Where Then is My Hope; part 2

fb_img_1478825440346John 16:33 (NKJV)  These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

 I decided to continue last weeks commentary, on hope.  Last week I opened with Job 17:15 Where then is my hope?  As for my hope, who can see it?
 
We live in a tumultuous world.  It can be a frightful, violent, unfair place.  This, however, is not a recent development.  This world has been so since Adam and Eve’s disobedience.  Jeremiah 17:9 tells us “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked;Who can know it?  It has been so since man’s fall.  The wickedness that abounds throughout the world is born from the wickedness in man’s heart.  It is only through the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit that this wickedness can be extinguished.  
 
Have faith, though.  As Jesus assures us in John 16:33, “in Me you may have peace…be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  This is where my hope is.  This is where your hope should be.  We have no reason, no right to worry, despair or be anxious, no matter what is going on around or to us.  Having peace, living without angst, is not the same as not caring.  It is trust in Him.  It is a belief in the bible, The Holy Word of God!  It is where your Hope should reside.  
 
Presidents will come and go.  Kingdoms will rise and fall.  World order will shift, settle and shift again. Pastor Jon Duey shared a verse this past Sunday, that I feel is a fitting summation to my commentary on Hope.  Malachi 3:6 “For I am the Lord, I do not change; Our God is, always was and always will be unchanging.  He is PERFECT!  That’s where my Hope is!  Have a blessed weekend.
 
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,
Scott Pace
 

Changes

Going into the election this year, we all knew that new things were inevitable, regardless of the result as we go through this season of change.  Several people I talked to were not pleased with the two main options in this year’s election and were looking at alternate choices or trying to decide between the lesser of two evils, so to speak.  Some may be happy with the result, and some will not, but life is often a mixed bag, not always just what we ordered.  I often hear that the older people get, the less they like change, because if its not broke, why fix it?  Even when changing to a new program, system, technology, job, phone, etc, the new learning curve may be frustrating to some, but usually there is a purpose to the whole thing.  We hope that we can improve something through the whole process.  It may be even more frustrating to go through lots of changes and come out worse off than when you started, but  at least, maybe you learned something through it?  How do you prepare yourself for change? 

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.  1 Corinthians 1:27-29

Early this morning, I got a phone call that you never want to receive.  The nurse on the other side just told me that my father had passed away.  In some ways, I may have even been expecting that as a possibility for a while, but at the same time, had a difficult time fully comprehending that reality.  It didn’t really hit me until it was really real.  And then I realized all the things that this new reality means.  I had to call people, get input, make arrangements, find things, change my plans, change the plans of others…lots of things.  All this while dealing with a new reality of life without my earthly father. 

ernie-carl-clark

My dad helped take care of me as my life was starting, and I helped take care of him as his life was ending, so we learned more about one another than we may have originally planned.  I realized years ago that my dad was not perfect.  From following in his footsteps and thinking he could do no wrong when I was 5 years old, I have learned that he is a sinner and has his faults, just as we all do.  This process also led me to look to a Heavenly Father that is perfect and as I was adopted by this new Father, I began to emulate a new role model, but also came to understand the power of forgiveness that He models for me.  If He was willing to forgive me, I was capable of acting the same toward those around me.  I was able to forgive my dad for his shortcomings, no matter how many times I encountered them.  I was still able to love my dad, even though he was imperfect. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!  2 Corinthians 5:17

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  Galatians 2:20

As we encounter changes, challenges, trials and difficulties in life, let us always look to what good may result.  Let us look to God to begin in us a good work that will result in good fruit, despite what it may appear to be at the time we first see it.  Allow Christ to sanctify you and bring you to a new place through each season and change you face in this life.   Desire that each change brings us to a place of increased understanding and maturity, so that we do not grow weary as we near the finish line.  Let us rejoice in the process until the final change transforms us from this life to the next!

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:6

Strength and Courage in Christ,
Clark

My Church

I was watching Alabama play LSU in college football this last week.  They were two great teams that were full of great coaches, players, and staff.  Yet Alabama certainly rose to the occasion shutting out LSU in all 4 quarters. Alabama has become an unstoppable force.  Year after year they are in the top 5 teams and have done it consistently. The same it true about the Patriots, Michael Phelps, and the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls.  You have to ask why they were so great at what they did…  They were consistent in their devotion and commitment to a common cause.

