Hold Fast to Your Hope

Hold Fast to Your Hope

We have good reasons to cling to our hope in Christ.  First of all, God cannot lie, so we know that we can trust His Word.  Secondly, this hope will not disappoint us as Romans 5:5 states (below).

. . . so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to hold firmly to the hope set before us.  (Heb 6:18 NASB, emphasis added)

We must ‘hold fast’ [keep hold of; hang onto; grip] the hope set before us by the Lord. 

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy . . .   (Ps 33:18 NKJV)

God is keeping watch over all those who hope in Him and in His mercy.  Glory to God!

. . . because you are my hope, Lord.  You, Lord, are the one I’ve trusted since childhood.  (Ps 71:5 CEB)

The Lord, who is almighty and never-failing, is the basis of all of our hope.  When we base our trust in Him, we have placed our trust appropriately.

My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word.  (Ps 119:81 ESV)

We are wise when we put hope in God’s Word because His Word will not fail, simply because He watches over His Word to perform it.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.  (Ps 130:5 NIV)

This also confirms the wisdom of putting our hope in God’s Word.

. . . and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.  (Rom 5:5 NRSV)

In this verse, God promises that our hope in Him will never be disappointed or frustrated.  What a wonderful reassurance from the heart of the Lord!

Seek Good Not Evil

Seek Good Not Evil

The Bible exhorts us to seek good and not evil on a daily basis.  We’re encouraged to try to live at peace with others.  Let’s have a look at some of those verses:

Do you want to live and enjoy a long life?  13 Then don’t say cruel things and don’t tell lies.  14 Do good instead of evil and try to live at peace.  15 If you obey the Lord, he will watch over you and answer your prayers.  (Ps 34:12-15 CEV)

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.  (Isa 1:16-17 ESV) 

Seek good, not evil, that you may live.  Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.  (Amos 5:14 NIV)

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
  (Mic 6:8 NLT)

Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  (Mt 6:33 CEB)

There is a promise to us that if we seek good and not evil, and be at peace with others, we will enjoy a long life.  Not only that, but the Lord says that He will be with us.  Another promise is that the Lord will watch over us and answer our prayers.  Wow!  Those are wonderful promises that God is giving us and notice that these are very desirable blessings.

We are also exhorted to be humble.  In other words, we should treat others with the respect that they deserve since all human beings have been made in the image of God.

Desire to see God’s kingdom and righteousness established, and when we do, every other blessing that we could ever desire will be given to us.  So today’s lesson is:  Live an upright and holy life, and reap the blessings that Jesus Christ purchased for everyone who would believe in Him.  Glory to God!

God’s Comforts

God’s Comforts

What are God’s ‘comforts’ as mentioned in Psalm 94:19?  From my study of this passage, the word refers to the promises of God, and the ability to remember and to mentally reenact our prior experiences of God’s care and kindnesses to us.  Such thoughts give us consolation, and they revitalize our minds and our thoughts.

In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.  (Ps 94:19 NKJV, emphasis added)

As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.  (Isa 66:13 NRSV)  The Lord promises to comfort us when we are distressed.

From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  (Ps 61:2 NASB)  During tribulations, we must allow our hearts to turn to the Rock of our salvation, Jesus Christ.

Just as I am satisfied with the choicest of foods, so my lips will praise you joyfully.  When I think of you in bed, I will meditate on you in the night watches.  (Ps 63:5-6 ISB) 

A good life habit to cultivate is to praise the Lord joyfully AT ALL TIMES, under all circumstances.  It will bring us joy and it will strengthen our faith.  When we can’t sleep in the night, we should meditate upon the Lord and upon His Word.  God promises in many places in the Bible that He will comfort us and that the Holy Spirit is our comforter. 

Turn to the Lord and trust Him to soothe and to encourage you when painful life experiences threaten to sink you.  He will not fail you.

Enduring Faith Through Temptation & Testing

Enduring Faith Through Temptation & Testing

As believers in Jesus Christ, we must learn to persevere and to prevail in faith even in the midst of trials, temptations, and testing.  The grace of God will carry us through such times if only we rely upon the Lord.

