Hope for Life Blog

Archive for March, 2010

Peace

by on Mar.29, 2010, under Hope

Peace.

In a general sense, peace is the absence of conflict.

On a personal level, it can mean many things…

            • Peace can be paying off this month’s credit card bill.
            • Peace can be finishing that report for work.
            • Peace can be arriving home after fighting rush hour traffic.
            • Peace can be not fighting with your spouse for at least one night.
            • Peace can be not hearing gunfire when you turn off the lights.

When Jewish people greet one another, they say “shalom.” Peace. In Arabic, the greeting is “salam,” with the same meaning. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul frequently used the phrase “grace and peace” when beginning his letters. Peace is something that we desire for ourselves and should desire for others.

What about peace with God? For some, that’s a distant concept. Maybe we’ve never really tried to establish a relationship with God. Or we’ve tried, but have never felt like we were quite good enough.

Some of us used to feel good about our standing with God, but now we’re filled with doubt. We don’t have the feeling we used to have. Maybe sin has gotten in the way, the big kind of sin that leaves us feeling guilty for years. Or maybe it’s just a general disenchantment with God, being disappointed by Him time and again. Or it could just be that we’ve grown a bit cold, not turning our backs on God, but just drifting away from Him.

All of those things can steal our peace. To overcome those kinds of feelings, we need to take the focus off of ourselves. We need to recognize that we aren’t trying to earn our salvation. We’re not trying to be “good enough” for God. We need to focus on Jesus Christ and what He has done to make us “good enough.”

Paul wrote to the Roman Christians: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Peace with God comes through trusting in Jesus, trusting in His love and His care for us. When our faith led us to submit to Jesus in baptism, we entered into a relationship with Him that will provide us with the peace that only God can give. It’s not about us… it’s about Jesus and what He did for us.

If you don’t feel at peace with God, you are probably still focused on yourself. You may even be trying to make yourself good enough for God. It’s time to trust in Jesus and His power to save. Only He can put you at peace with God.


Witnesses

by on Mar.23, 2010, under Hope

It would be impossible to calculate the thousands of miles they trudged, how often their feet and muscles ached from the journey or if they suffered from “Ship-lag” crossing seas. Yet, secular history tells of the “doubter” who went to India and maybe as far as China, the fisherman who brought his brother to the Messiah who traveled the Volga to what is now the Ukraine or the zealot who took the message to Egypt and then to Persia, modern day Iraq.

They, Paul, whose missionary journeys are detailed in the book of Acts, and many more fulfilled their mission. This mission given by Jesus to his disciples, and those who were called Apostles: and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the Earth. Acts 1:8

The importance of being a witness is reaffirmed throughout Acts 1:22, 2:32, 3:15, 5:32, 10:39-41.

Witness is to publicly attest that what was said or done actually happened because one has seen it.

History notes that Christians traveled the width and breadth of their world, turning it upside down, witnessing of the works and words of the Messiah.

We, the present day followers of Jesus, are the progeny of those men and women of the first century. The mission is now ours! With 2/3 of the 6.7 billion of the world’s population who don’t know Jesus, we have much to do.

We must fulfill the mission given them centuries ago and has been given us as well.

Are you a witness? Tell us how, where and when? Most importantly tell us WHY? If you are not then what keeps you from doing so?


Don’t Come to Church…

by on Mar.15, 2010, under Hope

“Don’t come to church!”  That is not something you will usually hear a minister say, but sometimes it is true.  I recently heard someone talking about the troubles currently in their life and they mentioned that maybe going to church would help.  I am not sure it would.  They are looking for a “magic bullet” to make life better.  That is not the purpose of church.  Attending worship services and being involved in a church are outcomes of a decision to follow Jesus.    

Jesus is the answer to the struggles of life.  He is the one that heals, restores, forgives, and gives meaning to life.  He is where hope is found.  He is the way to God.  He is the truth.  He is life.  When you turn your life and heart to Jesus, then church makes sense.  Church is one of the outcomes of following Jesus.  It is a gathering of family members united by faith in the Son of God.  It is where the community of believers gathers to praise the God who loves them.

