Sunday, November 27, 2016

1st Sunday in Advent 2016 ~ Real HOPE!


By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us - set us right with Him, make us fit for Him - we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that He has already thrown open His door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand - out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.  
Romans 5:1-2 The Message 

Our HOPE comes through Christ! This season gives us opportunities to celebrate Christ's coming to earth - coming into our world; and at the same time, as our hearts remember God's extravagant gift of Love, we find ourselves humbled by the truth that Christ is coming again! Christ is real HOPE for all times, past ~ present ~ and future.

There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary - we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit. 
Romans 5:3-4 The Message

Even when times are difficult, Christ remains our HOPE! In all times, we are to remain "alert for whatever God will do next." The Scriptures say we should persist "in alert expectancy" of what God will do next. So often we create anxiety wondering if and when and how! Rest in the HOPE of Christ. Romans 5:6 takes away the worry: Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't and doesn't wait for us to get ready." Let Christ be your HOPE! Share this lesson of praise and passionate patience with someone else! Share the HOPE of Christ this season! ~ dho

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Give Thanks!


Give thanks to the LORD, because He is good. His faithful love endures forever. 
 Psalm 136:1


As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let's remember God's goodness. The beauty of creation and the certainty of God calls us to our knees. The Bread of Life sustains us now and prepares us for the wedding supper of the Lamb. Redeemed by grace, our hearts explode with hallelujahs! Infinite love never ends. ~ dho

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Light in the Darkness





Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to me. A.W. Tozer

The secular response to Christ - if there is any acknowledgement - is that Christ was a great teacher and a good person. The world says there are no absolute truths, that truth is what you believe to be true. The Holy Scriptures, the foundation of the Christian faith, tells a different story. Christ is the Living Son of God, the willing and sinless sacrifice offered for all the iniquities of humanity. He has always been and will always be. Jesus came in human form to earth to fulfill God's Plan of salvation for mankind. There ARE truths that must be part of our faith statement as Christians. Without these absolute truths, we claim a belief in nothing more than good intentions.

Read 1 John 2:18-29

So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will continue to live in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life He promised us. . . you have received the Holy Spirit and He lives within you. . . For the Spirit teaches you all things, and what He teaches is true. 1 John 2:24,27 NLT

Through careful and continued study of the Scriptures, these truths become more clear. God reveals Himself to us today through the Living Word. The Scriptures are both ancient and living words, telling us the stories of old and using these lessons for today. Our struggles in the world are no different than centuries ago. There was unbelief then and unbelief today. Then - time after time, faith required a bold stance in the face of uncertainty, and today - we must continue to stand boldly in faith to our Creator, Redeemer and King.

Consider this!
  • How do believers come to more fully understand the character of God?
  • Why does the world dilute and deny the absolute truths in the Scriptures?
  • What do you believe about Christ?
Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me. Father, Son and Spirit ~ three in One ~ we cannot understand Perfect Love, but we can accept this Gift by faith. Give us the courage to grow in understanding of the Living Word that we might be light in the darkness. Amen. ~ dho
* 1 John 2:28 The Message - . . . Live deeply in Christ.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Living Hope

“The hope we have in Christ is an absolute certainty. We can be sure that 
the place Christ is preparing for us will be ready when we arrive, because with Him 
nothing is left to chance. Everything He promised He will deliver.”
Billy Graham

“One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple.”Psalm 27:4 ESV

Just before Jesus ascends to heaven, He instructs the disciples to tell the story of Good News to all people. His final words of encouragement: And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. In Scripture, the last days refers to the time between Christ’s return to heaven after the resurrection and His second return to earth. The last days are now! The promise remains true; Jehovah Shammah, the LORD is there, dwells with us. God’s presence with His people is certain.

Scripture tells us that in the last days Jesus is mocked and questioned. Arrogance attempts to diminish the power of God, to discredit His role in creation, and to dismiss His promise of judgment. People choose other gods to worship. With humility, His faithful followers must earnestly continue to be about the work God calls us to do. LORD, Creator and Promise Keeper, Your grace falls gently in the midst of these harsh last days. Forgive those who deny You and give them a reason to hope. I long to dwell in Your Presence all the days of my life. Here I see the beauty of Extravagant Love and know the unexplainable joy of Living Hope. As I eagerly anticipate what You will do next, help me tell Your story of Grace! Count me alive in Christ. Moment by moment, Jehovah Shammah, You are here! - dho 

Thursday, November 03, 2016

When Grace Meets the Enemy

Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:7-8 NLT



During the Greco-Roman times that Jesus teaches about loving, forgiving and serving others, genuine sacrifice of one's life for another is as rare as the concept of "a good man". This kind of heroic act would not be common, and for the Jewish people, this kind of offering would not be praised. When the Greeks talk about enemies becoming friends after some conflict, these conversations stay within the context of individuals and certainly did not include God. Jesus enters this culture, introduces the idea of reconciliation between a person and God, and offers His own relationship with God, the Father, as an example of divine fellowship. Jesus says, I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love.

Jesus not only describes the blessings of fellowship with God but willing lays down His own life for His friends. As Jesus tells the Disciples, There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends, He knows that in a few hours He will live out these words. But for whom? What friends? For those who beat Him and those who nail Him to the cross, for those who watch and mock, for those who fled in fear and hide, for those barter for His robe, for the liars and hypocrites, for the selfish and greedy, for the lazy and defiant, for the sick - the weak - the poor, for the healthy - the strong - the rich, for the leaders and the followers, the merchants and the farmers, the scholars and the students, for those who steal and murder and commit adultery, for those who hate and those who pretend not to care, for those who smile and pretend not to grieve, for the hopeless and helpless, the homeless, the orphan, the widow, for the elderly, for the children...for those then and those to come, for you...for me! 

Dying for someone upstanding or even good remains a rare, heroic act. Perfect Love lay down His life for the unworthy, the unclean, the sinner, the shunned. No person is worthy of such love, but Jesus chooses us. When Grace meets the enemy, possibilities are endless. This holy relationship can exceed all expectations. Grace invites each of us, I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in My love. This is the greatest Friendship~dho