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Know-so Hope

Romans 5:1-5 – “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Several Sundays ago, my pastor said something about a “know-so” hope versus a “hope-so” hope. That stuck with me and I was thinking about it this morning. 

Let me give you this Webster’s 1828 definition of hope: “A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.”

Hope is something we all want and desire. It is needed, at times, to keep going. We get bogged down in problems and situations that we oftentimes forget about hope until we hit rock bottom. It takes discipline to keep hope at the forefront of our thoughts. We can’t see the forest for the trees, so to speak. 

But when my pastor mentioned this concept several weeks ago – 2 kinds of hope – I was taken aback. I had never really thought of this. It is true though. There are two kinds of hope. 

A “hope-so” hope is like a bucket with a hole it. You don’t know if you will be able to transport the water to where you want to go before the bucket empties. You are flying by the seat of your pants, no real direction and no certainty that you will get there. 

A “know-so” hope is like the hope mentioned in the verses today – hope from experience. You have been down this road, in some form or another, and you know what will happen. And even if this is a totally new situation, you still know how it will end because you have tested and tried the Leader before and He has never failed you. 

A “hope-so” hope doesn’t give God room to do His thing. A “know-so” hope opens the door wide for God to get in and lead. 

What kind of hope are you practicing today? ūüé∂”Trust and obey. For there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”ūüé∂ Even though hope is not mentioned in this song, it’s undertones are there. Hope comes from trusting and obeying Jesus.  

Walk the line

Romans 8:4-9 – “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.¬†For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.¬†For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.¬†Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.¬†So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.¬†But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

It is a tough thing to walk the line.

As followers of Christ, we are supposed to be in the world but not of the world. (2 Corinthians 10:3) ¬†How are you supposed to be in something but not act like something? It’s like being at a football game when you really care nothing about football but find yourself cheering the team on and getting upset when they get a bad call. We are supposed to have the mind of Christ. Jesus is the One we are to be focused on and living for. But are you? Am I?

Most of the time I’m the one at the football game. I get caught up in the things of the world. “People are coming over. I need to get my house just so.” “I’m going to work today. I need to look nice. I don’t have time to study my Bible this morning. I’ll get to it tonight.” (And then tonight never comes because you are too busy.

We get caught up in appearances and stuff that really has no eternal value. We make a big deal out of nothing. We are being carnally minded.

So how do we combat this problem? It’s being around God’s people. It’s being in God’s word. It’s taking time to pray. I’m sure that there are a hundred other things that can be done to combat carnal mindedness, but these were just a few that popped into my head this morning.

Let me encourage you to make those choices to be closer to Him and closer to His people. The only way we are going to make a difference is by being different. And sometimes being different is difficult.

It’s the Christmas season. The holly crowd is making plans to attend church these next few weeks. This gives you (and me) a great opportunity to reach out to them for Him. We need to encourage them to get plugged in and be involved on a more regular basis. Jesus is waiting them. Jesus is waiting for us to be obedient.¬†Walk on the side of the line that is following after Christ.

Gifted and Talented

Romans 12:3-8 – “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Do you consider yourself gifted? We don’t really talk about this a lot. We don’t want to draw attention to ourself. Yesterday at church, we had a young lady bring a special. She played her guitar and sang “Amazing Grace”. It was to a different tune and it was beautiful. She did an amazing job. She is very shy though. All the attention was way out of her comfort zone. 

God has given each of us different abilities. Some have the gift of teaching – they should teach. Some have the gift of singing – they should sing. Some have the gift of encouragement – they should encourage. Some have the gift of preaching – they should preach. And then there are those jobs that we don’t often think about – decorating, organizing, serving, managing money, protecting, cleaning, childcare – all of these things are important, and this is just a short list. 

My point is this – God has blessed each and every one of us with different gifts and talents. Some are seemingly important and huge and some are seemingly meaningless and small. But they are ALL important. God does not give us something that is not important. He doesn’t give us something that He doesn’t intend to use. 

So, use whatever God has blessed you with to serve Him. It may be challenging and hard but you can do it. Sometimes using our gifts and talents puts us out of our comfort zone, but that’s okay. Just step out onto the ledge and go for it. I guarantee that the risk will be worth it. God will smile. 

One step away

Romans 2:1,2 – “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.”

Judging. It is a common practice for us today. It is easy. You look at someone or see some action and boom! Judgement is passed. 

It is hard not to judge someone. We think that we are above reproach and therefore have the right to pass judgement upon someone, especially someone “in the world”. We see their action and see their clothes and we automatically assume that we know exactly how they are. What we don’t know is that on the inside a major war is raging for their eternity. We have no clue of the internal struggles that these people may be going through. Instead of bombarding them with judgements, we should be embracing them and encouraging their desire to walk a different path. 

We also read about and hear about people who have made the choice to seek out another affects instead of their spouse. In this case, we know by their actions and their choices that they have made this decision. However, we need to be cautious of our wrath and disappointment. We need to understand this truth – we are all but one step away from the same decision. 

One step away from choosing someone else over our spouse. One step away from seeking out the temporary comfort of drugs and alcohol. One step away from maxing out our credit cards and stepping into the world of bankruptcy. One step away from losing our jobs and our homes. 

There are times that require us to make judgements in regards to someone’s choice and actions. However, when those times do present themselves, we need to do so with love and the opportunity for forgiveness and restoration. Vengeance is something that we are to reject. It is not our responsibilty to seek it out. God will take care of that. But above all, we need to be careful. 

