A Reason for the Hope

“Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” 1 Peter 3:15

If I were to answer that question, the one that asks, “What is the reason for the hope within me?” I would first have to begin my answer by quoting 1 John 4:19 while substituting the “we” and “us” with “I” and “me,” saying, “I love Him because He first loved me.”

Today, I recognize the extremes of His love for me.  Today, with my mind’s eye, I can take a tour of my past, throughout my life, even before I was saved or born-again, and I can see the many places the hand of the Lord was working to pull me near.  I can see places where I was divinely protected.  I can see times when now, I can readily identify that it was nothing but the hand of God who brought me through.

My story is my story.  It is the testimony of what God has uniquely done in my life.  Our stories may all start out differently.  Our stories will be original to us and the experiences we have lived through.  Our testimonies will tell of the paths we have journeyed and the mighty works God has done for each of us.

While the avenues we have traveled with the stories they tell may have all started differently, they all have this one thing in common.  At the conclusion of everything, the only answer we have is Jesus.

For me to sit down and begin to tell you of all the ways that Christ has impacted my life, let’s just say that time and pages could not tell.  But what I can tell you is of the love I feel now.  Never have I been so enveloped by a love story before than the one where I was rescued.  As I look in Scripture and see Jesus’ continual compassion and mercies toward others, I readily see those caring aspects of our Lord’s loving character applied to my own life.  I see where He unashamedly welcomed me into His family.  I can see the many times I have been forgiven.

There was once a time when I wondered, looking for answers that didn’t really have questions.  There were times when I looked, but now the search is over, and I have this beautiful foundation established in the Lord Jesus Christ that wholly supports my life.

Every one of us who is holding on to that blessed hope is holding on for a reason.  We see Him.  We believe in Him.  We have witnessed Him at work in our lives.  We see His story leap from the pages of the Bible into our very lives.  This story is real.  What He has done is real.  His love is real.  And there is no greater I know.

For me, to tell another of this reason, I must begin with that love.  A love I couldn’t find anywhere, but at the same time, now I see it was a love that was chasing me down.  Being caught in His grace, I am glad for this life that now finds me in Him.

Through the course of apologetics, I could fashion sound answers that would be true over and over again.  But the testimony of my heart still tells of the reason for my hope – Jesus, and His love for me.

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“There’s More Than One Way”

There’s more than one way to be a champion. 

There’s more than one way to use your gift. 

There’s more than one way to make a difference. 

There’s more than one way to create change.

His original design for your life may not look like everyone else’s.  For some to stand with their own earthly measuring rods to compare may have not taken into account the uniqueness that makes you, you.  It may look quirky to some, but to God, it looks like you are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139:14). 

You are not a cookie-cutter fabrication of the rest.  Nor are you a tired remodel of the “best.”  Just the best you is who you are with your offerings to the world.  So go ahead and step out in the way He has planned for you.  Show them what you have to bring to the table matters.  Show them (despite the sometimes judgmental stares) your voice, your calling, and the workmanship He has sown in you with great care. 

There’s more than one way to do a lot of things, but there’s only one way to be – that’s you! Show them you.

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“Be a Promise Accepter!”

“For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him amen, unto the glory of God by us,” 2 Corinthians 1:20

 It’s back to school time around here. Each school year starts out brand new. New backpacks, new supplies, new clothes; along with new hopes and dreams with the anticipation of promise lingering in the air. This is going to be a wonderful year!

By the end of the first month of school, children and sometimes parents too, start looking forward to days off, delayed openings due to weather and such. The reality of the daily grinding and horse race schedules overshadows the promise that was once felt. Instead of realigning oneself to keep hold of the promise that was once felt in the atmosphere, we begin to gripe and complain. Looking forward to the end of the school year, or at least Christmas break for some relief becomes the new goal.

Often times, we treat the promises of God in the same manner also.

He gives us this wonderful volume (the Bible), filled with sixty-six books. And in each of those sixty-six books therein is packed with “more.” God has “more” for you than this. Line upon line and precept upon precept tells us how much He cares for us, loves us, and wants more for us. The Bible starts way back in the book of Genesis with promise. And, it goes all the way through to the end of Revelation. How does it end? With promise! “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen,” (Rev. 22:20-21). That’s a promise!

