Sunday School Lesson – “Serving Like the Good Samaritan” Luke 10:25-34

Photo: Pixabay/jclk8888

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 10:25-34 (KJV, Public Domain)

In a previous article I wrote: “Have a Warmer Heart than Usual” it reads:

“I live in a good distance from the church I attend which means lots of driving and observing time.  Often times, on my way to church I look out my window and I stare.  Some may think I’m being rude, but it’s the exact opposite.  I look at that person sitting on the stoop or the one standing on the corner, and I wonder.  I wonder about what they may have gone through that day.  I wonder what it is that made that person look so sad.  I wonder about the mom on the bus stop struggling to get stroller, baby, and bags onto the bus.  I wonder.

How often have we really taken the time to see beyond the people to see the person, to really try to imagine you walking in the shoes of another?  To see what’s going on inside the person without judging the outside?  To show a tender heart instead of a wagging head, disapproving eyes and a simple tsk-tsk-tsk?

When it’s all said and done, “Mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (James 2:13).  Thinking beyond oneself is going to win out hands down every single time.  Why?  Because, that’s what Christ did for us!  He looked beyond Himself, beyond His own needs and hurts, and saw what the world needed.  The world needed a Savior.

Even during His earthly ministry it has been noted in the Bible, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them” (Mt. 9:36).  To the leper, “And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him…” (Mk. 1:41).  To the mom who just lost her son, “And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her…” (Luke 7:13).  To the world, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” (Luke 22:42).  To His enemies, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” (Luke 23:34).

That’s how warm Jesus’ heart was toward people.  He had a genuine concern to look at people from the inside out instead of the outside in.  He saw the person beyond the people.  So, did the Good Samaritan.  Despite the rejection and animosity he faced down through the years at the hand of the Jews, this man needed his help.  He was not going to let those years of bitterness or even indifference change his resolve to help the one that needed him now.

Paul taught the church in Ephesus to “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us…” (Eph. 4:32-5:2).

Imitators of God are concerned with the person on the inside.  An imitator of God is warmed to the plight of the human in humanity and sees them for who they are.  They are someone that God is concerned enough about to allow His Son to die.  Shouldn’t we then have that same compassion for one another? (© Word For Life Says).

Compassion, though it may sometimes seem like it in today’s world, does not have to be a lost art.  We, if we follow the example of Jesus and of those who have gone on before us, can make a difference, not only in one life but in the world, positively, for change.  Through our service to our fellow man we are demonstrating the service of God’s love toward us; thereby serving God as well.

Considering all that Christ has done for us, we have a unique responsibility to show one another love through service.  Think about the life of Christ.  He said, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many,” (Matthew 20:28).  Here is the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords, humbling Himself as a commoner and serving.  His focus was never on receiving anything, yet to give it all.  The pattern of the Church and those who would serve God should be so likeminded.

A Lawyer Questions Jesus

Luke 10:25-29 “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?  And he answering said, Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.  And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.  But he willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” 

It amazes me the lengths that individuals will go through to try to prove a point.  Certain men would show up at different points: Pharisees, Herodians, Sadducees and scribes, “to catch him in his words,” (Mark 12:13).  These questionings were not honest inquiries rather ways to try to catch Jesus in a trap; “that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor,” (Luke 20:20; read 9-19 for more).

The lawyer in today’s lesson was an expert in the religious law or the Law of Moses.  His life revolved around the teachings thereof; he knew and possessed the expertise of the time; a very thorough knowledge of what was written and passed down from generation to generation amongst the people of God.

Here, he used his “knowledge” to try to trap Jesus in something he and the other Pharisees and scribes could eventually use against Him in their pursuit of His demise.  We see a similar situation play out in Matthew 22:35 and Mark 12:28.

But Jesus turned the tables on him and asked him, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” Obviously, Jesus knew of the man and who he was and being the expert that he is should be able to readily answer His question as well.  It’s one thing to throw questions at another in an attempt to embarrass or discredit; it’s totally different to be put on the spot and have to answer for some theological debate for oneself.  Jesus redirected the man’s question to let the law, which he is so familiarly acquainted with, speak for itself.

Note: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16).  If there is any question regarding the Word, refer back to the Word.  Jesus used God’s Word a lot in many defenses.

