There is power in hope. Regardless of the way things may look, when you have hope, you can count on a brighter future.
For 25 years we lived in a house which had been built in 1877. While there, one of my delights was being surprised by many outbursts of color as shrubs bloomed or bulbs suddenly created a splash on the scene.
And there were trees galore – of all sizes and shapes.
One of my favorites was an oddity. There was a tree which had been cut down, but which had refused to quit! It had a stump dwindling away, but right in the middle of the stump, was a tree. Standing tall and proud, this tree had grown right up out of the center of that stump.
I loved that tree. It wasn’t really the prettiest one around, but it spoke volumes to me.
Then I ran across these verses.
For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again. And its shoots will not fail.
Though its roots grow old in the ground, and its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant. (Job 14:7-9)
That tree became a picture of hope for me.
Is there something in your life which seems dead? Your career? Your marriage? Your relationship with a child?
If so, pray and ask God to show you how to proceed. He is a God of Hope, and He will begin to impress upon you pictures which are different from what you see with your eyes.
Ask Him to guide you to verses in the Bible which uphold your vision of hope, and start speaking those verses to yourself and to the world around you.
As you do this, you will be developing your very own arsenal of weapons against fear, doubt, and depression. You will find yourself seeing with spiritual eyes more than the natural.
Then do what He says.
That’s how you fight the good fight of faith. And it’s how you turn things around.
Now be persistent and be patient.
Be like that Tree of Hope in my yard.
When that tree first got cut down, I’m certain that it looked completely dead. There was no evidence that any life remained.
But at the scent of water (in your case the scent of the Holy Spirit speaking life to you), the green in the tree began to grow. It had to fight its way to become a tree again. It had to be persistent and patient.
Eventually the shoot overcame the obstacles and won its right to be a tree again.
That’s like you and like me. We are determined not to be cut down and destroyed.
We are coming back. We will make the changes we need to make, and we will come back. Stronger. Taller.
That’s the way it is when we follow our God’s direction. We always have hope for a better day.
Our God is faithful to guide us to that victory.
May your Christmas season be filled with God’s hope!
Suellen’s Note: I want to share with you the testimony of a very special lady. The first time I met Candice, I knew that God had His hand on her in a mighty way. I could immediately see such a sweet spirit, and her desire to fulfill her purpose in God… Little did I know that her growing up years were so filled with turmoil and pain.
Guest Post by Candice Fowler…
I guess my story begins as a young child.
I was born into a family with lots of problems. From the time I was a baby, I was tossed back and forth from family member to family member.
There was a lot of abuse, drug abuse and neglect.
I never really felt safe and secure.
As I grew older, I began to walk that same path. I was heavy into drugs and lived a life full of sin and rebellion. The loneliness and hurt within me caused me to seek unhealthy relationships.
I could see my life spiraling downwards.
Yet even as an adult, I continued on that path. I only really thought of myself, and did whatever I wanted to. I was trying to cure my despair with momentary pleasures of drugs and promiscuity.
Around 2008, God started getting my attention. I knew that there was a better way and I felt drawn to God and His love for me. It was a hard road and It took me a couple years to completely straighten up my life, but God was still faithful and patiently waited.
I began to go to church and serve in the church, but something was lacking, and that was a relationship with him.
In 2016, I fully gave my life to God. I received Jesus, I learned what surrender was and I laid it all down. Totally surrendering my life to Him. It truly takes giving Him control of it all, allowing Him to change you.
On a daily basis, I pray and ask God to create a clean heart within me. For Him to search me and find any wrong way within me, and burn it up.
I can’t imagine living a day without him. He truly is my Rock, my Redeemer, my Fortress, my Strong Tower. Those are not just words to me, that is who my God is!
He takes us out of the pit of destruction and places us on firm foundation.
I look back at my life and I can see that I have a great purpose. There were several times when I could have ended up dead, but he protected me through it all.
He has completely changed my life.
I know without a doubt there is a God. I never thought in a million years I would be the person I am today, but GOD!!
A couple of weeks ago, the Holy Spirit woke me up at 3 am and spoke these words into my spirit. “Stir up the gift which is within you.” (II Tim 1:6)
I knew exactly what He was saying.
You see, our church had been holding a campmeeting with Ted Shuttlesworth and his son, Ted, Jr. The building was packed out with visitors praising and worshiping God, clearly eager to receive the divinely inspired messages. And they were not disappointed. The rafters shook with the booming praise, clapping, dancing, and rejoicing over our God and what He is doing in the earth. Healings were dramatic and often. Throngs were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit for the first time.
As the night proceeded, I felt the gifts were being stirred in me – and others. In that atmosphere there is always an awareness of heaven’s touch – and the reality of the Kingdom of God.
It reminded me of earlier days…maybe because it was like earlier days. It reminded me of the days when there was rejoicing in the city by the many people who were turning to the Lord, getting saved, baptized in the Holy Spirit and shouting their newfound truth to the rooftops. (more…)
The Lord of Hosts shows up in Israel. The Hebrew words for the Lord of Hosts are Jehovah Tsaba, and when He shows up, big things happen.
He is seen sometimes in scripture as the Captain of the Hosts, and He is leading hosts of angels to do the will of the Lord. When the children of Israel were led out of Egypt and into the Promised land, it was Jehovah Tsaba who directed the moves and caused the great demonstrations of God’s power.
