Tag Archives: Hope

 Open the Eyes of My Heart

eyes-of-my-heart

May the eyes of your heart be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.  Ephesians 1:18

In 2 Kings 6, there is an account about the prophet Elisha.  The king of Syria sent men to kill him because Elisha heard from God and would tell the king of Israel what the king of Syria was going to do.  So the king of Syria sent a great army with horses and chariots to go get him, surrounding the city Elisha was in.  Elisha’s servant rose early and saw the army around the city and ran to Elisha reporting this in fear.  Verse 17 says, “Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.”   God did it and the servant saw that the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Paul was praying a similar prayer for the church of Ephesus.  It wasn’t so that they could see the angel army around them, but so they could understand what God had gifted them with.  He prayed that they would be able to know the hope they have in their faith, the riches of God’s inheritance, and the power they possess.  If you don’t know how to pray for someone else, or even yourself, this prayer is a good place to start.

Let’s start with praying for knowing the hope of our calling.    Paul is not just praying that we would have hope, but that we know about our calling.  In Ephesians 4:1 Paul commands that we walk worthy of our calling.  Part of that has to do with understanding why God has saved you.  Another part has to do with recognizing what gifts you have and how God wants to use you while you are on this planet.  As you figure this out with the eyes of your heart open, you will find a deeper hope than what you had before.

Paul then prayed that their eyes would be opened to understand what the glory of God’s inheritance in the saints is.  Paul is referring to the inheritance that God has in His saints, or us.  We are saints.  We are God’s possession, purchased by the blood of Jesus.  We are God’s portion, or inheritance, and one day we will all be in Heaven with God for all eternity.  Many Old Testament texts speak of Israel as God’s chosen portion or inheritance. 

1 Peter 1:9 tells us we are too: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”  We are God’s glorious inheritance, or possession.

In order to get this, something must happen to us. We must have a heart that sees spiritual reality. This is a gift from God. That is why Paul is praying for it. The things we need most, we cannot get on our own. That is why prayer is utterly crucial in the Christian life. When someone says, “I get along just fine without prayer,” they don’t know what they are missing. Don’t miss what it is that God wants to fill your life.  Pray for it and live your Christian life to the full.


Grab a hold of the God of hope and the Spirit of power

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Are you ever short on hope? God is the God of hope.  Have you ever thought of that?  Turn to the God of hope!  You may look back on your life and feel deep regret for things that you have done that has caused great pain.  Or, you may look ahead and not feel hope, just tiredness and pessimism.  If you belong to Jesus, the good news is that you can rewrite your script.  God holds the key to hope and  when you cry out to Him, you can grab a hold of things you never imagined.

Our hope isn’t built on fantasy.  It is built on God’s promises that are true.  He has delivered on them in the past and He will in the future.  His character backs that up.  Our hope is based on a God who can do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,” as Ephesians 3:20 proclaims.  We are placing our trust in the same God who made the lame walk, fed 5000 people with a bag lunch, and  raised Jesus from the dead.

As we place our faith in the God of hope, He fills us with joy and peace.  I can’t think of any other thing that can promise and deliver true joy and peace.  Drugs and alcohol offer a temporary blast of elation, but they are soon followed by regret and an emptiness that only magnifies despair.  In Romans 5:1-5, Paul describes how God has accomplished peace with Him through the blood of Jesus and how the Holy  Spirit  pours His love into our hearts.

It is the Holy Spirit that enables us to abound in hope and to have the faith to believe in this. It is His power that pours so much hope into our hearts that it overflows into others’ lives.  Our faith is in the God of hope and in the Spirit of power.

Put into the context of our lives, this means that all of the things that lie behind and before you are covered by the God of hope and the Spirit of power.  It could be lack of money, uncertainty of health, troubling relationships, or fear and anxiety that keep popping up.  Call on the power of the Holy Spirit today to give you the faith to trust that God will pour His hope, joy and peace into your heart.  Give Him the specifics of your life today, and picture God taking a water bucket and pouring His living water on them.

(The studies that I have been posting were originally written to send to some women in prison that I correspond with. They get a more in depth study to go with each devotional thought.  I connected with them at our county’s jail Bible studies that I lead.  They have invited Jesus into their lives, but struggle to break free from the things of the past, old habit patterns and ways of living, and to walk victoriously. As you read these posts, please pray for them–Tina, Arlene and Randi–that they would grab onto Jesus because He has grabbed a hold of  them–Philippians 3:12.)

 


It does get better than this…

Romans 8:18

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Paul is giving us a little perspective.  That’s good once in awhile.  Have you ever thought you had it bad and then you talked with someone that’s going through things ten times worse things than you, and you walk away feeling better?  This is coming from Paul, who was beaten, shipwrecked, stoned almost to death, and attacked by wild animals.  And still he says, “This is nothing compared to what Heaven is going to be like for us.”

