freedom is a BIG deal

Keep Living

Galatians 5:1, 25 (NIV) reads, “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Everything in between supports this.

  • “…we eagerly AWAIT by faith the righteousness for which we hope.” (v. 5)
  • “The only thing that counts is faith EXPRESSING itself through love.” (v. 6)
  • “You were RUNNING a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from OBEYING the truth?” (v. 7)
  • “So I say, WALK by the Spirit…” (v. 16)
  • “But if you are LED by the Spirit…” (v. 18)

Rewinding just a bit to get a better background.  How did we come to be free of the burden / yoke of slavery?  “He Himself [Christ] likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:15, NASB).  We are free because of Christ.  “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:1-2, NASB).  We STAND in this grace, this truth, this freedom…because of Christ.

This is a BIG deal, even though it might be difficult for some living in first world countries in 2016 to grasp the atrocities and abominations of the concept and experience of slavery.  Nevertheless…

Our freedom is a big deal.  We are cautioned in utmost seriousness against falling away from grace (Galatians 5:4), being hindered from abiding in the truth (Galatians 5:7), and especially using our freedom to indulge the flesh (Galatians 5:13).  Indulging the flesh results in being enslaved to the sin of the flesh which is burdensome and increasingly so.  Therefore it is alike the antithesis of experiencing grace and the freedom found within it.  After all, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other” (Galatians 5:17).  And it is not just in desire and appearance / action that these are in conflict but in repercussion / consequence as well, for with grace comes peace.*

When we think about it, the ideal choice becomes obvious…but that’s just it, the flesh DOESN’T stop to think about it.  The flesh is led by impulsive passions.  (And that is SO frustrating, grrrrr.)  There is no sign of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness nor self-control in the flesh.  The flesh isn’t quick to listen nor is it slow to speak / act (James 1:19).

James 1:19-25 instructs us, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger [the flesh] does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

It is only through the Spirit that freedom is found; and it’s a PROCESS.  An involved, intense run of obeying the truth in persistence.  So fast-forwarding again.  How do we keep living in freedom (in step with the Spirit)?  The flesh doesn’t look carefully into the perfect law that sets us free.  Right?!?  Yes.  Okay.  Already established.  That said…the opposite of such is for us TO look carefully into God’s word, not just listen to it but doing what it says, diving headlong into the heights and depths and breadths of His grace, peace, and freedom.

When your feeling the pressure…press into Christ.  Your freedom is a big deal to Him.

Victoria

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*Flip through just about every epistle in the New Testament to find the greeting: grace and peace.  Grace…then peace.

 

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Honesty and the Pursuit of Wisdom. Pass It On!

PassItOn

About two weeks ago, I posted “The Heart” on Proverbs 3:1-8.  No, I didn’t forget how to count but today’s post is skipping ahead to the forth chapter of Proverbs for just a brief minute.

That said, day five is Proverbs 4:1-9…

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LISTEN, MY SONS, TO A FATHER’S INSTRUCTION; PAY ATTENTION AND GAIN UNDERSTANDING.  I GIVE YOU SOUND LEARNING, SO DO NOT FORSAKE MY TEACHING.  FOR I TOO WAS A SON TO MY FATHER, STILL TENDER, AND CHERISHED BY MY MOTHER.  THEN HE TAUGHT ME, AND HE SAID TO ME,   “TAKE HOLD OF MY WORDS WITH ALL YOUR HEART; KEEP MY COMMANDS, AND YOU WILL LIVE.  GET WISDOM, GET UNDERSTANDING; DO NOT FORGET MY WORDS OR TURN AWAY FROM THEM.  DO NOT FORSAKE WISDOM, AND SHE WILL PROTECT YOU; LOVE HER, AND SHE WILL WATCH OVER YOU.  THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM IS THIS: GET WISDOM.  THOUGH IT COST ALL YOU HAVE, GET UNDERSTANDING.  CHERISH HER, AND SHE WILL EXALT YOU; EMBRACE HER, AND SHE WILL HONOR YOU.  SHE WILL GIVE YOU A GARLAND TO GRACE YOUR HEAD AND PRESENT YOU WITH A GLORIOUS CROWN.”

PROVERBS 4:1-9, NIV84

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Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.  This is not something that we haven’t heard before.  We’ve been hearing it since verse eight of chapter one.  If we’ve been hearing it since then, I must be a pertinent plea.  It is a pertinent plea to perseveringly pursue wisdom with all diligence and resolve without hesitating or cowering.

