HOPE AGAINST HOPE…


Spiritual Blog - Hope

Romans 4:18-25 – “In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.” 19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. 22 Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 23 Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”  NASU

The words of verse eighteen have long been a source of incredible encouragement for me.  I don’t know about you, but I have been in situations where my hope was so strained that I felt I was hoping against hope as I prayed and sought the answer.  I knew that I knew that I had heard from God but everything in the natural seemed the reality of that word was impossible.  There were times that I felt I was going against the current, swimming upstream against rushing waters, and all alone in my position.  Those were very difficult times and possibly even more difficult than when I had an active enemy fighting against me.

I recall one situation in which the church I was leading, with my agreement, we were making plans to build a Family Life Center with a gymnasium.  There was excitement within the church and the anticipation of this new step was favorably received by most, if not all the church.  Then, the LORD threw a monkey-wrench in the plans, at least from my perspective.  We were in a revival and had a planned business meeting to have an official vote on the proposal for the new structure.  As I prayed prior to the Sunday service, the Holy Spirit arrested me, and I wrote down about three-pages as to why this decision was wrong and that we should build a new sanctuary instead.  Among the other things I sensed in my heart was the message we were conveying to the community and the lost in our actions.

Please understand, I was not opposed to a Family Life Center with a gym. I loved and love athletics and recreation.  Our softball team on which I played was playing in two leagues.  I loved golf and played basketball whenever I had the opportunity.  The church knew of my love for hunting and fishing and all outdoor activities.  So, this was a departure and a shift that would blindside them and could cost me the favor of the entire church.  I went to the church board prior to the service and read my notes to them.  They were in shock. Stunned, they said, “the only thing we can suggest is that you tell the entire church what you just told us.”  I did and asked the church to delay any decisions for thirty-days.  There was rumbling and grumbling in the congregation and there were others who were confused but willing to pray.  I was risking everything in going against the expressed desire of the majority.

Immediately after the service, there was an effort to get up a petition to have a vote on removing me from being their pastor.  One of the most influential men in the church told that resistance, “No!”  He told them, “I trust God and I trust the pastor.  If he is right, God will change our hearts and if he is wrong, God will change his.”  I did not find that out until after the month had passed. Therefore, I spent thirty-days with both a sense of inner confidence and trepidation as to what the outcome would be.  I felt, at times, like I was hoping against hope.  I had stepped out on the directive of God and knew that my minister there was possibly in jeopardy.

At the end of thirty-days or about four-weeks later we met, and God had turned the hearts of the people and they voted unanimously to build a new worship center.  I dropped another bombshell on them telling them the second part of God’s directive.  We were to build the church debt free.  We planned to receive an offering in another, thirty-days and I told them I believed God for an amount that I am sure shocked them.  During that month, the Holy Spirit began to move on hearts and people came to me stating they believed God was going to give us more than I had projected.  He did and then in ninety-days, we received another offering and paid the debt in full for the new sanctuary.  My hope was confirmed and although there were times, I almost slipped in my confidence, the Holy Spirit helped me stand in Hope against Hope and see His directive become a reality.

I encourage you to never give up the Hope of what God has Promised you and Spoken to your heart.  Rejoice in the Lord and in the Power of His Might.  Have a fantastic day!

THERE IS A PROMISE, HOPE, DREAM, and EXPECTATION… [Part Two]


Spiritual Blog - Promise

Ephesians 5:25-27 – “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”  NKJV

 

As we consider the Plan of God and acknowledge that it has never ceased in the Heart of God we should examine some Old Testament types and shadows.  God uses them to direct us from the natural to what He has in mind in the spiritual.  What flesh cannot and could not do the Spirit can.  Paul informed us that the Old Testament was written as an example for us in the New.  God gave us the Old Testament for more than history but also for education, so we could learn His principles and purposes and apply them in our lives spiritually.  We also learn from Paul that God’s process is “first the natural then the spiritual.”  The Old Testament points us to the New and as what we see “in the natural” in the Old testifies to us of what God’s plan is for the Spiritual.