Unfortunately, as it is with the school year so it is in life. In the beginning, when the promise is fresh we are ecstatic. Then, as the everyday issues begin to settle in it starts to wear on the assurance that once was, leaving one to do nothing but constantly focusing on the end. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” (John 10:10). He doesn’t desire for “life” to be something tolerated. Rather, He wants it filled. And with that, there is the anticipation of something better.

Promise!

Promises only work when one accepts it. You can quote it all that you like, but unless it is internalized as a hopeful thing in the life of each of us, it does absolutely no good. Many people can read of the promises but they can’t believe in them for themselves. Only seeing with the eyes but never touching. They never experience the greatness that God wants to do. That’s not God’s intention for you. “For all the promises of God in Him are yea.”  That means “YES!” Now, it may be just me but when I see the words “all,” and “promises,” and “God,” and “yes,” I get excited! If you are in Christ, God says yes to every promise that comes with that salvation. Yes!

Won’t you accept it today? Yes!

I don’t have enough space or time here to even begin to list what He has in store for us. And, the half has not been told. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him,” (1 Cor. 2:9). The promises are there in His Word. All you have to do is believe it and receive it!

Be a promise accepter today. Go through the Bible, find verses that speak to you right now, highlight them, and write them down or whatever you do to remember a verse, then, lay hold of it as your personal treasure. Let them be your source of strength when life doesn’t feel as “abundant.” Accept what He said anyhow. Step out in faith, holding on to those precious promises for dear life.

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“Be Progressive”

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward,” Exodus 14:15

Have you heard of the phrase “two steps forward, one step back?” What if we could erase that end part? What if we could subtract from the equation the minus one step? What would the total sum of one’s life be if all they ever did was progress? If all they ever did was to add without factoring in any negatives?

“Two steps forward, one step back.” It’s a phrase that I have used and I know you have, too. But in reality, I actually think that we get too comfortable with that kind of mentality. Everything is not always going to go off without a hitch, we know that.  And yes, we will face obstacles at times, but it’s almost as if we expect to move back every time we try to advance forward. We are factoring in a negative from the very beginning and any time doubt is introduced into one’s advancement in this way, that will almost always sabotage one’s progress, taking away from all that they have done and gone through to move forward. It can subtract from and overshadow the positive with that seemingly bigger negative.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that there are many hard trials and circumstances that everyone will face. I will not trivialize the hurt and disappointments that one may come across in their life. But what will happen, if while we are on this journey, we try our best to look beyond the circumstances that we are in and be determined to move forward toward the promise anyway? What if for once we could factor out the negatives of life instead of factoring them in? Despite the chariots and the enemies pursuing us, we could be more determined to pursue the goals that God has for us.

That is what I really believe God wanted the children of Israel to do here. To stop looking for reasons for not progressing.  To stop looking for obstacles. To stop making excuses for why they can’t get to where God wants them to go. He had a glorious destiny for them. God had already shown them many, many miracles that led up to their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Yet, as soon as a moment of adversity poked its head around the corner to spy on their progress, they stopped moving. Instead, they stayed in that unproductive state wallowing in self-pity: “Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?” (Exodus 14:11), they cried.

God has a better plan for you than to keep you still, wallowing in the wilderness, in a state of self-pity. That’s why He said, “Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.” Stop crying about it and just go! Move! Make some progress! No more backward! It’s time to go on in Jesus’ name! To move it or lose it!

Looking at the stuff one has been through and the possibility of hardship ahead can be very discouraging, but press on anyhow! There is a promised land for you and me to reach. That alone is enough to urge you onward and upward. So, go ahead – be progressive today. Say within yourself, “I’m going to make it this time!”  No turning back!

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Take A Stand Against Fear

 

“. . .And so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law:
and if I perish, I perish,” Esther 4:16, KJV

There are a lot of things that act like blockades in our lives, but fear by far has to be one of the hardest to overcome. Fear can render useless the one who entertains it because, unlike physical limitations, fear messes with the mind. It changes one’s perspective on how they view the world, the people around them, and their own lives.