 I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.  This is not just any old learning and teaching. It is SOUND: i.e. it holds true forever, never fails, never wavers, is always trustworthy.  The ONLY possibility for such learning and teaching to be sound is for this learning and teaching to derive from God.  So this is more than just some good advice to take or leave at one’s whim.

For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother.  Then he taught me, and he said to me, “take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live.  Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them.  More than the benefits of protection, exaltation, and distinction spoken of in verses six through nine, this is the apex of the chapter…the paramount responsibility to pass on what we’ve been taught (through the strengths and the struggles and the wins and the losses) to the upcoming generations.  And we are to do this not just with our words one day of the week or one week of the year but all of the time with what we say (and don’t say) and with what we do (and don’t do).  I tend to be a proponent of the observationalism (the theory that learning can occur through observation).  Sometimes implicit teaching can be a very impactful thing.

Someone shared a video this weekend of a little toddler.  This toddler happened to be standing behind a baby-gate at the top of a couple of stairs.  She was resolutely, and humorously so, calling for the kitten which was at the bottom of the stairs to come up to the top where she was standing.  While calling for this cat, the toddler was attempting to open the gate.  She was reaching her little arms as high as they would go and then trying to manipulate the latch to unlock it.  Now, I HIGHLY doubt that this toddler’s mother or father explicitly taught her daughter how to unlock the baby-gate.  What would be the point of even having a gate then!?!  I bet that this toddler has come to develop the understanding of how to unlock the gate by WATCHING her parents do so day after day.  Observation has a huge part to play in how we learn.  Can you imagine how much more impactful it is when / if children observe implicit teaching which aligns with explicit teaching?  …when our words (and nonwords) and actions (and nonactions) confirm one another?

As we agree to the responsibility to pass on what we’ve been taught to those rising after us, let us realize this high calling and NOT forsake the pertinent plea to perseveringly pursue wisdom ourselves.  May our words and actions reflect hearts and minds that are set on the Lord Jesus Christ and pursuing His ways in such a manner that those who follow may come to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ better as a result.

Victoria

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Opposing Duality

Opposition

As a middle school teacher, I am no stranger to the student generated question: “why?”  “Why are we doing this?”  “Why should I care?”  So I try to not just address the “what” and “how” of tasks and assignments but the “why” as well, especially when such tasks and assignments require students to tread unfamiliar territory.  The second chapter of Proverbs tends to be entitled, “Moral Benefits of Wisdom”.  It addresses the “why” of acquiring and attaining wisdom and understanding– which is God-given.  This is twofold, but simultaneously so.  One “why” is to obtain God’s guidance.  The other “why” is to avoid the society and enticements of the wicked.

That said, day three is Proverbs 2…

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1MY SON, IF YOU ACCEPT MY WORDS AND STORE UP MY COMMANDS WITHIN YOU, TURNING YOUR EAR TO WISDOM AND APPLYING YOUR HEART TO UNDERSTANDING— INDEED, IF YOU CALL OUT FOR INSIGHT AND CRY ALOUD FOR UNDERSTANDING, AND IF YOU LOOK FOR IT AS FOR SILVER AND SEARCH FOR IT AS FOR HIDDEN TREASURE,  5 THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND THE FEAR OF THE LORD AND FIND THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.  FOR THE LORD GIVES WISDOM; FROM HIS MOUTH COME KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING.  HE HOLDS SUCCESS IN STORE FOR THE UPRIGHT, HE IS A SHIELD TO THOSE WHOSE WALK IS BLAMELESS,  8 FOR HE GUARDS THE COURSE OF THE JUST AND PROTECTS THE WAY OF HIS FAITHFUL ONES.  THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND WHAT IS RIGHT AND JUST AND FAIR—EVERY GOOD PATH.  10 FOR WISDOM WILL ENTER YOUR HEART, AND KNOWLEDGE WILL BE PLEASANT TO YOUR SOUL. 11 DISCRETION WILL PROTECT YOU, AND UNDERSTANDING WILL GUARD YOU.  12 WISDOM WILL SAVE YOU FROM THE WAYS OF WICKED MEN, FROM MEN WHOSE WORDS ARE PERVERSE, 13 WHO HAVE LEFT THE STRAIGHT PATHS TO WALK IN DARK WAYS, 14 WHO DELIGHT IN DOING WRONG AND REJOICE IN THE PERVERSENESS OF EVIL, 15 WHOSE PATHS ARE CROOKED AND WHO ARE DEVIOUS IN THEIR WAYS.  16 WISDOM WILL SAVE YOU ALSO FROM THE ADULTEROUS WOMAN, FROM THE WAYWARD WOMAN WITH HER SEDUCTIVE WORDS, 17 WHO HAS LEFT THE PARTNER OF HER YOUTH AND IGNORED THE COVENANT SHE MADE BEFORE GOD.  18 SURELY HER HOUSE LEADS DOWN TO DEATH AND HER PATHS TO THE SPIRITS OF THE DEAD.  19 NONE WHO GO TO HER RETURN OR ATTAIN THE PATHS OF LIFE.  20 THUS YOU WILL WALK IN THE WAYS OF THE GOOD AND KEEP TO THE PATHS OF THE RIGHTEOUS. 21 FOR THE UPRIGHT WILL LIVE IN THE LAND, AND THE BLAMELESS WILL REMAIN IN IT; 22 BUT THE WICKED WILL BE CUT OFF FROM THE LAND, AND THE UNFAITHFUL WILL BE TORN FROM IT.