The Scriptures talk frequently about the ways in which we will face tribulations, adversity, and hardships in our walk of faith.  And to the overcomers, the Lord will give a crown of life.  Praise God!

My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing.  (Jas 1:2-4 CEB)

Such difficult and painful life encounters produce a tenacious and durable faith.  Exactly what we need for life on this earth.

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  (Jas 1:12 NKJV)

When we come through temptation victoriously, we will have tasted and experienced the sustaining grace of God at work in our lives.

You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.  (Mt 10:22 NIV)

Expect to be hated and persecuted, because Jesus also experienced such treatment.

You greatly rejoice in this, even though you have to suffer various kinds of trials for a little while, so that your genuine faith, which is more valuable than gold that perishes when tested by fire, may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus, the Messiah, is revealed.  (1 Pet 1:6, 7 ISV)

Our faith is more precious than gold; and just like gold, our faith is tested and tried in order to purify, concentrate, and refine it.  Our coming through testing triumphantly results in glory and honor being given to Jesus.  What an honor!

Contend for Your Faith

Contend for Your Faith

CONTEND means to maintain, keep up, or to sustain something.  We are reflecting upon the Bible’s exhortation to us to contend for our faith in the Savior and Messiah.

We need to work diligently on holding tightly to our faith because life’s circumstances and the work of the enemy will try to separate us permanently from our faith.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.  (Jude 1:3 KJV)

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  (1 Tim 6:12 NKJV)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  (2 Tim 4:7 ESV)

The only thing that matters is that you continue to live as good citizens in a manner worthy of the gospel of the Messiah. then, whether I come to see you or whether I stay away, I may hear all about you—that you are standing firm in one spirit, struggling with one mind for the faith of the gospel . . .  (Phil 1:27 ISV)

So how do we ‘fight the good fight of faith’?  There are a number of healthy, spiritual habits that we should form in order to stay connected to our faith and to the Word of God.  Here are some ideas:

  • Flee from sin:  literally, fly away from sin!  God will show you a way out of it.  (1 Cor 10:13)
  • Pursue righteousness. (Mt 5:6)
  • Get to know God and lead a godly life. (2 Pet 3:11)
  • Put your confidence [trust] in God and in His Word. (2 Cor 5:7)
  • Operate in love.  (1 Cor 13:13; Mt 22:39)
  • Be humble and gentle.  (Eph 4:2)

We must make choices every day of our lives to pursue God’s will, to obey Him, and to live by faith.  This requires perseverance and steadfastness.  God’s grace will supply us with His ability to hold fast to our course.  God bless you.

The Sad State of Our World

The Sad State of Our World

I am grieved by what is happening in the world now.  It is full of chaos and confusion and conflict.

Families typically share a worldview:  common beliefs that they hold in common at least while the children are young.  As the youngsters mature and grow into adulthood, they will evaluate their worldview and either accept it or reject it.  Then when children marry, new and unfamiliar opinions get mixed in.  This can bring harmony and unity, if these viewpoints should agree, but they can bring chaos and turmoil when they don’t.

Micah is an Old Testament prophet who said this about his own time, and also about what will happen when Messiah comes to earth.

Sons refuse to respect their own fathers, daughters rebel against their own mothers, and daughters-in-law despise their mothers-in-law.  Your family is now your enemy.  (Mic 7:6 CEV)

During those days, even within one family there would be breakdowns and strife.  Neighbors no longer trusted one another.  Families were in crisis.

What Micah said in Micah 7, was also Jesus’ argument a few hundred years later!  Jesus even says that He came to turn people against one another—even among families.

For I came to turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a person’s enemies will be the members of his household.  (Mt 10:35-36 NASB)

“Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”  (Lk 12:53 NKJV)

You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.  (Lk 21:16 NIV)

These are difficult things to hear from the Lord.  No one wants the very people that he deeply loves to turn against him.  But the Lord is warning all of His followers to expect persecution—even from those whom we have nurtured and loved and known deeply.

The enemy loves to use family pressure—even the threat of family violence—to drive us away from our faith in Jesus.  How many of us believers have raised our children and watched them grow up, get married and later turn away from their faith in Jesus Christ?  Too many, and it always brings devastating pain, and too often, broken relationships.