What I like is Jesus didn’t initiate this.  It was the pride and headiness of those who sought to disprove Him that caused them to pose these questions.  Yet, at every turn, Jesus, in His quiet and humble way, puts people in their place causing the opposite results in what they were hoping for.

The lawyer’s response was not unexpected.  He answered with his recitation from a portion of the Law which begins in Deuteronomy 6:4 with the words, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:”; also known as the Shema (compare Mark 12:29).  This prayer was recited two times a day.  Its instructions are very poignant and meant to solidify one’s relationship and that of his house with God (see Deuteronomy 6:4-7).  What great principles on rearing a godly house and drawing one closer to God!  Here, the lawyer answered confidently, “Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind” reciting from the familiar verse 5 in that same set of verses from Deuteronomy 6.

Note: Because we love Him, everything within our inner being should be wholly and completely devoted to God: the emotions, mind, will, and strength.  This goes beyond lip service.  God wants your inner man devoted to Him rather than surface professions of faith.  Why do you think God so approved of David despite his many, many faults?  He did so because David’s heart was for God.  Act 13:22 says, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart…”  David worshiped God and was devoted to God from the heart.  His inner man was tied to God.”

The second portion of his recitation came from Leviticus 19:18b where it states, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Love is a working of the inner man and is concerned with outwardly working itself in the lives of others seeking their betterment.  Love doesn’t look to loop-hole another to get out of service, rather, it asks, “What can I do for my fellow man?”  One of the greatest things we or any of us can give to another is love (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Jesus supports his answer as being correct by stating, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” In Matthew 22:40 Jesus states, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  Everything is fulfilled in the following of these two commandments.  We are not saved by our works, but our works prove to whom we belong.  “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone,” (James 2:17; read vss. 14-18).

“But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?” Oh, here’s where we get into the pudding of the matter.  I don’t know why this man felt a need to justify himself but the answer that Jesus gives was most certainly not what he was looking for.  When one is seeking to justify themselves, in my opinion, they are trying to clear themselves from any wrongdoing.  Being that this man was, in fact, a pro at the dealings of the Mosaic Law, he wants to be found, again in my opinion, “right” in his dealings with his fellow man.

Though his title of a lawyer was not as we use it today in a court of law, let’s think about that court of law scene for a moment.  People go to court to try and convict.  Others are there to defend or justify; presenting an excuse to the judge/jury of why they should be cleared of any charges.  Again, strictly my opinion, but to me, this man was fishing to be exonerated of any wrong toward his fellow man.  But, let’s find out Jesus’ answer in the matter.

Jesus’ Answer to the Lawyer

Luke 10:30-34 “And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”

To answer the lawyer’s question, Jesus, as He was known to do, told a very illustrative story instead of giving a simple verbal response.  What He was about to pose would be thought-provoking and should cause some to question whether they are truly serving in the love of God.

Many of us are very familiar with this story so I won’t bore you with the obvious.  What I do what to point out is the “opposite” ingredient that plays into the mix of things in Jesus’ story.  On the one hand, we have not one, but two men who are considered righteous workers in the temple of God: the priest and the Levite.  Both men have been ordained and appointed special positions and special tasks on behalf of the temple, the people, and God.

On the other hand, we have a despised reject of Jewish society, the Samaritan.  One who most would have been considered a nobody yet became the hero of Jesus’ story and is definitive proof that no matter how others view you, you can still make an impact in this world for God.

Another “opposite” ingredient to look at is not who any of the men are; rather, their actions in coming across the beaten man.  The two, the priest and the Levite, for whatever reason chose not to help or even come near to see about the battered man.  Some say they wanted to remain ceremonially clean or the like.  We just don’t know the exact cause for why they reacted the way they did but Jesus made it a point to tell the story like this, so it is more than noteworthy to pay attention to.

To Jesus, their actions were not only opposite of the Samaritan’s, who showed compassion; but their actions were also opposite of what God was looking for.  For by the time we reach the end of the story, not in today’s printed text, Jesus asked, “Which of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:36).

The lawyer to whom He presented the question answered, “He that shewed mercy on him,” (Luke 10:37a).  Jesus followed with this very important instruction: “Go, and do thou likewise,” (Luke 10:37b), showing what kind of service God was looking for from His people.

We serve God not just in the confines of the church building or temple; we serve God when we reach out to our fellow man and become vessels for His mercy to work through.

