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Christ--Our Hope Fulfilled! Featured
Christ – Our Hope Fulfilled!
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” 1 Pe. 1:3-4
Resurrection Sunday approaches.
It is a Biblical celebration we commemorate as a time to rejoice in Salvation and Life in Jesus! Christ died the vicarious death—yet He arose triumphant and victorious over death and the grave. As the hymn speaks “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.” “What can wash my sins away? Nothing but the blood of Jesus…” “Hallelujah…Christ arose!”
Recently, someone told me they hoped 2016 was my year of fulfilled hopes. It was a touching statement. As I was thinking of what to send out to my eQuest For Truth friends for this Resurrection season—that was it. Fulfilled hopes –yes, Christ is the Fulfillment of our Hopes—every day, every week and every year. That’s just one way to encapsulate what the Resurrection Sunday means to Christians.
As we grow in our Christianity – we find that Christ fills our voids and is a bulwark to run to. It was through His life we have a real example of “how to do it”. It is through belief in Jesus Christ and profession of Him, we become heirs with Him and children of God (Ro. 8:17; Gal. 3:26). It is through Jesus we are filled with the living Spirit of God that enlivens us and gives us understanding. It is through His Word we find our Daily Bread and can drink from Living Water (John 6:35; John 4:14). Our spiritual needs are met. Our eternity is secured. Our lives are given meaning and worth. But that’s not all—Christ works in the day-to-day. As the Mediator between God and Man – Christ gives us direct communication with God. We can talk to Him, cast our cares, desires, worries, confessions, sorrows, joys on Someone Who truly loves us, is interested and will provide. He knows our earthly needs. With His Christians in mind, God conducts a symphony of Divine orchestration to strategically provide for our physical necessities. Solutions come forth to worth through tough situations. Money is funded to pay bills. All things work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to His purpose (Ro. 8:28). People come forth to assume their position in our lives. Joy permeates the day and spills over the brim.
Our hopes in life are generally thought of as something in the distance. Some “hopes” we don’t know if they will be “realized”. But for the Christian—Christ is our fulfilled hope. It’s not ethereal—this is a hope that maketh us not ashamed because it is sure and something we can count on (Ro. 5:5). Why can we count on it? The basis of that Hope is the Resurrection—what we celebrate this coming Sunday. It all happened exactly as God said it would. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever (He. 13:8). He paid the price for us to release us from the bondage of a sinful life and to be the Way to God (Ro. 3:24). His innocent blood was shed to pay the ransom of souls (1 Pe 1:18-19; 1 Ti. 2:6). Yet, the grave could not hold Him and He AROSE! “Hallelujah—what a Savior!” He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life—No man cometh unto the Father but by Him (John 14:6). And we know Him!
Praise the name of Jesus—every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Ph. 2:10-11). Let’s not wait until we meet Him face to face – let’s bow together now, confess and praise the Name of Jesus! Christ - Our Hope fulfilled!
Those who know my little grey mare now might not have recognised her when I first started schooling her.
Lately, the adjective I've been using most to describe her is “brave”. And she is – brave as the day; she'll jump pretty much anything from any angle, run over any ground, and snort at any horse in the warmup arena, no matter how big it is. She'll deal with traffic, trains, runaway youngsters, balloons, music, cross-country fences, water, dykes, applause, anything really (except for baboons, pigs and dressage markers, the worst monsters in the known universe).
But five years ago, the brave grey mare was a terrified little dark roan filly who had absolutely no self-confidence. We had many a battle, she and I, on the driveway as I tried to convince her that she could go on a hack alone and she protested vehemently that she couldn't. There was never any malice in her, but when I pushed her forward, she would plant her neat little front feet next to each other and refuse to budge. Should I insist, she'd rear.
Assuming we did actually manage to get down the driveway, the spooking would begin. Everything was terrifying. Trees, rocks, cattle, leaves, tall grass, holes in the ground – anything even remotely frightening required snorting, leaping, shying, bucking and general blind panic.
