Faith, Hope and Love – Part 2 – Hope

Life hurts – there is no doubt about that. It knocks us for a loop, and we fall flat on our humiliated face, or into a deep well of despair. If all we have is human dependence, we are truly miserable.

 

Our only recourse is to muster our inner strength and to pull our self up yet again with our waning human resources. Each time this occurs, we get weaker and more despondent. Many people eventually run out of steam (Luke 21:26-28).

 

Our only and best hope in this life and the next is to trust in God’s love through the saving grace of Jesus’ death on Calvary’s cross. He is all we need (Colossians 3:3-4).

 

When we focus on Christ instead of our circumstance, He stands with us and in us in the midst of our trials. With Christ in us we shall never, ever be shaken from His solid Rock of sufficiency as our everlasting hope (Psalm 16:8, 62:6, 112:6).

 

His love is better than life and our lips praise Him for His goodness, love and provision of all of our needs for every moment of our life (Psalm 63). His peace and joy embrace us through every negative aspect of life.

 

Jesus walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23), comforting us with His direction and divine presence in our life. The peace He gives transcends anything this world has to offer and replaces all of our fears (Philippians 4:7).

 

His eternal hope shrouds our despair and we can do anything He calls us to do through His strength within us (1 Corinthians 4:13; Ephesians 3:16). He sustains us each moment of our day with victory in Jesus.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we hope only in You and thank You for Your divine presence in Christ in us (Galatians 2:20). We eventually lose our way without You to keep us safely tucked beneath the shelter of Your wings. We cry out to You and You hear us and deliver us from all of our troubles (Psalm 34:17).

 

We hunger after Your holiness and desire to walk only in Your ways (Matthew 5:6). We trust in no one other than You. You are continually with us and fight for us (Mark 4:37-40). You joy over us with singing, delight in the day we leave this world and join You in Heaven, and You bring us Your joy and provision as we walk in Your Spirit each moment of the day.

 

Thought for the Day:

The God of Hope will fill us with His joy and peace as we trust in, hope in and believe only in Him; we constantly overflow with His hope by the power of His Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

 

Faith, Hope and Love – Part 3 – Love

Love describes God’s divine nature. Jesus is love personified to us through His sacrificial gift of His life on Calvary’s cross. As we are conformed to the image of Christ, we exhibit more and more of His love.

 

Our whole life is about loving God and our neighbor (1 Timothy 1:5). This love motivates our thoughts, words and actions. Sure, we all get in the flesh now and then – tired and grouchy, stressed and overworked, etc. This makes us reluctant to lay down our life in love for anyone else.

 

This is when we can emulate Jesus’ behavior and withdraw to the mountains to pray – we may not have a mountain, but we can have a prayer closet – our “war room”, or a bench under a shade tree, or a secluded spot on the beach or countryside, or a rocker on the porch; I’ve even dashed into a bathroom stall more than once to recover my equilibrium (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

 

Once when I chatted with my daughter by phone, she said, “I put myself in time-out until I can get a better attitude.” Whatever works for you is the best way to walk in the Spirit and fulfill our goal not to give in to the desires of our flesh (Galatians 5:15-25).

 

In times when grief and stress cloud our natural eyes, we rely more heavily on our spiritual eyes and ears of faith in our Heavenly Father’s wisdom and faithfulness.

 

We trust and never doubt; but if we do doubt, we ask God to help our unbelief, and He will (Mark 9:23-25). We count on His eternal love to see us through the most gruesome issues of life.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we shall not lack in any good thing that we need, because we know that You supply all of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs according to Your abundance (Philippians  4:19). You will never abandon us, although at times You stretch our patience and build our faith by waiting beyond our human time limit to provide for our needs (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).

 

Sometimes, You do not even heal our sickness, but allow us to suffer in this life for some reason. Whether you are teaching us an object lesson, building our faith by making us wait, or taking us home to be with You in glory (Psalm 116:15), we still trust in Your love and gracious generosity to meet all of our needs.

 

Thought for the Day:

God’s love shrouds us like a cloak and refreshes us like a waterfall; we never need to fear, because Christ in us is greater than the god of this world, and God gave us a sound mind through salvation, spiritual power by His Spirit and His abundant everlasting love as a free gift for eternity.

– 2 Timothy 1:7

 

Living by the Spirit and the Word

To live by the Word refers to living in Christ (the Word) as well as in the words of the Holy Bible. When we daily read God’s Word and walk in it, as well as follow the direction of the Spirit of Christ within us each moment of the day, we find more success and blessings during our lifetime.

 

We experience fewer trials, because we are not reaping the negative results of what we sow in our human flesh. We find more joy in life, because we are walking in-step with the Trinity.

 

Even good ideas and activities can become the enemy of the best things, which God already has planned for us (Ephesians 2:10), because they take up our time and resources that we should be using to walk by God’s Spirit each moment of our day.

 

It is hard for human beings to relinquish control over our life – even to surrender it to God. We want to control the outcome of our activities, but this is actually a futile act; we cannot control life, only Christ in us can plan and accomplish a positive outcome for our day’s activities.