PROVERBS 2:1-22, NIV

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To understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God there are, once again, deliberate actions to be taken on our part.  (Note all of the “ifs”.)  What are those actions?  Accepting the words of instruction / teaching, storing up the commands, turning our ear to wisdom and applying our heart to understanding, calling out for insight, crying aloud for understanding, looking for understanding as silver and searching for it as hidden treasure.  It’s a pursuit.  God has already made the first move, He has shown us His intentions and openly invited us to understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.  It’s our turn in response to show Him our intentions and accept His invitation.  If we will draw near, He will draw near to us (James 4:8).  Such a pursuit tests the authenticity of our commitment.  Starting to sound pretty relational?  (Proverbs 2:10 reinforces this– our hearts and souls are pretty intimate and personal pieces of our inner being.)

For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  Another reminder of wisdom’s Source– the true reason for our pursuit.  There is NO space for misinterpretation here.

He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,  for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.  Who bestows all these good things?  The Lord God.  It has been established that understanding the fear of the Lord and finding the knowledge of God is an intentional and deliberate pursuit.  This pursuit is a process: i.e. ongoing.  It’s a “walk”, a “course”, a “way”.  What  “walk”, “course”, “way”?  One of victory and success!  Yet, this doesn’t come without conditions too.  This path of victory and success is characterized by uprightness, blamelessness, justice, and faithfulness.  Could we be / do this individually and independently?  I’ll go out on a limb and say, “nope”.  Remember the purpose of life: to know the Lord Jesus Christ better in an intimate and heartfelt I-know-Him-and-He-knows-me kind of way?  This pursuit naturally helps us do just that.  It builds a greater reliance on and relationship with God.  We cannot walk the path of victory and success which is characterized by uprightness, blamelessness, justice, and faithfulness without Him.

(I know you’re thinking that this post is beginning to qualify for the “list of longest posts”, but stick with me.  It’s just getting good!)

 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.  The understanding spoken of here is a discernment.  And discernment meaning a distinguishment, a separation.  So what is being distinguished or separated?  (Okay, here’s where the excitement rises for me!  I love the structure of this chapter!)  The rest of this chapter goes on to then contrast the path which is in opposition to the one of victory and success.  Having this wisdom will save (literally deliver from a strained or lacking relationship with God; spare and be safe from danger) us from the danger, unpleasantness, harm, and problems of sinfulness and wickedness introduced in chapter one– more bluntly: death (Proverbs 1:9).  (Also see Proverbs 2:18-19.  The consistency is BEAUTEOUS!)

Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you, wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, wisdom will save you.  But didn’t it just explain a couple of verses earlier that God is the one who guards and protects, etc.?  Yes.  I believe it’s one and the same, for the Source and therefore Giver of these is God.

Thus you will walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.  There is such encouragement in verse 20!  The New Living Translation (NLT) puts it like this: “Follow the steps of good men instead, and stay on the paths of the righteous.”  With “good men” and “righteous” being plural, it hints to me that others have walked this path.  It’s doable, not impossible.  And that’s encouraging.

