THE REASON FOR MY HOPE

1 Peter 3:15 “- be ready always to give an answer to everyone that asks you a reason for the hope that is in you -”

To begin with I must define  what is meant by the word “hope.” It is not talking about some wish for something which may or may not be a reality. It is not an unknown hope in an unknown future. The word used here means “a desire of some good with expectation of obtaining it.” I am expecting the good I hope for.

The first reason for my hope is that God is real. He is the creator of the Universe, the heavens above and the earth beneath. “Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood  through what has been made-,” Rom 1:20

I believe that God made human beings, animals and every form of life. Without God, no living creature exists. Nothing just happened to come into existence by itself. God, the Master Designer created the world and now sustains the world. He keeps the sun and moon in their places and provides the air we breathe.

The second reason for my hope is that God speaks to people. He has always spoken since time began, in various ways. He spoke directly to people like Adam, Moses and Abraham as well as others. He also spoke indirectly through His prophets and others.

He also speaks through the Bible, written by men, at different times in history, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.  The Bible is the living Word of God. The message in it’s pages is the good news of our deliverance from the slavery of sin.

The Bible is reliable because of prophecies that have been fulfilled, the unity of the message and the many historical facts that are correct. The Scriptures answer the questions: “Why are we here? Where are we going? What’s the purpose of life? ” And most important of all it changes lives.

Some years ago I heard an interesting story that was told by Barry Buzza. There was a missionary in Africa who was preaching the Word and giving out Bibles free to anyone who wanted one. He offered one to a rather inebriated young man who said, “No, I don’t want one!”

The missionary said, “Well take a Bible, it will really help you. This is God’s Word to you!” The man said “No, I’m not interested in having a Bible.” As the missionary kept insisting he should take it, the man said, “Preacher, if I took that Bible I would rip out the pages and use them to wrap my cigarettes in.”

The missionary said, “OK, you can do that but you’ve got to make me a promise that every page that you use for a cigarette wrapper, you’ve got to read it before you wrap your cigarette.” The guy thought that’s a fair deal so he took the Bible and walked away.

About 25 years later the missionary came back for a retirement celebration. A young, black man was preaching up on the platform. After the service the young man came up to the missionary and asked him, “Do you know who I am?” The missionary said, “No.”

He said, “I am the young guy you gave a Bible to years ago and I said I would smoke it.” The missionary said, “Yes, I remember that.” The young man said, “Well, I smoked through Matthew, I smoked through Mark and I smoked through Luke.”

“I was smoking my way through John and I got to John 3:16 where it said,  ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoever believeth in Him would not perish but would have eternal life.’ I knelt down and accepted Jesus as my Savior.”

Hebrew 1:1 says “In these last days God has spoken through His Son.” God spoke when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to this earth to show us the Father and make it possible for us to know Him. He came to reconcile mankind to our heavenly Father.

When man chose his own way instead of God’s it caused us to be estranged from Him. That sin carried the penalty of death. Jesus came to earth and paid that penalty for us when He died a cruel death on a Roman cross. But His death was not the end.

He did not stay in the tomb. Three days later He was resurrected. Everyone who believes that Jesus paid the penalty for their sins receives forgiveness and begins a new, changed life with a desire to know and please God.

Everyone who trusts in Jesus as their Savior has the hope, the certain expectation of a resurrection and eternal life with Him.  I have the hope of fellowship with my heavenly Father in the life I live here on earth and for the life I will live with Him in eternity.

I could not hope to keep the law or do enough good deeds to make it to heaven. The hymn writer put it this way, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” My hope is in the salvation He has made possible for me.

Heb 6:19 says, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil (the holy of holies in heaven) where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us.” This hope is my sure anchor!

K. Wuest, said this, “This life is the sea; the soul, a ship; the hidden bottom of the sea, the hidden reality of the heavenly word. The soul is seen as storm tossed on the troubled sea of life. The soul of the believer, as a tempest tossed ship is held by the anchor within the veil, fastened by faith to the blessed reality within the veil.”

But what about those who do not choose to put their hope and trust in Jesus? We are eternal beings and will live forever somewhere, either in heaven with God or in hell without God. Hell gives people the right to live apart from God! We have a choice!

I choose to live with and for Jesus Christ. My hope is in Him! Where is your hope?

I GAVE MY GARDEN TO GOD

Have you ever seen a movie, read a book or heard a sermon that made such an impact on you that it changed your life? Suddenly you saw something old in a brand new light.That happened to me recently when I heard “The Pineapple Story.”

