The 90 Day Challenge Day 72 – I Am A River

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“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him SO THAT YOU MAY OVERFLOW with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13

Some days I do not like narrowing down my focus to only one thing God speaks to me about in my daily readings (though it is necessary). This is one of those days…

It should be no surprise that the God of hope seeks to instill hope in those who believe in Him. It should come at no surprise that God infuses hope into my spirit through the work of the Holy Spirit. He, after all, lives in me and all who choose to believe in Christ for salvation. Furthermore, it is logical to me that God’s method of giving me hope is to fill me with joy and peace. How else can one have hope that transcends any and all circumstances without joy or peace?

The astounding concept to me is “overflow(ing).” As God fills me with joy and peace overflow happens. We lived on a river for a number of years. It would flood, i.e. overflow, a couple of times a year. It would overflow its banks. I get overflow. It is something beyond containment. It affects so many other things. As a follower of Jesus my life is to overflow. And overflow will affect others. It will be visible to others. A life filled with joy and peace, and overflowing with hope changes everything around him/her. A life overflowing with hope handles adversity differently. A life overflowing worships differently.

So, what is the problem? Why is it my/our life isn’t recognized as overflowing? Why is all my worship staying within the banks of the river? God’s plan is to fill us with joy. We need not beg for it. God’s plan is to fill us with His peace. We have peace with God (Romans 5:1). His purpose is to make our lives overflowing. What gives? Me! Scripture tells us we have “been given everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him” (1 Peter 1:3). I give. I give in to my own thoughts and recriminations. I give in to thinking that living a life of overflow is rare, or for someone else, or I don’t deserve it, or… A life of overflowing hope rests on our hope of who God is and the keeping of His Word. A life of overflowing hope demands I/we take a step of faith in claiming the joy and peace already given us in Christ. A life overflowing calls me to control my thoughts and not yield to settling for less. It means I live a life overflowing by choice (whether I feel it or not), by faith, by joy, by peace, by hope. The world around me/you is desperate for our overflow because in it is Jesus.

Papa, forgive me for building a dam that has kept Your presence in me contained. Let Your rivers of joy and peace combine afresh to make my life overflow afresh with Your hope.
JT

Readings for Day 73 – Psalm 121, Matthew 18:21-35, Acts 2:1-37, John 17:9-18, 1 Samuel 22-24

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The 90 Day Challenge Day 55 – Dripping With Hope

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“but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” -1 Peter 3:15

There are truths in this verse where we could dive deep into word meanings. We could discuss the meaning of Christ as “Lord” in my heart, or the meaning of “hope”. Today I am drawn to a more tangible truth. If someone is going to ask me for a reason for the hope that is in me, then that hope must be both visible and spoken. When was the last time I/you were asked about the hope that permeates your/my life?

For that question to come up, I must be spending enough time with someone so that they see me in times of crisis or difficulty. They must see hope in the midst of there being no logical reason for hope. I must be “doing life” with others in such a way that my hope is seen as visibly making a positive difference in my life, and bringing victory in my life. Do they associate my overcoming with hope or luck? What am I doing to invest in relationships so that they actually see hope in me? Am I building my life around hope or am i caught up in living a life of enduring? Enduring doesn’t cause people to ask questions. Anyone can endure, put up with, deal with things as they are. It is a life built on hope that raises questions. God’s call to me is to so live a life of hope that all it does is raise questions by those who see it.

Papa, help me live a life that drips a steady stream of hope that others cannot miss.
JT

Day 56 – Catch up Day
Day 57 – Acts 1-3, Hosea 10-12

The 90 Day Challenge – The Foundation of Hope

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“Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious AND SET YOUR HOPE COMPLETELY ON THE GRACE to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 1:13

Serious people do not set their hopes on having a good day. If we do, life is a roller coaster. Hope must supersede what we go through in life. We get sick. Things go wrong. We make mistakes. Others do us harm. No, hope cannot rest on today, or even how others may treat us.

God invites me, and all who believe, to set my hope on grace. Not a one foot in, one foot out type either. I am to set my hope completely on grace – the grace I will receive when Jesus comes again.

Revelation paints a dark apocalyptic view of the return of Christ and judgment. The coming judgment of Christ on all who do not believe is a destiny of suffering and ultimately the fires of the second death. But as a believer I/we need not fear judgment because what I will receive is grace. At the return of Christ, what I deserve is the same punishment as those who do not believe. However, through faith in Jesus I will receive grace. My only hope, my complete hope is grace. The hope set on grace assures me of eternal life. The hope set on grace gives me strength to endure whatever this life brings my way. It is not a hope in the prosperity gospel of health and wealth, but a hope solely on what Jesus has done for me. It is a hope for the real world I live in that is far from perfect. It is a hope to outlast the highs and lows of this life. My hope must be completely on grace.

