Tag Archives: hope

Winning Inner Battles

God does this thing with me where He will wake me up in the middle of the night and want me to pray for certain people. On one occasion, God kept waking me up to pray for this individual. Early the next morning, God said, “Send them a text.” He had a very specific message for me to send. I answered back, “Seriously? It’s weird to text that to a person I barely know.” God kept at it until finally I sent the text. A few minutes later, I got a long text back from that person that confirmed what God was speaking to me.

They had been fighting a hidden battle on the inside, but on the outside they were pretending that everything was fine. The enemy lies to us and tells us to fight our battles that way because he knows that when we agree in prayer with others, God multiplies our strength exponentially. You know the verse that says, “If one can out one thousand to flight, then two can put ten thousand to flight”? There’s power in agreement of prayer so the enemy often attacks us on the inside with the lie that we need to cover it up.

The apostle Paul understood that we often get attacked on the inside. In Ephesians 3:16 he wrote, “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit” (NLT). Each of us need inner strength to withstand the attack from our enemy who tries to crush us. We need to remember that greater is He that is within us! You and I don’t have to fight our inner battles alone. God has unlimited resources to help us fight back. Tell a friend who will pray for you and with you until victory is won.

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Live Forgiven

To me, one of the saddest things anyone has said is, “I can never forgive you for what you’ve said and done.” That’s a pretty strong statement and it’s usually spoken out of hurt and anger. It’s meant to hurt and cut to the core the way that person has been hurt. If you’ve ever spoken them or had them spoken to you, you understand. The problem is it creates bitterness and hate within a person. Pain mixed with a grudge is an incubator for anger. Nothing good comes from situations where one side isn’t forgiven.

If you’ve had those words spoken to you because of something you’ve said or done, and you’re truly sorry, it’s also difficult to handle. Every one of us makes mistakes. Every one of us hurts other people whether intentional or not. When we’ve said or done the unforgivable, and the other person won’t release us, we can either spend a lifetime trying to prove how truly sorry we are or we can walk away knowing we’ve done our part. Either way, there’s an incompleteness to being unforgiven.

In Matthew 12, a Pharisee said some hurtful things to Jesus. He accused Him of being demon possessed and that His power came from Satan. After Jesus explained to him how a house divided can’t stand, He then addressed the sin inside the man. In verse 31, Jesus said, “There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven” (MSG). That’s a powerful statement that you and I need to grasp and meditate on today. Read it again.

There is nothing you can do or say that can’t be forgiven by God. No matter how bad or how wrong, He’ll never say He can’t forgive you. If you’ve been holding back asking forgiveness for something, I want you to release it today. Get rid of that incompleteness that’s created from unforgiveness, and be made whole at the cross. God isn’t human. He doesn’t hold grudges or harbor resentment against us for things we’ve said or done and been forgiven of. Give it to God and be set free today.

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Risen Indeed

One of my favorite places to visit in Israel is The Garden Tomb. With all the craziness of Jerusalem going on outside of this garden, there is a bubble of peace resting over it. When you visit the tomb, there is a door instead of a stone. On the door is a sign that reads, “He is not here – For He is risen”. It’s such a great reminder that He conquered death, Hell and the grave so that you and I could be with Him one day.

It wasn’t enough that He was born and became a man. It wasn’t enough that He lived a sinless life. It wasn’t enough that He died. Yes, He needed to in order to pay the debt for our sins, but it’s His resurrection that gives us eternal life and hope. It is the cornerstone of our faith. The empty tomb represents redemption for mankind and a restored relationship with our creator. This weekend, don’t just focus on the death of Jesus. Celebrate that there is an empty tomb, and that gives us life.

Here are verses about Jesus and the resurrection.

1. David saw what God was going to do in the future, and so he spoke about the resurrection of the Messiah when he said, “He was not abandoned in the world of the dead; his body did not rot in the grave.”

Acts 2:31 GNT

2. Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, relies on) Me [as Savior] will live even if he dies; and everyone who lives and believes in Me [as Savior] will never die. Do you believe this?”

JOHN 11:25-26 AMP

3. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.

1 Corinthians 15:16-17 NASB

4. Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.

2 Corinthians 5:15 MSG

5. Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.”

Matthew 28:5-6 NLT

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Save Yourself

From the time Jesus left Pilate’s court until He arrived at Golgotha, there was a crowd of people. Some people in that crowd were people who loved Him and were for Him. Some were people who were passing by and got caught up in it. Then there were those who were railing against Him while the top religious leaders were trying to create a mob to make sure Jesus wouldn’t be rescued. There were so many people that Pilate assigned an entire battalion of 600 guards to the crucifixion.

After being severely beaten, and paraded through the streets, Jesus made His way outside of the city walls to the place of the skull. There, after they nailed Him to those roughly cut boards,, they raised Him up for all to see. The crowd began to taunt Him even more. Matthew 27:40 records them as saying, “‘Look at you now!’ they yelled at him. ‘You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!’” (NLT)

I often wonder where I would have been in the crowd that day. It’s easy to think I would have been with the disciples, quietly watching in shock. Jesus’ accusers knew His sermons. They were quoting the things He had said. These were people who saw the miracles and shouted, “Hosanna” just a week before, yet here they were mocking Him. Would you and I have been caught up in the rush of the moment to attack a person who was being humiliated publicly? We do it every day on social media. Why would this have been different?