Otto Koning and his wife, Carol were Missionaries in New Guinea. The people were chronic thieves which caused Otto to be angry all the time.They even stole the diaper pins. Otto said God sent him to those people for him to learn Luke 14:33 “Whosoever of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”

They stole everything they could, even stealing the clothes off the clothesline. The soil was very sandy but he thought it would grow pineapples, so, he planted a pineapple garden. It took three years to produce fruit, but he never got the fruit because the natives stole all the pineapples even before they were ripe.

This made Otto very angry. When they went on furlough. Otto & Carol told each other they were never going back. While in Chicago, Otto attended a Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar which changed his life.

The speaker talked about fighting for your rights. He challenged them to give up their rights to God and to give their possessions to God. He continued to challenge them, “God takes good care of His possessions. What you give to God with the right motives, you’ll never lack in that thing.”

He told them “the people you fight with you’ll never win. Fighting for your rights will destroy your health”. When the speaker gave an invitation for those who wanted to put everything on the altar and give it to God, Otto gave the pineapple garden to God. A great peace filled his soul.

They went back to the jungle and Otto told God, “Lord, It’s Your garden.” The pineapples grew bigger and better and the natives were still stealing them. Otto was still angry at their thievery. He told God he was angry for Him.

On his knees one morning God showed him Romans 6, dying to self. At the end of his rope, he gave up his right to own a garden. He wasn’t angry anymore. The natives noticed and said to him, “You must be a Christian now.” Otto had preached about Christ and about Christianity but they didn’t see it in him because of his anger.

They asked him why he wasn’t angry anymore and he said he gave the garden away. He said he would tell them the next day who he had given the garden to. The next morning they were at his door early and he told them, “I gave the garden to my God in heaven.”

They wanted him to take the garden back because they had all kinds of problems since the garden was God’s. They were angry but one man persuaded them to let God own the garden. They liked Otto as a christian rather than an angry white man.

Suddenly they wanted to know more about God. They asked questions. Does God see in the dark? Is your God big? Things that had been stolen began to come back, showing up on their porch. God supplied over and beyond their needs.

Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.” The opposite is also true, “he is a fool who keeps fighting and struggling for what he can not keep (and ruins his health in the process.)” Otto told God he didn’t want to own anything anymore. That was graduating from grade one.

With each area brought to his attention, he considered it like going to school. When the natives were bringing him things to fix and he felt frustrated that his time was being wasted he put that on the altar. He began fixing things with a joyful heart and they said he was a christian again. That was grade two!

When he was almost sent home from the Mission field, he gave his reputation to God. It didn’t matter what other people thought of him, what mattered was if he was pleasing God. He was given more responsibilities.

He wondered why people wait until they almost lose their children, when there’s no medical help there, before they surrender them. Some people who have surrendered their right to be healthy have been healed. God wants to be Lord in every area of our lives.

Some areas mentioned where we need to surrender our rights to His Lordship are: plans, reputation, time, possessions, music, money, health. self, activities, opinions.Surrendering our rights to Him is not a once in a lifetime event but must be done daily and sometimes moment by moment.

At the end of his message he gave an altar call, asking those who wanted to surrender everything to the Lord, to pray this prayer: “Lord, forgive me. I give my garden to You. Have Your way! Remind me again tomorrow.”

I couldn’t get this out of my mind. I gave my garden, my everything, to God. I don’t have to worry about anything. I don’t own the garden anymore, He does! Everything to do with my life is His worry now. He takes care of His own!

See & hear the full story on utube: THE PINEAPPLE STORY FULL INSPIRATIONAL

GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE

“God is still on the throne and He will remember His own,” echos in my mind from many years ago when we sang this in our church quite often. I didn’t really picture God sitting on a throne but I understood the implications of God’s rule and absolute authority. The fact that God is still on the throne should bring us a feeling of security and peace.

We should heave a sigh of relief and say, “God is in control of everything, I don’t need to worry.” There are many Scriptures that speak of God’s throne and His Sovereign rule in heaven and on earth. Isaiah 66:1 God says, “Heaven is My throne and earth is My footstool.” Psalm 45:6, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.”

Psalm 47 says the Lord Most High is to be feared, He is a great king over all the earth. He is our King, the King of all the earth. vs 8 ” God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne.” In Psalm 50:12 God says, “If I were hungry I would not tell you, or the world is Mine and all it contains (its fullness).”