Papa, forgive me when I have placed my hope on anything less than Your grace. And may hope in your grace give me courage and boldness to live for no matter what I may go through in this life.
JT

Readings for Day 46 – Philippians 4:4-7, 1 Timothy 2:1-7, Ephesians 6:10-20, James 5:13-18, Ezra 4-6

The 90 Day Challenge Day 5 – Sustaining Power

“I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. I am not afraid of the thousands of people who have taken their stand against me on every side.” -Psalm 3:5-6

On a piano there is a sustain pedal. When used it holds the note -the string is allowed to continue to vibrate. A hard days work outside is sustained by food, water, and some shade now and then. What sustains me/you when life gets hard, or throws a curve at us? Some people find sustenance from others. But this means of sustenance falls short when those running you down outnumber the encouragers, or their voice is louder than the helpful people in our lives. And, occasionally, good people close to us can be hurtful draining us rather than sustaining us. The truth is people cannot sustain us. The Lord is the One who is to sustain me. I am not to look for sustenance from feeling good, the words of others (or even how they look at me), or everything going just right. The Lord sustains me so that even in very painful times I can lie down and sleep.

Lord, may Your words and not the words of others sustain me in living the life you have given to me.

JT

Readings for Day 6 – Mark 10-11, Genesis 16-18

Of Hats & Hearts

Hats; we wthear them or see them worn everywhere. The baseball cap variety has any number of things on them. Flags, sports teams, brand names, etc. I have never thought of a hat or logo on a hat as life changing… until this past weekend.

We had stopped at a store – one of those places a guy is ready to get through ASAP. As I walked by the registers to exit a hat caught my attention. One word was on the hat – “blessed”. It really wasn’t the word on the hat that captivated my thoughts. It was the thought the Lord brought to mind. It started with one word, that led me to a question, which in turn led to an assessment. The Word? “Obedience.” What if the hat said obedience instead of blessed? I bet there would not be much of a market for that!

As Christians, we can be obsessed with the perks of knowing Jesus, but not so much with the calling or responsibility. Frankly, we are blessed to be vertical and above ground. To exist at all, given our sinful nature is a blessing from God. Yes, I should relish the blessings of God. I should live in faith that God will bless my life in Christ. After all, we are called to live in hope and blessing must be a relative of hope. But what about the call to obedience?

Obedience is a response of being loved, forgiven, blessed in Jesus. Obedience is following the pattern in the life of Jesus who lived in obedience to the Father. It is certain that we will not live perfectly in obedience. This is why Jesus came. But obedience includes recognizing sin, seeking forgiveness, and turning from it.

I wonder… does our hesitancy of wearing a hat that says obedience come from excusing our disobedience? Do we ignore those twinges of conscience from the Spirit? Does our lack of passionate love for and study of the word of God stem more from subconsciously wanting to avert anything that would touch on places of disobedience? I’m just asking questions…

For me, this all became a call to encourage myself and other followers of Jesus to consider obedience as main stream rather than extreme. Consider the following verses and your thirst (or lack of) for obedience:

“Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, FOR OBEDIENCE to Jesus Christ.” -1 Peter 1:2

“And this is love: that we WALK IN OBEDIENCE to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” -2 John 6

Blessed and seeking a life of obedience,
JT

The 90 Day Challenge Day 85 – Promises & A Fixed Gaze

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“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day… So we don’t look at the troubles we see now; rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” -2 Corinthians 4:16, 18

We can fool ourselves. A person can give up and yet still keep going. You do what has to be done. People see you and see nothing different. But inside… inside you have given up, become discouraged, leaking hope… So, how do I move from giving up to never give up? I am promised that The Spirit renews my spirit every day. To not give up I must pay attention to what God is always doing for me, for us – renewing me… daily. How do I do that? How do I see what God is doing in and around me when circumstances look and smell like the bottom of a trash can that has held trash for too long? I am to fix my gaze on to the eternal, rather than the moment, the temporary. Anything I see in my circumstances is temporary; temporary because God will change them, and temporary because of the eternal life I will experience when Jesus comes again. It all comes down to where I fix my gaze. If I fix my gaze on circumstances, then I have focused on my inability to “fix” it. When I fix my gaze on the unseen, I focus on Jesus, His promises, the presently unseen things He is doing. And, ultimately, my gaze is on the eternal.

Father, turn my gaze in the right direction, and give me eyes to catch glimpse of what you are doing in and around me.
JT

Readings: Luke 20, 2 Corinthians 4, 1 John 3, Romans 8

The 90 Day Challenge Day 84 – Promises & Until

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“May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains. When he came to Rome, he searched everywhere until he found me.” -2 Timothy 1:16-17

While I would never want to name a kid after this guy, I certainly would want kids to be like him – adults for that matter too! He is an encourager, and being an encourager requires something very specific. An encourager must be willing to go out of their way again and again. Paul was in prison, and this man visits again and again. Traveling to Rome, finding a place to stay, and making time for repeated prison visits is no small sacrifice. On top of all this Paul adds that he searched for Paul until he found him.

God’s call for me/we to be encouragers means a readiness to go out of my way; to make sacrifices repeatedly; to persist until found. We tend to hate the slightest inconvenience. This has to be shed to encourage. While many people we may minister to may not literally be in prison, they can be in prisons of their own struggle. They, too, must be found. They will require persistence because they may at first push us away. But the encourager presses on and in.

Father, make me a better encourager…
JT

Readings: Ezekiel 37, 2 Timothy 1, Psalm 17