Hope or No Hope – Part 4

(Click here to search for all the posts in this series…)

(Lam 3:25) – “… I will call to mind and therefore have hope”. (NKJV)

  • IF a certain condition is met THEN
  • Something specified occurs ELSE
  • The other specified thing occurs.

I’m not trying to come up with some new way to interpret Scripture, it’s just an easy way to remember and explain some truths about our Christian walk.

Hope or No Hope

  • IF we focus on the Lord THEN
  • We can have hope ELSE
  • We are hopeless.

People ask us: How do we do this cancer thing with our daughter? How do we keep going? How can we be joyful, thankful, content and happy living the “life of cancer” month after month? People ask this on a daily basis.

Answer: the same way YOU can keep going. The same way YOU can be joyful, thankful, content and happy day after day no matter what life throws at you.

The same way that guy I just saw on TV keeps going every day. He fell asleep driving, hit a truck head-on, destroyed his spleen and liver, broke all his ribs and had to have his leg cut off. When they cut him open to operate after the wreck, they found out he had liver cancer too. How’s that for a “bad deal” in life?

How do you keep going? How do you keep going with joy, hope and thankfulness? The answer is the same whether you’re a parent of a child with Leukemia, a guy with one leg and cancer, a cheated-on spouse, an unfairly fired employee, or just someone dealing with the typical life struggles that conspire to rob us of joy and contentment.

The answer is the same for the couple about to lose their house to foreclosure, or the parents who are finding out how hard parenting really is. The answer is the same for healthy, active folks who don’t feel loved or at peace… or the older couple with seemingly-never-ending health problems.

The answer is the same for Americans who take for granted unparalleled personal freedom and an unprecedented level of affluent lifestyle, or the multitudes of people across the globe who are hungry, poor, cold, imprisoned for their faith or beliefs, persecuted and largely ignored by the world. The answer is the same…

The answer to “how do you keep going?” and “how do you have joy and hope?” is the same for every single person in ANY situation, and here it is, my favorite passage, Lamentations 3: 20-25:

  • I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
  • Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
  • Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
  • They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
  • I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
  • The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

Notice that the Bible does not ignore the “negative” realities of life, or pretend that it should never be talked about or acknowledged. King David, the only person ever labeled “a man after God’s own heart” penned dozens of Psalms full of lament, struggle and pouring his heart out about life’s hardships. David would not be very popular in much of our modern church or culture. But you know what friends… the honest admission and lament of heartache in the Psalms has spoken deeply to and soothed the heart of legions of hurting souls throughout history.

Acknowledging Is Not the Same As Being Consumed

Acknowledging the hard realities of the human experience is not the same as being consumed by them, or having a “negative” outlook. We are to be positive people who also see the blessings (positive) that come when we depend on God during the “negative”. We remember (accept, acknowledge) there are frequent times in life when our “soul is downcast” but that the proper response is:

“… I will call to mind and therefore have hope”… what?

  • I will call to mind that God’s great love is NEVER consumed; it never ends; there is always more
  • I will call to mind that God’s compassions NEVER fail; His compassions always WIN; in other words, if we avail ourselves of God’s compassion, it is ALWAYS enough to overcome our sorrows no matter what they are
  • I will call to mind that God’s love and compassion is NEW every morning…

Why does God emphasize “every morning”? Does His compassion wear out by the end of the day and then overnight God gets back in gear and puts out a fresh batch when the sun comes up?

“New every morning” is a point of reference for us. We all live day by day. The sun rises on every person, every day, in every situation. It is a guidepost, a marker, a timestamp that we can all relate to, count on and understand.

So God uses that inescapable reality to give us a common ground that leaves none of us being able to say “I didn’t understand, I wasn’t aware…” We all understand that the sun rises every day. We all understand that morning comes each day no matter WHAT WE ARE STRUGGLING WITH.

Every morning, for every person, God’s love, compassion and mercies are “new” and available. Not “new” in the sense that they got “old” or “worn” the day before but “new” in the sense they are waiting for us, without fail, with the dawn of each new day. They are “new” in that they are totally sufficient for whatever that day holds for us, even when our “soul is downcast”… in fact, I would say ESPECIALLY when our soul is downcast.

When is God’s compassion sweetest? When life is great or hard? When does God’s mercy seem most real? On the mountain top, or in the valley? When is His love feel the greatest? When we already feel loved by others, or when we feel lonely and abandoned by the world? Mercy, love and compassion are particularly precious when we feel “downcast”.

I Will Call To Mind And Say To Myself

God’s mercy, love and compassion is there no matter what we do, even if we ignore it. But God calls us to action if we want to benefit from it. We have to get our mind right. We have to deliberately focus on this Truth. We have to “call to mind” the Word of God and tell ourselves:

“God is enough. God is my hope. I will wait on God.”