When we look at the world around us it doesn’t look like God is on His throne. In fact, it looks like the world is out of control. In many places in the world being one of God’s children can cost you your very life or the life of someone you love dearly. People who refuse to deny Jesus Christ as their Lord are being imprisoned or martyred for their faith.

More than once Jesus said we would have tribulation.The truth is we have an enemy who hates us and he is doing everything in his power to destroy all that God has created. Since before creation, he wants worship and he wants to be god. God and Satan are not equal! Satan was created as a beautiful angel but his pride was his downfall.

As a created being he said in his heart, “I will ascend to heaven, I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” Isaiah 14:12-15 The Lord said to him, “You will be thrust down to Sheol.”

In Luke 10:18 Jesus said, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.” The devil then set about to destroy man and everything else he could destroy. Starting with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, he planted doubt of God’s goodness in their minds and hearts and tempted them to disobey God and he is doing the same with people today.

Just as he influenced Adam and Eve and everyone who was born after them, he now works in and through the sons (and daughters) of disobedience. Evil is rampant because ungodly men have rejected God and they are following the devil. One of his main works is deception. People think they are doing what they want to but they are doing what he wants them to. They have been deceived by him.

Our enemy is referred to by various names describing his work in the world and his character. One of those names is 2 Cor 4:4  the “god of this world” meaning the world system. For His own reasons, God is allowing him to work in this world for a certain time until His purposes are fulfilled in this earth.

God has given men and women a will, they can choose to follow Him or they can follow the deceiver. Satan’s end will be the lake of fire and all those who follow his ways will join him and his angels there. The good news is, that Jesus Christ has made a way whereby everyone can return to follow God and live forever with Him. No one has to be lost forever.

Look at the world! Is it getting better? No!! Turn on the news! Terror, grief, turmoil, murder, fear and anguish are the order of the day. Tornadoes, out of control fires, disasters on the earth. Man can not control the atmosphere. He can’t command rain or sunshine. God is still in control.

Persecution will continue and even escalate. Even in the family those who do not believe will turn on the believers. But, Jesus said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Those who follow Christ, carry their cross. But, in the end, they will be victorious over the enemy!

GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE

by Kittie L. Suffield 1929

Chorus-
God is still on the throne and He will remember His own;
Tho’ trials may press us and burdens distress us He never will leave us alone.
God is still on the throne, He never forsaketh His own;
His promise is true, He will not forget you,
God is still on the throne.

Verse 1
Have you started for glory and heaven? Have you left this old world far behind?
In your heart is the Comforter dwelling? Can you say, “Praise the Lord, He is mine”?
Have the ones that once walked on the highway gone back, and you seem all alone?
Keep your eyes on the prize, for the home in the skies;
God is still on the throne.

Verse 2
Burdened soul, is your heart growing weary with the toil and the heat of the day?
Does it seem that your path is more thorny as you journey along on life’s way?
Go away and in secret before Him tell your grief to the Savior alone;
He will lighten your care, for He still answers prayer;
God is still on the throne.

Verse 3
You may live in a tent or a cottage, unnoticed by those who pass by;
But a mansion for you He is building, in that beautiful city on high;
It will outshine the wealth and the splendor, of the richest on earth we have known;
He’s the Architect true, and He’s building for you;
God is still on the throne.

Verse 4
He is coming again is the promise, to disciples when He went away;
In like manner as He has gone from you, you will see Him returning some day;
Does His tarrying cause you to wonder, does it seem He’s forgotten His own?
His promise is true, He is coming for you;
God is still on the throne.

DRIFTING IS DANGEROUS

 

There are many Evangelical preachers, teachers and church leaders who believe we are living in the last days before Jesus comes again. They do not know the day or the hour but from everything they study in the Bible they see events as shaping up to His soon return. Never before have so many things come together as signs which Jesus said to watch for. (Matthew 24)

If you grew up in Church you heard sermons and read books or heard people talking about this. I remember in the 60’s people feared that another war was imminent.They began gathering food and other supplies and a few even made themselves underground shelters. Along the way there were some books written that actually set dates like, 1988 which was changed to 1989 when it didn’t happen.

When we hear something often we may tune out or tend not to listen very carefully. I remember when I was a child and my mother would tell a familiar story from her past. Because I had heard it before, I did not listen very carefully. Now, many years later I wish I had paid more careful attention. I let her words drift by because they were nothing new. I heard it before.

