HAPPY 2014!

Hello there!  Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by the With True Hope blog 🙂  I would like to wish you a Happy New Year!  I hope that you all had an exceptional 2013 and I pray that you all will have a blessed 2014!  In 2013, we published over fifty posts which were seen by readers in over forty countries around the world!  If you might have missed any of those posts, please feel free to search through the archives on the left-hand side of this site to access all of the With True Hope posts which are organized according to month.

Coming this new year we will be making some improvements to the With True Hope blog such as with its publishing dates, format, and even appearance.  Throughout this process, your understanding, patience, and prayers will be greatly appreciated!  Again, I offer my thanks, thoughts, and prayers to you in this new year!  May you and your loved ones have a joyous year filled with an increase of the Lord Jesus’   g r a c e,   p e a c e,  and   p r e s e n c e   in your lives!

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Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” – Jesus (John 14:27, NASB95).

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“May grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.   His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.  By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires” (2 Peter 1:2-4, HCSB09).

All The Best In Christ,

Victoria

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Thank the LORD because HE is good! (Beautiful Day)

“Come to ME when you’re weary and I’LL give you hope when you’re hurting, I’LL give you rest from your burden.  Come to ME when you’re weary and I’LL give you hope when you’re hurting, oh I’M gonna carry your burden” (“Come To Me”, Jamie Grace).

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“Everybody’s going to go through something big.  Everybody’s going to have something difficult in their life.  But the beauty of it is that no matter how big that stuff is GOD IS ALWAYS BIGGER.  AND HE’S ALWAYS IN CONTROL.  AND HE’S ALWAYS THE KING. No matter how difficult life gets and no matter how many things come in your way that you can’t control, we can always choose to go to JESUS…” — Jamie Grace

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1Thank the Lord because HE is good.  HIS love continues forever.  2Let the people of Israel say, “HIS love continues forever.”  3Let the family of Aaron say, “HIS love continues forever.”  4Let those who respect the Lord say, “HIS love continues forever.”  5I was in trouble, so I called to the Lord.  The Lord answered me and set me free.  6I will not be afraid, because the Lord is with me.  People can’t do anything to me.  7The Lord is with me to help me,  so I will see my enemies defeated.  8It is better to trust the Lord than to trust people.  9It is better to trust the Lord than to trust princes.  10All the nations surrounded me, but I defeated them in the name of the Lord.  11They surrounded me on every side, but with the Lord’s power I defeated them. 12They surrounded me like a swarm of bees, but they died as quickly as thorns burn.  By the Lord’s power, I defeated them.  13They chased me until I was almost defeated, but the Lord helped me.  14The Lord gives me strength and a song.  HE has saved me.  15Shouts of joy and victory come from the tents of those who do right: “The Lord has done powerful things.”  16The power of the Lord has won the victory; with HIS power the Lord has done mighty things.  17I will not die, but live, and I will tell what the Lord has done.  18The Lord has taught me a hard lesson,  but HE did not let me die.  19Open for me the Temple gates.  Then I will come in and thank the Lord.  20This is the Lord’s gate; only those who are good may enter through it.  21Lord, I thank YOU for answering me.  YOU have saved me.  22The stone that the builders rejected became the cornerstone.  23The Lord did this, and it is wonderful to us.  24This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad today!  25Please, Lord, save us; please, Lord, give us success.  26God bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord.  We bless all of you from the Temple of the Lord.  27The Lord is God, and HE has shown kindness to us.  With branches in your hands, join the feast.  Come to the corners of the altar.  28YOU are my God, and I will thank YOU;  YOU are my God, and I will praise YOUR greatness.  29Thank the Lord because HE is good.  HIS love continues forever.” (Psalm 118:1–29, NCV05).

Have A Beautiful Day,

Victoria

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The Storm…the Savior

OceansUnited

“Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.  And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.  Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.  Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!”  And they cried out for fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer!   It is I; do not be afraid.”  And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  So He said, “Come.”  And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”  And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  Then those who were in the boat came andworshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-33, NKJV82)

I know that I have written about this particular passage of Scripture in previous posts.  But I have to tell you that no matter how many times I encounter this passage of Scripture I am no less intrigued and captivated in absolute awe of Jesus Christ!

In the past I have tended to focus extensively upon the segment of this passage about Jesus and Peter walking on the water…after all, when has walking on water ever been the norm!?!  This time, however, the segments about Jesus’ disciples really caught my attention.