In the arena, though, she was totally fine. She did whatever I wanted, however I wanted it, quiet as a sheep. I could put beginners on her. But taking her out just wasn't a safe option.
For years I would keep saying that the little grey mare was simply one of those horses who doesn't like to go out of their comfort zone. Her comfort zone was the arena, and she was okay there and she saw absolutely no reason to ever leave it. It took years of work, carefully pushing the boundaries, showing her that she'd be okay outside, before she would hack out alone.
Now, of course, she hacks out alone snorting like a dragon and telling the world to get out of her way or else. Even after being trailered off to a completely new location, she's fiery and fearless. Perhaps skittish for a few minutes, and then her usual unstoppable self.
“She's stretched her comfort zone so nicely,” I remarked to my trainer, the inimitable Horse Mutterer, after a particularly good cross-country lesson. “It seems as though she doesn't mind having the boundaries pushed any more.”
“Oh,” quoth the Mutterer, “it's not that. You are her comfort zone.”
It was an illuminating moment. And it's true: through the years of working together, the mare and I have become each other's comfort zones. When I'm on her, I know I'm going to be all right because she's on my side. And when she feels me in the saddle, she's comfortable and relaxed, because she knows I won't let anything hurt her.
So today the Lord said to me, “Be of good comfort: make Me your comfort zone.” Would it not be amazing if God was our comfort zone? If we always felt safe with Him around, no matter what we were facing? If we always knew that we'd be just fine as long as He was with us? If we felt brave enough to do anything, to say anything, to take on anything for Him because we knew that He was with us and would let nothing hurt us?
Brethren, this is all true. Our God is our Protector and nothing outside of His will can ever befall us once we are covered by His blood, as we are inseparable from Him (Romans 8:39). He has not left us comfortless; His comfort is with us in the form of the Holy Spirit (John 14:18). He is above all things and has power over all things; nothing can ever stand against Him. And He is on our side.
So let's make God our comfort zone. Let's make Him our safe place, so that no matter what our circumstances, we always know we can stand boldly for Him. Let us let His perfect love cast out fear. For when the Lord is our comfort zone, we will always be in a place where we are brave enough to do His will. Because Jesus is with us always, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20).
So Why Did I Become a Christian? Featured
Recently, I heard it again. “Rebekah, one day you’ll wake up and find out how much fun you’re missing out on…. Oh yeh, and every third day, I talk to the “holy man” too…”
People with more liberal outlooks have their way of getting their message across. They want no condemnation for their lifestyles. However, they LOVE to mock, scoff, blaspheme in playful or abrasive ways, your simple, steady commitment that you might not even verbalize but only live before them.
Ever happen to you?
Thinking this over recent, fairly mild brush of persecution, I’ve put some questions to myself (rhetorically).
Why did I become a Christian? I was 5—but I longed to be Christ’s. I wanted to know Him and go to heaven.
Was it because I just wanted to be different-just-to-be-different? No…
Perhaps it was a personal preference? No--It never occurred to me…
Did I just fall into it by nature? Definitely not by nature…
Did I have a natural aversion to lust making it easy to be pure? I was thinking of one woman’s infringing conversation about my singleness suggesting that I lived in a state of aggravated, unsatisfied sensual desire. “It must be so hard for you to stay pure.” I couldn’t believe it. This was a Christian! Waiting on the Lord’s best, He doesn’t leave you struggling. God’s ways fill you up and fully satisfy even the healthy (though frequently perverted) human elements He created to be holy and set apart for His chosen union.
Was it because I just happened to be shrouded and sheltered from bad people through my childhood? My parents did protect me, but regardless, there have been plenty of “bad people” lurking in the shadows.
Is it because I haven’t tasted of something “forbidden” that would change my whole outlook if I but only had a bite of the fruit? There is no shame in protection and non-participation of biting into forbidden fruits! PRAISE the LORD—I have been guided well by Christian parents. Praise the Lord that He is my Savior that lives in me and is sanctifying not only me, but all who will profess and believe in Him—no matter what sins committed in the past life. Praise the Lord that He has instructed all that want to know that sin should not be tasted and sought out—it WILL destroy us.