The writer to the Hebrews says, long ago God spoke through prophets and in many other ways but in these last days, He has spoken in His Son, Jesus. He then gives a warning, ” For this reason, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” It’s possible to hear the message of salvation but not pay attention, instead let it drift, in one ear & out the other. (Heb 1:1-2; 2:1)

He gives another warning  in 3:12 “Take care, lest there be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away (standing aloof) from the living God.” More than once he entreats them not to “harden their hearts.” There’s a downward trend; drifting, then doubting and finally disbelief, refusal to believe because of a hardened heart. Today as He speaks, we need to pay careful attention.

Peter writes to his followers so that they will remember the words spoken to them by the prophets and apostles. He wants them to know that in the last days, mockers are going to come who will say, “Where is the promise of His coming? It didn’t happen in our fathers day and everything is carrying on as it always has since the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:1-4)

“When they say this, they willfully forget that, by the Word of God, the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water through which the world at that time was destroyed being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth, by His Word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgement and destruction of ungodly people.”  (3:5-7)

Peter also wants them to pay close attention, to not let the truth drift by. “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, with the Lord, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (3:8-9)

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?” (3:10-11)

The message of salvation is an old, old story. God created man to have fellowship with Him but man rebelled. His rebellion carried the death penalty but Jesus, God’s Son paid the death penalty by dying on a cross, in our place. God raised Him from the dead and now He lives and is interceding for us. My part is to believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that Jesus died for me and that He is alive today. (Rom 10:9-11)

You may have heard this message many times but you have not taken it seriously. You think you have lots of time to make a commitment to Jesus Christ. Drifting is dangerous! Drifting is perilous to your soul! Time as we know it, is running out! It’s time to stop drifting! An old gospel song depicts this as someone who is out on a sea drifting farther and farther from the safety of the shore.

DRIFTING TOO FAR FROM THE SHORE           by Charles E. Moody 1923

Out on the perilous deep where danger silently creeps
and storms so violently sweeping, you’re drifting too far from the shore.

Today the tempest rose high and clouds o’ershadow the sky
Sure death is hovering nigh, you’re drifting too far from the shore

Why meet a terrible fate, mercies abundantly await
Turn back before it’s too late, you’re drifting too far from the shore.

Chorus
Drifting too far from the shore, you;re drifting too far from the shore.
Come to Jesus today, He will show you the way.
You’re drifting too far from the shore.

FROM FEAR TO FAITH

Recently I decided to review a course I had taken some years ago. I needed some answers and this would be a good place to start. The course, “Counseled by God” is taught by Mark Virkler who also teaches “How to Hear the Voice of God.” I started each morning  by watching the DVD for that day’s lesson, then spending time with the Lord journaling my questions and His answers.

As I journaled, my time and conversation with the Lord was always meaningful. Although there were aspects of ministry and healing in previous lessons, session seven was very close to home, “From Fear to Faith.”  The application exercise addressed the question, “Are there areas of fear in your life? To help you discern them, list five “what if”s…you have asked yourself recently.”

Ask the Lord, “What do You want to say about these “what if’s?” I made my list and I asked the Lord what He would say to me. His answer was loving, encouraging, and He reminded me that He has always taken care of me all these years. He said, “Let the light of My Word shine into all the corners, the places where dust webs of doubt are lurking. Have faith in Me!” Certain Scriptures came to mind.

One book in the Old Testament written by the prophet, Habakkuk, addresses fear and faith with all the implications we face today. He had a lot of questions concerning things that were bothering him. The world around him was much like ours and he wanted to know why God was allowing the violence and injustice and how long it would go on. God’s answer was, “I am doing something in your days-”

Habakkuk says,”You don’t approve evil or wickedness so why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they are?”He says I don’t understand but I want to. “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me and how I may reply when I am reproved.”

Then the Lord answered Habakkuk, “Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.  Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith.”

He has a conversation with the Lord, remembering His Majesty and Power displayed in the past. His mind turns to the coming invasion which God has told him will come and he almost hears the sound of their coming. His lips quiver and his body trembles as he sets himself to wait quietly for the day of distress and the invading people.

Suddenly his faith rises within him and he says, “Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls. yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength, and he has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.”