This was a prime teaching opportunity to let them know how they treat people matters.  Treat people as you yourself would want to be treated or how you think Jesus would treat them.  “God is love,” (1 John 4:8), and those that belong to Him should operate in love also.  Everybody wants to be loved and feel the concern of mercy and compassion this man showed, no matter their status in life.

God’s people should know how to treat people in any situation or circumstance, whether the times are favorable or not.  God’s people must respond the same way Jesus did.  Philippians 2:5 tells us, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  See people how Jesus sees them.  What is His attitude toward another in need?

Loving people; serving them and treating them as one would want to be treated is a priority for living as God’s people and serving Him.

As was already stated in our introduction, we are to “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us…” (Eph. 4:32-5:2).

In order to serve God, we must serve people also.  The Good Samaritan became a great and enduring example through the ages of how through serving one’s fellow man we also serve God.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Serving Like the Good Samaritan

Suggested Activities:

Object Lesson Idea from: “Living Love: The Parable of the Good Samaritan” (go to page 3 for the Object Lesson to lead into this lesson titled, The Present Predicament )

“Bible Verse Review Activity” (Click to find a great game that’s easy and inexpensive to help students memorize Bible verses)

In getting across the idea of “Serving,” I used crafts incorporating the hands since that’s what we use the most to serve and help others (see below). Enjoy!

LACE IT UP HANDPRINT:

One craft idea is to simply have students trace their handprint on cardstock or use this Handprint Craft Cutout printed on cardstock for this project because it’s sturdier, and then cut it out.   Using a hole punch, go around the outer edges of the picture of the hand (these will be for lacing).  Students can then decorate and lace with ribbon, colorful shoelaces, or yarn (note: if you use ribbon like I did, you may want to wrap the ends in tape to make a little aglet like on a shoelace to make it easier to navigate through the holes).  You or your students can even write a memory verse reference directly on your project. (Example pictured below)

 

HANDPRINT NECKLACE:

Continuing with our hand theme, students can make a Handprint Necklace (example pictured below – I used construction paper with tracing).  Students can trace their handprint onto construction paper or cardstock or use this Handprint Craft Cutout and cut out.  Punch one hole in the top.  Using ribbon or yarn and cut up straws, beads, or whatever you have laying around (even loop cereal 😉 Let them have fun and decorate it as they see fit. You or your students can even write a memory verse reference directly on your project.

Adult Journal Page: Serving Like the Good Samaritan

Kid’s Journal Page: Serving Like the Good Samaritan

Blank Journal Pages (to cover what interest your class): Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Draw the Scene: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Draw the Scene

Word Search: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Word Search  Answers: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Word Search Answers

Crossword: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Crossword  Answers: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Word Scramble  Answers: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Word Scramble Answers

“The Good Samaritan Bible Lesson” (Here you will find many, many activities to choose from including WWJD? activities, coloring pages, take-home pages, and more.  Enjoy!)

“The Good Samaritan Crafts for Kids”

“The Good Samaritan Bible Lesson/Little Blots of Faith”

“Bible Fun Zone/Good Samaritan”

“The Good Samaritan” (Several unique activities, printables and story illustrations for the telling of the lesson.  Enjoy!)

“First Aide Bag” (A very original, cheap and easy craft your students can put together.  I would suggest adding a bible verse from the lesson as a reminder of what was covered.  Enjoy!)

“Doctor’s Bag”

“I Can Be a Service Star” (Sugardoodle.net)

“Serving Others”

 

 

 

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“God is Forever Faithful!”

 

“It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness,”

Lamentations 3:22-23

There seems to be news every day of more and more people experiencing hardships in their lives. There are stories of loved ones that didn’t return home. There are stories of weather disasters wiping out cities. There are stories of our young people and teenagers struggling. There are stories of corrupt politics; a crippling economy, job layoffs and firings, and more.

You name it and it’s out there. The daily news is littered with the truth of the sorrow that can penetrate into anyone’s life on any given day; stories that cause one to just shake their head and feel the pang of sympathy for those going through. Nobody wants to experience hardships and nobody wants to see anybody else having to suffer with it either.

It is during these times when we have to fight the most to remember the sovereignty of God. When we have to continually pound it into our heads that He is in control and “His compassions fail not.” Life may seem very, very bleak at times but God is still on His throne and “great is Thy faithfulness!”

