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EXPERIENCING TOMORROW'S REALITY TODAY -- Daily Bible Study Devotionals

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

January 15, 2019

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence … Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”Psalm 42.5,11
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” Psalm 43.5
The repetition of the words, “despair” and “disturbed,” sound like a needle stuck on a scratched record: “despair” … click … “despair” … click …“disturbed” … click …“disturbed” … Anyone who knows the reality of the experience of despair knows it is hard to think of or verbalize much else. When emotional pain is front and center, everything else is pushed to the sidelines. We may acknowledge that this is only a fleeting reality, but it’s severity easily overshadows that fact.
Hope is no guarantee against despair, but it points us to the way out. It’s like a bright spotlight in the pervading darkness of a cave. We may not be out of the cave, but at least we see the way out. And that fact alone begins to lift the gloom of despair. 
I would never minimize the reality of despair and depression. I’ve been there, and am not immune to returning there. For some, it is a lifelong struggle. Whether a short-term or long-term struggle, it cannot be willed or wished away.  Counseling and treatment for some are necessary tools. But ultimately it is hope that minimizes or lifts us from those circumstances. Hope points the way to future praise and ultimate deliverance - whether in this age or the perfect age to come. Hope drops anchor amidst these emotional storms.

 
- From the upcoming book, "Hope for Uncertain Times."


My other blogs
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https://kingdomdreamer.blogspot.com/
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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

January 8, 2019

"And now, LORD, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.” Psalm 39.7
Waiting has never been my strong suit. Waiting involves patience, and patience has nearly always been in short supply in my life. You’ve heard of the prayer, “LORD, give me patience, and give it to me right now!”? It could have originated with me. Slow automobile drivers and stop lights that remain red far too long test my patience more than they should. Microwaves don’t cook nearly fast enough. And someone should invent a single cup coffeemaker that can get the job done more quickly. 
The adage, “hurry up and wait,” is excellent advice for cultivating hope. Hurry into His presence in your prayers closet and wait for Him. Ignore your text messages, emails, and time itself. The best waiting is waiting upon the LORD. Except this can take what seems to be a long time, at least to our way of thinking. But He is not in any hurry. He has all the time in the world or, more accurately, all the time in the universe. He is the timeless One, and thus has a completely different perspective on time. This verse gives us some sense as to the disparity between His perspective of time and ours: “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.”2 Peter 3:8 If we take this comparison and contrast of time literally, the entire scope of our lives is only about two to three hours per God’s time (Perhaps that bit of knowledge only adds to impatience on our part!). 
So, if we’re waiting on the LORD, know that He can “out-wait” us. But, that’s not cause for reluctant resignation to the fact; it instead inspires hopeful waiting. If He is timeless, He has the ability to make us timeless. That means He has the ability to grant to us the precious gift of immortality; time without end. And that’s something definitely worth waiting for. 
Don’t mistake His seeming idleness for inaction. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”2 Peter 3:9 It is patience with a plan. It’s not reluctance or laziness, but patient persistence in allowing time for the penitent to act. Call it hopeful waiting if you will, which brings us back to the plan for our patience. We wait for the God of hope. Bound up with Him are all the richest possibilities. Provision. Protection. Power. Even patience. He alone is the source of all we could possibly hope for. 
So, through persistent patience in waiting upon Yahweh, we can truly learn to say, “My hope is in You.”

 
- From the upcoming book, "Hope for Uncertain Times."