Listen to this…

“Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. (v. 22).  Jesus made His disciples go before Him!  Have you ever ventured out in the direction Jesus has appointed for you to go, but feel like you’ve been put out on a limb and wanted to question: “Lord, You’ve sent me this way but I don’t see You and I can’t feel You; are You sure this is where I am supposed to be?”

“And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.  Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary” (vv. 23-24).  The Gospel of Mark explains that the disciples were “straining at the oars” (Mark 6:48, NIV84).  Jesus was alone on the mountain while His disciples were in the middle of the sea fighting against the waves and the wind!  Have you ever felt like you’ve been in the in the middle of a storm but left to fend for yourself and wanted to question: “God, EVERYTHING is against me and NOTHING is going for me; are You sure that this is where I am supposed to be”?

“Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!”  And they cried out for fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer!   It is I; do not be afraid” (vv. 25-27). The Gospel of John explains that “[t]hen they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going ” (John 6:21, NKJV82).  Jesus walks out on the sea, passing the disciples who are so fearful of the storm that they do not recognize that it is Him!  Have you ever been so consumed with the storm that you could have missed the Savior?1

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“Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.
Savior, Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.”

(Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior, Fanny Crosby and W.H. Doane)

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“And when they [Jesus and Peter] got into the boat, the wind ceased.  Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God”” (vv. 32-33).  Then, THEN those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him!  Have you ever wanted to question in the midst of the storm, “Why am I in this storm?”  “Is it really necessary for me to endure X, Y, and Z?”  “I am struggling but getting nowhere, how come I cannot get any relief?”  Because…sometimes we would have never truly known Jesus as the Son of God if it had not been for the storms.

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How do I know if I have faith?  When was the strength (and weakness in the case of the ill built house on the sand without a foundation) of the well built  house on the rock, a solid and unshakeable foundation realized (See Luke 6:46-49)?  When the floodwaters rose and broke against the house…

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Take-aways:  If you have ventured (are venturing) in the direction Jesus has appointed for you to go, be at peace for you are in His will!  Even if it seems that everything is against you and nothing is going for you, God is for you (Psalm 56:4, 9b-11; 118:6)!  Do not be consumed with the storm that you miss the Savior!  Call upon His name, the name of the Lord Jesus!  You can worship Him in the midst of the storm…knowing that the Master of the wind and waves is with you– a solid, unshakeable Rock to be founded upon!  And He will bring you through– “He who calls you is faithful, He will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, ESV01)!

Calling Upon HIS Name,

Victoria

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1. This went for Peter too!  “And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  So He said, “Come.”  And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”” (vv. 28-30).  He let the storm get to him rather than trusting the Savior!  “And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?””  The problem– too much fear, too little faith!

 

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where there’s a will, there’s a way…

Know the saying, “where there’s a will, there’s a way”?  It usually means that if someone is so determined to do something even if that something is difficult they will still find a way to do it.

Take Bethany Hamilton for instance.  When Bethany was thirteen years old, she was attacked by a shark while surfing in Kauai!  According to her biography, “The attack left Bethany with a severed left arm.  After losing over 60% of her blood, and making it through several surgeries without infection, Bethany was on her way to recovery with an unbelievably positive attitude.  Lifeguards and doctors believe her strong water sense and faith in God helped get her through the traumatic ordeal.  Miraculously, just one month after the attack, Bethany returned to the water to continue pursuing her goal to become a professional surfer.”1  What determination!

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Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

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I came across a quote earlier this week that caused me to thinking about this saying with another perspective.

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“I assure you, if you are supposed to do something, God will make you able to do it.  You do not have to feel able, and you do not have to have experience.  All you need is a right motive and a heart full of faith”.2

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The “another”  perspective: where God’s will guides you, He provides the way for you! 

Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not belittling determination at all!  I am just asking you to consider the providence of God.  “For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart Him?  His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:27, NIV)  It is the other side of the coin, if you will.  When God has purposed for you to do something, He will make you able to do it!  We must be determined to do God’s will (right motive).  We must believe that God who calls us is able to see us through (heart full of faith)!

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“My strength came from my relationship with Christ…knowing that God loves me and has a plan for my life that no shark can take away is like having solid rock underneath me.”– Bethany Hamilton3

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Are you determined to do God’s will?  Even if it is difficult?  Do you believe that where God’s will guides you, He provides the way– the strength, the ability, the determination– for you?