Fear acts like a photographer. It snaps a picture and develops it in the dark recesses of your mind. When the picture is finished being developed it comes out for you to view a new reality, whether it’s true or not. Fear is not based on truth but it wants you to believe in the image it presents to you more than God. That’s why many of us will never tread the courts of the king as Esther did. We can become so focused on that false image (the things that we see that make us afraid) that we fail to step out with courage.

The Bible tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Heb. 11:1). Going against fear takes faith. Faith doesn’t concentrate on what is visible to the naked eye. Faith concentrates on the truth of God’s promises. And His promises declare, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness,” (Is. 41:10).

That’s what faith sees!

With Queen Esther’s physical eyes the picture she saw wasn’t pleasant. What she saw was her beloved uncle Mordecai’s life was in danger (Esther 5:14). What she saw was hatred and an evil desire for her people to be destroyed (Esther 3:8-9). What she saw was the anguish of her people, grieving her also (Esther 4:3-4). What she saw was a law that could take her life (Esther 4:11).

A decision had to be made. Esther could look at the circumstances and let the fear of those images stop her from doing what’s right. Or, she could take a stand against the fear that assailed her and go for it, debunking that old image to see something new.

With great resolve and commitment she said, “If I perish, I perish.” She took a stand against the fearful, stepping out into the unknown, not sure if she would find favor with the king. Her people needed her to be brave. Her uncle needed her to be unbending in her determination. She needed to step up to the plate “for such a time as this,” (Esther 4:14).

Being fearless doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid.  It means in spite of it all, I have the courage to take a stand.

In what area of your life do you need more courage? Is there something you are dealing with that is extremely hard, yet you want to be determined to see it through? It takes a resolve such as Queen Esther possessed to stand against the fear of what you see so that you too can walk the King’s court in victory!

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Your Amazing IF

Image by Pixabay

IF has been around since the beginning of humanity.  IF usually comes with choice, consequence, and question.  But, what if the word IF can be a statement of faith?  What if the word IF can be a declaration of what you believe God can do in your life.

One of my favorite IF questions in the Bible led to a miracle occurring and the constraints of what is normally not possible being removed.  IF unlocks something amazing in one man’s life, never to be repeated by another human being except for Jesus Christ.  Tossed about in the waves of contrary winds, Jesus’ disciples are struggling in a boat in the middle of the sea when Jesus came to them walking on the water (see Matthew 14:22-33).  After Jesus greeted the men in the boat and calmed them, Peter asked, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water,” (Matthew 14:28; italics added mine).

I believe Peter knew wholeheartedly it was Jesus since some Bible studies use the word IF as SINCE.  Thus, I believe Peter’s IF is a statement of faith, even if it appeared to be an immature faith at the onset.  He believed in Jesus.  He believed if Jesus allowed him to, he would be able to do what is naturally impossible.  He, under the direction of the Lord, could do the amazing, and walk on water.

Now, many of us are very familiar with how Peter’s story here ends.  Seeing the waves his faith falters and Jesus is there to pull him up from his sinking condition and bring him back to the boat.  Yet, that isn’t the part I want to focus on here.  I want to focus on the power of the IF that drew him out of the boat in the first place.  Where other men stayed hidden, he literally threw it all to the wind, and with the chance of a lifetime, stepped out to experience the amazing.

We can laugh at Peter and put him down, but how many of us can honestly answer that we would have gotten out of the boat also?  You see, IF can be a hindrance that causes over questioning and actually act as a stumbling block for not moving forward into something wonderful.  But, IF can also be the catalyst to open a door of opportunity if it is approached with the idea that something amazing can come out of taking a chance with Jesus; to move on to the waters of the unknown with my eyes on Him.

The phrase “What if?” has birthed a lot of good quotes and with good reason.  In that two-worded question, we are daring to ask ourselves the question: “Do I stay in the boat or do I choose to walk on water?”  We are daring to see potential in ourselves to do more than the ordinary, to do something amazing with my IF.