Our only consolation is to know that Jesus loves each one of us.  He will not stop working to bring back His lost sheep into His sheepfold.  Pray faithfully for those whom you love who have wandered away from their faith in Jesus and in the true gospel of Jesus Christ. 

It is good to understand and remember that the Lord has engraved each of us on the palms of His hands.  (Isa 49:16) Praise God!

Why Did Humanity Throng Jesus?

Why Did Humanity Throng Jesus?

A THRONG means a multitude, crowd, mass of people, or swarm of people.  The Bible points out that everywhere that Jesus traveled, people swarmed to Him.  They ran to Jesus in hope, out of need, and due to a yearning to see the hand of God operating among them.

The people not only crowded around the Lord, but they were actually pressing in upon Him—trying to get as close to Him as they possibly could.  Let’s turn to the Bible:

And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him.  (Mk 5:24 NASB)

And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”  (Mk 5:31 NASB, emphasis added)

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret . . . (Lk 5:1 ESV)

. . . because his twelve-year-old child was dying. She was his only daughter. While Jesus was on his way, people were crowding all around Him.  (Lk 8:42 CEV)

Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” While everyone was denying it, Peter and those who were with him said, “Master, the crowds are surrounding you and pressing in on you.”  (Lk 8:45 ISV)

The people wanted and needed to experience the forgiveness, the love and the mercy of God that Jesus radiated to all who were exposed to Him.  All human beings desire love and acceptance, and no one conveyed that as powerfully and as genuinely as Jesus Christ did.

In the physical presence of Jesus, I believe that every human being on earth would react in just the same way today as people did in Bible times. 

What we would do well to remember is that we already having a loving and personal relationship with Jesus as our Savior, Lord, and Messiah.  We have access to all of His blessings and to His presence in our lives.  All we need to do is to stop, and get alone with Him in a place of prayer and worship.  At once, the Lord’s presence will be magnified as we focus upon Him, alone.  God bless you.

Jesus, Our High Tower & Our Safe Place

Jesus, Our High Tower & Our Safe Place

One of the mightiest defenses that we have in this world to help us fight against the tactics of Satan, is the name of the Lord

John 17:12 (AMP) Jesus is speaking:  While I was with them, I kept and preserved them in Your Name [in the knowledge and worship of You]. Those You have given Me I guarded and protected . . .  

Jesus was communicating this idea:  ‘I kept them in that High Tower, inside that NAME—I kept them there; they were in that lofty place.’  Remember the 70 that were chosen to be sent out said, “even the devils are subject to us in Your Name!” 

There are numerous Bible verses referring to the Lord as our high tower—our stronghold, our refuge. 

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and the One who rescues me; My God, my rock and strength in whom I trust and take refuge; My shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower—my stronghold.  (Ps 18:2 AMP, emphasis added)

The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold [our refuge, our high tower]. Selah.  (Ps 46:7; 46:11 AMP, emphasis added)

O [God] my strength, I will watch for You; for God is my stronghold [my refuge, my protector, my high tower].  (Ps 59:9 AMP, emphasis added)

From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy.  (Ps 61:2-3 NKJV)  Jesus is the Rock.  (1 Cor 10:4; Ps 78:35)

But the Lord has become my high tower and defense, and my God the rock of my refuge.  (Ps 94:22 AMP)

My lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge, Who subdues my people under me.  (Ps 144:2 NKJV, emphasis added)

A high tower represented safety to people in biblical times; it was used for defensive purposes.  (Jud 9:51) Watchmen would be posted upon high towers to keep a lookout for enemies (human or animal), and the watchmen would sound an alarm when they saw danger approaching. 

High towers also served as a protection for people, animals, and goods.  They were used as a fortress in times of war.  It served as a last retreat when a town was taken by an enemy.  The people would flee to the high tower along with their valuable possessions.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs to it and is safe and set on high [far above evil].  (Pro 18:10 AMP)

“The Lord is a strong tower in fearful and scary times. It is the name of the Lord that is our
strong tower. It is the place of safety which God promises to those who
run to Him. The name of the Lord is a Biblical expression for the whole
character of God. The name of the Lord refers to God’s person and character.” 