To hope going to church will help you is getting the cart before the horse.  Jesus is the first decision you must make.  Maybe that is why so many people misunderstand church.  Church is not the answer.  It cannot save you.  It is a fellowship, a community, a gathering, a family… of those who have been saved by Jesus.

So if you are expecting church to be the answer to your problems, don’t come.  You will be disappointed.  But if you are looking for some good news in your life… let me tell you about Jesus.  He is the answer.  Then, and only then, will church make sense.  So write me at steve@hopeforlife.org.  Or look around our website, www.hopeforlife.org.


A Knock at the Door

by on Mar.08, 2010, under Hope


“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Behold I stand at the door and knock …

It’s a process, you know. Rarely does a person move away from God all at once. Like an ember dying slowly in a fireplace, faith slowly disappears and is replaced by cynicism or, even worse, apathy. Instead of deciding to stop believing in God, most people just give up caring.

I stand at the door and knock …

Sin is often a gradual process as well. It starts with a temptation, like money left out at the store or an attractive co-worker who shows too much attention. Our thoughts focus on that temptation until desire takes over. A small sin leads to a bigger sin which eventually leads to a lifestyle. We look up one day and don’t recognize the person we’ve become.

If anyone hears my voice …

Even as we begin to give up on ourselves, God never does. He knocks. He calls. He seeks us out. Remember, this passage in Revelation was written to Christians. People who knew God, but had wandered away from Him. Like the shepherd looking for the lost lamb, God goes looking for His people.

If anyone hears my voice and opens the door …

God wants to get back into our lives, but He won’t force His way in. We have to open the door. We have to respond to His call. We have to say, “Yes, I want you back in my life.” God is the Almighty Creator, yet He cares enough about His children to go looking for them. He also cares enough for them to allow them the right to choose. He knocks. He calls. We have to open the door.

I will come in to him …

It’s what God wants. He wants to be in relationship with us, even when we’ve wandered away, even when we’ve done things that we’re ashamed to remember. No sin is too great. No distance is too far. There is no door that cannot be opened. All we have to do is turn back to Him and open the door.

I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

There is something deeply personal about sharing a meal together. The Lord of the Universe wants to come to us, sit down and eat with us. He wants a loving relationship with us. So He knocks. And calls. And waits for us to open the door.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Open the door. Let Him come to you. Let Him wipe away your past and give you a fresh start with Him.


Old Faithful

by on Mar.02, 2010, under Hope

Recently while researching faithfulness, I stumbled onto information about the geysers that have been given the name “Old Faithful.” The most famous of the three which bear that name, was first given that title in 1870. It is recorded that its eruptions, at regular intervals, lasted 15 or 20 minutes. Although given the name “Old Faithful” because of its predictability, time between eruptions can vary between 65 and 91 minutes. It seems that various things can affect the period between eruptions. Over time, the length of intervals has increased — possibly the effect of earthquakes. Rains have also been known to affect the regular intervals of “faithful” eruptions. It is true that this “faithful” geyser, located in Yellowstone National Park, is faithful to spew and spray water sometimes as high as 145 feet into the air. However, “Old Faithful” does not always act according to man’s timetable.

Doing this research caused me to be reminded of how we often expect God to respond to our timetable. We sometimes question God’s faithfulness to act in response to our requests when answers don’t come immediately. We must remember that God’s faithfulness, like “Old Faithful,” doesn’t act according to our time. There are occasions when there are long periods of time between trouble and resolution. As we mature and our faith increases, we begin to realize that God is ever faithful. Even when the time stretches longer as we wait for His answers, our faith increases, knowing that He always answers. Because of the faithfulness of Father God we can be filled with joy and sing of His great love forever.

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself (Psalm 89:1-2).

If you aren’t carrying the song of joy in your heart because of a lack of trust in the faithfulness of our Father, leave a comment or contact us at hopeforlife.org.



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