I have encountered many different adults in my life that have suggested by words and gestures that only by experiencing a bit of the “dirty side” of humanity can you achieve being “just a little bit wiser” and “more intellectually fulfilled” in the human race. I think about a fundraiser for charities that I declined attending for a “good cause.” I was urged to reconsider and realize this would be a good opportunity for me to “grow.” Later I found out, the series of fundraising dance routines included a team that performed a toned down “strip tease.” There was no denying there was no need to “grow” for this. The Bible is very cut and dry on honoring the Lord with what we allow our eyes to see, our minds to think on, our ears to hear. We don’t need to compromise for a “good cause” because the money earned will do a lot of good. God can provide money in other ways through purer channels. And growth wise, we don’t have to experience the heat of the sin—or just be a sideline observer—to determine a counterfeit to what is truly wise and superior.
The thing about being a Christian it’s not just about having all the “I”s dotted and the “t”s crossed. It’s not just about looking the part when folks are looking your way. It’s about being committed—when people aren’t looking—everyday—to a living Savior and having an eternal perspective in a dying, crumbling, degenerate world. That sounds almost depressing—yet, in contrast—it is a living hope.
There is a REASON for the hope that is mine! There is a REASON that Christians can be a light and even stand alone. We offer, nothing in ourselves, but Jesus Christ in a living, applicable witness. The more I live, the more I am convinced that following the Lord is the most hopeful, the most rewarding and the only way to live. Can I do it perfectly? Not in my own strength—not in the least.
To paraphrase the words of a visiting pastor at church, “We might put our sword down as Christians. But you know what? In Christ, we don’t have to live with our sword down. He enables us to pick it back up and keep going.”
By choosing the ways of Christ—they hurt or damage no one. Christ’s ways can make people uncomfortable, convict their consciences and make them angry wanting to lash out and perhaps even hurt us. Yet, Christ’s ways, in themselves, only tend to life and peace. Following Christ entails sacrifice and dying to oneself but such self-giving is life giving.
I would tell anyone that was honestly wanting to know—that being a Christian is a daily renewal. Yes, I became a Christian at an early age. I didn’t start out with a big list of habits to overcome. But, like anyone else, I’ve had to allow Christ to daily work on me. Profanity may not be in my vocabulary, but the heart still requires Christ’s redemption to purify thoughts that stem from selfishness, anger, pride. No, I may not have the vices or habits that are blatantly on the “blacklist”, yet, there’s a higher calling that constantly points out areas of growth needed to overcome attitudes that, if left to fester, the worst sins all stem from.
Christianity does not come by nature to any of us. But we were made with a void that only Christ Jesus can fill. And, the more a righteous lifestyle is cultivated, the stronger, healthier and more vibrant we do grow! We learn from experiences in a journey moving forward.
So why did I become a Christian? The reasons are many. The benefits are innumerable. It has been the best decision. The bi-product of Salvation in Jesus Christ is standing forgiven, provided with Sovereign help to overcome, given an abundant provision of joy (even in tough situations) and a lifestyle that tends to life right now. And my hope lasts to after death, when I’ll be with Him eternally in a perfect, sinless world.
For young people especially, I would encourage you to be willing to stand alone, if necessary. Make the commitment—be the valiant disciplined. It is possible. It is attainable. It’s a daily walk that requires you to trust the Lord, rely on Him for strength, and to be renewed in His mindset. Just do it. And as you do—you’ll find that a cultivated crop of a righteous lifestyle gives the best return. May God keep us very faithful and growing, ever deeply rooted, in Him.
Today is my King's birthday.
He is older than time, but today marks the two thousand and fourteenth year since his birth. When He was born, a giant star lit the entire sky with the brightness of a second sun. Angels sang, shepherds worshipped, his virgin mother held him close, wise men brought gifts of value and the King of Kings slept in the hay.