Going through the hardships and the disappointments of life are hard enough, but when we start attributing the human characteristics of short-comings to a divine God, we rob ourselves of an unfailing assurance.

It’s hard to keep one’s head above water during times of crisis. It is at that time when we need our safety float the most. Then is when we need to remember that God has never failed and He is not about to start failing today. He is forever faithful!

Even in the book of Lamentations after the people went into captivity and Jerusalem became desolate, Jeremiah penned words that still inspire to this generation. They became words that have resonated God’s faithfulness in song; words that recognize that God is still there with His people.

“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope,” (Lamentations 3:20), Jeremiah writes. This is a made up mind focused on all that God has done through you and for you; seeing how He has moved in times past in your life. Looking back and remembering the prayers that He has already answered brings to the forefront of your mind all the successes He has allowed you to experience. Let that store up for you an arsenal of truth that fights for you and will declare “He is faithful!”

Don’t measure God faithfulness by your present circumstances.  God never promised the absence of hardship or adversity in our Christian walk. But, what He did promise, in His faithfulness, to be in it all the way with you (Matthew 28:20). Therefore, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised),” Hebrews 10:23.  The pathway we have walked may not have been all peaches and cream, but God was there with us and brought us through to this day because He is faithful.

Text Free Photo Source: Pixabay

“I Believe God!”

Photo: Pixabay

In the midst of the storm, he was tossed.  A prisoner shackled by iron, but not held down in his faith.  The Apostle Paul has been through some rough patches in life but even now he stands by his faith, and says, “I believe God!” (Acts 27:25; NKJV, read Acts 27).

There are moments when life will make you scratch your head with wonder, thinking, “What the world is going on around here?  I have stood the ground of faith.  I have walked the path of the Lord, and yet, now I am facing a ferocious storm that wants to capsize everything I believe in.  I face waves of adversity come without notice and slam against my body, my mind, and my heart.  What’s going on?!”

If you have never faced that head scratching, heart-searching moment, then I celebrate with you.  But, if you, like most of us, have stood on the bow of the boat, with a raging storm all around; thundering, lightning, and the very real fear that in a moment’s notice everything could go really wrong really quickly, then you know the quandary it places you in: give up and forget everything that has gotten you to where you are; or, secure yourself for the ride and hold on.

The Apostle Paul chose to do just that.   The storm hadn’t changed.  As a matter of fact, it grew worse.  Yet, he anchored himself in God.  Paul held on to the promise of God and boldly stated, “I believe!”

In God’s Word is light and strength to hold on to during the darkest and stormiest of days and nights.  Some days require more encouragement than others.  Some nights need the comfort of God holding you so close through His matchless words that say, “I am here for you.  You are not alone.  Come, find comfort and solace in Me and rest your weary soul.”

When He says, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you,” (Deut. 31:8; NLT); Father God, help us to lay down the discouragement that tries to speak against Your promise.

When His Word speaks, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds,” (Psalm 147:3); Father God, help us to find comfort in You and trust that you are healing this situation right now; that Your hand is still bandaging these wounds the world tries to inflict upon us.

When Jesus declares, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28; NIV); Father God, help us to cast these burdens and worries at Your feet and accept the peace that You want for us in our hearts.

Like the Apostle Paul, we have to choose to believe God over what’s raging around us.  Storms are frightening and life can be tumultuous, but Father God, help us to hold on to You, and just believe.

“Our True Image”

In a world where selfies, mainstream personal videos, and profiles dominate it’s easy to surmise that image to most means a great deal.  One’s style and the exterior of self is put on display for the world to like, or not.

But, the true degree of our image goes much deeper.  It’s so easy to look at the clothes, the hair, and the poses and think that’s the sum of a person.  When God crafted us individually and designed us like Him, He saw so much more.  He had a greater vision in mind.

I fear that we have watered down His intention for our purposeful design of a deeper and more spiritually revealing self that personifies His glory before the world and we have settled for the cheaper, mass-produced, mass approved public version.

I believe when God spoke in the beginning that we were made in His image (see Genesis 1:27), He spoke of more than just our facial features, our physique, our height, weight, and so on.  He spoke of our representation of something the boundaries of those outer measurements can’t comprehend.  He spoke of our likeness of Him.  At that point of creation, when it came time for humanity to be put on the earth, God looked to Himself to snap a portrait of who we are truly designed to be.