In Christ,

Victoria

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1. Bethany Hamilton, “Biography, BethanyHamilton.com, 2010.

2.  Joyce Meyer, Never Give Up: Relentless Determination to Overcome Life’s Challenges (New York, NY: FaithWords, Hachette Book Group, 2008), p. 40.

3. Bethany Hamilton, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family and Fighting to Get Back on the Board, (New York, NY, Simon and Schuster, Inc., 2004).

 

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Through My Father’s Eyes

I’m in the midst of working to finish this semester with final classes, papers, and exams- yes, the whole package! So I’d like to say a special thank you to Stephen of True Hope Ministries who has been helping me out these past few weeks by posting some really great blogs for you! If you haven’t had the chance to read them, I highly suggest that you do so: The Valley of Decision and Is that You God?
As I have American imperialism in the Philippines, Medieval interpretations of the Song of Songs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and post-Cold War globalization trends on my mind, I thought that you might enjoy an encouraging video today rather than my rambling on about these assignments. So here’s a music video from one of my favorite Christian Music Artists, Holly Starr…the song is “Through My Father’s Eyes” from Holly’s album Focus. I love this song because not only does it have a catchy melody but the message of its lyrics remind me that the Lord’s thoughts toward me are of peace and not of evil (Jeremiah 29:11), Jesus’ desire is for me to be transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2), and as a new-born believer I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)!  Please watch it and I pray that you find encouragement in seeing things from God’s perspective!

Grace and Peace In Christ,
Victoria

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Scripture for today…

Hello Friends!  I realize that today is not one of my usual post days, so this is going to be a bit of an unusual post 😉  [Don’t worry, Stephen of True Hope Ministries will be posting later this week about the valley of decision and the NFL Draft!]  In my Scripture reading this morning, I encountered the beauty of the gospel in Psalm 61!  And I’d like to share this Scripture for today with you–

“HEAR MY CRY, O GOD; ATTEND TO MY PRAYER.  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.  I WILL ABIDE IN YOUR TABERNACLE FOREVER; I WILL TRUST IN THE SHELTER OF YOUR WINGS.  SELAH” (Psalm 61:1-4, NKJV)!

A few things…

God’s sovereignty: “Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer.  From the end of the earth I will cry to You…”.  God hears, He attends to our prayers!  “O You who hear prayer, to You all men will come” (Psalm 65:2, NASB95)

God’s provision: “…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.”  Before we ever recognized our overwhelming need for Him, He made provision for us, providing the Rock, Jesus Christ, our Sure Deliverance and Foundation!

God’s faithfulness: “I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the Shelter of Your Wings.  Selah”.  The Lord is perfectly trustworthy!  He won’t fail!  “To You they cried out and were delivered; in You they trusted and were not disappointed” (Psalm 22:5, NASB95)!  “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a Chosen and Precious Cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame” (1 Peter 2:6, NASB95; cf. Romans 9:33 and Isaiah 28:16)!

So with that, I leave you today!  Rest assuredly in the sovereignty, provision, and faithfulness of Almighty God!

Victoria

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Focus, focus, focus…

How many of us know what it’s like to be overwhelmed in the midst of intense circumstances? How many of us have experienced what it’s like to suffer with analysis paralysis or distraught thoughts? How many of us get frustrated when we feel like we’re losing or have completely lost control? If we are honest, we’d raise our hands to all of the above.

In the midst of those overwhelmingly intense circumstances, our analysis paralysis or distraught thoughts, and frustration…what or who have we focused or are focusing on? Have we focused on the negativity of the situation or what has gone (or is going) wrong? Have we given all our attention to the impossibilities that have knocked or are knocking at our doors? Have we lost or are losing sleep over wrestling with thoughts about what should have, could have, and would have been if only…? What about wrestling with worries about what might or may be? Again if we are honest, we’d probably each admit that focusing on all these kinds of things seem to be our natural, initial reactions or even intentional responses.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not pointing fingers.  I am by no means innocent of reacting or responding with wrong focuses. The point is that we all have settled at one time or another for awfully lousy and foolishly troublesome alternatives instead of fixing our eyes on Jesus Christ.

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We can’t appropriately function when we have the wrong focus! Remember Peter who nearly drowned when he took his eyes off of Jesus to focus on the surrounding frightful storm instead (See Matthew 14:22-33).
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 So if focusing on Jesus is the right focus and not focusing on Jesus is the wrong focus, what does that have to do with initial reactions or intentional responses?