Tonight, there is no star. I hear no angels. I see no shepherds. Mary is long gone. And I can offer Him nothing more than I already have: myself, a living sacrifice.
But tonight, the King does not sleep. My resurrected King reigns today in the glory of His majesty; He is the Alpha and Omega, the Creator of the world, Lord and Saviour, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He governs heaven and earth, He is mightier than mighty, stronger than the definition of strength. As I worked in the sunset, He filled my mind, Christmas carols rising around me as I ran the bodybrush briskly down my chestnut colt's sleek golden coat.
I always find Christmas a little sad. That innocent Babe in the manger was destined to live a cruelly short life, to die a horrible death, the hands that healed nations punctured by nails, the lips that spoke truth and love to cry in desperation, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 22:37) Of course, this Babe would rise again and reign forever. But I can't help but grieve a little knowing what my beloved Friend had to go through for my sins. I grieve, too, for Mary; Mary who sang her song to glorify the Lord that night, perhaps not knowing that in thirty-three years she would sob at the feet of the cross upon which her baby was slowly dying. As Simeon said to her, “A sword shall pierce through thy own soul also.” (Luke 2:35)
I am joyful, yes. Thankful, beyond so. But always a little sad. And my thoughts were with Him, rejoicing and thanking and praising and apologising all at once. I finished grooming the colt, untied him and turned him loose. The last rays of the setting sun had turned the world to honey as I set to work scrubbing out the feed bins and convincing the ageing donkey to move from his feeding pen back to his paddock. The donkey, like all donkeys, bears a cross on his back. Maybe it's just legend that donkeys have crosses ever since a little donkey colt that bore the King, or maybe He laid it there when He first made donkeys, marking His humble mount since creation.
My humble, beloved King. I ride a thoroughbred; bright as a sword's blade, aflame with his power, able to leap as high as I am tall and run like a winter gale. But my Lord rode a humble little donkey that had never been trained, a donkey colt no more than ten or eleven hands high, dusty with the desert sand. Lord, how You bless me more than You blessed Yourself.
“O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore him,” I sang badly, tunelessly. I never sing when people are around, but I think Jesus appreciates the effort, even if He does so with earplugs. “O come let us adore Hi-im, Christ the – Oh, look!”
As I turned, I saw it. The chestnut colt, inviting the thoroughbred to play.
The colt is only fifteen months old, but he's had a rough start. He spent most of his life in a little paddock, and – worse – some of it cooped up on stall rest for an injury, going stir-crazy with nothing to do and nowhere to move until eventually he just died a little inside. The flame inside every colt stilled, until his eyes were full of fear instead of fire. Two months ago, when I got him, the colt didn't know how to be a horse. He didn't know what he was. He couldn't function in a group; while the other horses grazed, he would stand in a corner of the pasture, nibbling hay instead.
Now, my socially impaired colt has made friends and ventured further, but something has still been missing. The colt had no idea of how to play. Where his peers were on their hindlegs sparring joyously in boisterous play-fights with their friends, he would just stand and eat hay. Even the older thoroughbred gelding would dance and strike at him, trying to get him to play, but the colt would just trot out of reach and stand watching. It was the one thing he needed that I couldn't give him; I fed him as best as I could, and gave him the space and company he needed, but without the free exercise of playtime in a group, the colt's legs would never grow up properly, would never recover from the injury he had suffered a few months ago. There was nothing more I could do. It was up to God and the thoroughbred to teach the colt to play.
It was unusual to see the colt even walking briskly, which was why I was so excited to see him trot right up to the thoroughbred. But I was still more astonished by what I saw next. Tossing his gentle head, the colt stuck out his nose and nipped the thoroughbred right alongside the cheek. Snorting, the thoroughbred returned the nip, slightly harder. I held my breath, sure the colt would flee. But he didn't. He squealed, struck out with a foreleg and nipped the thoroughbred's neck. The thoroughbred, delighted, nipped back and the colt reared briefly, clumsily striking out with his forelegs in an attempt at the usual play-fighting gesture.
