Come Home To Hope
Christmas is just around the corner, and many will be returning home to spend time with family and friends. This year, no matter what your circumstances are, no matter what you are facing, whether it be a bad report from the doctor, botched relationships, a wayward child, or financial lack, I invite you to come home to hope.
The hope I’m talking about is not the world’s kind of hope. The wishing for something without any expectation that the hope will be fulfilled. No, what I’m talking about is Biblical hope - the confident expectation and certainty that what God has promised in His Word will come to pass. It’s having one’s neck outstretched in anticipation of the answer that’s on its way.
There are three aspects of hope I’d like to briefly examine.
Sometimes, when God’s promises are not coming to pass in my life as soon as I would like them to, I remind myself (and God) that He has promised I will NEVER be ashamed for trusting in Him.
So, my dear friend, no matter what you are facing today, plant your feet firmly on the promises of God. “Then I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse. And its rider is called Faithful and True…” (italics mine Revelation 19:11 BSB). The God we serve is faithful and true. His promises will come to pass in your life.
Who Am I?
Recently, I have been undergoing an identity crisis. Let me explain.
On September 25, 2022, my husband of fifty-one years passed away, leaving a huge hole in my heart. I have always seen myself as a married woman, as a wife. Now, who am I? I am single. I am a widow. My status has changed immeasurably. But despite my status change here on earth, I am still a citizen of the kingdom of Heaven. That hasn’t changed. “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives…” (Philippians 3:20 NLT). I do not go by my earthly status. I go by the Word of God. His Word defines me. His Word tells me who I am in Christ Jesus.
The first chapter of Ephesians is rich in informing us of who we are in Christ. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3 NIV). In Jesus, I am blessed with every spiritual blessing. What are some of those blessings?
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (Ephesians 1:4 NLT). God says I am chosen, accepted, and beloved, even when I don’t feel like it.
Sin sold me into slavery, living apart from God. But because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and my trust in Him as my Saviour, I have been adopted into God’s family, an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus. “And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17 BSB). Jesus is my elder Brother.
And being adopted into God’s family means I have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son…” (Colossians 1:13 BSB).
I have also been redeemed and forgiven. “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins” (Ephesians 1:7 NLT). Jesus redeemed me from the slave market of sin. “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our wrongdoings from us” (Psalm 103:12 NASB). My sin has been cast into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).
The Holy Spirit lives in me and is the seal or guarantee of my heavenly inheritance, secured by Jesus. “And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people” (Ephesians 1:13-14 NLT).
So, when I feel downcast, I do as David did. I speak to my soul. “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why the unease within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him for the salvation of His presence” (Psalm 42:5 BSB). I recall who I am in Jesus. He is all I need.
Trust and Obey
In Joshua 1, Joshua and the nation of Israel stood at the border of the promised land. Previously, they had rebelled against the Lord, believed the bad report the ten spies brought back, and failed to go into the land.
Forty years later, there were still the same obstacles as before – nations with armies, walled cities, and giants. What made the difference? Why did they go in the second time?
In Joshua 1:9 NLT it says, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” The biggest enemies Joshua and the Israelites faced were not armies, thick walls, and giants but fear and discouragement.
This time, the children of Israel took God at His Word to be with them and went in and conquered the land. Instead of bowing to the spirits of fear and discouragement, they chose to believe Almighty God.
We can do the same. We must not allow fear and discouragement to define us. Instead, we can take hold of the Word of God like a dog with a bone, unwilling to let go. We can meditate on it until it gets down into the depths of our spirits.
The Scripture says, “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do” (Joshua 1:8 NLT). We can allow God’s Word to change the way we think, so we see ourselves as victors rather than victims.
God enabled Joshua and the Israelites to take the promised land. God is no respecter of persons, “He treats everyone the same” (Romans 2:11 TLB). What He did for Joshua, He’ll do for you. Possess His promises and He’ll bring you into your promised land.
Trees and Fire
Recently, I read some interesting facts about the sequoia tree, which grows along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The giant tree can grow up to three hundred feet (20 to 25 stories) and weigh as much as twelve million pounds (comparable to a small ocean-going freighter). The circumference of the tree trunk at the base can be over one hundred feet (one-third the length of a football field).
The one thing I found especially interesting is that the sequoia requires fire in order to grow. The small green cones containing seeds awaiting germination grow near the crown of the trees. But if there is no fire or insects to crack open the cone, the seeds remain trapped inside. Fire dries out the cones, so that they crack open and deposit their seeds on the floor of the forest.