Where is your “IF” calling you today or even this week?  What extraordinary thing may unlock for you if you take a chance with your amazing IF?  I believe God gives us dreams to pursue, but it’s our faith in active pursuit of that IF that will allow the amazing to happen for us, just like it did for Peter.  Jesus most certainly could have gotten to the boat without walking on water, but then Peter or any one of the other disciples would have never had the opportunity to ask and pursue something more.

Is Jesus calling you to walk on water?  Is He calling you to take steps of faith in pursuit of a particular IF?  If He is, keep your eyes on Him and allow Him to lead you to your amazing IF.

Copyright © Word For Life Says.com (Sharing any posts or lessons can only be done through the share buttons provided on this site from the original posts, lessons, and articles only. You can reblog from the original posts only using the reblog button provided, or share using the share buttons provided from these social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, etc., and they must be shared from the original posts only. All other repostings are prohibited. Posts and other items of interest found on this site MAY NOT BE COPIED AND PASTED, downloaded, uploaded, etc to another website or entity not listed (physical or electronic).  See COPYRIGHT PAGE for more details.

“Unwrapping Your Gifts!”

Photo: Pixabay

Christmas time is the most wonderful time of the year.  There’s a special peace and happiness in the air as we come together with friends, family, and loved ones to celebrate the birth of Christ, our Savior.  We get together to laugh, eat and enjoy one another’s company.  Then, we have the privilege to exchange gifts that show the love we carry for each other all throughout the year.

Gifts, by definition, are something given voluntarily.  I love you, and because I love you, you don’t have to twist my arm to make me show adoration towards you.  I do it of my own will, without prompting, because you mean that much to me.

That’s what makes this time of year so special.  (After all, it was God’s biggest gift to humanity that gives us cause for celebrating in the first place.)  It’s not the big dinners, twinkling lights, or the carols (though we enjoy it all).  It’s the love and adoration shown when gifts are given and opened with a rejoicing heart.

We go through much trouble to find and carefully select that perfect gift for that special someone.  I mean, you just know in your heart that they are going to love it and you can’t wait for them to rip off that wrapping paper, rejoice with gladness over the special way you thought about them, and immediately start using that gift you gave.

Now, consider this.  What if, when you gave your gift of love, they toss it to the side in disregard saying, “I’ll get to it when I get to it?”  You would be so crushed, hurt, and disappointed over their uncaring way of receiving your gift.

What if God feels the same way?  Not only did He give us THE BEST GIFT that we could never live without (His Son, JESUS), but in our relationship with Him, we have been freely given many other gifts.  Not only is a gift something given voluntarily, but it is also a special ability or capacity; a special talent to be used for the edifying of Himself through you.

In the book of Matthew, chapter 25, Jesus told the parable of the talents.  One man was given five, one was called to receive two and another received one.  What is ironic is that the two to whom the most talents were given increased and prospered one hundred percent.  Now, we would think their master was unfair in expecting so much from them.  After all, he did give them more responsibilities than the other.

Through perseverance and diligent work, not only did they gain a little but they doubled what they started with.  Sadly, the one who was only given one responsibility, only one job, one talent let fear stop him from increasing and prosperity.  He said, “I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine,” (Matthew 25:25).  Instead of being made a ruler, he was made a disgrace.  Instead of living with abundance, he was deemed unprofitable and cast into outer darkness (vs. 30).

Living a life of unprofitableness is living a life of darkness.  There’s no joy or peace, only weeping.  This is not the life that God intended for us to live.  The special stuff that God put on the inside of you and me was never meant to be buried and hidden from the world.  We are meant to shine as a beacon of light into this dim, dark world and show them who God is and what He wants to do for all mankind through the abilities, gifts, and talents He has put in us.

What you have in you is too good to hide.  Don’t keep it to yourself.  “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath,” (vs. 29).  To some, this may seem like an unfair statement, thinking, Why do they get more when they already have some?  And, why are they going to take his little bit of stuff away?