“Oh, Jesus, Sir!” I nearly sobbed. “He wants to play. Exavior wants to play.”
The play session only lasted for a few more seconds before the thoroughbred wandered off and the colt began to contentedly graze beside him. But it was a start. My broken colt had finally learned to play, and I knew exactly Who was behind this discovery.
It was the most perfect Christmas gift. A little gift, perhaps. But it lit up my world.
I turned into the sunset, smiled and said, “Thank You, Sir.”
Peace on earth, and goodwill to all men.
7 Reasons We Can Be Thankful!
Thankfulness is a true mark of Christianity. It is an outpouring from the heart of rejoicing in God’s provision.
The born-again Christian has every reason to be thankful. Here’s just a few explanations why:
- Our lives are enriched with purpose. Christ’s own life was given as a ransom to redeem us from sin. And God’s provision didn’t stop there! He gave us Salvation for free. We could never earn or pay the price of such a gift (Eph. 2:8-9). Every day, He is working in our behalf to unfurl His specific, individual plan for each of our lives (Eph. 2:10). God made us to bring Him glory (Is. 43:7)! In Jesus Christ, we each have a reason for living, a hope for tomorrow and a joy for today.
- Our lives are enriched with gifts and benefits. God bountifully provides for all our needs (Philippians 4:19). Jesus is our Great Shepherd, carefully preparing a place for us, tending to our needs (Jn. 10:14). Every day He is leading us in His pathways whether through valleys or green pastures (Ps. 23). He takes delight in blessing us (Ps. 149:4)!
- We have freedom! Through trusting and obeying the Lord and His Word, as Christians we find God’s righteous lifestyle to be one of true liberation. His ways guard us from evil—freeing us! Through our willingness to live according to His Word, It positions us to receive blessings of genuine worth. When living like God wants, we have freedom (Ro. 8:1-11)!
- Our lives and souls are made like new! Regardless of present sorrows or past sins and/or tragedies, Christ has overcome them all. He took the burden of our sins and the agony of our sorrows; they were nailed to the cross (1 Cor. 15:3-5; 57). Christ is the Great Physician that heals the broken hearted (Ps. 147:3). He renews our strength that we might soar as eagles (Is. 40:31)! He puts a new song in our mouths that we might be like a chosen generation showing forth the praises of Him (Ps. 40; 1 Peter 2:9). Christ’s blood cleanses us from all our guilty stains (Re. 1:5)!
- We may know His truth and live like Christ today. The Lord has provided us the Holy Spirit to instruct our hearts (Jn. 14:26). When we accept Christ, the Spirit of the Lord renews our thinking in the mindset of Christ so we can value what God values (Eph.4:22-24). By having God’s view, we have an eternal, heavenly perspective. Prayer is our privilege to communicate with God Almighty. We can humbly come before the Throne of grace and make our requests known to Him (Ph. 4:6; He. 4:16).
- We are not alone. As one of God’s children, we are never alone! We belong to God’s family (Ps. 89:26). We are a chosen generation, joint heirs together with Christ (Ro. 8:17; 1 Pe. 2:9).
- We have a future and a hope! As Christians, today we have reason to be joyful despite the reality of living in a fallen world. Still, with our eyes fixed on Jesus, even the sufferings (or just the crumbling!) of this present time are not to be compared with the Glory of what is to come (Ro. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17). Jesus Christ has gone to prepare a place in Our Father’s House—just for us (Jn. 14:2). We will one day be with Him forever, feasting at His table. What a day that will be.
It takes being with Christ—in our hearts, souls and minds— to get the most out of living life. We don’t have to wait to be thankful. It doesn't take a special "setting". We can be thankful everyday. Every Christian is guaranteed all the best things in life that have eternal value. When we have God’s perspective, we can say with genuine thanksgiving
“Blessed be the Lord God…
Who only does wondrous things!
And blessed be His glorious name forever!
And let the whole earth be filled with His glory.
Amen and Amen.” Ps. 72:18-19