I’m sure every bit of Jesus’ human nature was screaming at Him to come off the cross to prove to them that He was the Son of God and to silence them. Thankfully He obeyed the Spirit’s voice that had Him die on the cross that day. Because He stayed on the cross, He was able to open the doors of Heaven to all those in the crowd that day who were insulting Him. His blood that was spilled that day was enough to pay the debt of any sin that was ever committed or ever would be. He didn’t save Himself that day so that He could save you and me.

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The Hope Of Heaven

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

As we sat around the dinner table last night, the conversation began to focus on Heaven. We went around the table asking who would be the first person we would want to meet in Heaven aside from Jesus. As we discussed different people from the Bible, I decided to post on Facebook asking others who they would like to meet. I was surprised by their answers. Instead of people from the Bible, most came back with family members they had never met. Several spoke of children they had lost through miscarriage.

What I read in their responses was there are so many of us who live our lives with the hope of being reunited and being made complete. Family units will be as they could have been. We’ll be able to see from one end of the family tree to the other. Heaven, for many, will be a great big family reunion. We’ll be joined together with families who were with us here on earth and with fellow heirs of Christ. I don’t know how it will work or how we will be known, but I do know that there is a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on to complete our race (Hebrews 12:1). Those who have gone on before don’t want us to quit.

When I think of eternity and the prize that is waiting, it always encourages me to keep going. Let’s face it, living how God called us to live isn’t easy. It’s difficult to be successful at it in a world that cheers us on to live like them. There are days where it’s just easier to quit running this race than to take another step forward. There are times when things happen that we don’t understand and we want to be angry at God. In those moments when I get frustrated and doubt that God really cares, I think of those who have already made it to Heaven and how I want to see them. I look beyond the pain of today toward what is to come.

Yes, life is full of loss, hurt and pain, but God didn’t leave us without hope. He gave us the Comforter to guide us and to remind us of God’s promises. He gave us the hope of being reunited with lost loved ones. He gave us that cloud of witnesses who are cheering for you to keep going. Can you hear them? Can you imagine them standing all around you wanting you to complete the race? When I doubt or want to quit, I hear those cheers and it encourages me to keep going. They’re cheering for you too. Your family members, unborn children and a host of others will be waiting at the finish line to welcome you home. You just have to keep running even when they’ve gone on before you.

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Surrounded

At church, we’ve been singing Michael W. Smith’s song “This is How I Fight My Battles”. It’s a simple song, but it’s powerful. One of the lines says, “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you.” As we sing that song, it reminds me of when Elisha’s servant walked outside one morning and saw they were surrounded by an army. He called for Elisha who came outside and said, “Don’t worry about it. There’s more with us than there are with them. Lord, open his eyes to see.” (2 Kings 6:17)

I also think of times in my life where I’ve been surrounded by turmoil, heartbreak and relentless attacks. Even when that period seemed like it would never end, God would surround me with people who would pray for me, encourage me and help me to stay in the battle. When all seemed lost, God never left me. He surrounded me with His presence and His people when the enemy had surrounded me and tried to take me out.

As you read through the Psalms, David felt that way too. He was chased and trapped in caves by King Saul and the army of Israel at times. Other times it was foreign armies hunting him down trying to take him out. He even writes of family and friends who talk behind his back and want to destroy him. Through it all, he cried out to God because he understood that when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Lord lifts up a standard against him (Isaiah 59:19). God surrounds us in our greatest moments of despair.

Psalm 31:21 says, “Praise the Lord! How wonderfully he showed his love for me when I was surrounded and attacked!” (GNT) It’s not time to give up when you are surrounded- it’s time to look up! There are more with you than there are against you. God shows a His great love for us in the moments where we need it most. We have to learn to take our eyes off of the enemy that is surrounding us and look to God who is surrounding them. You are not alone in your fight. You are surrounded by the Lord Of Hosts and the armies of Heaven.

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Forgetting The Past

When Joseph was finally set free in Egypt, he was placed second in command. He was given a wife and an Egyptian name that means “Treasury of the glorious rest”. When his firstborn came into the world, he named him Manasseh, which means “God has made me forget my suffering”. For over 13 years he was a slave or prisoner, yet when God had finished preparing him for his calling, and placed him in it, he forgot how bad it was.

When we go through suffering, it’s hard to think of anything else. It’s difficult to imagine that we would ever forget that time, but that’s what God does. He takes our difficult times, and what seems like misfortune, and turns it into opportunities for greatness. If we are trusting in His plan, when that opportunity presents itself, we won’t be too bitter to capitalize on it. When we are then fulfilling our purpose, the years of suffering and doubt seem to be forgotten.

Here are some Bible verses on forgetting the past.

1. Before the years of famine came, Joseph had two sons by Asenath. He said, “God has made me forget all my sufferings and all my father’s family”; so he named his first son Manasseh. He also said, “God has given me children in the land of my trouble”; so he named his second son Ephraim.

Genesis 41:50-52 GNT

2. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14 HCSB

3. But the Lord says, “Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago. Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already—you can see it now! I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there.”

Isaiah 43:18-19 GNT

4. Be kind to me, GOD; I’ve been kicked around long enough. Once you’ve pulled me back from the gates of death, I’ll write the book on Hallelujahs; on the corner of Main and First I’ll hold a street meeting; I’ll be the song leader; we’ll fill the air with salvation songs.

Psalm 9:13-14 MSG

5. You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning. Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety.

Job 11:16-18 NLT

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