My other blogs
http://thetruthrevolution.wordpress.com/  
https://kingdomdreamer.blogspot.com/
Amazon ebook
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FQ1Q9GW
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Wednesday, January 02, 2019

January 2, 2019

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness” Psalm 33.18
He’s got His eye on those who have their eyes set on Him. He looks for those looking to Him.  He is like an elderly parent, looking out their window for the arrival of a beloved child.  He is aptly described in a story told by Jesus about a prodigal son. As the prodigal returned home after a long absence, it says of his father, "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20 These descriptive words invoke an image of tender love, and they very well describe the lovingkindness of our heavenly Father for those who love and respect Him. Our hope is in His lovingkindness, and this is hope that will never disappoint. Whatever hurt and discouragement comes our way in the course of life is met with our Father’s faithful lovingkindness. 
I especially appreciate the final image of His displayed love and compassion in the closing verses of the Bible: “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4 He doesn’t merely banish tears, mourning, and death; He tenderly wipes away our tears. If He will do so at the dawn of the new eternal age, is He not also eager to do so now? Indeed, that is both our hope and comfort today.
 
- From the upcoming book, "Hope for Uncertain Times."


My other blogs
http://thetruthrevolution.wordpress.com/  
https://kingdomdreamer.blogspot.com/
Amazon ebook
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FQ1Q9GW
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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

December 18, 2018

“Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD.” Psalm 31:24
Hope isn’t really hope unless it is our internal guidance system; our life GPS.  It is hope in what is to come, but it first of all is hope in “the God of hope” Romans 15:13. Hope in the God of all hope, and hope in what He promises us in the future, filters down into the reality of our existence today. If that hope doesn’t affect us, then it is suspect as to whether it really is hope at all. 
So, as Psalm 31:24 reminds us, hope gives us strength and a courageous heart. That stands is sharp contrast to the challenge of the times we live in. Jesus foretold a time when people would be “fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Luke 21:26. The nearer we get to that time, the greater the need for hope to strengthen us and give us courage.
Sometimes life circumstances sucker punch hope. I can stand strong and courageous in hope, and then seemingly petty circumstances send me to the corner cowering in fear. Depression and despair put hope on the sidelines. 
By nature, I don’t have the sunniest disposition. I admire those who can light up a room and instill optimism in others, but that doesn’t come naturally for me. My firstborn perfectionist nature easily gets in the way and sets me up for frustration, disappointment, and anger. Too often, unrealistic expectations pave the way for negative emotions. But enough whining - human nature doesn’t win out at the end of the day for believers. Hopeful promises instead are our rallying cry: 
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Either these verses are true or they are not; bottom line. We are overwhelming conquerers or we are not. We can do all things in Christ, or we cannot. These are promises without qualification. But … but … but. How quickly we want to insert our “out” clause. If only I had a better job, a more understanding spouse, better behaved children, a happier childhood. Not to minimize any of these very real issues, but we ARE ultimately designed for more in view of our hope.  We are meant to epitomize these truths, and this can only happen when our hope is set on the LORD. It best happens when He is central in our thinking and focus. By starting our day reading and contemplating His word, the Bible, we align our mindset with Him. We cannot say that our hope is in Him if our attention isn’t on Him. And the best way to fix that mindset is to deliberately start our day in His word and presence, even if it’s fifteen minutes or a half hour. Little is better than nothing.
- From the upcoming book, "Hope for Uncertain Times."


My other blogs
http://thetruthrevolution.wordpress.com/  
https://kingdomdreamer.blogspot.com/
Amazon ebook
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FQ1Q9GW
Amazon paperback
https://www.createspace.com/4500045
Facebook page
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YouTube video channel
 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxND_ZsDdWXURp9rg88YY7g

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

December 11, 2018

They are obscure names that we know very little about. Names like Amariah, Iddo, Sallu, and Amok - names difficult to pronounce. They are listed in Nehemiah 12, and they made significant contributions in their day. Some were of a priestly line. Some were musicians and worship leaders. Some had helped rebuild a broken wall. All faithfully and wholeheartedly served the LORD God. 

You and I may ultimately be a mere footnote in the pages of history, but our contribution is immensely important, no matter how much press we get. Having faithfully lived and served the LORD God, and His Son Jesus, we have been privileged to have the most significant impact of all. And, we're continuing to write that legacy as we live each day fully. 