That’s hope, knowing that what awaits us is going to be 1,000,000 times better than the best day of our lives.  So the beer commercial with people playing beach volleyball and then sitting in a lawn chair drinking beer that says, “It doesn’t get better than this,” is seriously wrong.  Not when you look at it from the perspective of eternity.  However, if they don’t know Jesus, it is true.  They do not have this hope.  We do, so take heart.

This view of eternity and the glory that awaits us is where our minds are to be set and our sufferings are to be weighed against.  A future focus gives us perseverance for now.  Paul wrote, “I consider.”  That’s what I call a mind verb.  It is a mindset we must have to run the race of life.  In the faith “Hall of Fame” in Hebrews 11:24-26, Moses got credit for several mind verbs that we must emulate: “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.  He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward.”

We can either be consumed with self pity or sorrow over our present sufferings and be immobilized, or we can hold tight by looking ahead to our reward.  There is a glorious Heaven that awaits us and it will be worth the yuck we endure now.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 echoes this: “So we do not lose heart…This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, so we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are unseen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

So don’t lose heart.  You may have struggles now, but they will be overwhelmed by glory that can’t even be described or imagined that awaits us.  Hold on with all of your heart.   And fix your eyes, mind and heart on the unseen, the eternal, and the glory that awaits us.  It does get better than this.

 


Peace With God

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Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 5:1

One of the aspects of our faith is that God credits His righteousness to us through what Jesus did when He shed His blood for us and was raised from the dead.  Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for our sins to pay the debt of sin that we could not pay.  Romans 5:1 tells us that we are justified.  To be justified means that we are declared righteous by God, because we have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus.

This presents a legal view of our sins.   Picture a court room.  You are standing before a judge because you stole something.  The judge asks how you plead and you say, “guilty.”  You know you deserve the punishment for breaking the law, if you are honest with yourself.  The judge is fulfilling justice by inflicting a consequence upon you.

We are all guilty of breaking the law because, as Romans 3:23 tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Some people think that they aren’t all that bad so they really don’t deserve God’s punishment as the judge of all.  They maybe took something that wasn’t theirs, or told a white lie, but that isn’t as bad as some people.  But James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.”  You would have to be perfect, and no one is.  So if we are standing before God our judge and He asks how we plead, we would all have to say, “guilty.”

Romans 6:23 declares, “The wages of sin is death.”  We deserve the penalty of Hell.  Our sin has made us enemies of God and we are objects of His wrath.  We have the problems that we have inside and out because we lack peace with God, because we are alienated from Him, far away, and nothing can still our conscience that calls out to us late at night.

God as judge bangs His gavel and is ready to deliver  the sentence of death.   But for those who call on Jesus as their Savior, a beautiful thing happens.  God says, “You are guilty, but I have someone who paid the penalty for you.  You are free to go.”  Jesus steps out and clears our record and stamps our debt  “paid.”  That’s what it means to be justified. And because of that, we can have peace, peace with God.  You can’t get that peace from drugs, alcohol, shopping, or anything else.  It’s a peace that comes from our debt being paid and us going from being legally guilty to being declared free.


Where else can we go?

where else can we go.jpgAfter this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him.  So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?  Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”   John 6:66-68

 

Jesus was just teaching some things that were difficult for the people to accept.  He told the Jews that He came down from Heaven.  Then Jesus talked about them eating of His flesh and drinking His blood to have eternal life.  As a result, many left the synagogue saying, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”  Even His disciples were grumbling about this.

Many of the people listening refused to accept that Jesus was the Promised One of God that they had been waiting for for hundreds of years.  The rest probably felt like what Jesus had to say was way over their heads, not having a clue what it meant to eat His flesh and drink His blood.  They left.  Instead of letting up on the difficult things, or apologizing to the twelve, Jesus asked if they were going to leave too.  That’s when Peter said they didn’t have anywhere else to turn.

In today’s Christian culture, it seems we try not to make things too difficult.  Some try to give only positive messages about joy and eternal life, while others try to help God out by watering down the hard parts.  They try to make it as easy as possible to follow Jesus.  We get more absorbed in how many people are in big churches, or how many aren’t in the small churches.

But Jesus didn’t do that.  He didn’t say, “Guys, I need to loosen up.  Let’s have a hayride.”  He simply asked if they were going to leave too.  Know this: It is not easy to follow Jesus.  His demands are pretty expansive, like to take up our cross, die to self and deny ourselves of things for the sake of the Gospel.  Jesus didn’t hide that those who follow Him would suffer.  And there are some things in the Bible that are hard to reduce to a simple black and white answer.

But there is nowhere else to turn and no one else to place our trust in.  Jesus holds the keys to eternal life.  His answer isn’t easy, but it’s good.  Sometimes He does things that we won’t understand and we’ll have a hard time accepting.  There will  days when we can’t sing the hymn, “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.”  

Oh, but Jesus is good.  Don’t turn away.  He has the words of eternal life.

It’s like what Mr. Beaver said about Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”