VIDEO No Longer Hopeless

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1

Think of the most hopeless situation you can imagine—being stranded, alone, in the middle of Antarctica, the most foreboding continent on earth. Antarctica is approximately 5.5 million square miles of ice, snow, and sub-zero temperatures. It is an island continent, surrounded by icy, gale-whipped oceans on all sides. What if, by some horrible circumstance, you were stranded there alone? Wouldn’t you call that hopeless?

It would not be as hopeless as the situation of someone living apart from God. At least in Antarctica you would be alive. Apart from God, Paul says, you are “dead in trespasses and sins. . . . Having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:1, 12). Sounds like being stranded in Antarctica, but worse. Being apart from God not only means no hope in this world but in the next, eternal world as well. Thankfully, we are not without hope: “But God, who is rich in mercy…made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Don’t be lost, without hope in this world or the next. Accept God’s gift of mercy and grace and new life in Christ.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Edward Mote


You Were Dead…but God – Ephesians 2:1-10 – Skip Heitzig

Planted in God

They will be like a tree planted by the water. Jeremiah 17:8

“The wind is tossing the lilacs.” With that opening line of her springtime poem “May,” poet Sara Teasdale captured a vision of lilac bushes waving in gusty breezes. But Teasdale was lamenting a lost love, and her poem soon turned sorrowful.

Our backyard lilacs also encountered a challenge. After having their most lush and beautiful season, they faced the axe of a hard-working lawn man who “trimmed” every bush, chopping them to stubs. I cried. Then, three years later—after barren branches, a bout of powdery mildew, and my faithless plan to dig them up—our long-suffering lilacs rebounded. They just needed time, and I simply needed to wait for what I couldn’t see.

The Bible tells of many people who waited by faith despite adversity. Noah waited for delayed rain. Caleb waited forty years to live in the promised land. Rebekah waited twenty years to conceive a child. Jacob waited seven years to marry Rachel. Simeon waited and waited to see the baby Jesus. Their patience was rewarded.

In contrast, those who look to humans “will be like a bush in the wastelands” (Jeremiah 17:6). Poet Teasdale ended her verse in such gloom. “I go a wintry way,” she concluded. But “blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,” rejoiced Jeremiah. “They will be like a tree planted by the water” (vv. 7–8).

The trusting stay planted in God—the One who walks with us through the joys and adversities of life.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What do you know about God that stirs your trust in Him? How will you plant your trust deeper in His steadying soil?

Heavenly Father, when my life feels barren or buffeted by stiff winds, please plant me deeper in Your steadying love.

God Is Present Even in Dark Times

The Lord is not absent during our times of trouble. His purpose is steadfast Genesis 39:1-23

The story of Joseph illustrates how God’s sovereign hand guides His children when they go through a season of darkness. Joseph was rejected by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused, and imprisoned. But in the midst of those terrible times, he experienced God’s favor.

Joseph didn’t comprehend the Lord’s intentions during those long years of slavery and imprisonment. After becoming second-in-command to Pharaoh, however, he recognized God’s purpose in allowing those lengthy struggles. Then Joseph testified to what he knew to be true: His brothers had meant to harm him, but God used all the hardship to accomplish a wonderful divine plan (Genesis 45:4-8Genesis 50:20).

This is a helpful story to remember when troubles hit. In dark times, we’re often tempted to feel neglected by God and may even become angry with Him for letting the situation persist so long. Though we, like Joseph, may have difficulty seeing beyond our present suffering, there is a bigger picture.

If you’re living in a season of hardship, have faith that God is using it for His glory and your eternal good. All your protests cannot thwart His purpose (Isaiah 14:27), so yield to His hand as He shapes you into His Son’s image. And remember that whether it’s apparent or not, our Father’s favor is with you.

The Necessary Light

“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” (Acts 26:18)

All human experience understands the relationship between darkness and light. Those who love wickedness crave the darkness to hide their deeds (John 3:19).

Jesus insisted that He is the “light of the world” (John 8:12). Now in His glorified state, the Lord Jesus—our King of kings and Lord of lords—is described as “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto” (1 Timothy 6:16). This is not a mere metaphor. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

It is certainly clear in the Scriptures that those who have not yet been twice born must come “to the light” before they can ever receive the gift of eternal life (John 3:20). Indeed, the very process of “coming” is empowered by the drawing power of the Godhead Himself (John 6:44). No one who is “dead in trespasses and sin” (Ephesians 2:1) is able to come out of darkness on their own into the light without the supernatural power of the “light” Himself.

