure of delivering hope to the hopeless. He wrote a book which was sold on Sunday. But the book wasn’t to provide for his financial gain. Matter of fact, he was going to give the book away, but my pastor said the money would be donated to provide Bibles to a people in a closed nation. The opportunity has arisen to send one million Bibles to this closed nation, so we were tasked with filling one freight container filled with boxes of Bibles.

I am reminded every now and then how privilege we are in this country. I have grown up with a Bible in my hand. I was given my first copy as a baby at dedication Sunday. Throughout the years, I have owned many different translations. For much of my life, my Bible sat on my shelf unread. At first, it wasn’t very easy to understand. There were too many “thees” and “thous” and such. Secondly, it made no sense to me.

There were many things that just seemed wrong – all the people who were wiped out so that Israel could have their Promised Land. The teachings too seemed wrong for this day and time. A woman’s role is taught to be submissive – I grew up with “woman power” and burning bras – being empowered to do anything we set our mind to. It just seemed wrong. However, what was wrong was my reasoning. I viewed the Word through my “worldly” perspective and not through God’s eyes. God actually elevated women from a man’s property to being man’s helper. God used women throughout history just as He did with men. And we’re all equal in God’s eyes.

The things that I questioned in the past were by my own standards – what I thought was right by my own reasoning. But that’s not the right interpretation. God’s Word is God’s word. It is right in all circumstances; for the past, the present and the future. It never changes, and it stands forever. Sure, it was writing in a time when things were vastly different from today. But its life-giving message stands forever.

Written over a period of 1600 years by many different writers but it is the same message throughout. It is the story of God’s pursuit of man and His extent to redeem mankind from the eternal destiny apart from Him. We all stand condemn until a Savior has risen to redeem us to eternal glory with God in heaven. In God’s eyes, we are the same – lost until we find redemption through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. It is the message of hope. God wants no one to die apart from Him. But many do – either because they have never heard this word of hope or they have rejected it because of their wrong reasoning.

Since my time in the Word has grown deeper, there are many passages that stand out to me. One of those is the passage where Philip takes a trip down a desert road to find a eunuch from Ethiopia studying God’s Word (found in Acts 8). The Holy Spirit led Philip to a man who needed help to understand what he read. As Philip explained to the eunuch a message of hope through Jesus Christ, Philip essentially opened up God’s Word to a nation. Because all it takes is one person to change their perspective, and they will share the message with others. That’s the power of hope. It’s meant to be shared.

After Sunday, I realized what a difference we can make by giving God’s Word to someone who needs hope. It is a treasure. And it should be seen as such. I hope I will never take it for granted anymore. There are many pastors throughout the world who do not even have a full copy of the Word. There are stories of people passing around bits and pieces to share and memorize before passing it along to others. It amazes me the lengths to which many will go to obtain a copy. I have read story after story about people who were desperate for a copy of a Bible to receive it in unusual ways – all by the hand of God. God’s Word is a treasure we need to remember and appreciate, but most of all, we need to read it and share it. It is the message of hope for a hopeless world.

And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) Romans 8:23-25 (NLT)

The Power of Hope

When I serve in my church body, I run one of the cameras for Live Stream and for taping purposes. I really enjoy it. The downside is the tech team does all three gatherings (we don’t call them “services”). By the third gathering, I am tired; and my focus can falter if I am not on my “A” game! This past Sunday was my Sunday to serve. We had a guest speaker whose name was Daniel Tyler from Arkansas.

Usually when we have guest speakers, the camera people have to be on their toes because most speakers move about the stage. My lead pastor is relatively stationary, so another speaker keeps us focused! This past Sunday, Daniel sat with one of the pastors on staff and did a sit down interview. Through the interview, we heard Daniel’s testimony. It had impact; there wasn’t a moment that I lost focus!

Daniel told us about his early years living in a broken home with addictive parents. His Mom was hooked on crystal meth, and his Dad was an alcoholic and abusive. Needless to say, his early years were very unstable. By the time he was in high school, his heart was ripe for an encounter with Jesus. A “fine” (Daniel’s word) girl invited him to go to a worship experience at her church one evening. Of course, he didn’t want to really go; but she offered to do “whatever” with him afterwards. Naturally, he was ready for the “whatever” and thought he could endure the church for one night.

That worship experience changed his life. He encountered Jesus in a very real and physical way. As he listened to the message of love, Daniel questioned if this love was truly real. Daniel prayed if Jesus was real to make His presence known in a physical way. Daniel felt arms wrapping around him from behind. It was a father’s hug that he wanted so desperately to feel. When Daniel turned around to see this man, no one was there. That hug changed everything for Daniel.

