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Hope Renewed - A Devotion

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Lamentations 3:21-24 (NLT)
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His Mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; His Mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

Hope is a decision that we make each and every day as a believer. It is the true intention of one’s mind, soul and body to look beyond the problems and troubles of this world into the future and eternity. Hope holds on to that vision releasing expectation in today knowing the One who holds the future. It sounds so cliché. Faith is confidence that what we hope for is real. Hope is called an anchor for our soul but honestly I didn’t see it or feel it until now. (Hebrews 6:19) The faithful love of God never ends. It is my hope for a renewed life and restoration of all that has been lost. The last few years of our life have certainly upped the ante of faith to the point that everything we want, need and desire is based on our hope in God through Jesus Christ. How can that be? How can you trust a God who you cannot see? From my viewpoint, how could I not?

The word “lament” means to feel or express sorrow or regret. Salvation is nothing more than expression sorrow for our sin and exchanging it for God’s Grace. But if there is no validity to our faith in Christ we continue to lament but never experience the renewal of hope. Faith is required to hope. Many people will wake up today grumbling and complaining with dissatisfaction about their lot in life. Some will wake up still shell-shocked from the enemy’s last great assault of fear and terror on their life. But if for a moment, just a brief second one might turn their griping to the Lord and lament (or express sorrow and regret) to accept His New Mercy everything might change today. Purpose and meaning is discovered by hope in our life. We cannot have hope without faith. Believing God can do something is different from knowing that He will. Do you need to be renewed today? Is your faith barely hanging on by a thread? Grab a cup of coffee. Settle back in a comfortable chair. Let’s renew your hope today.

Luke 9:23-24 (NLT)
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

Our family was poolside the other day, just lounging around talking and relaxing. Our little dog was walking by and I called him to me. The poor little thing is terrified of water. He hates his bath. He looked me straight in the eye standing about six feet away and sat down. I continued to call him leaning over the edge so he could reach me. He laid down. His face told the story. He really wanted to obey and come to me as called but his fear of the water kept him just out of reach. Finally as I continued to coax him closer, he abruptly fell on his side, eyes wide open, feet sticking straight out to play dead. We all laughed as he laid there perfectly still not moving at all. I believe that fear causes the same reaction in us when the Lord is calling. We hear Him. We want to obey. But we just don’t trust that He will not take us somewhere we do not want to go or do something we are afraid to do. Renew means to “take up again”. We must take up our Cross and decide again today to accept His New Mercy living under His Provision of Grace and step out of comfort zone once again. Turning from our selfish ways to take up our cross and follow Jesus Christ is a daily occurrence. New mercy is provided daily because faith in God and hope are not random effort but daily provisions. When we decide each morning that He is our inheritance and everything we want, need and desire comes from the Lord, then it means we must take His New Mercy and apply it to our life so that faith will flourish and hope prosper. Life as we know it is not how God planned it. Sin introduced temptation because it worked. When the enemy offered an alternative to God’s Love we accepted it. Now he knew our weakness and uses it against each and every day. Thank you God for your mercy and grace that allows me to have hope and faith in spite of myself.

Hebrew 13:14-16 (NLT)
For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

This world is not our permanent home. We are not of this world, but pass through this world. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we must learn the mantra “there’s no place like home.” The enemy wants us to believe that this is all that there is and that because we fell short of God’s Glorious Standard of living that we must compromise. You do not have to compromise. We have been promised a place in the Kingdom of God, but it is up to us if we will claim it. Becoming a believer who lives in the realm of hope that allows you to see beyond this life into forever requires “allegiance” to Jesus Christ. As a citizen of the United States, I have certain right and responsibilities. I am loyal to my country and have certain protections as such. But if I became a traitor, I would be imprisoned and shut off from such freedoms. Sin separated us from the Kingdom of God. In order to become a citizen again, I must pledge my allegiance to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of my life. Such an oath is exemplified when we remember to do good, share His Love with others and live a life pleasing to God. Allegiance is loyalty. Are you loyal to Jesus Christ? Or is He just your go-to guy when things get tough? That friend you only call when you need something and then wonder why they never pick up? Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. His Grace, Mercy and Love are there for you always. Are you faithful to Him?

John 8:12-14 (NLT)
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.”
Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me.

