Saturday, December 31, 2016

Resolve to Love All

Love your enemies. Turn the other cheek. Give without expecting anything in return. Just fine-sounding words or are you putting them into practice?

December’s Awakening, Day 31

Christ is not valued at all, unless he is valued above all.

 —Augustine of Hippo

Christ loved you before you loved him.

He loved you when there was nothing good in you.

He loved you though you insulted him, though you despised him and rebelled against him.

He has loved you right on, and never ceased to love you.

He has loved you in your backslidings and loved you out of them.

He has loved you in your sins, in your wickedness and folly.

His loving heart was still eternally the same, and he shed his heart’s blood to prove his love for you.

He has given you what you need on earth, and provided for you an habitation in heaven.

Now, Christian, your religion claims from you, that you should love others, as your Master loved you. How can you imitate him, unless you love too?

With you “un”kindness should be a strange anomaly. It is a gross contradiction to the spirit of your religion, and if you do not love your neighbor, I cannot see how you can be a true follower of the Lord Jesus.

—C. H. Spurgeon

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27–36 NIV

            Being a true Christ-follower requires a much higher standard of attitude and behavior than the norm of the world. We probably have a good idea of what that higher standard is, but putting it into daily practice is something altogether different. The ideology is simple to grasp, extraordinarily difficult to practice. It is service before self, others before self, love above dislike, and helping when you need help. It is looking outward to supply for a need rather than looking inward to fulfil a need. Washing the feet of others is not really a pleasant task, but seeing the smile on Jesus’s face is priceless.

Friday, December 30, 2016

A Great Christ for My Need

Are you drinking daily from the river of living water? Dehydration can lead to death.

December’s Awakening, Day 30

I have a great need for Christ; I have a great Christ for my need.

 —C. H. Spurgeon

Christ is like a river. A river is continually flowing, there are fresh supplies of water coming from the fountain-head continually, so that a man may live by it, and be supplied with water all his life. So Christ is an ever-flowing fountain; he is continually supplying his people, and the fountain is not spent. They who live upon Christ, may have fresh supplies from him to all eternity; they may have an increase of blessedness that is new, and new still, and which never will come to an end.

 —Jonathan Edwards

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:38 NIV

but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14 NIV

            Just like our physical self, our spiritual self needs to continually be fueled and exercised to stay healthy and vibrant. Christ is our source, the living fountain of spiritual water that never ceases to flow. We need to jump into His river, be cleansed by it, be refreshed, renewed, and restored by it, and drink deeply from it to continually fuel our spirit to keep it alive. Without that flow of living water, we will soon become spiritually dead.

            We must be cognizant of the condition of our spirit and be proactive in keeping it vibrant and zealous for Him. As we draw closer into the next year, make some positive resolutions as to how you may better maintain your spiritual condition with the wellspring of living water from Him. Drink from the fountain of pristine ever-flowing water of Christ. Drink deeply.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Known Through Christ

Know who you are in God’s eyes. Look to Jesus and see.

December’s Awakening, Day 29

It is not Jesus as historically known, but Jesus as spiritually risen within men, who is significant for our time and can help it. Not the historical Jesus, but the spirit which goes forth from Him and in the spirits of men strives for new influence and rule, is that which overcomes the world.

 —Albert Schweitzer

The simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind, than all the disquisitions of philosophers and than all the exhortations of moralists.

 —W. E. H. Lecky

Not only do we not know God except through Jesus Christ; We do not even know ourselves except through Jesus Christ.

 —Blaise Pascal

            Yes, the miracle working of God, materialized by Christ in the flesh, and the continued work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of all humanity is a wonder to behold. It is God’s Spirit continually prompting us through our conscience, permeating our minds and convicting our hearts of the sin in our lives, and leading us to a better way through His holiness. The Spirit of the Lord is alive and well and impacting all of humanity in continually powerful and miraculous ways. There is nothing more significant than the transformations from sinners into saints. That is the infinite power of God being manifest here on earth.

            You were created to be perfect and sinless like the Man, Jesus. He is your example. He is your mentor. He is who you are to strive to be. To see and know who you are in God’s eyes, just look to Jesus and see.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Look No Further

There’s only one place you need to look to find precisely all the answers to what you’re looking for.