We need to be cautious in our judgements and we need to remember that only by the grace of God do we stand where we are today. He has given us the ability to recognize problems and potential situations that may cause us harm. We need to use it. We need to listen when He is whispering to our heart that this is just not right. 

I want to encourage you today, princess, to be cautious in your judgements. Be aware and appreciative of your delicate situation. Remember, you are only one step away. 


Monday

Romans 12:1,2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

It’s Monday. You will probably walk into work today and most people will ask you how your weekend was. They will ask if you did anything special for Valentine’s Day and then they will want to know what it was.

It’s Monday. It is the first day of the work week. It is a time for new commitments. “I’m going to eat less sugar this week.” “I’m going to park in the back of the lot and walk.” “I’m going to mop my floors this week.”

It’s Monday. Time to start counting the days until Friday. Time to figure out a way to make it through the week.

Monday is a day of renewal. It’s like you have January first every single week. It’s a day to turn over a new leaf, to decide to do something different.

I think these verses are great Monday verses. They encourage us to get our act together and stop living like everyone else. They challenge us to choose to be different.

Most people dislike Mondays. They dread the day. I will admit, there are times, like today, that I would like to skip Monday. My kids are going to be at home and I have to go to work. I would really like to stay home with them. But I chose to commit to a job that requires me to work today. So, I honor God by honoring my commitment. I also honor God by choosing to let Him have my brain today. It’s not much, but it’s my reasonable service.

My challenge to you today, Princess, is to choose to have a different kind of Monday. Choose to see it as an opportunity for renewal and transformation. Choose not to deliberately count the days until Friday. Let Friday sneak up on you because you are so caught up in living for Christ.

Burdens

Psalm 55:22 – “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”

My kids are in middle school. Sometimes, they come home with their backpacks so laden with books that they are bent at the waist trying to carry them. They are walking with their faces toward the ground and with a saddened look in their eyes with the dread of all the homework they have to do that night.

All my life I have have heard the analogy of leaving your burdens at the cross. And when you unload them from you pack, you have to turn away from them and walk away. The problem is that all too often we pick them up and carry them around a bit more. We put them back into our pack and begin to look like a bunch of middle school students walking around with a load of homework. Our face is to the ground and our eyes are sad.

Why do we do this? Why do we feel that we must pick them up again once we lay them down? Why do we let our burdens steal our joy? Why do we wear our sad faces like a badge of honor – just accepting our lot in life to be miserable?

Sometimes life stinks. You may have days, weeks or maybe even months that just flat out stink. Situations or circumstances just make you miserable. People just totally disappoint you. The list could go on and on.

Yet, we do have an outlet. We do have a Savior who gets it. He knows what it is like to be disappointed in people. He knows what it is like to have life stink sometimes. Think about Jesus in the Garden for a moment. He was there with the weight of the world on His shoulders. Life was stinking pretty bad. His friends were supposed to be supporting Him and every time He went back to them they were sleeping. People were disappointing Him right and left. Yet, when He reached the pinnacle of disappointment, He had peace. He was standing amongst the leaders of the Jews while they were spewing lies about Him and He said nothing. He just let them rail on Him. He had laid His burdens at His Father’s feet and left them there. He knew that He would take care of them. And although people continued to disappoint Him and His life began to stink even more, He had peace.

That’s the key – leave your burdens where you lay them. Don’t pick them up and hold them for a while. Don’t look at them longingly. Don’t go back and pet them. Leave them there. Let God handle them. You may not get the answer you want or it may not be in the time you think it should be, but remember – Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Oh no! She’s up!

Romans 12:2 – “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

It’s a new day. Yesterday’s mistakes and failures are a distant memory. You have a fresh slate. Nothing is written on it. Today is your opportunity to do something amazing.

Isn’t that nice and encouraging? Don’t you feel like going out and conquering the world now?

And then you look up and see dirty clothes left all over the floor from last night’s fiasco and everyone forgot to put their ice packs for their lunch boxes in the freezer and you just used the last towel, so that means you need to do laundry and you feel like you have gained 10 pounds from that yummy hamburger you had last night. Welcome to real life.

But don’t despair, there is hope. You see, you can transform all these yucky things into something good. The clothes on the floor – you are able to provide fun for the kids and they have clothes to wear to that fun. The ice packs – some kids won’t even have a lunch today, let alone one that is the right temperature. The towels – praise God for a washing machine! The hamburger – it was time well spent with family. Perspective. It’s all about perspective.

When you open your eyes in the morning, you have a choice to make – you can either jump out of bed and go about you day OR you can take a moment and enter the throne room to talk to your Savior for minute. You know that all the craziness is waiting for you when you finally peel yourself out of all those warm covers. You know there will be problems to be solved, hurts to heal and victories to celebrate. But you also know that there are people in your life that need you to talk to God about them. They need you to intervene for them. Talking to Jesus before you get out of bed helps to foster an all day dialogue with Him. I find it’s true in my life. If I just get out of bed and go, I am more likely to neglect Him all day. If I choose to talk to Him before I get up, I tend to talk to Him more all day long.

And that makes the devil crazy. The devil wants you to get up in a rush and then get frustrated when you hit the kitchen and see the disaster awaiting you. He wants you to forget about Jesus and His offer to walk with you through life.

But this verse reminds us to be transformed. And that transformation should happen before our feet hit the ground. When you slap off that alarm in the morning and open your eyes, open your heart as well. Don’t let the world in before you have an opportunity to let Jesus in first to guard the door. And be that kind of woman that when you wake up, the devil says, “Oh no! She’s up!”