Fire also thins out the debris caused by the trees and shrubs which grow around the base of the sequoia. This debris is a barrier, blocking the seeds from reaching the soil. The shade from the smaller trees makes the ground too cool for the seeds to survive. Fire burns out the debris and trees and creates patches of sun and a clear forest floor, which is perfect for the germinating seeds.
Another benefit is that fire loosens the soil, allowing the seeds to fall into rich earth and to gather moisture previously taken up by the larger plants. And lastly, as the forest debris increases again, it protects the seedlings from the cold and seed-eating creatures.
As human beings, we all face fire in our lives – the heat of poor health, not enough money, broken relationships, addictions, wayward children, the loss of a loved one. But through the fire, God is saying “nothing can ever separate us from (His) love” (Romans 8:38 NLT). As born-again believers, we are protected in the fire, covered by His precious blood.
Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the three Hebrew men thrown into the fire because they wouldn’t bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s image? The next morning when the king went to check on them, he said in amazement, “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25 KJV). Just like Jesus stood next to those men in their fire, He’s standing next to you in the fire that burns around you.
In the fire, God reminds us that “I am the Lord who created you; from the time you were born, I have helped you. Do not be afraid; you are my servant, My chosen people whom I love” (Isaiah 44:2 GNT). As God told the Israelites when they faced the sea in front of them and the enemy behind, “…’Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today…The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm’” (Exodus 14:13-14 NLT).
As fire enables the sequoia tree to grow, the fires we face refine us of our impurities and allow us to see the hand of Almighty God go to work on our behalf.
God Loves YOU
More than likely, you’ve read the account of Ruth and Naomi in the book of Ruth in the Old Testament. In the days of the judges, there was a famine in the land of Israel. A man named Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, natives of Bethlehem, went to Moab to find food. While there, Mahlon and Chilion married Moabite wives, Orpah and Ruth. In the course of time, Elimelech, Mahlon, and Chilion all died, leaving Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth as widows.
After some time, Naomi heard there was food once again in Israel, and she made plans to return. Naomi’s daughters-in-law intended to accompany her, but she told them to go back to their mothers’ homes and prayed that the Lord would grant them rest in the house of a husband. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye and remained in her own land. Ruth clung to Naomi and said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people shall be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1: 16 MEV).
Orpah made a common-sense decision to remain in her own land. Ruth made a faith decision to leave. She told Naomi she embraced Naomi’s God as her own and promised not to leave her. Ruth’s declaration of faith depended on God’s everlasting, covenantal love, His hesed. Translators have difficulty defining hesed in English. “Everlasting love,” “faithful love,” “eternal love,” “mercy,” “kindness,” and “everlasting kindness” fail to adequately describe the depths of God’s hesed.
Hesed is a pledge to act for the good of another person, often at great personal cost. When God passed by Moses on the mountain, He declared His hesed for His people. “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (hesed), maintaining love (hesed) to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin…” (Exodus 34:6-7 NIV). “Even if the mountains heave up from their anchors, and the hills quiver and shake, I will not desert you. You can rely on My enduring love (hesed); My covenant of peace will stand forever. So says the Eternal One, whose love won’t give up on you” (Isaiah 54:10 VOICE).
The greatest display of God’s hesed was when He sent His only Son to die a terrible death on a cruel cross to pay the penalty for the sins of humankind - for your sin and for mine. God erased the "charges that were brought against us...He took the charges away by nailing them to the cross" (Colossians 2:14 NOG). The death of Jesus made the way for us to be reunited with our Heavenly Father and become part of His family once again, just like it was in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. And because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can come “boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need” (Hebrews 4:16 TLB).
God honoured Ruth’s trust in His hesed. In a wonderful way, He led her to Boaz, her kinsman-redeemer, who protected her and married her. Boaz and Ruth had a son, Obed, who became the father of Jesse, who became the father of David, a descendent of our Lord Jesus. Ruth’s name is part of the ancestry of Jesus, the Son of the living God.
So my friend, whatever trials you are facing, whatever is happening in your life, never forget God’s hesed, His faithful love that does not quit. His eternal love is working on your behalf and will be with you always, “until the end of time” (Matthew 28:20 NOG).