December’s Awakening, Day 28

As the centuries pass the evidence is accumulating that, measured by His effect on history, Jesus is the most influential life ever lived on this planet.

 —Kenneth Scott Latourette

Christ alone has succeeded in so raising the mind of man towards the unseen that it become insensible to the barriers of time and space.


In his life Christ is an example, showing us how to live;

In his death he is a sacrifice, satisfying for our sins;

In his resurrection, a conqueror;

In his ascension, a king;

In his intercession, a high priest.

 —Martin Luther

            Jesus will always be the most influential life to ever walk this planet and throughout the entire universe itself. He alone, beginning with a handful of individuals, has managed to bring about revolutionary transformations in the hearts and minds of all who would listen. He has brought about radical changes in our thought patterns about who our God is and equally unique ideas about who we are and why we’re here. Revolutionary, radical, innovative—everything about the teachings of Jesus and the upside-down kingdom of God falls into these categories. Why would you settle for and be satisfied with anything less? If you’re still searching for answers to the profound mysteries of life, then He’s the place to look.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

He Is My All in All

Are you prepared to tell someone who Jesus is to you and what He’s done personally in your life?

December’s Awakening, Day 27

To the hurting, he is the great Physician.

To the confused, he is the Light.

To the lost, he is the Way.

To the hungry, he is the Bread of Life.

To the thirsty, he is the Water of Life.

To the broken, he is the Balm in Gilead.

 —Calvin Miller

To the artist he is the one altogether lovely.

To the educator he is the master teacher.

To the philosopher he is the wisdom of God.

To the lonely he is a brother; to the

sorrowful, a comforter; to the bereaved, the

resurrection and the life.

And to the sinner he is the Lamb of God

who takes away the sin of the world.

 —John H. Gerstner

            To each of us, He is something. To many of us, He’s there when we need Him. And to a few of us, He’s everything to us all the time. Do you know Him or just know about Him? Do you cry out to Him when you’re in agony, but forget about Him the rest of the time? Do you thank Him when a blessing and victory has come your way, but are silent in the day to day of life? Where does He stand in the hierarchy of importance in your life? What do you value most—that which is here, where moth and rust destroy, or that which is eternally significant? To remain spiritually healthy, we need to do a little soul-searching frequently.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Celebrating Christmas

Celebrate Christmas with Christ in view, knowing that it’s most likely not His birthday at all.

December’s Awakening, Day 26

Bethlehem and Golgotha, the Manger and the Cross, the birth and the death, must always be seen together.

 —J. Sidlow Baxter

Christmas is coming! Quite so; but what is “Christmas”? Does not the very term itself denote its source—“Christ-mass.” Thus it is of Romish origin, brought over from Paganism. But, says someone, Christmas is the time when we commemorate the Savior’s birth. It is? And who authorized such commemoration? Certainly God did not. The Redeemer bade His disciples “remember” Him in His death, but there is not a word in Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, which tells us to celebrate His birth.

 —Arthur Pink

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lordʼs death until he comes.

            1 Corinthians 11:23–26 NIV

            Christ Himself instituted the ordinance of Communion, where we commemorate His death and sacrifice on the Cross, where the bread and wine represent His broken body and blood shed for us. While it is true that nowhere in Scripture are we admonished to celebrate Christ’s birth, there is a Scriptural precedent set in Luke 2:8–14, 16–18; where an angel brings the news of the birth of the Messiah, the Lord, to the shepherds tending their flocks in the field and the heavenly host of angels are there to praise God and this event. After witnessing the event the shepherds went on to spread the joyful good news. Likewise, in Matthew 2:1–3, 11; we see the Magi, the wise men from the east, come to worship the King, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Therefore, we have a biblical precedent for celebrating His birth.

            However, with that said, we as Christians should also understand the basic facts surrounding Christmas. While we are now generally certain of the year of Christ’s birth in 4 BC, and His death in AD 30, at the age of 33 (there is no “0” year in the timeline as we go straight from 1 BC to AD 1), we are not certain about the actual day of His birth. The original year set for Christ’s birth in AD 1, has been shown to be incorrect. (For reference, BC denotes before Christ and the designation follows the year; AD denotes anno Domini, “in the year of the Lord,” and that designation precedes the year. The more recent “religiously neutral” designations are: BCE, meaning “before common era,” and CE, meaning “common, or current, or sometimes even Christian era.” Regardless, the calendar of dating is still the Gregorian calendar based on the birth of Christ.)