Now, do I mean that you are supposed to be God sitting on the throne in heaven?  No.  But, what I do mean is we are carriers of so much more.  The portrait of our lives is made to expose and reflect His glory of the greater.  The selfies we have grown accustomed to can’t compare to the true nature we were designed to resemble.

So my question is, why settle for less when your life and mine was made to shine beyond the flash of a lens?  Can we not view our importance and value through the eyes of God instead of view clicks, like buttons, and reactions?  Who or what do we really want our lives to model?

Selfies and having fun with cameras aren’t bad.  I take them myself from time to time.  They just don’t hold the sum of who we really are.  We can make pretty faces, pose, and dress – but, we will never find true happiness and satisfaction in life exchanging our true image for cheaper version this world has to offer.

Therefore, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” Matthew 5:16.  Show the world your selfie that’s established in Him.

Verses to ponder:

Colossians 3:10 “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”

Ephesians 4:24 “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Romans 13:14 “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

 

“Lord, I Believe!” | Words To Live By

God wants more than dreamers, He wants believers! People who believe He can heal. Individuals who know His power alone can save. Persons who will raise their hands and testify the Lord can raise up any dead situation or circumstance. Those who know that nothing is too hard for Him for He can open eyes, unstop ears, and change souls for eternity. Lives whose hope is only in Him, and they readily declare this day, “Lord, I believe!”

“God Lifts Me Up!”

“I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my enemies rejoice over me.”

~Psalm 30:1~

“Enjoy the Ride!”

enjoy the ride-001

 

One day I found myself in a bit of a quandary.  After dropping one of my daughters off on her college campus I had to make the decision whether I would jump back on the highway or take the back road.  The dilemma: the highway was very congested and moving extremely slow and the back road took longer.  I had to be somewhere in an allotted amount of time and wanted to get there as quickly as possible.

Sending up a silent prayer for wisdom I proceeded back onto the highway only to be caught in practically stand-still traffic.  Quickly I jumped off the first exit and proceeded to take the back road.  Instead of allowing the usual frustration to set in of being sent off course, a thought kept niggling my mind: Enjoy the Ride.  The weather was crisp on that first full day of Fall, a few leaves were beginning to change.  The “rushing to get where I needed to” thought kept trying to invade this peaceful drive, but the thought would come again: Enjoy the Ride.

Sometimes plans going awry but being taken off course doesn’t have to be frustrating.  Sometimes I believe it’s God’s way of telling us to enjoy the journey of life a little more.  Schedules are always going to be there but sometimes we have to let go and enjoy the ride.  Give it to God and trust Him to lead you to your destination and sit back and enjoy.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not on thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path,” Proverbs 3:5-6

 

“God can restore and heal the outcast” – Jeremiah 30:17

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People can toss you aside and treat you as unimportant, but God loves you.  He is for the restoration and healing of His people.

“Get Your Hopes Up!”

When discussing your dreams, ambitions,  and life goals there are two types of people you deal with: the pessimist and the optimist.  The pessimists have the habit of speaking negativity into everything that comes across their path.  And, if one is really stepping out on faith and shooting for the moon with a certain determined objective in mind, one that doesn’t fit into the ordinary way one may think, it usually eggs this negative-Nelly on to speak even more of all the things that could go wrong.

Whereas, the optimist doesn’t see the same barriers the pessimist sees.  The optimists believe that if you want to shoot for the moon, shoot, and don’t stop until you land on it.  For this one there is no such thing as an unattainable goal.  “If you can dream it, you can live it,” is their life motto.

There are a lot of things that many of us want to do in life but setbacks cause some to shrink away from those dreams.  The fighting to press forward before can put a damper on the will to fight again to see desires be fulfilled.

But, in our Christian journey, if we are doing nothing else, we are walking by faith (2 Cor. 5:7).  Everything we believe in and look forward to is based on hope and expectation.  There are a lot of things that we can’t see in this present day, but a glorious future is whispered in our ears by the voice of hope; the voice that never stops believing there is more.  There is greater to come because God has declared it throughout His Word.