For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.  In verses 21-22, the contrast is succinctly recapped:  if you are upright and blameless your destiny is to live and remain but if you are wicked and unfaithful your destiny is to be cut off and torn away.

I’d like to propose an additional title for this chapter of Proverbs: “Opposing Duality”.  The choice between two very separate and contradictory destinies lies before us.  May we choose wisely!

Victoria

If you missed Proverbs 1:1-7, click here.

If you missed Proverbs 1:8-33, click here.

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True Hope Ministries Verse of the Day: Daily Encouragement Straight From Scripture

As we at True Hope Ministries welcome 2015, we are also welcoming the Verse of the Day to WordPress.com!  Each day Stephen and Mary of True Hope Ministries post a scripture, with occasional commentary and accompanying media to encourage you in your walk with the Lord.  True Hope Ministries is dedicated to bringing the True Hope of JESUS CHRIST to the entire world!  Check out and subscribe to the Verse of the Day here: TrueHopeMinVOD.WordPress.com!

THMVOD

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Urge and Encourage

Titus 2:1-8 says, “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.  Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.  Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us” (NASB).

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Older women…encourage the young women.  Older men…urge the young men.

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Who are the “older women” and “older men”?

The “older women” and “older men” Paul talks about are those longERstanding disciples of Christ.  In other words, they are older or mature in the faith.  They have been in a relationship with Christ, having experienced His Salvation and Lordship in their lives for some time.  The “older” women and men are advanced in the things of the Lord Jesus Christ– understanding His Word, discerning His Sprit, and applying His truth to their lives.  Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words explains, “[older] is a longer form of presbus, the comparative degree of which is presbuteros, “a senior, elder,” both of which, as also the verb presbeuo, “to be elder, to be an ambassador,” are derived from proeisbaino, “to be far advanced.”[1]  It may very well be that the person who is older in age is also older in the faith, just not exclusively.  It is possible for a 75 year old to be “older” or more advanced in the faith and a longERstanding disciple of Christ than a 35 year old, and vice versa.

Who are the “young women” and “young men”?

The “young women” and “young men” are the newer disciples of Christ.  In this passage, “young” comes from the Greek word neos, meaning “recently born”. [2]  It is NOT a coincidence that coming to a relationship with Christ, experiencing His Salvation and Lordship, is described as BEING BORN AGAIN.

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Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.  “What do You mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus.  “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”  Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.  Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.  So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again’” (John 3:3-7, NLT).

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Therefore, it is possible for NEW disciples of Christ of any age to be considered “recently born” or “young”.  The younger in the faith are to be encouraged and urged by the older in the faith.

What does “encourage” and “urge” mean? 

“Encourage” comes from the Greek word sophronizo.  Sophronizo connotes “to train”.  “Urge” comes from the Greek word parakaleo.  Parakaleo connotes “to speak to”.

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Paraphrased: Women who are advanced in the faith, train the women who are newer to the faith.  Men who are advanced in the faith, speak to the men who are newer to the faith.

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These are responsibilities not to be taken lightly.  Both women and men (see vv. 3 and 6: “likewise”) are to teach and be taught the expressed qualities (being temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance…being reverent in behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good…loving, being sensible, pure, honoring the will of God….being an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach) for the purpose of spurring  one another to holiness– becoming more like Christ, exemplifying the Goodness of God.        

Who must you urge and encourage today?

In Christ,

  Victoria

 

 

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1. Available from https://www.blueletterbible.org/search/Dictionary/viewTopic.cfm?topic=VT0000070.

2. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.  Available from https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=G3501&t=KJV.

 

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THE JOY OF THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH

NehemiahWall

“Then he said to them, “Go eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD.  Do not be grieved, for the Joy of the LORD is your strength.”” (Nehemiah 8:10, NASB)

The book of Nehemiah talks to a spectacular time in the history of the nation of Israel.  The Israelites had been in captivity and GOD was fulfilling HIS promise and bringing them back to the land.    Nehemiah was allowed to return to Jerusalem to help rebuild the wall around the city.   Scripture tells us in Nehemiah 6:15, that the wall was completely rebuilt in 52 days!  Even though the wall was now completed…God’s work within HIS people was not.

The verse from Nehemiah 8 is taken from the reading from the Word of GOD that was led by Ezra the scribe.  He read the words of the law of Moses aloud to the crowd from the morning until midday!