 

When we snuggle into the blankets at night, we find more fulfillment and contentment for a job well done, because we submitted to God’s will instead of our own (Philippians 4:11).

 

We cannot trust in the results of our day apart from walking in the Spirit. Satan often mimics God as an angel of light in order to distract us from following after God instead of this world.

 

God does not always allow the circumstances of our day to end with a positive result, but He always plants a seed for a miracle in every trial. A life changed, an accident avoided, a person brought to the saving knowledge of Christ. We may not see His reasons until eternity.

 

Obtaining wise human counsel is also always advisable for any major decision that we have to make, but God’s will may transcend all human reasoning (Proverbs 3:5-6). Listening to His Spirit within us takes practice, but gets easier and more sure with time.

 

Prayer:

Father God, help us to realize that Satan opens doors and windows for us too, as well as planting roadblocks; so taking unfolding natural events as a sign of Your involvement is not always a sure sign of Your will. Your Spirit and Your Word must also confirm any natural sign that something in our life is from You.

 

This discernment takes practice and spiritual maturity, and we often fail more often than succeed; but over the years of our walking in Your presence, You teach us the “sound” of Your still, small voice within our spirit and we stop allowing the devil and the world to distract us from walking in Your will.

 

Thought for the Day:

As authentic Believers, we live above the earthly circumstances around us and do not allow them to guide us; we do this by spending time listening to God in our spirit and in His Word.

 

Enter Heaven as a Little Child

God offers His Kingdom to people humble enough to assume the role of His child and to obey Him with abandon and trust. We live each day concentrating on each task He gives us. We live in the moment rather than attempting to multi-task through the day.

 

This is better for our mental, emotional and physical health, as well as our productivity than attempting to speed through life. Have you seen the driver that swerves around you, almost forcing you off the highway in his/her attempt to get ahead?

 

We see them a few blocks later stopped at the same traffic signal where we are coming to make our stop. Their rushing got them absolutely no place fast. Instead, we move along at a steady pace, walking in the Spirit through each moment of time.

 

More doctors today are following advice from ancient tribes who live close to the earth. They recommend that we spend short spurts of time throughout the day, sitting in the sun and fresh air with our bare feet or hands snuggling in the grass or dirt.

 

This outdoor siesta is the perfect time to pray and praise our Heavenly Daddy for His abundance of blessings on our day. This time, which we set aside for God, improves our connection with His presence within us.

 

We set-up an outdoor spot to sit, sip a cup of coffee or tea, and bury our feet in the sand or grass. We can even go to the public park and play with our neighbors’ or best friends’ children, our grandchildren or nieces or nephews, etc. We can volunteer at the local school to help the teacher in any way we can.

 

Our child-like attention to nature and God reaps blessings for us for the rest of the day by lowering our blood pressure, giving our body and soul time to rest, and feeding our spirit by focusing on God and His Word.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we are often too busy to spend time with You during our day. You gave us the beauty of nature in an attempt to keep us healthy and balanced in body, soul and spirit; yet, we often fill our life so full of stressful activities that we ignore this lovely gift. Remind us to make time to worship You in the grass or sand every day in order to give our self that mental, emotional and spiritual boost that we did not realize that we need.

 

You are not pleased with our devotion when we squeeze time for you in between a host of carnal pursuits. The more time we spend in intimate communication with You, the stronger our relationship with You grows and the deeper we enter Your rest and enjoy the fellowship of Your presence in our life.

 

Thought for the Day:

Sometimes, the most beneficial gift we can give to our self is to spend time in nature and with God; use some time of sunshine each day to walk, waltz or sit in the grass; we can even build a grassy plot on our patio if we live in a high-rise.

 

A Good Marriage – Ways We Erode Our Relationship

There are many issues that tear down a marriage that can be avoided. We simply need to be forewarned in order to be forearmed.

 

When we put our mate down in front of other people, this public humiliation is hurtful and uncalled for in every sense of the word. These “jokes” may make us feel better, or get a laugh; but they devastate our mate and should be avoided at all costs.

 

This habit causes resentment and develops into anger that seethes within our partner’s soul. It reveals pettiness and a lack of honor and respect for one another. Men are particularly negatively affected by public “put downs”, but wives want to feel loved, admired and complimented as well.

 

When we go behind each other and make decisions in secret that also affects their life, we erode our relationship as a couple. We make our partner feel devalued and overlooked.

 

Using superlatives such as “never” and “always” may make each other feel helpless and useless and cause us to want to give up trying. We never feel “good enough”; we start to believe that we will never measure up, so why try?

 

Blaming our spouse for our bad mood or lack of accomplishment in some area; expecting him/her to meet all the needs of our body, soul and spirit; postponing our fulfillment in life until the children leave the nest; holding resentment for unexpressed expectations, etc. will drive a wedge between both parties of the couple.

 

Complaining about the material possessions our spouse brings or fails to bring to the marriage will erode his/her desire to work and to help provide for our joint goals and aspirations.

 

Comparing our spouse to our neighbor or that model couple at church will cause disappointment and discouragement. It is better to inform our spouse of the areas in our relationship where we feel slighted, unappreciated, pressured or overwhelmed, and work together to build one another up.