An example of that can be seen in the deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt.  This, I believe, is clearly a type of the Church (Christ’s Body) coming out of bondage and enslavement to liberty and freedom.  In Egypt, we see sin and man’s system.  God’s covenant people are called out and set free by the miraculous hand of God.  A beautiful truth, often missed, is that there were SPOILS in their exodus.  They did not go out empty handed.  As they departed and were liberated Pharaoh and his army were decimated by the hand of God and if we can receive it, the wilderness was spiritual boot camp or training ground for the fulfillment of the Promise.  They crossed Jordan which is a type of “death” but it is death to self so they could then function and entered Canaan which is a picture of the Place of Victory.  Victory, here and now! 

God has no Plan by which we can take a shortcut through the wilderness.  You cannot get to the Promised Land without going through the wilderness.  The Tabernacle helps us to understand this truth and as we examine this reality we can learn WHERE we are and WHERE God is taking us, and we learn, order and His process.  He takes us step by step, line upon line, and precept upon precept.  No steps are omitted or bypassed.  Adam failed, but Jesus, the Last Adam came and restored us legally all that was lost.  He has given gifts, anointing, and abilities to fulfill His Covenant.  We must move into Him fully to gain this reality experientially rather than simply doctrinally or judicially.

  • THE CHURCH IS CHRIST’S BODY.

If we are to understand our authority and position we must look to and at Jesus.  He has dominion, is fruitful, and fully manifests the Father in all He said and did on earth.  By His Work on the Cross and through God’s Covenant we are the Body of Christ and we have legally and judicially been restored to that position Adam lost.  Isaiah 61, fulfilled in Jesus is to be a current reality in His Body, the Church.  John 14:12, fulfilled in Jesus was promised to His Body, the Church and is to be expected in today’s world.

The transition revealed in the name change of Abraham is significant.  He was Abram but became Abraham.  The name change reflected both a character change and purpose change in his life.  He transitioned from a heathen idolater who worshiped the moon to the man of faith he became.  His Promise was that he would become a Great Nation, be Blessed, have Fame & Honor, be a Blessing, Bless his friends and curse his foes and that through him ALL THE NATIONS could be Blessed.  He was 75 when this word came to him.  He was married but childless and was probably already resigning himself to the probability that he and Sari would have no children of their own.  Then the Promise came and that revealed the Problem.  How would he be a great nation if he had no heir?  His human reason was poised to shipwreck his participation in the Promise.  Human reason is not always a friend of God’s Promises or Purposes.

The Promise was clear.  God said, “Go forth…”  He set out for Canaan, the Place of Promise.  He knew where he was going.  God then told him, “I will give you and your descendants the land…”  But he had no descendants so the Promise revealed the Problem.  He faced difficulties in the pursuit of the Promise and Purpose of God but in it all, he maintained his confidence in “El Shaddai” and rested in God’s sufficiency.  Human, reason often asks questions rooted in doubt but faith says, “I may not see it or comprehend how it can be but God is sufficient for me!”

In Egypt he allowed deception to enter through lying about his relationship with his wife.  Later, he listened to her counsel and Ishmael was produced rather than fully trusting God.  In Genesis 17 God returned and reaffirmed the Promise and Covenant and gave him his name change.  The story is amazing and when Paul tells the story in Romans 4 his tells us that “Abraham, staggered not…”  WHAT?  He became what God said but at the initial moment of hearing the Promise he staggered.  It is not the momentary but the eventuality that is most important.  Abraham had God’s Promise and knew WHERE God wanted to take him but he could not see HOW he could get there.  Finally, he rested in God’s Promise and received the fulfillment.

God gives you and me a Promise and wants that Promise to become a Hope and that Hope to become a Dream or Vision and that produces Faith to achieve the Promise.  Where are you now in your spiritual walk?  God has given you a Promise, Hope, Dream, and Expectation and you may be vacillating between two points and may be near casting away your confidence.  You may have even produced an Ishmael or two in the process but take heart, God wants to help you get back to where you got off course and achieve the Dream.  Resist being shipwrecked by Human Reason and place your confidence in God’s Promise.

May the Lord richly bless you as you go through this day and the rest of your life!