Wait on God? The meaning here is that we will look to God, focus on God, depend on God, keep our eyes on God. It doesn’t mean He will delay His love (“wait”); it is the picture of us putting our full attention on God. The Lord God is GOOD to those who seek Him. Isn’t that a marvelous truth? Do you truly believe it? If yes, are you daily seeking Him?

I like to summarize things for easy recall, so let me wrap up with this…

Are you downcast? Is life hard? How can you be joyful, hopeful, content and loved despite any hardship?

  • Focus your mind on God and tell yourself the Truth
  • God’s great love means your troubles will not consume you
  • God’s compassion NEVER fails us
  • God’s love and mercy is waiting for you every morning, every day, every time
  • The Lord is ENOUGH for ANYTHING you are going through
  • God is good to everyone who puts their hope in Him
  • God is good to everyone who seeks Him
  • Because of all these things you can say…

“Therefore I have hope”.

If you have hope, then you can keep going. No matter how hard life is, no matter what dark valley your journey has you in, you can keep going because you have hope.

That is my answer to “how do you keep going?” and it can be your answer too.

Are you encouraged by this message? Do you know someone today who is struggling and could use some hope? Do you know anyone who needs mercy, compassion and love? You have an answer for them now.

Tell your friends, Put this post on your blog. Send it out to your email list Copy and paste the whole thing. I don’t care about getting credit for the writing. I care about helping people.

What are you hurting about today? Do you need hope? Remember this logical statement:

  • IF we focus on the Lord THEN
  • We can have hope ELSE
  • We are hopeless.
  • Lord God, help us to study Your Word in spirit and truth. Help us to understand it, apply it and then tell others what we have learned. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
    1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
    2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
    3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?

    (seriesid:55)


    Crowns or Death – Part 3

    (Click here to search for all the posts in this series…)

    (James 1:12) – Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (NKJV)

    • IF a certain condition is met THEN
    • Something specified occurs ELSE
    • The other specified thing occurs.

    I’m not trying to come up with some new way to interpret Scripture, it’s just an easy way to remember and explain some truths about our Christian walk.

    Crowns or Death

    • IF we endure temptation THEN
    • We get a crown of life ELSE
    • We get death.

    That’s it. Logical. Absolute. If this, then that or else. It’s helpful to remember this as we walk through Christianity. Let’s take a look:

    • 12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

      IF…

      We endure temptation, God approves and we get a crown of Life. You can bank on it, God promises it to all who love Him. God gives us all we need to endure tempation and promises that we will never have anything to endure that is TOO MUCH for us to endure. I’m really thinking hard for something deep and pithy to say here, but it’s pretty simple: endure temptation (don’t give in to it)…

      THEN…

      You’ll be approved (commended by God), you’ll get a crown of Life (eternal reward of life in heaven with God) and it’s guaranteed because God promised it.

      ELSE…
    • 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

      Don’t endure temptation, give in to it, allow your desires and lust to entice you, and it will conceive sin… the sin will grow up, and death will follow.

      Death in relationships, death in peace, death in fellowship, death in joy. Notice the stages: conception (giving place to the tempation; acting on it), birth (the sin is manifested), growth (it infects, spreads, influences, grows) and finally death (consequences, destruction, shame, waste, loss).

    IF we do not give in to tempation THEN we get God’s approval and a crown of life ELSE we act on the temptation and we end up with death.

    Thinking in “If.. Then.. Else…” logical progression helps us to remember Bible passages, truths and principles. It is not a method of Bible interpretation, it is a memory and recall technique that helps us cement things in our mind so we can teach them and apply them.

    Finding the “If… Then… Else…” in passages also helps us really dig into Scripture and follow the message. Try it. Look for the pattern in Scripture, it’s everywhere.

    Lord God, help us to study Your Word in spirit and truth. Help us to understand it, apply it and then tell others what we have learned. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
    1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
    2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
    3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?

    (seriesid:55)


    If… Then… Else: Slaves – Part 2

    (Click here to search for all the posts in this series…)

    (Romans 6:1) – 1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? (NKJV)

    • IF a certain condition is met THEN
    • Something specified occurs ELSE
    • The other specified thing occurs.

    I’m not trying to come up with some new way to interpret Scripture, it’s just an easy way to remember and explain some truths about our Christian walk.

    We Are All Slaves

    • IF we are saved THEN
    • We are slaves to righteousness ELSE
    • We are slaves to sin.

    That’s it. Logical. Absolute. If this, then that or else. It’s helpful to remember this as we walk through Christianity.