Looking back over the last three years of our life, I only have vague recollections of what life was like before our son’s battle against cancer. I hate cancer. I loathe every single cell of it and the destruction it causes in the lives of so many people every day. I will fight this horrible disease for the rest of my life throwing lifelines of hope to however will grab hold to pull them out of the pit it creates in the lives of the fighters and their families. But I say this with complete conviction, I would never trade or give up the confident hope that I have discovered in this battle. I do not miss the unnecessary cares, burdens and worries that it has stripped from my life. I am thankful that my priorities have been completely reorganized. I am happy it opened the eyes of my spirit to stop looking at life with natural vision but supernatural purpose. The faith discovered by a broken heart is immeasurable. It is sad that so often it takes hardship, trials and problems to renew our life and commitment to Christ, but it does. We do not take the time to know Jesus Christ until He becomes our only hope. Shame on us who call ourselves Christians but spend no time in the Word. We have been given all power and authority in every situation as Children of God but remain helplessly tied to the principalities of darkness simply because we do not pursue the Light of His Love until our life is completely shrouded in doubt, desperation, depression or despair. It doesn’t have to be that way. His Mercies are new every morning whether we are pursuing His Love or not. Nothing can separate us from His Love but until we believe that enough to work on our relationship with God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit our faith remains weak and hope ineffective in our life. You do not have to walk in darkness. Faith is pursuit of the Light of His Love. Hope allows us to see what lies ahead. The validity of Jesus Christ, His Word and His Way are found when we decide to walk in the light leaving darkness behind. This renews our life as we see His Purpose and Plan of our life revealed which always includes a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) He only requires that we seek Him wholeheartedly! (Jeremiah 29-13)

Colossians 3:10 (NLT)
Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

It is not enough just to know the Lord, we must be like Him. Trouble is we want God’s Best our way so we walk the line of faithfulness, holiness and step in and out of righteousness all the while entertaining the world. We want His Will but have not time for His Way. People have convoluted the Gospel by making grace about what they want rather than trying to figure out what God wants. No one likes to be taken advantage of. It’s like loaning someone a large sum of money that they never pay back and then looking at the pictures of the fabulous vacation they take six months later with an unexpected windfall. You sacrificed but they did not appreciate or honor it by paying you back. Recently a friend was in a bad situation that required the care of a loved one. Over the course of several month’s while this person was ailing a close relative cared for them. Everyone doted over how loving, caring and sacrificial the caregiver was. When the woman was well-enough to care for herself, she began to organize her affairs only to discover that her “caregiver” was a thief in disguise who stole a large sum of money from her. When she confronted the thief they indicated that on their minimum wage salary, they could not pay her back and therefore would not even try. The woman loved her caregiver as it was a member of her family. Who would ever think of taking advantage of a person in her condition? The saddest part is she would have given this person the money they needed if they had only asked. What does this story have to do with you and me? Jesus Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. We call on Him to be the Lord and Savior of our life with no intention of ever becoming like Him crying out imperfection as an excuse to trample His Wonderful Grace and Love. Shame on us. We have been given the opportunity to become a new creation and put on a new nature – it’s time to live our part of the bargain (or covenant) that we have made with God through Jesus Christ. To be renewed, we must learn to know the Character of Christ and strive to be like Him. No more excuses they were all washed away in His Grace. You have everything you need to live a life of faith and renew your hope in Him. Now is the time to do it.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT)
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can 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.

God has given us His Spirit through Jesus Christ so that we can be renewed day by day. The Spirit is the pneumatic breath of God in our body that keeps our faith alive. Our bodies are dying. As we prepared his living will, I was going over the provisions of an advanced directive with our son. Now to know my son, he is very literal. He is a scientific-mathematical thinker who has already decided that he is going to live no matter what the doctors or statistics say because he believes in God and has given his young life to Christ. He is a yes or no guy who does not waver once he makes up his mind. We have had a great deal of difficulty getting this done because he believes that it is useless. Nevertheless, as the days fade between now and his transplant, I insisted that we complete it. When he came to the question regarding the continuation of hydration and nutrition in the event that it only prolonged death – he laughed out loud. Chuckling through his masked face he said, “Isn’t that what we are already doing?” That kid. Our bodies are dying from the day that we are born. We can fight as hard as we want and do all the right things and we will still die one day. Our spirit lives forever.

The present troubles are small when compared to the glory they produce when our faith in God and confident hope in Christ are renewed. ”Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins. For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness. Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next.” (Isaiah 38:16-19) No one wants to go through hard times, experience heartbreak or any other “present trouble” but for those who have and renewed hope it has been worth it all. It seems that every time I share this message of hope with someone else, the Lord somehow renews mine. Today will be no different. In the midst of last minute preparations for an extended stay with our son, I want to remind you that God is always good. What you are experience is not pointless for there is purpose in everything you endure when it comes to faith in God that will not only renew your hope in Him but produce His Glory! Do not give up. You have way too much to lose if you throw in the towel and choose to let nature take its course. Nature leads to death but confident hope always leads to life. Fix your eyes by faith on the unseen reality of confident hope. Accept His New Mercy each day. Be a respecter of His Grace and do not take it for granted. You are not called to merely survive but thrive. If you are discouraged, discontent or defeated today, everything is subject to change so let God transform you from the inside out. If you are living a mediocre or mundane life, it doesn’t have to be that way if you will choose to trust Him just a little more. Start with the basics today – He will do more than you can think or ask if you just walk by faith not by sight. Each walk begins with one step! Take it!

I Peter 3:13-15 (NLT)
Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.

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