It is highly unlikely that Christ was born on December 25th for many good reasons, notably that shepherds of that area, even today, are not typically out in the fields with their flocks due to both inclement weather and lack of available pasture. During the winter season the flocks are typically penned and somewhat sheltered. Also, it would have been an arduous journey for pregnant Mary to make this trip of about seventy miles over rather difficult terrain in inclement weather and probably on foot as they were poor, most likely not owning a donkey. This would also have been an inappropriate and inconvenient time for a taxing census by the Roman government requiring everyone to register in their hometown. The most likely date of Christ’s birth is probably in the spring, late March to early April in 4 BC and there is more data to substantiate this.

            The early church did not celebrate Christ’s birth and it wasn’t until about the third century some 300 or more years later, that it began to be observed. The date set was in fact most likely appointed to appease the new influx of pagans into the church with pressure to keep their old holiday celebrations, substituting a Christian designation for a pagan event. The December 25th date is most assuredly the former pagan celebration of the winter solstice, most notably the Roman heathen festival of Saturnalia, honoring the god Saturn, the Babylonian celebration of Semiramis, the queen of heaven, and the Egyptian goddess Isis, giving birth to her son Horus on similar days.

            Therefore, good Christian, celebrate Christmas with Christ in view, knowing full well the history of it all and realizing that it’s probably not His birthday at all.

Sunday, December 25, 2016


Christ is born! God is with us! Behold, your salvation is at hand!

December’s Awakening, Day 25—For Christmas

The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity—hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory—because at the Father’s will Jesus Christ became poor, and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross.

 -J. I. Packer 

The King of glory sends his Son,

To make his entrance on this earth;

Behold the midnight bright as noon,

And heav’nly hosts declare his birth!

About the young Redeemer's head,

What wonders, and what glories meet!

An unknown star arose, and led

The eastern sages to his feet.

Simeon and Anna both conspire

The infant Savior to proclaim

Inward they felt the sacred fire,

And bless’d the babe, and own'd his name.

Let pagan hordes blaspheme aloud,

And treat the holy child with scorn;

Our souls adore th’ eternal God

Who condescended to be born.

 —Isaac Watts

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23 NIV

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6–7 NIV

            The Savior of the world has arrived, not with the armies of heaven, wielding great power and glory, but as a baby born in a stable in human frailty and humility. He had a single purpose to fulfill—to be the Savior of all mankind, the sacrificial Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. A tall order resting on the shoulders of this infant. But this child was no ordinary Son.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Word Became Flesh

God became man to save us from ourselves.

December’s Awakening, Day 24

Even when a baby seen in swaddling clothes at the bosom of the Virgin who bore him, Christ still filled the whole creation as God and was co-regent with his Father—for deity is measureless, sizeless, and admits no bounds.

 —Cyril of Alexandria

He was created of a mother whom he created. He was carried by hands that he formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, he the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.

 —Augustine of Hippo

Mary’s Song—The Magnificat

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”  Luke 1:46–55 NIV

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1, 14 NIV

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Mary, Did You Know?” (lyrics by Buddy Greene and Mark Lowry). Obviously, it is impossible for a man to comprehend carrying God within you for nine months and giving birth to Him in the flesh and gazing upon His face and eyes. Difficult to imagine for any woman too, I would presume, and caring for this miraculous infant who looks back at you and reaches out to you and cries out for help. Impossible to imagine that this little bundle of joy came to save the very one holding Him and all of humanity. How overwhelmed, astonished, and filled with unspeakable joy and wonder Mary must have been! Yes, Mary knew.

“Mary, Did You Know?”

Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?

Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?

Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?

This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?

Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?

Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?

And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God

Mary did you know, Mary did you know, Mary did you know

The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again

The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?

Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?

This sleeping child you're holding is the great I am

Mary did you know, Mary did you know, Mary did you know

Song lyrics by Buddy Greene and Mark Lowry

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christ, the God-Man

Born of Mary and the Holy Spirit, and just like the dual wave-particle nature of light, Christ is the God-Man.

