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Archive for the ‘hope’ Category

We all agree that simple is good.

I enjoyed the reminder of this truth that I read this morning during my devotional time.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my Savior”

These simple words of 2 Samuel 22:1 instantly encouraged me.

I found comfort in knowing just how solid my life can be because of my faith in God.

He is my rock, assuring me that as long as I stand on His Word and do not depart from His presence, I will not fall and I will not be shaken.

For who is able to shake the ground under God’s feet?

No one, of course.

He is my fortress, assuring me that as long as I stay within the boundaries of His will, I will find His protection during the inevitable attacks of life.

Foes will send arrows and will batter the walls and pronounce all sorts of accusations. But they will not defeat the walls of God’s authority and promised safe haven for the souls of those who remain in Him.

And He is my Savior.

I really like this declaration of King David.

It’s great to have a solid place to stand and a fortress to protect us.

But what about eternity?

Do we really want to be in a situation forever where enemies can attack?

Of course not.

We look forward to the day in glory when enemies are no more and we won’t be standing on the rock but instead on streets of gold.

I am so glad that I have a Savior to deliver me to heaven.

Our rock. Our fortress. Our Savior.

It’s really a good thing that David saw God for who He is.

I pray that you see God the same way.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I don’t know anybody who was given a time-share weekend in heaven before having to return to their everyday life.

Some might think that a “try it first” experience would boost the number of people choosing to become Christians.

It might increase the demand for the blessings of heaven but it also would diminish the role of faith, wouldn’t it?

For it wouldn’t be faith that sustained the demand, but rather “sight.”

If we say we have to experience the rewards of faith before demonstrating the commitment of faith, then how are we different than the couple who want to shack up for awhile before they get married?

Listen, choosing Christ and anticipating life in heaven after our death is part of godly faith.

There is no need for trusting God and believing in His promises if our minimum level of compliance isn’t based on hope.

Why do I need to trust somebody to give me something if I already have it?

Why do I need to hope that somebody will show up to help me if they’re already standing by my side?

In 2 Corinthians 5:7, the Apostle Paul wrote these words: “We live by faith, not by sight.”

He was speaking specifically to the promised, glorious blessings of heaven that awaited him in the next life. He talked about the stress of living on earth as a Christian and how his body “groans” because of the burdens he faced with spiritual persecution and perhaps physical aging.

Paul had faith that God would give him a heavenly body prepared by God Himself.

Aware of God’s miraculous power and sometimes used as a vessel for such, Paul had faith that the same God who had blessed him in earthly ways would bless him in eternal ways, even though Paul hadn’t been given a three-day test drive on the streets of gold.

Check out these words from 2 Cor. 4:16 – 5:1…

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”

We will live with greater G force — God’s force — when our faith is shaped by what is in our hopes, not what is in our hands.

Let’s trust God more when it comes to obeying God in advance of His blessing us.

He’ll gain the glory He deserves and — when the time is right — we’ll gain the blessings we desire.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Sadness stinks.

Nobody likes feeling it.

There’s a balm for that sadness, though.

It’s called hope.

When I have hope for better days ahead, the sting and stink of sadness diminishes.

My mind is rescued from the slippery slope of despair when I hold tightly to a strong vine that extends down from where I was headed.

As long as I cling to that vine, I’m safe and can regain strength and make my way toward the goal of a better life.

I’ve experienced this kind of hope, of inner peace, on multiple occasions when sadness was soaking into my soul.

Repeatedly, I’ve thanked God for the hope I’ve found in the Vine of Jesus Christ, in His Word, in the Holy Spirit and in God’s people.

It’s been SO good.

The writer of Psalm 126 knew about this hope and why it was so important to keep doing what God wanted even before God did what the writer wanted.

Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” (vv. 5-6).

God’s Word promises over and over that our faithfulness to Him in the midst of stress and sorrow is noted by our Father in heaven and, when the time is right, blessings will come our way.

We just have to keep clinging to the Vine.

We just have to keep sowing in the storms and the droughts, trusting that the Lord will provide the increase in due time.

When that happens, we’ll not only have sheaves of blessing, but we’ll also have powerful testimonies to encourage others in their storms and droughts.

That’s the power of hope.

That’s the power that you can share with others.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s ironic that so many humans trust their own goodness or ruthlessness or family name or physical beauty or social charm or financial standing as the means of feeling good about their future.

And that’s just for this life.

For those who believe in the fact of an afterlife, the notion of human attainment meeting divine, flawless standards is widely embraced even though it is logically impossible.

There is no such thing as “good enough” when the minimum standard is perfection.

Listen, heaven has the original zero tolerance policy.

Nobody gets in if even the tiniest of sin’s stains remain.

For if they did, it wouldn’t be perfect.

And Jesus would have died for nothing.

This truth jumped off the page to me this morning when I read Proverbs 11:7.

Hopes placed in mortals die with them; all the promise of their power comes to nothing”

It appears that King Solomon might have been speaking of the hopes that people had then that the kings of nations could always protect them from invading armies.

History shows that hope to be terribly hollow.

Countless times the citizens of a country learned in a most sobering way that their king had been killed in battle — they saw an invading army approach with fire in its eyes and blood-hungry swords in its hands.

The king’s promises had come to nothing.

Fast forward to now. Mortals are still believing lies.

Not as much involving clashing armies but certainly as much, if not more, involving false teachings.

Cults and other non-Christian religions around the world are growing at a meteoric rate because of the emphasis on human attainment of the mind or of the flesh.

Even Christianity is struggling in some ways because of this tendency among so many.

How many are church followers or pastor followers who drop out of Christianity whenever the church fails or the pastor fails?