Having a right focus (one that is set on Jesus) is a conscious choice, an intentional response. Such an intentional response is contrary to the reactions of our sinful nature. But there’s good news! There is hope! The Lord Jesus Christ is able and wants to give us a new nature, a justified and sanctified nature– a nature which becomes more and more like Him so that our initial reactions AND intentional responses become more and more like His. We must genuinely seek His face and wisdom and will. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8, NASB95).

If you’re caught in the midst of an intense circumstance, chose to focus on Jesus Christ and have a deeper relationship with Him! Study His Word (the Holy Bible), pray to Him and listen to Him, trust Him, and praise Him!

Acts 16:16-40 gives us the account of Paul and Silas who were stripped, severely beaten, and imprisoned with their feet fastened in stocks! Even so, their focus was NOT on the injustice or wrongs done to them. “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25, NIV84). Eventually, the jailer and his household came to believe in the Lord Jesus as their Savior and after Paul and Silas came out of the prison they met with the believers at Lydia’s house and “encouraged them” (Acts 16:40, NIV84).

Why mention that account?

Because there are some really great lessons we can learn from it.
i) In the midst of their intense circumstance they chose to focus on God! It is possible for us to do the same by His grace!
ii) Others near to the circumstance noticed that they were rightly focused on God, and it impacted those others as well! People around us notice our initial reactions and intentional responses, as what we do speaks volumes.
iii) They were able to encourage and inspire others beyond the immediate circumstance to focus on God as well! Our personal testimonies are powerful in encouraging and inspiring others of the reality of the hope of Jesus Christ!

I’d like to share some lyrics to a song I wrote during a particularly intense circumstance in my life, it is my prayer that you will be encouraged and inspired to focus on the certainty of God even in the midst of uncertain circumstances:

“I’ve been thinking about all the things that I don’t know, calculations of what the future may hold; I’ve been worrying about all the things that I can’t see, the uncertainty of what might be. I didn’t stop to breathe, to remember that I believe…YOUR ways are higher than my eyes can see; YOUR thoughts are higher than my mind could every dream. Why should I fail to have confidence that YOU are much higher than this? I now know that all I need to know is YOU’RE in control and my future YOU hold; I now see what I was meant to see, the certainty of YOUR sovereignty. I’ve got to stop to breathe and remember that I believe… YOUR ways are higher than my eyes can see; YOUR thoughts are higher than my mind could every dream. Why should I fail to have confidence that YOU are much higher than this?” (“Higher” © Victoria Alfieri, 2012).

Victoria

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Licensed to Sin?

“God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were.  But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.  So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21, NLT96).

Then doesn’t that mean that we are licensed to sin?

That’s exactly the rhetorical question posed in response to the text in Romans 5.  Paul rhetorically asks in Romans 6:1, “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of His wonderful grace?”  And the answer immediately follows…”Of course not!”  This unmistakably clarifies that the statements in Romans 5:20-21 should not be taken to mean that unmerited grace encourages or provides an excuse to sin.

Grace is not to be perceived as a “license to sin”.  In actuality, it should not encourage us to sin but quite the opposite. 

Because of God’s grace through life in Jesus Christ, enslavement to sin and death is removed from us.  Paul continues to explain that “sin is no longer [our] master, for [we] no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, [we] live under the freedom of God’s grace” (Romans 6:14, NLT96).

So doesn’t that mean that we can sin because we don’t have to worry about laws?

And that’s exactly the rhetorical question posed in response to Romans 6:14.  “Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning?” (Romans 6:15, NLT96)  The definitive answer yet again…”Of course not!”  For Christians, to be under grace does not mean the freedom from all restrictions.  Rather, to be under grace means that Christians divinely receive the ability to meet the standards of the law.

Christians are no longer condemned by failure to meet the law because being brought to a righteous standing under grace in Christ Jesus produces true obedience of their hearts to then abide by the law.

Suppose I have food poisoning and after seeing a doctor about treatment, I begin taking prescribed medicines and the like to get rid of the toxins and bacteria.  When the harmful toxins and bacteria have been killed and I no longer have food poisoning, I do not seek to deliberately eat undercooked pork or expose myself to toxins and bacteria that will put the toxins and bacteria right back into my system and give me food poisoning again just because I know that there is medication to treat itThat would be completely ridiculous!