When he got to school the next day, one of his friends asked him if he was ready for the party that weekend. Daniel told his friend his life had changed the night before. Daniel told him he meet Jesus. His friend was like, “Dude, I’m a Christian too!” We all chuckled when we heard this. But Daniel told us his response to his friend. “We’ve been friends for ten years; you knew my family’s circumstances; you had the answer that I needed all along and you didn’t tell me?” Wow. Nobody was chuckling then. It brought tears to my eyes (all three times I heard it).

How many times have we had this kind of wake-up call? We might not have experienced someone confronting us with our “Christian” apathy in this way, but is it not a reality that we face every day? There are people we encounter who are struggling with issues that we have the answer to but never utter a word. I would have been the “friend” that could have said the same thing Daniel’s friend said. And Daniel would have been right in questioning my silence. Daniel walked around every day feeling worthless. He felt like his life didn’t matter. He fell into the patterns of his parents; drugs and alcohol. It’s what he knew. He was reckless and had no hope.

Jesus is the answer we all need. Jesus is our hope. James MacDonald’s message (Harvest Bible Chapel, Chicago) this past weekend was on the message of hope. Faith. Hope. Love. The trifecta of our Christian life. Faith in God. Love for one another. Hope for the future. Pastor James said “Hope is the confident expectation of better days ahead.” We are chosen by God to give a message to a dying world. This message of hope changes things. How is it we keep silent unless we just don’t understand its power?

Daniel’s life was redeemed; he has given the glory to God for the work that has come from his struggle. He now is working with at-risk youths. He works with the same juvenile detention center where he also spent time. How powerful is a testimony of God’s grace! Maybe our stories aren’t like Daniel’s; but Jesus also gave us a story of grace to tell. (I have written my story out in book form and published it this past week!  Please check the “My Books” tab on this website for the links to purchase or go HERE for Kindle or HERE or your favorite download site for another version. Thank you!)

 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11–13, esv).

Jesus is Love

Jesus is…

Patient. And I am so glad He is. I cannot imagine where I would be if He had not been patient with me. The disciples just didn’t get it either. How many times did Jesus have to explain to them the plan of God? Jesus waits on us. He knows it takes time for us to understand the Truth.

Kind. Many times in the Bible, Jesus showed His kindness to the crowds of people who were following Him. He showed them compassion when they experienced loss. When they came to Him sick and hurting, He took pity on them. When the crowds were growing hungry, He fed them. When we were still in our sins, He died for us.

Not envious or boastful. Jesus is the humble servant who came to serve. He took on the clothing of human flesh and descended to a poor status in order to serve us as Savior. He has the royalty of God running through Him, but He could not sit on His throne and watch us die apart from Him. He had to come. He couldn’t stay away from us.

Honorable. Jesus came to glorify His Father in heaven. He came so that others would know God. Everything He did and said was because of His Father. Nothing was done for His own benefit. His first thought was for His Father. Jesus honored God through His life, death and resurrection.

Not a self-seeker. Jesus sought the lost, the hopeless, the poor, the widows, the helpless. He came for them. He came to bring hope, love and peace to all who would receive and call upon His name.

Not easily angered. The only times Jesus expressed anger were the times His Father’s house was used for the wrong purposes. His Father’s house is for prayer. Reverence for the House of God was to be shown at all times. The Temple was to be a place of worship. The Temple represented God’s presence among His people. Jesus understands our frailty and is not be easily angered because of our weaknesses.

No record keeper of the wrongs. He wiped the slate clean for those who believe in Him. He is who He says He is. He is the Son of God who came to redeem the world. Believe in Him and there is no condemnation for any wrongs done.

Rejoicing with the truth. Jesus came to proclaim the Truth. He rejoices when sinners come to Him; when they seek Him with all their hearts. When one sinner repents, there is a big celebration in heaven over that one whose name now is in the Book of Life.

Protector. We can take refuge in the shadow of His wings. Like a small bird finding shelter under its mother’s wings, we too have a place to shelter. Even when the storms of life come, He will be with us. He will never leave us or forsake us – no matter what.

Trustful. His unfailing love cannot be shaken. He is our Rock of Salvation. He will deliver us from the depths. He will not abandon the works of His hands. He will show us the way to go.

Hopeful. There is no greater hope than the hope found in Jesus. He delights in the ones who fear Him and put their hope in Him.

Persistent. Jesus pursues us as a man pursues his future bride. He wants no one to miss the biggest wedding feast that will ever be held. It’s going to be amazing!

No failure. Jesus never fails us. And we can never fail Him. He knows our hearts. He knows what we are capable of and knows every step we take. He is not disappointed in us because that would mean He had the wrong expectation of us. He knows all things.

Love. There is no other name in heaven or on the earth that matches the name of Jesus. His love is infinite. There is nothing we do or say that will increase or decrease the amount of Love He has for us. His love is wide, long, high and deep. If we are His disciples, we too will show our love for others. Just as Jesus did for us, we do for others.

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. John 14:21

Inspiration for this post from 1 Corinthians 13:4-13

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