December’s Awakening, Day 23

The fact is that the greatest mystery of all—the incarnation—comes at the very beginning and is the central reason why we believe in God. We cannot explain it: there is the beginning of the mystery of faith. But because of the evidence neither can we explain it away: there is the beginning of the rationality of faith.

 —Os Guinness 

The Only Begotten Word of God has saved us by putting on our likeness. Suffering in the flesh, and rising from the dead, he revealed our nature as greater than death or corruption. What he achieved was beyond the ability of our condition, and what seemed to have been worked out in human weakness and by suffering was really stronger than men and a demonstration of the power that pertains to God.

 —Cyril of Alexandria

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5–11 NIV

            The incarnation, God becoming man and remaining both fully God and fully man, is a difficult concept to understand. One simplistic explanation is that Jesus was fully man through the physical genetics of the virgin Mary, and fully God through the spirit genetics of the Holy Spirit. Another way to look at Christ’s God-Man duality is to look at the nature of light. Light was the first thing God created and God is often equated with light. Light, matter, energy, and time are all interrelated, and light itself has a dual nature. Light is both wave and particle, inseparable, both natures always present but we can only isolate and demonstrate one nature at a time, never both natures at the same time.

Light demonstrates itself as a wave via reflection, refraction, and diffraction, and white light or visible light is made up of all the individual wavelengths of light which each have a specific color associated with them. The color of an object that we see is the wavelengths of light it reflects while the other wavelengths are absorbed. The rainbow or prism effect is light bending or refracting through rain droplets, each wavelength bending at a slightly different angle and separating out as distinct colors.  

The particle nature of light is the energy packet, the photon, which delivers its energy to a substance in this discrete packet of energy form. In photosynthesis, the chlorophyll pigment molecule absorbs these photons and becomes the mediator for all the chemical reactions which ensue to form carbohydrates. The retinal cones of the eye work in a similar fashion, photons exciting the various visual pigments creating a neural signal, with each cone-type (red, green, blue) being sensitive to specific wavelengths, giving us a perception of color—particle and wave inseparable.   

Christ as the God-Man is just like the wave-particle nature of light. Christ was fully God and fully man, inseparable, both always present, but each nature only shown or demonstrated when and how the Godhead saw fit. Christ always deferred to the Father. As a man, he was required to eat, drink, and sleep, and in every way function just as you and I except without sin as His divine nature was without sin, and that holiness completely permeated His humanity too. As God, He had the ability to forgive sin, perform every miracle, and accept worship. On every occasion and in every circumstance, Christ perfectly fulfilled the Father’s (and the Holy Spirit’s) will, never acting alone in His own divinity, and displayed accordingly, either His humanity or His divinity.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Don’t Forget the Reason

Don’t lose sight of the reason for your upcoming Christmas celebration, and remember that you’re His representative here.

December’s Awakening, Day 22

How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.

 —Benjamin Franklin

Christ uncrowned himself to crown us, and put off his robes to put on our rags, and came down from heaven to keep us out of hell. He fasted forty days that he might feast us to all eternity; he came from heaven to earth that he might send us from earth to heaven.

 —W. Dyer

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:30–31 NIV

            Christmas is a time for celebration but let’s not forget the reason for our celebration and the reason that Christ came. The stress of the holidays sometimes make it difficult to always portray Christ and His love and His light, but we should be especially cognizant to be His envoy and representative to all the watching world. Enjoy the days ahead, but be especially thankful that He came just for you so that you could be where He is. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Who Do You Believe Jesus to Be?

Have you inexorably decided in your heart who Jesus is?

December’s Awakening, Day 21

Jesus Christ is the outstanding personality of our time. Every act and word of Jesus has value for us. He became the Light of the world. Why shouldn’t I, a Jew, be proud of that?

 —Sholem Asch, Jewish novelist

Nothing is more clear than that Christ cannot be explained by any humanistic system. He does not fit into any theory of natural evolution, for in that case the perfect flower of humanity should have appeared at the end of human history and not in the middle of it.

 —Loraine Boettner

The lines of all have, in some degree, been changed by his [Christ’s] presence, his actions and the word spoken by his divine voice. I believe that he belongs not solely to Christianity, but to the entire world.


Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 NIV

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. Matthew 16:13–17 NIV

            Is Jesus an outstanding man of the utmost character, the greatest teacher and prophet of all time, an evolutional enigma that defies all logic and proof, and the most influential and charismatic person of all history? If he is all that but just a man, then we are all still lost. If He is truly the Light of the world speaking truth with a Divine voice, then He is more than just man, He is God too—worthy of praise and worship, with the ability to forgive sin and defeat it and death forevermore on the Cross. Teacher, prophet, master, and mentor are not enough—He must be Lord and Savior and Redeemer and Deliverer and Messiah, the Son of the Living God, who was, and is, and is to come, the Great I AM. Just who is Jesus in your heart?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

One Solitary Life

Our hope in God is secure because of His Son, Jesus Christ, the God-Man.

December’s Awakening, Day 20

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He worked in a carpentry shop until he was thirty, and then for three years he was an itinerant preacher. When the tide of popular opinion turned against him, his friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies. He was tried and convicted. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never went to college. He never traveled more than two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompanies greatness. Yet all the armies that ever marched, and all the governments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, have not affected life upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.

 —Author Unknown 

In the Scriptures there is a portrait of God, but in Christ there is God himself. A coin bears the image of Caesar, but Caesar’s son is his own lively resemblance. Christ is the living Bible.

 —Author Unknown

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27–30 NIV

If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. John 14:7, 9b NIV

            Jesus was the perfect sinless man, born of the Virgin Mary and of the Holy Spirit. He was the quintessential prophet of prophets, the ultimate physician, the most learned teacher of teachers, the master of all humanity and creation, the unblemished Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the King of kings, Lord of lords, and the Great I AM Himself. One simple question remains, who do you say that Jesus is? There is only one thing that eternally matters. Who is Jesus to you?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Infinite Hope for Humanity

Despite the turmoil and difficulties of this life, we can rejoice always in our glorious hope in Him.
December’s Awakening, Day 19

We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.

 Martin Luther King
I rejoice in the hope of that glory to be revealed, for it is no uncertain glory that we look for. Our hope is not hung upon such an untwisted thread as, “I imagine so,” or “It is likely,” but the cable, the strong tow of our fastened anchor, is the oath and promise of Him who is eternal verity. Our salvation is fastened with God’s own hand, and with Christ’s own strength, to the strong stake of God’s unchangeable nature.

 Samuel Rutherford

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:18–19a NIV  

            Since He is eternal truth, our hope in Him and His promises to us through His Word are a resolute, unchangeable certainty. Because of that truth, His incomparable power, His glorious inheritance to us, and our assured salvation through Christ, are fixed upon our hearts and minds fastened securely with hope. Hope in Him is a guarantee, without possibility of loss or change. All His promises are true, all He has said in His Word is true, Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross is real and true, and therefore, nothing can strip or nullify the hope we have in Him. Hope in Him is the only hope for humanity.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Hope Is the Invincible Overcomer

Are you just surviving or are you thriving? Hope sourced in Him will make the difference.

December’s Awakening, Day 18

Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate.  

 G. K. Chesterton

God and His promises are the reason for our hope. When we embrace this hope, it has a dramatic effect on our daily lives. Hope gives us the ability to get through our days, to persevere.

 Randy Frazee, “Believe: Living the Story of the Bible to Become Like Jesus”

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV

            We live distraught lives in desperate times in a disdainful world. Each day brings new challenges and trouble of its own. How can we possibly make it through the day and into the next? How can we ever overcome the hand that has been dealt to us by this world? When will we ever be able to keep our heads above the waters of the raging sea and set foot on firm, dry ground? The answer is simply—we do not know.

            But regardless of that answer, and despite all our circumstances, we have access to the most powerful motivator and encourager in the universe to spurn us on to greatness—it’s called hope. Sourced in Him, hope gives us the ability to see past our difficulties and turn them into possibilities. Hope turns setbacks into opportunities, failures into victories, despondency into optimism, and our sorrow and pain into peace and joy. Only hope can do that. Only hope in Him.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Hope Written on Your Brow

All creation and mankind are in a state of utter despair, but God has not abandoned us, He has given us hope.

December’s Awakening, Day 17

Totally without hope one cannot live. To live without hope is to cease to live.

 Fyodor Dostoevsky

The word which God has written on the brow of every man is hope.