Listen, our hope is to be in the Messiah who was God in human form and who was resurrected.

Any other hope will fail because it always has.

All the promise of power made by king after king, by false prophet after false prophet, by false religion after false religion has — or will — come to nothing.

Those kings, false prophets and false religion leaders are still dead and so are their promises.

Please join me in celebrating the fact that our hopes are in a living King who promises to come in power to deliver us to the “everything” of heaven.

As always, I love you
Martin

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One of the surest signs of growing spiritual maturity is the evidence of faith in the storms.

Millions of Christians are suffering financially now alongside an even larger contingent of non-Christians who have lost jobs or homes or cars or all of the above.

Being out of work for many months or even for years is brutally hurtful to so many who have abilities to serve, but no suitable opportunity because of how millions of jobs have been sent overseas.

The national thirst for the “cheaper, cheaper, cheaper” has seemingly torpedoed the economic future for a huge slice of our population.

So how can a Christian, particularly one lacking a paycheck, preserve a godly attitude during such tough times?

By reading the Bible daily and praying about the lessons it contains, that’s how.

Here is a passage from today’s installment in the One-Year Bible:

My days have passed, my plans are shattered. Yet the desires of my heart turn night into day; in the face of the darkness light is near.”

Who said this? Job did (17:11-12).

We all know the hell he went through with incredibly difficult losses and then with multiple onslaughts of hurtful criticism by several self-righteous peers.

Though it was really, really bad, Job never lost sight of God’s promise.

In the darkest of his nights, in the most painful of his heart’s sufferings, he found strength that a morning of deliverance and blessing was coming.

He didn’t know when, but he knew it would.

Listen, when you are pullled down so hard by circumstances that you’re tempted to believe you’ll never be able to get up, remember Job.

If faith could turn his night into day, if he could hope for morning in the mourning, then you and I can do the same.

Light is near, my friend.

In fact, nurturing hope for a brighter day is just a prayer away.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Some people seem to always be smiling.

And some people rarely smile.

Which describes you?

Why the difference?

I’m thinking it’s because the first group are more hopeful than the second.

People filled with hopes are more inclined to smile than are those who lack hope.

Even in times of stress and loss, those possessing hope can look with optimism toward the day when they or their loved ones will be bathed in blessings.

They don’t know when it will happen necessarily, but they are convinced that it will.

It is the hope for a better life that sustains smile-prone college students in the midst of their “meat-grinder” junior year when mental and time and financial and emotional stresses are huge.

It is the hope for maturing, well-adjusted adult children that sustains smiling, godly parents as they try to impart God’s wisdom and display godly love to teen children struggling with worldly temptations.

And it is the hope for a never-ending celebration of perfect joy that keeps a smile on the face of hassled Christians who believe that nothing in this world can separate the faithful heart from God’s perfect heart (Romans 8).

I was prompted to recall these thoughts after reading Psalm 71:14 this morning in the One-Year Bible.

But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.”

Wow.

Always have hope?

Always praise?

Do I?

Do you?

We both need to grow in this respect, I’m sure.

Because some days find me smiling little, I know that my heart, mind and soul are not yet perfectly permeated with God’s promises.

Perhaps the same is true for you.

Why did King David write that he always had hope, even in seemingly hopeless times?

It was because he believed in God’s promises of provision, of strengthening, of divine leading and of an eternal reward.

God never failed to keep a promise made in the Bible. And He will never fail to keep the promises on which our hopes are based.

Now that’s something to smile and shout about.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I find it interesting that some congregations have church buildings in out-of-the-way places and yet the ministries are thriving.

And there are other congregations that have buildings in aesthetically challenged, industrial areas and yet the parking lots are packed on Sunday morning.

According to most church growth gurus, a choice location on a major road close to growing residential areas is the ideal setting for a growing church.

That’s good when it can happen, but that isn’t what builds a church’s ministry.

Huh?

Isn’t ministry all about “location, location, location?”

Nope.

It wasn’t that way for Jesus and it isn’t to be that way for us.

Ministry is about providing hope for the hurting.

It’s that simple.

If people know they’ll find hope at a certain church as they experience God’s love and understand their purpose for living, they’ll find their way there whether it’s in a swank subdivision or on a busy highway between storage warehouses.

This is the truth that I’m trusting as the pastor for the congregation I serve in south Miami and this is the truth that every member of a church in a “challenged” location should trust.

I share this message today because of a simple, yet profound lesson in Mark 1:45. The setting is this: Jesus had just healed a man with leprosy and had told him to not tell others of the miracle. Jesus knew that if word spread of the compassionate healing, then any effort to enter local towns in Galilee would be chaotic as the crowds would beseige Him in the streets and marketplaces.

The healed man told everybody he saw about the miracle, though, and so Jesus had to stay in “lonely places” in the countryside in order to not cause major disruptions in towns and villages.

Yet, the Bible says, “the people still came to Him from everywhere.”

Why did they leave their homes and their towns and walk long distances to reach Jesus?

Because they were hurting in their flesh or in their souls and they believed that they could find hope by finding Jesus.

Listen, I was humbled this morning when I read this passage from the One-Year Bible. I was stirred to pray more actively for wisdom on how to lead my congregation toward becoming a better lighthouse of love, a better fountain of Living Water, a better hospital of spiritual, emotional and — through prayer — physical healing.

The more hope like this that people find at my industrial-location congregation, the more filled the building will be even though our location is not what church growth gurus would recommend.

Provide hope from on high and people will find your church building, my friend.

They found Jesus out in the boondocks. They’ll find your church if your congregation offers what Jesus offered.

This is my assignment. I pray that it will become yours.

As always, I love you
Martiin

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