An excerpt from a poem states, "Only one life, twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last." From the vantage point of sixty-plus years, I see how rapidly life passes by. How did I get this old this fast? There are more days behind me than ahead of me, which adds emphasis to living each day to the fullest for the cause of Christ and the kingdom of God. The truth of these verses seems more urgent with the rapid passing of time: 


"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5.15-16

Make it count. This day and moment are ripe with opportunities for service, worship, and impact.

Steve


My other blogs
http://thetruthrevolution.wordpress.com/  
https://kingdomdreamer.blogspot.com/
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Tuesday, December 04, 2018

December 4, 2018

A gospel song declares, "Joy real joy God's wonderful joy Is flooding the depths of my soul A joy that brings peace and contentment God's wonderful wonderful joy." 

Not everyone can say they know the truth of these words. Even though joy is fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5.22-23), it sometimes seems in short supply. 


"Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."Nehemiah 8.10

The people of God had heard the Law of God read by Ezra, and were grieved at their neglect and disobedience of it. But, Nehemiah reminded them that they were to gather in the presence of the LORD in joy rather than sorrow. Their focus was not to be on their past failure, but upon the present joy of the LORD that is their strength. 

I've known sorrow in recent times as I've experienced the death of my father. It wouldn't be normal not to experience grief, but it is momentary grief. The great reality is that the LORD'S joy is my strength. His presence and comfort are real, and His promises a source of great joy. 


"Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30.5 

During the darkness of this present fallen world, there are plenty of sources of grief. It is all too easy to focus on these joy-robbing present circumstances. But, the joy of the coming morning of resurrection and kingdom life filters down to us today. The LORD who will faithfully bring about the richness of that coming age is the LORD who gives joy and strength today!

Indeed, "
the joy of the LORD is your strength." May you find this to be fully so in your experience with Him today, and always.

My other blogs
http://thetruthrevolution.wordpress.com/  
https://kingdomdreamer.blogspot.com/
Amazon ebook
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FQ1Q9GW
Amazon paperback
https://www.createspace.com/4500045
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 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxND_ZsDdWXURp9rg88YY7g

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

October 9, 2018

“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” 1 Timothy 6:17
Is it possible that a climbing suicide rate is tied to fixing hope on the uncertainty of riches? Perhaps the answer is not that simple, but a principle applies nevertheless. Possessions are not worthy of fixing our hope on, and for the stated reason that they are uncertain. Few things are more revealing of the fickle uncertainty of wealth as the endless rollercoaster ride of the stock market. I’ve known people who track in real time the rise and fall of their stock investments throughout the day. It seemed a singular obsession. That characterizes someone who has chosen to “fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches.” Sadly, they are on a collision course with ultimate disillusionment. A poignant reminder of the fickle uncertainty of wealth is well summed up this way: “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.” Proverbs 23:4-5 
We have a hummingbird feeder on our back patio. Few creatures are as fascinating as hummingbirds, with their astonishingly rapid wing flap rate of approximately eighty flaps per second. Emitting a pleasant humming sound as they hover near the feeder, they are a delight to watch. But, as quickly as they appear, they are gone. They are nature’s reminder of the uncertainty of wealth as a means for hope, which easily “makes itself wings” and disappears.
The focus of hope must be on the Giver, and not the gift. The Giver is changeless; the gift  is temporal. We have what we have because the Giver chose to place it in our hands. We may have worked for it, invested it, or inherited it, but Creator God is the ultimate source, whether we choose to acknowledge that fact or not. What we possess may be for a lifetime, or for a brief moment; no one knows which it is or will be. Truly, it may be here today, and gone tomorrow. 
Too avoid the problem of wealthy conceit, or undue hope in what we have, we must learn and practice the secret of holding things loosely. The appropriate gesture is the open hand, not the clinched fist. An open hand can both give and receive, but the clenched fist literally has a death grip on that which it contains. To hold things loosely is to agree with this profound statement made by a man from ancient times named Job: “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21 
- from the upcoming book, "Hope for Uncertain Times"