Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Anchor of Hope

    I really had something else in mind to write this week but I just couldn’t get away from the idea that there are some of you out there who need to feel hopeful once again.

     Recently I have had some conversations with people who are facing some tough things in their lives. There is much devastation all around us. There is much turmoil over the recent elections, the state of our economy, etc. This caused me to wonder what kind of hope these people are holding on to. How can we persevere with hope in the midst of our trials? What can we be thankful for this Thanksgiving? Then I thought about Hebrews 6:19, which says, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.”  As believer’s we have hope! Let’s look at an acronym for the word HOPE.
Hear God’s Word- “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” Romans 10:14
     We need to hear the word of God on a regular basis, not just on Sunday morning. I would encourage you to listen to teaching tapes or CD’s during the week.  We need to be feeding our spirit a daily dose of biblical teaching. And doing so will help build up our “hope tank.”  Remember in Romans 10:17 it says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Obedience “…Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…” 1 Samuel 15:22
      Sometimes we think that by doing nice things, or giving money to the church will pacify God. But, it we truly want to walk in hope we will need to walk in obedience. You see, when you walk in complete obedience to the Lord you can live with the hope of Heaven in your heart. In recent weeks the Lord has really stirred within me this thing of obedience and drawing near to Him, nearer than I’ve ever been.
Prayer“rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.” Romans 12:12
     Prayer. There is so much that could be said about this subject. Since our time and space are limited in this column let me simply say that spending quality time in God’s presence is one of the best things to do when you need hope restored in your life. Notice I said quality time, not quantity. While it would be great to spend several hours a day in prayer that just isn’t realistic for most of us. Let me encourage you to have a set aside time of prayer everyday for at least ten minutes. When you begin to consistently do this you will be amazed at how long you actually end up praying.
Expect a move of God“Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; he will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.” Hosea 6:3
     One of the ways we show that we expect a move of God is study the bible, pursue having more knowledge of God and his ways. Notice I didn’t say know about God, but to know him. Have a relationship with him. When we’re anticipating something good like an upcoming vacation, or a visit from a special friend it fills us with hope of something to look forward to.
     As we close let’s look at another scripture passage. Look at Romans 5:3-5… “3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
     When we go through rough times these verses promise us that if we stay connected to the Lord, the trial will produce his character in us and we will once again experience hope as God pours his love into our life.
     There is no doubt in my mind that someone out there reading this needs to be encouraged to hope again! God has a purpose and a plan for your life and it is good. Yes, there may be some hurdles to jump and some dark times to endure but as the scripture says, joy comes in the morning! Hallelujah!
     If you are struggling and need a word or prayer of encouragement please feel free to drop us a line or give us a call. Our website and contact information is listed below

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Real Freedom

Recently I was pondering the word freedom. What does it really mean?  While thinking about this I began to think about how I could encourage you to walk in true freedom. Let’s look at a few principles below that will show us where and how we can know true freedom. This is just a brief overview. There’s so much more I’d like to share, just not enough space here.
Freedom is found in God’s presence
     “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  Psalm 16:11
     Whether you’re in worship at church or in your own home in prayer before God, while in his presence you can gain freedom in your life. A few minutes in the presence of God will often do more for us than any counselor or medicine could ever do. Now, I am not against counselors or medicine, just stating that God is far more powerful.
Freedom is found in obedience
     I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments. Psalm 119:45NLT
     We must make a decision that we will choose to walk in obedience to God’s ways. How can we do this?
Obey God’s Commandments – This verse shows us very clearly that freedom can be obtained when we obey God’s commandments. Sounds simply enough, eh? No, it’s not always easy.  In Galatians 5:17 it tells us that the flesh wars against the Spirit. We’re in a spiritual battle. Satan’s time is short and he doesn’t want to face eternal judgment alone. He is determined to take as many of us with him as he can.
Repent – If you haven’t obeyed recently or in the past, don’t give up. There is hope through repentance. Look at what Acts 3:19 says. “"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” Repentance brings refreshing and newness into our lives.
 Freedom is found in forgiveness
     “31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
     I won’t spend a lot of time on this because it was covered in a previous column last year. However, I will say that forgiveness is one of the most powerful principles for freedom in our lives. If we spend our lives carrying grudges and hurts from five, ten, 20, thirty years ago; we’re only wasting our lives. Unforgiveness deeply affects us spiritually, physically and emotionally. Friend, trust me… If someone has hurt you forgive him or her. By not doing so you’re hurting yourself more than you’re hurting them.
     My next point may step on some toes. I share it not just from my own experience, but also in accordance with the Word of God.
Freedom is found in the Holy Spirit
     Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, he gives freedom.”  2 Corinthians 3:17NLT
     Regretfully there are many churches that are doing their own thing, setting their own agenda and putting God in a box. When a congregation refuses to allow the Holy Spirit to be in control of their services, they lack true freedom. The scripture we just read makes that very clear.  Self is one of the biggest hindrances to walking in the freedom Christ has provided for us. One preacher said; “Oh if only I could forget self.” An evangelist responded with – “You would if you were more taken up with Christ, and you would be more taken up with Christ if you were more fully in the hands of the Holy Spirit.”
Allow me to share one last point.
Freedom is found in moving forward
     Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
     In other words, if Jesus has set you free in a particular area of your life don’t allow yourself to get in situations that will draw you back into it. If he set you free from drinking, drugs, anger, depression, homosexuality, etc. The devil will try to put you in places to bring you down. So how can you fight this? Look what James 4:7-8 says’
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
      In closing, my friend, if you’re feeling defeated and hopeless, don’t give up! Real freedom is available, but it can only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Find a pastor or Christian friend and ask them to help you pray to give your life to the Lord. I promise you will not regret it!
   If you struggle with anything, addictions, shame, fear, anger, divorce, grief, etc.  Let me know so that I can pray for you and encourage you to pursue to freedom God has for you.