There is a verse in Isaiah 62:6-7 (AMPC) I love. It says the following, “I have set watchmen upon your walls, O Jerusalem, who will never hold their peace day or night; you who [are His servants and by your prayers] put the Lord in remembrance [of His promises], keep not silence, And give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes her a praise in the earth.”
The reason I am keen on these verses is that they tell us to put the Lord in remembrance of His promises. Another passage says, “Put me in remembrance; let us argue together; set forth your case, that you may be proved right” (Isaiah 43:26 ESV). It’s not that God has forgotten His promises. It’s when we remind God of His promises, we’re telling Him we believe them and expect Him to bring them to pass. For those of you who have children, I’m sure there are many times you’ve made promises to them, such as going to the store for an ice cream cone or a trip to the park. If you didn’t follow through on your promise, they were right there to remind you. God wants us to do the same thing.
Our God is a covenant-making and a covenant-keeping God. “I will not violate My covenant, nor will I alter even one word of what My lips have spoken (Psalm 89:34 VOICE.). “Remember Your word to Your servant, upon which You have given me hope (Psalm 119:49 BSB). Moses told the Israelites to remember how God had led them through the wilderness. “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands” (Deuteronomy 8:2 NIVUK). At the Last Supper, when Jesus took the bread and the cup, He told His disciples they were doing it in remembrance of Him (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NIV).
Nehemiah received word the walls of Jerusalem were lying in ruins. He reminded God of His promises. “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’” (Nehemiah 1:8-9 NIV).
When you are standing on a promise of God for a situation in your life, whether it be physical, social, financial, relational, or the salvation of your children, and waiting for the answer, remind God of His great and precious promises. “And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires” (2 Peter 1:4 NLT). Remind God of His promises - not because He forgets them, but because it will bring you into a closer relationship with Him.
"Yes and Amen" or "Oh No" ?
“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NLT).
When we believe God’s promise in our heart, we have the “Yes”. Now we need to find someone who will give a resounding “Amen” to our “Yes”, someone who will agree with us in prayer. Matthew 18:19 (NLT) says, ““I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.” What a powerful promise. We want to find a person who believes the Word of God and who will agree our healing is coming, we will live and not die, our children will be taught of the Lord, no weapon formed against us will prosper.
We need to find an “Amen”, not an “oh no” because God’s promises are not yes and oh no. Be careful who you let speak into your life. Don’t forget Jesus threw out all the unbelieving mourners when He went to heal Jairus’ daughter. When our problems seem insurmountable, it’s so easy to get into agreement with the negative. But DON’T DO IT. Don’t agree with those who say, “Oh no.”
Even if you have to bypass dozens of naysayers, friends, coworkers, and relatives who think you’re too far out, keep looking until you find those who believe God is on His throne, He fights our battles, He keeps His promises, and HE has the final word. Find a power partner who will release his/her faith for you, speak light into darkness, healing into sickness, and abundance into lack.
In Nehemiah 6, when Nehemiah was building the walls of Jerusalem, he had two critics trying to talk him out of it. They invited Nehemiah to the plain of Ono to convince him not to proceed (Nehemiah 6:1-2). It’s significant they invited him to a place called Ono. It is no different today. There will be those in your life trying to get you to come to Oh No. Will you let them speak into your life? Or will you tell them politely and lovingly that you will not come into agreement with their doubt and unbelief? You will not come into Oh No. You don’t belong there. You belong in the land of “Yes” and “Amen”.
As you find those who will look beyond the natural, believe for the supernatural, and give a resounding “Amen” to your “Yes”, the promises of God will come to pass in your life.
Are You A Sea Squirt?
I recently learned some interesting facts about the sea squirt. An odd little fellow, it is often found attached to rocks and shells. Its appearance is like a soft plastic tube, waving with the current. It draws its nutrients from the passing water. Generally, they don’t move or exhibit any behaviour, apart from opening and closing their siphons. One could say the sea squirt lives a passive life.
But passivity has not always been its way of existence. As a tadpole, it has a primitive spinal chord and brain to help it find food and evade harm. It swims well to explore its environment. However, when it reaches adulthood, it settles on its rock and stops growing and exploring. In a rapid, drastic, and complex metamorphosis, the epidermal cells covering the surface of the animal contract and within ten to fifteen seconds, crush the tail, muscles, brain, nerve cord and other sensory structures into tissue debris, turning the sea squirt into the passive adult.