Then I look at the church, some local churches thrive, some stalemate, some flounder, and some never take off.  When you read about the early church, it was anything but stalemate, flounder, or never take off.  It was electric.  People did crazy things for the Gospel of Jesus.  It changed cities, regions, and eventually the whole world.  What did they do that made it so contagious?

photo-1473993702977-1706a7f23164Acts 2:42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper, and to prayer. 43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

It was a powerful church displaying God’s promise of provision, healing, miracles, and the lost getting saved.  The church did something crazy, it grew EVERYDAY!  They gave irrationally, worshiped together daily, and did life together everyday.  That seems crazy to our American culture, but they created a new norm.  They did not blame the government, school systems, or how small they were for the culture around them.  They got in the game and did something crazy.  What if that is what you did?  What if you devoted yourself to the apostles teaching, worshiped daily, gave irrationally, talked to lost and broken people, and invited other people to do the same?

What if instead of complaining about what you wish your church did, you become the church and go do it?  I DARE YOU TO LIVE THIS WAY! This is not extreme christianity, this is what it looks like to follow Jesus.  ALL IN HOLDING NOTHING BACK, BET THE FARM RISK TAKER, SUBMITTED TO AUTHORITY, AND GENEROUS IN LOVE!  This is my church. This is who I want to be.

So ask God what your next step is in following Him. Then do it and watch what he does!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg 

Hope Springs Eternal

WARNING: Cub fan gloating ahead! 

img_0128Yes, I’ve been a Chicago Cubs fan since I was five years old, meaning I’ve spent the past 29 years wanting the seemingly unattainable. I lived through the playoff implosion of 1989, the Sammy Sosa scandals, Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, Lou Pinnela’s tantrums, eight 90 plus loss seasons, the Quade, Sveum, and Renteria “eras,” and untold numbers of failed relief pitchers. There have been so many times I’ve simply thought I’d never see a World Series happen. The old Cub fan phrase “hope springs eternal” seemed a little too cruel and inaccurate. “Pain springs eternal” seemed a bit more on target. But, this past Wednesday at 11:46pm CST the Chicago Cubs became World Series Champions. I was lucky enough to be in Chicago that night, and what a celebration it was! I’ve never seen such a joy filled group of people in my entire life! 

Now that I’m done gloating, let me share with you two things about hope that I’ve been reminded of during the Cubs’ World Series run. 

  1. Hope really does spring eternal: I used to live on a lake in Wisconsin, and every winter the frigid temperatures froze the lake nearly solid. All except one small section near our house. Thats because a small spring fed into the lake there, and between its warmer water and constant movement that small section never froze. No matter what happens in our lives, disease, economic collapse, depression, death of loved ones, etc. our lives never freeze completely over. Even in the most wretched of circumstances God’s hope is constantly bubbling up in our lives. What is that hope? The promise that He made to us—eternal life 1 John 2:25. It is the GUARANTEE we have of eternal life in a perfect heaven. No matter what goes wrong in our lives (and trust me, plenty of things will) no one can ever take away the guarantee of eternal life we have because of the sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross. As long as we confess our sins and believe in Him the ultimate reward is already on reserve for us. 
  2. We need to celebrate eternal life daily: Not to be mean, but its kinda sad that the greatest joy I’ve ever witnessed in others is due to the outcome of a baseball game. Lets be honest: we take God’s grace for granted. We sit around and bemoan our situation in life, and we forget to celebrate daily the reality that we’ve been saved for all eternity.Here’s what Paul tells us in Romans 5:1-2: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Lets take time EVERY day to praise God for what He has done for us, and to let the gift of God’s grace flood over us. 

The Decision

Psalm 32:8New Living Translation (NLT)

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you.

Tomorrow is finally the day. It is the day to cast your vote on a new President. The vote will lead us to our next President. Which way will we go?

That very thought brings anxiousness to our lives. Will that person lead us wisely? Will the Constitution holdup as it was originally written? Will they pick the next right judges in the Supreme Court to rule our land?

My first opportunity to vote was with President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in 1980. That was a big deal at the time. I remember the hostage situation. When Ronald Reagan became our new President, they immediately released men and women hostages. It was a big deal.

Every election is important. Will Hillary Clinton become the first woman to lead our country, or will Donald Trump become the first business man to lead our country with the changes he has promised.

I have prayed and asked the Lord for his Will. God places all kings whether good or bad to move his people toward him. No matter who is the next President, God is still in control moving everything according to his will with His Son, Jesus, and with the Holy Spirit.

I encourage you to vote. It is one of our rights and freedoms as Americans.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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