Instead of questioning and overanalyzing the story, perhaps our time would be better spent if we were to pull out our own shovels and start digging.  Dig for your talent.  Unearth it from deep within and don’t give up until you have pulled out every treasure that God has put in you.  If when you pull your treasure up, it turns out to be only one thing, then, you work that one thing with hard-pressing diligence until it has increased and doubled to two.  Then, you work some more until that two doubles to four and so on.

‘Tis the season for opening gifts.  God has already given them to you.  Don’t let fear stop you from unwrapping them.  God took great care in picking out the perfect gift for you and He can’t wait for you to rip off the wrapping paper and begin to use it.  God gave it to you because you mean a lot to Him and He knows that you would be great in using it.

Don’t toss it aside.  Whether your gift is humble or outrageous, open it and bring it to the Savior!  You may be surprised at what you find.

We have just a little ways to go before we celebrate the best gift ever: JESUS!  Soon after that, we will be bringing in a New Year.  What better time to unwrap all that good stuff God has placed in you?

Have a very blessed and Merry Christmas, always thanking God in advance for the greatest gift of His Son, our Savior, JESUS CHRIST!

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“Wisdom is Better!”

“Wisdom is better,” is what I read twice during my devotional reading.  In Ecclesiastes 9:16, 18.  In verse 16 it states that “wisdom is better than strength” and in verse 18 it states that “wisdom is better than weapons of war.”  This had me thinking, how often do we resort to strength and weapons before choosing wisdom to fight the struggles in life?

Strength and weapons are carnal devices that depend on fleshly know-how and might.  Often these are the first resources that man runs to in times of difficulty and adversity.  Wisdom is dependent upon God.  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction,” Proverbs 1:7.

Would it not be more prudent in the days of trials to follow the path of wisdom whose author is God?  Many of life’s mistakes are made from rash human impulses instead of the patient endurance of wisdom that God provides.  Christians especially are admonished to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” Proverbs 3:5-6.

“Wisdom is better!”  James 1:5 gives us the key to finding this wisdom to help with life’s choices.  He said, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be give him.”  God will freely supply for the heart that seeks wisdom rather than the harried messes of one’s own way.

Today, choose wisdom.  It’s always the better option.

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“Will I Be Worthy?”

Will I be worthy - pagemodo pic

Will I be worthy

in that day

when the clouds part

shining redemptive rays?

 

Will I be worthy

before the Son

rising with the saints

together as one?

 

Will I be worthy

to gain a crown,

with robes of righteousness

as my dressing gown?

 

Will I be worthy

to bask in that glory

when the books are opened

exposing my story?

 

Will I be worthy

to hear, “Well done;”

to enter for eternity

where’s there’s no need for sun?

 

Will I be worthy?

The answer is, “No,”

if on my own accord

I try to go.

 

My own works cannot mark me as good,

but if on Christ’s sacrifice I have stood;

my unworthy, sinful, scarlet state

counts me as worthy, by His grace.

 “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus,

and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11

“Your Hearts Shall Live!”

your hearts shall live - pagemodo pic

“And you who seek God, your hearts shall live,” Psalm 69:32

How many go through their day complacent in the status quo?  No passion for life.  No zeal for better.  Just run the ordinary course of the ordinary life jogger, following the crowd, content with a heart that’s just beating but not alive.

A heart that is alive thrills at the unknown.  A heart that is alive craves to pump its life source throughout every crevice of its being.  Those who seek for God are not content with just the rhythmic beat of every other man.  It wants to thump against the chest wall to express the life that lives in it.

When one seeks God it stirs up something on the inside of them.  It stirs a wanting of more.  Kind of like a first love.  You seek to be near that person or to simply hear their voice.  When contact is made it makes the heart beat a little faster and you feel alive!  God promises those that look for Him with that same passion your hearts shall live.  Your heart will tell a story all its own about the love that dwells in it for the one you seek.

Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” (John 10:10).  He wants hearts alive; hearts that live for seeking Him more and more.  From that they will reap not the status quo rather an abundance of life that flows from Him.  If the beat of your heart is a little slower these days, or your faith is not getting as excited as it used at the first, check to see who or what you have been seeking after.  It may be that you have been looking for love, acceptance and passion everywhere but the right place.  But, we have this promise, “you who seek God, your hearts shall live!”

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