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Can you imagine a church service like that?

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The Word of GOD must have brought such conviction on the crowd that day that they began to mourn and weep.

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When we realize how far we have strayed from GOD’s will mourning and weeping is a normal response, right?   Have you ever been convicted by the Word of GOD?

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However on this day, Nehemiah reminded the crowd that it was not a day for mourning, but a day of celebration.   He told the crowd that the JOY OF THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH!  Basically, in ourselves we can do nothing, but the LORD is our strength!!!!

Aren’t you glad that the JOY OF THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH!  When we are convicted by the Word of GOD and realize how far we have strayed from HIS will, we are to repent with tears, but we are not to stay in that mournful condition.   We are to realize that in ourselves we will never be perfect, but through the sacrifice that JESUS made – taking on our sins – we are made clean through the blood of the LAMB!   TODAY IS A DAY TO REJOICE BECAUSE THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH!

In Christ,

Stephen and Mary

On Behalf of True Hope Ministries

 

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Few and Far

Dear Readers,

You have not been forgotten!  I know that posts these days have been few and far between.  I apologize.  Keeping up with the responsibilities of being both a teacher and a student has removed the term “spare time” from my vocabulary.  But as it is Spring Break this week, I have gained some much needed time to sit and share with you once again!

The Scripture I would like to share with you comes from Psalm 26.  Psalm 26:1-3 in the Message says, “(1) Clear my name, God; I’ve kept an honest shop.  I’ve thrown in my lot with You, God, and I’m not budging.  (2)  Examine me, God, from head to foot, order Your battery of tests.  Make sure I’m fit inside and out  (3)  so I never lose sight of Your love, but keep in step with You, never missing a beat.

The thought I would like to center on is what is said in the third verse about never losing sight and never missing a beat.  I don’t know about you but I find it all too easy TO lose sight and TO miss a beat, especially when there is a lot going on in my surroundings to distract me.

Imagine for a moment that you are driving on the road and on the side of the road fire hydrants are exploding water out into the air and there are gigantic flashing neon signs on the other side of the road, your cell phone is ringing, your coffee spills all over the place, other drivers on the road are speeding and swerving in every which direction, up ahead a family of ducks is crossing the road, alpacas are being lifted by helicopter out of the middle of the road, and meanwhile you are being chased by an ANGRY politician and his party of ex-convicts who have a bounty on your head.  Who would remain calm, remember to use signals when changing lanes, stay within the speed limit, and follow the GPS’s directions in the midst of all that? 

Sounds absurd, I know!  But how many of us can feel like that driver– tying to never lose sight, trying to keep in step, and trying to never miss a beat– in the midst of a barrage of relentless and ridiculous distractions?

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What threatens to distract you?

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The rest of Psalm 26 talks about a barrage of threatening distractions…

– deceitful men (Ps. 26:4)

– pretenders (Ps. 26:4)

– evildoers (Ps. 26:5)

– wicked (Ps. 26:5)

– sinners (Ps. 26:9)

– murderers (Ps. 26:9)

– schemers (Ps. 26:10)

– bribers (Ps. 26:10)

…but it also talks about how the barrage of threatening distractions CAN BE WITHSTOOD!  That’s found in the third verse.  Never lose sight of God’s love, keep in step with Him, never missing a beat! 

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What does never losing sight, keeping in step, and never missing a beat mean?

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It means…

Trusting God.  “And I have trusted in the LORD without wavering” (Ps. 26:1, NASB95).

Fearing God.  “Examine me, O LORD, and try me; test my mind and my heart” (Ps. 26:2, NASB95).

Remembering God.  “For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth” (Ps. 26:3, NASB95).

Avoiding Compromising Situations.  “I do not sit with deceitful men, nor will I go with pretenders.  I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked” (Ps. 26:4-5, NASB95).

Keeping Turned Toward God.  “I shall wash my hands in innocence, and I will go about Your altar, O LORD” (Ps. 26:6, NASB95).

Being Thankful God Works.  “That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders” (Ps. 26:7, NASB95).

Spending Time in God’s Presence and With His People.  “O LORD, I love the habitation of Your house
and the place where Your glory dwells” (Ps. 26:8, NASB95).

Knowing that God Redeems.  “But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me” (Ps. 26:11, NASB95).