    Romans 6

    • 1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2B y no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

      We are not to go on sinning. We don’t have to. We are no longer slaves to sin. STOP sinning! What this reveals is that we sin by choice because we are NOT slaves anymore. We were saved to NEW life even though we choose to indulge in the OLD life because it pleases our flesh. We don’t have to, we do, by choice. We are slave to righteousness now, not sin.
    • 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

      We WILL be united with Christ. Our old self is DEAD, GONE… we don’t have to go visit him anymore. We were buried with Christ that the body of sin MIGHT BE DONE AWAY with. God made it possible to do away with sin, so what are you waiting for? Do away with it! We are no longer slaves, we are FREED from sin, if want to be free… truth is, we don’t always want to be because it pleases our flesh.

    • 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

      We died with Christ, now we get to live with Christ. Death no longer reigns because Jesus conquered it. Christ died once, now lives eternal. It is through this power and reality that we are no longer slaves to sin.

    • 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

      Count yourselves dead to sin. COUNT yourself… that means CONSIDER YOURSELF, BELIEVE yourself, see yourself, act as if…. you are dead to sin. If sin reigns in you it’s because you are resurrecting it and obeying it. Don’t make your body available for wickedness, you are no longer slave to it. Sin is NOT your master anymore. Why? Because of God’s grace.

    • 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

      Sounds great huh? Let’s SIN!!! We are under grace now, so let’s enjoy some sin! Lord forbid. Don’t abuse God’s grace. You don’t have to be a slave to sin, but you can offer yourself willingly as a slave. You CHOOSE to be a slave to sin now. You don’t have to. It’s important for you to understand that and accept it. No excuses… there’s no such thing as “I couldn’t help myself”… You have been set free from sin. Act like it.

    • 19 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

      Now Paul hits us where it hurts: we are WEAK in the flesh. That is why sin is still an issue. We offer ourselves to impurity but we don’t have to. We should now offer ourselves to righteousness. What good does it do to still play with sin? NONE! It results in death… death in relationships, death in fellowship, death in testimony.

    Are you tired of sin? Offer yourself to righteousness and reap holiness and eternal life. The paycheck for sin is death… but God has freed us from sin and given us the gift of eternal life.

    If you are saved… then you are a slave to righteousness…. else you are a slave to sin.

    Lord God, help us to study Your Word in spirit and truth. Help us to understand it, apply it and then tell others what we have learned. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
    1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
    2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
    3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?

    (seriesid:55)


    Programming the Christian Life – Part 1

    (Click here to search for all the posts in this series…)

    (2 Timothy 2:15) – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (NKJV)

    As a programmer and web developer, I often see parallels from the computer world in Scripture. Odd I know, but that just goes to show the depth of application that is singularly unique with the Bible. The Word of God is part of the interface between the windows of humanity and vista of God’s presence. It’s like a keyboard into the human operating system. The Bible is our flat sceen monitor displayed in high definition. God is a PC and Satan is a Mac.

    Okay, seriously hokey I know. I was trying to see how many computer terms I could throw in there to show you how witty I am. But it is still the truth… I often see analogies and parallels in technology that help me understand Scripture.

    Once such parallel has to do with a logical condition statement programmers use called: IF… THEN… ELSE…

    If-Then-Else in plain English goes something like this:

    • IF a certain condition is met THEN
    • Something specified occurs ELSE
    • The other specified thing occurs.

    For example, IF your breath stinks THEN brush your teeth ELSE do nothing. Or, IF it is raining outside THEN wear your rain coat ELSE wear your regular coat.

    Multiple conditions can be considered as well: IF it is raining outside THEN wear your rain coat ELSE IF it is not raining but cold THEN wear your regular coat ELSE do not wear a coat.

    See how it works? Conditions are met with results. This way of thinking helps us to clarify, really clarify, many things about Christianity that have otherwise been muddied by either compromise or poor teaching.

    For example, salvation is a logical equation: IF you have responded obediently to God’s Gospel invitation THEN you will be saved ELSE you will not be saved. It’s as logical and black and white as any programming condition despite the world’s attempt to deny both the logical and the absolute nature of that statement.

    This week, I’ll be looking at several of these example in more detail. WHY? Not to try and come up with novel approach to determining doctrine, but simply to give us a tool by which we can easily remember certain truths and principles. By examing some If-Then-Else examples about the Christian life, you’ll recall them readily, and be able to explain them to others more concisely.

    And, it will be fun. I’m going to reboot now, and I’ll log back on tomorrow.

    Lord God, help us to study Your Word in spirit and truth. Help us to understand it, apply it and then tell others what we have learned. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
    1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
    2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
    3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?

    (seriesid:55)