~ (Source:  https://www.cui.edu/devotions/lent/2019/post/the-name-of-the-lord/day/40)

Jesus’ name is our high tower; and when we turn to Him, we are set far above evil.  Let us praise and worship the Lord for His mercy, love, and protection.  Thank You, Lord!

What We KNOW as Believers

What We KNOW as Believers

We, as Christians, don’t have to wonder or hope or try to get faith.  We need to stop and consider what we know.  Our key verse for this study is in 2 Timothy:

. . . for I KNOW whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day.  (2 Tim 1:12b KJV)

For we KNOW JESUS, our Savior and Lord, with whom we have a living, vital relationship—Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God!  (Mt 16:16; 26:63; Joh 6:69) To KNOW someone means to have a relationship with, to comprehend, and to have experienced who they truly are as a person.

As a matter of fact, because we have received Jesus Christ as our Savior, Redeemer and Lord, we are now known as SONS OF THE LIVING GOD!  (Rom 9:26)  Hallelujah!

These are some of the vital things that we KNOW as believers:

  • That the Lord has set us apart for Himself; the Lord will hear us when we call upon Him!  (Ps 4:3) 
  • That because we are set apart for God (His anointed), He will answer us with the saving strength of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ps 20:6)
  • That the Lord is great, and He is above all gods.  (Ps 135:5)
  • That God’s works are marvelous.  (Ps 139:14)
  • That Jesus is the Holy One of God. (Mk 1:24c; Lk 4:34c)
  • We know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.  (Lk 8:10)
  • We know Jesus, our Good Shepherd.  (Joh 10:14)
  • We know the Lord, because He dwells with us, and He lives in us.  (Joh 14:17)
  • We know that Jesus dwells in the Father; we dwell in Jesus; and Jesus dwells in us.  (Joh 14:20)
  • That wherever we go, we carry the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.  (Rom 15:29)
  • That we have received the Spirit who is from God through whom we know the things that have been freely given to us by God.  (1 Cor 2:12; 1 Joh 4:12-14)
  • We are the temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells within each believer.  (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19)
  • That we are in Christ because we keep His Word, and the love of God is perfected in us.  (1 Joh 2:5)
  • That Jesus was manifested to take away our sins and in Him there is no sin.  (1 Joh 3:5)
  • That we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren.  (1 Joh 3:14)
  • We know the Spirit of God because we confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, and He is from God.  (1 Joh 4:2)
  • That we are born of God and know God because we love one another, and love is of God.  (1 Joh 4:7)
  • We know that we have eternal life because we believe in the name of the Son of God and will continue to do so.  (1 Joh 5:13)

The Importance of Words

The Importance of Words

The Bible is unambiguous about how important our words are.  The unique thing about words is that they affect not only the HEARERS but the SPEAKER as well.  We would do well to not only read these verses but to meditate upon them.

Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.  (Pro 15:4 MSG) Words can cut and maim or they can heal and comfort.  Words can be constructive and informative, lending courage and information to the hearer.

A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!  (Pro 15:23 NIV) If we make positive, uplifting remarks it brings us joy and is received as a benefit by the hearer.

By his fruitful speech a man can remain satisfied, and a man’s handiwork will reward him.  (Pro 12:14 ISV) When our words bear the fruit of encouragement, peace, and joy, we will eventually earn a reputation as an encourager and a person full of faith.

Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.  (Pro 24:26 NIV) Honest words, spoken in love, carry a blessing to the spirit of the hearer.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.  12 As an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover to an obedient ear.  (Pro 25:11-12 MEV) Those who wish to please God and be good examples to others should speak the whole truth, utter appropriate praise, reflect wisdom, and edify the listeners; these words will always be “fitly (properly) spoken.”

Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but if there is any good word for edification according to the need of the moment, say that, so that it will give grace to those who hear.  (Eph 4:29 NASB) This verse reminds us that we should not speak any nasty or unpleasant words.  Instead, our words should edify (enlighten, improve, inform) the listeners so that those who hear will be honored, enhanced, or blessed.

As we honor God’s Word by obeying it, the Lord will show His pleasure and bless us in ways that we can’t imagine.  Spread kind, life-giving words wherever you go today.  Praise the Lord!