 —Victor Hugo

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 NIV

            Since mankind’s loss of holiness in the Garden of Eden, our connection with God has been severed. Sin, pain, decay, and death, with a groaning creation filled with thorns and thistles have infiltrated God’s perfect and good creation. God has not rejected His perfect creation but has provided a way for redemption and renewal through the unblemished and perfect sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. God has not abandoned us, even though mankind had rejected Him.

            Although in this present state of life we must undergo trials, tribulations, and afflictions of every kind, this does not have to be our final state of being. We have the choice to exercise the hope that God has placed within us to search for more to this life. That hope is faith in our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and it is freely offered to all who would come unto Him. We can be made perfect and holy again, with all creation joyfully singing. God has indeed written hope on the brow of every person—it’s His name, Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Hope Defies Logic

Hope is the unbreakable chain-link that connects us to faith in Christ, the bridge to heaven, whom we trust through the knowledge of His Word.   
December’s Awakening, Day 16

If we were logical, the future would be bleak indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope.

 —Jacques Cousteau

Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.

 —Vaclav Havel

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans 15:4 NIV

            We are human and we are logical, but logic can only take us so far in the quest for understanding who we are and why we’re here. Truth, remember, is greater than proof or logic, and it is only faith fueled by hope that can bridge that great chasm between God and us. It is His written Word that teaches and encourages us so that we may be able to bear strife and persevere in this world. Although His Word does tell us that in this world things will go from bad to worse, it also reassures us that this is temporary and that He is certainly in full control working out all things according to His perfect plan. Our ultimate existence with Him in paradise will most assuredly be at His appointed time.

            Read the Scriptures. They have been given to us by God to strengthen and encourage us to persevere to the end—to give us hope. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hope Is God Alone

Our hope is certain and assured through faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the Cross.

December’s Awakening, Day 15

In God alone is there faithfulness and faith in the trust that we may hold to him, to his promise, and to his guidance. To hold to God is to rely on the fact that God is there for me, and to live in this certainty.

 —Karl Barth
The word “hope” I take for faith; and indeed hope is nothing else but the constancy of faith.

 John Calvin

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by Godʼs power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 1 Peter 1:3–5, 13 NIV

            Hope, faith, and trust are all intimately entwined. Our hope is sourced in God and His Son, Jesus Christ, who bore our sins on the Cross and was resurrected from the dead and is now our interceder before the Father in heaven. It is this belief through faith in Christ and His work on the Cross and our trust in Him and His Word that ensures our confident hope. We look forward in joyful anticipation for the rapture, when Christ comes for His own and we are forevermore resurrected with glorified bodies, our salvation now complete, and are with Him through eternity. That is the believer’s hope—certain, assured, and confidently unshakable because it’s all about Him.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Self Needs to Take the Back Seat

If your daily prayer and petition isn’t “more of You Lord, and less of me,” then greatness will forever elude you.

December’s Awakening, Day 14

America was built on rugged individualism, and today that has evolved into a culture of narcissism. But God didn’t create you to live for you. If you want to follow Jesus, you have to put aside your selfish ambition.   

 —Rick Warren

Some people go their entire lives without realizing that they are elevating their own wisdom and abilities above the Lord's.

John Stange, “Overcoming Anxiety: 12 Powerful Truths from Scripture for Defeating Worry and Fear”
The “road” that God lays out for each of us is unique and different, but we all will experience some long walks with our Creator during which He will communicate to each of us in His special way: “It’s not about you.”

 Brian Fleming, “Your Life Matters”

For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 2 Corinthians 12:20 NIV

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:16 NIV

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3–4 NIV

            One who is a narcissist is consumed by self, in self, and with self, and unfortunately it is obvious to most everyone but themselves. They can, however, wear a near-perfect façade, but even in their outward good deeds they are expecting accolades and recognition in return. They may fool others, but not God, and oftentimes it takes God’s discipline to make themselves aware of their problem. The rebuke and counseling of friends will usually fall on deaf ears.

            It should be obvious that selfish ambition is contrary to the kingdom of God, and ultimately, remember, you reap what you sow. Ambition, focused on God’s kingdom, not self, is what pleases God and will be rewarded. It is best to put self in the back seat and let God drive, for the sooner you understand that “it’s not about you,” the easier the true path to greatness and success will be.