Now here He is again. Israel has turned against God to the point where some elite members have already been carried off to Babylon. Yet there is still false word coming from the prophets saying that they will be returned in two years.
Jeremiah speaks words to the king, the elders, and the priests. Then he sends letters to the elders in exile. God will no longer relent. The Jews who are in captivity should build, plant, and settle, because they will be there for a long time. The Jews in Israel (really Judah) should get ready, because they are about to be taken to Babylon. There is no longer a second or third chance.
Of course, I don’t mean that Jehovah Tsaba is another God, but this is a different manifestation of the one true God. He is the warring God who forces his will to be done in the earth at the proper time.
There are many Hebrew names for God in the Old Testament, distinguishing His many characteristics. There is Jehovah Shalom, the God our peace; Jehovah Rapha, the God our healer; Jehovah Jireh, the God our provider, and others. It’s the same God, of course, but with many attributes. each name distinguishing the attribute which is being manifested at the moment.
So when Jehovah Tsaba shows up, the manifestation is the Lord of Angelic Hosts, and He is about to do something big.
Jehovah Tsaba could be the name used when the angels announced to the shepherds the birth of our Savior. Or during all of the demonstrations surrounding His death, burial, and resurrection.
There are many unfulfilled prophecies concerning the end times, and there are many prophecies coming forth that will require Jehovah Tsaba to show up again.
In our modern world, there are many – even believers who don’t believe in great manifestations from our God, but they are going to be in for a surprise. He is still a miracle working God, and when the time comes for Him to act, he isn’t shy about doing it! After all, He is the Creator of all things and the world belongs to Him. He will eventually take it back!
Whew! It gives me chills even thinking about it!
In the meantime, we are to live our lives above reproach in this world so that the gospel will not be maligned.
We are not to be argumentative or gossips or enslaved to wine, but to live honorable lives.
Paul goes on to say that we are to be patient, knowing that God’s glory will be revealed, and we are to be his witnesses. Our Father has purified us for His possession – and we will show His glory in the earth.
Fathers and mothers are to share with younger people what they know about God, and they are to exhort others to follow suit.
I want to be an instrument of God’s glory – shining for all to see His goodness.
Why do the wicked prosper while good men remain poor? That’s Job’s question, and it’s also the one asked by many.
Some have an idea that God is “running the earth” to His liking, deciding who will be rich and who will be poor. But this concept totally overlooks the free will of men.
We are not puppets on the earth, with our Father pulling the strings. We are all free – wicked and righteous alike – to pursue our lives with the way we see fit.
Yet there are laws by which the earth runs. Vision, hard work, and diligence are all attributes which contribute to success and these are free to all. Besides that, families sometimes benefit from the vision and diligence of their ancestors. If an ancestor was very rich then the descendants might be also.
Being rich or poor does not in itself indicate a relationship with God. However, the rewards of vision and diligence can be multiplied by the blessing of the Lord.
There are many of God’s people seeking His Kingdom to such a degree that their diligence is in a vocation which doesn’t produce earthly wealth. Take a look at someone like Mother Teresa, for instance. Certainly she implemented all of the skills and virtues which would have made for wealth, if that were her pursuit. Yet that was not her pursuit, and her rewards from God came in a different way.
In my mind, the rewards of love, peace, and joy in a person’s life far out-rank any kind of material blessings.
One more note: when I talk about the free will of men, I don’t mean that God isn’t involved in our lives. He definitely is involved, and the more we seek Him, the more we will see His hand at work. In fact, when our lives are totally His, He will direct our paths, as we trust Him. And sometimes the trials we face cause us to seek Him in a deeper way.
Cornelius is excited! At the same time the Lord is giving Peter a vision and directing him to go to Cornelius, an angel appears to Cornelius and tells him to send for Peter. So the two are connected.
Cornelius really demonstrates his appreciation for the event in that he gathers his household, relatives, and close friends. This centurion truly values God’s gift of salvation. He wants it desperately, and he is about to get it!
“Now then we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” And Peter replies, “I most assuredly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him”(V. 33-35)
The outcome astounds those who have come with Peter. After Peter has proclaimed the gospel, the Romans believe and the Holy Spirit is poured out upon them as on the day of Pentecost. They begin to speak with other tongues and exalt God, having been transformed by God’s power.
This is a one more monumental day in the new dispensation. Now not only the Jews may receive Jesus, but it is obvious that the gentiles may receive Him also. It’s mind-boggling to the Jews. They are continually amazed at the Lord and all that is happening in this new season.
I can’t leave this passage without making one more note. If we take another look at Acts 10:38, we get a compelling view into the life of Jesus and the intentions of our Father. We see that Jesus “was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power” and He healed all that were oppressed of the devil.
So who was oppressing them? The devil. Who healed them? Jesus. How many did He heal? All that came to Him.
This shows us the will of God – that all would be healed. It also shows where the sickness and disease come from. The devil. Sometimes we come across traditions of men which try to deny these principles, but the Word is what I believe. If there are traditions which contradict the word, I want to discard them – and stick with God’s Word.
God is good – all the time. Jesus came that we might have life and that more abundantly! That’s the gospel in a nutshell, and I believe it. Don’t you?