The information I learned about the sea squirt made me realize how important it is that we continue to grow in life, whether we’re seven or seventy. This is especially important in our walk with Jesus. If we aren’t growing in Him, we’re stagnating. I especially like The Passion Translation of Romans 12:2, “Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think.” Only God’s Word can reform the way we think. Only God’s Word can rework us from thinking like the world does to thinking like God.
God’s Word keeps us growing in our faith. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17 KJ21). When Satan and his devils attack, we need to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12) and stand firmly on God’s Word, no matter what the evil one tries to tell us.
In order to continue growing, we need to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22 NIV). When we listen and don’t do, we deceive ourselves. The apostle Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:18 TLB, to “grow in spiritual strength and become better acquainted with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be all glory and splendid honor, both now and forevermore.”
So let’s not be like the sea squirt and stop growing. Each day, let’s become better acquainted with Jesus as we grow in Him.
In Numbers 13, Moses sent out twelve spies, one from each of the tribes of Israel, to spy out the Promised Land. Ten came back with a bad report – the cities are fortified and very large, the people are powerful, and there are giants in the land. We’re like grasshoppers compared to them.
In contrast, Joshua and Caleb came back with a good report. They told Moses the land was big but God was bigger and He was with them. They were well able to posses the land.
The interesting thing is that the bad report spread through the people like wildfire. The people were so distressed by the negative report, they complained against Moses and Aaron and said they would die in the wilderness, and their children and wives would be taken as plunder. No one paid attention to Caleb and Joshua’s message of faith. Why? Because a negative report always spreads faster than a positive one. As human beings, we default to the negative.
Notice what God says in Numbers 14. “…just as you have spoken in My ears, so I will do to you. In this wilderness your corpses will fall, and all…who have murmured against Me, you will not go into the land which I swore by My hand to cause you to dwell in it, except Caleb…and Joshua…” (verses 28-30). The ten spies got what they said.
Our words are SO important. “The tongue has power over life and death; those who indulge it must eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21 CJB). In one translation, the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:37 read like this: “Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation” (MSG).
What do you do when you receive a bad report from your doctor, banker, spouse? What they say may be fact, but don’t forget, God’s Word is truth. Do you listen to the bad report or do you cling to and speak the promises of God? As believers, when we get a bad report and don’t receive it, we are like salmon, swimming against the current to reach their birthplace so they can lay their eggs. If we'll allow Him, the Holy Spirit living in us will give us the strength to STAND on God's Word, despite circumstances and reports.
Joshua and Caleb got what they said. Joshua led the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Caleb was forty years old when he was sent out with the eleven other spies. Because of their unbelief, he and Joshua had to wander in the wilderness for forty years. When Caleb was eight-five years old, he told Joshua he was just as strong as the day the Lord sent him to spy out the land. Joshua gave him Hebron as his inheritance.
You may be wondering about my title. Who were Lieber and Uri? I don’t know, but they may have been the names of two of the ten spies who brought the negative report. They never made it into the promised land because of their unbelief and disobedience. Like Joshua and Caleb, they were called to be history makers, but instead, ended up in obscurity. Their confession didn’t line up with the Word of God.
Today, may we be like Joshua and Caleb, believing, acting on, and saying the Word of God, doing exploits for our God.
How's Your Hearing?
“Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more” (Mark 4:24 NIV).
How do you measure God’s Word? According to Mark 4:24, God will measure to us how we hear and measure His Word.
For example, when we read 1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed” (NIV), do we stand in faith and keep on believing until we receive our healing, or do we measure the verse with skepticism?
When our bank account says zero and the rent is due, how do we hear and measure Philippians 4:19, “Moreover, my God will fill every need of yours according to his glorious wealth, in union with the Messiah Yeshua” (CJB)? Do we keep looking at our bank account or standing on the promise of God?
Measuring God’s Word with faith can be challenging. Recently, I read about a woman who was believing God for a new house. She lived in a beat-up little house and wanted a new one more than anything. When she came across Romans 13:8, “Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law” (NLT), she wondered how she could ever purchase a new home without borrowing money. She was tempted to measure the verse as a curse. But she refused to measure it that way. Instead, she resisted the lies of Satan telling her she would never have a new home, and started believing God to provide her one debt free. And what she believed God for, He did.
We get what we expect from God, how we hear and measure His Word. So, if you want to receive blessings by the bushel load, go to His Word with a bushel basket. Give God something to work with. If you put a big measure of faith in His hand, He’ll fill it until it overflows.
In this Blog, I want to share with you some of the things I've learned from many years of following Jesus.