Listen to any news channel and you will be bombarded with all that’s wrong in the world. From fires in California and as of today’s report, five hundred fires in BC to floods in Texas. We need rain and may have a shortage of water here. Shootings and stabbings every day for no reason. Greece is in financial trouble again and our economy is supposed to take a down turn by the fall.

I was born in the great depression is this the full circle for me? I can’t control the world market or the weather patterns but I can control my attitude. I can be filled with fear, try to stash money or food and wait quietly for the invasion of adverse circumstances or I can say, I will remember that the Lord GOD is my strength. I choose to depend on Him. He will enable me to make it through.

What a wonderful affirmation of faith is Habakkuk’s testimony. As he moves from fear to faith he says, “I will not live in fear, according to my circumstances, the joy of the Lord GOD is my strength. He will enable me to overcome. I will not only survive but thrive!” Our hope is not in this world, it must be in God Who is the only source of stability when the world is crumbling around us. I choose to put my faith in Him.

Winners Never Quit

Morning Story and Dilbert

Morning Story and Dilbert Vintage Dilbert
May 27, 2008

I had been swimming competitively for about five years and was ready to quit, not because I had satisfied my desire to swim, but because I felt I was horrible at it.  I was often the only African American at a swim competition, and our team could not afford anything close to the great uniforms the other teams were wearing.  Worst of all though, and my number-one reason for wanting to quit, was that I kept receiving “Honorable Mentions” at each competition, which simply means, “Thank you for coming.  You did not even rank first, second or third, but we don’t want you to go home with nothing, so here is something to hide later.”  Any athlete knows that you don’t want to have a bookshelf or a photo album full of “Honorable Mentions.”  They call that the “show-up ribbon”; you get one just because…

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WHO AM I

A song was on my mind when I got out of bed this morning. It seemed to surface on and off through the day as I went about doing other things. The song, written by Rusty Goodman and sung by his daughter,Tanya.asks the question,”Who am I?” As with many songs it awakened memories, especially my journey in the past four years.

Looking back it doesn’t seem possible that so many things have happened in so short a time. My thoughts go back to the year 2011 when my ordered life took an unexpected turn. My husband and I had dreams of growing old together but God had other plans.Three weeks after having a major stroke he went home to be with the Lord.

Suddenly there was an emptiness in the suite, an empty place in my heart. An unexpected phone call from a Publishing company launched me on writing and self publishing. Although that was an adventure and I thank God for that opportunity. I also invested in my spiritual growth by enrolling in a seminar on hearing the voice of God.

The course, “4 Keys To Hearing God’s voice” was taught by Mark Virkler from the Communion With God Ministries. I was familiar with two way prayer and had, for a number of years, journaled my prayers and God’s answers but I felt I had a lot to learn in this area. At my request I was assigned a personal trainer. She was a blessing.

To some people this sounds rather audacious to say I can hear God’s voice. Who am I that the Creator of the Universe would actually answer my questions? The song asks the question, “Who am I that the King would bleed and die for? Who am I that He would pray not my will, Thine Lord.”

I ask the question, “Who am I, that God, the Creator of the Universe would want that kind of relationship with me?” He speaks and I listen but back and forth conversation is different. In Psalm 8. David expressed a similar thought, “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained, what is man that Thou dost take thought of him?”

In 1 Cor 15:9 Paul said, “I am the least of the apostles who am not fit to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church of God.” When I come to approach the presence of Almighty God, I see my own unworthiness. Isaiah said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips!” (Isaiah 6)

Some people will scoff and say it is a bunch of foolishness and I am a foolish person for believing that I could hear God speaking to me specifically about things that I need answers to. I have not heard His audible voice but there are people who say they have and I believe them. God chooses what the world calls foolish.

1 Cor 1:26-31 “But consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God..” I can not boast in anything I do, I can only boast in what Christ has done for me..

WHO AM I  by Charles  “Rusty” Goodman

When I think of how He came so far from glory, came to dwell among the lowly such as I, to suffer shame and such disgrace, on Mount Calvary take my place, then I ask myself the question, “Who am I?”

When I’m reminded of His words, I’ll leave Him never. If you’ll be true I’ll give to you life forever. Oh I wonder what I could have done, to deserve God’s only Son, to fight my battles until they’re won, for who am I?

Who am I that the King would bleed and die for? Who am I that He would pray,not My will, Thine Lord. The answer I may never know, why He ever loved me so. But to that old, rugged cross He’d go, for who am I?

Communion With God website: http://www.cwgministries.org   Also  – http://www.cluonline.com