Being An Example.  “In the congregations I shall bless the Lord” (Ps. 26:12, NASB95).

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“If we set God’s loving-kindness before us as our pattern, to which we endeavor to conform ourselves, being followers of Him that is good, in His goodness…if we set it before us as our great engagement and encouragement to our duty, and are afraid of doing anything to forfeit God’s favor and in care by all means to keep ourselves in His love…this will not only be a good evidence of our integrity, but will have a great influence upon our perseverance in it” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary On The Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, New Modern Edition Database, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., p. 778, Psalm 26).

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Never Lose Sight.  Keep In Step.  Never Miss A Beat.

Victoria

 

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KEEP Knowing Him Better

“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better” (Ephesians 1:15-17, NIV84).

Who has the Lord Jesus placed in your life’s path to encourage in the faith?  Has someone come to mind?  In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul expresses his earnest affection for his readers.  “I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers” (see verse 16).  Why?  So that they might “know Him [Jesus Christ] better” (see verse 17).

In the Christian community, saying that one came to “know Jesus” tends to be used to refer to the moment in which one repented and believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  I used to have this perception that “leading someone to know Jesus” meant having them repeat a prayer in that moment to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  But here’s the thing, I had never realized that coming to “know Jesus” is an ever deepening relationship (i.e.: to KEEP knowing Him BETTER).

The person or persons the Lord Jesus has placed in your life’s path to encourage in the faith may (or may not) have already come to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in that moment.

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Then how can we encourage those in the faith if they’re already in-the-faith?

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Don’t stop giving thanks for them, remembering them in prayer!  Paul KEPT asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, might give the Ephesians the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that they might ever know Him better!   

“Lord Jesus, I pray today for those You have placed in our life’s path to evangelize, equip, and or encourage to keep knowing You better. May their faith increase!  May they have a truly ever deepening relationship with You, Jesus!  May You give them more and more wisdom to see You and to hear You as You continue to reveal Yourself to them.  Thank you for this privilege You have given us to expresses our earnest affection for You and those You have placed in our life’s path!  And thank you for them!  Amen.”      

In Christ,

Victoria

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this and referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to WithTrueHope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of WithTrueHope.  Thank you.

Purposeful Placement

You know the axiom, “a place for everything, and everything in its place”?  I believe that there’s a purposeful place for most everything, I truly do.  I’m a fan of order.  But why is a placement purposeful?   What makes it so?  I believe that a placement is purposeful because it is appointed and anointed by God!

1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  4God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.”  And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.  6And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.”  7So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it.  And it was so.  8God called the vault “sky.”  And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.  9And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.”  And it was so.  10God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.”  And God saw that it was good.  11Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.”  And it was so.  12The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.  And God saw that it was good.  13And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.  14And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.”  And it was so.  16God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night.  He also made the stars.  17God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness.  And God saw that it was good.  19And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.  20And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.”  21So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.  And God saw that it was good.  22God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.”  23And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.  24And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.”  And it was so.  25God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds.  And God saw that it was good.  26Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  27So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  28God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  29Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.  They will be yours for food.  30And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.”  And it was so.  31God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day” (Genesis 1, NIV84).

“For God is not a God of disorder” (1 Corinthians 14:33, NIV84).  Praise the Lord!  I hear those “amens” from my fellow OCDers, haha!  Seriously, think about it… God placed the creation of water and sky on the second day and the creation of every living and moving thing with which the water teams and every winged bird on the fifth day—not the other way around (See Genesis 1:6-8, 20-23).  Moreover, God placed the creation of the land and vegetation on the third day and animals then man on the sixth day—not the other way around (See Genesis 1:11-13, 24-31).  What sustenance would there have been for the creatures of the sea without the sea or for the creatures of the air without the air or for the creatures of the land without the land? 

Clearly, God knows what He’s doing– always has, always will.  “For I, the Lord, do not change” (Malachi 3:6, NASB95).  You can rest assured that the where’s, how’s, what’s, and when’s of your placement whether it be geographically, academically, personally, professionally, or so forth have been appointed and anointed by God!  Therefore, your placement is purposeful!

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Wait a minute, you forgot the why’s!  Why have I been placed where I am?

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We all have been placed where we are to fulfill the purpose for which God has appointed and anointed!  No matter the precise where’s, how’s, what’s, and when’s of our placements, we are each on a mission– a mission to draw ever nearer to Christ and to encourage others to do the same!