While the world tries to dim your light and say, “Don’t get your hopes up;” I say, “Get your hopes up” and get excited about what God wants to do through His people in this new year!  Enter this year with expectations raised higher than ever before!  Don’t shrink back, but stir up the hope within and believe for so much more!  Reach beyond even the positivity of the optimist and declare, “I am a hope-imist!”

Why?

Because…

“I am a child of God who is favored!” (Num. 6:25-26; Ps. 5:12; 30:5; Gal. 3:26)

“I have an enduring hope!” (Ps. 71:14; Pro. 23:18; Isa. 40:31; Mk. 9:23)

“I am special to God!” (Jer. 1:5; Luk. 12:7; 1Pet. 2:9)

“His plans for me are so much greater than I can envision!” (Jud. 6-7; Pro. 9:2; Jer. 29:11)

“I have a reason to believe!” (Gen. 15:6; Ps. 112:7; Joh. 3:16; Mk. 11:24)

“I have a reason to keep pressing on!” (2 Chr. 15:7; Job 17:9; Gal. 6:9-10; Phi. 3:14; Jam. 1:12)

“I have a reason to expect victory in the end!” (Deu. 20:4; Joh. 16:33; Rom. 8:37; Phi. 4:13; 1 Joh. 5:4)

“I am in the plan of God!” (Ps. 138:8; Mat. 6:25-34; Eph. 2:10; Phi. 1:6)

…Therefore, I will get my hopes up!  I will believe the best for this new year ahead!

Scripture Prayers:

“Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” Psalm 33:22

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:13

“Return to Me”

“Return UNTO ME… THEN SHALT THOU NOT REMOVE.” Jeremiah 4:1

There is something to be said about being in the safety of the arms of the one you love. It’s a hold that fiercely embraces you, daring one to step between. In it, you not only find love but you feel the truth of all this person’s emotions toward you. You are secured. You are established. Nothing can tear you away from the warmth and protection you feel at this moment.

And yet, as most movies and books go, there comes the drama. In the drama comes the reason for departure. The part of the story that makes you wonder, “Will they ever be united again? Will they ever really know how one another feels?” It’s a typical storyline, but I must admit I never tire of it.

In those stories, not until the two parties separate do they realize just how much they needed the other. All of a sudden, the love they felt for one another reignites and in a desperate attempt to save the relationship, somehow, someway, they run back to the safety of each other’s arms where they can rebuild upon the love that was once felt.

Can I tell you something? God has never fallen out of love with you! As a matter of fact, He has done everything possible to try to keep you safely in His arms where He can take care of you and love on you. Yet, and still, the drama unfolds that leads the heart of man away to run after their own pursuits. What then of the love that God felt for you? It’s still there!

His love has never left just because we did. His love has never stopped embracing even when we didn’t return the embrace. His love has always been on fire for you and me, even when we tried to extinguish it. His love never quits seeking reconciliation because He wants us with Him!

This was the truth that He was trying to get across through the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s job was to relate to the people of Israel God’s undying passion for them. He tried to convince them that the drama of going their own way wasn’t worth it. Life would be so much better if they would stay where love could keep them and care for them. But, unfortunately, as mankind does, they thought they knew what was best. Love was not on their mind at that moment. As most stories play out, they couldn’t see past what they thought they wanted.

Yet, God is still pleading through the mouth of the prophet, “Return to Me.” If this were a movie, after witnessing the passionate plea for one to come back, to stay in my arms forever, there would not be a dry eye in the house. But, this is what God is doing! He is crying out to His people to not turn away, “DON’T GO! COME BACK! PLEASE, COME BACK!”

As the movies go, so did it with Israel. The pleas go unanswered. He has no choice but to let His loved ones go, hoping that one day they will come to their senses and return. To make a long story short, Israel had to be let go for several decades before they would come to truly appreciate the love that God has for them. Don’t let the same be said of us today.

God is still waiting with opened arms. If we have not held on as tightly as we should – return. If some other thing or person has attracted our desires more – return. If we have turned a deaf ear to the pleas of love – return. If we have refused the grace of His embrace – run back and return to those arms of love.

God promises when you wholeheartedly return to Him and put away all that other stuff that is not like Him, “then shalt thou not remove.”   Why? Because now you are safely snuggled where you belong. You are in the place of promise and His promise is this, “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil,” (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Faithful, established, and guarded – wow! That’s what He does for the one who stays in His arms of love.

God is crying out. Don’t let those cries go unanswered. Return today!

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