Once we are rescued from the darkness by the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus and “birthed” from above by the power demonstrated in the resurrection of our Lord, we who are so redeemed become “children of light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5). Thus empowered, we are to “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7) and have no “fellowship…with darkness” (2 Corinthians 6:14). With the “armour of light” complete (Romans 13:12), we can openly let our “light so shine” that we become a “light of the world” (Matthew 5:16, 14). HMM III

Honoring the Holy Spirit

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.Revelation 2:29

There is a question that should be answered in every Christian church: Are we honoring the Holy Spirit of God? That is, are we allowing Him to do what He wants to do in our midst today?

More than once in the Revelation John mentions the seven-fold Spirit of God and His presence before the heavenly throne….Jesus did not begin His earthly ministry until at His water baptism the living Spirit of God had become all of those things to Him.

I have reason to suspect that many people are trying to give leadership in Christian churches today without ever having yielded to the wise and effective leading of the Holy Spirit. He truly is the Spirit of wisdom, understanding and counsel. He alone can bring the gracious presence of the living God into our lives and ministries. JIV047-048

[Jesus] has left to us the same power which He possessed. He has bequeathed to the Church the very Holy Spirit that lived and worked in Him. Let us accept this mighty gift. HS314

Our God Reigns

“My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus.John 18:36

The kingdom of God was the motif running through everything Jesus taught. However, I pick up many Christian books and magazines today and find that, with one or two exceptions, the kingdom of God is not mentioned. Yet Jesus made it the central note of His preaching and also His praying.

It is time now to ask ourselves: What exactly does Jesus mean when He uses the word “kingdom”? The word for kingdom (basileia in the Greek) means “rule” or “reign.” The kingdom of God, then, is the rule or reign of God, His sovereignty, for which we are to pray. Jesus spoke of the kingdom as being in the present as well as in the future. In Luke 17:21 He said, “The kingdom of God is among you.” Wherever there is a heart that is surrendered to the claims and demands of Jesus Christ, there the kingdom exists. But there is a day coming, says Jesus in Matthew 8:11, when both small and great will sit side by side in the kingdom and realize that in God’s order of things there are no favorites.

The Scripture tells us also that God has a kingdom that is established in the heavens (Heb 12:22-28), and the phrase from the Lord’s Prayer “Your kingdom come” is a petition for God to let that kingdom extend to every area of the universe where His rule is resisted. We are thus introduced to another great purpose of prayer—transporting to all parts of the universe, across the bridge of prayer, the power that overcomes all sin, all rebellion, and all evil.

Prayer

Father, what can I say? When I see that You have given me the privilege of helping You usher in Your kingdom through prayer, my heart is overwhelmed. What confidence You place in Your redeemed children. May we be worthy of it. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 93; 47:8; Ex 15:18; Mc 4:7; Rm 5:17

What does the psalmist conclude?

What is Paul’s expectation?

Abba, Father

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!”—Galatians 4:6

The word father conjures up different images for everyone. To some it brings the picture of love, laughter, respect, and acceptance. Unfortunately, others associate the term father with fear, rejection, and disappointment. That is why it is so important not to take your understanding of your heavenly Father from your experience. Take it from Scripture. You undoubtedly had an imperfect earthly father, perhaps even one who brought you harm. But, as in all of your Christian life, the key is not to understand the Bible based on your experience, but to understand your experience in light of the Bible. God is your model of a father in the truest sense of the word.

Your heavenly Father was willing to pay any price in order to save you (Rom. 8:32). Your heavenly Father is always ready to meet your needs (Luke 11:11–13). Your heavenly Father loves you so much that He is willing to discipline you to bring you to Christian maturity (Prov. 3:11–12; Heb. 12:5–10). Even when you rebel against Him and reject His love, your Father continues to do what is best for you (Rom. 5:8). He does not make His love for you conditional upon your love for Him. He loves you even when you are not loving Him (1 John 4:19). He has made you His heirs and reserves a home for you in heaven (Rom. 8:15–17).

This is what a father is like biblically. If this has not been your experience, it can be now. There is One who has adopted you and who wants to love you in a way you have never experienced. Take comfort and strength from Him—your heavenly Father.