“[E]verywhere I send you, you shall go” (Jeremiah 1:7, NASB95).

“Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21, NASB95).

Be obedient to God in the place you are, fulfill the purpose for which God has appointed and anointed you!  He has purposefully placed you!

Be Encouraged,

Victoria

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this and referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to With True Hope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of With True Hope. Thank you.

Control Is A Fallacy

A good friend of mine shared a message with me which she had shared with her church this past week.  Oh-me, oh-my, was it a message that couldn’t have been more timely for me!  Let me rewind… this past week was what seemed to be THE toughest week of my life ever—not only did I have an astronomical amount of work to do with unprecedented demanding deadlines but I pulled out my back terribly then my computer decided to stop working without my consent and to top that all off I’ve been dealing with separation anxiety!  I was greatly encouraged by her message.  I’d like to share her message with you.  And I pray that you too will be encouraged by it!

Here’s what my friend shared:

“Friday my sink got clogged and prevented me from doing the dishes.  My eleven month old found a Ziploc bag of cereal and used it like holiday confetti…oh and let me not get into telling you about him then splashing in the toilet like he was at a water park.  Saturday was my birthday and I got to sleep in until 7:30 am (which is like noon if you don’t have kids) when my three year old’s little face was asking to come into our bed!  So I pulled him up and a minute or two later my eleven month old joined the fun.  I thought, “what a great day!”  Then life started.  My older son asked 52,000 times for everything…my younger son was cranky…the sink was full again…the laundry had piled up…I was stepping over things on the kitchen floor…trying to give my sons a bath was an adventure in and of itself.  I asked God when it was going to get easier.”

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“I asked God when it was going to get easier.” That sounds a lot like my conversation with Him this week too!

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Listen to what she continued to share:

“How can I share this message of “balance”?  I am so far from balance.  I am the opposite of balance.  Balance is a noun.  It is: the state of having your weight spread equally so that you do not fall; a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance…How do you go about setting priorities?  God wants to help us set our priorities.  God wants to be our Priority.  What are our obstacles and or our distractions keeping us from pursuing God and His priorities for us?

My obstacle used to be work—fifty hours a week plus commuting time.  I was responsible for running a campus…creating order where there was chaos.  And I was seven months pregnant at the time!  Then my first son was born and my husband and I had to reevaluate.  Then my second son came along and we had to reevaluate again.  My obstacle is now productivity– I love a day when I can be at home and the dishes are done, laundry is done, dinner is made, linen closet is organized, or fridge is cleaned… you name it.  I feel accomplished, like the Proverbs-31-woman.  But at the end of the day, with all of those things done…did I get a chance to hug my kids?  I need balance!  I am very “all or nothing” and I know it is not healthy, but it is hard to overcome.  The thing is when our priorities are out of line, we need God to realign them.”

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Yes, my friend, you get an “amen” on that one…I have all-or-nothing syndrome too!  Oh, how I need God to realign my priorities!

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“If we want to set priorities as they should be by ourselves and find balance as we should by ourselves, that’s being arrogant in implying that we have control over the things of this world.  That control is a fallacy.  Take a look at Job 38 for a description of Who in actuality is in control.”

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S o   w h a t   d o   w e   t a k e   a w a y   f r o m   t h i s ?

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Our priorities should start and end with God.   Every day we should begin by seeking His will for that day and throughout the day EVERY day it should be a constant effort.  He wants control over all areas of your life.  ALL.  Not just some.  Not just at the end of the day IF we aren’t too tired after all our other responsibilities.  HE WANTS IT ALL.  Stop fighting God for control.  There is only one thing you need to do to find balance:  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33, KJV).  He wants our whole hearts.  He wants to take away that control that is a burden to us.  He wants to show us His will and way, which is so much better than what we ever could have imagined!”

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Dear Lord God, control is a burden to me. I’ve been distracted by many things.  But I pray that I will accept Your will and way for my life each and every day.  Please realign my priorities.  Please bring balance to my life.  Help me to seek Your Kingdom and Righteousness.  I know that You are in control of all and it’s all better being in Your hands than it could ever be in mine.

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Thanks for sharing, Carrie!  God really spoke to me through your message.

Blessings In Christ,

Victoria

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this and referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to With True Hope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of With True Hope. Thank you.