I believe that is the same point Paul is making in Romans— the objection of justification by faith through grace because it seems to provide an excuse for sin is completely ridiculous.  The abundance of grace should not be perceived as an encouragement to sin all the more— it is NOT a “license to sin”.  Grace through justification by faith allows us to experience what it is like to be freed from the poisonous toxins of sin.  I believe that this very realization makes it clear to us that we should not have to go back to experiencing our previous state of sickness (or as Paul illustrated it, as slavery)In that regard, experiencing grace through justification by faith may be seen as a preventative of sorts because we know what it is like to be healthy.

Wouldn’t you rather choose to be healthy than sick?

Victoria

From Obscurity To Clarity

Hello friends!  I hope that your beginning to this new year is going exceptionally well!  I’m sitting here attempting to write this post with this little guy (pictured below) staring at me and barking for my attention, “I’m-here-I’m-here-I’m-here”!

Gus (aka Guster Mythbuster)

Gus (aka Guster Mythbuster)

Anyway…I would like to share with you a little bit about my beginning to this new year.  Each year for the past few years I have adopted a sort of “theme verse for the year”.  For 2011, mine was: “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV84).  For 2012, mine was: “Draw me after You and let us run together” (Song of Solomon 1:4, NASB95).   And this year’s is… “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NASB95).

Last week, I picked up the Heroes of the Faith book, “Amy Carmichael: A Life Abandoned to God”.  I came to chapter thirteen and was cut to the heart with these words:

“No charge of idleness can be made against us, as a whole.  But how is it that so much of our busy energy appears to be expanded in vain?  Holy Scripture, personal experience, the voice of conscience, all these alike suggest one answer– we have neglected largely the means which God Himself has ordained for anointing from on High…Prayer!” 1

OUCH!  How much of my busy energy has been in vain?  Am I guilty of largely neglecting the means which God Himself has ordained for anointing from on High?  Have I spent more time guessing or praying?

Is not it better to beseech God for clarity, listen and obey, than attempt to obscurely peek in “doors” and “windows”, misapplying the assertion that such obscure peeks are “steps of faith”?       

It is my prayer this year that I would not neglect the means which God Himself has ordained for anointing from on High!  Instead, I want to pray as I should, coming to God believing that “He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV).  Maybe I could even learn a lesson from little Gus, who quite obviously knows how to diligently and devotedly “seek”.

Here I am!  Here I am!  Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening (1 Samuel 3:10, paraphrased).

 Victoria

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          1. Wellman, S., (1998), ” Amy Carmichael: A Life Abandoned to God”, p. 177, Qtd. Carmichael, A., (1950), “This One Thing”, pp. 79-83.

What Kind Of People?

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people, belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9, NIV84)

This is a verse that is quite familiar to most churchgoers.  It is found in the second chapter of Peter’s first letter “to God’s elect, strangers in the world” (1 Peter 1:1, NIV84).  First Peter 1:15-16 explains that we are addressed as “God’s elect, strangers in the world” because “He Who called [us] is Holy, so [we are to] be holy in all [we] do” (NIV84).  In essence we are to be the definition of holy: distinct from the world and consecrated unto God.

We aren’t left hanging there.  We are told exactly what such holy living is…

– living in reverent fear;

– having faith and hope in God;

– obeying the truth;

– being rid of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind;

– longing for the pure, unadulterated Word of God; and

– coming to Him, the Living Stone and being built like living stones into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13-2:5).

Hmmm, there’s that term “priesthood” again.

Does that mean that we need to walk around in flowing robes with way-too-tall-to-keep-our-balance-hats atop of our heads?  We’d surely stand out if that’s what it does mean!

It pertains to a role or more expressively a character, not necessarily a garb.  And this character is described in Malachi 2:1-9 as well.  As a priesthood, we are to listen and set our hearts to honor the Lord God Almighty, revering God and standing in awe of His Name (vv. 1-2, 5) – living in reverent fear and obeying the truth.  True instruction must be in our mouths and nothing false is to be found on our lips (v. 6a) – being rid of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander.  We are to walk with God in peace and uprightness, turning many from sin and preserving knowledge (vv. 6b-8) – preaching the pure, unadulterated Word of God in what we say AND what we do.

So as we approach the beginning of another year may I pose a question for us: What kind of people are we to be?  Seems like a pretty heavy New Year’s resolution to me.

Victoria