 

Prayer:

Father God, reveal to us that talking curtly or “down” to one another devalues our mate in his/her heart. They feel discouraged and overwhelmed rather than complimented and built up. Stop us from continually finishing our mate’s sentences and remind us to allow them to tell their own version of the “story” from their perspective, even if we disagree with their facts.

 

Help us to see that when we make an attempt to do something nice for one another, and this gesture is not appreciated, we feel less like trying again. Open the eyes of our understanding so that You, rather than the devil, will influence our behavior and attitude in our marriage.

 

Thought for the Day:

When we constantly attempt to “teach” or change or correct each other, or always show our mate a better way to do things, it gives the message that they are “not good enough”; if we badger each other about petty issues or unmet expectations, we turn into nags and complainers, and we start to avoid each other’s company; it is so much better when spouses dwell together in unity.

 

We Cannot Serve Two Masters

 

 

Too often our career, family, sporting events, household chores, hobbies and busy schedule push God out of our life. Satan makes sure that the good things we choose to do become the enemy of the best times of prayer and fellowship with God.

 

We choose to walk on the thin line between carnality and Godliness. We compromise now and then, believing that it is a harmless flirtation with sin that effects only us and has no lasting effect on our spirituality.

 

The more attention we give to God in our daily plans, the more intimate we grow in our fellowship with Him. Rather than resorting to prayer as an act of desperation after we tried everything else first, we go to God first and remain in His presence all day long.

 

We pray at times of abundance, as well as during times of need. We pray without ceasing and have that inner glow of peace and joy like a halo around our life.

 

When someone asks for prayer, we stop and pray right then and there, rather than promise them that we will keep their request in our prayers later. Chances are that later never comes, or when it does, their request is no longer in our mind.

 

There is no shame in praying for them in the pew at church, the grocery line at the store, the assembly at school, or the sidewalk in our neighborhood.

 

We can ask the person in the elevator, the hall in the Sunday school wing, the clerk at the retail store, the attendant at the gas station, the person on the street, etc. if there is anything we can pray about for them. Then, we say that prayer in our heart as we go on our way.

 

Praying without ceasing is the key to an active prayer life. Rather than attempting to serve both God and the world, in order to accomplish everything in life through our human effort, reasoning and understanding, we seek God’s counsel on the issues and wait patiently for His direction on what to do next each moment of our day (Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

Prayer:

Father God, remind us not to allow Satan and this world to use our body, soul or spirit for carnal pursuits or to squeeze us into their mold for us. As we put on the armor of God each new morning (Ephesians 6), we dedicate our body and soul as a soldier in Your Army. We cringe to think of acting on the devil’s behalf instead of on Yours. Help us not to fall to his deception and trickery.

 

Teach us that we cannot serve two masters by lusting after the things of this world while attempting to serve in Your Kingdom. Fill us with Your Spirit and convict us strongly if we open up our self to Satan’s lies or temptations, or when we choose to walk away from You, even for a short season.¬† We choose right now to server You with our whole heart, mind and soul.

 

Thought for the Day:

God watches over us continually and advises us on which way to turn along the crossroads of life; we trust in Him with our whole heart and we do not rely on our human reasoning. – Proverbs 3:5-6

 

 

 

Incline Your Ear

God always inclines His ear to our prayers; and the wise in this world will incline their ear to the Lord, listen to His Words and align their life with His thoughts, ways and instruction (Proverbs 22:17).

 

Our eternal Father bends His ear to hear our pleading voice in our times of trouble (Psalm 86:6-8). He cares about everything that concerns us. He may chuckle at our naivety, or feel frustrated at our lack of faith; but He always provides for us, just like He did when Israel chose to wander in the wilderness rather than to obey His direction.

 

God pays attention to us and listens to the cries of our heart (Isaiah 28:23). We may not be able to describe in words the anguish we feel in our heart, but God knows exactly how we feel and has an antidote for our troubles.

 

He does not want us to attempt to overcome our trials alone. He eagerly waits for us to overcome our pride and rebellion, to abandon our human reasoning, and to reach out to Him to overcome the current plague, which is bedeviling us.

 

We call on God because we know He hears our words and answers us (Psalm 17:6). We communicate with Him in our prayers all day long. He especially loves it when we realize our helplessness without Him; He willingly listens for our voice in our times of need.

 

We cannot special order how we want our prayers answered. In fact, the most powerful prayer is to pray, “Lord, Your will be done.” In our submission to His will, we accept God’s answers to our prayers and realize that they are truly exactly what we needed all along.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we are desperate for You. We thank You for the thousands of ways You answer our prayers at the perfect moment and in the exact way that we need in order to supply our necessities in this world. Thank You that You allow us to live in a constant conversation with Your presence within us, as we focus on You every moment of our day.

 

Remind us not to talk all the time during our prayers, but to take time to listen to Your voice as You answer us and bless us with Your gifts and surprises along life’s way. When You are silent, help us to realize that You are simply enjoying moments of companionable silence with us as Your children.

 

Thought for the Day:

Our humble prayer is our covenant of complete and unreserved dependence on God to meet our needs as only a divine Father can.