Thursday, February 25, 2016

You are never without hope!


2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, (Ephesians 2:1-4 ESV)

The second chapter of Ephesians starts off by describing the hopelessness of mankind before Christ. None of us could truly know what it was like to live B.C. (as in the point in time, not time of our conversion). Thankfully, verse 4 starts out with “BUT GOD…”! 

It doesn’t matter how bad your life or your circumstances are: there is always hope! Just think about all the in-Christ-realities and all the promises of God. Think about who you are in Christ. How can you not have hope with these truths in mind? Do you need a job or healing? Maybe you’re lonely or in need of some companionship? Maybe you have been abused, misused or taken advantage of, and you feel there is no hope for a better tomorrow? Maybe your marriage feels like it is cold and dying? Are you facing financial ruin? Maybe you’ve given up on receiving that healing after trusting God for it for so long and seeing no results? It doesn’t matter how bad the situation is: with Jesus there is always hope.

WITH JESUS THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE!
There may be a few storms on your horizon. The clouds may look thick and dark, and that is why you should never forget this: “But God”… Paul writes about mankind’s hopelessness, but he doesn’t leave it there. He jumps into the glorious solution by saying, “but God”! 

Jesus Himself said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26 ESV)
There is always hope!

What situations are you currently facing that are making you feel hopeless? No matter how insignificant they may seem you can cast your cares upon the Lord for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Complete the following sentence, personalizing it to your situation, and say it out loud:

“This seems hopeless: ______________________ BUT WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE! I’M NEVER WITHOUT JESUS; THEREFORE I’M NEVER WITHOUT HOPE!

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the intense love which He bestowed on us” (Ephesians 2:4 WNT)
Isn’t that a beautiful description of God’s love for us? “Because of His intense love”… The Mirror Bible puts it like this (brackets mine):“None of this (our ‘unloveliness’ and sin) could distract from the extravagant love of God; He continued to love us with the exact same intensity.”

The word ‘intense’ means ‘extreme’. God loves you much more than is necessary! The Word ‘extravagant’ means ‘lavish’ or ‘over the top’. This is exactly how our Father loves us! His love for you goes beyond any expectation and seems completely over the top. You could never fully know how much your Father loves you! “…His love was not cautious but extravagant…” (Ephesians 5:1, The Message)

God showed us how He loves us by sending Jesus to rescue us from sin and the kingdom of darkness (1 John 3:16). Romans 8:32 (TLB) says, "Since he did not spare even his own Son for us but gave him up for us all, won’t he also surely give us everything else?" God's great love for you has provided for any need you could ever have. Focus on God's love for you and see His provision for your seemingly hopeless situation. With Christ in your life you are never without hope!

This is an exert from my devotional book, "I Am." To obtain a copy of the book please feel free to contact me at shaynebh@gmail.com 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

GOD IS YOUR PROVIDER - A discipleship lesson from "ROOTED".

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
Matthew 6:19-20 ESV

Many people desire more money, so that they can buy more stuff. It’s not wrong to have stuff, but most times the problem is that the stuff has us! We need to remember that all the stuff in the world can burn, and we cannot take it with us to Heaven. We should rather focus our efforts on “laying up for ourselves treasure in Heaven” where we can enjoy it for eternity.  This is referring to using money to help reach people, who will never cease to exist. We should use our resources to help people make the decision to receive Jesus (an eternal decision).

"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Matthew 6:24 ESV

Jesus is showing us that while we can have God and money, we cannot serve both. Money is one of the greatest contenders for our hearts, and it has the potential to lead us astray if we value it more than we value God in our lives.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:21 ESV

Your heart follows your treasure. If you invest your treasure (or money) into a business, your heart will be there. You’ll regularly be wondering if your investment is doing well and if it’s benefiting you. Your heart and ultimately your focus, follows where you put your treasure. This shows us that we can direct our heart by directing our treasure. If you want your heart to be concerned with God’s kingdom, then you need to sow your treasure into the kingdom.

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious (worry) about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
Matthew 6:25 ESV (Brackets mine)

One of our greatest desires and needs as human beings is the desire for physical provision. Many Christians fear that they won’t have enough money to look after themselves and their loved ones! God understands that we feel this way. Here, Jesus is encouraging us to keep things in perspective and value what is truly valuable. He’s telling us that we do not need to worry about our needs being met; we should focus on the more important things in life. Because God is our Father and He loves us, He is the one who takes responsibility for looking after our needs.

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
Matthew 6:26 ESV

Many Christians fear that if they don’t “sow” – give enough money to God, or the church – they cannot rely on God to look after them and provide for them. But this Scripture teaches us something completely different. Jesus explains that the birds don’t have to sow in order to have their needs met. Birds don’t save for ‘a rainy day’ so that when they suddenly need money, they can look after themselves. And yet “YOUR heavenly Father feeds them.”  Then Jesus asks, “Are you not of more value than they?” The answer is yes. You are more valuable to God than every bird on the face of the earth. God created the birds - He is their Creator – and He looks after them perfectly. But God is not only your creator - Jesus calls God your Father. If your Father looks after the birds, which are of much lesser value to Him than you are, don’t you think He’ll look after you? Of course He will! We see in this scripture that God’s provision and care for you is completely unconditional. Even if you never give a cent towards His kingdom, He still wants to care for you and provide for you. When we are convinced of our Father’s love for us, our faith will work (Galatians 5:6) and it will be easy for us to receive provision from Him.

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
Matthew 6:27 ESV

Too many believers worry about their lives (when Jesus told us not to). Worry has never helped to lengthen or improve anyone’s life! The only reason we worry is either because we don’t know God’s Word and His promises, or we don’t truly believe them.

“And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
Matthew 6:28-30 ESV

If you’re worried about clothing then Jesus says your faith is really little. If God clothes the fields, won’t He “much more” clothe you, His child?

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles (or unbelievers) seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”
Matthew 6:31-32 ESV (Brackets mine)

Again, Jesus tells us not to worry about provision. Unbelievers run after trying to meet their needs. The world is overly concerned with accumulating many things, and what they have is never enough to satisfy their desire for more. Worrying about having enough, and always chasing after more, can draw and use all your energy – leaving you with no strength for the work to which God has called you. But your Father knows your needs and He wants you to look to Him and trust Him.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Matthew 6:33 ESV


Keep your perspective, priorities and values on the right things. Your primary concern shouldn’t be trying to meet your needs; after all, God (your Father) is your provider. You shouldn’t be consumed with accumulating stuff that can be destroyed. Adjust your focus and start to see with an eternal perspective.  When we keep first things first, everything is added unto us. When we seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness (when we make His priorities our priorities), all the things we need are added to us. 

This is a lesson from the discipleship manual I put together called, "ROOTED". It contains 21 lessons (plus 1 bonus study) with questions and answers to help you dig deeper and get the most out of the lesson. It's a great tool for personal use or group study. To obtain a copy please contact me at shaynebh@gmail.com.